Mar 25, 2016

Rebirth, Reconnection, and Renewal

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. 
I awoke and saw that life was service. 
I acted and behold, service was joy.
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, 
But to add color to my sunset sky.

Rabindranath (Thakur)Tagore
Indian Poet, Writer, Philosoper, Composer and Nobel Prize Winner.

In Memory of my friend Lilace Hamilton, recently of Sun City, Arizona, city streets shown above.

Lilace died from the infection that often follows a broken hip in the elderly. While she died in Arizona after Christmas, I didn't hear the sad news until yesterday. So, I go into the Easter Celebration of rebirth and new beginnings bringing back in my own faith in rebirth, reconnection and renewal

All these months of wondering why I hadn't heard from her. She loved to write cards and letters as well as to talk on the phone and I had sent her a very long newsy Christmas letter. Now, I understand why she didn't write or phone me back. All these months of her being gone and not knowing. Such is life and such is loss.

Lilace was the mother of my best friend Terri. I met Terri in 1969, at Oregon State University where we lived in next to each other dorm rooms. we reconnected years later as her husband was building a rental home on the same street where we had purchased our first home in the 70's. We went on to buy acreage together, each giving birth and raising three children, our houses side by side sharing 5 acres. Our children grew up as almost brothers and sisters, not just close in age neighbors and best friends which they also were. Years and years of sharing and caring growing and learning about friends and friendship and the meaning of family came to an abrupt and tragic end.

My friend Terri, died at age 46 along with her 12 year old daughter, Kelsy, in 1997... in a terrible roll-over car accident as the family drove to the Jr. Olympics in Florida, where 12 year old Kelsy was expected to not only excel in cross country running, but to win in her age class.

Over 700 people attended that funeral and it was one of the hardest times of my life just helping to set that up with everything that we needed to do. We had a middle school choir, a small orchestral duo, we had favorites items and music and books and photos and sports equipment from both of their lives. But mostly we had memories of wonderful and even amazing mother and daughter that inspired all of us to make the most of the time we had in this lifetime..just as they had.

Years of the deepest grief and mourning followed as I and my family mourned their passing and I sharing the grief of the surviving husband and boys. A grief so deep that we almost couldn't bare that sharing but knew we all needed to process and healing it for our own survival.

I did all that I could ..housework, yardwork, dog sitting and house sitting on month long trips that Greg too once the boys finished high school and went off to college. All of them had been in the car and all of them carried the scars both emotionally and physically.

One of the hardest times, most challenging things I have ever gone through in my life as I not only felt my pain, my family's pain, my own 12 year old daughter and best friends' pain as well as our dear friends and next door neighbors even far more horrific loss and pain.

The Mother/Grandmother Lilace and I shared hundreds and hundreds of hours over the phone as we worked through our own grief and the grief of the surviving husband Greg, and their two teen age sons. Each of us believing we were helping the other as we helped ourselves in the process.

Greg, the husband and father,  died in a terrible hiking accident at the Oregon Coast in November of week before the birth of our own first grandchild and only one month after the birth of his own third grandchild , this one from the second son and his wife. His last grandaughter, and my first...two little girls that in many ways felt like the reconnection of those first two little girls, and ones we both hoped would grow up as friends in memory of  Greg and Terri and Kelsy, and now of course, Lilace.

As a highly intuitive person and someone, I have fretted for months and months that something was wrong, telling my husband, that I wondered if Lilace might have passed away and I wouldn't know. Obituaries showed nothing, no phone calls, no letters, nothing to let me know why I was fretting so. But I knew that Lilace and I shared a deep universal faith that went beyond traditional boundaries of structured religious beliefs, as we processed our grief and our grieving of all of these losses. And I knew that if she has indeed passed, that I would have have expected to fret and wonder. Now, I know it had a reason, she had passed.

So, now, I grieve the loss of this dear woman, which as all losses do, brings back the reconnection to the previous losses. One by one they all add up as those of you are young yet will  not have realized yet. But it does. Each loss triggers the previous ones and the pain in the heart is therefore reignited by the holy catalytic fire of reconnection with the past, mourning in the present, and acceptance in the future.

But I do so with love and faith that while the dawn starts out with darkness, it quickly gives way to light once again. And as the long cold winter opened up its warm heart, it ushers in Spring and Summer and Autumn and the endless cycles of life and nature.

The birds are singing outside, my seven baby chickens now in the laundry room..not the dining room!... as we get ready to celebrate Easter and this season of rebirth.

My heart hurts for the two remaining sons, their wives who never met the mother and daughter, and the three grandchildren who will never know their paternal grandparents, great grandmother. But such is life and such is loss.

Sweet Journey Lilace, as you cross the eternal bridge from here to there.
I'll miss you.


Making Prayer Flags

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.


Winifred said...

That is a beautiful post Michelle. What tragedies your friend her family & yourself have endured, sometimes you wonder you can survive such loss. Happy Easter, God bless.

Marilyn McLeod @ Pink Paper Cottage said...

What a beautiful and sad story... you did know, somehow, that things were not right. How wonderful for Lilace that she had you to share the memories of her daughter with. I'm sure she was very very grateful for you over the years..... and now she will get to be with her daughter and grand-daughter, although I understand how her other family will mourn her. I am so sorry for the many losses you have suffered...... I have too... and somehow we continue on with life, with a faith that there will be some little brightnesses here and there to light our way to the end of our journey. God Bless You!

O'Quilts said...

Another great post of love and so needed by us all.
Happy Easter