I wrote this poem on December 6, 2013…back when I felt a melancholy that didn’t fully make sense. Now it does, and I feel it even more than when I wrote it.
There is beauty in it all.
Sometimes when life seems more than I can take
When the emptiness is as vast as a stark canyon at sunset
And the ache feels like another character residing within me
I look around and see what is.
There is beauty in the way the blue connects with the pink and the white in the sky
There is beauty in the way my son laughs from his belly, so hard that he cannot breathe
There is beauty in the smile my daughter gives me when she appreciates something I’ve said
There is beauty in the love I see in my husband’s eyes as he kisses me
There is beauty in the breath I can take every second of every day
There is beauty in seeing the beauty.
I hope I can remember that.
I think maybe the anger has come. You know~the five stages of grief and all. I’m neck-deep in grief and feel like hitting someone. My mom would nervously giggle about me saying that, so I will tone it down for her sake, but…I think she knows how I feel. She lost her parents when she was 36 and 37. I know she was never the same after that and I know I never will be either.
All the sweet messages and notes and flowers~it has truly been comforting to feel the love and support of our loved ones during this time. I don’t know what we would have done without it. As it is, we’re clinging to each other desperately, and then knowing people are praying for us through it…it is the only way we can make it.
But then there are the others…oh the things people say.
Back in May, Mother’s Day to be exact, the day before my mom had surgery for breast cancer…a lady came up to my mom’s window as we sat in the church parking lot.
“I heard about the cancer,” she said with a shake to her head. “I tell you what, everyone has been so sick. I’ve had this cold for weeks! Just can’t shake it. Have never been so sick in all my life…” And on and on she went about her various ailments.
My mom nodded her head and smiled sweetly, not trying to add or take away from the conversation, just listening. She was the best listener. But besides that, it really can be hard to get a word in edgewise with some people.
When the lady finally moved on, I looked at my mom in disbelief. She wasn’t going to say anything. So I said it. “Can’t people give you one day? One minute even? Without talking about their stuff? You have cancer!” I went on a bit more and she laughed about it.
She was so calm about cancer that I had to sort of calm down about it too, but I wanted everyone to at least acknowledge what she was going through and not just feel the need to talk about their Aunt So-and-So’s sickness in that moment. Or their own bout with cancer. Or the time their dog had cancer…
Fast forward to this past week. Shock. We’re stunned because my mom survived breast cancer. It was pneumonia that took her. We never dreamed we would lose her right now.
Standing by her casket, the same lady came up to me. The Cold For Weeks Lady. I tried not to cringe, but to treat her kindly as my mama taught me to always, always do.
“I just can’t believe it about your mother.” She shook her head. “It has been an awful week. I’ve had two deaths in the past few days! One was a guy I went to high school with and the next day your mother!” She shook her head again. “I have to go to another visitation after this!” She looked at me, like, can you believe how busy I am?
And again, I wished for just one day that my mom could have it be about her. Where we could talk about her beauty and her unending patience and loyalty, her passion for talking about the Lord, the all-encompassing way she loved, her quiet way that never asked to be the center of attention, but her gracefulness that still captured it…her quick humor, her table that was always set to perfection, the way she had OCD with her closets, the light in her eyes when she talked about her grandchildren, the way she always knew the alto part, the pink tinge in her cheeks and her red lips…her smile.
She loved like no other.
I know no one will ever love me like she did, and that is such a huge loss. It was more than her being my mother~I’ve met plenty of mothers who didn’t really want to know all about their children. She wanted to know everything and felt everything I felt and then some. I tried to protect her from some of the knowing, because I knew how deeply she carried my burdens.
There just aren’t many people in the world like that. There was an art to her caring~a precision to it that was exact and always on point. It came naturally to her and she exhibited it to the very end.
If I run into Another Visitation Lady ever again, I cannot be held responsible; however, most likely, I will smile sweetly and nod. And hopefully I can have a good laugh about it all with my mama one day.
We laid my beautiful mama to rest on Monday, December 30th. I can’t even begin to express the pain we feel at losing her. I know we’d never be ready, but it all is such a shock.
I wanted to share this for those of you who aren’t nearby…I know so many people around the country loved my mother. She was to love, that’s for sure.
Kathryn S. Hicks (Kay), 69, of Cabot, Arkansas, passed away Friday, December 27, 2013. Kay was best known and will long be remembered for her kind, gentle spirit and for her selfless love for her family and friends. She was a member of the Apostolic Church in North Little Rock and loved the Lord Jesus above all else.
She is survived by her husband of 43 years, David Atkinson, of Cabot, Arkansas; son, Troi Atkinson and wife, Phyllis, of Toledo, Oregon; daughter, Lori Sabin and husband, Nate, of Saint Paul, Minnesota; grandchildren, Stefen and Jared Atkinson, Greyley and Indigo Sabin, and Brittney and Nicole Connolly; sisters, Wannie Jean Pope, of Pine Bluff, and Patricia Newell, of Denver, Colorado; brother, Rev. Joe Hicks, of Mayflower, Arkansas, and several nieces, nephews, and a host of friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Gladys Hicks, two sisters, Gladys Mae Hicks and Rita Hymer, and brother, Robert Hicks.
Since she was so difficult about getting her picture taken~I believe I’ve blogged about that a half dozen times on here :)~this is the last picture I have of her before this week. I’m so glad I have it.
Wishing you and all of yours so much love and joy this Christmas season. Let your hearts be merry and light. xo
We’re going through some hard things with Greyley and a friend of mine~Andrea~asked me for the link to Indigo’s story. I have to remember those days every time I start losing hope in the here and now. Greyley fell in gym at school over two weeks ago and has had such a hard couple of weeks. She’s been in pain every day, hasn’t been able to walk without stumbling around, and is pretty out of it. At physical therapy this week, she was discouraged, but Nate told her she just wanted her own miracle story to tell.
He was kidding. We already know she’s had her share of miracles too. Just her being born is a big one. There was THIS day. There’s been years of THIS and that’s been so much better than it used to be, thankfully! But sometimes you just forget all that and need reminding. I know she’ll be okay. It’s just hard right now.
We’re having a lot of cuddle time, which I am eating up. My fifteen-year-old baby girl still loving me is something I will never take for granted. I’ve held my breath that it will change at some point~everyone puts the holy fear of God into you about those teenage years, especially with girls…but we’re hanging in there. We still love each other madly.
The doctor told her again a couple days ago to not do anything. Don’t text, read, watch TV…and added two new ones: don’t lay down and no napping in the day. When you feel rotten, you just want to lay down and when you’re not sleeping well, naps sound mighty good. But since she’s having so much trouble walking, they said with the concussion, she’ll have to retrain her brain to think it’s okay to sit and stand up. So we’re taking it slowly. Things are quiet and calm around here. Well, except for the little chatterlove who has been so concerned about his big sister.
Last night was the best I’ve seen her. I could tell she was feeling a little better because she started teasing her brother. Today she has to get an MRI and she’s dreading that in a big way.
Looking back on previous posts over the years, I’ve asked for prayers so many times and I know so many of you have really taken our family to heart. I appreciate it more than I can say. So once again, add Greyley to your list. xo
Continued from Summer Road Trip Part 1…
I saw friends that I haven’t seen in so many years, but we fell right back into our fun, easy friendship like no time had passed at all.
Indigo took this one of us and I’m so wishing I’d taken one of the two of them. They hit it off right away, like I knew they would.
The next morning, Nate and I did a rehearsal with the musicians at The Rock Church in Mountain View, CA. The very first person I saw was my dear friend Samantha! I wanted to weep and laugh all at once. I think I did do that. We played in the band at church together for YEARS.
Oh man, it did my heart good to see her.
And then Stanley! It was just too much. The best day ever.
And so many more. I had a non-stop grin on my face for days.
The church was great—so welcoming and kind. We just loved it there.
Photos by Ron Hodges
Mindy…Greyley fell hard for her and I knew she would. Even though she’s all grown up, her personality is still as huge as ever.
And then the next day, Deanna!
(This dress made the rounds. I washed it, I promise.)
Such a good visit.
From her we went straight to see my brother from a different mother/father. Rudain.
We visited while Greyley drove the 4-wheeler. She was having a blast and being all careful.
And then Rudy said, “Come on, I’ll teach you how to drive it fast.”
This is a nice picture before she turned it on its side…
Everyone wants to know where that picture is.
Um, I was running out to my baby with heels on…in the dirt…not taking time to take a picture.
She was fine. She and Rudain were both laughing when we got to them. It took my heart too long to recover.
That night, we went to my nephews’ house and had the best time. Never enough time, but always sweet…
They just all click.
Christina & me
To be continued…
Want to go on a road trip? Like, a really totally LONG road trip?
Okay, let’s get started…
Minnesota to somewhere in Nebraska…stayed in a hotel that looked awful on the outside, but was actually quite shocking inside. Great place. Ramada, I think. There was an indoor tiki hut courtyard. I know, it can’t be explained. But what really caught my eye was the sign in front of the (truly) fabulous pool.
Sometimes you just have to spell things out, I guess.
It was bliss when we found this train out in the middle of nowhere…in Wyoming. There was also the nicest log cabin Subway I have ever seen. If that and the Walmart hadn’t been there, I would have expected Tonto to come out at any moment.
It was beautiful in Wyoming and Nevada, but crossing into California…it really is something special. And we were so happy to FINALLY be in CALIFORNIA!!! (Insert wild dancing here!)
We made it to our dear friend Staci’s house after two days on the road. She promptly fed us and took us over to her mom’s house to swim. The kids needed it! There also happened to be a scooter that Indigo became instantly attached to…
Went to San Francisco…I’ve wanted to take the kids there for such a long time. I have so many great memories there with my family and friends…Nate and I have so many great memories there too. So I had a perma-grin that whole day. We rode the BART.
Indie took this shot…
We rode the cable car…Stace took this one. Wish she was in the picture instead of Poser Dude.
It seems we adopted a new family member for the picture. ^
Found some minions.
Dreams were fulfilled.
I found my place.
Died over this…
Enjoyed the beauty. Healed my insides to see the beauty.
To be continued…
Even though the rain just keeps pouring down, the feeling of summer is in the air. Promising something…good.
I’m ready for that, how about you?
Let’s start off with the troubling things first. My parents’ health has been a huge and growing concern. My dad hasn’t been improving as much as we’d like. At all. And my mom has breast cancer. She had surgery the day after Mother’s Day and it went well. She starts radiation in a week or so and finds out later this week if she’ll have to do chemo too. We’re hoping and praying she won’t have to do chemo.
Through it all, my mother has made it hard to be overly worried—I still am, but her peace about whatever happens next has been instrumental in calming my heart and mind about it. I still have bad days when I’m just a mess about it, but most of the time, I’m feeling so hopeful that everything is going to be all right.
All of it has made me try to stop and be grateful for the moments I have…to be mindful that life is fleeting and each moment counts. I don’t want to waste it being held back or fearful. I want to live each moment loving…whether it’s my children, my husband, my parents, family, friends, strangers, fill in the blank. NOT food. haha Trying to not love food QUITE so much as I have been. A healthy love, you know?
Work is good and plentiful and overwhelming and fun and has made my life topsy turvy, but in the best ways. Traveling more than I ever have and while I love it as much as I ever did, I am learning what it really means to be homesick for my husband and kids. Before, it was so rare that I was away from them that it felt like a healing time to go away and recharge. Now it feels like I don’t need that so much, but am THRILLED when I get to come home to them.
I think my last post I shared the books I’d worked on from Jan-April. Will try to give you the latest, in case there are any book lovers still reading my spotty blog and looking for a beach read. The Last Hour by Charles Sheehan-Miles, Happenstance by MJ Abraham, There is No Light in Darkness by Claire Contreras, Darkness Before Dawn by Claire Contreras, and Picturing Perfect by Melissa Brown. There are several coming out soon, too, that I’m excited about. Two, in particular. I’ll try to share those links when they’re available.
Speaking of beach…I’m seeing that in my future. Oh, I need to see that beautiful water. Who’s going to the beach this summer? If I don’t end up getting there, enjoy it for me, please. xoxo
Well, I always wondered why people dropped off the face of the earth with their blogs and now I know why. Without going into all the boring and not-so-boring reasons why I’ve disappeared, I’d like to just say hello and that I’ve missed all you here at Girly Muse.
Facebook seems to cover a lot of my visiting needs now and I’m writing so much in other venues that I haven’t felt the overwhelming need to get it out somewhere. But still, this will always be one of my favorite places.
A few updates…
My boy turned 8. Cue the tears and gnashing of teeth. My baby is growing up SO FAST.
My girl has bypassed me by and inch and a half…an probably even more by now. I am happy for this. I don’t wish my height on anyone.
Editing up a storm. Books completed and released (or almost) since January are: Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown, Reckless Abandon by Andrea Randall, In the Air by Crystal Serowka, Breaking the Wrong by Calia Read, Binds by Rebecca Espinoza, and In the Stillness by Andrea Randall. If you need a book to read, just look one (or all) of these up on Amazon…
I’ve almost survived another Minnesota winter. This is definitely newsworthy.
I’m having a birthday this week that I had forgotten about until my friends brought it to my attention. Thanks a lot.
Life is good. I’m in a wonderful season. Busier than I’ve ever been, but feeling really good. How are all of you? Update me, please. xoxo
Fist pump! We survived the influenza! Woohoo!
Getting healthier around here and happy to be…
We had a little early morning trauma today. Around 5:45, Indigo came in sounding scared and pitiful. He thought there was a mouse under his pillow and was close to tears.
He lost a tooth last night so we knew what was under his pillow. We reassured him there was no mouse and sent him back in there to check under his pillow again, which he very nervously did. He came back giving me The Evil Eye.
“The TOOTH FAIRY took my TOOTH but didn’t leave anything else,” he said pointedly to ME.
The Tooth Fairy has sorta gained a bad rap over the years. Do a search for Tooth Fairy on this blog and you’ll see a handful of posts regarding her flaws.
I knew that the other tooth fairy in the house had done their job, so I confidently sent him back in to check.
Turns out, in his half-sleep stupor, he reached under his pillow, ran into his stuffed elephant in the process and sent the tooth fairy box flying.
He came back and cuddled with me and said, “Meep,” which he later informed me meant he was sorry. That Tooth Fairy has an awfully hard life.