Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gloomy Weekend of Jumbled Emotions


By natural disposition I'm a positive person, choosing to feel joy and seeking peace. That's not to say that I live in a bubble and only see life through rose colored glasses, though friends and family that know me may argue otherwise. When confronted with a choice to seek after lighthearted, jovial experiences or sad and emotional moments, I'll choose the joy 100% of the time. At times we don't get to choose what circumstances we find ourselves in, only how to react to it. It is in these times that we test our mettle and discover our strengths and weaknesses. This past week I've learned a lot about myself and I'm grateful for the insight. 


But I must confess, my emotions have been terribly raw and right on the surface, spilling over at times at others bottled up and reserved for another day. Whether this is healthy, expected, concerning, predictable, I'm not really sure. I know who I am but going through the experience of losing Dad, comforting Mom, traveling with my beloved family trying to be a comfort and grieving at the same time has put my heart through a jumble of emotions I really hadn't counted on experiencing. Through it all there have been some constants that I feel like I need to express and give thanks for else my own level of personal gratitude would dip and I would remain dissatisfied in my unappreciative state.


I have the best friends possible. They provide to me spiritual strength, constant care and nurturing and they read me so well. They have learned when to give, when to take and when to remain at arms length waiting for me to reach out and call. I have had such an outpouring of offers to help, all fully meaning to serve given the opportunity. I have had others act, without asking, taking charge and just doing. This type of selfless service risks failure in that the action may not be taken well but speaks so highly of confidence, love and sincerity of heart and I, the receiver, am truly touched and grateful. There are also expressions of support and kind words which touch the heart and help to heal what time will ease. A friend wrote:


"The outpouring of love that was expressed in words and in tears is only told by how great a man your father was, is. He's not gone, but waiting for that glorious moment as we all are. It is a truly humbling experience to sit at a funeral next to my own dad and not think of life in general. It puts into perspective where your faith and believe in the hereafter is truly at. I wish it could have been longer to stay, I'm sure our families and kids could have talked for hours on end. One day this will happen. Thanks for being a life long friend, and a life long believer in Christ."


The words that he expressed were so touching and needed for me the day of the funeral. The experience may have had a positive effect on him as well and that's part of why these experiences are so miraculous. They enable growth and discovery on an individual basis but facilitated through meaningful interactions.


My family has been such an incredible support. While the funeral proceedings were not easy, especially on my youngest who is so tender and sensitive, the day over all was a joyful one. There were moments where during extreme sadness before my father's casket and with my little one sobbing relentlessly, I was able to see humor in the situation and offer a moment of relief. Someone was taking a picture of Dad and I dared either my own kid or a nephew to "photo bomb" the shot and we all started laughing. It immediately snapped Liesl from her downward spiral and relief in the form of laughter came.


I felt a tremendously burden, which added to my struggle to let go of my inhibitions, to hold it all together for myself, for my family and for those I needed to address at the funeral. Part of me felt locked away, reserved and conflicted at not being able to break down. But I knew that in order to get through speaking and dedicating his grave I had to remain strong. I did, however, allow myself, unexpectedly, one moment where my otherwise bullet proof resolved cracked and I became vulnerable to the full weight of grief. It came after the family prayer and during a moment when the siblings and Mom gathered to say our final moments.


FULL DISCLOSURE WARNING!!! I've never touched a dead body and I had no intention of doing so that day. One by one, my family kissed or stroked his head as they said their final good byes. As I approached, I bent down and told him good bye but came no where close to touching Dad's body. I just had no inclination to do so no matter what others thought or felt. It was my experience and I was going to have it the way I wanted. Then I was asked to place a part of the temple clothing on his head which required me to touch the body. There was no way around it. I wasn't thrilled. 


While waiting for the mortuary helpers to come and close the casket, I looked over at my sons and I lost it. I could not help but feel the full weight of grief descend upon me and I had to let go. I cried hard but only briefly, desperately working to compose myself. I managed to pull it together in Mom's arms and finished the work I had to do. And that was that. My moment had passed and the rest of the service, while still spoken and experienced through choked emotions and tear stained face was more or less acceptable. (I did ask for hand sanitizer though as I couldn't stand the thought of death on my fingers and wiping my eyes or nose). 


I felt extremely blessed to exercise the priesthood Dad conferred upon me and ordained me to every office I ever held. To pronounce his grave holy and protected until the Resurrection and to offer a prayer of comfort for the family was truly humbling. 


The rest of the weekend was pure enjoyment as we laughed with family, played games, were entertained and were just crazy. Here are a few highlight pictures. 



At the graveside overlooking the "Pea Patch" where Dad coached soccer and looking on to Mt Rainier. 8 of his grandkids being themselves. 

Mom's hand holding Savannah's while singing in church. Mom fell victim to Daylight Savings and we enjoyed ribbing her for it. 

Ivar's is a must have during our Seattle family trips. 

Pre-ride group photo at the Great Wheel. 

Yep, that's the gum wall. 
Is it any wonder why I love her?

Yes, someone was creative enough to advertise for the church. 

Yummy ice cream though we were disappointed that Steamers was not there. Adequate substitute even in 50 degree weather. 

Beautiful Rebecca at Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. 

Brotherly love. 

With little drama, we flew standby to and from the funeral and we so appreciated Lisa's sacrifice in offering up her buddy passes as well as Mom's paying for te tickets. We truly were blessed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be a trip away from home without our loving friends pranking us. A couple of pictures popped up on Instagram.com/lindsaylouwalden that made it quite clear they had gained access into our home. Admittedly I was a little nervous about mischief we'd find upon our return. But to our delight and relief our kind friends left notes and quotes that lift and inspire amid so TP or around various areas of our home. 



Even Lindsay's adorable daughter added to my comfort and left her creativity for us to enjoy. 


So while the weekend was gloomy, the times we needed to be uplifted the sun was shining, our friends lifted and inspired and God's love was felt in huge abundance. How grateful I am to understand and have perspective and know God's grace is sufficient. His plan is real and it leads to happiness when followed. Knowing I will see Dad again makes the sting of death negligible and knowing my sins can be overcome in Jesus makes spiritual death conquerable. 
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