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

Be calm in the midst of the storm.

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, O, my soul,
O, my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O, my soul.
I’ll worship Your holy name.
You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Bless the Lord, O, my soul,
O, my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O, my soul.
I’ll worship Your holy name.
And on that day, when my strength is failing,
The end draws near, and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
Bless the Lord, O, my soul,
O, my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O, my soul,
I’ll worship Your holy name.”

-Matt Redman

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Today is a hard and very difficult day for me, and tomorrow will be as well.
A Celebration of Life service is being held for my beautiful friend Carol today, and tomorrow morning she is being laid to rest.
These would be emotional days regardless, but they break my heart even more since I an across the country and am unable to attend and say my last goodbyes in person with all of our mutual friends.

Yet I am continually reminded to hold onto hope, and to keep my eyes on the Lord, who is a God of peace, whilst facing this storm in my life, because without Him I will sink.
I don’t know what tomorrow or the future holds. All I know right now is the pain in my heart, but I hope that this song rings true for me and all the others I know who are grieving right now:

“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.”

Be thankful to God for your life, because it is not a right, but a privilege and a gift. We are not guaranteed any time on this earth but this immediate moment.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Romans 15:13

“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

In the light of this personal tragedy that I’m now working though, and all of the thoughts it brings to my mind, I’m finding this song to be a great comfort.

Life is something that we, without a doubt, take for granted. We are not promised or guaranteed tomorrow, or even the rest of today. Are you ready?

I know and trust that Carol was a believer who had a strong and beautiful faith in Christ.
I also walk by faith, but I know I take my life for granted, so I hope and pray that I’ll be ready to meet my Savior when the time comes.

“I hear Your voice and I catch my breath.
‘Well done, my child, enter in and rest.’
Tears of joy roll down my cheek.
It’s beautiful, beyond my wildest dreams.
I want to run on greener pastures.
I want to dance on higher hills.
I want to drink from sweeter waters in the misty morning chill.
My soul is getting restless for the place where I belong.
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing
my heaven song.”