I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘Death’

The Death of Summer 

Well, summer has once again come to an end. Every June, I have said to myself, “I know what I’m going to do! I am going to work a little each week of summer to ensure that I have the smoothest start of the school year possible.”  

 Yeah. Didn’t happen. 

I’m your classic procrastinator. Most times, I would rather not act simply because I’m fearful that the outcome will not be what I feel it should be. I generally will not act until the fear of the consequences of not acting is greater than my fear of failure. When it comes to the beginning of the school year, I end up scrambling to prepare because I fear being an ineffective teacher more than I fear being an imperfect one. 

I frustrate myself. When am I going to live more like the Christ follower I am? I am living a life of fear until I absolutely must be faithful…or else. It frightens me to think of how many blessings I must miss, especially given that a life of procrastination does not lend itself to real, peaceful rest. There are things you just don’t plan for, like 2 family deaths within 48 hours of each other, one happening the morning you return to work. 

Regarding work – it has to work out, heh. God has been both faithful and gracious and I will do my absolute best to be the music teacher my students deserve and give them a great year. Because this: 

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I’ve squandered more time than I care to think about and received some stark reminders this week that there will come a time when there is no more time. This first world life of mine can be scarily deceptive. Every day is a fight to remember why I must continually submit my will to His. 

It may sound weird, but the two funerals I will attend in as many weeks make that fight easier. Death makes it very difficult to run from reality. I am hugging everyone around me more tightly and was able to take an important step today that I’ve been putting off for much too long. 

My relationships with the spawns of Adonis have been good, but one has made me more nervous than the other. The Big One is more like her father, who won’t tell you he needs things but when you offer, or just show up and do it, you know he needed it. Lil One, mercifully, requires a *tad* less intuition. I reached out to Big today and told her I would see her tomorrow at her godfather’s funeral, and she said something that helped me be brave, and I quote: 

“You’re da best Joan. Thanks for being a great future step-mom.”

If that doesn’t give me hope for a solid relationship with lots of room for growth, I don’t know what will. So I took a leap and told her I loved her and got the I love you return! Mind you, I had made the decision to love her as soon as I knew of her existence, and have liked her since I’ve met her, but I’ve been sitting on it because I didn’t want her to reject me, quite frankly, or see me as trying to replace her mom. I’ve simply deferred to less explicit ways of showing love by checking in with her, hugging, etc. I look forward to being there for Big One and telling her in person! 

The death of a loved one always sucks. You wonder if you told them the right things. Did the right things for them. Death, however, also brings rest for those who no longer must fight. I hope and pray that I continue to die to myself, that I conquer fears more quickly and live the life of faith that will enable me to experiences the Lord’s blessings to the fullest and help others on their journeys to do the same. 

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How to Shed That Stubborn Weight for Good

I don’t want particularly want to go wedding dress shopping. 

If someone else had told me she felt similarly just a year ago, I probably would have thought she had cold feet or was choosing to marry the wrong person. Now that my warm feet are in the shoes, I understand that it is not necessarily the case. What kind of woman doesn’t like shopping? For clothes? For “her big day?”

The kind for whom this experience is less a chance to be a princess for a day than a massive reality check. 

I won’t dwell on how I feel about my body at the moment, but I will say that I wish there were a wedding pantsuit place. Just for an additional option. Shopping for a wedding dress, for me, is about two fundamental truths with which I must come to terms:

1. I’m going to die.

Hopefully, not before I marry the man that my imagination couldn’t have dreamed up. I’m not making it out of this relationship alive. While that thought may seem morbid, it’s dawned on me that this is probably the only thing in my life that I will ever do once. I buy a wedding dress and this phase of my life is done. I get married and I’m never doing it again. Married or single, each breath brings us closer to our last, but I’m not fooled by overpriced fabric. I know what this means. I’m thankful that I will have Adonis by my side, who, incidentally, takes my breath away. How are we going to live to make it count? How will our lives together impact the world around us for the greater good? Which brings me to – 

2. Being excited about my doing something everyone else is doing is bizarre. 

Every time I hear someone say “your big day” I throw up in my mouth a little. I hope our wedding day is incredibly special, and yes, certainly more fun than some of the weddings I’ve attended. No offense, married friends, but while this single girl was praying for your success as a couple she was also taking notes if she got bored! 😜 But I digress. How could I possibly feel special when there are entire industries dedicated to all the superficial crap of a wedding? Y’all ain’t been waiting on me. I am happy to do my part to contribute to our capitalist economy, but calm the hell down. 95% of women experience this before age 55. I’m just not gonna get TURNTUP over something anybody can do – and usually does. It’s a dress.

Being engaged has been interesting. Suddenly, people who seemed distant appear closer. I thought that this was simply another case of like attracting like, but I wonder if we all are just seeking human connections. How can you get married and not think about how inextricably interconnected we all are? I only crave authentic connections. “Lady J. Don’t even bother with a mermaid dress. You won’t be able to dance.” is valuable information. But I also want, “Lady J, don’t go to bed angry. As long as it is in your power, be at peace with those around you. Especially with that good-looking hubs.” And I NEED “Lady J, we might not be Adonis but we still need you” from my friends. Maybe some of the women whom I thought were just using me a placeholder until they found a man were just overwhelmed introverts, like me. We need each other. 

Before I become a wife, I must embrace my need for others, which is antithetical to a society that seems to make getting married “all about you.” Not only to love them, but to be loved by them. Fighting the power makes losing that last 10 pounds seem easy. Hopefully that burns calories, too. 

  

Shoutout Series: Cut Short

My friend’s death humbles me. 

In general, I think death can serve as an important reality check for us all; a harsh reminder that life as we know it is indeed temporary. However, Cut Short is (yes, present tense, as I’m confident her cancer free soul is gloriously celebrating) extraordinarily special. 

Her life on earth was entirely too short, but in the years with which God blessed her and everyone who was touched by her, she made an incredible impact. I met Cut Short in college as we rushed the same music fraternity. As I looked back through some of the memorabilia I have, I feel honored to have her signature among my things. She had a heart so full of love for music and people, a sharp and silly sense of humor, and a talent brilliant enough to make even the most confident musician doubt her competence. Precocious not only in intelligence but in wisdom, her down to earth manner put even the most insecure at ease. Cut Short was evidence that the best things often come in small packages; the only challenge she seemed to have in those days was a vertical one. 

Then Leukemia. Ugh. 

I will never forget her calling me and my stepping out of a practice room to take her call while we were in grad school. She spoke with confidence that she would be able to beat it. And she did, like the champ she is. At least – the first time. Sadly, she had to undergo additional treatment last year. She still maintained her cheerful, upbeat demeanor each time we spoke, this time knowing exactly what lay ahead. 

I am sad to say that though we kept in touch via Facebook, phone, and email, I didn’t take the time to see Cut Short when I had the opportunity. I mean – she’s Cut Short. She beat odds left and right. How was I supposed to know the last opportunity I would have to see her would actually be the LAST? As I heard her battle here was ending, I reflected on how she’s touched me and desperately hope that I made that evident to her at some point. I felt guilty for occasionally envying her awesomeness. That’s just like Cut Short though – still moving people to be better without lording anything over anyone. 

At her memorial service, there was an invitation for her friends and others to be a part of the choir. I am no singer but I leapt at the opportunity. Being among those who love and miss her was both heart-wrenching and joyous. I am definitely a cryer, but I’ve learned over the years that it is difficult to both cry and perform at the same time. I had mixed emotions about the choice to sing because I knew I needed to cry for her and didn’t think I would be able to. Well – I did cry. But not too much. The privilege of singing goodbye for now for my friend allowed me not only to mourn our loss but celebrate both her life and how she continues to touch those around her. Even in her death, Cut Short helped me to see all with which I am blessed. Love. Music. Health. That’s just how she rolls. 

Cut Short. I’m sorry I didn’t come see you in July. For my own sake I hope I don’t see you too soon. But I WILL see you. Thanks for being a part of my life. 



2005 🙂 Cut Short is being awesome on the far left! 

Good Grief, Tiger

On September 25, 2012, I pulled into my driveway later than usual. I emerge from my car, tired and ready to put the day to rest. Then I heard him. A bit freaked out, I run inside, but my curiosity got the best of me. He had followed me to the door and was meowing outside very loudly. I found a can of tuna and some water, then put them outside. “Ugh,” I thought. I had never grown up with any kind of pet. I had wanted one, of course, but my parents said they were too much responsibility. As an adult, I saw how my friends with pets had to seemingly shape their lives around their pets and was now thankful that I had never had to deal with any additional burden. Young single and free, y’all! Now this animal is meowing and pawing at the door of my free. I went to bed, half-hoping he would be gone in the morning, half-hoping he would greet me before I left for work.

Y’all already know.

ImageAs you can see, Tiger is not a fan of the flash. He turned out to be very friendly, which, from what I understood, could be unusual for a cat. I loved coming home each day and Tiger would be waiting, in front of the garage. “Where’s my dinner,” he seemed to say. I gave him food and love and became attached to him quickly. I soon learned that Tiger liked to roam, for one day a few weeks later, I didn’t see him. The next day, I didn’t see him. The day after, he returned like nothing happened. I was so relieved! I suppose he wanted to condition me because it took me a few more times before I stopped freaking out whenever he went on one of his trips.

This past week, I hadn’t seen him for a while. I never was sure where or what he was eating, but he always looked well when he returned. Off to my family reunion I went, knowing that my cousin was going to take care of him and make sure there was food out. Not seeing him last night, unmoved, I went to bed.

“Joan. Tiger died.”

The words from my mother this morning hit me like a ton of bricks. She explained that my father had found him on the road. He had been hit by a car. I think they must have called animal services or something and they buried him. I knew that it was going to take a while before I really started to understand that he’s not coming back. I’ve been looking at pictures and videos I took of him doing his favorite things – making the lives of lizards miserable, playing with other cats, and walking through the garden.

It’s funny, because grief is something with which I am quite familiar – in terms of experiencing death. I have a very large family. In fact, I was saying just yesterday that I was pleased that no one in my family had died this year. I had not had a year free of a family death since 2008 and I’ve been praying that everyone would be healthy and happy. Now my Tiger is gone. I can’t believe he won’t get excited for a treat again. That I won’t have to actually start my car to get him to move from on top of the roof. That I won’t hear his soft, sweet meow and feel him purr as I touch him.

Thanks for coming into my life, Tiger. It was way too short. I will never forget you.

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