"Grief and gratitude are kindred souls,
each pointing to the beauty of
what is transient and given to us by grace."
Patricia Campbell Carlson
(Letter to a Friend)
I've been collecting quotes for about as long as I remember. I've got journals full of them, and computer files galore. The same with recipes written on the backs of napkins, and cut out of newspapers. My intent was always to go back one day, put them into some kind of order and collate them into a book. Not an original idea, I know. And now the task has become so daunting that I'll probably just keep on collecting. One day my children will toss them out along with my father's minutia that I can't seem to part with. Adding a quote to one's blog isn't original either, unless you're the Bloggess and make up your own that go viral. But I like to share!
The quote above came through my email on Sat. from gratitude.org's Word for the Day. The three G's - grief and gratitude and grace - are the coexisting emotions that continue to ebb and flow through my life these days. Lately, even though I count my blessings on a routine basis, and have felt the Grace of One greater than I, my heart feels heavy with grief - again? still?
Inner child issues for sure. Seems like every time some past stuff gets churns up, I can point right back to the scared, sad little girl inside of me. For instance, where I live Beach Road Chicken bills itself as the best fried chicken in town. They might also be able to claim the quickest way to a heart attack, as I'm sure the yumminess of their chicken, creamed peas, french fries and corn nuggets has to do with artery-clogging cholesterol-filled lard. Since my family took up residence in Florida BRC is a staple when out-of-town company comes to visit. It's good and it's easy. It used to be cheap, but like most things cheap has gone the way of 25 cent a gallon gasoline. But sometimes a girl just has to fill up on stuff she shouldn't eat. Would you think better of me if I tell you I also just purchased 6 of the largest, reddest Honey Crisp apples I've ever seen?
So last night I'm standing there waiting for my chicken order to be processed. It wasn't too busy, the Monday night footballers had already come and gone. I sat on a bench and looked at the rooster decor thinking of the many times I've sat on the same bench. Then a perfectly innocent looking man walked in, strode up to the counter and placed an order for livers and gizzards ... my father's standard order. I didn't want to cry. I felt stupid getting all emotional over chicken gizzards. But then I remembered that the last thing my father ate (and disliked because he disliked everything he'd ever loved except Manhattans). It was about a week before he passed away and the memory flooded over me like a Pacific Tsunami. The lady who has been serving us for as long as we've been dining on BRC had to have noticed the tears running down my face. I'm sure she's not the first or last as my sprinkling system is on its own timer, but still I was embarrassed and made a hasty getaway (not so hasty that I didn't get my chicken.)
I'll go along feeling less sad about Dad, sometimes for days, then out of the blue I see something insignificant like the slide boxes on my closet shelf and go into a funk. I am also facing another loss. My sister is packing up all her stuff and moving to TN. Either her mountain roots have called her home or she's running away. It doesn't really matter why, it just makes me sad on the one hand while I'm excited for her on the other. If I were an octopus I'd have an emotion for each hand. Still if you've got to be somewhere in October, no better place to be than the red and yellow and brown and orange covered Smoky Mountains. There's always the chance that this move will not be permanent, she's never lived outside this city, but I hope she'll roam through the mountain paths, sit beside forest waterfalls, find peace at a job that fulfills her and settles into where she is meant to be. If that happens, the three G's will embrace inside my heart.
While it feels like there is always something to stir up sadness in me, I am also filled with gratitude and heavenly grace. These are the gifts I try to focus on. I give grief her voice, but try not to stay in the dark place. This is one reason I'm looking forward to spending 5 days with a bunch of kids. I need to remember how to play and laugh and be goofy instead of being so serious and fearful all the time. I need to throw off the mantle of mourning so I can enjoy a game of Uno, fingerpainting and exploring. I'm not sure what that will feel like or look like. But it's time for me to try to find out.
Today I'm grateful for awareness which is the first step to change. I'm grateful for Le Chats Writing Circle which will meet today and send me home laughing in spite of my moody old self.
May your chicken be extra crispy and your apples be extra juicy.