Stairing

It’s true.

I am often compelled to take an awkward photo – one that I’m not even sure why I’m taking. One I obsess a little over – to delete or not. So, it ends up safely staying on my phone, saved to my cloud, downloaded to my computer; lingering with no real use or draw.

Until one day, when I find myself without words. Unable to form sentences of condolences, I scroll through unreasonably hoarded memories searching for inspiration, a photo prompt, anything that will spark the conversations I have to begin.

I found it filed under spring’s May adventure. I went for another reason; saw what I wanted to see. It wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Truthfully, disappointed, I moved on to try and find a more engaging reason to make the trip worthwhile. Leisurely exploring gifted me three themes: architecture, modern art and whimsy.

I took the same route down as I had going up; on foot, on stairs – noting to myself perhaps there’d be a picture in it, later. Hours later, travelled down, I turned to evaluate that thought.

I found that ‘later’ came with more impressive light and a focal exclamation point. I likely took a dozen and a few views. Hard to tell, because I whittled them down to the three I was having trouble letting go. This time, I looked a little closer. Somehow, a connection sparked between the three photos and the three recent events that needed those words I was looking for.

I still don’t have the words. I do, however, have the hope of heaven and a picture that  paints a thousand words.

2018 07 17 holding onto photos jakorte

with love for BD, JS & JK, their families and their friends.

 

 

Many Times Over

On the verge of a migraine, day 2.

I’ve been more than tempted to just say, “Not this week…”  Staring off into space thinking about where we’ll go next, my blurred vision focused on a book shelf. Clearing on a black binding, I suddenly realized the season.

I drew it from its spot, wedged firmly between other versions of the same book in different formats and different languages. Flipping open the cover, I remembered why I had this treasure. The volume that caught my attention, didn’t originally belong to me. It does now, by default.

I’ll stress this up front. My love gave me gifts. The gift of acceptance, the gift of care; gifts of hope and light that meant a lot to me then, but even more to me now. The greatest of all these – love – has always been there, remains and endures.

I reiterate these truths from a season past:

I don’t want to own false grief.

I’m not happy about losing Jeff. I’m not angry, either.

I’m not questioning, “Why?” I know why, and I’m thankful.

I don’t want to own false hope.

I want to have faith that where I am headed will someday make sense to me, and maybe to some others.

I don’t want to own the responsibility of false vision, knowing all that lies ahead.

I want to affirm that life’s adventure is a gift, gladly opening each day as such.

I don’t want to own a false sense of security.

I want to believe with my whole soul that, as paths change, they will continue to be clearly marked in my rear-view mirror – under the direction of the only GPS necessary: God’s Positioning System.

 Ephesians 2:6: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (NIV)

 I do believe. I do believe I’ve been gifted. I do believe I’ve been gifted, many times over.

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 27 the greatest of gifts became even greater jakorte

 

Memorable

The first time we went to church, Jeff was reluctant to ask if anyone knew our caller. I’m not sure why. When I asked about it, he just said, “Next time.” I didn’t push it, because, well, I wasn’t the reason we were there.

The second time we went, I encouraged him to ask. Jeff said, “Ok.” He slid down the pew to ask a woman he sort-of knew. He remembered her name from years ago, as a friend of Nannee. Surprisingly, she remembered Jeff quite well, and enveloped him in a back-slapping hug.

It was surprising, to me, at the time. You’d think after about the 100th time someone he hadn’t seen in 30-40 years recognized him, remembered him and was happy to see him – that I wouldn’t be astonished.

I never got used to it, certainly never expected it. It happened a lot. Like the time Jeff and I were standing in line to pay at the food auction. When we were just a few people back from cashing out, Jeff left me to pay while he went to get the car. The woman behind me tapped me on the should and asked, “Is that Jeff?” I confirmed and she lit up with a huge smile. “I was his teacher!” As she told me he was such a nice young man, I was picturing a junior high connection.

When Jeff came back in to load up our purchases, he was greeted with a hug. He explained that she was one of his early grade-school teachers.  (3rd grade, maybe?) That surprised me because I’m sure he was a little shorter and had a lesser amount of facial hair at that age. I’d never seen him sans mustache ad beard, and momentarily wondered if I’d recognize him at first glance without them. 

The final recognition surprise came a few days after Jeff passed. I received a phone call from the coroner’s office. It was the medical examiner offering personal condolences with the explanation that he had been Jeff’s pediatrician when Jeff was very young. He wanted me to know that he remembered Jeff very well and fondly, too.

Thinking about it now, so many people saw something in Jeff that could easily be dismissed as recognition; but I think what they were really remembering was his never-changing soul.

(And the fact that his laugh was so distinct, someone an aisle over in the grocery store would rush around the corner and exclaim, “I knew it HAD to be YOU!” Happened. More than once.)

Quote for the Week:

2018 02 06 faces are easily recognizable jakorte

Bonus School Photo Collage (a gift, compiled by my niece):

Jeff school photo collage 20180206_190706~2

 

The Second and Third

The second call came, which kinda surprised me. The etiquette of my polite confusion and unacknowledged lack of proper knowledge couldn’t have been that encouraging.

But, Jeff took the second call while I was on my way home from work. He said he’d had a nice chat, which I took to mean, he’d  been able to talk to the church member just as easily as he could talk anybody, else.

He mentioned United Methodist was the church he had sort of grown-up in and been definitely been confirmed in. I wasn’t aware that Jeff had been through confirmation. I nodded, unaware of my limited understanding – my assumption: Jeff’s religious upbringing had been culturally similar to mine. Parents led you to do what you what they felt you were supposed to do when you were young, and then let the back-up years slide by the wayside.

After the third call (his second), Jeff said we’d been invited, again, and he’d like to go to church. “Ok,” I replied.  “When did you want to go?”

“Sunday,” he answered. “I know ‘Sunday'” I replied a little sarcastically, “…but which Sunday?”

“Next Sunday.” “You mean, like, in two days ‘Sunday’?” I questioned, mostly because I’d expected him to say something vaguer, like, “Oh, sometime soon.”

Jeff misinterpreted my surprise as reluctance.

Ever accommodating, he hesitated after saying, “Well, you don’t have to go with me…” Then, breathed out earnestly, “But… I’d like you, too.”

“Of course, I’ll go with you,” I rushed. Because, in that instant, my love for him realized two things. Jeff rarely longed for anything, and I never wanted him to have to be or to feel alone, in anything. 

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 30 not everyone takes a sharp river turn jakorte

 

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

The Intersection

This is still not easy for me to accept, but I need to. I keep banging my head against the same brick wall. I am the Queen of the Love Concussion.

I keep flinging my heart against the same rough-hewn timbers, surprised again and again, as it slides and shreds, again and again.

Where parched ground meets life liquid, mud of my own making crawls along seeking holes to sink into.

If you keep watering the flood, it’s never going to dry. I know this.

I need to allow those crevices to solidify; to harden, flush with the surface.

On that note, I guess it’s time to start going where I’ve been meaning to go.

This is where I was headed when ‘A Year of Memories’ was born, September 2015. Except, we’re now 2 plus years in, and finally in the spot.

This is the Intersection.

The most important part of our saga: how we began a too short, but blessedly new and renewed life together.

It’s complex, but the launch was simple:

I answered the phone….

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 16 if we keep watering the flood jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links

Story: Goal

Story: Timing

Story: Write It (even if no one see it but you.)

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman