GOING HOME  By Lori A Alicea

Love…peace…and joy.

Three beautiful sentiments written into a greeting card.

Three captivating emotions of a well scripted movie.

While sentiments are ribbons which wrap around our hearts in a Valentine bow, emotions aren’t the final approval of our (love, peace and joy), as emotions change on a moment’s notice with the direction of the wind.

Love…peace…and joy are our choice.

We choose to love when the forecast is nothing but bad attitudes.

We choose peace when waters around us are anything but calm.

We choose joy on a rainy day of tears.

We choose to remember that (love, peace and joy) are attributes of God, so when we choose to love, when we choose peace, when we choose joy, we are looking into the face of God.

I didn’t realize I’d have to choose one fall Saturday afternoon, a greeting card day where the weather was crisp and perfect for sweaters and apple picking.

A backdrop of trees in full bloom of nature’s glory and framed around a lake of tranquility, a silent movie re-playing in my memory of Saturdays here at this same lake with my parents and siblings, and now all grown up as grandparents making new ones with grandchildren around a fishing pole and their love for each other.

Unfortunately for us, the fish weren’t biting as they must have eaten a late lunch.

So, we packed up our tackle boxes and left for an old fishing spot from years ago, a pond nestled in the center of an old neighborhood Papa and Gaga used to live, a pond where Papa first taught his small grandchildren to fish.

Worried we’d be cited for trespassing at a community we didn’t live at anymore, we cast our rods anyway in pursuit of scaly trophies and began recording again our Saturday memories.

The new fishing spot didn’t disappoint three eager children who wanted to catch and take home a string of fish.

 

As Papa and our grandchildren were catching fish, God was catching my attention in this picture I took of my grandson, my mother’s house down the road in full view; one street over from where we used to live.  A place I’ve longed to return to and a mother I’ve been missing terribly with her first anniversary in heaven coming up on the calendar in just two short days.

USE fishing 5

It was surprising that Ayva, our six year old and on her own recalled this neighborhood, even though she was a toddler wearing her first pair of glasses during our three year stay as residents.

Ayva shouted gleefully as we entered the park, “Gaga, remember we used to ride our bicycles to grandma’s house.”

Ayva was right.

Early on many Saturday mornings a parade of pajama wearers rode their bicycles first to grandma’s house for a short while before continuing their parade to the park.

True joy was captured in many of our bicycle riding memories in a neighborhood where we lived one street over from grandma.

Such were the fishing memories too.

Ayva and Aubrey didn’t have the fishing and bicycle memories the older grandchildren had when we lived at Lot 311 as they were much to young to enjoy.

It saddens a Papa and Gaga to see with their own eyes the passage of time in pictures taken so long ago, yet feels like yesterday; a place we long so desperately for too.

Packing up our tackle boxes for the second time that day, we rode our bicycles to grandmas house before leaving, even if seated in car seats instead.

Stopping at Lot 232 a few days before my mother’s one year anniversary in heaven was an unplanned surprise by God.

I had plans to visit the cemetery; God had me going home.

Stopped by the shell of a place we once called home, takes me back to a crowded place of love, peace and joy, where seated around tables set up in every room of a single-wide trailer were family members enjoying each other and a feast at mother’s house.

Inside and outside of Lot 232, the undeniable joy of guests welcoming each other, a parking lot full of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gathering together albeit virtual or in person and around the centerpiece of home, our mother.

But now, one year later after mother bid us good-by for heaven, the home which gathered us under one roof is now a family tree which has branched out into new traditions of their own homes.

The senior table is surrounded by empty chairs now and the joyful laughter once heard and piped into the neighborhood through the surround sound of the walls is eerily silent.

And from her car seat our six year old Ayva sadly noted, “Gaga, I don’t see the bicycles.”

“Yes Ayva, I don’t see bicycles either.”

Two days before my mother’s one year anniversary,
I still choose to see the love of my mother’s house and memories she gave us, even though Lot 232 is empty.

I still choose to feel the peace from God whom mother introduced us to, even though the waves of my heart is calmed one ripple at a time.

I still choose joy though I weep for the neighbor I once lived close enough to ride my bike to.

Because when I choose love, peace and joy, I’m choosing God.

Leaving the park that day, the kids spilled the beans of Papa’s secret; a trip to the ice cream place.

Ayva asked me so innocently, “Gaga, what are you having?”

I replied just as innocently, “Sweet girl, whatever you are having.”

Instead of going to the cemetery to remember my mother’s one year anniversary, I went home instead, even if it meant visiting an old neighborhood.

Papa and Gaga and three great grandchildren of moms celebrated her life over a cup of vanilla ice cream and sprinkles.

Choose love.
Choose peace.
Choose joy.

Even choose sprinkles.

Because when you do,

You choose God.

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

AS A MOTHER COMFORTS…. By Lori A Alicea

Surrounded by the arms of a mother.  A secret garden of butterflies and rainbows where only moms and kids allowed.  A hidden place of “their” songs and kisses to make it all feel better.  Like quieted birds nestled beneath the sheltered wings of its mother, so is a child who finds comfort near the heartbeat of the one who gave them life.

 As a grandmother peering through the lenses of our daughter’s lives, those angels whose arms are full with our ten adoring grandchildren.  I am in awe of their tangled web of “heartstrings” that tug and pull on a mother’s love to her child and back again.  Mothers hear every cry, albeit faint of her child.  Mothers know the right words at her child’s inconsolable moments.  Mothers sing that song reserved just for the two of them.

This maternal bond is a mystery.

As a mother comforts her child… Isaiah 66:13 NIV. 

Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV.

It was a recent hospital stay for our daughter where I had a front row seat to the “heart-string” tug from our granddaughter Ayva for her mother.  Out of ten grandchildren, Ayva has always favored and found contentment in my arms.  But an inconsolable moment of Ayva grieving the absence of her mother had me dialing for a Face-time call to our daughter.  Just hours post surgery and propped up by a pillow, our daughter’s face on the phone was as a window being watered from a summer rain of Ayva’s tears at first sight of her mother.  Finding solace in their secret garden for two, Ayva’s mother began to sing their special song for comfort.  For a quick second I reminisced our song, “You are My Sunshine” believing my daughter passed it on to Ayva.  Yet the tune “Happy Birthday” was the heart-string that pulled on Ayva’s heart.

As a child of God, we never get too old where our Father doesn’t stop for the cries of his children as “He is the God of all comfort…” 2 Corinthians 1:3.  The love God has for us is personal.  He will meet you at at your moment of dire despair.

I was a twenty-eight year old divorced, single mom of two, when the comfort of God found me during a night of sheer darkness.  Never being on my own before and feeling the weight of caring for a baby and a six year old, I suffered abandonment as a child afraid, wondering the streets.  I was overcome by loneliness; alone, and desperately not wanting to be.  Minute by minute the heaviness of the midnight hour tormented me.  I began sinking in the implosion of my brokenness.  In desperation I cried out for God and His comfort.  As a mother rushing to the side of her weeping child, God came to me and pulled on our heart-string as a “hush” I can’t explain, which stilled and quieted my heart.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….”  Isaiah 66:13

Rest in His Love Picture ethan blanket pacifier in fetal position

Moments as You Sleep  By Lori A Alicea

Find peaceful sleep my little child,
Soft blanket rest your head.
Oh hear my voice your lullaby,
And story that I read.

Stay calm and quiet in your dreams,
Your fret the angels keep.
I hover you my precious child,
These moments as you sleep.

Take comfort child when you awake,
You’ll always find me here.
For every cry though loud or faint,
My love forever near.

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….”  Isaiah 66:13