A Day at a Time

A day at a time, a step at a time.

My friend Leslie has left so much for all of us to love and cherish in her memory.  Her husband John and the three children are all our constant link and reminder of her. John is from Mississippi so I have informed him that the two of us are almost family since we are from the same “dirt.” If you live in Texas and you are not from Texas since birth, the locals all think of you as an “outsider.” Do not forget we live in a state that has recently had elected officials speak of Texas becoming its own country. It is funny and scary!!! Mostly, comical which is how most Texas politics seem to be.

But, being that I am from Alabama and he is from Mississippi, well, these two states seem to be lumped together for many reasons. So I have decided that John and I qualify to be “family.” But even more than that…he is an amazing man, father, husband and person!!!  WE would all wish to have someone like him to call family.

John has continued to shine through the darkest of times. His heart is golden and he has been sharing some of this journey with those of us that were close friends with Leslie. This last piece he wrote was so beautiful, I had to beg his permission to share with my Healing Knots circle. His writing is so real, so moving, so honest. Even if you do not know his story, his message is something that will speak to you.

I am honored to share John’s words with you.

The Rear-view Mirror and Looking Ahead
via "AllforLeslie"

Time has a way of slipping by quickly, events seem to recede like signposts in your rearview mirror. It doesn't seem like a month has passed since Leslie left us, but it has. At this time (12:37) on June 8th, Leslie's brother David and I were standing in her room as the nurse said she would probably pass by the end of the day. Around 1:30, he and I were sitting on a bench outside Brookdale when the call came. The past month has been a blur, and I cannot begin to express the depth of gratitude I have for the love and support that has been shown to us. As I have had discussions with ministers, friends, and family, there is a commonality in the questions. I thought it would be best to document and share these, if only to capture them for posterity. Bear with me as I discuss the questions of grief, the role of family and friends, and where I feel God comes in to aid the process.

In the hallways of my mind, there is a room with shelves stocked with bottles and boxes which contain the memories of Leslie and I shared over the years. Some are happy, some sad, others the mundane putterings of everyday life. At times, I consciously open a box, process its contents, then place it back on the shelf. Other times, boxes rattle and shake, springing open whether I like it or not. For me, grief is like a little black cloud, hovering out of the periphery of my mind's eye. I have found that sometimes a random thought, sound or even a knowing smile from a friend can swing it into full and all-encompassing view, breaking open boxes and bottles with abandon. It can be crippling sometimes leaving me unable to breathe, other times only a passing shadow. But I have found confidence in knowing that the moment will pass, I can repack the boxes and move forward. I try, as T.S. Eliot wrote, "To be at the still point of the turning world." The cloud is smaller today than a month ago, and the frequency of crippling moments is declining. We move forward a day at a time, confident that it will get better.

I love the Indiana Jones movies. In the second movie, Dr. Jones faces a rickety rope bridge over a yawning chasm of doom. At times, I feel life is similar to that bridge. I am trying to keep my eyes forward, gripping the ropes tightly and stepping across gingerly as life sways back and forth. But how can you do it? The answer is that you cannot do it alone. Friends and family are there supporting me, working ahead, often out of sight, laying planks, mending frayed ropes and supporting rotten boards so that I can keep my eyes on the goal and step forward as confidently as possible without looking down into the void. I can move forward a step at a time, confident that support is there.

Where does God fit into all this? What do I pray for? Simply put, I pray for understanding and peace. I ask for understanding so that I can glimpse the big picture about the "what" (I gave up trying to figure out the "why"). I ask for peace so that I process a box and put it back on the shelf with no regrets. I don't believe God is a universal Santa, granting and refusing favors based on whatever rubric you choose. But prayer allows me to focus and know that the situation/problem will be resolved (for better or worse) and that worrying about it is a fruitless endeavor. To me, God is a giant safety net under the rickety rope bridge of life. I can keep moving forward with confidence and worry less about the sway, the planks, or the destination.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

A day at a time, a step at a time. 

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