In the Closet

“For the rest of my life I will search for moments full of you”- Anonymous

Nothing could stop my heart from carrying me into her closet. I had to see her clothes, the personal effects that were simply her. Hands that look so much like hers yearned to feel the soft sweaters she had worn, fuzzy socks that kept her feet cozy, crocheted caps that provided warmth for a head no longer covered by hair. The loss felt in my soul was so deafening I could only hear the deep thud of a broken heart and the splash of tears cascading onto the old faded Troy T-shirt I wore.

Moments in time burst through my mind of days past, happier days, when she had worn each article and the memories were a sad but necessary calm to my spirit, a calm that I seek so consistently but I’m rarely able to find. Softly clutching sleeve after sleeve, I allowed the tears to flow and memories to set me free from the labor pains of grief.

When would the next labor pain happen? If it were only that simple. Scheduled labor pains of grief, that only occur when it’s safe, when no one is around, when I’m not busy, when I have time. On the contrary, labor pains of grief happen when you least expect them; when they are ready for you, not when you are ready for them.

What have I learned you might ask? I have learned to just relax through the ebb and flow of grief, much as a laboring mother who toils to bring her newborn child into the world. The pain in labor is not constant, there are moments to catch your breath, moments to enjoy the reprieve. But when the labor pains demand results once more, you have no choice but to allow them to do their work, prep for what is to come, make way for what is new.

If a laboring mother is rewarded with a newborn, what is the result from the labor pains of grief? They, too, give newness in life. When grief has completed its journey within your heart, you will be a new person. No longer the same. You slowly present yourself to the world. A person who not only has loved, but has now also lost. A person who has not only laughed, but has now also cried. A person who has not only felt joy, but has now also felt sorrow. A person that once only thought she could, now knows she can. A person who once was broken in loss, is now finally healed.

Thinking of cups of coffee I’ve shared with my sweet little mama over the years, and smiling. ~paula

Watch your Mouth Young Lady!

Early in my Social Work career, I had a close friend who was a fellow Social Worker. Incase you didn’t know it, us Social Workers tend to stick together. There are not too many that can understand our rude and crude senses of humor; therefore, it takes one to know one. Get it? But back to the topic. Over lunch one day, we were joking and trying to blow off steam from a particularly demanding case load and I remember chuckling through this comment, “When I grow up, I want to have the ability to tell someone to go straight to hell in such a manner that they actually look forward to the trip”. We laughed at that for months to come. And 10+ years later, I still think of it with a fond smile as well as of that dear friend who has since gone on to be with the Lord.

Within my 18 year career as a Social Worker, I have pretty much perfected the ability to discuss topics with families and patients in such a manner that they understand that my heart has their best interest in mind even when I speak words they do not want to hear. No, your precious Mom will most likely not make it through the weekend. Yes, your courageous father who fought in WWII must now have 24 hour caregivers to help with toileting and making certain his meds are given appropriately. Yes, I will be making a DHR report today because I am concerned that you are neglecting the needs of your Uncle who has entrusted you with his care. Yes, my nurse is going to have to begin counting out your narcotics upon each visit as we are concerned that meds are being taken inappropriately. Yes, you must provide a clean workspace for our nurse to provide wound care in an effective, sanitary manner; no dog feces can be visible in said workspace. Yes, I’d like to discuss funeral arrangements with you today, have you thought of where you’d like to be buried or who you might want to conduct your service. I have literally conducted hundreds of conversations where I’ve addressed these specific issues and countless other topics equally difficult. The topics are ever changing. My goal; however, does not. My goals are for these families to feel my compassion, grasp my stern resolve that the issue must be addressed no matter how uncomfortable it must feel and for them to finally feel a compelling pull toward finding a resolution or understanding that meets the needs of all that are involved.

While driving in to work this morning, I was mulling over some of the cases that I would be seeing for the day, preparing my mind for whatever my to-do list put in my path and I had an epiphany while considering a particularly difficult patient. Girl, you finally lived up to your long years ago dream. Now, granted, I don’t find myself telling my patients or families to go straight to hell, though there have been a few that perfectly tried my patience on just the right day and beer and cigarettes were written IN BOLD on my “after 5p” to-do list. But, I have the ability to speak to others in a manner in which I would like to be spoken. I have the ability to convey my thoughts and expertise and experiences and knowledge to these families in a manner in which they can understand so as to make their own decision. I say hard things, but always in the appropriate tone.

So, yes, I confess that there are times when working particularly difficult cases, and wonderful resolutions are implemented, that I may sit back and pat myself on the back briefly. Not long enough to get the “big head” but just long enough to keep up morale. (Ha!) Those are the times when I sort of think to myself, yep girl, you got it.

If my sweet Mama were here to read this, she would definitely have already said, “Watch your mouth young lady”. But then she’d remember where I get my sometimes less than lady-like mouth, and that is my Father who she dearly loved. So, all would have been well…until the next time I spouted something off without thinking.

I’ve enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee with you. I’ll let you know when another fresh pot is ready. ~paula

The Journey Begins

It is actually the most stressful thing in the world, deciding the first sentence of the first blog you have ever created in your life. As the pressure mounts, your mind whirls with topics and phrases that are intended to capture your audience and set the stage for future entries. After you’ve driven yourself almost to the point of insanity, it hits you like a sledge hammer, the first sentence shouldn’t be the most important thing. What happens and transpires within you, as you write, is the most important thing.

So, now that the tension has melted and I can simply share, I need you to know that I am so excited to begin this journey. Grief after the loss of my precious mother on January 28, 2018 is what pushed me to the decision to write. Not to mention, I have always loved journaling, I OWN the gift of gab and have ALWAYS loved to say things for the shock value…so here we are.

To let you know a little about me, I’ll share some of the things that I love, enjoy and of which, can’t seem to get enough. I love worshiping Jesus by serving with the praise team at our church. My mama taught me the love of music and singing and I intend to carry out that life until God says it’s enough. My next love is my family; nothing better than time spent with the folks I call mine. My favorite place on this earth and where I can hear “me” best is a good ol’, white sanded beach where the waves crash out every distraction; leaving only thoughts that are my own. I have many other loves, but these are a great beginning and will have to be enough for now.

Maybe there’s more to learn; maybe we can do that together. We’ll take this journey together and maybe, just maybe, it will all be worth it and become a little more clear as we share a…..cup of Coffee with Paula! (See what I did there? Ha!)

I’ll let you know every time there’s a fresh pot!  ~paula

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton