Light and Dark – Spring, 2007 (Archive-Diving)

I am about to undergo a blog ‘makeover,’ so I’m looking things over around here. And I’ve found a few draft pieces that never got published. From time to time over the next month or so, I will publish them, but I will note that these are from a time long past. Those of you who have followed this blog in the last two years will recognize the two babies featured here – they are now active, bright, fun and fearsome 7-year-olds, and we have added another little girl to our family circle. Mark died about 18 months after I wrote this piece and three years later, our daughter re-married. (Their engagement and wedding story are told here, here, here, and, finally, here. I have not yet been able to write very much about Mark’s death, but there is one post about our final good-bye to him to be found here. )

Despite the pressures of a remodel gone terribly, terribly wrong; despite the gnawing concern about my son-in-law’s health and my daughter’s intensive education program; despite my own recurrent struggles with overeating and under-exercising, with my own idiosyncratically strange mix of laziness, drivenness, self-doubt and grandiosity – despite the various stresses and messes of my life and my family’s life and my community’s life…this has been a Holy Week filled with gratitude and grace.

Our immediate family of 15 had a sweet afternoon together one week before this week began. Dick turned 65 and we all gathered together at a tappan restaurant in Thousand Oaks on a Sunday afternoon. We had two super samurai chefs, with their slicing and dicing and volcano-making skills dazzling us all.

We laughed as Dick donned a strange looking headpiece and bright blue kimono for a birthday picture. Then we traveled to Lisa and Mark’s home to enjoy birthday cake and babies. These two beautiful gifts of God have lightened and brightened our family gatherings for 18 months now, reminding us, even in the midst of all the pain and uncertainty of Mark and Lisa’s struggle, that life is a glorious gift, no matter what. They are living reminders of all that is good and beautiful, fun and fragile about this world.

Griffin is 18 months old, full of vinegar, climbing all over everywhere and keeping his mom awake most of the night. He is comical, loves to giggle, babbles to himself constantly – complete with inflection – moves around as quick as lightning and his smile lights up the room.

Gracie is 17 months old, loves to dance and sing, and recently, she too, is busy babbling to herself. Very soon now, they will both burst forth with full-fledged sentences and stun us all. Put them together in the same space, and the real fun begins. Whether stacking colored, wooden rings or banging out harmonies on the piano, they are quite a pair.

Life is such a bittersweet experience, filled with wonder and grief. How very grateful I am for these two precious reminders of all that is wonder-filled and glorious about the human experience.

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  1. Carol J. Garvin says

    When someone says “Life goes on” during the difficult times of loss or terminal illness, I want to argue that my life won’t ever be the same… and it won’t. And yet there is continuity with our loved ones, old and young. The little ones are such precious gifts and a reminder of God’s unending compassion for all of us.

    Wishing you and your wonderful family a very blessed Thanksgiving.

  2. Amen to that, Carol. I just left a way-too-long comment at Bibledude, arguing with Sandy’s well-written piece today. I just can’t go there. I cannot say ‘thanks’ to God for the horrific way that Mark died nor for the grief it wrought in so many of us. I thank God for being present, for redeeming the ashes with the joy of my daughter’s new husband — but life has been forever altered for her and her kids. Forever. It is good again, it is rich. But those boys lost their DAD. That’s tough for anybody. And these babies arrived just in time to help us all move through those hard, hard years. Thanks for your good words, Carol.

  3. Oh my. I’ve just read through this, and all your linked posts – such a hard time, followed by such joy! No words, just tears.

  4. Well, thanks for doing all that reading, Donna! Yes, we went through some pretty horrendous years. It is never easy to lose someone you love – and to watch it happen in a slow, painful, debilitating way is doubly hard. Some of the ‘years of the locust’ have been beautifully redeemed in Lisa’s second marriage, but there will be continuing psychological and spiritual work to be done as she and her boys (and the rest of us who loved Mark) continue to grapple with all the ramifications of losing this good man.