The blessings of friendship


“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing….not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

Refecting on life - photo by Anastacia Hopkins

I once read somewhere that ‘some people make life better just by being in it’ – that resonated with me.  I am blessed to have many such people in my life, but I am thinking of two friends in particular who have been loyal, caring, supportive and kind throughout the past several years; And the past two in particular. Friends may come and friends may go, but some become like family – people who have your back when you’re up against a wall. I am so grateful, so very, very grateful for these wonderful, warm, and caring friends. Naturally they seem to have no idea how special they are. The truly humble people never do, do they?  And the thing is they have so much stress going on in their own lives, yet are able to reach inside themselves to provide the support I need when I need it. Other times it is the shared laughter and pure joy in living that they abundantly share. The gift of time; the gift of self – that’s what it’s all about, right?  I am grateful. I am grateful for friendship; for people who are willing to sacrifice for others; for people who give me the strength to keep going – no matter what their own circumstances. God bless them all!

Social media – only as good or bad as the person using it


I haven’t posted for a while. There has been a great deal going on in my life.  If you follow this blog you know about my brother, Chris, and the collision that took his life a little more than a year ago. You will also be aware that his death was caused by an impaired driver and the next trial date is Monday, the 8th.  It has been an incredible amount of stress for my whole family.

On New Year’s Day my husband ended up in hospital. He is very sick. I have been stressed (naturally) but I just wanted to take a minute to thank all the people on Facebook and other social media who have been exceedingly kind. The messages of support and positive energies have buoyed my spirit, even when I feel like I cannot go on.

Social media has the potential to do a lot of good. Of course there is always a flip side. Not long ago I learned about an instance where somebody was using it to spread hate, mistrust, lies, and general negativity. There’s a name for that – cyber bullying, and we are all familiar with the consequences – in the extreme people have died by suicide due to the harshness and the hardness of some hearts.

You reap what you sow; what you give out returns to you. Some people call it Karma.  I am a firm believer in that. I believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking.  And I believe in doing good whenever and wherever I can.

I am writing this to humbly ask, if you are a spiritual person, to pray and send positive energy to my husband. He really is gravely ill and I am casting a wide net to enlist all the spiritual power I can. So thank you for reading this and if you are a follower, please know I appreciate you.

May you know light and love and all things good and life-giving.

Choices, Consequences, and a personal Confession


I am old school. I believe that there are consequences to the choices we make. I was taught to own up to my “mistakes”. If I did something wrong I was expected to apologize and to make amends. I am glad I was taught this from an early age.

Like most children I had an innate curiosity about everything and (from my mother’s viewpoint) a never ending list of questions. I am sure I tried her patience considerably and I will be forever grateful for her enduring love and the lessons she taught me.

I remember when my mother caught me pulling the wings off house flies. I remember the frustration I had felt with the flies that were bothering me. I remember wanting to exact revenge on these creatures that were tormenting me. I remember my mother’s anger with me and her deep disappointment with my cruelty.  She killed the flies to put them out of their misery, and I, in turn, was horrified that she killed them. I hadn’t wanted them dead – I simply wanted them to stop flying around and pestering me.

I was very young; I don’t really know exactly how old I was. But I was old enough to be taught a lesson: A lesson about choices and about consequences. And although I don’t remember the words my mother said I do remember a long lecture.  And I remember the gist of the lesson: all creatures great and small deserve our respect; no creature should be abused in any way; life is precious, even the life of an insect. I learned that I, as small and as young as I was, could inflict pain. And I learned it was definitely not okay to do so. The consequence of my choice to pull the wings off the flies resulted in their deaths, for which I did feel very badly. That was my consequence – to feel the weight of my choice, my decision.

We each have an innate goodness and we also have a shadow side, a darkness that dwells within each, or so I have been told. And it makes sense to me. I lived it! But my point is not to dwell on the darker aspects of human nature; conversely it is to reflect on how we overcome it. There have been many books written on the subject by authors much wiser than I. So I will not attempt to answer this great mystery of good and evil in a mere blog post.

The events of the past year with its emphasis on death, on law, and the criminal justice system has caused me to think more deeply about life, love, and forgiveness. It has also given me much to consider as far as the consequences of our choices go. I think one of the reasons I have been so angry with the man who caused my brother’s death was his decision to plead not guilty, when it seemed abundantly clear to me that he was indeed guilty. I felt he should “man up” and confess to his decision to drink and drive and take his lumps.

I cannot speak for this man. I don’t know why he made the choices he made. But I do understand the very human inclination to self preservation. I am quite certain none of us want to know what the inside of a jail cell looks like. I am also quite certain that none of us want to experience what prison life might be like – from what I’ve seen represented on television and in movies it sure does not seem pleasant. So it makes sense that his man wants to avoid an education on life behind bars. Regretfully, by making this choice he has inflicted more pain on a grieving family.

Perhaps, like the small child I once was, I have wanted revenge; to inflict pain, as I have felt pain; to play God; to decide this man’s fate.

Thankfully that is not my job. Though God knows I have judged him harshly enough in my mind.

I still don’t have any answers. I am not God – I am not all-seeing or all-knowing. I just hope that as I walk this road I find the willingness to forgive – even if I can never forget.

Counting my blessings


I am not feeling well – it’s either a cold or flu or both, but whatever it is it is sapping my energy and making me want to hibernate under the covers until it’s gone. Still, there are things to be grateful for, like the hot meal my eldest had ready for me when I got home from work. It’s my husband making an extra trip to the store for medication for me. It’s my youngest making me “special” tea to help me feel a little better. It’s text messages from my son every morning to wish me a good day and to say “I love you”. It’s my cat running to meet me at the door when I get home from work every night. It’s a comfortable home in a beautiful setting. It’s feeling safe and loved, even with a snotty nose and a horrible headache, or maybe because of that. I am sick, but I am being coddled and comforted. And I am counting my blessings.

Frozen and adrift


DARKNESS

Numb

Frozen

Adrift

Nothing much matters

Zombie-like I stumble through days

Filled with Heartache

Awaiting the warmth of the sun

And for humanity to care once again

I know it’s there

Beneath the layers of scar tissue

That heart full of love

Coping, waiting

Dark days

Darker nights

Yet hope softly whispers,

“Hang on, child,

Brighter days are coming”

A hand reaches out

Enfolds mine

Anchors me

Brings a moment of solace

And I breathe deeply

Of peace

I take it in

Every cell bathed

In the light

Of love

The anxiety of certain anniversaries


Well that date is nearly upon us – that date that I suspect most, if not all, of Fort McMurray has been anticipating with a sense of dread and anxiety. Personally, for myself, I will be glad when the 3rd of May has come and gone. Memories, both sweet and bitter, fill my mind. It’s hard not to relive that day with so many media outlets reminding us daily that the one year mark is quickly approaching. I spent most of March and April dreading the reminders of the most frightening day of my life.

But today I will hold the most treasured memories close to my heart: The calmness and determination of my husband as he drove us out of town, my daughter encouraging me with her strength and dry sense of humour; Hugging my son and his wife when they met us in Anzac with their little dogs dancing in the back seat of their car; The memory of getting text messages from my sister-in-law and my nieces letting me know they all were safe; the memory of running into two young coworkers at a restaurant we’d stopped at during the scramble to get out of the fire-ringed city.  How delighted I was to see them and the sheer relief that these two, at least, were safe. Trading news with them of other coworkers and breathing a sigh of relief that most, if not all, were accounted for. The memory of the countless text messages from family and friends offering their support, in every way imaginable. The memories of the abundant kindnesses bestowed upon evacuees and the outpouring of love from across the country. The hugs from fellow citizens and the sincere wishes shared for a safe harbor and to have all needs met.

When push came to shove the ultimate goodness of humanity came to the fore and that is worth remembering and cherishing. Anniversaries of horrid events such as this or the death of a loved one do make us dread certain dates, but in the end it is the love given and received that counts and what buoys us up and helps us to continue on with life.  I will always and forever be very grateful for these gifts, given freely and without expectations.