Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 24

About three years ago I was having my annual physical and the first try on my blood pressure showed an elevated number. My doctor said "white coat syndrome" and asked me to relax by thinking of my most relaxing place in the world. So I closed my eyes and pictured myself in Cabo San Lucas sitting by the pool overlooking the 16th fairway of a Jack Nickluas designed course; and also seeing the endless ocean as it eventually met with the blue of the sky. Two minutes later my second blood pressure reading was normal.

So here I am today in that very spot. The skies are clear...temperature will be in the mid-seventies all day...a light breeze is blowing. I am sitting at the very southernmost tip of the Baja California coastline; it is impossible to travel any further south. Here is where the confluence of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean occurs. It is absolutely beautiful looking out over the ocean. The whale watching is great and the fishing is excellent. This is a perfect place to relax.

However, there is something important to know about ocean at the tip of the Baja. The clear blue water with the gently rolling waves today is very deceiving. Because of the confluence of two large bodies of water, below the surface there are treacherous undercurrents. In fact, right where I am sitting they do not allow any swimming because of these undercurrents. Unfortunately, in the past, there are people who have ignored the warnings and have lost their lives.

As I look at the scene in front of me it is in many ways a picture of my life during this journey through grief:
**On the one hand, I am surrounded by the blessings of my family and close friends who are so supportive and helpful.
**On the other hand, I am sitting here alone. Noone with me to enjoy all this as in past years. Good friends arrive on Saturday...but right is just me.
**On the one hand, the "heavy cloud" has lifted somewhat, and my old sense of humor is returning and I am looking to the future with a brighter spirit.
On the other hand, this was Jan's favorite place in Mexico. She couldn't get enough of the pool and the beach and the restaurants and the "ambience" of this place. It just doesn't feel the same without her.

I am still living a Cortez/Pacific experience. Beauty on the surface, but contending forces pit against each other just below the surface. I'm not in danger of having an undercurrent pulling me under in a destructive way; but it does cause sadness and melancholy and "torn up" emotions. But that is the nature of loss.

So I paraphrase the psalmist: I look to the ocean and ask "from where does my help come" and the answer is carried on the waves that "my help comes from the Lord" and that is good!

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope that you have a great day!

Last week was my birthday and today is Valentine's Day. Those two days underscore something about my present situation. When you are married you always have someone to do things with. In our family we rarely get the whole family together on the day of one's birthday (except for the grandkids) because of schedule challenges. We usually find a date in the proximity of actual date to celebrate as a family. That was true this year as well. My birthday was on Wednesday, which is a afternoon/evening that Julie Ann is teaching and also a night when Joel's family is going in 6 different directions. So I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday night with the Vinger's family and will celebrate this week with Joel's family. Not an unusual scenario in our family.

What was different this year is that I didn't have Jan with me to do something on the actual day of the birthday. It is one of the realities of my life at present that I don't have my wife to do things with and celebrate special occasions. My family and friends are taking good care of me, but they simply cannot plug all the holes.

Today is one of those days. In recent years we have been in Mexico on Valentine's Day and celebrated down there. However, this year I am not leaving for Mexico until Monday of next week and I have encouraged my kids to continue doing what has developed as their own family traditions. So today I will lunch with Sid Veenstra and dinner with John Petersen (his wife is in Florida while he is working here this week). Two very good friends and I will enjoy my time with them...but...neither of them are the person I want to be with.

I just opened my mail and read a Valentine's Day card from Jack and Nancy Virden. It was beautiful in it's simplicity: God Is Love I John 4:8 "Celebrating God's great love with you." Happy Valentine's Day. I was glad to receive that today.

So in part my day will be filled with remembering:
  • God's constant and faithful love in my life over these last 71 years.
  • The love I shared with Jan for 47 years.
  • I will enjoy reflecting on wonderful memories.
  • I wonder just how many times we said "I love you" to each other.
  • We tried to say it every day at least once.

So I say Happy Valentine's Day to you once again! Hold tightly to that person to whom you say "I love you." Treasure each moment you have together. You never fully realize just how important those moments are until she or he is gone and they will never happen again. Make memories today and will be worth remembering some day in the future. God bless!