Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A good trip

We had a really nice time at the beach. We are so thankful the Moessners agreed to come with us, as we loved the company and Holly loved having little friends to play with. There were moments of sadness for me, but overall I just enjoyed the beautiful weather, gorgeous sunsets, and having the beach practically all to ourselves. We also played my favorite game "Boggle" almost every night and stayed really late like we were in college again. What a blessing to have good friends!

The unexpected hard part for me has been coming home. It was really emotional for me coming back into the house, because the last time we all returned from a trip was our last trip to Memphis, the day Joseph died. All those emotions just rushed back and in some strange way I feel like I'm experiencing those first days all over again.

I've been reading a couple of books on grief, and both of them talk about not being able to focus on anything and feeling tired all the time from expending so much emotional energy, which I could totally relate to. I feel it takes all my energy when I cry or am just feeling sad, but also to try to take a deep breath and move on with the day. Normal tasks are no longer easy and normal.

One man also talked about a real physical sensation of having cement blocks on your shoulders. I couldn't quite articulate that to myself or anyone else, but that is exactly how I feel. He also said he felt like he was constantly breathing very shallowly, and I also feel that, and find myself taking deep breaths every now and then after I realize I haven't been breathing normally. I never knew grief could affect you so much physically.

Holly is doing well and continues to tell us she is fine and doesn't miss Joe P. We know she does, but this is her typical answer. The one manifestation of her grief I see is that she has become very attached to me, which is fine. She started gymnastics class yesterday and absolutely loved it. I was so proud of her as she jumped on the trampoline and did her "bear walk" along the parallel bars. I think her favorite part was playing with the parachute at the end and getting to run underneath it.

Oh, and I mentioned in the previous post that it would be hard to see all the places at the beach where Joseph used to have fun. One of those places was the little fountain near all the restaurants in the village; Joseph used to jump around in it while we waited for our table to be ready. Well, as we walked past it last week I noticed that it was broken in the three places and there was an orange cone on top, which seemed very appropriate to me. If Joe P. can't play in it, then it should just be broken (so selfless of me, I know :)).

So, overall I think we are doing okay. Allen has been writing lots of beautiful songs out of his grief, which helps ease my sorrow too. I feel like God has been meeting me in nature--through being outdoors and just seeing his creation and beauty. In some situations words just are not enough, but I do feel He speaks very loudly through creation. In the song "Shout to the Lord" there is a verse that says "Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of Your Name." The Bible also personifies nature a lot, and I have never felt that nature truly does glorify and worship God as much as I do know. It is a very non-intrusive and gentle way that God is reminding me that He is here and that He loves me.


Anonymous said...

Think of you all often and still praying. I so appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings - you have such a ministry through your blog through your honesty. You all are always welcome in Asheville if you want to spend some time in the mountains.

Catherine Morris

About Janice said...

Praising God through your grief - wow. That just speaks to the power of the cross. He is good and His love endures forever. Thanks for sharing.

Audrey said...

still praying

Megan said...

Gillian, what a beautiful post. I must say, grief is indeed physical, which was surprising to me too.

I once had an intense grief experience much as you describe in the past few years. It felt like I just didn't care what was happening, and yet everything took a herculean effort to do, no matter how small the task. On top of it, I felt literal pain in my middle--not exactly my chest or my stomach, but somewhere right in between...it felt like a gnawing ache and was very intense. A few months after this ache subsided, I found myself in the emergency room with an even more intense ache that frightened the doctors it was so intense. It was nothing physically detectable by the doctors, but it did exist. I hope these descriptions bring you some comfort, as they are not unusual.

All of this is to say that I am sure many of us out here understand what you describe and we can relate. The tough part is that it just can't be "removed" like a wart or a physical thing, and it takes a long time.

I found comfort in several of Marie Chaplain's books...one called "The Secret Place of Strength", and a book called "When Bad things Happen to Good People" written by a man who lost his child. I read the latter while sitting on the beach, and just found I was stunned by his words.
My pastor recommended some great books and that helped a lot. A friend recommended "How to Survive the Loss of a Love" which is a grouping of many different writings, and that was extremely helpful too....for the loss of anyone you love.

Much love to you!
Cousin Megan

Craig and Gwen said...

So glad the trip was nice - I was going thru the kitchen cabinets and found one of Joseph's sippy cups I'd been meaning to give back to you and got all teared up.

Missing ya'll!


Holly said...

Hi Gillian,
I am so thankful to hear that the Lord is comforting you in so many ways right now. I'm glad you guys were able to enjoy some time together at the beach. Let me know if there is anything we can do for you.
Love ya lots,

Anissa Mayhew said...

Praying for your pain and your healing. Perhaps you can thank God for giving you these chances to share the moments you know Joseph would love. It's a way to celebrate his love of life and to feel WITH him again. I hope so. I pray that's what it is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Thinking about yall lots and praying often.

- Ange

Anonymous said...

You continue to amaze me with your writing, Gill. Truly, it's astounding.

Glad you were able to get away and just enjoy the beauty of creation. Let's get together soon. We are missing you guys. Adeline was asking about Holly earlier this week. Selah kept looking around asking where Holly was. I think she thought you were just going to pop in the door!

Anna Tester said...

Sweet friend, love you.

Know that we still walk with you and while so many of us do not know your pain we plead on your, allen and holly's behalf.

We have moved and now live in Newport Beach there is this hill and every time I go over it I see the pacific and it takes my breath away. I asked Jason if he thinks it will ever stop amazing me-- I don't think so.

Nature is powerful and helps to blur the lines of time. I hope the waves soothed your soul and made you feel Joesphs presence I pray that nature will give you those moments out in the country.

You are so much on my mind. I pray for you everytime I put a sippy cup stopper back on a lid and laugh to myself about the snake.

love you!


PS Newport beach has surfing if Allen is interested ;) Seriously we have a guest bedroom and would love visits!!!

Randi said...

Praying for you all, Gillian. I loved the pictures you posted. I am glad Holly is enjoying her gymnastics class.
Thinking of you and holding your entire family in my heart,

courtney said...

Hannah started gymnastics yesterday, too! When we went in there for her class, I saw your little sign up sheet. Obviously, they're in different classes, but, I know what you mean that it was fun to see all the stuff they get to do! Glad your trip was relaxing. We are praying for all of you as you wake every day to the grief you are walking through. Love to you all-


Anonymous said...

I was thinking of you all recently, of how time is flying so quickly - I know it must be so hard to wrap your mind around the fact that time is still moving, even without Joseph here. I'm so sorry for your sadness and heartache - I pray God gives you & Allen physical rest, as well as emotional.

Sarah-Jane said...

ahh...I hope you come back with us next week:)
I love you and love your writing.
praying for God to hold you under the cement blocks or slowly chip them away.

susan and brian said...

Delighted to see that you had a nice holiday, the photos are precious. You are wonderful how you can share your feelings, your writings are powerful. I'm sure Holly will enjoy gymnastics, I remember you so well on the trampoline so many years ago!! Our thoughts are with you.

Nana said...

I find that scripture is the only thing that comforts my soul these days and indeed nature as you mentioned Gillian.A wet dreary day like today reminds me that God does take care of us all and also the flowers and the grass which I have been too lazy to water recentlyI hope the scripture of Isaiah 40;11 which you wrote to me many years ago when David was little will comfort all your hearts today."He tends his flock like a shepard;He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;He gently leads those that have young"Thanks for sharing Gillian.We love you all very much.We miss that little rogue Joe.P. love from O.M.B

Anonymous said...

I can imagine, from what you said, the grief being like concrete poured on your shoulders. I've had a sliver of grief like that in my life, and it seemed like everyday was like the day before it and it would never end. When it finally did end, it seemed like it didn't just happen, either. Just one day I looked back and realized that a corner had been turned years earlier and I just hadn't noticed it. I don't know if that will be what it is like for you, because I've never lost anyone in my life with whom I was close, but I suspect it might be. For me, it was like being on a ship leaving the shore. I would watch the shore and always wonder "When will I be rid of this shore and be at sea?" but the shoreline was always in view, until one day, it wasn't. I suspect that for you, too, it will be like carrying concrete for a long time until one day it isn't and there won't be any one day that you can look to that indicates when things began to change.

I don't mean that the tragedy won't be there forever. I sometimes feel like there are permanent rocks in my soul - no matter how much time passes, the grief gets padded over and smoothed over, but never fully disappears. In The Royal Tenenbaums, one of the characters has a bb stuck in his hand, which he moves around to gross people out. That's kind of how tragedy feels to me - even when decades later I can barely remember the exact thing itself, there's still a denseness to the memory of the pain that stays with me.

I love you guys. -scott c.

notes from em said...

I'm still humbled by your thoughts.
I know the feeling of cement poured over my body all to well. But have hope that it will be molded into something new one day. It will soften and lessen as time goes by, hard to imagine, and you never forget. But there will be a time when you will breathe easier.
still praying

Jody (atlanta) said...

Thanks for the honest post and amazing pictures. I miss you so much and am always thinking and praying for you. I am glad you finding some books/outlets for support and just pray that little by little the grief not so powerful (physically and emotionally), but as so many have sad it takes significant time.

Glad Holly enjoying some 'activities' and bringing joy into your life daily. I am so glad you and Allen leaning on each other and often think of you two and this trying time. I love you and your family so much Gillian. I only wish I was physically closer so could play boggle and stay up all night talking!!!! Hang in there lady.

Miss you. Jody

Jean Joiner said...

beautiful photos. the photo with just the three of you is so sweet and so sad all at once. glad you had a good trip. thanks for continuing to post. we're praying for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Gillian, thanks for sharing your photos and your heart!
Praying for you all,
Gina Butterfield

Carrie said...

Still praying for your family. So glad yall had a special time at the beach. Oh and I love the LillyP dress on Holly!!

Anonymous said...

Gillian, I am so glad that you all had such a special time at the beach. Your pictures were so sweet! I continue to pray for your journey with grief. What a blessing your writings are and how you are able to share your feelings!! I have found grief to be so unpredictable-- that the sadness will be like the waves of the ocean--sometimes they will pull me under and other times they seem to to calmly roll over me. I hope and pray that Holly continues to do well.
Blessings and love,
Ann Lewis

abbiegrace said...

So glad you had a nice time at the beach, Gillian, Allen, and Holly. Praying for you.

"Mountains bow down..."
That has always been my favorite part of Shout to the Lord.

Christy said...

The photos are incredibly beautiful. Your friends sound like a hoot, and I'm glad they indulged you in your Boggle obsession.

I'm so sorry about the pain of returning home and re-living horrible moments. It all sounds nearly unbearable. Your writing about the comforts of Allen's song writing and nature were so lovely - thank you so much for sharing that.

Missing you lots.

Anonymous said...

I read this memorial prayer in the prayer book today (the holy day Yom Kippur was today and there is a memorial service during the day):

I remember in this solemn hour, beloved child, the many joys you afforded me during your lifetime. I recall the days when I delighted in your physical and mental growth, and planned for your future. Though death has taken you from me, you are not forgotten. Your spirit is enshrined in my heart.
O heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the precious gift which Thou didst entrust to my keeping, and which in Thine infinite wisdom Thou hast called back unto Thyself. Though few were the years wherein I rejoiced with my child, many were the blessings that he brought into my household. Teach me to live more nobly and to extend my love and devotion to other children in thankfulness for the privilege of having had and loved this child, though but for a few, brief years. Thus may his soul be bound up in the bond of life and his memory remain an inspiration to me. Amen.

Melissa and Kayla

Nana said...

Melissa and Kayla what a beautiful prayer.I would love to know which prayer book you found it in.It is so appropriate to how Gillian and Allen live their lives and love other children that cross their paths,strangers friends and relatives.Holly's kindness and sensitivity to other little people is a direct result of her Mommy and Daddy's love for those they come in contact with.Mark 9 verse 36 says "Then He placed a little child among them; and taking the child in his arms he said to them.Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me,and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming my Father who sent me".We love you all so much Nana.(O.M.B.)

rachel said...

Just want to let you know that I think and pray for you guys almost daily! I do not know you guys, but I really feel that I do! I am so glad that you had a good trip! Rachel Stovall

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you and praying for you everyday!

carey heid

THAT GIRL said...

Wow. I've been reading, but not sure that I'd ever left a comment. You and your family are amazing. How blessed that God chose you to have that wonderful miracle of a child? Lifting up a prayer as you grieve your beautiful son, and as your embrace the love of Christ through all He has created.


Jaime said...

still praying