Tag Archives: family

A Joyful Holiday

Standard

Wishing You Joy

Tomorrow is the big day. Christmas is upon us! What kind of shopper are you? I’m of the variety who waits until the last minute and scrambles, hoping to be struck by brilliance and find the perfect gift. Brian was very good at it, so this year has been a little tougher on me without our creative minds working together. Yeah, I’ve had to resort to gift cards in some instances, but I don’t find those impersonal. Kids especially like them because they get to shop for their own loot. I guess I don’t mind them for much the same reason.

What is your day like? Hustle and bustle or subdued and simple? I prefer the latter… big surprise, huh? Our Christmases in Florida started with a morning walk, just Brian and I, while the boys slept in. I remember making breakfasts, sometimes my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls or my mother in-law’s breakfast casserole. Our Christmas dinner was sometimes traditional, but other times not; I made barbecue pork ribs one year. We often made desserts  and treats to enjoy and also give away. The unwrapping of the gifts was quite low-key, especially as we all got older. Very often we would go out in the late afternoon and see a movie together. Definitely subdued and simple!

Some of my best Christmas memories are from the days when the boys were little. For many years we would sleep by the tree on Christmas Eve, letting the boys open one gift that night and save everything else for later. I remember them decorating cookies one year with Brian. Brian Jr’s creations were carefully and creatively decorated, as realistic as possible. Jordan was more of the “let’s pile the icing high and get messy” sort of decorator. Brian was a mixture of both. The Lawsons are an eggnog-drinking family and the kids always looked forward to the first cartons of eggnog showing up on grocery store shelves. A little thing, of course, but a fond memory nonetheless. Not too long ago I was going through one of my mom’s photo albums that was labeled “Christmas” and enjoyed turning page after page of holidays, watching the kids grow up all over again.

This year is different in so many ways. I’m back in the cold with better chances for a white Christmas, although sand is white, so I think I enjoyed those even in sunny Florida! Jordan and I are here together, but we are missing Brian Jr. and that has been hard to deal with. I have an emptier nest than I thought I’d have a year ago. I even checked into flying down just for Christmas Day to make things seem more normal, even if just for 24 hours. The biggest difference, though, is obvious. There’s an important person missing and no plane ticket can change that.

Going through the first holidays after losing someone is supposedly the most difficult. It’s proving to be emotional and lonely. I also hear, however, that holidays will get easier as time goes on, though nothing is ever quite the same again. That thought makes me all the more grateful for the memories I have to hold on to and the days I have left to create new ones. There will no doubt be happy moments in the days surrounding Christmas and on the day itself that will stay with me forever, that will be added to the scrapbook in my mind. Wherever you are tomorrow, however you celebrate the day, take a moment or two to really appreciate the way things have been and the way they are now.  Look forward to the way they will be, no matter what your future holds, but don’t look too far forward. Treasure the here and now. I wish you the merriest Christmas and the happiest holiday.

Holidays = Joy

A Safe Place

Standard

For the first time, I am ready to admit something. I don’t like walking through the downstairs living toom. Every time I do I look to the spot where a hospital bed sat for months and a man tossed and turned and moaned and ached and finally took his final breath. That’s hard to stomach and I can see so clearly in my mind that metal bed. I could trace the outline of it if I were asked. If I sit on the couch, I remember the view I had night after night of Brian’s head as he tried to sleep and the hours he spent playing with the bed control, eventually getting to the point where he wasn’t sure what it was for. Every time I leave and come home, I walk through the living room, past the spot where I used to have to step over the line that brought Brian oxygen; it was always snaking its way across the floor. I tripped over it countless times! It’s the place where I brought meals and drinks and medicine. It’s where a man so energetic and full of life left this world. The room doesn’t look the same to others. Now it has different furniture and the mantle and shelves are decorated again. But to me it looks exactly the same. It’s the spot where I whispered in Brian’s ear on May 27, 2012 that it was okay and he could let go and where I held his arm while a nurse held his wrist and told us when his pulse finally stopped at 12:07am on May 28. It’s the place where I looked across the bed, over Brian’s lifeless body, and just shared a silent moment with my brother of understanding and sadness.

I retreat upstairs a lot to the living room and bedroom of my own that I created in the weeks after Brian’s death. There are only three pieces of furniture that remain that were ours. Everything else is different and it needs to be. Even those pieces of furniture hold memories, but thankfully not memories of death. Brian and I didn’t spend time in the loft or my bedroom, so those rooms where I sit by myself are a kind of safe zone for me.

It’s been said that time heals all wounds, and I suppose that is probably true. But for me, not enough time has passed yet. The pictures in my mind are too vivid. The memories are just too fresh. So I make the walk up the stairs to the safety of my space and I concentrate on the memories before February 10: diagnosis and May 28: death. For now, it’s where I find my peace, my rest, and my joy.

Our Safe Places = Joy

A Beautiful Ring to It

Standard

My wedding ring was nestled in its box for months. It is a ring I rarely took off for nearly two decades. I slept in it, cooked in it, showered in it, worked and played in it. We had the diamond put in new settings twice, both times to mark a new start and celebrate triumphs over what had threatened to break us.

Over the last few weeks, the ring has been calling to me, though not in that Lord of the Rings sort of way! It was just saying, “make me into something new.” I went to the jewelry store and was greeted by a beautiful woman who smiled graciously and asked me how she could help me. I choked up just a little and got teary as I said, “My husband passed away and I need to make this into a new ring.” With kindness, sympathy, and a sweet spirit, she guided me to a counter and worked through the details of making my ring into something new. I wanted a setting that would hold my original diamond, a sweet little thing purchased by an 18 year-old boy for his girlfriend-turned-fiancée. I also wanted it to hold stones that represented Brian’s birthstone, even though I didn’t know what that was. “Please let it be a good color,” I whispered to myself! She said she had something in mind and disappeared to another room. When she returned she had a setting that was a simple white gold band with a place for my diamond in the center and two ice blue sapphires on the side, the color of aquamarines, Brian’s birthstone. Triumph! Blue is a very good color. It was perfect. My old setting will be melted down and formed into something new and I like the idea of that. I have the magical thought that it could even end up in another young woman’s wedding ring.

The new ring is full of symbolism for me. The original stone reminds me of that time long ago… yet not so long ago… when I said “I do” and became a Lawson, a wife and soon after, a mother. My own birthstone just happens to be a diamond, so I sit sparkling at the center. The blue of the stones remind me of Brian, of course, and how pieces of him live on in memories, in our kids, and in the woman I have become through sharing our years together. The three gems represent my family of three now, myself with two sons alongside who are continuing on. And the circle of the ring is symbolic of life itself, that goes on and on through births and deaths, births and deaths. So the whole ring represents me: my life as it once was, now is, and how it will continue.

I am proudly wearing it again, but on my right hand now, where I’m sure it will stay nearly every day as I cook in it, shower in it, work and play in it. It will get dirty and be polished, just as we all are from day to day, and year to year.

Life Has a Beautiful Ring to It… and that = Joy

Circles

Standard

112 days… the number of days Brian lived after being diagnosed. 122 days… the number of days I have lived since his death. Yesterday, Jordan and I left the house and unplugged from technology for most of the day, and drove to the mountains. We followed the winding road to Golden Gate Canyon and found a spot with a great view. We hiked down a trail, over rocks and branches, through the pine trees. Jordan spotted a grouping of rocks off the trail, so we broke away and found what we thought would be the perfect place to scatter part of Brian’s ashes. I’ve said that Brian probably would have found a much more precarious spot, one that would have taken a greater degree of stamina, courage, and agility to reach, but Jordan and I did a pretty good job. I think Brian would be happy. Twenty years ago Brian and I had honeymooned by camping nearby and we’d hiked many of the trails, including the one Jordan and I took yesterday. Now Brian will be part of Colorado forever.

I had anticipated it being a very emotional day. It was, but not in the sense of tears and sadness. It was a happy day, one to remember great memories of mountain hikes and picnics and two little boys who enjoyed our trips in the Rockies. Jordan and I even had a few laughs, which can happen when you are attempting to be more serious than you should. On the way back up the trail to the car, we passed a family and a little boy was bringing up the rear, with his hiking stick in his hand. I told Jordan how he and Brian Jr. would always find a stick right away when we went hiking, but they spent more time hitting trees and rocks with their sticks than using them for hiking! And those sticks would come home with us, along with rocks and pine cones and other forest treasures. Jordan and I continued our drive and ended up at a shop that sells rocks and fossils and things like that. I bought myself a rock the color of the ocean and a couple gifts for the boys. I love my rock – a piece of the earth that is the color of the sea that I miss so much.  The drive home was peaceful, Jordan asleep in the passenger seat as I drove back down the winding mountain roads.

When I got home I found a box on my desk. It was from my parents and contained sand from Sanibel Island. I was able to put my toes in my perfect Florida sand on a chilly Colorado day. It was a nice and fitting end to my day.

There is so much that equals joy about yesterday and today and life in general. But I think I’ll go back to where I started and leave it at this:

Going Full Circle = Joy

The Art of Letting Go

Standard

My favorite picture of Brian and Jordan, taken at Garden of the Gods in 1995

Today was day two of school… only 184 left before I’m officially done as a homeschooling mom. I’ve spent more than 2,150 days being my kids’ primary teacher and had the absolute privilege of spending over 17 years as a full-time homemaker. Wow! It is hard to believe. When I became a mother for the first time, people told me to cherish every day and savor the moments because they would go by in the blink of an eye. Fast forward a couple of years and I had a toddler running around and a very active baby on my hip. My days consisted of bottles, diapers, toys, cleaning messes, diapers, running errands with car seats and strollers, diapers, laundry, little meals for tiny hands, and more diapers. It was hard to believe that those years were going to fly by. Now I’m looking at one son beginning his senior year of high school and another son getting ready to become a husband. I’m a believer; the years do fly by.

Some moms are very sentimental and their eyes well up with tears and their heart strings are pulled tight at the thought of the empty nest. I hope this is okay to say, but I’m looking forward to it. Now, don’t misunderstand me! I love being a mother. I have spent almost every single day of motherhood right alongside my children. They only went to public school for two years. We have had more quality and quantity time together than a lot of parents and children, something I’ll be forever grateful for. I’ve thoroughly loved every bit of it, even those days when we all wanted to pull our hair out and scream!

We’ve all had those days as parents, the ones that make you question your sanity and that of your children, and wondering what possessed you to think you could raise children. In fairness to kids, they feel that way too, wondering why their parents are so crazy and what made them think they had skills to take care of other human beings! But I have found that the worst days are, almost without exception, followed by the best days. The best days are grand, filled with smiles, love, laughter, and lots of good vibes. They make the bad days a distant memory.

Now, back to that empty nest… Yes, I have loved motherhood. Maybe it’s because I have two boys and don’t know what it’s like to raise a daughter, but I am excited about the empty nest. Perhaps it’s easier to see boys leave. I am thrilled at the thought that my sons are going to go out into the world and do their own thing, pursue whatever dreams they have, make good and bad choices along the way, screw up and succeed, and learn all about life along the way. I’m excited for whatever the future holds for them, and the privilege to watch it all from the sidelines.

It’s a little scary to launch your kids into the world too. I mean, what if you messed up and forgot something incredibly important? Well, what I’ve figured out is this: they’ll let you know and ask for help, or they will figure it out… more often the latter. They will be okay. I’ve watched my older son from 2000 miles away as he set up his own apartment and his life. He is more responsible and mature than I even realized. I love hearing from him and knowing how he is doing and what he’s up to. I love hearing from my spies that he’s a great young man and doing quite well. (Yes, Brian, there are spies…) He sends me cooking tips and lots of wonderful trivia about things. I’m learning from him – learning to let go, to trust, and to just enjoy watching from a distance.

In less than a year I will do it all again, and watch as another son strikes out on his own and starts leading the life he’s meant to live. It will still be a little unnerving and I’ll wonder, once again, if I messed up and forgot something incredibly important. Maybe then I’ll look back at the words I just wrote and remember that it’s all going to be fine and it’s just the next part of the journey.

Preparing to Let Go = Joy