LETTING GOD  By Lori A Alicea

Everybody grieves.

Yes, everybody grieves.

But everybody grieves differently, and in their own way.

Some grieve outwardly, visible through the rainfall of their tears.ayva crying with blanket

Some grieve inwardly, as if a dam holds back the streams of their pain, yet breaks through in the flow of their written words or song.

There is no measuring stick to gauge one’s grief,

But you grieve nevertheless.

Grief is a painting of a thousand words.

We find ourselves consoled in the brushstrokes from those who understand.
5164EEED-DA8A-4BD5-BD69-528D5A4C880D
We take comfort in the sunsets that calm our weariness.D20E4C50-9289-4D13-A92F-9C91272E4D79

As the morning dew weeps over the spring flowers,
we also are given permission to weep.

water dew on dandelions
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Jesus himself wept in grief over a dear friend who died.

Jesus wept.
John 11:35 NIV

This portrait of grief is an open book of our heart where its pages are stained from runaway tears, yet caught by the hands of a loving God who notices and stores them in a bottle, recording these raindrops of pain in His Book of Remembrance.

You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle
not one will be lost.
For they are all recorded
In your book of remembrance.
Psalms 56:8 (TPT)

high angle shot of an open book
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

This portrait of a thousand words has been hanging in our personal gallery over the last eleven months as a tribute to us in our season of showers titled,

A Family’s Ten Good-byes.”

On September 20, 2020 the angels of heaven came for our mother, our pillar, matriarch and heart of the family.
funeral a goodby neese jake david looking at casket
Her loss on our plate would have been a full plate to grieve over this past year. But there would be nine more good-byes added to an already full plate.

On my side, we lost my mother, brother and papa.

On my husband’s side, we lost two brothers, a papa and two cousins.

Together, we lost two dear friends from church.

Yes, ten good-byes in eleven months, each farewell unique, each remembering a life well lived.

This season of showers,

Whether flowing outward from the windows of our soul or inward from the depths of our heart,
Our tears watered a great reminder of a family reunion one day, in heaven.

From each shower,
A “rainbow in full view” nestled in the open sky whispering the nearness of God.2019 houle mark and connie rainbow

These April showers brought forth May flowers of joy, because in God:

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (KJV)E82E7320-64BF-44A8-8420-0A8D90AC827A

The season of grief most difficult,
The season which wrestles and fights to hold onto your heartstrings,
Yet a season you must find His perfect peace in,
Our season of healing,
Our season of letting go.

In our letting go,
We are letting God…

Sit with us beside the empty chair.
empty chair TABLE Mom Picture Sweater
Be that telephone call when we long for theirs.
2018 ayva on phone
Be a song when we miss their voice.
Be an arm of comfort in the middle of the night.USE older younger rosalee kizzie 2

Give us eyes to see our family portrait still complete, while their picture now hangs in our heart.party guests - moms family

Be a father to the fatherless.
Be a husband to the widow.
Be a friend to the friendless.

Lead us beside still waters.

KIZZIE ROSALEE holding hands water keep

Be our everything;
Whatever everything needs to be.

September 20, 2021 will mark a family’s one year anniversary of their mother’s good-bye.
debbie casket
Her first birthday, first holidays, first anniversary and first Mother’s Day without our matriarch has been honored and grieved differently by each who loved her, though grieved nevertheless.

God has wiped our tears when they’ve fallen outwardly.

God has been those words or song when we wept from the inside.

For the nine farewells which followed our mother’s, God has been a faithful post to lean on when the weight of our heartache was far too great a burden to shoulder and stand alone.25th anniversary - worship song

In our letting go,
We’ve been letting God.

We’ll get there when we get there.

In time…in time.

round silver colored pocket watch and eyeglasses on opened book
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

STEPPING FROM DOLLS AND BOWS INTO HEELS By Lori A Alicea

She’s not a little girl anymore.

Brooklyn

This little girl

Has been cocooned in her father’s heart these childhood years, hidden and protected while the hand of her heavenly Father has been molding and fashioning and never taking His eyes from her as she becomes the “fearfully and wonderfully made” young woman He envisioned and imagined from before her birth.

Brooklyn and daddy 6

This little girl
Who’s been set apart from anyone or influence who dares to hasten her wings and sacred time with an earthly father who shows the way in her knowing, the trusting and hearing the voice of Christ more clearly; leading his little girl to abandon her heart to Him before those maiden flights finds her beyond an earthly father’s reach.
Brooklyn praising Jesus
A childhood of dolls and bows are now journal entries from days of yesterday.

Tear stained pages of prayers from a father laying bare his heart on the altar for his little girl.

Petitions mirroring back God’s promises of hope and prosperity for his daughter’s future.

Tied together with a little girl’s surrendered will to God’s plans before her.

Be the wind beneath her wings which lift her soaring high as eagles.

A butterfly emerges her cocoon into this beautiful woman standing before me.

The faces of my little girl are now a gallery of framed pictures in the secret place I retreat to when I long to remember those eyes that once looked up and followed me everywhere I went.

My little girl walks past the closed door of her childhood, taking those first few steps thru an entryway as a young woman, a butterfly seeing the beauty of her life for the first time through new lens.
Brooklyn and daddy 3
Her mother and I we celebrate the sweet life and sixteen years of a child and gift God loaned to us parents, recalling His charge we raise our daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Decorations 1

Today we celebrate what God had given to us sixteen years ago.

But are reminded of the giving back to God’s arms and plans the day we dedicated our little girl to the Lord.

This day our butterfly is seen for the first time dressed and crowned in all her glory; a banquet opening its doors to a place of grandeur for its guests to celebrate and behold her.

Bouquets of roses billow from the arms of a father presenting to her the love he’s expressed on many occasions prior.

A father sharing a first dance with this young woman he’s shared the evening before at daddy-daughter dances, holding back his tears of that dance yet to come on her wedding day.

Our little girl kisses good-bye her childhood of dolls and bows.

brooklyn and brodie 1

Stepping into the heels of a young woman crowned befitting her beauty.

She may not be little anymore, but forever etched in my sight is daddies little girl.
Brooklyn and daddy
A father’s heart hasn’t changed and still overwhelmed for his little girl as when he spoke on her 13th birthday.

What can I say! I am a proud father of two beautiful girls that I love so much.

Brooklyn, my first. What a great opportunity for me to learn what it was to be a dad and how to love unconditionally. Since the first time I met you at three years old until now, has been an amazing journey. You have been through a lot, but I am glad that I was there to help you get through those difficult times.

I want you to know that you have given me a gift that no one could ever take from me, and that was adopting you as my daughter. The crazy thing is, nothing has changed for me because you have always been my girl from the moment I met you.

I’m proud to see God working in your life, and I hope your mom and I are doing a good job showing you how to live a Christ centered life. I’m proud of who you are and most of all, I’m proud to be your dad!

I love you!
Love Daddy”

A butterfly emerges her cocoon into this beautiful woman standing before me.

Presenting for the very first time,

A woman dressed and crowned in all her glory,
Fearfully and wonderfully made,

Our daughter,

Brooklyn Nicole Alicea.

Presentation of Brookln

SO MANY GOOD-BYES By Lori A Alicea

A quiet morning sitting along the shoreline beach of Hawaii, a picturesque view where my six-year old granddaughter feeds the waves with sand food served from a menu of her imagination; an hour of calm for me as the ocean soothes the soles of my weary feet with every wave that crashes up against them.
IMG_2917

Sometimes the weight of heavy burdens takes its toll on our feet which does its best to keep us standing strong, as burdens though were never meant to be carried.  But every now and then God sits his children down beside the shores of cool water and allows the singing and washing of the waves minister gently to our tired spirit.

It’s been a year like no other; adding the weight of the recent month just passed of so many good-byes, so many tears poured out remembering another loved one.  A mother…a brother ‘n law and now a brother. Navigating grief that maiden year of so many “firsts” presents itself without a map which adds to the pain.   Magnify that voyage times three and your shoulders buckle under weight of heartache.  

I once read that…

Grief never ends…but it changes.
It’s a passage not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith..
It is the price of love.
Author Unknown.

Better to love than never love at all;
Remembering the price of love will one day be paid in our parting good-bye.

The price of love recently expressed from my brother’s wife…
IMG_0624

How I miss you baby.
The flesh in me just wants you back for one more kiss, 
One more hug and one more I love you.

I feel so empty, but after 46 years with this beautiful man, how else could I feel.
Until we meet again baby, I will carry you in my heart forever.

You made my life complete.
Love you and miss you so much.

Your wife…

This trip to Hawaii was an unexpected one for me; a trip actually scheduled for someone else.  But plans changed; life’s wisdom to always have a bag packed when God’s calendar reveals a secret.

Accompanying my granddaughter home after a three week stay with family came as I gift God knew I needed; while His reasons have yet to be unveiled.  
IMG_2918

Though a ten hour flight and a five hour time difference, all these good-byes can’t be abandoned in baggage claim.

The luggage of our heavy hearts must be unpacked.

We must be willing to open the luggage of our good-bye, hold what’s inside, savor the moments and in time unique to each, be willing to put away our bags, and leave the intersection of Holding On and step into the street of Moving Forward.

But as my Father sits beside the shores of cool water with me and allows the singing and washing of waves to minister to my tired spirit.

I hear Him gently reminding me…

Be willing with…

One moment at a time… 
One breath at a time…
One step at a time…
One memory at a time…

and 

Let Him shoulder the rest.

LOT 232  By Lori A Alicea

Hard to believe six months have already passed us by.

During this short season the landscape of our life has been painfully pruned back by the gardener, fertilized and re-seeded for new and beautiful growth; but yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Time does not discriminate and show favor to the weary, the broken, and those resisting the shears of the gardener’s pruning.

But life goes on as it should.

There’s wonder and beauty to be unwrapped and unveiled to those willing to continue their passage through the steep hills and rough terrain of change.

Remembering there are no shortcuts or detours, just one-way signs of “going thru” that difficult process of mining the heartache to discover those diamonds of new beginnings.

Lot 232 remains just as I remember.

LOT 232 SIGN

The furniture hasn’t moved nor any picture or book out of place since I cleaned it last.

coffee table

Contagious laughter of small children still echoes from the walls that captured their innocence seated around the table, each eating the spoils from the scavenger hunts of their grandmother’s cupboards.

moms table

The smells of the kitchen still retain their aromatic flavor and the recipes and memories remain that once framed the holiday dinner portraits at moms; the legacy gift I cherish most from her.

salt and pepper shakers

 Evident from the unwrinkled comforter, mother’s bed hasn’t been slept in; although the soft music she used to play continuously from the small radio on her nightstand can be slightly heard if I lean in ever so closely.

moms room

Lot 232 hasn’t changed a bit in my heart, but of all the details I wish I could change, it would be that my key to Lot 232 still opened the front door to my mother’s life.

So much has changed these last six months and yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Daughters are little girls who never outgrow the need to share those heart gushes with her mother.

Grandchildren need those rocking chair moments with their grandmother too.

grandma in chair

The merry-go-round of living keeps spinning and changing, and how I desperately want off this ride.

But life must go on as it should;
Walking in the peace,
The calm and
Serenity of God’s love;

A journey that allows the Father to carry our troubles while carrying us when we need Him to.

Going on” mandates the “letting go” of what our heart strings desperately cling to. It’s giving to God what has been His from the beginning.

There’s no looking back in the rear view mirror when your life is moving forward.

We must allow God to pack our suitcase of memories; a loving tour guide who encourages traveling light, not weighted down from the cares of what “used to be”.

I sure love you mom.

I love mom

I keep your beautiful smile in my heart of remembrances.

face of our holidays

Your prayers for the three generations you petitioned God for were not in vain.

moms prayers

Your prayers have taught us to place our hope in God.

hope

And accept the things we cannot change.

Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I drove by Lot 232 just the other day; an address one street over from when we used to be neighbors.  Seems like yesterday we were sharing an early morning cup of coffee together on your porch.

They say you can take the neighbor out of the neighborhood, but never the neighborhood from the neighbor.

We’ll always be neighbor’s mom.

Addresses may change.
But keys to the front door of our memories will never need a locksmith.

Thank you God for Lot 232.

I have no doubt my mother didn’t need a change of address in heaven.

I’ll know exactly where to find her.
LOT 232 SIGN

THE SCHOOL BELL RINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME…AGAIN! By Lori A Alicea

My baby’s baby starts kindergarten this year.
school - Ayva first day of kindergarten 1

How can it be that just twenty-six years ago the school bus picked up my baby for her first day of kindergarten?
school - Candace first day of kindergartenBackpacks are heavier than ever with the weight of all that school stuff… pencils, paper, tissues, crayons, glue, scissors and a brand new item on the school list…sanitizer.
IMG_1861I wish it wasn’t so sweet Ayva, but school will be a bit different for you than for your mother twenty-six years ago.
school - Candace kindergarten pictureschool - Ayva first day of kindergartenThe school bell rings for five years olds everywhere…for the first time.

The school bell rings louder when that five year old is yours.

School bell stop ringing…
We’re not ready…at least I wasn’t.

Just yesterday our baby’s newborn smell overwhelmed while snuggling them quietly near our heart.
mom and Candacebaby - ayva newbornWe close our eyes for a second and the school bells rings for the first time for my baby’s baby.

For this grandmother, the school bell rings for the first time…again.
mom and daughter - Candace going to kindergartenmom and daughter - Candace and Ayva going to kindergarten

No matter how old a mother becomes, she never forgets those milestones, her children’s right of passages that mark in time their growing up.

I share with you Kindergarten Day for my baby twenty-six years ago.

Kindergarten Day!
The Start of New Beginnings
By Lori A. Alicea

The end of August is fast approaching.  The school bell is ready for the principal to ring.  Backpacks are stuffed, new sneakers are laced and moms everywhere are preparing their children for the first day of school, some for the very first year.

Though I registered my daughter this August for her senior year in high school and my son his senior year in college, this mother never forgot that bittersweet kindergarten day when the apron strings of her heart were cut.

Maybe it was in our maiden walk to school, lamenting my return alone.  Maybe it was their reluctance to leave my side as I brought them to their desk.  Maybe it was seeing their moistened eyes when I turned to check on them one last time.  Maybe it was noticing them looking for me outside their window.  Maybe it was hearing the school bell ring, wanting them desperately to be four again.  Whenever it was, this first day of school painfully required me to release them to their new beginning, severing ties that intertwined our lives before kindergarten.

Before this mom had time to dry her tears, the kids bounced back in new energy with field trips planned to the apple orchard and zoo.  Holiday parties and snack days were scheduled and backpacks daily emptied of schoolwork they were anxious to share.

Soon the refrigerator was papered with reading, writing and arithmetic.  Little friends started to call, inviting them over to play.  Where once we were cocooned in our own world of Sesame Street and adventures to the park, now my children were slowly becoming aware of their wings, spreading them ever so slightly at the edge of our nest.

As ironic that it may seem, I truly believed the best lesson I could teach my children, was to teach them to leave.  In order to pass the test, I had to be willing to open the doors of opportunity along their way, never blocking the entrance to future beginnings, yet keeping exit doors closed off from early escapes of hard times.

When once they scribbled in print, they now they communicate their feelings.  Where once they counted on their fingers, they now calculate life’s problems.  Where once they clung to me and dominated our conversation.  Now one lives six hours away and telephones when he can.  The other, a few steps behind.

Looking back, that first day of school was elementary compared to the final exam of their first day on their own.

Though new beginnings should be exciting, it’s the leaving something old that makes it so difficult.  Thankfully that first day of school I was teacher’s pet, when I allowed my kids to be five.
IMG_1691IMG_1738

THEIR LIGHT STILL SHINES By Lori A Alicea

A Sympathy Card

For those who lost…

A husband, a wife,
A brother, a sister,
A friend, a son, a daughter,
A mother, father, aunt or uncle, cousin,
A classmate, a co-worker, a neighbor,
A stranger you noticed every day,
Any one you shared life with,

But lost during this pandemic year of 2020.

These expressed words are my condolences
To your family that they might bring comfort
In your most difficult hour.

Love bridges the miles that separate us.
Love knows no stranger.
Love reaches out to those who hurt.

I’m reaching out a stranger,
While reaching out a friend.
To fill your grieving cup,
With hope, with promise.

To extend an arm of comfort,
To lift you up during a time
When the unimaginable weight of your loss
Is too much to bear alone.

My sympathy’s in your hour of great need…

Might you be blanketed…
Might you be surrounded…
With “the peace
That passeth all understanding.”

THEIR LIGHT STILL SHINES
By Lori A Alicea

Each light, a life, a name held close,
Burns bright their memory.
In silence we remember those,
Called home to be with Thee.

The brilliance of so many names,
A darkened night broke through.
Appears a starry sky but yet,
My eyes see only you.

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

Behind, you left an empty seat,
Behind, you left your light.
Your memories remain with us,
They comfort in the night.

greyscale photography of lamp on floor
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Their names, lit dim mere months ago,
The roll calls just a few.
The flicker soon becomes a flame,
Your name was added too.

blur burn burning burnt
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then one by one another name,
A life, a candle lit.

tealight candle lit up
Photo by Mohammad reza Fathian on Pexels.com

This scene it takes away one’s breath,
And overwhelms to sit.

man sitting beside building
Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

Each light released into Thy hands,
Good-by this side of night.
Our loss, eternity has gained,
Released towards heaven’s sight.

bright celebration crowd dark
Photo by Abby Kihano on Pexels.com

The window of my heart remains,
Your light my eyes can see.

pillar candle near clear glass window
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Your light still shines the midnight hour,
There’s peace, you rest with THEE.

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding,
shall keep you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 KJV

ANOTHER MILITARY MOVE By Lori A Alicea

It’s only been three years this time.

Three years to meet the neighbors and become a block of friends and family.
Three years for the kids to find their group of friends in

Soccer

Gymnastics
rosalee 12
Church
2018 england xmas 78
Dance
2017 england summer 18 cova ballet
Girl Scouts
IMG_0185
Three years to become part of the children’s school as room mother.

Three years to find all the hideaway running and bicycle trails to adventure on.
2019 england fathers day adventure 7Three years to add another baby to the family portrait.

Three years to remodel a fixer-upper to make a house a home.
IMG_8538It’s been only three short years and it is time to pull the tent-spikes from their temporary home as the Army orders for our son and family have been served and it’s now time for another military move.

Home is your safe place, your place of refuge.
IMG_8537Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you can be yourself.
Home is that door post where you keep a record of your children’s growth chart.
Home is that table of family dinners and conversation.
Home is that bed of sweet dreams where only your pillow and blanket will do.
Home is your address where memories are made.

Home is that backyard created for children in mind.

To swing.

To sit by the campfire.

Home is a set of front steps that welcome you with open arms after being gone all day, or a seat where children eat their morning breakfast of donuts.
IMG_8571

But duty calls and now it’s time to say goodbye.
use this rosalee kissing kizzie

It’s time to pack up the house and forward the mail. It’s a time to say goodbye to the friends, the familiar, your favorite coffee shop, the usual route to work.  It’s a time to hug that faithful babysitter you entrusted with your children.  It’s time to find a new home for the outside cat that welcomed you in the neighborhood three years ago and never left.
USE THIS CATBeing a member of the military you accept their core values, and one of them is honor.

Regarding honor, the Army states that:

Honor is the one that embodies all the others. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.”

USE THIS

It’s that selfless service putting America first that makes serving in the military so hard. But you embrace the call and grace to serve your country well with pride and great courage.

Serving your country requires great sacrifice, especially family ties that must endure the heart’s tug of war of those frequent goodbyes. As grandparents we must be willing to let our grandchildren go with love and joy as the call to serve is a family affair.

This past weekend my husband and I spent many hours driving to bring our four babies home so we could reunite the cousins who haven’t been together for over three years. We wanted this special time together as a family before our military babies leave again for another three year journey, much farther than ever before.  They won’t be within driving reach anymore and we will rely on technology to watch them grow.

How the faces of our little loves have changed since the last sleepover three years ago. A few of our grandchildren weren’t even born yet.

We had to get one last bike ride in for the memory books. And so much more.
IMG_0181These four faces will be unrecognizable in three years from the smiles we see today. Letting go is bittersweet.  We can’t be selfish to hold them back, but a grandparent’s heart tells us to scoop them in our arms and never let go.
IMG_0184In times of sadness we lean on our faith in God, as he has mapped out our lives, he’s ordered our steps. God has a great big wonderful plan if we’d trust him and embrace it.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.   Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
USE THIS STEPS
If our steps are ordered; and God loves us more than we could imagine, then who are we to argue with God in this military move.
use this 2019 england jake graduation 32

LETTING GO By Lori A Alicea

As long as the hour and minute hand of your life’s clock keeps ticking in perfect time advancing those seconds, minutes and hours into days, weeks and years, change is ongoing requiring without permission slips,
our “letting go.”

Change can be hard.
New beginnings are framed in change.
Why must “today” require change when “yesterday” was so wonderful?

Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we want them to remain.
“Letting go” is opening our hand to receive the unknown.

God is the author of change when He reminds us:
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
…now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?…Isaiah 43:19 ESV

 The school bell has finally rung this steamy month of August, some mothers painfully deafened by its ring as it signals the heart wrenching debut of a lifetime of “letting go” events of their children.

Though that “first day of school” for my son and daughter took place twenty-five and thirty years ago, a mother can still recall in tears when her heart was left at the classroom door as teaching began without her.

 

“Letting Go” during that orientation of change called Kindergarten requires you to face the mirror’s reflection that your children are growing up.

With twelve years of school and college possibly down the road, a mother will be in shock the speed of her life’s clock until she relives another “first day of school” through her children’ eyes, as this grandmother’s seventh and eighth of ten grandchildren have filled their backpacks for Preschool.

 

“Letting Go” when you’re two remaining grandchildren have appointments with Preschool in two short years, is a sad reminder that the crib and high chair will soon be packed away for good, no longer needed when visiting their grandparents.

Growing up is supposed to happen, but you always want them to stay small and fit into your lap just a little bit longer.

Looking into your newborn’s face for the very first time, you can’t imagine “Letting them Go”.

You concede they won’t always need your hand to cross the street.
You concede they won’t always call for you in the middle of a night’s storm.
You concede they won’t always be daddy’s little girl or mommies best bud.
You just concede it will happen sometime tomorrow, in another life.

Tomorrow comes though and you find yourself “Letting Go” again when your children walk their isles of matrimony.

Growing up and getting married is supposed to happen.

We’ve prayed for their spouses since birth and couldn’t be more exuberant with what God “has joined together”, but “Letting Go” this time means “Letting Go” for good.

But mom and dad rejoice in the new beginnings of their children’s lives.

 

While our daughter Audra still waits for God’s perfect plan relating to her future spouse, Daddy continues to be that special man in her life until then.

David and Audra 60th birthday

“Letting Go” when Audra’s wedding day arrives might require daddy’s grown sons to walk along side him as he escorts his little girl down her isle, just in case an overcome father falls apart.

When a daughter leaves her father for another man in marriage, sometimes she takes with her a little boy who brought life to the home of two grandparents who helped raise him the last 3 1/2 years.

Ethan on wedding day

A little boy who learned to walk in your kitchen.
A little boy who helped you make coffee every night before bed.
A little boy who sat in your lap while eating dinner.
A little boy who called your name in the baby monitor.
A little boy who followed you everywhere in the house.

How do you smile at your daughter’s wedding and say good-by to a little boy who stole your heart on the very same day?

 

“Letting Go” the night before our grandson moved his blanket and pillow to another bed would be like no other.  Over a few scoops of ice-cream shared between a grandfather and a little boy, the weight of the moment fell when “Letting Go” meant”Letting Go” for good, and papa’s tears fell like rain that evening, flooding their bowls.

“Letting Go” is happening all around us.  Sometimes we need to take our eyes off our own lives and help someone else “Let Go” when they want so bad to “hold on”.

A year and a half ago we found our mother in a near death health crisis, forcing an address change to a nursing home while packing up her life.

You never think that day will come, and realize how unprepared emotionally you are when it does.  Mother raised six children, served us and gave us the best life she was capable of.  Now her seventy-eight years of life is reduced to sixty boxes of memories, memories we finally have the heart to go through to divide.

 

“Letting Go” a year and a half ago didn’t involve us letting go of mother, although did involve “Letting Go” of mother as we once enjoyed.

mom nursing home

Mother is many things to all of us.  Her tributes could fill a library of books.

In the “Letting Go”, God is so faithful to give us something to “hold on” to.  While unpacking the remains of our mother’s house, I found this Time Capsule of mother memorialized as seen through the eyes of her family, possibly written fifteen years ago.  Inside this simple jar are words to honor one woman who tirelessly gave and loved her family first, in an assortment of messages both funny and heartfelt titled:

“I Remember When”.

A few of the many messages, written from her grandchildren 15 years ago:

grandmas grandkids

I remember when you came pretty close to getting evicted from your apartment, thanks to your rowdy grand-kids.  Granddaughter Julie

 I remember when me and Candace spent the night one time, we were cooking with the Easy Bake oven and used your Tupperware stuff and melted it.  Sorry!  Granddaughter Amanda

 I remember how I always sat by you in church.  Grandson Phillip

 I remember when we would always play SKIPPO.  (Of course I would always win.)  Well, of course a couple of times I would let grandma win.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have learned how to play all those card games.  Granddaughter Candace

 I don’t remember when I started calling you Grandma, but I do remember you always making me feel like your grandson.  Grandson JT

A few of the messages written by her children 15 years ago:

I remember when we went to pick out my wedding dress and you cried.  Daughter Debbie

I remember going through my “hard times”, how you took me under your wing, loved me like your own daughter, and made me feel like a part of the family.  Daughter Jill

I remember the past eight years of our Tuesday night rituals.  You made me dinner and I washed and set your hair.  A time for us to share, laugh and become close as mom and daughter; as friends as well.  Daughter Denise

 I remember all the times when I would call you in the middle of the night just to hear your voice.  Of all the hard times I went through, you were always there to listen.  Never once did you make mention of what time it was.  Daughter Belinda

 “Letting Go” is different for every situation.  Give yourself grace if “Letting Go” is more painful than you thought and coming to terms is even harder.

We all want to hold on when God wants us to “Let Go”.
We want to understand when God doesn’t make sense.

But God’s ways and thoughts are not ours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

But in our “Letting Go” God promises:

…I will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace
;..
Isaiah 55:11-12

After closing up the Time Capsule of my mother’s life and savoring the honor greatly due her, I am reminded of a tribute, a gift to “hold on to” also while aching through the “Letting Go” when my first born left me for college.

A free spirit as depicted in his body art,

jakes tatoo

our son continues to run the race of his life through the many races beyond high school and never looked back, going from one finish line to the next.

jake finish line

The race of college.
The race of dental school.
The race of the military.

 

The finish line is somehow the starting line up for another race, with the miles between us getting further from the race before.

jake motorcycle

But after the gun went off to signal the race of college, God allowed me to find a letter buried in a bag of discarded stuff.  In this bag located in the garage filled from the bedroom our son vacated for good, I discovered a letter that would hug me from time to time in the moments I terribly missed him.

Dear Mom,

Now that I am graduating and getting ready to leave for college, I’ve been thinking about all the fun things I’ve done and the great things I’ve achieved.  When I think about them, you always are apart of them somehow.

We have had so many great memories together.  A few that come to mind are camping trips, baseball games and track meets.  Even though I never show it, I always loved you being there.  You have had such a huge impact on my life.  You have helped me to become the runner and man that I am today.

I just wanted to say thank you for always being there for me, and guiding me down the right path.  You have been a great mother and have done your job well.  I know being a single mother all those years weren’t easy, but you kept the family together and I’ll always love you for that. 

Love forever, Your Son

Embracing this honor allowed an exchange of the baton of my sorrow that year, for faith in the hands I entrusted my son to.

Letting Go” means letting God, and I think I can handle that.