A Sweet Sadness

When I left work I felt impelled to turn right instead of left and found myself heading towards LaConner. Tracy Spring’s CD, Looking Forward – Looking Back – was playing in my car – bluesy and poignant – and I felt myself going to that place where I find Moz. I carried her with me in-between fields filled with snow geese and trumpeter swans and I could see her in my thoughts, smiling at the beauty around us, enjoying our drive together.

I stopped at the LaConner Inn (where Moz and Dad used to live) to pick up any mail that might have been sent there. Whenever I go to their old place I always look up at the deck where I used to see Moz waving at me as I arrived and left.

I picked up the mail from the nice lady at the desk – the mail all came from charities that Moz used to give to. Sometimes it’s kind of disconcerting to see her name on all these envelopes from people still asking her for money – but today it made me smile.

As I left town I decided to stop at the coffee shop I used to go to all the time when I visited Moz and Dad. There was a man who looked like he could use a warm cup of coffee outside the shop, getting on a bike. I asked him if I could buy him a coffee and he smiled and said he’d just had a cup, but he’d take me up on the offer another time. He said he was sorry, he didn’t remember my name. I laughed and told him we’d never met. And then he laughed, too, and introduced himself.

I went into the coffee shop and asked the barista behind the counter if she had any pumpkin lattes. She said they didn’t have the pumpkin pulp anymore, but she could give me a pumpkin spice latte and that sounded perfect. We began talking – and I learned her beloved grandmother had just passed on. We talked about her grandma for a bit – she was very dear to her grand-daughter – and the barista teared up as she talked. I shared Moz with her then, and told her about the drive I was having with Moz. She came around the counter and we hugged. And there was a kinship there.

She mentioned the man I’d just met outside her shop – apparently she provides him with a coffee every day and sometimes he’ll spend three or four hours in the shop. She’s told him that if he ever needs anything – a trip to the doctor or whatever – he just needs to let her know. I told her I’d just offered him a cup of coffee, too, but he’d said he’d just had one – and I realized she’d been the one who’d provided him with the coffee. Again, I felt a kinship with her. We introduced ourselves to each other – her name is Judy – and I told her I knew I’d see her again.

I got back in the car with my pumpkin spice latte and drove back home, passing flocks of snow geese and trumpeter swans on the way. Tracy Spring’s music filled my car, and I found myself sobbing – not with grief, exactly – I felt a good kind of sadness, if that makes any sense. A sweet kind of sadness, remembering Moz and feeling her with me.
– Karen

(I’m not sure I’ve written Tracy’s lyrics in the right form, but here are some of the words to her song *Remember*.)
“It’s so hard to say good-bye…
All things pass,
of this I am sure,
love and music will endure,
and when I’m gone
remember the song,
remember how I loved.”
– Tracy Spring

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Lilly’s Human

I met her pet bunny on the boardwalk.
She’d named her Lilly and put a pink collar
around her neck. Lilly nestled in between
my feet for a bit, and then I crouched down
to pet her fur. Lilly was velvety-soft
and I’m pretty sure she was smiling.
Her human was a young woman
and I’m guessing she had “special needs” –
there was a happy innocence in her words
and a sweet, healthy pride in her care of Lilly.

As I continued on my walk I started
to wonder how long bunnies generally
live. A few years? A decade?
And I felt myself feeling sad for the pain
Lilly’s human might feel one day
when Lilly dies. But then it occurred
to me – having just survived a year
in which death seemed to come
every month to someone around me –
that Lilly’s human might learn
that death can’t stop Love. Lilly’s
human might learn that death really
has no power to separate us
from those we hold dear.

And I realized I didn’t need to worry
about Lilly’s human and she’d didn’t need
to be protected from pain.
Life offers us precious lessons
about the eternal.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Who has time for death?

“Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionately to their occupancy of your thoughts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I woke up this morning feeling melancholy. Thinking about death. Steeped in gloom. Full of fear. I’ve lost a lot of people dear to me this year – and some of them have not been much older than me. Some of them have been younger. And all of that led my thoughts down a dark and dreary road as I woke to a new day – pondering the how, why, when, and where of my own demise.

***

I asked my husband what he was planning to do today and he mentioned some work he needed to do in his orchard. That reminded me that I had been hoping to dig up some crocosmia bulbs that aren’t getting enough sunshine in my Secret Garden, and transfer them to the front yard. So I grabbed a shovel and headed back to the garden. Spent some time rooting around for the bulbs and re-planted them in the front of the house. But while I’d been back in the Secret Garden I’d discovered blackberry vines trying to take over back there. And my butterfly bush and climbing rose needed some pruning. And the clematis and grape vines had gotten completely out of control. Accordingly, I fetched some pruning shears and the wheelbarrow and went back, again, to my garden to try to bring some order to the chaos.

I spent a good part of the day working outside in the fresh air, in the dirt and among the living things – digging, pruning, loading stuff up in the wheelbarrow to add to our brush pile. And while I was working I didn’t think about death for even one moment. I was on a mission. I had purpose. I had before me the vision of what the crocosmia were going to look like when they bloomed, and the hummingbirds that would be attracted to them, and the roses that would bloom on the climbing rose bush, and the butterflies that would flit among the butterfly bush branches come spring.

***

As the sun started setting, I headed out to the local supermarket to get fixings for dinner. And look what was waiting for me!

bow barn frozen pond sunset 3 this one

Now I ask you – who has time to think about death when there’s so much of Life that invites our attention?

I’ve decided my job right now is to live. I want to be where the living people are.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
– Philippians 4:8

 

 

I Feel Her With Me

I feel her with me –
whenever I think of her,
she’s here. I feel her
when I’m kind and doing
something nice
for someone else.
I don’t feel her as eyes
watching me. Or as a ghost.
I don’t feel her as a physical
being at all. But I feel
the essence of her.
And I think she’s helping
me understand more
about who we are, really.
Not limited beings trapped
in these bodies, you know?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Address Book at Christmas

Flipping through my address book – 
getting my Christmas cards ready to send – 
your name pops out, and it gives me a jolt.
You died last month, but your name
lives on in black ink on a lined page
in my address book. And I want to send
you something – but you’re not there
to receive your mail. 
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

When Moz Was Here

A comforting ritual – baking
the annual Thanksgiving pies
connects me to Thanksgivings
past – decades of home and love,
laughter, food, memories of those
who’ve newly-arrived, and those
departed. This year will be
the first Thanksgiving without
Moz. And as I pour blackberries
into the pie I realize these berries
were ones I picked the summer
after she passed, and I wonder
if I might have a left-over bag
of blackberries I picked during
the summer before –  when Moz
was still moving amongst us.
I go to the freezer in the garage
and root amongst the frozen bags,
digging, searching – and there!
I find a bag of berries marked
2016! And now a part of the world
that still held Moz in it is in
this year’s Thanksgiving pie.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

I Could Feel Her with Me today

I could feel her with me today
as I sat on the pew surrounded
by song and peace and love.
I could feel her in the calm,
in the courage, and in the hope.
She was with me in that space,
with me in my thoughts,
and she was real – as real as you
and me and the music.
As long as I can love, she’ll be with me –
and her love will live on in me –
whether it’s on a trail in the forest,
lunch with dear friends, or a church
on the corner of 6th and Cedar.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God…”
– Romans 8