Today, I sat with a woman whose husband died nine months ago.  This weekend is her first step into the life she once knew.  We sat together, she told me her story, I told her mine, and we shared the sweet companionship of women who have watched death swallow a person we love, women who know the sound of the last breath.  Together, we know how light a spirit makes a person; without it, he is a fallen oak tree.

Now I am studying in the hotel lobby, my books and notes spread about me, my pairs of glasses are scattered nearby for the reaching and assisting my complicated vision.  I do not study neatly.  (Add it to the list of things I don’t do neatly.)

The indescript Muzac is interrupted by the clarity of a love song Robb and I had claimed.I always loved the song; now the words do me in.  It’s really like a melody, just for me.

Do you hear me, I’m talking to you
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby, I’m trying.

Boy, I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea.
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard.

They don’t know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this.
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss.
I’ll wait for you, I promise you, I will.

Lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
Lucky we’re in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

And so I’m sailing through the sea
To an island where we’ll meet
You’ll hear the music fill the air
I’ll put a flower in your hair.
Though the breezes through the trees
Move so pretty, you’re all I see.
As the world keeps spinning round
You hold me right here right now.

Lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
I’m lucky we’re in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

Thanks for whispering your hello to me today, handsome man. You’re on my mind, too.

Strep Never Sounded So Good

Tucker had a lump sticking out the side of his neck.  Walnut sized.  Noticeable and concerning.

Very concerning.

I tried to minimize the concern, since Tucker’s mind always goes to extreme diagnoses and imminent death.  But I can’t say mine didn’t go there too.  And I wonder if he’ll ever get to a place in his life with the naivete of taking things in stride.

Turns out, it was a swollen lymph node due to infection.  He had strep throat.

The pediatrician said every single parent’s mind goes straight to “The Big C” when they see a lump protruding  from anywhere glandular in the child’s body.  (Count me among the majority.)  He said 99.99% of the time, a swollen lymph node is nothing to worry about, and one way I can tell is that a lymph node will fluctuate in size.  A cancerous anything will just get worse, if left untreated.

So the lymph node can stay enlarged for months, with still no need for concern.   Well, then.  This I can handle.

I’ve lost the privilege of believing it won’t happen to us.  It has.  It could.

A friend said, “A family like yours deserves a free pass.  You’ve done your time.”  His family is nine months into a battle with their daughter’s brain cancer.  His family deserves a free pass too.

Life doesn’t give it very many of those.

Strep has never sounded so good to me.

Love Never (?) Fails.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Love always perseveres.
Persevere: v. to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success.

Love never fails.
Fail: v. to be unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal; to miscarry; to fall through.

How do these definitions fit within the realm of boundaries?

If love always perseveres, but then if I have to set a firm boundary and essentially walk away, does it mean I gave up on that person?  Does it mean I didn’t love well?

If love never fails, then does that mean I fell through in loving well?

Look at this version.

Love is never without effect.
Effect: n.  a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.  v. to cause something to happen; to bring about.

To love well is to bring about change.

So, if I lean into a theorem of ‘if this, then that,’
then to set a boundary,
to walk away,
is not to fail.

It is to love well, if the boundary will create positive change.

Perhaps a boundary has nothing to do with love.
Or maybe a boundary is rooted in love.

* * *

“Sometimes it hurts in love, and sometimes it hurts instead.”

~ Adele

Where Are You Speaking?!

Tricia, you mentioned Ohio.
But where in Ohio are you going?  
When are you coming?  
What’s the story, and can we come?

Here’s the story, my friends.

I am traveling to Ohio this weekend for a women’s retreat in a Cleveland hotel, sponsored by the unbelievably gracious women of West Hill Baptist Church.

We are going to talk about the seasons of the heart – winter, spring, summer, fall – how I have experienced them, what we can learn from them, and what journeys and tasks are most futile and most fruitful in each season.

It’s going to be beautiful.  And even now, I’m praying for the women who will sit in every chair in the hotel ballroom.

So, that’s where I will be this weekend.  And I do wish I could invite you all.  But hotels get finicky about things like fire codes and capacities and paid registrations.  :)

If you’re interested in inviting me to speak at your church’s retreat or event, or perhaps to teach at a writing seminar or conference in your community, I am honored and very open to the idea.  So, shoot me an email.  We’ll talk and brainstorm and make it happen.



Twenty Questions

Twenty questions is a great ‘waiting game.’ It keeps us busy when we are waiting, and it doesn’t require batteries.

Plus, in the best of rounds, I like to think they’re learning skills of reasoning and deduction.

“I’m thinking of…” I tap my chin. “A place where you would see a bride and groom.”

The first guess: “A circus?”

Well, perhaps. You make a strong point. I’ve been to a wedding or two that seemed one step away from a parade of elephants.