Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sunshine and Rain

scattering ashesI LOVE sunshine! I love to sit next to a sparkling river, on a sandy beach, in the wet grass, or on my back porch and soak it up. The sun fills my heart with warmth and energy and life. The more sunshine, the happier I am. Sadly, the long summer days have drawn to a close, and soon winter will be upon us. Rain and snow.

But then new birth.

And the cycle repeats.

This past weekend, I was reminded again of that cycle as I stood in the rain with my husband’s family – children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – to scatter the ashes of his beloved mom. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

What might have been a sad occasion was filled with laughter as Grandma’s children and grandchildren tossed the fine powder into the rain and wind, only to have it come billowing back in their faces – as if to say, “You can’t get rid of me that easily!” And we can’t.

Despite the rain and the tears, Grandma lives on. She lives on in the laughter of her children. She lives on in the old movies she watched late at night with her only son, and in the sparkle of her jewelry draped around each daughter’s neck. She lives on in the smile of her newest great-grandson. And she lives on in her grandchildren still unborn.

And though Grandma’s body is now one with the earth, her spirit soars in the heavens. We might wish for less rain, less heartache, and fewer tears, but after the rain, the sunshine will surely return. And in the stillness of the noon-day sun, we can feel Grandma wrap her arms around our hearts. bryce arch in a cloud

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UVU bannerThe past couple of weeks have been filled with so much emotion – happiness, gratitude, peace, and love – followed by sorrow, pain, loss, and heartache. I think I have felt nearly every possible emotion as I have participated on radio shows, a blog tour, suicide prevention walks, a book signing, and a suicide survivors’ support group. At times I have felt very vulnerable and naked, having ripped off the mask that I wore in years past to cover up the tears. And at other times, I have been tempted to reach again for that same mask. But then I’ve heard the comforting words of angels whispering to my heart, “You are right where you need to be.”

I have received letters, emails, and phone calls from people who are hurting, and I feel their pain. And my heart hurts with them. I’ve hugged those who couldn’t contain their tears when they saw the words “Hope after Suicide” displayed on a big, bold sign, and I wished that I could remove the pain of our common experience. And yet I couldn’t hold back my own tears. And I’ve met people who have courageously shared with me their own stories of hope and have freely given to me from their hearts.

In years past, I tried to control each aspect of my life. I had one year, five year, and ten year goals. I made checklists and action plans to achieve each goal. And I faithfully checked off each item completed as if those completed tasks would be my bargaining chips when I finally met God. I have come to learn, though, that God has other plans for me. And the only task He asks me to complete is to follow where He leads me. One step at a time.

And so I will follow.

A favorite hymn of mine is “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” by Mary Brown:

It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.

I don’t pretend to know where this path will lead, but I know that God knows.

And so I will follow.

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beads.webSaturday, I was privileged to attend the first annual Out of the Darkness Walk held in Richfield, Utah to raise awareness of suicide prevention efforts and to offer support for “suicide survivors” – those left behind – family members and loved ones who must try to piece together their lives after their hearts have been shattered.

The tiny community of Richfield is home to about 7500 people. Since the year 2000, seventy-four people in Richfield have died by suicide – seven so far this year. Nearly 200 people joined together to honor those lives lost. Many wounds were still fresh and tears flowed down the cheeks of young and old alike.

As the group gathered together, they heard messages meant to give courage and hope – hope to save the next life, hope to remove the suffocating stigma of suicide, and hope to heal hearts. The group then began their 3 mile walk through that little town while a few of us stayed behind.

My heart was drawn to one older gentleman who I will call Rick. Rick stood in silence at a temporary memorial of 74 wooden stakes planted in the ground – one for each life lost. He found the stake marked with his son’s name – Rick. And he cried. He clutched his heart and told me of his excruciating pain. And I cried.

Rick wore white beads that day to honor his son. He asked me how long it would take before his heart no longer hurt. As I wore gold beads in honor of Mom, I told him there is no timetable for grief. It’s been nearly forty years since Mom died.

And though I cannot imagine the pain Rick must feel losing the son he loved more than life itself, nor can I help piece together his shattered heart, I can tell him with the utmost surety that HOPE is real – that healing comes – for God has gathered up all the pieces of my own shattered heart and has patched it together with His love. He has filled my heart to overflowing with His light – GOLD – the color of sunshine, the color of stars, the color of Mom.

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mm birthdayHappy Birthday, Mom. You have missed forty birthday parties. And I have missed you! Even though you would be an older woman now, seventy-one years old if I counted right, I still miss you. I miss your smile, your contagious laugh, your hug, your perfume, your quick walk, your “can-do-anything” attitude, your persistence, your self-determination, your love of anything outdoors, your knowledge of herbs, your never-ending service to others—a best friend to all. I miss your voice and your touch and your smell. I miss your love.

Like Dad said not too long ago, I would give anything to see you again. But for now, I am grateful for the times you whisper to my heart that you are near—that you watch over me, on God’s errand—that you love me.

I see you in the birds and in the butterflies and in the majestic mountain peaks. I feel you in the breeze and the warmth of a summer day. I hear you in the stream that passes by your mountain home and in the songs of angels sung at Christmas time. You are in the sunshine that warms my body and my heart.

Mom, I love you.

I miss you.


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