Life Story Writing

Teaching Life Story Writing and Musings On My Life ~

Archive for the tag “love”

Four Lesson I Learned From My Friend’s Viewing

There has been a great tragedy in our neighborhood, we lost a whole family, Mom, Dad, children and Nana.  One minute they were full of life, the next they were gone.  This has affected so many people but especially their extended families and close friends.  Hearts are aching, eyes are wet, sleep is hard to come by, so much emptiness.

Life is fragile for many reasons.

Here are four things I learned from my friend’s viewing.

Lesson number one: I walked by Kelly’s casket.  It was her body but it wasn’t Kelly.  The same with her children, their bodies lifeless almost manequin-like.  It never ceases to amaze me at open casket funeral’s that every time I see the body I get this overwhelming feeling that what I know is true.  The body is the empty shell that once housed their spirit, their essential essence, the thing that really makes them who they are.  Because day in and day out we see and interact with one another on this physical plane its a stretch for us to realize that who we are isn’t purely physical.  The physical is only the outward manifestation of spirit, emotion, thought and personality.  All those remain intact and leave the body as one at death.  The real life force of a person cannot be snuffed out.  There is a far greater, wondrous plan at work.  This once again brought peace to my heart even if my mind still reeled at the horror of their tragic deaths.  This was lesson number one.  They still live, not here but in another realm.  They still think and love. They are still the same people we knew here.

Lesson two came to me as I watched the video, the montage of a myriad of photos that passed before our dewy eyes.  I stood clinging to my husband.  And then it happened, Kelly pulling a goofy face.  We all need be goofy in pictures on a regular basis.  Why?  To bring a burst of laughter and smile to the faces of our loved ones, after we are gone. Kelly also took a ton of pictures. Lesson two, be goofy and take lots of pictures.

Lesson three.  Short though there lives were, Kelly and her children shared this immense loves for one another that was almost palpable.  Kelly always had a smile for everyone, was a joy and a light.  Lesson three, live life with love.

Lesson four.  Don’t fret too much about the worldly things.  I thought about Kelly today and realized, she didn’t have her cell phone or Facebook, she wasn’t worried about what she was going to wear, or if her house was clean, she wasn’t worried about how much money she had.  She was with people who loved her and was looking down on people who loved her who were sorrowing and wanted to comfort them and tell them everything was okay.  Lesson four: Write a letter to your loved ones on what you want them to know if you don’t have a chance to say goodbye.  Kelly would want us to be happy, remember the good times, live life and celebrate each day. That is what she would want us to do. That is how she would want us to honor her memory and not worry about her.  Besides if we really think about it we know what she is doing, she is busy making friends in heaven.

Kelly and kids


The Course of True Love Never Runs Smooth?!

I am just sitting here in bed with my laptop trying to figure out how to write the next installment of my real life fairytale.  Chronology is pretty critical and so I may just throw in the dates like a journal, just saying.  For me all writing, like life, is a work in progress.  I give myself permission to write an imperfect draft knowing that it is a starting point and can be edited and improved upon.  So here we go…

Sunday 12 February

Its been just over a week since I heard myself praying ‘Heavenly Father, if there is someone I should be with please show me!’  And four days since Ray Denos rang my doorbell and announced that he was divorced, had been searching for me, knocked me off my feet by telling me I am still as beautiful as the day he baptized me 35 years ago, told me I had the qualities he was looking for in a wife and proposed friendship!

Last night Ray and I spent five hours together.  In my journal I wrote…’Ray and I are like fire and water…’  What exactly did I mean?  Just that sparks are flying and they aren’t necessarily the good kind!  I don’t know what to make of this guy and if you asked me today if I could see myself with him I would answer with an emphatic ‘No!’


That First Saturday Night ~ February 11, 2012

However, today at Church I was thinking about what Ray had said about writing a list of 30 or 40 qualities I would look for in a spouse.  Initially I was annoyed at his suggestion but now I began to seriously consider….what is it I am really looking for that I have never found?…Or more to the point…who am I looking  for?  A favorite scripture came instantly to my mind Cor 13:4-which defines love by: suffereth long, kind, envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, not behave unseemly, seeks not her/his own, not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in evil, rejoiceth in truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  This is how I want someone to treat me, I thought.

I continued this process, looking at favorite scriptures and finding in them qualities or attributes that were important to me.  After a while I had a big ol’ list.  Later I wrote Ray an email which would come to be known as ‘the epistle’.  It was a long email with scriptures and why they were important and illustrated what I was looking for in this ‘man of my dreams.’

Now this was a brave step for me, reaching out, exposing my thoughts especially considering the paradoxical way I was feeling about what was happening; so unsure, so uncertain.  Yet, I was curious and even a little excited to see what kind of response I would receive from my epic insight!  Ray’s response was true to form for a guy, a brief text stating ‘Thats a great start to your list of 30 or 40 qualities.’  I was disappointed he did not give more feedback and his comment felt patronizing.

Sunday evening as we finished our phone call he told me he would call me every night between 9 and 9:30 then said goodnight and hung up!  I sat there, not believing what he had just said.  ‘I dont want to talk to him every night!’  I said out loud.  ‘What is he thinking?  Didn’t he listen to me?’

Sleep did not come easily that night.  I was irritated and frustrated at how things were going with Ray, my thoughts and feelings seemed to be going every direction.  Eventually I fell asleep only to awake a few hours later at 3am, a pattern that had become too familiar the last four nights.  By 5am I was still tossing and turning and my mental state had reached fever pitch.  I could not take it any more.  I picked up my phone and sent him the following text.

‘Ray, I hope this doesn’t wake you but I just have to tell you…I can’t do this friendship anymore.  I am already annoyed and frustrated at trying to communicate with you.  Sometimes you come across as patronizing and I already feel like you are not listening to me.  Having said this I think you are a good man with a good heart.’

No sooner had I hit the send button I fell into a peaceful sleep.  Little did I realize what I had done….

What Happened? Will We Ever Know?

My Grandad was one of five siblings.  As a child I learned this because I asked him.  I remember him telling me how his mother would call all five of their names outloud to gather them together,’ Lilly, Johnny, Harry, James and Susan!’  Grandad lost his father in a work related accident while his mother was still carrying his yet unborn sister Susan.  Within a month he was to lose his maternal grandfather too.  The family was thrown into crisis.  The siblings were seperated and sent away.  The picture blurs and we can only see glimpses or fragments of their lives as we try to piece together clues left in records or folklore passed down through two more generations.

Later in life as I came to research the family history and ask the oldest members of the family what they knew about the siblings this is what I was told.  Johnny died in the war, Lilly died as a nurse on the Titanic, Harry apparently lived nearby but there was some kind of rift between him and his brother, my Granddad.  My mother said she met Harry once as he came to Grandad’s funeral. Susan, great aunt Gerry told me, had ran off with a Bookie and lived Cambridge way.

Time passed.  I married and moved away to America and began a family of my own.  Five children came to our home Mitchell, Brittanie, Elliott, Brooke and Brieya.  Five siblings.  I didn’t have much time to do family history now.  Then one ordinary day the phone rang.  It was my father. ‘I’ve had a phone call from an Ann Haldane who says she is your grandad’s sister, Lilly’s grand daughter.  I thought since you are the family historian I would pass the information on to you.’  Dad is a smart and successful business man but he has little time or interest in this new discovery it would seem.

Over the coming days, months and even years Ann and I began to share our stories and discoveries about the family.  It happens Lilly didn’t die on the Titanic, she was never on the fated voyage.  Whether the family really believed she was on there or someone fabricated the story we will never know.  Lilly left her family in her young life never to return.  We have no concrete reason, we can only speculate.  She did become a nurse though.  Ann was also able to substantiate that Johnny was killed in the war although war records remain to be found.  Still there was so little information, so many unanswered questions.

That was ten years ago.  Then just the other day Ann emailed me. ‘I have had a message on the ancestry boards from Linda Frost.  She says she is the grand daughter of Susan.’  For years we had wondered what had happened to Susan.  Could we trace her steps and find her descendants?  But her trail was complicated and the information we had been given was not wholly reliable.  Yet here she was, a descendant of Susan, like the universe had called out to her for us and she had found us, just like Ann had found me.

Over the next few days, three grand daughters of the five siblings began to tell their part of the story to one another.  Linda was a double boon as her Grandmother Susan and Harry had been close.  She was able to tell us about both.  We were able to see their faces for the first time.  Harry’s resemblance to my grand father was striking.

Harry and Susan

We discovered Susan’s daughter, Rita,  is still alive and in her 90’s.  Still again for all the information we did have, after all these years of wondering, there was still so much we didn’t have. There was also this deep sense of loss.  Harry and Susan lived at the same time we lived.  We could have met them, touched them, known them.  Yet they had remained forgotten.  Shut out of our lives.

Whatever reasons the siblings had for leading their seperate lives died and were buried with them.  Two generations later we don’t know and we dont care.  All we know is we are left with a shattered legacy.  For us it is easy to see what is important looking back with crystal clarity.  So for future generations sake, heal the breach, mend the rift, swallow the pride, pray away the anger, look with compassion and forgive, overcome and embrace what family you have.  Leave a legacy of love and caring for your children, grand children and all those that come after.  They want to know you so please leave something they can remember you by.

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