August 25, 2014

day 31 journey with joy ~ remembering...

When I made my decision last month to blog daily about joy, I had no idea what it would be like. I knew I didn't want to write posts in advance and schedule them out for each day. I wanted to write every day about what I was thinking or experiencing about joy on that day.

I knew there would probably be days I didn't really feel like writing or posting.

I knew there would probably be days I didn't feel very joyful.

I didn't know what I'd write... but I trusted I'd know when the time came each day to come to my site and open the 'new post' page.

Some days have been only a quote or a photo. Most days have been more than that.

But every day - starting with last month's new moon and continuing until the new moon of today - I have posted here on the blog, I've done this moon journey with joy. Even on days which were difficult and joy seemed far away.

Remembering and looking back over these past weeks, it seems hard to realize the time has gone by so quickly. July felt like a very long month to me... but August has flown.

Today as I come to the end of this personal blogging challenge, I've been remembering the weeks since the last new moon.

And I'm also remembering back to last year.

Today is the first anniversary of my father's death.

I'm remembering his death, his life, the years I spent with him, the changes in my family of origin, the changes in my mother's life, the good times and the laughter (and there were times of laughter with my father, even though sometimes that's been forgotten), the home my parents loved which is no longer part of our lives, the good times in that place, the difficult relationships, the love.

I'm remembering all of it, all parts of the whole.

Because lives - and memories - are made up of so much more than what we sometimes think about. The whole of a life, and the whole of our memories, go so much deeper than our usual focus.

This picture of my parents was taken in early March 2013. A few months before, in December 2012, my father's spine fractured. It wasn't due to anything in particular he did one certain day... it was his 87-year-old body dealing with aging and the effects of severe falls in the past and the softening of bones. He didn't make it out of his wheelchair very much in the time between the spine fracture and his death last August. When this picture was taken, though, he was feeling hopeful about being able to walk again.

A couple of weeks after this photo was taken, my mother had a stroke which has severely impacted her memory and confusion. Last week she moved into an assisted living facility in the town where my brother and her brother live.

The house where this picture was taken held a lot of wonderful memories (and some difficult ones too). This wasn't the house where I grew up, it's not even in my hometown or my home state - but this house, for over 20 years, had been a second home to me and I felt more at home there than the house where I grew up. It was sold a few months ago.

I'm remembering all of it today. All of this I've mentioned, and so much more.

There's still grief. Not the same, but still there - sometimes less but sometimes hitting like a fresh crashing wave.

Grief for my father, for my mother, for the changes.

These changes are part of life, for everyone. But that doesn't mean they're not difficult or painful.

I was with my father - my parents - a lot during the last 8 months of his life. I watched the downhill slide, the struggle, the physical shakiness even to do something as simple as dial a phone, the exhaustion, the depression none of us really talked about but is an understandable and not unusual response to being in severe pain for a long time and losing your independence and knowing life is changing in ways you never wanted to imagine.

This past year, when I remember, when the grief hits, it's been hard for me not to focus on those last months (and what's happened since). It's been hard for me not to focus on the pain and the loss and the hard aspects of it all.

But remembering these past weeks of consciously blogging about connecting to joy, I've been trying to more consciously connect to the memories in a joyful way, remembering them without the sorrow of thinking "those things won't happen again, those people won't be with me again, we won't be in those places or have those experiences again."

It doesn't always happen. I'm not always successful. The sorrow can still overshadow the joy of the memories.

But there was joy. Even with the difficult stuff that comes with dying and death and loss - and even with the difficult stuff that can come with family relationships - there was joy.

There is joy.

Today I honor my grief, not pushing it down or pushing it away.

Today I'm not ignoring or glossing over the difficult parts of my father's life or our relationship.

But also today, I'm choosing to focus on the joy of good times and laughter and love.

my father and me, 1977

my parents, sometime in mid-1970s

No matter what... much love.

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