I Weep, I Will…

I do not weep for myself…

I weep for those whose very lives depend on subsidized health care

I weep for couples in same sex marriages

I weep for people of color

I weep for those who are transgender

I weep for young girls being treated as objects to be judged, groped and abused

I weep for young boys being raised in a culture of toxic masculinity

I weep for young women who rely on community clinics for birth control and reproductive health care

I weep for refugees

I weep for those of non-Christian faiths

I weep for those sent to war for profit

I weep for the environment

Do not mistake my tears for weakness.

They are part of a process

With every tear, my heart fills with new resolve.

I WILL make a difference

I will feed people who are hungry

I will defend people who are persecuted and bullied

I will empower those who feel powerless

I will counter your hate with love

For every hateful act you commit or condone, I will act in kindness

For every person you abuse or marginalize, I will lift someone up

For every curse you utter, I will sing a praise

Love will win

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L. Lisa Lawrence November 9th, 2016

 


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Happy Solstice – The Return of the Light

~

Up here in the North, the skies are dark even at mid day.  Clouds and rain add to the gloom. [update]  How dark is it?  My dusk to dawn lights came on before noon.

But that is all about to change (albeit slowly) for tonight is the longest darkest night, and the light will begin to return.

Happy Winter Solstice! (Of course, it is only Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere; happy Summer Solstice to our friends South of the equator)

Winter Solstice 039

Winter Solstice is the promise of new life; we really won’t notice the days getting longer until closer to Candlemas/Brigid/Ground Hog’s Day.

Tonight, a group of friends and loved ones will gather in my back yard for a bonfire (we may need rain gear this year). We will write down what we want to leave in the darkness as well as what we want to bring with us into the light and put those into the fire (which was of course, the yule log) The smoke from that fire will send our wishes to the heavens. (in a wish lantern, weather permitting)  We will then, “pass the light”, candle to candle whilst listening to (and in many cases, signing) Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans”. We then all sang along to “Here Comes The Sun” a Solstice classic. We will then share food, drink and merriment through the darkest night.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe. The Solstice is an astronomical event that draws everyone together at this time of year to celebrate light, love and hope.

Each year, I love to post the Northern Exposure video to the story Raven Steals the Light being told (I’ve used it for the children’s story at Solstice rituals in years past)

It is a traditional story from the Northwest Coast and Alaska.

I like this Northern Exposure version.

Not everyone knows this, but the town of ‘Cicily Alaska” is about an hour and a half from where I live, and is in fact Roslyn Washington (yes, I’ve been to The Brick)

and here’s another wonderful story of light in a magical part of the world (the Great Pacific Northwest)…

And of course, my traditional Solstice post/greeting…

On this night, around 3,000 years BC, a very special event unfolds at a place we now call Newgrange. A group gathers around a large circular stone structure. A drumbeat resounds across the mist-shrouded hills of ancient Ireland, bump bump… bump bump… bump bump…; The heartbeat of mother earth. The scent of incense mingles with moss, moist earth and the burning torches. All gaze hopefully towards the eastern horizon. After what seems like an eternity, it happens, the rising sun begins its ascent. Once again all attention is turned to the structure with great anticipation. Suddenly an intense shaft of light pierces the innermost chamber of the structure, illuminating a stone basin adorned with carvings of spirals, eyes, solar disks, and other sacred symbols. A joyful sound rises from the crowd, who then begin to dance ecstatically. For the darkest darkness of winter has passed, and the light has returned. Soon: the hills will be covered in fresh green grasses and wildflowers, trees will bloom and set fruit, animals will give birth, the songs of birds will fill the skies. The cycle of life will continue. The world, once again, has been reborn.

Tonight we celebrate an event, which predates our modern religious celebrations, an event as old as time its self. Just as events like this were observed at Newgrange Ireland, we find similar ancient architectural wonders based on solstices and equinoxes all across Europe, Asia, The Americas, Indonesia and the Middle East. Thousands of years ago, these monolithic structures were built and elaborate ceremonies held, out of reverence for the cycle of life, and perhaps the fear that without human intervention, the sun would not return.

At the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth on its axis, is such that our hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, our days are shortest and the sun is at the lowest arc in the sky. For thousands of years, our ancestors honored the cycles of life: solstices, equinoxes, harvests and plantings. The winter solstice is perhaps the most sacred of these celebrations. So sacred in fact, that modern religious observations all over the world take place on or near the time of the solstice. Solstice observance is not a celebration that excludes or dismisses any other religious celebration; rather it is the common bond of many modern and not so modern religions.

The time of the winter solstice represents death and rebirth, just as corn stalks wither and die in the fields in the fall, so does the symbolic god give his body to nourish the earth, only to be reborn of the goddess again on this darkest night. The original divine birth. Is it any wonder then: that the Christian church chose this sacred time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples to celebrate their sacred events?

Solstice is not only a time to celebrate the retreat of darkness and the return of the light, but it is a time to look inward, at the darkness within ourselves and to embrace it. For without darkness, there would be no light. Without challenge, there would be no triumph. It is a time to celebrate the death of old habits, thought patterns, and difficulties, a time to celebrate a spiritual renewal. The darkness gives us all a chance to embrace and work through our own darkness, so that like the earth, we may also be renewed.

L. Lisa Lawrence
Copyright 1998

Here’s our observance from 2007 (the video is just too much fun!)

Here’s one from two years ago, in my back yard. For the last several years, the weather has cooperated for a bonfire even when the forecast is for a 100% chance of rain. Last night, the howling winds stopped just before we were ready to move outside.

Here are the songs from the video, my favorite Winter Solstice songs…

“The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said, “We’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been a while.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, you’re cousin’s not a Christian,
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from , I think magic’s in the learning,
‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve,
Saying, “Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old,
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold…

And of course, the required Solstice tune…

“Here comes the sun” by the Beatles

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right…

Just now, it just now… happened…

Blessed Solstice all, let’s look to the light.

~L



stat tracker for tumblr

Winter Solstice Dreams – 2013

~
Happy Winter Solstice! (Of course, it is only Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere; happy Summer Solstice to our friends South of the equator)

Winter Solstice 039

The days will slowly get longer again. For those of us in the far dark, frozen North, this is a big BIG deal!

Winter Solstice is the promise of new life; we really won’t notice the days getting longer until closer to Candlemas/Brigid/Ground Hog’s Day.

Last night, a group of friends gathered in my back yard for a bonfire. We wrote down what we want to leave in the darkness as well as what we want to bring with us into the light and put those into the fire (which was of course, the yule log) The smoke from that fire filled a wish lantern, which sent our wishes to the heavens. We then, passed the light, candle to candle whilst listening to (and in many cases, signing) Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans”. We then all sang along to “Here Comes The Sun” a Solstice classic.

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe. The Solstice is an astronomical event that draws everyone together at this time of year to celebrate light, love and hope.

Each year, I love to post the Northern Exposure video to the story Raven Steals the Light being told (I’ve used it for the children’s story at Solstice rituals in years past)

It is a traditional story from the Northwest Coast and Alaska.

I like this Northern Exposure version.

Not everyone knows this, but the town of ‘Cicily Alaska” is about an hour and a half from where I live, and is in fact Roslyn Washington (yes, I’ve been to The Brick)

and here’s another wonderful story of light in a magical part of the world (the Great Pacific Northwest)…

And of course, my traditional Solstice post/greeting…

On this night, around 3,000 years BC, a very special event unfolds at a place we now call Newgrange. A group gathers around a large circular stone structure. A drumbeat resounds across the mist-shrouded hills of ancient Ireland, bump bump… bump bump… bump bump…; The heartbeat of mother earth. The scent of incense mingles with moss, moist earth and the burning torches. All gaze hopefully towards the eastern horizon. After what seems like an eternity, it happens, the rising sun begins its ascent. Once again all attention is turned to the structure with great anticipation. Suddenly an intense shaft of light pierces the innermost chamber of the structure, illuminating a stone basin adorned with carvings of spirals, eyes, solar disks, and other sacred symbols. A joyful sound rises from the crowd, who then begin to dance ecstatically. For the darkest darkness of winter has passed, and the light has returned. Soon: the hills will be covered in fresh green grasses and wildflowers, trees will bloom and set fruit, animals will give birth, the songs of birds will fill the skies. The cycle of life will continue. The world, once again, has been reborn.

Tonight we celebrate an event, which predates our modern religious celebrations, an event as old as time its self. Just as events like this were observed at Newgrange Ireland, we find similar ancient architectural wonders based on solstices and equinoxes all across Europe, Asia, The Americas, Indonesia and the Middle East. Thousands of years ago, these monolithic structures were built and elaborate ceremonies held, out of reverence for the cycle of life, and perhaps the fear that without human intervention, the sun would not return.

At the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth on its axis, is such that our hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, our days are shortest and the sun is at the lowest arc in the sky. For thousands of years, our ancestors honored the cycles of life: solstices, equinoxes, harvests and plantings. The winter solstice is perhaps the most sacred of these celebrations. So sacred in fact, that modern religious observations all over the world take place on or near the time of the solstice. Solstice observance is not a celebration that excludes or dismisses any other religious celebration; rather it is the common bond of many modern and not so modern religions.

The time of the winter solstice represents death and rebirth, just as corn stalks wither and die in the fields in the fall, so does the symbolic god give his body to nourish the earth, only to be reborn of the goddess again on this darkest night. The original divine birth. Is it any wonder then: that the Christian church chose this sacred time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples to celebrate their sacred events?

Solstice is not only a time to celebrate the retreat of darkness and the return of the light, but it is a time to look inward, at the darkness within ourselves and to embrace it. For without darkness, there would be no light. Without challenge, there would be no triumph. It is a time to celebrate the death of old habits, thought patterns, and difficulties, a time to celebrate a spiritual renewal. The darkness gives us all a chance to embrace and work through our own darkness, so that like the earth, we may also be renewed.

L. Lisa Lawrence
Copyright 1998

Here’s our observance from 2007 (the video is just too much fun!)

Here’s one from two years ago, in my back yard. For the last several years, the weather has cooperated for a bonfire even when the forecast is for a 100% chance of rain. Last night, the howling winds stopped just before we were ready to move outside.

Here are the songs from the video, my favorite Winter Solstice songs…

“The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said, “We’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been a while.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, you’re cousin’s not a Christian,
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from , I think magic’s in the learning,
‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve,
Saying, “Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old,
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold…

And of course, the required Solstice tune…

“Here comes the sun” by the Beatles

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right…

Just now, it just now… happened…

Blessed Solstice all, let’s look to the light.

~L



stat tracker for tumblr

The Twelve Days of Yuletide (on my Hilltop Funny Farm)

The Twelve Days of Yuletide (on my Hilltop Funny Farm)

12 cat boxes to clean

11 holiday parties

10 cockatiel feathers (on the floor)

9 porch icicles

8 kitty hairballs

7 extra pounds

6 crazy chickens

5 broken appliances

4 dirty nest boxes

only 3 eggs a week

2 quarts of eggnog

And a corgi drinking water from the tree


Light, Love and Hope

~
Last night, a group of friends came over to celebrate Solstice.

These friends were from a wide variety of backgrounds: Unitarian, First Nations, Eclectic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Wiccan, and those just seeking; all of us drawn together by the season.

We gathered around the bonfire in my back yard to celebrate the shared theme of the season: Light, Love and Hope.

We burned what we wanted to leave behind in the dark, and offered up what we wanted to bring with us into the light.

We passed the light, sang a rousing rendition of “Here come’s the Sun” and set our hopes and dreams afloat on a Wish Lantern.

After that, we went back into the house where I cooked up my infamous once a year, Solstice only treats, Crab Rangoons and stuffed mushrooms. (which were devoured in short order)

We had music (guitar and song), food, drink, friendship and a wonderful start to the season of light.

I posted video of the observance (even edited down, it’s long, so you might want to get a snack or beverage)

Tonight after doggie class, I need to get my fire stuff together and head over to another solstice observance and spin some fire! (in sub freezing temps, so much fun!)

How wonderful is it, that so many traditions gather at this sacred time of year to celebrate Life, Love and Hope?

~L



~

rapture? (not what you think)

~
This post is not what you think it’s going to be.

While there has (and will be) plenty of fodder for those who disagree with and/or mock certain religious sects and/or warn against false prophets and scheisters, there really is a greater message that kept popping up through out this whole (non) event.

Many times, from people of many different faiths (or lack thereof) I read the following statement.

“We should all treat every day as if it was our last on this earth”

Regardless of one’s faith and belief in the afterlife (or lack thereof) those words ring true.

Time and time again, I have seen people taken from this life unexpectedly, traumatically and with regrets. As a paramedic, I saw people panic and fight the inevitable, only to lose their battle for life in a way that I would not wish on anyone.

It is not always sudden.

The last words spoken to me by my own mother when I (rather forcefully and emotionally) indicated that she needed to follow post surgical instructions and take care of herself were angry, “I’M THE ADULT, You don’t get to tell me what to do!”. After those words, she took the phone off the hook, barred the doors and windows, refused to answer the pleas of her best friends and neighbors (and the police who were called for welfare checks) through the doors and windows and screamed “GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE”. Legally, no one, not even the police could force entry under these circumstances.

Just as I predicted, just as I told her would happen if she did not at least try to do something, anything to improve her health (not in her psychological makeup to do so, then or ever), she died alone, in her home. I will spare you the details relayed to me by the medical examiner, but they will haunt me for the rest of my life.

While this event (and the life and events leading up to it) were traumatic and will take a lifetime to work through, I do have to give her credit for dying on her own terms, in her own home.

Thank goodness, it does not always end that way.

During my 13 years as a paramedic, I saw a lot of people die. The fact is, if it’s someone’s time, if the injury (and illnesses cause injury to the heart, brain and cells) is too great, even the best and most swift medical intervention can not stop the inevitable.

I have watched a lot of people die.

When someone is ready to die, to move on, to be released from pain and is at peace, it is a truly beautiful thing to watch, and this may sound weird, but I consider myself blessed to have been there for these moments.

Today, one of my very best friends from high school was there when her best friend, father of her children and husband was released from these earthly bonds after a courageous battle with cancer.

I have been privileged over the last year and a half not only to witness this courageous battle, but to experience the love, faith, laughter, tears and finally acceptance of the inevitable.

Even from across the country, I knew that if not today, it could be tomorrow or the day after.

When today’s email came, I did not need to read it to know why it was sent.

This journey was truly amazing, not for the medical treatments and remissions, but for the love and faith Craig and his family displayed even though the most challenging of times.

While he fought the good fight, he and his family also prepared themselves for the end of that battle.

They lived every moment as if it was their last.

While he still had the strength, the family reinforced connections and made memories.

When he could no longer do so, they made sure he had friends visit and call and constantly, they made arrangements to be with him 24/7 and let him know how loved he was.

My amazing friend Nina, almost daily, shared her joy, her sorrow, her fears, her courage and her vulnerability with her friends and loved ones. I’m pretty sure she never slept.

In his last moments on this earth, Craig was surrounded by loved ones (friends, family and pets) in a peaceful place with a beautiful view.

Sometimes we look at other beliefs with skepticism at best.

I can say that the honest, giving, loving, non-judgmental way in which Craig and Nina lived their lives is as “Christ like” as I have ever seen.

I honestly don’t know if there is a heaven or not.

Even though we are of different faiths, I thoroughly believe that if there is one, that Craig is there and he will be joined by Nina and the rest of his family.

I love this photo of their family. What makes it even better is my friend Nina’s statement, “The irony of this photo is that Craig isn’t exactly a fan of the dog.”

For those who are interested in the physical and spiritual journey, Craig’s Caring Bridge website is available here

My heart breaks for the loss my dear friend suffered today.

But there is also joy for the life they lived together and knowing that his last moments here are the best that anyone could ever hope for.

~L



~

All Kinds of Love

~
Valentine’s day always brings out an interesting mix of emotions, responses and often dysfunction among people.

First there are the couples spending their first valentine’s day together who are super mushy and sometimes downright obnoxious about it. (personally, I think it’s kind of cute)

There are couples who’ve been together a while and who genuinely enjoy celebrating the holiday and doing nice things for each other.

Then there are the overachieving couples who want to outdo everyone else (these would be the same people who have the big ass SUVs in the driveway and the biggest flat screen TV in the neighborhood) and celebrate “love” with pretentious displays of extravagant gifts (better if delivered to work to make everyone else jealous) and reservations at the finest restaurants which they had to bribe their way into a year in advance. They will brag to everyone they know (in person and on social media) about how great and expensive their gifts and dinner were. These, are the “competitors”.

Next, are couples who have been together for a long time for whom it’s no longer a big deal, but they may give a card or cook a nice dinner.

Some, pride themselves on being different. A couple of years ago, my then boyfriend and I went on a backpacking trip out to the coast. As we sat next to the driftwood fire, grilling seafood and veggies and toasting with a glass of wine as the sun set, we giggled and felt a bit sorry for those who were fighting the crowds for dinner reservations.

Some couples “refuse to be told” how and when they should celebrate their love and refuse to participate on principle. It’s just a “damn Hallmark holiday after all.” (this is really a drag when only one person in the relationship feels this way and the other would really like a token of love and respect, even a small one)

It’s all (well except for the last bit) quite amusing to watch.

What is less amusing to watch, is the reaction many single people have to Valentine’s Day.

“Bitter… Party of One…”

Some rant and rave against “the machine” while others declare it “Singles Awareness Day”. Uh, let me tell you something, we’re all well aware that you’re single, you’ve been whining about it for a week.

Seriously folks, Valentine’s Day is NOT an attack on you if you are not in a relationship.

Is it a Hallmark holiday? A contrived, cheesy effort to get people to spend their money?

Oh heck yes.

But then again, so are holidays that used to be sacred traditions.

This year, I was single for the holiday. Not for lack of suitors (there have been a few, just none who I found acceptable) by choice. I have no desperate need to find someone, anyone in order to feel “loved” on this (or any other) day.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the holiday.

I love those silly, chalky, hard as a rock heart shaped candies with silly sayings on them. (including the most recent addition of “Tweet Me”).

I love buying the first red ripe strawberries of the season from Tacoma Boys and dipping them in a decadent home made chocolate ganache to be served with cocktail shrimp and champagne. I love buying bunches of early season tulips.

But more important, I love an excuse to celebrate.

And what better to celebrate that LOVE?

Romantic love is only one type of love. There are many more that can be celebrated.

Love for family, friends, pets, nature, your version of divinity/spirit, your favorite activity, your community, neighborhood, LIFE…

The most important love of all to celebrate is love (and respect) for yourself. Seriously, how do you expect someone else to love you and treat you right if you don’t love yourself?

This means knowing that you are worthy of love and that’s it’s OK to be single.

It means knowing that you do not need to settle for a crappy relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you and that you don’t need to rush out and find some loser to date so that you’re not “alone” on the holiday.

My holiday? I spent two days visiting friends, sharing gifties and perhaps eating a bit too much chocolate and drinking quite a bit of wine.

That evening, I invited some of my lovely friends over to shower them with love and the aforementioned chocolate dipped strawberries, shrimp and champagne. Everyone left with some fresh cut tulips. (everyone deserves flowers)

Valentines Day 2011 001

Valentines Day 2011 004

It was a wonderful evening filled with friendship, laughter and love.

My sincere wish is that everyone found some form of love to honor.

It’s not too late to love your self by taking advantage of 75% off sales on chocolate 😉

~L

Mood: Content



~

In memory of Louis Mrkvicka

~
I received the news today when I stopped by my mailbox on my way home.

He died in April, but because his family had old contact information for me that I gave them in 2004 (a business card from a place I no longer work with a cell phone number I no longer have), I did not get notice until my Christmas card was replied to this week..

He died over here, on this side of the bridge, in a hospital in Seattle and I never knew.

I can’t even read the full text of his obituary or sign his guestbook because they have been archived. Yes I could pay to unarchive them, which I won’t do. I think he knows how I feel.

But I want to remember the Lou that I knew and loved, and honor the lessons he taught me, not dwell on the negative.

Louis Mrkcvicak was my “step-father in-law”

Yeah, it sounds weird, and pretty far removed from what most people consider “real family” but he taught me a lot about what “real family” is.

My family history is convoluted at best but requires some explanation (I will leave out the drama) for this relationship to make any sense.

My parents divorced when I was three years old.

I have no memory of my biological father.

I tried to find him several times growing up, asking questions of my mother resulted in being stonewalled and lied to (I knew his name and where we lived when I was born)

When I was older (in my 20’s) I was able to use some means that I won’t go into here to find him.

I learned that he was no longer in California and lived in this strange place called Sequim Washington (isn’t that near Canada?) I had our dispatcher take a polaroid picture of me in front of my ambulance and I sent him a letter. I told him that I didn’t want anything from him other than to know him and fill in the blanks of my family history.

I waited and waited and waited and did not get a response.

I thought perhaps my mother was right, that he didn’t love me, didn’t want me and was afraid that I’d want something from him (all later proved to be untrue)

I finally received a letter back, with the last name Mrkvicka on the return address.

The letter was from my step-mother (gee, didn’t know I had one) who re-married after my father died two years previously. She and Lou met at the hospice.

I lived in California at the time (1980-something) and had never heard of Sequim Washington. Heck, I had never even been to Washington.

It was in Washington that I met my stepmother Helen, and Lou.

Lou was a jolly Norwegian who was always armed with a big bear hug and an off color joke (Oh how Helen hated those jokes)

He was the perfect offset to Helen’s rather rigid and stoic nature. I was sad that I was too late to find my father when he was alive, but I did get a “step father in law” and a fine one at that.

When I was in a Colorado hospital in 1997 with a fractured spine and pelvis, it was Lou who (unknown to me) alerted all of the friends on my email list what had happened to me and encouraged them all to send me well wishes because I had sent them cheer (in the form of silly email jokes and updates) for so many years. My room was filled with flowers, candy, balloons, well wishes and stuffed animals.

It was only when a friend brought me in a printed copy of an email that I knew what Lou did.

Helen died in 2004 and I drove the icy roads from Tacoma to Sequim to attend the funeral.

I didn’t know anyone there aside from Lou.

After the service, I was feeling like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t his “blood” family.

He and his family brought me over to their table, sat me down, gave me food and told me that I was indeed family. (as it turns out, his daughter was adopted and there were all sorts of adoptions, halves, steps and other non-traditional relationships.)

I was told that my relationship with him was not “odd’, that it was normal for him and his family and that I fit right in.

Lou taught me that family is not about blood, it is about love.

That my friends, is an amazing legacy.

Rest in Peace Lou, I love you!

~L

Mood: Sad

~L



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