Conversations, when overheard

Some conversations are best kept secret. But some conversations are well worth overhearing, especially the utterly absurd ones… because life is too short not to overhear the clever yet ridiculous stuff.

……

A couple is talking about how long they will be married in life, how many years they have left to live together.

Man: By then, life expectancy probably will be much higher. Or, even, they probably will have figured out how to put my head in a jar thing like in Futurama, stick it on a robot body, and let me walk around forever!

Woman, smirking and eyeing him: Honey, but I’m not with you for your brains…

Man: Well… they probably can cut off my penis and preserve that for you, too!

Woman, chuckling: And what would I do with that?! My head’ll be in a fish bowl, too!

Man: ….

Man [lightbulb strikes]: Put it in your mouth!!

Both laugh intensely.

Woman, nodding and laughing: Guess that could just float in the helmet with me…

Man: Exactly!

Woman: That was good… Well done, dear. Well done.

……

You’re welcome. Now you, too, have gotten to experience this stupidly clever conversation. 😛

Post-a-day 2023

Death and Dying

Why is it always so hard to accept dying and death of those we love?

For that matter, why is accepting their aging so hard past a certain point? Once they reach the point that their aging feels more like the beginnings of the body’s shutting down… of dying…

Post-a-day 2022

And yet she died

I have prayed the rosary daily, and in dedication to her. I have given my love and my prayers so strongly to her as of late. Yet her earthly life has now ended. She is the late… Oh, for what shall I now pray? Everything feels so little compared to the blessing of her life…

God, help me to pray for whatever it is I need now to pray, especially with this daily rosary. In your name, I pray. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Mary, may you be praying for her now. I entrust her to your hands. Thank you for your love and your support, always. Amen.

Post-a-day 2022

Trust and passage

God, I am trusting you. Please, please, guide me that your will be done – let my will be yours – and I pray that I love pursuing it with all my heart. Guide me to be your love and light expressed through all that I am in this life. Give comfort and ease to my family members who have been in pain lately, please. Grant a fulfilling and peace-filled passage to C as she moves out of her earthly body, please – let her know what she needs to know to be free, please, and help her pass through and to you fully. In your name, I pray. Amen.

Post-a-day 2022

(Same deal!)

Tonight

My Opa died this summer. At least, I think it was this summer… this whole year and a half+ has been difficult for me to separate into time periods beyond the bulk term “recently”.

Tomorrow is his wedding anniversary with my grandma, and my grandma’s 91st birthday. So, my mom and I are staying at their house tonight – despite the 78° thermostat in here, which is a big youch! – in preparation for a small gathering of family members tomorrow. This time, instead of celebrating with Thanksgiving, as we usually do with a two-day celebration, it is a whole week before our Thanksgiving gathering, and it is without my Opa.

And I don’t know how I feel about that.

I also don’t know how I feel about my having such uncertainty…

I think I stayed away more and more as he got close to dying, potentially out of self-preservation. It was hard to be with someone who was so close to death, who so soon would be gone permanently. But also who, more and more, was less himself, as though he was ever so slowly departing from this life, until just the final bit exhaled one early morning, and finished the departure.

Perhaps life is like that. Perhaps it is only a passing-through kind of deal, where we are born, and, from that moment, we begin slowly to depart, slowly to rise to our highest selves, returning to our core and our maker, returning to our home. And maybe some people are more in touch with that home than most, already with one foot in the door, so to speak. Perhaps they never fully left, or perhaps they quickly leaped back. And perhaps the ghosts we have walking these grounds are the ones who have lost their way, or who are just not yet ready to return home. Perhaps they are the ones who forgot that, like college, life is only a stepping stone, not a destination.

Obviously, I’m rambling off in an unexpected direction here. I’m still not ready to deal with Opa not being here in person with me anymore. He was already not really here for a while before he fully left. So, while it feels quite different, his not being in this house right now, I’m also accustomed to it, and even relieved by it, considering the struggles of his body shutting down over the final year or so of his life here.

Anyway… I want to love people the way I felt and sill feel loved by him. With him, I always felt worth it, and I always felt good enough. I always felt loved, just as I was. I want to do that for those in my life.

God, help me to do so, please.

Amen.

Post-a-day 2021

Tremble

O-o-o-oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble…, tremble… tremble…

Perhaps one of the most powerful expressions of sadness and pain – an expression that communicates clearly to and elicits reaction from onlookers – is the unexpected tremble of the lips.

That powerful, easy, comfortable part of the body, somehow losing its ability just to hang out, hang around… it takes no effort for our lips just to exist. Perhaps that is what makes that tremble so powerful, so effecting… our pain is so great, that not even our effortless body parts can remain calm, they shake with the volume of such pain.

Post-a-day 2021

Mass

I did the second reading on Friday. My grandma’s cousin, the priest presiding over the Mass, had asked me to give a brief reason for and explanation of what I was going to do, just before I began. And so, with some trepidation, deep breathing, and many tears, I said, “My Opa’s first language was German. So, I will do the second reading in German, for him.” And then I did.

Der erste Brief an die Thessalonicher 
Das Schicksal der Verstorbenen
13 Brüder und Schwestern, wir wollen euch über die Entschlafenen nicht in Unkenntnis lassen, damit ihr nicht trauert wie die anderen, die keine Hoffnung haben. 
14 Denn wenn wir glauben, dass Jesus gestorben und auferstanden ist, so wird Gott die Entschlafenen durch Jesus in die Gemeinschaft mit ihm führen. 
15 Denn dies sagen wir euch nach einem Wort des Herrn: Wir, die Lebenden, die noch übrig sind bei der Ankunft des Herrn, werden den Entschlafenen nichts voraushaben. 
16 Denn der Herr selbst wird vom Himmel herabkommen, wenn der Befehl ergeht, der Erzengel ruft und die Posaune Gottes erschallt. Zuerst werden die in Christus Verstorbenen auferstehen; 
17 dann werden wir, die Lebenden, die noch übrig sind, zugleich mit ihnen auf den Wolken in die Luft entrückt zur Begegnung mit dem Herrn. Dann werden wir immer beim Herrn sein. 
18 Tröstet also einander mit diesen Worten!

Post-a-day 2021

Day one

The visitation and rosary and family hangout afterward all went really well this evening and tonight. I kind of only touched my emotions on the sad part of the emotional spectrum, and I feel like they might kind of explode outward tomorrow…, but I guess that’s okay. Hopefully, I’m able to make it through the reading reasonably well. I’ll be doing it in German, which was his first language and our extra special bond, just the two of us. So, I shared that I would like to do my reading in German, and print the English in the worship guide. It was approved with flying colors by the ones in charge. However, our cousin the priest, who’ll be saying Mass, told me to mention what I was doing and why I was doing it just before I began the German reading… that part might just be my emotional undoing…, so, we shall see on that part. Perhaps I’ll be so nervous about its being my first reading in a Mass, I won’t even notice the emotions that usually would arise for such a statement.

Anyway, at the family hangout tonight, after everyone had been eating a while, I went around and handed out the party favors, as I called them to myself. They were pains au chocolat, the French pastry that I usually call chocolatines, which is the name used in Southern France. As I passed them out to everyone, I said on repeat, “Because everything is better with chocolate, especially pain.”

Some of them got it immediately. Others took a few seconds or a couple minutes, and got it once they realized I was repeating the same phrase to everyone, which suggested something important in the message and word choice. A few definitely did not get it…, but they did like the pain au chocolat I offered to each of them.

(The irony, of course, is that I actually don’t like chocolate. I do love chocolatines, though [pain au chocolat]).

Post-a-day 2021

Making music

I started writing another song last night. It was initially to help me organize and express some thoughts around the work situation within my life so far – how it isn’t exactly consistent in terms of title or finances, but it is always part of being my true self and being committed to making a positive difference in this world. But an unexpected line showed up right at the end of the session last night, and it was clearly part of the chorus. It was a line about listening to the angels around me. And it made sense, but seemed almost out of place for the content so far in the song…

Until today, that is. Today, for whatever reason, a deeper fullness arose for the song. My mom and I discussed the situation with my Opa, how he is dying, and how he might finish that process in the very near future. It is an uncomfortable thought, itself, but we both are ready to allow what needs to happen next in the situation. At least, as ready as we know how to be…

However, after she and I discussed their things for a while, and then got off the phone, I started working on the song again, as I had just begun before our phone call (I think I had, anyway). As I got reacquainted with what I’d written so far, I started feeling what ideas needed to come next. I was reminded of the encouragement my Opa had given me one day, and felt immediately that it was perfect to use for the song, as it expressed what I was wanting to express… and then the idea fleshed out a bit…, and, without realizing it, the song had a deeper meaning.

Not only am I listening to the angels around me, having them call me forward in life, but a new one has just joined them, and he has given me further encouragement to follow this path I am forging in my life. Every time I sang that part of the song, I could barely get words out by the middle of the verse, and had to stop altogether for the tears and emotion that arose. And I think the words communicate beautifully in the song, even without someone’s knowing the whole situation.

Anyway, I look forward to finishing that song, but, boy, is it going to be a tough one, emotionally speaking.

Post-a-day 2021

Just breathe

“I’m proud of you… everything that you do… Remember that.”

As far back as I can remember, it has been a bit difficult for me to be around very old people. If they are old and alone, that hurts me already, but , once they have reached a point that their bodies are beginning to fail them openly, it is as though a switch flips in my mind, and I suddenly struggle to breathe, to function, to focus.

My grandfather is at this point. Actually, he is much beyond it. As we talked today, I had to clear myself continuously in order to remain present with him. I have begun missing him more and more in recent years, as there has been less and less of him to see, with whom to speak and interact. I have seen him grow more and more frustrated with his own brain, his own body as a whole, as he has lost ability after ability… ones which he had is such intense abundance. Indeed, he was one of the smartest and most learned people I have ever known. And he didn’t even attend college. Nonetheless, he was the best resource we had growing up – even better than our teachers on most subjects, and more efficient and detailed in his answers than an encyclopedia. He was one of my greatest inspirations as a child and young adult, and I think so much of me longed to be most like he was. And he always made it so clear that we were loved by him. In almost very action, every phrase or look, every article or comic strip he saved for us or television program or clip he recorded for us, it was clear that he loved us.

He, every so often, would call me “Honah Lee” (from “Puff, the Magic Dragon”), and still does. He’s always played around with pronunciations of words, both of English nature and foreign (e.g. jalapeños with a hard j and firm n). So, it was an easy step to get to calling me Honah Lee. After I had learned German, and we had long since begun to use it with one another (college and onward for me), he called me one day, and said that he wanted to share what he’d figured out so far. He then sang to me “Puff, the Magin Dragon”… in German. He had done his best to translate the lyrics. I think I might actually have cried while he sang to me over the phone. There was just something about it, I was quite overwhelmed with the expression of pure delight and love in that act. Indeed, any time he used German, I always noticed how he sparked to life, as though becoming, just for a few moments or minutes, a young child, excited for the unexpected adventure that life could and would unfold. He hadn’t been allowed to use German in school as a boy – it was forbidden by the school. It was his language of home, fun, love, and self-expression. But he hadn’t used it much beyond his childhood. And, by the time I was born he had almost never used German at all; not until I had begun learning and using it with him. And so, every time we used German together, it was like I got to know him as a child, free from the many pressures and stresses that naturally arise from adulthood, from aging. I just got to be with him. And I reveled in that.

And I still do.

However, talking with him today, discussing how, though he is to turn 91 years old in a few months, he hopes yet is not sure he will make it there, it was somewhat terrifying how easy it was to be with him. He was 100% present as we spoke about that, though is isn’t always these days. He said that he has lived a wonderful life, that he is grateful, and that he is not afraid of dying (despite the fact, as he said, that people say not to say that). I merely nodded, and cried as I said that we very much would miss having him here with us. I held his hand for a bit, and we shared multiple kisses on the cheeks and I love yous and Hab’ dich lieb’s before I had to leave.

And then, just before I had to leave, he said to me, slowly and intentionally, looking me directly in the eyes, – something he has struggled to do lately – “I’m proud of you… everything that you do… Remember that.”

And I will.

And I would not be surprised if today was the last time the two of us see one another in his life. We might see one another again, but it is not very likely. He cannot seem to eat almost anything anymore, and his body is, frankly, falling apart and shutting down on him. A could be causing B, and B could be causing A, but both are contributing to the other, and the result is the same: he does not have much likelihood of living in his physical body on this Earth for much longer.

And it’s terrifying for me.

My paternal grandfather died when I was in middle school. It was expected and not. And it was difficult yet not. The same was true of my paternal grandmother. I was in college when she died, but I was still very much in the child mentality, much more so than the adult mentality. Now, I am very much more on the adult side of life than I am on the child side, and it is an entirely different kind of experience to have this happening now. I suppose that, since my maternal grandparents had survived my childhood, something in me had felt that they would be forever present in this life. They had made it to adulthood with me, so to speak, so they were here to stay.

But they aren’t. No one is, really. But they are more obviously likely not to be here for that much longer. A small part of me had felt disappointed in myself for not providing them with what feels like would have been some of the greatest gifts I could have given them. I do not have a stable career. I do not have a partner in life. I have no children. I don’t even have a pet. I know they do not need those things for me. But that is why they would be gifts.

However, when Opa said that to me today, that he is proud of me… of everything I do…, it reminded me of why those other things have always seemed to matter. They are most often expression of success in living one’s life fully. At least, they are mostly seen that way. But, when the ultimate goal is that we live life fully… that we be true to ourselves and fully self-expressed…, I cannot say that I have failed my grandparents or that I have let them down. Indeed, I have fulfilled every wish they could have for me in relation to success in my life. All the other stuff – the marriage, the children, the house, the career – are tiny details by comparison.

I do not say this lightly nor boastingly when I say that I am one of the most loving people I know. I do not do well with keeping people at the standard ‘comfortable distance’ in life. I do not chat about the weather easily. Either I do not know you at all, or I want to know you, embrace you fully. Like Ender Wiggin said, the moment I get to know you, I get to love you. And I love loving people. It is terribly difficult and stressful for me to ‘try to get to know someone’. Just be yourself with me, let go of whatever you are hiding, let me see you, be with you…. let me love you. That’s all I want from the people around me. And that’s how I want them to see me, too – see all of me now, so that you can love me for me. Let us not waste time on pleasantries and weather. Let us dive right in, and have an absolute blast together. Indeed, that is exactly why dating is so difficult for me, why I cannot seem to ‘figure out’ how to interact with this guy with whom I went on a date recently. I don’t do surface level. I do the real you, the real me. And when people avoid that, turn or step away from it, usually in fear, it is so hard for me… it only makes me want to come even closer, that I might love you even deeper. And though this might sound like I am socially awkward, I truly am not. I can be quite quiet in certain circumstances, but I probably am the only person at the party who will know everyone else by the end of it.

And I am grateful for that. So much of who I am is love. And I have no idea what comes next for me in life. (Like… genuinely, I have no idea… please, grasp that for a moment…) But I know exactly who I am stepping forward into that unknown. And I love her and I am grateful every moment for her and for all that she is and for all that she is not. And I learned today that, more than I ever saw, my Opa feels the same way about her. He knows I’m not married, not settled in any way, not career-stable or financially stable. But he knows that I am stable, and that I am ready for whatever is through that next threshold as I step forward into it. And he is proud of that, and all that it involves. He is proud of me, of who I am, of all that he knows I will create out of who I am in this life, even though he will not be here in person to see most of it with me.

I pray only that his love, his support, his guidance help me to move forward confidently and comfortably throughout the rest of my life. I am grateful for him always. And I love him dearly, deeply, truly. Thank you, God, for allowing us the opportunity to spend so much wonderful time together in this life.

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Danke, Gott.

Post-a-day 2021

P.S. Frohe Ostern, folks!! Happy Easter, allen!! (Not to deny the weight of all of that ^, but it was because of Easter that I was able to spend the time with my Opa today at all. And I am grateful for that. And the Easter Egg Hunt in which I got to partake. Today really was a great day, filled with silliness and love and fun. But it also was very real one, in which, I believe, God was helping me to prepare for part of what comes next.)