Saturday, November 9, 2013

About Me: NO vember

NO vember is when it all started.

Photo taken by earl53

November took me away from a family filled with love and laughter. Boy cousins ready for fun adventures. Fall colors at Thanksgiving and snow at Christmas. A house filled with sunlight, a gentle grandfather who had tea parties with me and a grandmother who laughed. Running, camaraderie and bionic adventures for hours were the holiday experience.

Photo taken by ancientrobot

November took me to a winter filled with cold gray foggy days. A house where the windows looked out on trees, but no sun came in. These grandparents argued and watched golf on television. Too busy to play, but not too busy to spank or discipline. I had nothing in common with my girl cousins. Lonely, quiet and waiting for it to be over was the new holiday experience.

Now Thanksgiving Day was filled with angst. Parents stressed because my three sisters needed a nap and these new grandparents insisted on dinner at 2:00. During the hour’s drive, I would talk myself into being excited. Maybe this time it would be different. Maybe someone would talk to me. Maybe fun could be found. Sometimes it would glimmer but like the fairy it was, never stayed for long.

 November finished a year of death. It started the December before, my senior year with a boy named Jeff. We met third grade when we finally settled into this Central Valley town. 

Then that odd Christmas break obituary.

Photo taken by diggerdanno
I went because I knew him. Friends knew him. No knowledge of how he died, just that he did. I sat in the overflow lobby, his pastor announced that he would read the note he left behind. The word suicide was never spoken, but something within me cracked. The idea of adolescent invincibility weakened. I spent the rest of the day trying to figure it out. My parents were as dumbstruck as I. The rest of that year would include a winter suicide, a spring accidental drowning, and an almost fatal accident.

Then November.

Mark was the brilliant musician youth group leader. Blond curly hair, big brown eyes all backed his overwhelming kindness. He was patient enough, one church camp, to learn by ear a song I was going to sing. Complete with grin, he led the band as I for a moment felt like someone with something to offer the youth group. One time he taught on the Beatitudes, which would anchor my relationship with God forever. He said something along these lines:

Photo taken by anitapeppers
“The pure in hear will see God. That means telling him everything. If your mad, yell at him- he knows it anyway. Let nothing stand between you and God. Not even yourself. Always talk to him. Always seek him. Ask your questions. Yell at him about your doubts because eventually you WILL see HIM. He promised.”

This beautiful soul decided he could no longer live.

Eleven months of life taken left an indelible scar. For me there is no, “You Only Live Once.” Life became fleeting and fickle. Every moment deserves attention and presence. Death no longer surprises me.

Almost 30 years later, three kids and a loving husband, we have made our own happy Thanksgiving memories. I make a great turkey and trimmings myself so The Counting Mutant can make his Friday after Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing omelets. I find myself forcing myself to enjoy it all. I find joy in it and the presence of these events still hovers, like the winter fog the Central Valley is known for.

So I am allowing myself this moment to remember.

To grieve so that I may be comforted.

I am grateful for that.


  1. Grief is a profoundly strange and sometimes beautiful thing.

    I'm glad you've forged new traditions to enjoy, though.

    1. That is the hardest thing about grief: finding the beauty.

  2. Unfortunately for those of who have experienced loss during the Holidays, our memories and grief bubbles to the surface in a quick and violent vomit of images. Surrounded by happy families, we remember what we've lost. All of the decorations, the songs, only serve to trigger memories of those that we lost.

    It's a tough couple of months, but you are not alone. You have others now to help you get through this.


    1. I am finding, within beautiful community, the grief bubbles are becoming less violent because they have somewhere to breath.

  3. November is rough for me too. I'm so glad to have found you all, those who understand the things no one else seems to.

    Lean, we'll hold you up. xoxo

    1. Leaning... It really makes the weight more bearable. You all are an answer to years' long of prayer.

  4. loss is enlightening or it take you down... You've done something really wonderful with some really painful circumstances.

  5. What a lovely reflection. I wish you peace and lovely memories this year.

    1. I like that word, reflection. Must ponder on that a bit...

  6. I love you ladies. We get it. We're together in this.


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