Daily Choice

One of the women, who lived with us off and on over a ten-year period reminds me that I taught her, “Now Jane. You have a choice. You can make this a good day or you can make it a bad day.”
The same is true for the grieving process: I have a choice. I can make these days good days or I can choose to allow them to be bad, really bad days.

Yesterday morning, Sunday, I made a list of the beauty, love and tenderness I experienced the day before–Saturday–two weeks after we buried our son.

*While glancing out early from my second-floor study window, I noticed the morning light radiating out on the yard–lovely–but then my eye was caught by a flock (!) of doves beneath the bird feeders. We usually have one dove now and then, but (count them) twenty?

*The weather has turned frigid; weather reports are forecasting freezing temperatures here in Chicago so I have been gathering the outside pumpkins and squash to turn into puree for soups and breads. My granddaughter, Josie, cooked up one pumpkin on Friday. I cooked up another pumpkin here in my kitchen and brought in the butternut squash from the fall arrangement in an old rusted wheelbarrow. The results were beautiful golden mash and a jar full of toasted pumpkin seeds.

*Melissa Mains Timberlake had cut greens off the trees at the farm for Jeremy’s gravesite and on the way home from a morning (planting bulbs) at Turtle Creek, I stopped to cut wild bittersweet and grapevines. We bought a wreath and a small pot with a Christmas arrangement, and I ran over to the nearby cemetery to cover the raw earth above his grave. I also thought I would plant narcissi but in 12 hours from Friday to Saturday morning the ground had already frozen. An older man (about my age) tending to a nearby grave, noticed that I had been trying to get a shovel in the ground and made a point of coming by to offer help. This was an unexpected kindness. We agreed that it was too late, but maybe in one of those Midwest winter thaws, I’d get another chance. I’ll save the bulbs, just in case.

*I received a $300 check from Mainstay Ministries (which caught my back pay up to somewhere around May); now I will be able to pay my friend, Tim Botts for the prints from his beautiful new book, “Bound for Glory”, that Jeremy had marked to acquire at the beginning of his battle with chemo.

* I spent the afternoon sitting in the dining room aqua chair soaking in the sunshine reviewing all my pumpkin books–five of them. (Which of the vast Curcurbitacea family is ornamental? Which is edible?).

*My eye was also caught by the books on my shelves on creating abstract art. Time, perhaps, to get serious about this.

*Took a phone call from a grieving family member. A reminder that the whole extended family, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, in-law children, as well as Mom and Dad and are all off kilter, hurting. David and I need to move deliberately through our own process so that we can be there for these.

*We ate homemade minestrone soup, artisan bread, apple/greens/walnut salad and munched (too much) on brownies–all provided by my friend Marilyn Stewart.

*A poem was e-mailed to me by another friend, Madelle Payne.

The Well of Grief
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place where we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

–David Whyte, from “Where Many Rivers Meet”; C2007 Many Rivers Press

*To end the day, my friend Sibyl Towner dropped past unexpectedly with a Christmas wreath, a baked chicken, fruit and all her love.

We are finding small round coins in the well of grief of these hard days. But it is a choice we must daily make to look for them.

Karen Mains

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