Grief and Gratitude (Originally posted 9/11/12)

The remembering is so hard, the loss of so many, and for me one in particular who is still so dear.
A few years before 9/11 I lost two friends in a car accident. Jason walked with me through the mourning process and beyond. When there was something either of us were facing, we talked through it together. When tears came, he would literally wipe them. If there was need for comic relief, he would provide it. If not, he would just sit with you in the hurt.
When mourning his loss, no one could fill that void. His keen, kind perception is rare. He is missed and will always be missed.
I debated whether to share this again, but I heard an interview yesterday on NPR. They were talking with a friend of James Foley and keeping him memory alive through his poetry. Jason deserves to be remembered and honored, not just today, but every day. His example is one I will always cherish.

Grief and Gratitude (Originally posted 9/11/12).

Greatest Hits of 2012

At the end of the year, WordPress sent me a summary of my year.  Sort of a year in review for the writer.  How many visitors, which posts were the most viewed, et cetera.  They invite you to share the information with your readers.  At first, I thought, “How Silly.  That is like Justin Bieber releasing a Greatest Hits.”  After all, I’ve only just begun (I hope you heard Karen Carpenter just then).  But then I looked at my top five posts from the year and I thought, “Yes, that is a pretty good cross-section of what I have done.”  So I am sharing it with a little back story.  Think of it as a pathetic version of Storytellers.  Cheers!

1 “Hey Girl…I love SAHMs” October 2012

Don’t you love new friends?  Especially those that share your affinity for all things Gosling?  And can make you laugh out loud with a text?  And inspire silly posts?  Me too.  It is no wonder this got a lot of views.  He’s impossible to resist. 

2 Grief and Gratitude  September 2012

I was due to write a new post, but it was September 11th, and I could not write about anything but.  I asked a group of ladies that write about wine if it was okay to venture outside that box.  With their encouragement, I did so.  This is my tribute to a dear, dear friend.

3 OTBN- A Gift from Gundlach Bundschu  February 2012

The first piece of writing I ever put out publicly was a 3rd place poem for a poetry contest at Gundlach Bundschu.  The second piece took first.  It was their encouragement that inspired me to write.  This was a post in which I “shared” the 1997 Cab Franc I received as a prize with my readers.

4 Trends, Schmends-I never gave up on you, Merlot January 2012 

If you have read for very long at all, you know that it is not uncommon to get a hint of psychology in the front and some introspection in the finish.  In Vino Veritas.

5 Molto Bene, Y’all  April 2012

I have loved, loved, loved getting involved in the Texas wine scene.  So many great things being produced, so many great people, and still so much to learn.  Thank you for welcoming me in and for your generous spirits.  This is a piece on a local winery that I grow more fond of with each visit.

So, there you have it.  A little personal stuff, a little humor, a lot of wine.  Some paired, some shared.  Yes, this is a blog about wine, but it is really so much more to me.  Thank you for reading and giving me a place to share, to grow, to learn.

Lamentations

I’ve barely slept this past week. At first, it was because I was sleeping with my son to help him through his pneumonia-induced coughing spells. For the last two nights, I have been so heavy with grief for the families in Newtown that I have not found rest. There is a verse in Romans that says, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” This is a grief that words cannot express, but ironically, I find comfort in writing. So, although this is a wine blog, it is also about my life as a mom. And today, that is about the only thing that seems to matter.

When I came home on Friday, the first things I saw were my daughter’s drawings on the refrigerator. So many families will come home to similar pictures, knowing they will be the last. Before Friday’s tragedy, I found myself frustrated at being awakened yet again. After, I cherished a few extra minutes to hold my sleeping children.

There is understandably more talk about gun-control*.   How I wish that the answer were that simple.  No amount of legislation, gun-control, or metal detectors will stop a broken soul from inflicting horror on others if they are set on doing so.  The only prevention can be to get to that soul before it is too late. This is a generation in which too many have been overexposed to violence on television and video games. They have been under-exposed to loving boundaries and consequences. They are angry and fearful. They are vulnerable and hardened. The mental health problems are multipying; parents are exhausted with nowhere to turn.  This cannot be sustained.

People are looking for reasons, for answers. There are no answers. We retreat from the media or we become obsessed with the coverage. There is no comfort there. We hold our children closer and reevaluate priorities. Oh, that this would continue. Please, talk to your children and their friends. Speak up when you see something. Fight the toxicity we put in our bodies and our brains. Love your children and those in your path. And Pray.

As a mother and a former Elementary teacher, I can imagine all too vividly the horror. Although I was not directly impacted, I have friends that were. Comfort and solace are nearly impossible to come by in a tragedy of this magnitude. There is another verse I have chosen to focus on. In Mark, we are told of people bringing their children to Jesus to be touched. He says, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The verse following tells us that “he took them in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” I choose to, I need to, believe that he shielded their minds in this. That he was there to welcome them into his arms. `

May God be near. May he provide a peace that passes understanding. May he restore what is broken and bring beauty from the ashes.

*see comments

Grief and Gratitude (Originally posted 9/11/12)

This morning, our country marks the anniversary of September 11th, 2001. I originally posted this piece last year in honor of a dear friend, Jason Oswald. In his short time here on earth, he lived a life worth honoring. I am forever grateful for his friendship and his example.

The light here begins to change in September. It softens a bit, reflecting off the leaves. The fauna seems to let out a collective sigh of relief from the harsh Texas summer. And yet, for me, it now comes with a heaviness that wasn’t there eleven years ago. A mixture of grief and gratitude.

For most people, September 11th, 2001 was a night where sleep was fitful and hard to come by. On top of the horror that the entire nation experienced, I was awaiting news of a dear friend. Jason had last been seen that morning, getting on the subway on his way to the North Tower. He had recently begun his job as a Bond Trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. I called his phone repeatedly throughout the day, leaving message after message. Unaware of the location of his new job, I was completely caught off-guard when I got a phone call that evening saying that he was missing. I chose to hope for the best. I knew the chaos the entire city was facing. I chose to believe I would hear his sweet voice again. And I have, but only in my dreams.

In one of the few moments of rest that night, Jason came to me in a dream. He kissed me on the cheek and told me he would always look out for me. And I believe, in many ways, he has.

I met Jason at Wheaton College but our friendship didn’t really blossom until after I left. At first we connected through letters, and then we found ourselves both living in Austin. Even when he left to begin a career in Chicago, we would fly back and forth to spend time together. Although we were usually in dating relationships with others, we each looked to one another for advice, encouragement, and a safe place to be. Jason had found the perfect balance of listening without judgment, but pointing you to the truth. And when you needed to laugh, he knew just where to insert the under-the-breath comment. He was truly one of the most Christ-like men I have known. His integrity and compassion impacted so many. With his wisdom and wit, he was a steadfast source of comfort for all who were fortunate enough to call him a friend.

Jason lived life to the fullest. He ran a marathon, learned to barefoot ski, and would drop everything to help a friend. In a paper written for his Senior thesis, Jason penned the following words. “If we could realize daily the brevity of our lives, our definitions of success would take on a more eternal scope…I would hope that I would not be the one…from whom God would have to wipe away remorseful tears.”

Grief is a funny thing. It ebbs and flows. At times it is overwhelming, and then you realize that you’re living lighter. And then you almost feel guilty that it is gone, for now. The cliché tells us that time heals wounds. I wouldn’t agree with that statement. Grief has to be tackled and embraced, absorbed and freed.

For years, I found myself retreating to mourn in solitude. I didn’t know what to do with the loss I felt. If you are a spouse, a parent, or a child, the gravity of the loss is widely understood. As it should be. But what about dear friends? How do you explain that loss? Did I have the right to still be grieving?

Then last year, on the tenth anniversary, I chose to plan the Austin 9/11 Walk to try to bring people of all faiths together and remember. I chose to work and walk for Jason. This past Spring, I returned to his memorial at our college campus and processed with another dear friend. I cried and laughed and mourned. I have found more healing in the “doing” than I was able to in all of the previous years. No one can tell you how and when to grieve. It is a unique path for each of us, but one that must be walked.

My birthday fell the weekend before that Tuesday. He always called or sent flowers. He forgot to call. I knew that he had moved to New York to see where things could go with a girl. But for him to forget to call, I knew things must have been getting serious with her. I had to process, “Was I okay with this?” “Of course,” I thought, “If he is happy, that is all I want for him.” I decided that I would give him two days to call, or I was going to give him a hard time. That time never came. This Spring, as I was praying about the grief I still felt, I felt like God was saying to me, “You were willing to give him up before as long as he was happy. He is with me and he is very happy.” There is comfort in that thought.

So as September approached this year, I noticed that I felt a little lighter. I noticed that the gratitude for my time with him, and for all he taught me, outweighed the grief of the loss. We all have a choice. To dwell in sadness and fear or to move through it. It is easy to see how Jason became the man he did. In an article published shortly after his death, his mother said, “My choice is to be bitter and angry or to go on and make the world a better place. I know what Jason would tell me.” Thank you, Jason, for making me a better person and the world a better place.

Jason Douglas Oswald 12/18/72-9/11/01