God, Grief, Life, Writing

Though He Slay Me…

Though he slay me, I will hope in him. ~Job 13:14 #Encouragement #Faith #Motivation

It has been a rough last few weeks. Truth be told it’s been a rough past few months and even the whole year of 2020. I am not even talking about COVID-19, stay at home orders, social distancing, fears of infection from the virus, racial and civil unrest or even the current chaos of our political system.

Simply said my family has watched a beloved member’s health slowly decline. So much so that in the end it is hard to see who they once were. Illness and disease can do that to you.

Yet we can still hold hope, for ourselves and others, of better days ahead. As Job’s faith stayed fast even during his trials, I pray that we can all do the same.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Stay the course, live your dreams, and just believe, hope lives.

Grief, Stories, Writing

“What Do You See?”

“What do you see?

The blue sky is beginning to darken as night approaches and I watch you lying there. Your head on its side resting on the ground. You stare straight ahead past your nose, eyes wide open.

We both stay in the silence of the moment, only a faint rustle of leaves in the trees. Slowly I watch you lift your head and look around before you stop and stare off into the distance. Your dark nose crinkles as you sniff the evening air.

“What do you see?” I want to ask, I open my mouth to speak and the words catch in my throat. I swallow hard, my heart beating loudly within my chest.

I close my mouth and sit silently conjuring images of the unknown that may be floating through your mind. I sit helpless to ease your pain, wanting to comfort you as each second ticks by.

If you could only speak. To tell me what you see, what you are thinking of. For I would do whatever it is you ask or need. The world around me swirls, a strong breeze rustles the leaves, and a voice in my head from long ago breaks my reverie transporting me back.

“Please shove the pillow down lower, closer to my hip here…”

“Oh God!”

Your shrill voice rings loud in the silence of the late evening. I quickly jerk my hands away coming off the pillow as I back pedal a few steps watching your pained expression.

“I am sorry.” I speak slowly in a trembling voice as I slowly move back closer to the chair. Your head is tilted back resting hard against the back of the chair, your breath deep and labored.

“I know, … it’s okay. It just hurts so bad, ya know. I just can’t ever seem to get comfortable where it doesn’t hurt.”

My mind whirls as I stand swaying on unsteady legs unsure what to do next, not wanting to cause you more pain. I stand staring not knowing what to say waiting until you speak.

“Okay, let’s try this. Put that little pillow down behind my lower back. I will hold this one here at my side and we’ll see if that works.”

Okay I say, tentatively moving forward treating you as a fragile porcelain doll instead of the courageous strong woman that you are despite the circumstances. Inside my helplessness screams at the absurdity of it all.

Several minutes later after many machinations and adjustments you are finally somewhat comfortable for now. Breathing a heavy sigh you sink deeper into the chair closing your eyes.

“Okay that will work, thank you love.”

“Your welcome.”

I fall onto the couch next to your chair my own exhaustion overtaking me. Our eyes meet for a brief second as you open your eyes and you faintly smile. Then you turn away from my gaze to look out the window at the darkening sky. I watch as you sit motionless, your pale arms resting on the arms of the recliner.

Your short dark brown hair barely touches your shoulders now as it hangs framing your face. I can still picture your long locks that used to cascade down your back and over your shoulders. I see your eyes gloss over, focused on something that only you can see. I wonder are you seeing beyond the veil that separates the worlds.

“What do you see my love?” my mind asks as I swallow my words.

My head clears, I come back to the present. You are now on your side, head once again laying on the grass, eyes open staring. The dark brown fur of your coat in sharp contrast to the green grass of late summertime.

You seem at peace with whatever may come and I envy you. My mind again asks “What do you see girl? Do you see the end?” I wonder.

A chorus of memories run through my mind of the years together. The joy, the laughter, the adventures we all shared. You completed our family and made it whole. We watched you and her grow alongside one another becoming best friends. You have always been a loyal companion that shepherded her well into her teenage years.

I know your body is now weak and frail. Age or disease catches up with us all and I hope you know I will continue to try whatever that may mean. I truly will, my mind screams into the silence of the ever darkening sky overhead. To spare you and others from what inevitability will come. My helplessness looms large, again a mountain in front of me that I am once again forced to climb.

Your eyes now closed, I watch you breathing slowly, your chest rising and falling as you sleep. There is life left and I will do whatever I can to ease your days. Although I know that option is sometimes not offered. And so we live with the unanswered question of ‘What do you see?’

“Best Friends”

Sharing a little free write essay that compares the feelings I have watching our older dog as she battles lymphoma and the triggers of memories it evokes from long ago. You will be able to read more about those memories in my upcoming memoir to be published in early 2021. You can read about it here and be sure to sign up for email notifications to get the latest updates.

Grief, Life, Writing

She Comes Out of the Sun – “Hello”

“Hello” it was that simple little word that started it all in the fall of 1984. I remember the girl with long brown hair, tanned skin wearing a summer dress and espadrille sandals approaching the art table where I sat as the lyrics to the Al Stewart song The Year of the Cat rang through my mind.

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don’t bother asking for explanations
She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running – Like a watercolor in the rain https://youtu.be/tqW4xIr7nj0 Al Stewart “The Year of the Cat”

My voice trembled and I heard myself say with great effort, “I only want her to not be in pain.”

“That is all I am focused on.” He stated his voice low and measured. He gazed at me with a look of both sadness and resignation before turning and walking away.

Memory flooded back as I stood in the hospital corridor, the lyrics to “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles chorusing through my mind.

I like the way your sparkling earrings lay
Against your skin so brown
And I want to sleep with you in the desert night
With a billion stars all around

I get this feelin’ I may know you
As a lover and a friend
This voice keeps whisperin’ in my other ear
Tells me I may never see you again

I like the way your sparkling earrings lay Against your skin so brown – And I want to sleep with you in the desert night – With a billion stars all aroundhttps://youtu.be/NjofshOBV5s Eagles “Peaceful Easy Feeling”

This post is excerpted from my upcoming memoir, tentatively titled – There is Always Hope.

My first wife died of breast cancer at the age of 26 after battling over the last three years of our short five year marriage and yes, cancer sucks.

Over twenty-five years have come and gone and still there is not a day that something does not remind me of her. The twinges of memory flit across my mind as a butterfly haunts a flower.

Be sure to click the follow button and subscribe and be one of the first to receive email updates about the forthcoming book and other happenings. I would also love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment. You can connect with me on Twitter @mwschutter, Instagram @mwschutter or Facebook @mwschutter

#JustBelieve #HopeLives #LoveChangesPeople #YouMatter #BeAWarrior

Life, Stories, Writing

“She died. She is dead.” Thoughts and coming to terms with the words.

Widowed and/or bereaved? And does it even really matter when the words don’t change the outcome?

Widowed – verb: past participle: widowed

  1. become a widow or widower; lose one’s spouse through death.
    • Widownounwidow; plural noun: widows
      a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.
    1. Widower – nounwidower; plural noun: widowers
      a man who has lost his spouse by death and has not remarried.

Bereaved – verb: past participle: bereaved

  1. be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence, especially due to the loved one’s death.

“She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?” ~C.S. Lewis {A Grief Observed}

We use the terms ‘lost’, ‘deprived’ and ‘absence’ when the truth is they died. Their physical mortal body ceased to work and they died. You are widowed until you remarry, then no longer a widow or widower? And are you still bereaved every single moment, day, month, and year after losing a loved one?

The pain and the grief, never goes away even when you commit actions that take you in another direction, such as remarrying. Grief is not something you get over, it is something you carry with you for the rest of your life. It irrevocably changes you, how could it not?

Does the soul live on after death? I believe it does and that’s a topic for another blog post.

“Well, we have nothing if not belief.” ~Reepicheep {The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis}

God, Life, Stories

Belief and Death – are the words so difficult to learn?

“Well, we have nothing if not belief.”

~Reepicheep

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (CS Lewis)

A Grief Observed, as well as other books and writings, by CS Lewis have comforted, challenged and confirmed many of my own feelings at different times with their stark emotion and startling honesty. Almost thirty-five years and a vast ocean between two continents separated the experiences of Mr. Lewis and my own. We were at very different points on life’s continuum; Mr. Lewis was in his early sixties when his wife, Joy, died and me in my late twenties when my wife died.

However, the experiences of Mr. Lewis I read about are eerily similar to my own experiences. The feelings of pain, sorrow, guilt and eventually a measure of acceptance and healing that followed. Grief is a solitary road we must walk alone, however the words Mr. Lewis shared have always made me feel not quite so alone, especially during my own time of anguish and the dark night of my soul.

My hope is that my words, the things I share and put into the world can do the same for someone else. We are all sojourners here on earth and sorrow at one time or another will wrap its cold arms around us all and hold us close. In those moments, we need grace and mercy, for if my own experience is any indication in those dark times of guilt and pain there often vows and promises made that we are never meant to keep.