Wednesday, November 2, 2016

More Than 1000 Words

Upon seeing this picture, my first thought (after I'd wiped away the tears that immediately sprang forth and blurred my vision) was, I want to post that picture.

My second thought was, I can't do that. It's too personal and there's too much sorrow wrapped up in it and it's not a pretty picture really.

My third thought was, screw that. Why are we so quick to brush away sadness? Why are we so quick to cover up what might not be beautiful? We do it all the time, especially on social media. We post pictures of delicious food, cute animals, adorable children, ourselves - all made up and ready to party, and gorgeous nature scenes. We post pictures that make reality seem miles better than it often is. Even in speech, it's "Doing well. Life is good. Here's a joke; now laugh."

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. I'm all about positive thought and affirmation. I do it all the time, partly because it feels better to be upbeat than to dwell on harsh stuff I can't change, but mostly because I love to make people smile. If I can make 'em laugh... so much the better. But, there are times when reality is right there, front and center, and there's no way to tap dance around it - which brings me back to the picture.

To me, this picture, as difficult as it is for me to look at, is beautiful. The man in the middle is my baby brother, John. He is two and a half years my junior. He's the guy who is responsible for about 80% of the fun in my childhood. He's always been there for me, always loved me, always had a way to pull me up out of a mood. He is a man who has been battling a brain tumor for over two years and is now in hospice care, nearly at the end of that fight. Hence, the sorrow. Hence the unfathomable reason for what feels like a load of bricks sitting on my heart.

Oh, but the beauty in this picture - the sheer love of his wife, Linda, seated at his side, the devotion in the eyes of our big sister, Nancy, peering up from the top, the spirited youth of his eldest son, Garrett. I see so much strength in this picture. I see great love. I see the tremendous spirit of my family, generations of my family, a family that has never backed down when things were tough or taken no for an answer. I see a man who, all his life, gave everything to make sure everyone around him was comfortable and happy, being given back those things in return. Where some might see weakness and (let's just say it) death, I see power.

You see, this is what happens when we're not so quick to brush aside what first appears... oh... less than. If we take time to look, we see beauty. If we bother to listen, we hear the music in the discordant thrum. If we sit for a moment and let all of it wash over us, we find that we are soaked with the whole truth of it.

I cherish this picture because it reminds me how much I love the moments, each of the moments. All of them. All of the moments together, that's who I am. I hope - some very distant day, may it please the gods - when loved ones are sitting at my side as I wander off to some loftier plane... I hope they will see the beauty in that moment and in all the rest of the moments that brought me there.


  1. Barb I am in awe of these words and the feelings they have caused in me to discover, resurface, define, refine, accept, embrace...

  2. Once again, you've woven together the right words to make tangible what so many of struggle to express. From the profound sadness of this situation, you've distilled the essential beauty of what lies behind the obvious... and eloquently laid out how the love and pain and hope are all intertwined.

    I ache for your loss -- but rejoice in how you allowed me to know it so intimately & brought me the gift of being able to see my own truths in your message.

    Jeff F.

  3. Love and loss . . . life and longing. Know you are loved, my friend.

  4. There is power in your words. Power in the love you share with others. Power in your family, clearly.
    I hope your sadness brings you full circle in time.

  5. Sending prayers for your brother and family.

  6. It's a difficult door to walk through, but it's just a door. Brightest Blessings to you and yours my friend.

  7. ((hugs ))
    oh to share all the messiness of life and death
    I know exactly what you mean having lost two siblings in the past 4 years , amazing all the emotions that flow through us
    may the laughter, the joy, the memories, fill all the spaces between the sorrows, may the strength he gave you then be the strength you use now during this new path he walks
    may the laughter you shared always find you and warm your heart
    and may his spirit always touch yours

  8. Your words are both eloquent and powerful. One can only hope that this event brings your family even closer together, if possible, and that the Love you speak of is shared among all involved now and for each generation to come.

  9. Barb, my sweet, beautiful and brilliant friend, I'm so very sorry. I've lived through these moments with my late husband. You described it so well. There is power and strength amid the fear and sadness. We absorb more acceptance of the inevitable as our loved one arranges their change of address. We wish for peace with no more pain. We give permission to ourselves and to our loved one to begin the move. That takes incredible strength and selflessness.

    You are in my heart...<3

  10. Sending prayers and the peace of understanding for your brother, you and your family.

  11. Barb, your words have said what all of us wish they could in a situation like this. So well translated from emotion to words! Here's praying for you, my dear sweet of heart.

  12. You write so beautifully, Barb, and you capture the myriad of feelings evoked by the photo and the circumstances behind it. While death is indeed not "pretty", love is beautiful and that is what it's all about. Hugs to you and prayers for you and your family as you get through this difficult time.

  13. Your words are so beautifully written my dear friend. You know I know and I love you more Barb!