It Changes You

Over ten years ago our community was hit so hard that we still remember. A drunk driver instantly took the lives of two childhood friends. They were children on their way into their young adult years with high school behind them and their life time of adventures ahead of them. They were the children of friends. They were friends of our children. They were the heartbeats of life around them. And then they were gone. Life was changed. This is one of the surviving families. Mom just recently posted this after going thru a box filled with memories of her Jason and finding  “pictures of a smiling woman that I know is me…or was me…and I’m aware that I am no longer that person in those pictures.”

Everyone hit with death, with loss, knows you that are changed. You have to be. You look back in ways and perspective that wouldn’t happen otherwise. And you learn a whole lot. You learn the stuff you are made of. You learn what other people are made of. And if you are someone like Becky with a deep faith going deeper, you learn a grace that reflects what is on the other side of heaven. There aren’t words for it. But you see it. You see it in conversation, in silence, in just being. It takes beauty beyond a passing glance.

 

So going into this recent shoot, we were aware of Jason’s absence. But also sensing the sweetness that filled the air we were breathing, was the awareness of just being. Being family. Being free to whatever the moment asked.  And if silly was in the air, doggone-it, it happened.

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So Becky, you may not be that same woman. Though I think in many ways you are- now you have wings. Oh sure your feet are on the ground, but you’ve been up above the fray to see and embrace a bigger picture. A picture that doesn’t have room for meaningless worries. You live generously. It’s in the tone of your voice, it’s in the soft thoughtful words, it’s in your eyes.

Life is putting one foot in front of the other, with the best people by your side and you by theirs. With room for a light but not frivolous heart.

Becky shared this site a while back and it’s good enough that everyone needs to read it- it’s a quick read, with salient things to chew on.  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17928/what-i-wish-more-people-understood-about-losing-a-child.html

If you want to add your own insights they are welcomed below….

 

 

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The Flying Wounded

We all know, and ought to be thoughtful of the walking wounded. The people who have been kicked in the chops by life. We may have been one ourselves, or still are. Life is just plain bumpy. Sometimes we recover; other times we find a new normal; but what a pity it is when we get stuck.

Nature is one of those God-givens that helps you find a different approach to thinking about life.  A couple of summers ago, it looked like a life would be claimed by adversity. It seems like no matter your size there is always something that could eat you alive.

You may understand the love of wild birds and finding ways to help them thrive. We had one of our birds show up at the feeder badly damaged. The Spotted Towhee was dragging his right foot- with it stretched out far behind him. He could barely balance. He’d find a way to lean up against the edge of the feeder and make a tripod with his tail and one remaining unsteady standing leg. The feathers on his wings were pointed all directions and flight was quite labored.

Over the summer his standing leg got stronger with his tail getting stubbier and scrubbier as he used it to prop himself up. New feathers came in before fall hit, though his foot still dragged uselessly behind him- like he was doing a poorly executed arabesque- he was stronger.

We worried about him last winter. Whatever tried to chew him up that summer left him quite damaged to make it through the winter. But you know, as cold wet winter pressed on, the little feathered trooper hung in there. He learned to pull his foot under himself. And though his foot rarely ever took a normal bird foot posture, it did act like a stump with his toes pointed back.

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He made it through last winter, and the seasons that followed.

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He went from waiting until the feeder was clear to eat and taking off when new parents brought their fledglings in, to being more bold and brave. He and the other birds have come to an understanding and now they allow him to finish eating. We are in his second winter here; he’s alive, confident and holding his own! He’s got a new normal but he’s still a bird who can take wing._DSC8480

And as a parent, when it’s you? You put on your game face for your kids so they don’t bear much worry as you make sense of those bumps. When it’s your kid getting bounced around? It’s much harder.  Life can get mean, and when you’re wounded, it’s a given that a few more hardships will be piled on just to ramp up the strugglings. No one wants that for their beloveds.

I watched my daughter recover from a surgery this summer. It was a hard surgery, hard recovery and a game changer.  Summer days shouldn’t be dark days, but it was a very dark summer for her. She’d tell you it was just her and God. I didn’t have a bandage for this hurt. You want your children to grow up and be adults who can thrive in a dog-eat-dog world- thrive in a way that they are still people with integrity, heart and perseverance…. So sometimes we’re not walking wounded- we have learned to fly instead….wounded. Yet, we fly.

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Fly Like the Wind

So here we are. A die hard German Shepherd family. And we have a goofy-looking mixed low rider. I don’t want to offend everyone by saying that those bumper stickers about “who rescued whom” bumper stickers are ridiculously silly, but they are. Loving working breeds as we do, dogs are not about rescue, unless you’re in the woods lost- dogs are about the companionship that is deeply felt between man and poochie.

Dad called GSD’s “Germanshedders” and it’s really the only flaw I can find 20151109-_DSC6697in the breed. So while we still grieve our Sojourner, I still needed a walking buddy, that maybe didn’t shed as much… And as a dear friend has pointed out, had smaller poopies. She was found in Texas as a hurricane survivor. There is a wonderful organization there called God’s Dogs (http://www.godsdogsrescue.org/) which saves promising adoptable dogs on death row and then coordinates with shelters to give them a second chance. This little darling got hauled all the way up to Washington State and found her way to Wenatchee Humane Society (http://www.wenatcheehumane.org/).

 

They identified her as part corgi and part basset. Corgi had our attention because we have found that GSD people like the smarts of corgi. Less shedding…. smart, smaller doo-doo. Could be a good fit. We met, she liked chasing balls. Sold! A companion to making it unfriendly for those loathsome bird seed stealing, native squirrel tormenting, northern grey squirrels- this could be great.

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But look at those legs, and bosom… we’re thinking, dooggoneit, terrier. Someone snuck terrier in. She does not have a lovely trot like a German Shepherd- she bounds like something crazy out of Looney Tunes. And she does it fast. And she loves it. And tries to convince  us it’s a game we’d love.

She’s as smart as she is sassy. She’s picked up very fast on the German commands. It’s what her big brother GSD knows, and what our next black and red GSD will know. Her impish side is good at smelling an opportunity to escape and run. Because it’s less frequent we think she’s learning that we don’t play that.

 

 

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We’ve had a couple of early winter storms and she’s invigorated by the strong winds. That part of the hurricane must not have been as traumatic. She seems okay with PNW flora- blackberries don’t trouble her princess toes now. It’s only been a couple of months that she’s had this PNW rain, so she’s still tolerating that.

Tulla (too-lah) is at home. We see a settled attitude in her now. This dog hugs. Who knew dogs hugged? You’re sitting at the computer and she’ll wrap her head, front paw around your foot and hug- just leans right in for a long hug. She’s eager to know what her family is doing. Evidently she needed to understand what the Christmas tree angel was for.20151212-_DSC6803

Well, it’s time for that walk, and it will be sans the “offense” of Christmas ruffles. My son won’t let her out the door with it. It’s good for a dog to have someone who has their back, even when it’s a long well traveled one.20151212-_DSC6785

 

This Means Family….

Ohmygoodness, doesn’t it seem like every word in the dictionary is open to morphing definitions at a neck breaking speed? But as I tuck in some of my favorite people into these conversations, I can’t help but mention things from them that also impact me.

So for this one, I want to showcase Tami and JR’s family. You know what comes in their definition of “family”? Compass. They have a compass. They draw on their faith, their easy going laughter and their love for each other.

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They are creative. Creative in ways that aren’t cookie cutters of each other, but compliment each other. They see an opportunity and go gently into it… or with gusto.

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Work, volunteering, kids away at college, busy at home with younger kid stuff and yet I was impressed at how good they all are at listening to each other, even when life is silly. So we had to do this._DSC7960

December is a horrible time for available light and yet they bring sunshine on our cloudy days. They have that compass. They know what their true north is, and it means doing what needs to be done to help each other thrive.

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And they care- Mom and Dad live it, the children are learning and launching out into life with it in their studies. So as serious as life is, this is what Mom said when I asked about any objections with putting the spotlight on them now…. and this is a direct quote…. “Not at all — well unless it’s a blog about moms who drink too much wine and dads who smoke too many cigars who raise adorable but naughty kids!!!”
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So much to love about them and the compass in their hearts.