Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty

This morning I drove Grandma and Uncle Roy to Gaston Hematology & Oncology. As we pulled into the parking lot, a lady and who appeared to be her father were exiting the building. His tall, frail frame caught my attention. He reminded me of my Uncle “Knot” who courageously battled cancer before his death a couple years ago…


It wasn’t long before my uncle was called to the back for his tests. My grandmother sat in a sturdy arm chair in the waiting area. I took my place on a surprisingly comfortable sofa alongside a large window. Patient after patient came and went through the heavy wooden doors. Men, women and children filled out forms, flipped through magazines and watched the same pharmaceutical commercials loop on the small flat screen TV. One man in particular, who appeared to be in his mid to late forties, walked in and went to the front desk.

Medical Office Assistant: “Hello sir, how are you?”

Patient: “Well…I’m actually pretty nervous.”

It’s unusual to hear any response besides the usual “fine, how are you.” But, he was being honest and transparent. Sitting in a facility where people are diagnosed with cancer other life-altering ailments, and receive chemotherapy and other treatments, I could only imagine what was going through their minds.

But, in a room full of worried faces and nervous hearts, a soothing sound seeped through the quietness. It was the tranquil, welcoming melody of four little birds chirping in a big, beautiful display nearby. The colorful birds fluttered around singing happily, nibbling on tiny seeds. I imagine the addition of the beautiful birds was just a part of the design plan, and they chose birds over fish perhaps. However, I see them as peace in the midst of uncertainty. If only for a few minutes, someone’s weary mind can be distracted by the beautiful, playful beings.

IMG-7539

I believe that if we’re intentional about what we allow in our mental space, we can find a glimmer of hope in despair, a ray of light in the darkness and serenity in the storm. It could be something as simple as the sound of rain on a tin roof, the soft cuddles of a newborn, a babbling brook or the innocent laughter of a child.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Peace.

Tranquility.

There is still love. There is still life. There is still hope.

God can calm any storm in our lives, no matter how rough the waves or how strong the winds may blow. May we always see beauty in the battle.

Feel It, to Heal It

“…he/she must attend directly to the wound, dig in it, open it up, clean out the dirt, perhaps the pus and infection, dead skin, etc.  So likewise, it’s the same emotionally. We can’t deny, avoid or neglect our hurt. Instead of running away from it, we have to go to the source of our pain and attend to the wound, then we will begin the process of healing. ” Uncle J

I love my Uncle J. Though time and circumstance keeps us physically apart, our bond keeps us near at heart. He’s my best friend.

I’m thankful for our correspondence and how he keeps it real with me. Growing up without my father, I will never have that all-important connection that I longed for, but I’m grateful for the ever-growing relationship I have with my uncle.


It can be easy to notice when someone else is carrying a heavy load or burden. They may seem tired, angry or anxious. But often times, it takes someone else to come forward and express concern about grief that YOU have been carrying.

I hadn’t realized that I’ve been grieving all these years. Grief is an emotional and sometimes physical response to loss. But, how can I miss something/someone I never had? It’s just that. I constantly grieve the absence of my Daddy, wasted time, and familial relationships whose seeds should have been planted years ago.

I have a bad habit of dwelling on lost/wasted time. My Uncle J reminds me that we can’t go back, but we can make the best of the time we have left.

1449876854910
Dear Me…

Uncle J encouraged me to do something I had never thought of, though I’ve always found writing to be very therapeutic.

“Little Courtney is still hurting…that precious little girl with the chubby cheeks. You know better than anyone else what she needs. Give it to her.”

My uncle told me about visual imagery and how it could help to heal my emotional wounds. He encouraged me to close my eyes, mentally go to a special place that I liked to play or pick muscadines, notice the sounds, sights and smells. Pick little Courtney up and talk to her.

I would tell her all the things I wished someone had told me growing up.

Uncle J also encouraged me to write a letter to my younger self. In his words, “she needs to hear what you have to say.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I haven’t sat down to do this exercise yet, but I will. Soon. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be tremendously beneficial to my emotional healing.

Open up. Let it all out.

 

 

The Courage to Feel

12193725_10153109446782539_7191528142289883211_nMy mind tells me I didn’t know him long enough to be sad, but my heart knows better. Of my grandfather’s 91 years, I knew him only 8. But, I am grateful for the moments we shared.


I think it was 2007 when I first met Papa John, right before I started college. There he stood, all 6 feet something of him; towering in stature and strong in personality. Though his eyesight was steadily fading, he’d always rise to greet me, grab hold to my hands or pat me on my back. He knew who I was and that’s all that mattered.

Papa John told me stories about how he used to work with my mother. He called her his “girlfriend.” 🙂 Putting a roof on every building in Hickory was his claim to fame. If anyone could do that, I know John Henry King could. Much like my father, I never knew much about my grandfather, and didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with him and my paternal family over the years. I have a handful of captured memories and exchanged conversations that I cling to. 1030151744-1

As I slept in his old bedroom the past few days, I wondered if there were any keepsakes in there to remember him by. I somewhat longed to feel his presence in the room.


When it came time for the homegoing service, I wanted sunglasses to hide the tears. I don’t think anyone likes feeling/being vulnerable, especially during the sickness/loss of a loved one. There is an inevitable feeling of sympathy from others. Everyone wants to know how you feel, how you’re doing and how you’re holding up. “I’m good.” “I’m doing okay.” “As well as can be expected.” At some point, the very mention or thought of that loved one’s name chokes you up. On the brink of tears I still mutter, “I’m fine.”

FB_IMG_1446342721250Texting my mother before the funeral, she told me I “didn’t have to hide.” Having to sit right next to the casket with the flower girls, I was forced to feel. In that tiny church, I had a front row seat to sadness. As sister, daughter, son, grandchild, niece, nephew and friend filed in the sanctuary and laid eyes, hands and lips on Papa John for the last time, the grief overcame me. Ugly faced, whimpering and all, couldn’t be contained as the funeral director closed the casket. I cried. In a church full of people, mourners all around…I cried. I felt.

I thought of how my mother must have felt in that very church back in 1990, staring at my father’s closed casket; burned body inside.

I know Papa John is resting with Daddy, Grandma Marie and countless others who had gone on before him. He’s at peace. Body healed. Eyesight restored.

I may not know as much about him as everyone else, but I know that he loved. In few words, but in many actions…he loved. And he will always be loved. Forever and always.

I love you, Papa John. Rest in Paradise. 1031151522a-1

Daddy-less Daughter: 25 Years

309791_10150281543752539_265122295_n
Wedding Day – Mama and Daddy

You would have been 53 years old today, Daddy. Happy Birthday! I’ve often imagined how we would celebrate if you were here with me. Maybe a scary movie and some pizza would suffice. If I like it, you’d love it, right? 🙂 I’ve always thought you would.


12042800_10153069572942539_3718012372768199909_nGrowing up without a father has undoubtedly had an affect on me and my life. I’m not like the women who claim nonchalance to the absence of a daddy or father figure. I needed him. I need him. I’ve never felt a real, genuine, consistently strong bond with any man in my life. Yes, I had a stepfather. Yes, I loved riding go carts and bikes, making mud pies and eating muscadines with my boy cousins. But, it wasn’t the same. It’s a void that may never be filled.

You took your last breath in that fiery car crash, when I was just 3 months old. I’m told you were on your way to see me, your one and only baby girl. I have no memories of you. No Polaroids of me with my chubby cheeks, arms and legs cradled in your arms. No snapshot of you struggling to change a poopy diaper. I am left with old photos of your high school days on the fields and courts of Alexander Central. I cherish the photos of you with my aunts and uncles.


I know very little about you, but I know you were well loved. As for me, I’m 26 now. It’s been 25 years without you. To say I don’t have any “daddy issues” would be a lie. I’m not out there begging for the attention of men twice my age, or clinging to any morsel of affection I can get. It’s quite the opposite. There’s both intrigue and discomfort. It’s hard for me to let people in. I avoid eye contact with men and always assume they’d never be interested in me or find me attractive. Wall upon wall surrounds my heart. No one has been brave enough, or close enough to break them down.

It is said that a girl’s first love is her father. That is the missing link. That impactful, necessary, poignant relationship never was, and never will be.

Thank you for loving my mother and big sister. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for life.

I love you, Daddy.

I hope you’re proud of me! I’m not where I want to be in life, but I’m gonna get there. I promise. Fathers, tell your daughters you love them. Tell them they’re beautiful. Hold their hands and keep them close. They need it.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. Rest in Paradise.

Love, your babygirl. ♥
969967_10151457020342539_23951637_n