I wanted to share something with you I received from my brother over the weekend. 5 simple yet complex sentences. Simple words yet when combined are of the hardest to say or write but mean so much.

There are four of us, I am the oldest in a very traditional family values family. Of my siblings he is most resembles me but yet holds the world on his shoulders as the first son to carry on the family name. We are only 6 years apart but in teenage years that's a lifetime. It's only recently, as he married and had children, have we realized we aren't as different as we thought.

This weekend he sent me the following note:

"Thanks again for being the go to person for all of this. I know you have spent countless hours getting everything resolved, and taking care of dad. I honestly don’t know how you find the time or patience. The last few months (and probably next few as well) I have felt like I just been in a haze, and it has been hard enough just to deal with things at home, without all of the legal and family issues you have taken from the rest of us.

I can’t begin to explain what your personal strength and leadership has meant to me (and I’m sure dad as well)."

It's uncanny that his message of gratitude and admittance of grief comes within days of my ability to begin seeing myself once again. His message speaks volumes to the statement 'each of us grieve differently and in our own time.'

After reading my last post many of you admitted to being in what I like to call "managerial cruise control" and are wondering how I was able to come out of it. What 'moment' changed me or whispered reassurance to me that everything would be okay again? Those questions are as hard to answer as getting Great Grandma to write down the exact recipe to her decadent, request for every family event, homemade chocolate cake.

In her day they didn't rely on exact measurements so much as they trusted their instincts and senses. Cooking was a affirmation of life in the sense that no matter what, everything would turn out as it turned out - good or bad.

There was no 100% fool proof way to ensure everything turned out perfectly every time you baked. The only way to be sure you were on the right path was to constantly dip your finger into the mixture and taste. If it tasted wrong you reached for something to fix it and just sprinkled 'pinches' in until it was right.

Like flour, anger is a main ingredient to my healing. I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't hold a lot of anger in the first few months. When our pastor asked if any of us were pissed off at God I never answered him. Then again I didn't need to, my stare would have lit his hair on fire if it could have.

My anger ranged from being angry with myself because I didn't ask enough questions about Mom's health or take over caring for my Grandmother when she asked me even after she said it was too stressful for her. I was upset at my Mom for not taking better care of herself and pissed at God because he took her instead of someone who had lived longer. Oh was I enraged that God had left me to tell my Grandmother her daughter was gone and hear her wish out loud it was her who had died not Mom. Not only did I have to endure this once but every time she asked where Mom was or how she was doing. Oh yes was I pissed but I know now it would have been wrong to deny or suppress my anger.

The second main ingredient to any good recipe is water. If I was going to make it through my anger I needed to make it a point of spending a few minutes not thinking, washing away my thoughts for just a few moments each day. I wait until everyone is in bed or out of the house, sit in the middle of the floor, close my eyes and surrender my mind. I sit in complete silence, outside and inside my mind.

Some days it takes longer than others, especially in the beginning. My mind would race between thoughts, worries and craziness but eventually the emptiness came. It was and is peaceful; it's my few minutes not to worry about if I am doing the right thing or concern myself with what everyone thinks.

In these moments I finally acknowledged what I already knew deep down; death is as much a part of life as birth. In life no one gets out alive. We will not live forever no matter how many precautions each of us take in our time here. Anyone or anything can take it away in a flash and it sucks no matter how you look at it.

The willingness to remember and embrace 'living things die' was my binding agent, it was the egg. It explained so many things about myself. It is the reason why I enjoy cut flowers like many others but prefer the gift of a whole plant so I can enjoy growth and blooms for years to come.

It's the reason I always correct people when they tell me how old they are much to their dismay. Most will tell you their age by their birth day; they forget that they are actually in their next year of life. To me it makes no sense to short change your life; as if those extra months, days or hours you've already lived do not matter or not worth celebrating no matter how hard they were. To me the fact that you are breathing today is a celebration of life.

Honestly, the trickiest part of life's recipe are the rest of the ingredients. Not only do your choice of ingredients choose the type of cake, the amount you add of each determines how the cake truly tastes in the end. Simple but complex.

So for me there are many ingredients or experiences helping me to see through the confusion. It's in being tired, tired of being sad. It's in the way my daughter announced during the funeral services for her Great Grandmother she only has one Grandmother left and knew this Grandma would be okay because she takes lots of medicine to help her stay healthy.

It's in realizing I need to once again let my kids get back to attending play dates for not only their well being and growth but mine. I need to trust myself just as I trust the sun rises in the east and sets in the west no matter what the day was like. It's in my longing to enjoy the warmth of my children's' smiles just as the afternoon sun warms my face.

It's in the way we celebrated hubby's birthday this weekend. I woke up before all, frosted his cake and adorned it with some candles. When the kids woke up I made sure they stayed in their PJ's and didn't eat breakfast. Once hubby blew out the candles I announced we were having cake for breakfast ... just in case we don't make it through the day. Sure hubby's eyebrows raised but he realized what I have come to embrace ... live today in the moment.

Daily moments or the ingredients are my key. Sure I'll get some of them wrong or miss a few from time to time but I'm not sure anyone ever gets life's recipe right the first time. It's a matter of dipping your finger in from time to time, tasting the mixture and making the decision to add a pinch of this or that it if it doesn't taste right.

It's in the decision to celebrate in the moment, not wait until you are sure of the result. It's the reason why we eat cake first from now on in this house.
5 Responses
  1. Absolutely wonderful and very thought provoking post today, my dear.

    I love the parallels between cooking in the old days and a recipe for life. Brilliant, I tell you!

    I think there are so many people who never really think about their or their family's mortality, so that they are devastated when they do lose someone. That used to be me. I never allowed myself to picture my world without certain people in it.

    Thankfully, after a number of devastating blows, I've learned to live more by the seat of my pants. Go ahead & think about losing those you love! It will certainly make you live the most life you can, every day, with those you love. The older I get, the more this becomes part of me and the more I cherish being with those I love.

    Like they say... the only sure things in life are death & taxes. Everything else is just what happens in between. Make it count.

  2. Diane Says:

    I'm going to have dessert first tonight, in honor of you; in honor of your mom; in honor of my dad; in honor of me; in honor of life!

    Thanks for this post... it was wonderful!

  3. Apryll Says:

    Wow, absolutely beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  4. A totally brilliant post, Blarney! Food for thought ~ especially cake! You sound radiant, like you are grabbing life by the chest hair and hanging on, loving it, and noticing everything as if for the very first time.

  5. Ann Says:

    You are onto something Blarney. A wonderful new path is opening up.
    How are you feeling?
    You're helping me feel wonderful. :->