Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Learning to Rely on Hope as a Shelter

It has been a wet and stormy week here in Southern California.  We are in the midst of what is known as "the rainy season" and  although there are many years when nary a drop falls, right now we are getting drenched.  We are experiencing a weather pattern that is typical for this time of year in a very non-typical sort of a way, meaning that this is the way that things are supposed to happen, but often times don't.

I began to think, once again, about how life often mimics nature and nature often mimics life.  I began to think about how utterly sad this past year has been for me and my family, yet during the times when the clouds momentarily broke and the sun shone through, there was joy and love and hope.  I began to think of a broken family and broken hearts and how the unexpected can hit us during times that are well...unexpected.  That just like the supposed "rainy season" which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't, both sadness and joy can hit us at times when they are least expected.   
This past week, although outwardly rainy, has brought with it many reminders about the richness of life.  We spent the later part of last week celebrating Angel Daughter Number One's moving and multi-layered performance in a play called Expecting Isabel by Lisa Loomer.  AD1(wearing the green scarf in the above photo) played the part of Miranda, a married woman who is going through the complex maze of trying to start a family.  Like the expected rainstorms of Southern California, Miranda and her adorable husband, Nick(played by another one of my most favorite student actors, Brad), start out by forecasting what creating a baby will be like, but soon find out that the experience is nothing like what they assumed it would be.  In the character of Miranda, I saw my daughters who are growing up so fast, yet I also saw myself.  Planning the way that our lives are going to turn out and then hearing God's laughter echoing softly in our ears.  And I remembered that the only thing we can be about sure of in life, is to expect the unexpected.

Yesterday, we celebrated Angel Daughter Number Four's fifteenth birthday and I must admit that I cannot really believe that my youngest child is now fifteen years old.  How and when did that happen?  Watching her enjoying all of the attention while blowing out the sixteen candles(We always add one for good luck.), made me think about the storms that blow in and then blow out and what we are left with.  Is it the happiness that we choose to resonate with, or do we view our lives through the dark clouds of the storms?
I am trying to teach my daughters that giving up is never an option.  That we must always try to focus on the sometimes very tiny ray of hope which will someday lead us to the clearing in the storm.  If we stay focused on the negative, then it is the negative that will succeed in overshadowing our lives, but if we look for the positive, then hope will always prevail. Others may behave in ways that are irrational or even deliberately hurtful in nature, but if we choose to live our lives with loyalty, integrity and ultimately, hope, if we remember to keep our focus on what is important and right and good, then we can always be assured that there will be better times ahead.  

The photo above is of me and my oldest niece.  My beloved brother's daughter who has experienced more loss in her short ten years than a child should ever have to.  And although I have only been allowed to see her twice in the past year since my brothers death, I will never quit on her or her little sister.  I got to tell her this myself a couple of days ago.  She knows that on the other side of any storms that might arise, I will be standing there waiting for her with an always open heart.  She knows that she doesn't only have a Mom and a little sister, but that she has an Auntie, and an Uncle and four cousins who will never give up on her.  And so we continue to fight our way through the storms and the sadness.  Back to where we belong.  Back to one another.
Just a couple more photos that were taken on Sunday.  My six Angel girls.
Together as they should be.  And for now, I know that my brother is smiling above all of the sadness, above all of the clouds.  I can actually feel him.
And Angel Daughter received something that she so badly wanted for her birthday.  To be able to see her two younger cousins and to spend some time with the people who matter most in her world.
Yes, it has been a rough year and yes, there has been a lot of expected and unexpected rain, but we choose to focus on the better days.  We have gotten through most of the "firsts" which feel so disconcerting following the death of someone we love and now it is time to begin living with what is.  It isn't healthy to stand out in the rain without seeking shelter.  To do so, for a very long time, is to give up on the sun.  I cannot take this precious gift of life that I have been given and focus on living only in the sadness.  By remembering that the rainy seasons will eventually come when we expect them to, and sometimes when we do not, we can also be reminded that the skies will eventually clear.  And in the clearing there is always hope.


Ness said...

I am SO happy you got to spend time with your Angel nieces. "Living with what is" as you wrote, is the conclusion I'm not ready to give in to although I see the merit in the words and my next thought is, "What other choice do I have?" So I've decided to live with what is but keep expecting change for the better, or maybe to say never give up hope that things can change. It's been a really rough week, Deb, for me and at times I was hanging on by a mere thread. Thursday is KJ's 2nd neurosurgeon consult apt. and this person has to find a way to deal with what she is going through. Never stop writing, Deb. Your words are like a balm to my very unsettled life. Love you now and forever.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

you always touch me :) and I have to say I thought the pic of you and your neice was one of your girls with your neice YOU Are simply beautiful! (always thought that but must tell you again )
HAppy 15th b day AD4 and many many more!
I am glad you got to spend time with your cousins time is a WONDERFUL gift!
Love n hugs !

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I adore the last photo of you all. What a wonderfully happy momemnt you all look like you were living.


kim-d said...

You've done it again, Deb. This is just the post I've needed. I have also been thinking these exact same thoughts, and I completely agree with you. It's just that you put it into such lovely, beautiful words. And then to see the picture of BEAUTIFUL YOU, with your older Angel Niece. Deb, you are! You are gorgeous!

I am so happy that all six beautiful girls were together to celebrate AD4's 15th birthday; I felt such joy looking at the pictures. At 10, your older niece KNOWS you will always be there for her, of that I am certain. Just like you are always here for us, your blogger friends. And there is more comfort and hope in that than you will probably ever know.

I am convinced that once your Angel Nieces are a little bit older, you will be seeing much more of them...


**HAPPY, HAPPY *15TH* BIRTHDAY, AD4!!!** (belatedly) :)

Donna said...

What a beautiful post, and a beautiful family.

Thank you for the visit.


jenx67 said...

It's so nice to see you in front of the camera. You're gorgeous. Your girls all look like you! I just sank when I read about those precious baby girls losing their daddy. Tomorrow you'll find something on my blog for all of you.

Lorrie Veasey said...

You are awesome. I hope there are bright skies ahead.

Poetikat said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Debra! You have so much love in your family - this must be special (but then again - every day is V-day for those who truly love).

Your pictures are gorgeous!


sparkled*life said...

I can't imagine how hard this last year has been for you. I want you to keep this in mind: those sweet babies of your brothers are looking to you now to see the faithfullness of God. They are looking to see if your life will forever be stopped on the moment that their daddy died or if you live your life to be something that will leave a legacy now for your girls and in rememberance of your brother. When they see you laughing and enjoying life. That is what will inspire them.
One of my friends that went through a hard time had a woman figure to look up to in her life. As she watched her be strong she was able to be strong, as she saw her keep her joy she was able to keep her joy. She said because of that woman she is the woman she is today. She now pastor's a church of 5,000 people and her mother is Joel Osteens mom. Amazing story.

The Devil is going to send storms in our life to try to keep our eyes off of the faithfullness of God. What an amazing legacy you have to leave to these 6 precious girls! I know that it is a legacy that you will leave for sure.....
I just wanted to encourage you I guess with all that said to not let your brother's death be the moment that defines your life. Let the Legacy that your brother would want for you be what you live for. There is a difference. I hope that wasn't offensive. If it is I am so sorry. I am just kind of spilling out my heart like you are my best girlfriend.

Blessings and favor in your life!

Irene Latham said...

Wow, Deb, your nieces are sure growing! And I love what you said about life and nature. That is exactly what links we poets strive to make. You're totally a poet, aren't you. xxoo

delighted heart said...

More beautiful photos of your beautiful family! Those girls are just so precious. My heart just breaks to know of the sorrow you've experienced this past year. I've thought and prayed for you so often since I began reading your blog. I just want to encourage you....That sorrows may last for a night but joy comes with the morning.(Psalm 31:5) And the difference (in the spelling) between mourning and morning is "u". Only you can chose to stay in the past or move forward with the belief that God has a purpose and a plan for your life. A plan for you to "pour" into others life from out of your life. But you can only pour what is overflowing in your life...if it is sadness you will pour sadness. If it is joy...you will pour joy. Choose to put the pain behind you and don't focus on the rear view mirror. It's hard to go forward watching what's behind you! Focus instead on how much God loves you and pour out that love with joy on your family. It sounds like you are headed in the right direction. Just wanting to give you some encouragement to stay the course and maybe help you get there a little quicker! I'm having a drawing tonight over at my blog. Stop by and leave me a comment and I'll put your name in the hat. May the joy of the Lord be your strength!
Bless ya friend!

Catherine Holman said...

I can just hear the giggles of excitement when I see the photos of all these beautiful girls!

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