The Best Wedding Present Ever

wedding present love

Photo by Pixabay.com

What wedding gift did you last purchase? According to TheKnot.com, here are a few of the gifts most wanted by newlyweds today. (Personal aside: I’m thinking the brides had at least a 95% say in the gift choices.)

Williams-Sonoma Glass Bowl Set, Calphalon Classic Cooling Rack, Pyrex Easy Grab Bake ‘N Store, The Cellar Selene Cake Dome, Martha Stewart Cupcake Carrier, CorningWare French White Bakeware 

Registries make it easy for those of us needing to choose a present. And of course, the talented folks on Etsy can craft practically any personalized gift for the happy couple. Cash and gift cards are always appreciated as well.

But what if you could give a gift that no one had ever given before AND that blessed not only the intended newlyweds, but continues over fifty years to bless countless other people taking their marriage vows AND has generated over two million dollars in donations to charitable organizations?

Noel Stookey did just that in 1969.

I know most of you are asking an important question. Who the heck is Noel Stookey? His full name is Noel Paul Stookey, and during the time that the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary were together, he went by his middle name of Paul. Because Peter, Noel, and Mary just didn’t have the right ring to it.

When his fellow singer Peter Yarrow wed Marybeth McCarthy in October 1969, the best man Stookey sang a song he had written for them. While Stookey is a Christian and intended the song to convey his beliefs, he wanted to honor his friend’s Jewish faith as well.

Stookey has been quoted as saying, “The melody and the words arrived simultaneously and in response to a direct prayer asking God how the divine could be present at Peter’s wedding.”

And that is how The Wedding Song (There is Love) came into existence. (You can listen to two versions in the links below.)

His 1993 Guidepost article tells how Noel’s wife Betty helped him change the pronoun wording just an hour before the wedding. At the ceremony, after the song was over, Noel figured one and done. No one else will ever hear it.

But then a few weeks later at one of their concerts, Peter Yarrow asked Stookey to sing the song as a solo. He was taken aback, feeling he couldn’t share something that belonged to the couple. But Yarrow insisted, saying that his wife was in the audience and please, wouldn’t Stookey sing it for her.

So he did and the audience loved it so much that he continued singing it at their concerts for the remaining time the group stayed together.  Soon after the trio took a long leave from performing concerts, Stookey recorded a solo album and included The Wedding Song.

But since he felt the song was God’s creation and not his, he didn’t want to assume the rights to it. According to the Guidepost article, “In the end I set up a foundation to oversee the publishing rights and to receive all my income as composer. Any money the song earned could then be distributed to worthy causes. To my amazement, shortly after the album’s debut, “Wedding Song” was released as a single and almost immediately went into the Top 30.”

This song has been played at weddings all around the world and continues today to be counted as a time-honored love song. ThoughtCo.com lists it as one of the top ten classic songs to sing at weddings.

Various artists have recorded their own versions of the song, but to me, there is nothing like the original. A sweet simple song accompanied by chords from an acoustic guitar is sometimes all you need to feel the love.

~~~~~~~~~~~

A remastered copy of the original version of the Wedding Song (There is Love)

And years later at the 25th anniversary concert in 1986, Paul (Noel) Stookey is again singing the Wedding Song (There is Love). OK, he can’t hold the notes quite as long, but I mean, watch the man’s face. Really…there IS love!

Noel Paul Stookey’s article in Guideposts from June 1, 1993

The song even has its own Wikipedia page!

Welcoming the Sun

welcome the sun

Woman Welcoming The Sun (stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany)

One of my favorite wall calendars of all time featured photos of some of the stained glass works of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933). As Macklow Gallery eloquently states on their website, Tiffany “forged a unique style that combined superb craftsmanship with a love of natural forms and brilliant color. His luminous glass designs combined technical innovations with the highest artistry, infusing everyday objects with beauty inspired by nature.”

I am most fond of the Tiffany work called Woman Welcomes the Sun, pictured above.  A few years ago, in going through some old files, I came across a beautiful piece of writing about welcoming the sun. I immediately knew I had to combine the two. The framed combo hangs directly above my writing desk.

Being unable to cite the source of the writing, I have hesitated about sharing it with you. If you’ve been a reader very long, you know I go to great lengths to avoid plagiarism. I have no idea where I first read the passage because it’s been many years.

I have searched online using the first line, bits of its phrasing, and even the word “verities” because how many times do you come across that word in a year? Note: Grammarly refuses to recognize it as a word. I even searched a quartet of words (verities, solace, realities, serenity) that are contained within the writing. And no, it didn’t even pop up on “Quote Investigator.”

(By the way, according to an online dictionary, a verity is “a true principle or belief, especially one of fundamental importance.” The peak period for the word being used was between 1850-1950, so perhaps the quote or essay is beyond the copyright period anyhow.)

So with those acknowledgments of my efforts and my statement that I am NOT the author, here is the bit of literary inspiration I read every day.

As the sun is rising on this new day, look to it well.

Today alone is life.

In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of existence…

the stimulus of thought, the glory of action, the awareness of beauty,

the serenity of meditation, the impulse to achieve,

the healing power of laughter, the warmth of gratitude,

the solace of loving and being loved.

Yesterday has passed on and is now but a memory.

Tomorrow has yet to be born and is only a formless vision.

But today, lived to its fullest in our relationship to our faith, makes yesterday a memory of happiness and tomorrow a vision of hope.

I hope you have a magnificent tomorrow.

~~~~~

Macklowe Gallery biographical information on Tiffany

 

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

Photo by Norma Thatcher

Non-English speakers learning our language face a common hurdle: idioms.

A strange word in and of itself, an idiom is defined as “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.”

So cats and dogs are not literally falling from the sky with the raindrops, when I want you to wait you don’t actually have to hold the reins of horses, and great-aunt Matilda didn’t physically kick any bucket as she took her last breath.

Growing up hearing these phrases, we understand what they mean, but we don’t usually stop to think about how these odd phrasings came to be an accepted part of our language.

One of my personal favorites is rise and shine. In researching its origin, I discovered several theories. One source says it originated as a military order in the late 1800s and was considered an order to soldiers to get out of bed quickly and shine their boots; in other words, get up and get ready! Or as Dictionary.com says, shine here means “act lively, do well.”

Bloomsbury International figures the origin is from “18th-century sailor speak.” Back then, the life of a sailor could be harrowing. Besides dealing with hard-to-maneuver equipment, they often faced life-threatening weather, a lack of food supplies, and unsanitary living conditions. The sailors no sooner got to bed than it was time to get up. So the captain coined the phrase rise and shine to “inject positivity and cheer” upon waking.

I wonder how well that worked.

On The Phrase Finder, the experts believe that the phrase alludes to the Biblical reference in the 60th chapter of Isaiah, verse 1. We often hear this verse used at Christmas: Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Since that verse from Isaiah has always been one of my favorites, I’m voting for this version of the origin.

And as recommended on KingsEnglish.Info:  So in the morning, just as you let the sun rise and shine upon you to brighten your face and give you warmth, so let Christ rise and shine upon you to give you hope and peace.

Stay tuned for Saturday’s post which is a follow-up to this one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It turns out other languages use idioms as well. Check it out here.

 

Who’s Afraid of the Dark?

Afraid of the dark

Photo by DhivakaranS on Pexels.com

Fictional character Jack Reacher said something like this when looking out into the dark: It’s what everyone fears, whether they realize it or not…that thought that just maybe there’s something out there that’s going to get them.

Being afraid of the dark is usually a childhood manifestation that appears around the age of two and usually departs by the age of ten.

But sometimes it never goes away.

A 2016 British study showed that 64% of the country’s adults admitted to being afraid of the dark. 36% of the participants said they sense someone or something in the room with them. Many cited fearing something was hiding under their beds. Others said they never left their feet uncovered for fear that something would grab them.

It appears Brits are more afraid of the dark than are Americans; a study noted by Dr. John Mayer indicated around 11% of American adults admit to being afraid of the dark.

Still, that’s a lot of grown-ups sleeping with the lights on and their toes covered.

Although some people use the terms interchangeably, Nyctophobia is the psychological term for having an extreme fear of the night, and Achluophobia is the term for fearing darkness. The differentiation in my brain is that there can be darkness without night. Think of a trunk, a closet, or a basement without windows. Scared yet?

Why ARE we afraid of the dark? It goes back to our earliest beginnings. When the caveman poked out his head by dawn’s early light, he could see if any danger was lurking. During the day he could answer the Big Question: “Is that something I can eat or is it something that can eat me?”

So evolutionarily-wise, fear of the dark was an advantage in that it helped us stay alive for another day.

Even today the oldest part of our brain (referred to as the lizard brain or reptilian brain) assigns a negative connotation to something new or unfamiliar. THAT is why so many of us are uncomfortable with trying something new, whether it’s tasting something we’ve not had before, or taking a class where we don’t know anyone, or interviewing for a different job.

So darkness represents a terrifying unknown because, well, who knows what’s out there? There is very likely nothing, but we may imagine unlimited frightening possibilities.

Sometimes the darkness is in our heads and our hearts. We may have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one or a terrible blow to our self-esteem by a cheating spouse or from losing a job. A debilitating illness of our own or a family member may send us into a downward spiral. We’re frightened of this dark, terrifying unknown and we are fearful of what may be coming after us next.

Just as in actual darkness, we need a spark of light to help us see. The spark may be small, even perhaps short-lived, lasting long enough for us to venture one first step.

That spark is named hope.

Heart-and-head darkness is a prime breeding ground for despair and powerlessness. We simply can’t see any way for our situation to improve. We’re afraid to move for fear of making things worse. We don’t even try to feel our way to safer ground.

But someone sharing a spark of hope can be a lifeline in the darkness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A former post of mine on the Lizard Brain

Article on childhood fears sticking with us

CNN Health article on hope

 

Giving Up or Taking On…or Both?

Lent giving up taking on

Image courtesy of ulleo on Pixabay.com

The beginning of Lent marks the season of getting ourselves ready for Easter. Many Christians view it as a time of increased or contemplative prayer. Others consider it a space to pare down the busyness of our lives and minds to focus on our faith.

According to LifeWayResearch.com, most Americans who observe Lent do so as follows:

Give up favorite food or beverage

Attend church services

Pray more

Give to others

Fast from a bad habit

Fast from a favorite activity

It seems the more “popular” topic of Lent is a time of fasting from (giving up) something we enjoy OR taking on something to enrich our closeness to our faith.

In the giving-up category of food and drink items, alcohol and chocolate usually head the top five list. Other items include meat, soda, sweets in general, coffee, fast food, and chips. (There are some people that I pray do NOT give up coffee. You know who you are.)

I have a friend who posted on Facebook that she’s giving up dropping the F-bomb for Lent. Just like last year. Since this friend is one of my nicest followers, let me say this: Give it up for good! You’re smart so you know it takes just 21 days to break a bad habit. The church is giving you 40 days. Use that time to your advantage. Imagine that one of your girls is always within earshot. OK, I’m done with the nagging. At least I know you won’t be cussing at me for a while.

Another friend told me that last year she gave up looking at her cellphone at every red light. (Funny how those habits can sneak up on us, isn’t it?)

Making rounds on Facebook right now is the 40 days = 40 items Lenten challenge. You’re to get out an industrial-size trash bag and each day place an item of clothing or a household item that you no longer wear/use. After Easter, donate the bag to a charity such as the Salvation Army.

I’ve decided to give up and take on several things.

I’m giving up three “sticky page” photo albums created in the 80s before we knew that wasn’t the best way to care for our precious photographs. In the same category, I’m giving up two large boxes of loose accumulated unmarked photos situated in an upstairs closet.

No, I’m not disposing of these photos. I’m taking on a labor of love by creating a number of scrapbooks with the various photos that make the cut to tell our family stories so that they’ll never be forgotten.

I’m giving up the need to hold on to every single photo just because it’s there. The blurry, unfocused, too dark, too light, who-or-what-in-the-heck-is-that photos will be culled.

I’m taking on reading a chapter a day of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. Conveniently enough, there are forty chapters.

I would love to hear what my Christian readers are giving up or taking on for Lent. I’m hoping that there is just that one F-bomb entry.

~~~~~~~

Article on ChristianityToday.com

 

God Works In Mysterious Ways

 

God works in mysterious ways

God does work in mysterious ways, and many people believe that the phrase is from the Bible. But it is not. Rather, it’s a paraphrase from the poem Light Shining Out of Darkness by William Cowper. In 1773 he wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.”

I recently watched a nine-minute clip of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow telling an intriguing “God works in mysterious ways” true story. I’ll paraphrase it here and include the link below.

While playing college football for the University of Florida, Tebow noticed that other players were wearing personal messages on their eye blacks. Those are the black grease or strip that players wear under their eyes to reduce glare from sunlight; also, it makes them look like fierce warriors. Deciding he wanted to play along, he grabbed a silver Sharpie and wrote Phil. on one and 4:13 on the other to reflect the Bible verse from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

They won that game.

Moving on to the championship game, Tebow says he felt called by God to change the eye black message. He ended up with John on one eye black and 3:16 on the other, referencing what is likely the most well-known Bible verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

His team won that national championship on January 8, 2009.

And 94 million people Googled “John 3:16.”

Yes, 94 million.

And now pay attention to these numbers:

Exactly 3 years later to the day, January 8, 2012, Tebow was quarterback of the Denver Broncos when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tebow passed for 316 yards.

The yards per rush stat was 3.16.

The yards per completion were 31.6.

Time of possession* was 31.06.

And at the moment Tebow threw the game-winning touchdown pass to the receiver Demaryius Thomas, CBS, who carried the game, showed their final quarter-hour overnight ratings to be (wait for it) 31.6.

So yes, I do believe that God works in mysterious ways.

And I also believe God has a sense of humor. Because that *time of possession was how long Pittsburgh, not Denver, maintained control of the ball.

I’m just saying.

~~~~~~

Tim Tebow nine-minute clip

Original eye black

 

Requiem For A Dog

Requiem

Riley Thatcher, 2016

Before I ever started blogging, I did my homework. One of the rules from the experts was this: It doesn’t matter how often you write; it can be daily, once a week, twice a week, once a month, whatever. But pick a schedule and keep to it. Most bloggers fail because they can’t keep up with the schedule; once a week may turn into once a month which fades to every now and then.

Since I started writing nearly three years ago, I have been pretty darn faithful about writing every Tuesday and Saturday. But you may have noticed you haven’t heard from me since January 12. Since I consider my readers as my friends, I wanted to share why I have missed writing.

My canine best buddy Riley Cramer Thatcher, who had been mistakenly diagnosed with an upper palate injury in the fall, actually had an aggressive oral mast cell tumor. He went downhill very quickly in mid-December and the tumor diagnosis was finally confirmed just after Christmas.

Although we tried to beat the cancer with chemotherapy treatment by a caring oncologist, we lost the fight and had Riley put to sleep on Saturday night, January 19.

For the last week of his life, I stayed by Riley’s side nearly all the time, sleeping downstairs with him so the frequent middle-of-the-night trips outside were easier. I hand-fed him scrambled eggs when it seemed difficult for him to eat from a bowl. There were some dark  January days and a few days when he seemed to rally a bit, even enough to walk in the park.

But if you’ve ever had a beloved pet who has been seriously injured or come down with a usually-fatal illness, you know the gut-wrenching decision that is part of being a responsible master. It’s not about keeping them alive because you can’t bear to let them go; it’s about doing what’s best for them.

In 1890, Robert Louis Stevenson penned the poem Requiem. From the Latin, requiem means to rest from labors.  The word now refers to a religious ceremony performed for the dead. The poem is as follows:

Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and let me lie. Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me: Here he lies where he longed to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.

Riley, the fearless and tireless squirrel hunter, has come home from the hill.

~~~~~~~

“Pie Jesu” (Requiem). Taken from the DVD André Rieu – Under The Stars

 

 

The Sounds of Christmas

Sounds of Christmas

photo by Norma Thatcher

Please note:  Today’s post is based on the Christmas letter I included with my cards this year.  So if you are a close friend or family member on my card list, you may be reading this twice! But there is additional information contained here plus there are some great links at the bottom.

Jingle bells, silver bells, church bells, sleigh bells, the Salvation Army Kettle bell—they’re all part of the sounds of Christmas.

We create the crinkly noise of placing a gift in tissue paper before it’s placed in a box. Roll out that giftwrap…cut, fold, fold in the sides, then fold, fold the top and bottom ends. The tape makes a zipping sound as we tear off pieces to seal up our offering.

We chop, measure, and pour ingredients into the bowl. There’s the whirring sound of the mixer, the rattling of the cookie sheets. The timer dings when the cookies are baked to perfection.

If we listen, there are many sounds of Christmas besides the familiar carols and hymns.

I wonder what sounds were heard as the first Christmas arrived. Was it noisy or quiet?

The book of Luke is quite stingy with details. Did Mary and Joseph make the hundred mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem alone or perhaps travel with others making the same trek to their ancestral hometown? We like to assume they took along a donkey to carry their belongings and for Mary to ride.

And yes, we are accustomed to the “no room in the inn” story, but there are Biblical scholars who insist that Bethlehem (off the beaten path) could not have supported an “inn” in its accepted meaning. The New Testament Greek word used (kataluma) actually means guest room; so it may actually have been no vacancy in the guest room of someone’s house.

Luke doesn’t actually state that Jesus was born in a barn. The statement of Jesus being laid in a manger (an animal food trough) is likely what brought forth that understanding. Did Mary and Joseph, as some scholars insist, end up staying in a lower room of a home that housed both people and animals? It would have been terraced to separate the animals from the human living area. It makes sense there would have been a manger.

The truth is we don’t really know about Jesus’ actual birth. Maybe Mary and Joseph weren’t even alone. Perhaps other women, per custom, assisted Mary while the men waited elsewhere smoking cigars.

We can’t be certain of any specific sounds of that night. And that’s OK.

I choose to believe the time just after Jesus’ birth was peacefully quiet. The new little family of three was settling in for the night. The cattle were slowly shifting around trying to adapt to the change in circumstances. Light from the magnificent star overhead cast about, cutting the darkness.

Quiet. Stillness. Peace.

Advent, done well, helps prepare us for the arrival of our King. When the commercialization of Christmas seems intent on overwhelming us with the non-stop noise, we need only step back into that moment of quiet, stillness, peace…and reflect on God’s gift of his Son to the earth.

The name says it all: Immanuel – God with us.

May God continue to be with you at Christmas and in the coming year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over a thousand people came together for this video – a must watch!

Amy Grant’s “I need a silent night”   

One view on inn or guestroom

 

 

Play It Again, Viktor

hope

Photo courtesy of Mika on Unsplash

Last night I gave a presentation on Viktor Frankl, and I thought to myself: I need to write about this!

The issue is that I already wrote about it two years ago in my September 2016 post called Searching.

This message is one we need to hear more than once, plus I have added new readers in the past two years. Besides which, even if you have read it before, you have a new mindset and new experiences with which to measure it against.

As I tell the kids in Sunday School when they say we’ve already had that lesson, “Yes, but you heard it when you were five and now you’re seven. You’re listening with new ears.”

So readers, please read with new eyes.

Dr. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist. In 1940, he was the Director of the Neurological Department of a hospital in Vienna, Austria.

He was a Jew in a time and area where it was dangerous to be Jewish.

He and his wife Tilly were forced by the Nazis to abort their unborn child in 1942. Later that year he, his wife, his parents, and sister were rounded up and deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, north of Prague.

In 1944 he, Tilly, and his mother were moved to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. His mother was killed in the gas chamber, and Tilly was moved to the Bergen-Belsen Camp where she died soon after at the age of 24.

Dr. Frankl was moved from Auschwitz and held at Kaufering and Türkheim (subsidiary camps of Dachau). He was liberated by US troops in April 1945. Soon after World War II ended, he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, which has sold over ten million copies and has been translated into 24 languages. At its core, part is devoted to concentration camp life and how the average prisoner coped.  How did they keep living under such horrendous conditions?

My favorite passage of the book tells of a terrible incident but is also enlightening. Dr. Frankl has been restrained naked to an exam table while some untold experiment is being performed on him. He has a sudden realization that he has nothing left. Nothing. He has lost everything.

Think about that for a moment and consider the enormity of his loss. He had lost

  • Family: his unborn child, his wife, his parents, his sister, his brother, his sister-in-law
  • Other people: friends, neighbors, his staff, his patients
  • Status as a member of the community: his career, his writing, his volunteer work
  • His way of life: leisure time, the pattern of spending his days, eating
  • Every single possession: his books, his socks, his pen, his car, his home

Everything.

In that moment of total clarity comes my favorite Frankl quote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

We are blessed with the freedom to choose how we will respond to any circumstance. That is an awe-inspiring freedom.

And so, Dr. Frankl used the death camp experience as a way to help others. The idea that he is best known for is that everything in life has meaning. We are to find meaning not just in the happy, contented, all’s-right-with-the-world moments. No. There is meaning in the dark, lonely, miserable, pain-filled times as well. Even in death, life never ceases to have meaning.

That’s a difficult message to believe when a traumatic event unfolds before us,  grabs us and shakes us so hard that we feel our vision has been damaged. We are left not quite the same.

And sometimes, we too feel as Dr. Frankl did — as though we have lost everything. His anchor, believing his work could help others and that there was hope for some kind of future, helped him survive.

So to those who are hurting right now, know that my prayer is that you too will find even the tiniest spark of hope and encouragement to believe that your life has meaning.

Because it does.

~~~~~~~

Article on Frankl

 

This Much I Know

Tim at 18

Today is the tenth anniversary of my son Tim’s death at the age of 22. I’m sharing that with you because ten years is a milestone. It’s a time of reflection, a time to look back over a decade to see what I’ve learned that might help someone else.

I spent last Saturday with a mom new to the grief of losing a child. She’s just six months into her new life where one less person on earth calls her Mom.

Every person’s process of grief and mourning is unique. Even if you’ve lost a child yourself, you don’t truly understand what another person is feeling.

That being said, I’ve listened to enough personal sharings from grieving moms to know that there ARE strong similarities in our stories, regardless of how young or old our children were when they died or by how they died.

Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings and reactions can ease the pain just a little. And that’s what most of us are seeking initially. So I’m sharing three thoughts.

And if you’re on the outside looking in, wanting to help someone else who has lost a child, these ideas may help you be more truly empathic.

1) The first year of grief is the hardest. There are so many “anniversaries” to get through: the first birthday that your child isn’t alive to celebrate, the first Christmas, the annual family vacation, other holidays your child especially enjoyed, and of course, the anniversary of their death.

Believe me—it’s a flat-out horrendous first year filled with landmines. And it doesn’t even have to be a special day. It can be anything that reminds you of your child. For instance, hearing a song on the radio that your daughter was crazy for or scrolling though the tv menu and seeing your son’s favorite movie pop up…little instances like this can send you reeling.

I remember once in the first year driving behind a pickup truck with its windows down. Just the way the young man driving had his left arm resting on the sill with his fingers extended upward reminded me of Tim’s hairy arm and the long fingers on his hands. I dissolved into tears.

2) People mean well and they may be trying their best to show empathy, but you can count on some to say stupid, hurtful things. Just try to forget what they say because it will drive you crazy otherwise. Here’s a true sampling of what grieving moms have been told:

“I know how you feel about losing your son. My cat just died.”

“I feel sad like you; my 98-year-old grandmother died last week.”

“It’s been four months. Are you feeling better now?”

Some people will say nothing at. You may even have friends drift away from you because they don’t know how to be with you anymore. And that’s OK. The friends who stay are the true friends anyhow.

3) You may be angry. In fact, you may be furious. You may keep a list of people with whom you’re angry. Here was my list from ten years ago: God, Tim, my husband, the “friends” who helped propel Tim down a worsening spiral, and myself. Yes, the person I felt the most loathing towards was, in fact, myself.

My first and constant thought each day for several months was this: I was Tim’s mom. I should have been able to save him. If only I had done this or not said that or made a different decision anywhere along the road, things might have turned out differently.

No one else said those things; it was just me shaming myself. That is a terrible burden to carry. So if you are holding on to any thoughts like that now, please…just set them down and walk away. Because it’s just not true.

I know I just wrote about forgiveness, but I have to talk about it again here because it plays a huge role in my own story. Forgiveness was one of four savings graces on the lifeboat that buoyed me above the waters of despair and hopelessness and carried me to the shores of grief recovery.

Forgiveness may take some time. Again, situations are unique and I understand emotions run deep. If you can’t forgive right now, how about if, just once a day for five minutes, you pretend to forgive. Imagine how your life would be if you could forgive.

Take that tiny first step.

And know that many others have walked that path before you.

This post is dedicated to Tim’s memory and in honor of all the courageous moms who have entrusted me with their stories.