grieving with St. Alicia

In the last two months, I have binge watched the first five seasons of The Good Wife. (I am now begrudgingly paying Amazon 2 bucks an episode to catch up on Season 6.) I have become immersed in the world of Alicia Florrick as she navigates through her family scandal, raises her kids, negotiates and fights for her clients, and her own survival. I have cheered when she wins, cringed when she makes a shady deal, and literally wept for joy the first time she finally kissed Will Gardner. (I have loved Josh Charles since Dead Poets Society and truly fell in love with him in college as my roomie and I watched Threesome more times than can be counted. #musicmother)

Having had no previous knowledge of anything about The Good Wife other than knowing it was Emmy winning and well-received, I had no idea what was coming in Season 5, Episode 15. (*If you don’t know, stop reading, right now.) I also had no idea that a television show would become a short term companion on coming to grips with death, grief, and ptsd.

When the tragedy of this episode occurred, I found myself gasping for air. The tragic, gruesome, and sudden death of my favorite character (Will) left me anxious, my heart palpitating, and my brain swirling with memories of the worst day. I had to look away and cover the screen in the mortuary scenes. It was too real. This was the first time in my life where I have struggled to keep the fourth wall. I am an educated person; why does this feel like it is more than a television drama?

As I watched the few episodes that followed, I found myself grieving with Alicia. Her process of confusion, anger, sadness, unexpected breakdowns, exhaustion, and consumption of wine all mirror my own process grief. One night, I had to turn off the show and turn to another (thanks Josh and Toby) because it just seemed all too close. Yet, I kept watching and somehow, as she walked through the mire, I felt a sense of hope. While my grief is far from healed and I can’t wrap up all the pain in a 46 minute episode, I still feel like I know I’ll find light at some point. I can’t predict when or where or how, but I know it is there.

And while I can now watch TGW with less angst and more criticism (seriously, the Cary/Kalinda thing…I just don’t get it. Also, Alan Cumming is always perfection), I feel a bit of gratitude. Somehow I was meant to watch this show at this time and recognize my own issues through this well-crafted character. And for that, I thank St. Alicia.

TGW

PS-Here is some Matt Czuchry eye candy. You’re welcome.

mattc

mattc2

could’ve should’ve would’ve

listenshel2

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the could’ves and should’ves in my life. Of course, there are a lot of pieces that “were supposed to be” in these last two months. The entire world has flipped around and it’s led me to wonder about planning and hoping. We make broad  and detailed plans and we often get crushed when our plans fail–whether it be the roast in the oven, the lesson plan, the job interview, the lack of children, or the marriage. If we dwell in what has not come to pass, our hearts can easily get lost in sadness or despair. However, God steps in and reminds us…(as cliche as this verse is…)

jer2911

How can I possibly know for sure what is in store? I cannot. Should I sit idly by? No, but I put my trust in the fact that no matter how hard I work and plan that the ultimate answers are not in my hands. This could break my heart or serve as a liberation. I see it as the latter; what a liberation to know that despite any pain or brokenness that I feel now, that it is not forever pain. (I have to talk myself into this regularly as do friends, but I know it logically that it is not lifetime pain.)

Sara Groves puts it best HERE (If you don’t know Sara Groves by now….you must listen to here entire collection on Spotify. Right now.)

As I stare down the tunnel to 2015, I put hope to work. I put the hope that I am not alone into practice. I put my hope in the future that is unknown and may be wild or sedate, raggedy or awesome, successful or wrought with failure. No matter what, I cling to the hope that all of the could’ves, should’ves, would’ves, mustnt’s, don’ts, won’ts will have a purpose for me.

hopescrabble

“Hope is the memory of the future.” — Gabriel Marcel

Christmas Eve Rambles.

Technically, it is already Christmas. I’ve arrived home from services with a lot to process and I need time before I can transition to sleep and then to family, presents, and food “tomorrow.” So here we go…

I love Christmas Eve. Carols are my favorite, especially when they are the Willcocks edition of anything. I love the candles and the telling of Luke 2. I love post-communion silent night, in the dark, a Capella . I love that all the waiting for Jesus through our Advent passes and we get to celebrate on this special night.

As you might imagine, celebrating has not been first on my list this year. I’m more focused on getting through each day without inconsolable tears, making sure Parker doesn’t bite anyone, and keeping my house to a relative level of dirt. My energy for these first two things, plus trying to give my best at work with my kids has not really given me enough left to celebrate.

I’ve had the blessing these last few months of being a staff singer at an Episcopal church in DC. This has been such a gift. While it takes me away from my blessed home parish, it has given me a sense of purpose for a few hours each Sunday. Helping others worship by making beautiful music. And tonight was no exception. Two services-a Lessons and Carols and a Midnight Mass. It was a long evening-a full day’s work. The second service was just the small group of staff and choral scholars. I felt a sense of pressure to do my best. And that pressure was important because there were moments where I could feel my sadness begin to envelop me. I had to work exceedingly hard to hold back my tears. I had to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand; making music to glorify God.

There was a small moment where I felt alone. In the realization that this was the first time in 36 years that I was without my family on Christmas Eve. But then I took a breath, looked out into the congregation and turned my mind another way. I was not alone, I was a “very member incorporate in the body of Christ.” This is part of why we have (the) church. For these moments when one feels alone, broken, sad…we are a part of this body that will pull us in and point is to our healer, our comforter, our joy-giver. And tonight, we all got to attend His birthday. All of us.

While I’m still awake and still a little weepy—I’m now home with a snuggling and sleepy dog—I am not inconsolable tonight because of the greatness of God and the gift of His Son. And while I may not be celebrating in my usual way and I am still broken, my heart is grateful.

Thank you, Church. Thank you, baby Jesus; Happy Birthday.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/309/5417868/files/2014/12/img_1082.jpg

PS-here is the link to the wonderful sermon from Fr. John Beddingfield at All Souls Memorial Church, Washington, DC

right now…

Lindsay of Lindsay’s List just posted a currently post and I thought it was fun…so per usual, I’m copycatting.

Currently: in Jammie’s with a coffee enjoying my last few hours of respite in Chicago. (Seriously, these are the coziest blankets ever, I may never leave.)

Current Inspiration: The folks who do the work of social justice and care both in our own fractured country and others. Giving of oneself in service or voice for others is amazing. Pray for peace and work for justice.

Current Book: Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. She’s a freaking genius.

Current Tune: The Eye by Brandi Carlile. (The entire album comes out in March.) She, too, is a freaking genius.

Current Drink: Pumpkin Vanilla Latte Kcups from Crazy Cups Coffee. Also, Deep Eddy Ruby Red with Prosecco. (This stuff is from Austin, so it’s automatically good.)

Current Foods: If it is comforting and has cheese, it is likely going in my belly! Also-Reese’s trees. Those dastardly Devils need to not exist.

Current Show(s): The Good Wife and How I Met Your Mother are my current binges. I just finished Gilmore Girls from start to finish and that was really cathartic.

Current Outfit: Gap boot cut cords with something warm and cashmere-y on top. These pants were made for my saddle bags!

Current Indulgence: see Reese’s trees.

Current Want: Clarity of Life Purpose (and an Amazon fire stick)

Current Gratitude: all of the amazing people who have walked through my life in the last two months. New friends, old friends, family, colleagues, parents at school, and strangers…all have enveloped me in a cocoon of love and support. I’m so very grateful.

What’s happening with you, right now?

bonus-a trip to the Chicago Bean this weekend!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/309/5417868/files/2014/12/img_0977.jpg

counting in Tuesdays

It seems like every 7 days begin and end on a Tuesday.

Much in the same way it feels like my life has to stop and restart every Tuesday.

No day has been the same but Tuesdays in particular are not my favorite. It is as if they hold a particular vice grip on my heart allowing my soul to only experience the shell of being rather than truly living life.

Today we are on the 9th Tuesday if you count the worst day, which I do.

I wonder if there will come a time when I don’t count Tuesdays anymore and they will fade into the shade of every other day.

The in and out of life where our highs and lows seem more in the middle and our blacks and whites seem more grey.

I want to recall the previous Tuesday. Or the previous Sunday or Saturday or Thursday afternoon but I can’t just yet as hard as I may try.

For now, the Tuesday is a haunting; re-breaking my heart into tiny crumbles each seven day cycle.

I long for the Tuesday before.

And I press on to the Tuesday to come.

10 Questions for the Thanksgiving Table

This story from TED has flown around Facebook this week and it was perfect for a blog post. I love StoryCorps and regularly cry every Friday morning as Dave Isay and his crew produce a lovely story of family, love, change, forgiveness, and/or compassion. What a perfect way to reflect for this Thanksgiving day.

What are you grateful for?

I am so grateful for community. For friendships that have carried the weight of my pain these last five weeks. A community built of family, friends, neighbors, and strangers that have provided comfort, support, love, prayers, food, gifts to lift my spirits, and patience as I navigate this new road.

What are you proudest of?

I am proud that I have been willing to take the road less traveled at various points in my life so far. That the control freak who was afraid of change has lived in six states, driven across country four times, completed an Ironman, and learned to eat the occasional mushroom. Every place I’ve been has allowed me to come into the presence of amazing humans, art, nature, animals, and my footprints have been left in a lot of fox holes.

What’s been the happiest moment of your life so far?

Finishing Ironman. Not just because it was a lot of training and I was glad it was over but because it was the metaphor for my life’s journey. Through it I healed, became stronger, and met the love of my life.

What’s been the hardest moment of your life, and how did you get through it?

It’s right now. I’m getting through it with prayer, coffee, and the amazing community I mentioned above.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

Life is a gift. I don’t say that in a hallmark way. I say it because the time spent on earth is fleeting and we have a unique opportunity to “suck the marrow of life.”

Change is also a gift. It makes us feel alive and constantly allows us to improve.

Love should be given out like water and oxygen. We can’t survive without giving AND receiving it.

How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?

I was a PITA! My strong willed self was a challenge to all adults in my path; I’m sorry! But yes, I was happy. I have amazing parents who afforded me so many incredible experiences as a child. I also learned to fail and get up again, after a bowl of Breyers mint chocolate chip, of course.

Who has been kindest to you?

Angela and Maralyn may duke it out for the world’s most compassionate and giving souls. (I hope this doesn’t hurt the feelings of my other amazing friends and family.)

How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who loved God, family, and wanted to make the world a kinder place for children and all living things.

If your great great grandchildren could listen to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?

See my life lessons above. Oh, and Micah 6:8

If you could honor one person in your life — living or dead — by listening to their story, who would that be, what would you ask them and why?

Mom, who is quite living! I would want to know where she developed her amazing sense of forgiveness. I hope that I am a reflection of the love and patience and forgiveness that she has bestowed on me for 36 years. I want to know her source.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends.

IMG_0512.JPG

IMG_0513.JPG

community.

My life has been a whirlwind in the two weeks since my beloved was called home to the Lord. My heart is broken to a depth I don’t fully understand. Yet, my heart is also full because of the intertwining communities that have come together to celebrate Kenny’s life, support our families, offer gifts, prayers, food, hugs, and tears. How do I even begin to say thank you? There are not enough words.

I believe the community you belong to is the community you help build. As a super-introvert, I feel like I have been blessed to ride the coattails of Ken’s amazing ability to build community. His laughter, his generosity, his gift for conversation, his sparkling smile, his compassion, his encouraging words and actions, these are what brought people into Ken’s community and I have been so honored to join him as his plus1/partner in crime.

In the deepest of our sorrows, our true friendships emerge. Our communities draw us together. We cling to these words of encouragement, grace, and strength in a way that we didn’t know was possible. We see friends old and new, acquaintances, and strangers come from the woodwork of our communities to lift us up when we can no longer stand. And these communities seek no reward, they seek no gain–they simply give. This sense of community has humbled me to my core.

I have often repeated the words grace, patience, gratitude, and plain old, thank you in the last two weeks as if I don’t have a thesaurus big enough to express myself. So I will go on with these words and live to honor the man that has built such an incredible set of communities for our Thomuto Team.

Peace to you and may the souls of the eternal departed rest in peace and rise in glory.