For those of us in the Northeast the blizzard that covered us with snow a week ago reminded me of a poem by Robert Frost called “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Days like these allow you to sit, watch, and contemplate.
One of the places of comfort that I envisioned as I watched the snow gently filling up the woodlot around our house is the garden with the flowers that will arrive in the spring. Somehow sitting in a garden and listening to the birds while reading a book is so relaxing. So I plan to go to garden shows which will be coming up in March.
The seasons of a garden remind me of grief. There are times like winter when you just are overtaken by the cold; there are other times like the spring and summer in which the warmth comes through and you can begin to heal. I hope your connection to TAPS is like those times of warmth. One of my beloved flowers are roses. A survivor sent a song in this week that is one of my favorites. I hope you, too, will enjoy it “The Rose” sung by Bette Midler which is an idea sent by Bob, surviving father of John.
The replies that came in for last week’s question were so amazing that they will be divided into two weeks. After reading the responses below, I hope they will inspire you to share your place of comfort to add to next week’s Saturday Message. There will be room for many more.
The question is: Describe a place that gives you comfort. It could be a specific place or something that helps ease the pain like a walk with a friend.
From Andre, surviving father of Andrea: Two months after I lost my beautiful 27-year-old daughter, Andrea, to the war in Iraq, I went to a bookstore hoping to find a book that might help me deal with my unbearable grief. Even though I had never been much of a music lover -- I was always too busy teaching and coaching sports -- I found myself in the music section, buying a CD by country singer Willie Nelson. I was particularly drawn to a song on it called "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." You see, my daughter Andrea had blue eyes. And I could imagine her in heaven, crying tender tears for my wife, Vicki, and me. Four months after Andrea died; my family and I were driving through the mountains of Pennsylvania in a light misty rain. I was telling Marci, my oldest daughter, how much I loved listening to the CD on my way to work and how it helped me feel connected to Andrea. Vicki told us that Andrea had bought her the same CD. Marci, who was driving the car, told us to stop. "I'll start to cry," she said. "Please, turn on the radio." I did. The song that came on was Willie Nelson singing "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" which you can hear on Youtube.
From Leslie, surviving mother of Eugene: I am going to answer this in two ways. I have my car for my private time to listen to music on a great system. Sometimes I just cry missing my son and sometime I scream at the heavens wanting answers from God and from my son. To find real comfort I have the love of my life, Archie. I find comfort in his arms and I know I can talk to him about this and everything else. I consider myself very lucky. We met after Gene died. After he had met my dad and my son, Andrew, he asked to meet Eugene. I told him that he really couldn't and he told me to get in the car. We went to see Eugene at Calverton (cemetery)where Archie stood in front of the stone - introduced himself and told him that he could now rest in peace ‘cause he loved his mother and would take care of her.
That's my comfort.
From Rosemary, surviving spouse of Troy: There are lots of places that give me comfort, especially in our living room. My husband loved to sit on our sofa. When I'm feeling down, I sit or lay on our sofa, because I know that my husband loved that sofa and that gives me comfort. Just laying down on our sofa makes me feel closer to him. There is another sofa in our bedroom that is full of his pictures. I just look at them and they make me smile, because in some of his pictures, he looks alive. It’s like he is smiling back at me. Everywhere I look and everywhere I go it's like I see or imagine my husband being with me. There are places like a restaurant or a store where my husband was with us. Now when I see that place or store, it just feels like he is with me. Sounds crazy, but that is how I feel.
From Frank, surviving father of Joe: I try to think of something good about Joe- his laugh, humor, stories, etc. Then, I walk outside or if I am outside, I look to the sky and say, "Thanks Joe." I have only been to the grave site once since his death. He is buried in St. Louis, Missouri. I live in Oklahoma. I will try to go soon. Maybe, it can be a special place for me as well. He is with veterans from all wars and every age. He is safe and welcomed by all. That is the special bond between our Armed Forces. We have a shared hardship and our love of our family and country. That gives me comfort as well. I will join him there someday. And, again, together we will serve. God Bless you people, I feel your loss as much as mine. I will continue to think of ALL veterans who have served and died. Some gave; some gave all.
From Robin, surviving mother of Shawn: Finding comfort - man that is a question..... when Shawn left for his deployment to Afghanistan, I started a journal of sorts. My plan was to document everything that he told me, so the stories don't get lost or grow bigger. It was started Father's Day 2009 when he left American soil. That day alone he called 3 times with stories of flat tires and delays and ending with his version of walking through the airport with their guns in cases and people looking at these young Marines like they were hijackers. Every day I would write the date and "no word today" or the date and the story of the week. I would try and write the stories with just as much enthusiasm as they were told. I had asked Shawn to document as much as he could and he did just what I wanted. Every story had pictures to go with them. This journal was my saving grace. In the beginning, I would read it just to remind myself that Shawn was doing what he loved. He knew what he was getting himself into and he was not fearful on the outside. In the only letter he wrote, he reminded me that "GOD is in control" and “Try not to worry so much, Momms!" I know that Shawn lived a full life for his short 22 years on this earth. Today and every day I choose to find the blessings out of my pain. I ask myself this question, "What blessings will come forth today, out of my pain?" This helps me see God’s bigger plan for my life and those around me.
The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey.
If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.