Monday, August 27, 2012

one month: the path of the yo-yo

one month
it has been one month today since my daddy died
it seems so surreal to verbalize those words,
they can't belong to me, this couldn't happen to me, not my daddy
yet it did
i shared the significance of this day with a few people and how could i expect them to respond?
to cry
to act out in rage
to collapse with disbelief
for their response to echo these fleeting emotions i have had today would have been indulgently satisfying
but mostly silence was their response
reflection and reminiscing in their eyes
can it really be a month, an entire month without my daddy

i keep expecting him to come home at any moment
like he's been on an extended business trip
i keep expecting him to call to see what's new at the johnsons
i've even said in response to a few of the boys' questions, 'go ask grandpa'
i've repeatedly had thoughts of, 'i'll call dad'
he's been gone long enough, i'm ready for him to come home
i can't imagine living the rest of my life without him

i have been feeling like a yo-yo
emotions bouncing up and down, up and down
outside forces driving me to spin round and round
wrapping myself around the string of everyday events that place demand on me to keep going

there has been stretches of days in which i have managed to jump back into life
actually living it with an immense strength that has been gifted to me
a power i have never felt before
seeing life through a new lens, much wider and focused
floating through days in which my weaknesses were swallowed up in the grace of a loving Heavenly Father

but then it came
uninvited emotions of various origins

guilt for actually trying to keep going on with life and for having days in which i don't break down and cry, and just maybe thinking i am able to go on
how could i go on
why should i be ok living without him
doesn't that discredit who he is and how much i need him

anxiety and being overwhelmed
when a new straw comes to tip the scales after you thought you had just balanced it out
straws that have come in the form of
rampant moth infestation in my pantry, forcing each and every item to be removed and inspected and/or tossed
{ooohhh you don't even want to hear the details of this revolting tale which sent me into a full blown hyperventilating anxiety attack, accompanied with involuntary twitches and movements}
car breakdowns in the school pick-up line of busily taxi-ing parents
prolonged episodes of uncooperative children in an array of locales
these, the final straws to send me over the edge

as evidence of a merciful Heavenly Father,
angels in the form of earthly friends have immediately raced to my rescue
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him...
beginning to sink
if there was ever a way to describe my state at those moments, that would be it
beginning to sink
and immediately
friends stretched forth their hands and caught me in my dissension

such evidence of one of my father's favorite quotes which he recited to me often throughout my life
{mentioned previously here}
God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.

but i would be remiss if i did not reiterate the lift that i have felt in many of the days within this past month
sometimes the lift lasted for days, beautiful days full of increased love for motherhood and patience for the silly little inconveniences of day to day living
other times it has been the rescuing lift, reaching down to pull me up during moments of difficulty

i indeed have felt the presence of my father this month
i am so grateful for those instances
and i hold them dear and sacred

friends i thank you for reaching out to my family
for the notes, for the doorstep surprises, for the calls, for the goodies, for the hugs, for the simple acts of kindness and service that really mean so much to us and are what keep us going.
each one brings to the forefront of my mind those sweet words of testimony from a prophet of God.
God does notice us and he watches over us.
He knows what I am feeling and he is providing countless ways for me to see it.
I pray that I may continue to lift my gaze to see them in the days ahead.
When one month turns into two...
into three...
and on down this road

if you haven't been able to do so yet, we are still looking to put together a book full of your thoughts, stories, and photos of my Daddy.  please email them to we have been enriched by those who have shared so far.  thank you again.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

under a shady tree, my first visit to the gravesite

this morning Mom invited my siblings and i to join her in visiting Daddy's gravesite
i must admit that yesterday at the cemetery i was initially very bothered that the 'graveside' service was not 'graveside'
i had expected his casket to be delivered from the funeral service to its final resting place, not a pavilion in the center of the cemetery
i guess that must have been the policy for such a small cemetery as Wildomar
i grumbled in my mind for a bit and then decided that that was what was going to happen so i just needed to accept it
i was grateful that i did so that i could enjoy the beautiful dedicatory prayer that my brother Jesse gave upon the plot and final resting place of Daddy
to protect it from harm and any natural disasters
such a comforting prayer

i was indeed anxious this morning to actually see where Daddy had been laid to rest
i was delighted to see that it was in a beautiful location
right under the large branches of a strong, shady tree
i quickly looked up from the ground to the heavenward view from his gravesite.

as my mother, brother Luke (Jesse being in Utah for his sister in law's wedding), and sisters laid on a blanket next to the gorgeous flowers adorning Daddy's grave
i realized that i would be spending many, many hours below this magnificent tree
it was peaceful and comfortable there
something i was not expecting to feel

huddling together, Mom told us stories of meeting Dad for the first time
how shy and sweet she thought him to be
and then of their courtship
and the events that transpired leading up to their marriage
such a tender feeling in her words

it was a time of closeness and quietude
and i did not want to leave
i could have stayed there all day
knowing that what awaited me were things and people expecting me to do normal things
clothes and dishes to be washed
milk to be bought
doctors to see
people who i would come in to contact with that have no idea the aching i am experiencing and the loss i feel

my inclination right now is to just stay where i am most comfortable and with those who understand and wouldn't expect me to have to say a thing
oh how do you carry on with such normal things?
even after knowing Daddy lives on and Heavenly Father's comfort is close
it still hurts

to those who attended the service

good morning friends and family
it hasn't been very long since we have spoken, as i feel that i was with so many of you yesterday

i witnessed such a grand tribute to my father as i saw the entire congregation, in reverence, arise when his casket entered the room
admirers and loved ones reached to the very back of the building, filled additional adjoining rooms as well as received a broadcast at an entirely different building
the honor was immense
as everyone stood i turned my gaze to span the entire chapel and breathed it all in
a moment engraved in my mind forever
i saw faces of those i have known nearly all my life and have loved me since i was a little girl
and even some who have loved Daddy since he was a young boy
some had traveled great distances to be there
to lend their love and lift to my mother and our family
i saw faces of some who didn't even know Daddy, but i knew came just for me
their kind gesture left me feeling so loved
many faces i did not know
to me they stood as a testament of the breadth of the influence of my father

i was grateful for those who greeted me, never having met me, but who loved my father
repeatedly i heard
he gave me a chance
he gave me counsel 
it was an honor serving with him
he was the greatest man i have ever known
i learned so much from him

i believe that the comments which bestowed the greatest honor upon my father
were those who revealed to me that after the service they had been so affected as to want to make changes in their own life, be a little bit better, make some adjustments, for they had a desire to realign their life with those things that were most important
the life of my father was an inspiration and testament to our ability to live each day demonstrating where our priorities lie.

mike and i commented later on that there were an overwhelming amount of those who had come to greet us that spoke of their own great personal loss of a parent, sibling, or loved one
we believed that there was something substantial to that
looking back we realized that we have not lent the needed service to those who had lost someone
we had not gone to great lengths to extend our support
we had not yet experienced that piercing ache and deep void in our life
now we can see why those who have suffered through this would want to reach out in empathy to those who have also lost so deeply in their life, to "mourn with those who mourn" and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9)
having experienced this earthly separation and void themselves
and in knowing that it was in part due to the love and support of others gathered round you that you could take that next step, and the step after that, and so on

today i wanted to express my deepest gratitude for those who attended the services 
whether i was able to talk to you, just see your face, or see your name in the guest book.
thank you for aching with me
thank you for crying with me
thank you for lifting me
thank you for your faith and courage on my behalf

there is so much more to say about the services of the day
and the impressions that they left on my heart 
i hope in the days to come the words of strength and comfort will flood my mind
as truthfully all the particular words of the service are a little cloudy in my recollection 
i would ask if there were words shared that struck your heart if you could please share them with me, so that i may recall them too


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