A Mother’s Nature

When–at the misty, cold dying of the year–even the smallest leaf falls from it’s mother tree, is it ever forgotten?

Does the tree feel the separation? Perhaps she stands immobile by nature’s force, seeing where it lies silent on the ground. Does she ache with the futile longing to scoop it back up and attach it to herself permanently, once more?

On a misty, autumn day, I walk among the avenue of mother trees, who let their heavy tears fall to the ground, rolling off of their tender branches in the form of rain, making soft, echoing, pattering sounds of grief. For, surely, even the smallest leaf is not forgotten.

I stand in the misty parkway lane, the fog thickening around me, lying thickly on my shoulders like a weight of sadness. My own heart trembles with sadness for you, mother tree. For even after winter winds have blown through, removing all evidence of your loss, with nothing left to show of their existence, you are compelled to go on being a mother, carrying with you always the weight of one who was once so fresh and brilliant, now gone forever except within your heart.

But I know you. Despite this chilling loss that has crept over you, you continue to stand strong. The cold days of winter may seem harsh. Snow and ice may cling to you for a time, but someday the sun will shine once more, melting away those frozen shards of painful memory.

And with the sun will come another chance at new life and happiness. And you will revel in that warm happiness, all the more fiercely loyal and strong because of your loss. For, surely, even the smallest leaf is never forgotten.

-.-

I don’t usually elaborate on any of the pieces I write, but this one is very special to me. It came to me this morning as I walked around the lake (and yes, the weather was cold, misty, and foggy), after being told by a dear friend of mine that she and her husband had suffered a miscarriage.

My heart truly does tremble with sadness for them, and any others in their position. I have never yet had any children of my own, but miscarriages are more common than some people might think. I have had other friends and acquaintances who have had to deal with that pain, and, from what I understand, it is a pain and knowledge of loss that never truly goes away, even if it lessens.

It then occurred to me as I was typing, that while I wrote it with miscarriage in mind, it is applicable to the grief that touches peoples hearts after any loss. I hope that maybe it can speak comfort to anyone who may stumble across it that is grieving. Maybe it will tell them that they are never alone, and there are still good things to come.

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Healing

I am still sad that I could not participate in the final farewells of my friend Carol, but everything I have heard from all of my friends who were able to attend makes it difficult to feel quite so sad. It makes her loss somewhat easier.

There were hundreds, literally hundreds, of people who showed up to celebrate her radiant life yesterday. The sanctuary was full, the overflow rooms were filled, and people were lining up down the street. She was so much more loved than I think she ever realized. And it has been strikingly evident that, while her family is naturally hurting, they are also at peace. Everyone has said that it really was an uplifting and joyful celebration of her life, and that makes me happy.

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I feel so privileged to have known Carol for so many years and to have gone to school with her every day.

Her death has hit me so hard. It is just such a shocking thing when one of your contemporary friends passes away so young. But her life was full, and most of all it was exemplary. She experienced so much, which is a blessing, but she also has taught so many people so much, both while she was living and through her death.

I know that rings true for myself. When she was alive she taught me to always have a smile on my face and to be kind to others. Through her death she has taught me to appreciate every moment of my life, and to examine my faith in a way that I don’t think I ever have before.

I don’t think we should be sad over her death for the rest of our lives–she wouldn’t want that. But I don’t ever want to forget the impact that her life and passing have had on me.

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“God has blessed me more than I could ever ask for. Perfect husband, amazing family, spot for me in heaven. How do we overlook Him so easily?”
-Carol Michelle Hensley Singletary

“Having a bad day? Hold your hand over your heart…feel that? That beating? It’s called purpose! You’re here for a reason, so make the most out of it.”
-Carol Michelle Hensley Singletary

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“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.”
-Sylvia Plath

“And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief…”

“The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the autumn leaves lie dead;
The rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit’s tread;
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood?
Alas!They are all in their graves, the gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours.
The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the brier-rose and the orchids died amid the summer glow;
But on the hills the goldenrod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.
And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come,
To call the squirrel and the bee out from their winter home;
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still,
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill,
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died,
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the leaf,
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief:
Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend of ours,
So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.”

-William Cullen Bryant

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“Music, when soft voices dies,
Vibrates in the memory–
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Still in shock.
Rest in peace, Carol.

Grief

“I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice an my supplications.
Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore I will call upon
Him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death encompassed me, an the pains of hell gat
hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord; O Lord,
I beseech Thee, deliver my soul.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low,
And He helped me.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath
dealt bountifully with thee.
For Thou hast delivered my soul from death,
mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I have spoken:
I was greatly afflicted:
I said in my haste, All men are liars.
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and
the son of Thy handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds.
I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and will call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.
Praise ye the Lord.”

Psalm 116

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”-Marcus Tillius Cicero

Death is a difficult thing to comprehend.

Even if you believe in life after death, as I do, more often than naught it just fills us with so many questions, which can be answered in ways we don’t like, ways we don’t understand, or sometimes cannot truly be answered by our own logic at all.

Why does someone die? Because their purpose is fulfilled? But then why must it be fulfilled so young? How is that even possible when so many people live to be 100 or more? Why must the leave us? And why does it have to happen so suddenly? Why does it have to be so hard?

I had a friend of mine from high school who died today. Very unexpectedly, after a tragic accident at work, and now she is gone.

Our stubborn and strictly human/earthbound state of mind brings us to say things like “It’s not fair,” or “She died too soon,” or even to question why she had to go…
I believe that every person is specifically called away from their life on earth by Jesus Christ when the time is right–when their purpose has been fulfilled, or they have lived life to the fullest extent that He intended for them. But even knowing and believing that in my heart, when death calls a loved one it is so difficult to wrap my mind around it, to fully comprehend it, and to accept it. I’ve been sitting here all morning, crying, and asking myself those same questions I listed up above…Why?Why did she have to die so young? She had just gotten married a matter of months ago, she was going to school, she was surrounded by family, she was living life, and it just seems so hard to believe that she ran out of life to live in this realm. Again, my shockingly human mind tells me that it is unnatural for someone to die so young. We are at a time in our lives where we are supposed to be getting married and having children, not dying…death is supposed to be for when we are old and grey and wiser, more experienced, and surrounded by children and grandchildren…right?

But, even though this is one of those things that is just a struggle to comprehend, I am grateful to be reminded that she did lead a full life. She grew up, made memories, graduated from high school, lived, loved with all her heart, laughed til she cried, fell in love and got married, etc. And most importantly, she had an opportunity to love God and share His light with others. She has stepped out of this human frame of life, but she is still alive, living in her eternity. Her life did not get cut short, but merely moved to the eternal realm.
We will all always miss her, and of course we think of what a tragic loss this is for us. From the eternal perspective of God, however, and now her as well, she did not lose anything, but gained the freedom that she knew she would inherit from her Savior one day. Now she is able to put off the struggles of human bondage, and live a sinless life in heaven where she can dance, sing, laugh, praise, and love her God and Savior in ways she never knew existed til now. And she can wait for those of us who will join her again when God personally calls us as well.

I won’t say rest in peace, because I actually hope that you, Carol Singletary, will rejoice in your new life, being happy to be free in a way you never would have been able to imagine.
We love you.

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“Are we left here on our own?
Can you feel when your last breath is gone?
Night is weighing heavy now.
Be quiet and wait for a voice that will say,
‘Come awake from sleep. Arise.
You were dead–become alive.
Wake up, wake up, open your eyes.
Climb from your grave into the light.’
Bring us back to life.
You are not the only one who feels like the only one.
Night soon will be lifted, friend.
Just be quiet and wait for a voice that will say,
‘Rise, rise, to life, to life.’
Shine.
Light will shine.
Love will rise.
Light will shine.
He’s shining on us now.”

-David Crowder Band

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like
a flower in the field; for the wind passes over it, and it
is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
Psalm 103:15-16

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief,
He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast
love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
Lamentations 3:31-32

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are
at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away
from the body 
and at home with the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-8

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“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again,
and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
John 16:22