Sunflowers among the weeds...International Bereaved Mother's Day 05/05/19

Sunday, May 5th is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. I’ve done blog posts in the past, and after spending some time editing sunflowers that I happened upon here locally, I saw an opportunity to share in part what I saw while photographing these beauties.

Sunflower season here in Solano and Yolo Counties will be sometime in June, and yet I was able to find a few springing up in a field where they were last year. Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. I’ve added a few fun facts about them just to give you an understanding of how amazing they are. Sunflowers are used to demonstrate a mathematical term called a Fibonacci sequence. You can also see this sequence in artichokes and cauliflowers. While reading about this sequence in sunflowers researchers have found that the patterns can be inconsistent in sunflowers and quoting the article “real life is messy.” This is a truth that is lived out daily in the life of a bereaved parent and when speaking about loss and grief. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/sunflowers-show-complex-fibonacci-sequences It is the only flower to have the word “flower” in its name. Sunflower removes toxins and is a natural decontaminator of soil. They have been used to clean up dirt at some of the biggest environments disasters, including Chernobyl and Fukushima. Sunflowers are native to the Americas. Some of these facts come from this article. https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-sunflowers-3972329 As you might now see sunflowers have a medicinal quality to them. They have been used to heal and remove toxins from soil. As I photographed these beautiful flowers, I was struck by the fact that even though they were growing among weeds, they thrived. I saw a few bees although they seemed to be moving slowly and possibly dying. So much about these flowers lead me to see myself and other bereaved mothers the same way.

These flowers were strong. Even though the weeds had dropped some of the seeds to strike down these flowers they still stood firm...strong almost like flower sentinels. They’re looking for the sun and following its course across the sky. They are beautiful. Some of their petals hidden from the sun but just as yellow and brilliant as the noonday sun. Some of these beauties had yet to open, and many of them winking so to speak as only a few of their petals had started to open.

This blog goes out to all of you who mourn the loss of your child/ren. You inspire me. Even amid your loss, you continue to move towards health. You still remind me that you are bright sunflower standing firm in your memories of your child/ren. You are learning that your loss has defined for you those things that are toxic and you move towards removing them from your path. Some of you are still trying to figure out what you need and yet, you persevere opening up just a few of your petals as you follow your path. The loss of your child will continue to shape each move you make. It will define who you are and why you do what you do. I pray that you continue to remain strong and resilient. Standing tall like a sunflower.

Spring Forward, Fall is Back...

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." - John Burroughs

Sunday, September 23rd marked the beginning of Fall, and that always brings about all of the Fall feelings. The one thought at the forefront in my mind is that I miss Evan. This isn’t a rare thing as I miss Evan every day, but maybe I'm anticipating the fact that this will be another birthday without him. This time of year has always been a favorite of mine. All the colors, the cooler mornings and warm afternoons, the anticipation of celebrations and just the vibe of Fall...but alas I'm overcome with melancholy. I know it will dissipate over time only to come back sometimes strong than when it left, but it lingers through January. The new year and winter time brings its own set of emotions and feelings with it.

I'm trying hard to be in a different state of mind as I approach this birthday. I'm battling the voices and memories inside my head that want to take me back and then yank me forward. I want to find a place that is restoring/filling me, but I also want to be mindful of remembering. When you are mentioned, you are present, and my desperate need for you to be in the present with me is the thing that I think is the most difficult for those who don't understand. I can't help but think that I'm celebrating yet another birthday and you are not here. That I will continue to celebrate birthdays and you won’t be here. That my future does not hold you and yet the past is filled with you. So the question is where do I want to be? And where should I be? The answer to these ponderings can't be answered by me at this time cause the space between the want and should is too vast.

The last few weeks I've kept busy with event photography and other thing photography related. I've been working, and in all the busyness I've been able to keep the memories that are inside my head at bay. That doesn't change that you won't be here to give me a hug or debate the latest political challenges. That makes me weepy...pretty much most of my memories make me weepy. I know it makes people uncomfortable. I know they want it to be ok. I know that they have the best intentions. I know that I'm loved and cared for in the best way. I just feel on some level that I've been cheated, robbed of moments in the future. I sometimes think that I worry about what people think. I’m learning that in all of this I am ok. That what I do and what I say can be judged, but in the end, I must walk out my grief in the way that fits me. I’m grateful for people who understand this truth. I’m especially thankful to my son Alex who walks along this path with me. Although we each are walking our own way, I realize that a portion of this journey we are walking in tandem with each other. Helping each other to take the next step and at times stopping to mourn our loss together. The vacancy of our loss is real to us as a family and the pain of that is raw and at times so very painful.

Thank you, Mom. I can't wait to see what you capture next....

Last year I was challenged to take my art out into the world. This challenge came in the form of a letter written from Evan but I had also many friend who told me I should try. So I did and it was successful. I placed in many of the shows I entered and won small monetary prizes for those placements. I'm glad that I did it and it helped me see a different side of photography....

I was unsure if this year I would be up to the task of placing my photography in the numerous shows that I had last year. Some of my motivation was that Evan and Alex really helped to move me forward and honestly putting your work in shows is time consuming. But I felt that I had a few piece that I could enter and my motivation was different this year so I entered a few shows along with entering the California State Fair. I've included those piece in this blog post.

Being an artist is unique and beautiful. It can also be demanding and test you in ways that you thought impossible. Sometimes I think that it was more then I bargained for this thing I do. I want to say that since the loss of Evan my world has changed...I can't really describe it but I feel the full impact of my loss every single day. I was out yesterday and nearly every place that I went or drove past had a memory of something or brought back to me a conversation I had with Evan. The other night I was out looking for picture frames for photos that I was placing in an art show I ran into some dear friends who asked, How are you??? Well at that moment I was deep in the process of trying to get frames and I was great but as I talked further I was grateful to get through a conversation about how I was without tears. Please don't take that the wrong way...for me that is a step forward in my healing. I want to be at a place that the very conversation about Evan does not destroy me.....crumble me to a "bucket of tear"so to speak...."grief ambush" as it's called in my small group study that I'm doing. I want to be able to have conversations that invite people towards me...to not be afraid to see people or have them avoid me or feel awkward. To be real grief is scary....and awkward...and crummy but it is also part of the process of loving and being loved. I'm grateful to have loved Evan and that he loved me too. There is so much joy in that...if I hadn't loved there would be no sadness or this grief that I have. Maybe that is what is different is the full impact of our love is felt in loss. Yes...I think that's what is different is that I know that if I love fully the full impact of the loss of that becomes very clear and painfully real. It goes back to something I believe the Lord is showing me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror.....1 Cor. 13:12. 

 

Mother's Day for those who are bereaved.....

Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-importance-of-international-bereaved-mothers-day-bbab/ 

As I think about Evan and the loss of him I can't help but think of all the other parents but especially Mom's who have lost a child. It is never easy..it continues to hurt...but we keep moving inch by inch..moment by moment. The immense love that we felt is only made harder but the immeasurable sadness we feel with our loss. 

Yesterday when I got home from work we had received a letter from the Donor Network. The folks who connect donor families to the people who have received their loved one's organs. In God's great mercy and because of His great love for us...this letter arrived this week. The great excitement that this recipient has experienced from receiving Evan's heart....that it has brought him back from the brink of death has made it is so very bittersweet for me. I'm so glad that he felt safe enough to contact us. That he has shared how his life has been immediately changed. How he is doing all that he can to live a health life and use the gift that he received to tell other to give the same gift. I can't help but be so overwhelmingly mournful of our great loss. 

With that said...We would not change the course that has taken place with Evan doing what was in his heart....and that was to be an organ donor. I'm proud of him and his very clear and direct decision to donate his organs. We continue to see God's hand in all of it and never once have thought this was not what Evan would have wanted. So as I close out this blog on this day that many are struggling to understand why and what can this all mean...let me encourage you. Hold your head up as well as you can...I know from experience it is not always easy...be present in the everyday...and if you can, think about giving the gift of life through being an organ donor. You could change the course of someones life. I know that it did for Lee.  https://www.donornetworkwest.org

Moments in the busyness....Capture 2017

In the busyness of the last couple weeks I was trying to keep my head figuratively and literally above the water line. I saw so many rainbows but on some of the days life seemed to move along with out me even knowing that my life has changed. Last week I spent most of my days busy either at work or just going. I've found the more I go and do the less I stop and feel. In the stopping and feeling moments the weight of my loss is so acute that I can't breath. I want my old life back....with all of its flaws and imperfection because in that it seemed that the pain was far less.....the empty parts of my heart are filled and I don't feel so empty...so utterly and completely empty. I often wonder if I would have maybe not wasted my time on insignificant things....would I have looked more deeply....loved more largely....held on more tightly. 

Of course I know the answers to all of those doubts.....the grip that sometimes wants to suffocate the life that I want to live....the today that I am living. When I start to think about my today I begin to breath just a bit more. I see that the sun comes out...that although the loss is great the sun does shine even through the rain and fog. The loss....the sadness....the empty parts seem to find rest. I'm always so surprised how the sadness creeps in but never surprised to hear the Lord bring words of comfort to me. Doesn't change my situation it just gives me the strength to take one more step forward. I seriously don't know how you are suppose to live after such loss but for this moment and of the moments in between...I look expectantly to Him and the beauty that He has created for us. Check out the shot of the hummingbird with his tongue out...amazing.

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!                                                            2 Cor 4:17 NLT

The World as I see it as I Welcome 2017 and Say Good-bye to 2016

As our family wraps up 2016 and moves into the new year it would not be complete if we didn't take a moment to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, cards, emails, texts and most of all your love towards us. This community that God has given us has truly been a life line for us.  Losing Evan has been one of the hardest things our family has experienced and we want you to know that you have been a great source of light and hope for us. 

During the holidays we tried to create new memories while clinging to old traditions as we have faced many firsts already without our son and brother. It was difficult to not have Evan with us during this time of year as it has always been a time that we have gathered to celebrate. Although we tried hard to enjoy the company of family and friends something of course was missing and that something was Evan. Oddly for me when fun was involved and I was in the throughs of laugher or singing loudly or dancing to awesome 70's hits.....a sadness invaded me and tears would begin to fall. I felt a touch of guilt that Evan would not be here on this earth laughing, singing loudly and dancing and that brought sadness to me.

Many will say...he is dancing in heaven...yes I know and maybe in the future when I have wrestled with my feelings of loss maybe I will have the strength to look death in the face and not cry foul....but the reality is he is not here and heaven although real....is abstract to me and selfishly, I want to have him here......to hear his laughter...listen to him sing loudly and dance. The struggle is real for me as when I write this what does it say about my faith...what does it say about my heart....This is just my world and honestly, I just told my family last night...I get inside my head when this happens and it just isn't good......all this while tears are streaming down my face.....I'm glad that God is big enough for these things that I ponder and that he has provided me with a husband and son that are trying their best to love me while their hearts are breaking too.

As I move into this New Year somewhat reluctantly I would like to extent to you all the hope and joy that the New Year brings. We pray that you live each moment of each day with love in your heart. Enjoy those you love....As for me I am expectant to what the Lord is showing and teaching me in this season...I know that I am looking to be more intentional in 2017. Making every moment count....

".....Cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder".  

                                                               Romans 12:12 MSG

Our last family photo taken in Napa for my birthday. 

Our last family photo taken in Napa for my birthday. 

Snapshots from the first week of January 2017

God is in the every day.....be present.

I have been out sorts since about the third of November. As I look back over the last 45 days I'm trying hard to remember some of the everyday things that I stopped and photographed. On the 4th of November 2016 my life and the life of my family was changed forever. At 3:22am we were woken up to the sound of brisk knocking at our front door. When I looked through the shutters I saw two officers and realized that this could not be good news. Unfortunately it was not.....they told me that Evan had been in an accident and they needed us to come to Kaiser hospital. I woke up my husband and my son and we made our way to the hospital. I honestly don't remember much but some of the things I do remember is waiting what seemed like a life time before we saw Evan. I remember the strength with a bit of apprehension that my husband and my son displayed that day and through out our time in the hospital....and I remember how quiet it was...on the drive over...in the waiting room as we waited to see Evan. It was almost as if the Lord was putting a blanket over us....a tangible protection so to speak....so that we did not get to far ahead of ourselves. Anybody that knows me knows that (in my mind) I can go to places no one has gone before but on this day I was under the protection of the Lord who knows and sees all that is going on and I had great Hope about what was before us. Now....does that mean I was not scared...no I was totally scared. Was I not worried...OF COURSE I was worried but what I'm saying is even in the midst of being scared and worried....there was calm....quiet....a presence that only God can bring....from the moment I was woken up by the knock at the door and that has remained with me even now. 

The following moments...hours...days...weeks and now one month from Evan's passing have been a blur. So much love has been poured out on us from all over the planet. We have gotten over 300+ cards, along with emails, Facebook messages, meals, flowers...lots of flowers, more meals, hugs, words of encouragement and the list is endless as to the gifts and love that have poured our way. Really to say thank you seems so small for what has been given to us. I don't want to give this illusion that everyday has been rainbows and unicorns. It is not...I have lived in this community for over 27 years and there isn't one place that doesn't remind me of Evan....I cry frequently in public and in private.....but in that I also feel that presence that came to me that first moment when the knocking came at the front door. I hope in weeks to come to chat more about this journey as I've tried to express some of the things I believe the Lord has placed on my heart regarding loss, relationships, investing in people, and walking out our faith in the midst of great loss and tragedy. I hope to take what God shows me through the every day and move it out so that we can pondering together the beauty that surrounds us. I also want to take some of my son's writings and pair them with my photography to create a beautiful blending of two creatives using what has be placed in us to shine a light and send a smile.

To all of you who have walked with us....We love you. You're our tribe and you will never know what a blessing you have been to us. To those of you who know Evan I ask you to not forget. You carry a small piece of him with you and whether he would admit it or not that piece...that love...was Jesus. Love Well...Care often....Don't be afraid to be a zookeeper.