Category Archives: death of a loved one

Birthdays …

the good, the bad and the indifferent.  Birthdays have always been a very cool thing to me, whether it is mine or someone else’s, I just feel happy.  Most of the time.  This year, my birthday came and went. There was cake and ice-cream, family, friends, co-workers; all the usual birthday suspects.  It was different, though.  This month started out with a fairly serious facial injury and mid-way through, adding insult (and injury) to injury, I fairly seriously injured my shoulder and cracked a couple of ribs.   Now it is no secret to the people who know me well that my mind, in the best of times, is a scary place to be.  During the worst of times, I walk around with a bio-hazard sign flashing above my head.

But, as I so often do, digress.  I can chalk part of it up to the end of October, that which I both long for and dread.  I have a love/hate relationship with that month and it nearly always makes me high.  November, however, is a month of coming to terms with the oncoming winter, saying goodbye to the leaves, hello to the bare sentries of winter and getting ready to be cold more often than not.  And my birthday is this month and that always makes me feel extremely special.  That was not to be this year.  With each new event, there were melancholic thoughts of days past, days that I didn’t care that much for when they were the present.  I thought much of my late husband and felt guilty, at times, that I was ready to let him be at peace and begin the process of getting on with my solitary (as that is how I like it) life.

I don’t discount the many blessings of the last year.  That would be wrong on so many levels.  The blessings have been numerous and I am thankful for each one.  Blessings sometimes get lost in the fray of life, though. I have family suffering from the loss of a loved one, dear friends that I am unable to account for and dealing with turning 45.  Any of these would be like turning a page during normal times, but when they all happen at once, well, it weighs on the mind.

Did it make my birthday less happy?  Yes.  Life has a way of doing what it wants.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy today, or tomorrow or the next day.  It doesn’t mean that I am beyond hope.  Unhappiness is a part of living and if there is anyone who has lived their entire life saying they have never experienced it, then you have seen, up close and personal, a liar.

November is nearly over and the round of Christmas parties, Band concerts, Christmas plays and a thousand other things that I will be trying hard to find a place to fit will present themselves, (at the last minute, always at the last minute), and at the same time, working diligently to keep my sanity (a fine line at best).  While it is true that I’m closer to fifty than I was only a couple of days ago, that is the furthest thing on my mind.  I am happier now than I have ever been.  Free, so to speak, with a daughter in college and myself on my own.  But there are times, as everyone knows, when it would be nice just to have someone put their arms around me, saying nothing as I cry until the tears were gone.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is not a sign of weakness, but proof of humanness; it is life.  It can be, at times discouraging, but in that moment that we find ourselves, unless we make it our mission, will not last forever.  I am already looking forward to doing it better and with more enthusiasm in the next year; whatever “it” may be.  I am a survivor and no matter what comes at me, I can depend on the Jesus to which I cling to lift me when my wings are too broken to fly on my own.  I am truly, humbly, honorable and indescribably blessed and that, I don’t want to forget.

Looking at the here and now can sometimes be overwhelming … but the here and now will be the there and then tomorrow, so don’t let it break you.  Let it get you down, cry when you need to, throw things if it suits you (my favorite thing to do in a crisis), but at the end of the day, realize that our life, our thoughts, our fears are part of what makes us who we are and without them, we wouldn’t really be anyone in particular, but like everyone else.  I like being different, even when it’s painful.  Though I have many regrets, there isn’t anything I would change because if I were to change them, my ability to relate and empathize would become obsolete.  An easy life is no challenge, but rising above the odds and making the best of the worst situations takes us to a whole new level.  It is my goal to serve my Lord and be the best that I can be for Him.   Be encouraged, my friends, for nothing lasts forever.  Nothing.

Lightning over Big Moccasin

Psalms 28:7 ~ The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart is trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will praise him.

It’s that time of year …

when folks start taking stock of their lives and thinking about the things they are thankful for.  There isn’t enough room on this blog to even begin to list all that I am thankful for, but find that I want, more than anything, to list at least a few.  There are, of course, the obvious; food, clothing, shelter, job, family – all the basics covered in one sentence, but what about the other entities and experiences?  The bounties that I sometimes forget to mention because I’m too busy or preoccupied to remember to be thankful for;  like music, silence, blue skies, white clouds, whispering oceans, warm sunshine, rustling leaves, winding mountain roads, bare trees, songs to sing, long, engaging, thought-provoking conversations, dancing to rhythms in my head and a myriad of other blessings that, for the moment, escape my memory.

As I write this, my mind wanders to some of the places I’ve been over the past year.  Not just physically, such as my favored falls or the rocks on top of the mountain, but where I have been spiritually, through the infinite grace and bountiful blessings of my Father God; the ministry He has given me through greeting cards and the ability to string words together and the counsel I have been able to share because of the trials and joys I have experienced.  I have met many new people, seen many new faces and heard much new music that has left me richer and more empowered than I was before.  While that is often the way it is with time and change, there are moments, spaces of time that span a few weeks to a few months that have changed my life, in one way or another, irrevocably.

Not all of the experiences have  been good ones, but I am thankful for them anyway as the lessons I learned from them were invaluable.  At the time, I suppose some of them seemed more like punishment than teaching, but as time passed and wisdom took the place of uncertainty, the evidence of growth was prominent.  The beauty of wisdom and strength as they become more clear in my mind and heart help me to understand that each experience, good or bad, is not coincidental, but a piece in a puzzle that never seems to be fully completed.  I find that stimulating conversation with a like mind is just as compelling to me as sitting alone finding notes on my keyboard as I work to learn to play the music that forms the words that, though I often cannot voice, I cherish nonetheless.

I have reconnected with some old friends, those that I had, for one reason or another, lost touch with.  It’s funny, somehow, that as an adult, the friendships that were forgotten or simply ignored over the years have rekindled and have more depth and meaning than I would have ever found in my youth.  I have found new friends, some that have moved me beyond any words that I could ever find the ability to express.  A connection that is not of the world that I live and work in every day, but is of something else altogether.  A pairing of minds, thoughts and ideas that would, if not for divine intervention, have been missed altogether.

It isn’t easy being different in an unusual sort of way from nearly everyone else I know and rekindling the connections to the artists and musicians from my past has encouraged me and made me feel a part of something that I have missed for way too long.  In the midst of what was already a part of me are the new friendships, those that fell, practically from the sky;  new friends on the surface, but in my heart and soul, are as old as time itself.  Finding familiarity in the unknown is exciting and exhilarating; not to mention a balm to the spirit.

My family has survived one attack after another this year and each one has, in its own way, brought us closer together, making us realize how important each of our unique qualities are in forging the dynamics of lasting bonds that cannot be broken.  As always, during this time of celebration and family get-togethers, the loved ones who have passed from this world are brought to the front of my mind and their wisdom and guidance, love and security, words and ideas fill me up.  It isn’t with sadness that I think of them, but of longing that I can’t sit down with them for a bit and ask the questions that I wish I had asked while they were living.  It never occurred to me, not in a realistic kind of way, that there wouldn’t be time to ask, to know and to find.  Along the same lines, I think of the questions and thoughts I share with my friends, the ones who seem to understand the very core of my being without explanation.  There is more power in that than could ever be described in words.

Yes, on this eve of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for many things, but most of all, I am thankful that I am child of God and that He loves me enough to give me everything I need and much of what I want simply because He loves me.  Yes, I am thankful, not just today, but everyday, for this beautiful life that I have been given and the growing realization that it is a privilege to be a part of a world that keeps on turning day after day after day.

To all my friends and all my family I wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.  I am blessed beyond measure and what you add to my life is a very big part of that blessing.  My wish is for your lives to be filled with awe, wonder, happiness and joy.  Yes, my blessings are too numerous to count, and for each one, I am thankful.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong”

so many thoughts …

seep through the filters and barriers of my mind tonight.  Part of it is, simply because it is true, brought on by the sudden death of my Uncle.  It is not his passing that I feel so strongly, however, but the emptiness, sorrow, anger, pain and need for understanding that I know, at this moment, my Aunt is feeling.  It is at this point that I want to say to her that everything will be OK (and it will be, but it isn’t now) and that time will heal her wounds (they will, but not yet).  There are so many things that I could say to try to bring comfort where comfort can’t be found.  The comfort comes in the wee hours of the morning when a certain song comes to mind, when the tears start and a after a few hours of mind-numbing, muscle-straining, heart-shattering sobbing, there is just a little more room for healing; a small window of clarity.  One doesn’t need to have lost someone to feel this kind of soul-cleansing sorrow; it can come in many forms.  I, myself, have found myself in this place many times over the years and I can say with certainty, so have some I have known..  No one is immune and no two people deal with it the same way.  Maybe it’s not the loss of a loved one or pet to death or some other tragedy.  Maybe it is the loss of a friend due to a move, the loss of a job after many years of faithful service.  Death isn’t the only thing that can cause us to fall on our face, confused, angry, uncertain; crying out to the only One who can ease the pain and heaviness of the burden we carry.  I think it is safe to say that if someone has one human that they can lay their thoughts on without fear of judgement, admonition or abandonment, then they are, in my mind, rich beyond what they could ever hope to imagine. I find myself rich and even so, it’s not easy pouring out my innermost secrets, failings and fears.  In my minds, they are bigger and more outrageous than anything that anyone has ever heard.  But that is a fallacy.  It is a trick and when it works, it works well; debilitating those of us who fall for its folly.  Don’t be fooled.  Spirit recognizes spirit; don’t be afraid to lean on people you can trust.  Ask yourself this; if the situation were reversed, would you want to be that human?  We all, even those of us who know we’re on a journey to somewhere better than this, need human contact,  That’s how we’re wired; how we’re fearfully and wonderfully made.  Don’t let your sorrow and pain separate you to the point where you become unreachable.  Let someone you trust share the load you carry, whatever the cargo may be.

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world

Time … both a thing of beaty and of defeat… a peom

As shadows of the darkness descend

The remains of what we all begin

Embark the journey to the end

Of time

Like waves  upon the ocean wild

Sometimes meek and sometimes mild

Like the voice of a child

We search

As trees sway in the bitter cold

The young at heart are too so old

Under skies so brilliant blue

And sunrise of the palest hue

Just to murmur “I love you”

Once more

As darkness comes before the dawn

Unveiling here this weary pawn

Just as the first breath has been drawn

We die.

What is it really like …

to lose, very suddenly and without warning, someone you love or are very close to?  To put it bluntly, it is like no other feeling in the world.  It supersedes all the other OMG moments as it settles into our bones like the chill of December.  It takes shock and disbelief to a new level.  I found out first hand a few years ago when I came home and found my husband, who was very much alive when I left to go to work, dead.  The shock was profound.  What in the world had happened in the hours I had been gone and totally oblivious to what was happening at home?  The instant feeling of emptiness will always be somewhere in the back of my mind and likely continue to show its ugly face at the most inopportune time.  It has been three years, or will be in a few weeks, since that fateful day, but there are times when I feel like I’m walking in for the first time.  How odd, that sensation, when I feel so vulnerable and so alone and so focused on my own loss and loneliness; how thankful I am that those times are now few and far between.

It’s difficult, in the best of times, to come to terms with the sudden and unexpected loss of someone you care about, be it a family member or dear friend or even someone that you remember fondly from your past.  It doesn’t matter who they are if they meant something to you.  Artists who paint will either paint as if tomorrow is a myth, or stop; photographers will take chances they would have never have taken or they will simply stop photographing for a time, musicians will either write as though their life depended on it or turn from their music completely.    We artists don’t deal with things the way other people do; that is often hard for the “others” to understand.

In my own experience, photography became nothing more than a reminder of what I had lost and it was months before I could come to terms with it and be able to pick up my Pentax and look through it without a blinding fog over my eyes.  There was, I now know, nothing wrong with that.  At the time, I thought I was past weird and well on my way to the funny farm, but looking back, I realize that it was all part of the process.  There is no right way or wrong way to grieve.  There is only the way that feels right at the time.  If you go against what you feel in your heart, then the only recourse is regret.  I try very hard to not do things that I will regret; sometimes I do them anyway, but then, I think I speak for most of us.

Losing someone we care about doesn’t change who we are but it does make us wonder if we could have been more.  That thought, though, should not consume us.  There will always be more that we could have done, could or should have said, could have made happen; dwelling on these things will not change anything.  I choose to dwell on the things that I did and not on the ones that I will never be able to do.  I am happier, and saner, for it.

His grace in my moment of weakness (a poem)

At times like these, I truly know

That there are ones, whe’er friend or foe

who’ll say a prayer that I’ll be whole

In my time of weakness.

Without my saying a single word

The warriors of Prayer were instantaneously spurred

And their heartfelt prayers, my Father heard

In my time of weakness.

His encouragement began in my mother’s home

Where by grace she knew what was already known

And her love covered me like a blanket of blooms

In my time of weakness.

It then continued at my sister’s pool

Where love for my precious family did fuel

Dulling the  confusion of my inward duel

In my time of weakness.

Then there is a moment,  as every now and then

A priceless bit of time with my dearest friend

The one I know, for certain, will be there ’til the end

In my time of weakness.

The reminiscing of days gone by

Some with laughter, some with sigh

Some with tears brimming in our eyes

In my time of weakness.

Knowing that what was once can be

No longer a part of real life for me

Knowing I see what i want to see

In my time of weakness.

In my heart, I realize the pain they’d feel

If but a glimpse of my sadness was revealed

Knowing inside I had lost the zeal

In my time of weakness.

Getting down on bended knee

I pray that from these chains I’m freed

That no more would life be consumed by grief

In my time of weakness.

Driving home with my thoughts I felt so close to despair

Then creation rumbled as it cried out its prayer

That your gentle loving spirit would sooth my every care

In my time of weakness.

© gina minton kearns

Daisies in June

Jim is gone.  He is with Jesus. Even if it were in my power to do so, I would not bring him back to this  life with it’s twists, turns, trials and sorrows.  So this day, this night, this moment, I set him free.  Happy Birthday my precious one … I loved him in life and will love him, even if by God’s will, there is another, until my last breath, for he was a gift of my Father and he helped me see what I needed to see to fulfill the destiny God has for me.  I had words to say, but was unable to  find the way to say them  … and then they were given to me by the Sweet Holy Spirit … It always seems that, at my weakest moment, He gives to me what I need to hear … this time, He gave it to me in words … My God.  My Savior.  My Jesus.

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time, change and dreams … and the encouragement therein

Time.  That elusive element that can drag out for what seems like an eternity or pass in a split moment.  The one thing that is both a constant and ephemeral, often at the same time. It seems to go hand in hand with change, a thing that I have never quite been able to grasp nor to become adept at handling.  While change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, often a good thing even, it is still unyielding in it’s power to overtake my life.  Change, like the passing of time, is inevitable.  There is no miracle that can erase those things that make my life better or worse and there is no magic that can bring back a moment that has passed.  Having a memory of something that has happened or that has been at one point is not the same thing as having that moment to live all over again.  Each time a memory is revisited, it changes slightly, taking on the gleam of what I would have it to be, whether it is better or worse than I remembered the last time I visited it.   There are even those memories that seem to be inherited, those that don’t really belong to me and yet they are in my mind and my heart as though they were mine all along.  My brain, heart, spirit and soul have been strained to the breaking point at times and when that happens, it feels as though any chance of a normal life cannot be possible.  Life then takes on a dream-like quality that is somewhere between reality and fantasy.  There are times when I hope to stay awake forever so that dreams cannot blur the reality that I strive to hold onto.  I dream in color and am often in the midst of violence and blood, neither of which I am fond of on any level.  Of late, my dreams have veered down an entirely different vein and it remains to be seen what will come of them.  I don’t put any stock in dreams, not in the way that some folks do in thinking that they mean anything in particular.  They are outlets that allow my body and mind to be free and clear of everything while taking a journey into fascinating, though often frightening, places.  I know that I am not alone in this statement.  I have friends that have dreams that make mine seem innocent and juvenile in comparison and I can only nod and appreciate that I have not yet crossed into that particular realm.  Time seems to have no bearing on dreams and rarely factors into them.  Over the past couple of years, I have spoken with many people about their dreams.  Their dreams are often perpetuated by time and change and revolve around loss and death of people or others, whether it was natural or tragic, that they loved.  Each person has said that they have had many, many dreams of those they are missing and I can’t help but feel blessed in some way that my dreams have never crossed that threshold.  I have not dreamed of my husband, not once, since he passed over two years ago.  I have not dreamed of my grandparents though my grandmothers, both of them, were a defining force in my life.  I have not dreamt of friends that have died nor of pets that I cherished.  While on one hand, I feel that I have been cheated out of revisiting those that I loved, on the other, I am glad that I have not had those moments between sleep and wakefulness, that place that holds me captive until I can awaken and have only the foggy memory of something happening.  I am glad that my nights are not plagued with actual loss and torment, though my days often are.  There are days and days that have no significance whatsoever, and then suddenly, out of the shadows, time passes and a moment that meant so much is upon me and I feel as though I am dying myself.  I have wished to die.  Maybe it is a fallacy to believe that everyone has a moment here and there when the burdens of life become so heavy that death seems like the obvious solution.  It is not the solution, not to anything, at least not by my own hand, but there have been times when it weighed into the equation.  As I’ve gotten older, more experienced and possibly even wiser, those thoughts don’t enter into my mind.  It is irresponsible to believe such dwellings and above all things, I do not want to be irresponsible.  Ok, that’s a lie, I do want to be irresponsible and completely carefree and irrational, but reality keeps me tethered whether I like it that way or not.  I have found myself, at times of great despair, praying for faith, but praying for faith is like spitting in the wind.  In order for prayer to do any good, faith must come first, for if I have no faith in whom to which I pray, then I have wasted my time.  I do have faith.  I have faith in an awesome God that has taken me through valleys that I would never have believed I could have lived through.  I came out bruised and battle-scarred, but not broken.  I have been close to being broken, but never to the point of no return.  That is one of the mysteries of time.  It can heal or it can destroy, depending on what I decide to do with the circumstances that are given me.  So whether it be time or change or dreams that I cannot control, when the day dawns and I awake, I am thankful for all I have learned.  I’m a bit apprehensive about the lessons  yet to learn, but those valleys are not my concern at the moment, and when I travel through them, I will not be alone.  And neither will those who will read these words and hopefully, find some kind of comfort in knowing that the thoughts of time and change and dreams are shared by many, that they are not alone in their journey through the darkest times they will ever face.  I am not so gullible as to think that there will not be more darkness in my life, but with each trial, I find that I am stronger and more able to face that which will come.  That is the beauty of the mystery of time … it really does, if allowed to pass, heal and restore our minds and hearts to a place that is bearable, a place in which we become not those who are discouraged by life, but are able to encourage because of it.  I like to think that because I have been there, I can encourage others who are there now, wherever that place may be.  So be encouraged my friends, and know that irregardless of what is in the here and now, tomorrow is another day and there will eventually be joy in the morning.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,                        Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Finding peace in the midst of sorrow

Time heals all wounds.  How many times I have said that.  Then, after my husband Jim’s death, how many times I heard it.  The first time I heard it, I was immediately sorry for every time that phrase had passed through my lips.  I vowed to never say it again and I haven’t.  Instead, I tell the truth as I have found it to be.  I tell people who have recently  lost a very significant person in their lives to death that the first year is the hardest 365 days they will ever face and the second year, especially in the beginning, won’t be much better.  It is a path strewn with obstacles, fear, grief, anger, betrayal, loss and a brokenness that feels like it will never end.  As soon as one “first anniversary without” passes, another one is on it’s heels.  And if no anniversary is imminent, there are the songs, movies, peopleclicking will open new window for link to Through the Eyes of the Spirit greeting cards and places that bring the loss so close it threatens to suffocate me.  Alone, I am no challenge to such deep pain.  I, on my own, would have folded the first week, tucked my tail between my legs and given up.  But I wasn’t alone.  He who knows all about me, including the horrifying loneliness and gut-wrenching emptiness, was with me.  When I was unable to hold my head up, He held it for me.  When I went days without sleeping or eating, He knew.  When I broke down and sobbed because I had no place for the hurt to go, He stroked my hair. When I found no joy in photography, He showed me something incredible. He made me realize that I was not, nor had I ever been, alone.  He showed me that I, though lost without Jim, had to heal before I could carry on for His glory.  Healing is still a work in progress.  It has been nearly two years, and while my thoughts are no longer consumed by Jim, I think of him several times a day.  There is nothing wrong with that.  At first, I felt guilt that my mind wasn’t filled with thoughts of him and cried about that nearly every day.  I had no peace. That stunted my healing significantly.  But, always faithful, God led me past that guilt into a place that let me find pieces of myself that I had hidden away during the months when I refused to feel joy.  How, I asked myself many times, could I laugh and be joyful when the man I had given my heart to was dead.  The real truth was revealed.  Without my Heavenly Father, there would have been no joy to start with.  With Him, I could feel joy and sorrow, loss and laughter, grief and happiness, all at the same time and it was ok. He showed me where peace was and, low and behold, it was right where I had left it… in His love. Healing really did begin after that realization but it wasn’t time that healed me, it was Jesus.  So the truth is this:  Time doesn’t heal anything … It only gives faith and grace the time to work as healing comes with reliance on the Lord.  Whether the healing time is a few weeks or a few years, if God is given control, healing will, without doubt or reservations, come, and time will continue to pass because that’s what it does.