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We, As a People, Remember

On this 13th Anniversary of September 11th:

We, as a people, remember.

To all those grieving, all those who lost a beloved Mom, Dad, Wife, Husband, Partner, Daughter, Son, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Niece, Nephew, Cousin, friend, co-worker, pet, or acquaintance, 13 years ago in the terrorists’ acts against the United States of America – your loss is important to us; America, as a people, remember, and we grieve with you.  May you find comfort and peace in your heart and may God surround you and envelope you with loving people to comfort and uphold you today.  May you know that God holds each and every one of your precious tears in His bottle, for He cares for you and your loss.

For those of another faith, or no faith – your loss is just as important to us: America, as a people, grieves with you.  We pray that on this 13th anniversary of the terrorists’ acts against the United States of America, you find comfort and peace in your heart, and that you, too, are surrounded and enveloped with loving people to comfort and hold you up today.  You matter.  Your loss matters.

We, as a people, as Americans, open our hearts, our eyes, and our mouths today as together we shed tears and words of loss and grief.

For we, as a people, as Americans, remember.

 We, as a people, as Americans, are the United States of America – and we must unite – from sea to shining sea!  With our hearts and minds united in brotherhood, we will raise our Star Spangled Banner to yet waive!  And through our Country’s dark nights, sharing our tears and pain we’ll forge strength, and from our strength we’ll find courage; with our courage we’ll seek wisdom and fight for Truth.  And United in Truth, we shall win Liberty, Justice, and Freedom!

In the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave

The United States of America

Let Freedom Ring!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CabLh8jJ_Lk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkYu1z81Pxo

Grief Has Gripped Me Today: A Note to My Family

Grief Has Gripped Me Today: A Note to My Family

It has been 20 years since my little Tommy died, but today would have been his 30th birthday.

A milestone.

It seems it is the milestone days that still grab a hold of me;

The anniversary of the accident; his birthdays; His special days.  My special days. 

I think about him on these days and wonder, “What would Tommy think about this?” Or like today, I wonder what kind of cake and decorations would he have wanted for his big 30th birthday?  Would turning 30 have bothered him? I can’t help thinking these things.  I remember my daughter’s 30th birthday 2 years ago and how much I enjoyed plotting with her BFF.  How much I enjoyed sharing the milestone and excitement with her, by phone, texts, and pictures.  How much fun it was!! 

Memories I will cherish forever.

But today, I don’t get to do that with my son. 

This is what hurts; not getting to share these special days with my son.

It’s not that I wish he was back here on earth with me; no, I believe – I know – he is in Heaven with his father, his Papa, and his Heavenly Father and living it up, happy and fulfilling his ultimate purpose.  I am so happy for that!  I am so thankful that I don’t have to worry about him and his well-being anymore.

But I miss him! Oh how I miss him still!

 I miss having the opportunity to share these special milestone days with him. 

I miss getting to make new memories with him. 

Like the milestone of getting his driver’s license, and graduating from high school; or the fun of meeting his girlfriends and contemplating his getting married, or his actual wedding!  Or holding his new baby for the very first time – Lord, I’ll never have that sweet, precious blessing.  All these precious memories I didn’t/won’t get to make and keep with my sweet little boy, Tommy. 

Who would have been 30 years old today.

That’s what I grieve for – the missed memories.

The promise of each of those sweet, life-bringing memories, whispers through your heart the moment you lay your eyes on that tiny, fresh new miracle for the very first time.  He takes his first breath outside of your warm protecting womb and your Mommy hopes and dreams take breath and soar! You are that little exquisite miracle’s Mommy!

When you lose that child, a part of yourself leaves too.  But you’re still left cradling that exquisite little box inside of you that holds all those sweet promises of life giving memories that are yet to come. 

But when the memory-making day comes, or the days that should have been memory-making days, you can’t seem to comprehend; your heart cannot understand – because the reason for that special day is somehow not here; he was – but somehow now he’s gone!  There’s no life or breath to give to that memory.  That memory that you looked so forward to, now will never be.

That is what a grieving Mommy grieves for. Not to have her beloved child back to suffer on this earth – no!  But to have life breathed back into that little box of memories, to live and experience each of those exquisite little promises with that beautiful little miracle that was her child. 

To keep making and living those life-giving memories secretly promised the day he was born.

 

Yes, grief has gripped me today.

But I have pulled out my exquisite little box of memories already made and am filling up with the life-breath they are breathing into me.  I’m smiling and my heart is glad!

And then I sob.

My heart is overwhelmed and begins to break apart again. 

And I sob.

But then I remember – I have these memories.  And they can be enough.

I feel relief. 

The burden, swollen and heavy, is lightened once again.

And I cry again.

But it’s ok. 

Because I know I need to cry – tears to relieve the hurting, to release once again the broken promise of what this day might have been; to help me accept what my box of memories will now never hold.

So, tears go ahead and fall.  Yes, at first you were Pain, but now you are Healing.

Each of you land in a broken part of me and with enough of you given, you‘ll hold me together again.  And I‘ll live and breathe and smile once again.

Yes, I am different; there are scars from the loss.  But with time they fade and don’t hurt as much. 

So, please let me cry to relieve the hurt.  And remember those memory days – will be the worst.  If my child was still here, today would be all about him, so allow me to spend today in memory of him.  And please remember that when he died, he didn’t cease being the child I birthed.  For in my little exquisite box of memories called Tommy, there are 9 full years of promises fulfilled; 9 full years of dreams come true; 9 full years of the life and love that was Tommy; 9 full years of me being that little exquisite boy’s Mommy!

So let me grieve a little – or a lot – for a little boy full of love.  Let me release those built up tears that will heal my wound.  Remember, that like a broken bone, time heals, but still leaves a scar, and on a cold winter’s day, that scar will ache.  So like an athlete, we must adjust and make allowances for those cold winter days and that cold winter ache. 

So, yes, I’ll have cold winter days and my scar will ache, but I’ll pull out my warm little box of memories and breathe them in.  My tears will fall, but when my heart warms with memories, the cold ache will fade.  And I’ll smile again – until the next cold winter’s day.

Mindy, Tiffany, Tommy cropped

With Sissy

Yes, grief will grip me from time to time, but with your tender understanding – I’ll be fine.  

Tommy's First Day Home comp

First Day Home

Mountains of Love

Many of us have specific days, weeks, or months each year, which commemorate a life, a death, an event in our lives, which each year catch our hearts, our breath, our thoughts, and makes life tough to get through for that day, week, month.  After much time, many years maybe, these days get a little easier to get through, yes, sometimes we can even carry on with just the vague remembrance pushed to the back of our minds.  But do our hearts ever forget that day, week, month, completely? No.

But, yes, we can get to a point where these days, weeks, months bring mostly a fond remembrance, a sweet tug at our heart, a quiet but nice time of reflection on what used to be.

Beginning today, July 6th, begins a day and a week such as this for my family.  It was a July 6th that my children’s Daddy, Tommy Joe Pruett, died when he ran his pick-up truck off the road and crashed.  Because he was a Purple Heart Decorated Vietnam Veteran, with subsequent, sometimes severe PTSD, the days after his crash were filled with questions on how/why he ran off that road.  No real answers ever came.  And after much deliberation and grief, the family decided to wait and bury him on July 11th, which was my son’s, Tommy Joe Pruett II, birthday – my son who died in a tragic school bus accident some years previously.  In our minds, this would be sort of a birthday present to my son in Heaven, to officially give his Daddy back to him on his birthday.

This was the one little scrap of joy we could pull out of the desperately sad situation, to place in our desperately hurting hearts, to help us cope.

                Looking back on that time, 13 years ago, I see the grief filled eyes, I feel the numbing pain of disbelief – yes – BUT – I also see the LOVE; the mountains of love between a family and the lifetime of friends, gathered to mourn, but also to love – to love the grieving hearts through the difficult days.  I see the love of a family for their beloved son, husband, father.

Today, and this week, I choose to remember that love– that beautiful love of a family, of a community, of a life I once lived – and loved.  I choose not to remember the questions, the discrepancies, the disagreements and turmoil.  I will remember the Pruett Family with love and gratefulness for the years they held me in love, within their family.  And though this week I will grieve with them, for 2 beloved family members, I will also rejoice with them in the time God gave me – us – with my first husband, Tommy, and my son, Tommy II.

Yes, this week I wrap myself up in the

 Mountains of Love ❤

 

Live Heartily and Freely but…

Good Sunday Morning to you all!

IMG_5054 cropped

Sunny Spring Daffodils!

     I hope you are having a nice weekend so far, enjoying the refreshing, eye-popping spring colors budding and blooming everywhere!  What’s in your plans for the day? A glorious nothing, relaxing, unwinding from a busy week?  Maybe reading a good book, trying out a new recipe, or going for a nice long walk? Or maybe you might take in a museum, a good movie, or try a delicious new restaurant…

Hmmmm…..So many possibilities….

     As I contemplate all these fun possibilities, I can’t help but think of all the latest news headlines around the world today; the fighting, wars and inhumanities overseas, the stifled and persecuted people, all the political back biting and mudslinging going on here in the States – yuk! Heartache and irritation; compassion and rejection, sympathy and dislike, affirmation and disbelief, all these emotions and feelings swirling around inside me, all at the same time, ugghh – overwhelming to say the least!

    But, in thinking of all that, do you agree that we, as a people, should be interested, if not actively involved in our national as well as international affairs, in order to plan realistically for our own futures?

Another hmmmmm…  But wait – no, I’m not going to get all political on you today.  (whew!)

     However, today, I am contemplating this:  There is definitely something to be said for kicking back, relaxing, and forgetting about all that is going on in our lives and in the world, and having some fun.  Sometimes we need that sort of disassociation from all the stress, to unwind and rejuvenate, right?  But when we are not in times of rejuvenating our minds and bodies, should we spend our days in awareness of, and being sensitive to what is happening around us?  And should we temper our attitudes and/or behaviors accordingly?

Me and Sunny in NYC!

Mindy and Sunny in NYC

Or do we live or lives how we like – doing and pursuing what makes us feel good?

Eating an authentic NYC soft pretzel

Eating an authentic NYC soft pretzel

 

 

 

 

 

This question brings to mind my trip to New York City the first weekend after the devastating hurricane hit NYC and the Eastern coast.  It was the weekend of the highly touted annual New York City Marathon and I met my niece, Sunny, there to watch her run in the race.  As it turned out, after we arrived along with thousands of other runners, the race was cancelled.  Though we were seriously disappointed the race was cancelled, we decided to do some sightseeing.  We were going to be stuck there for the weekend and it was New York City, after all!!

Me and Cyndi - rabbit ears

Fun in the NYC Subway I love my Sissy ❤

In the spirit of touristy excitement, I, my niece, and her mother (my beloved wonderful sissy that I don’t get to see very often)

Holding on for dear life in Subway edit

Holding on for dear life on my novice Subway ride! Hehe

happily boarded the subway train to take in the sights of Times Square. We were, of course, jubilant and goofy, laughing and playing around, taking photos, experiencing the NYC subway for the very first time.

     What we didn’t realize at first was the subway system had been down since the hurricane and only a few select trains were now in operation.  The train we were on was packed to the gills.  But as we looked around us – I mean – as we took notice of those people around us – we began to realize they were not happy, they were not even smiling.  As a matter of fact, as we discreetly surveyed them, we realized they were not only not smiling; some were looking rather hostile at us.

Some had looks of grief, some utter despair.

And they all looked exhausted.

Many looked as if they had been in the same clothes for days.

Many looked as if they hadn’t showered for days.

They looked like refugees from a war zone.

      The thing was, the City was in major turmoil.  The hurricane had devastated a vast area of the City.  Thousands of people were now homeless or unable to access their homes.  Power was out, water was contaminated.  Many were hungry, unable to access food.  Aid was there, but they had to be able to get to it.  With the subway system down, and so much of the City dependent upon it, so many were left without food, water, and shelter.

      As we rode to our stop, we sobered.  We began to talk with a few NYC residents on the train.  We began to hear about the devastation.

We heard the despair in their voices.

We saw the pain and fatigue in their eyes.

We had no idea.

     I think we believed that because the Mayor initially chose to go ahead with the Marathon, things weren’t that bad – that if they were, the Mayor would have cancelled the Marathon before registration even began.  But we were wrong.  Understandably, the Mayor thought the City needed the huge revenue the Marathon brings in each year, in order to help fund the hurricane recovery.  However, once the Marathon masses converged on the City, it was clear the City could not adequately handle or cope with them.

All of the City’s resources needed to be concentrated and given to its citizens. 

They were in desperate need.

This was a time for humanitarian aid, for sensitive, life sustaining care.

Not for entertaining visitors.

     We, as well as thousands of others didn’t realize this when we first arrived.  But it didn’t take long to figure it out, and most of the marathoners immediately pitched in and spent the weekend helping wherever they could.

      But on the subway that Friday, as my sister, my niece, and I realized the devastation these people were experiencing, we had to temper our behavior.  Yes, we wanted to be carefree and enjoy what we could of our weekend in New York City, who knew if we would ever get back here, but we had to take the feelings of these precious but overwhelmed people into consideration.  We needed to have compassion for their suffering.

Laughing and playing around on the subway became inappropriate.

Being sober and considerate became right.

      So, in reflection, this leads back to my earlier question:

     When we are not in times of respite or rejuvenation, should we spend our days in awareness of, or being mindful or sensitive toward what is happening with those around us?  And should we temper our attitudes and/or behaviors accordingly, even if that means missing out on something ourselves?

     I think this verse answers that question beautifully:

As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too. Colossians 3:17 (The Message)

     So, in conclusion, my thought for today would have to be this: that whatever I decide to do, I will make good use of the free time I have, living heartily, enjoying the freedoms I have been given and being thankful for them.  And at the same time, I will make it important to be mindful of those around me, being thoughtful and considerate of their situation and feelings, and not carelessly stepping on their toes or causing them further discomfort or harm.

 Will you join me in this goal?

 ‘Til next time,

Love and blessings-  Mindy

some of our NYC fun pictures
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2541266746800.68816.1707650748&type=1&l=1d35cfca3d

Me at Rock Center Ice Rink from Sunny

Beautiful Rock Center Ice Rink

Candy is a girl's best friend!

Candy is a girl’s best friend! At least at Dylan’s 🙂

The Brooklyn Tabernacle! We attended a glorious Sunday Service

On the NYC streets Fun with Characters

Getting a hug from the NYC Characters!

117 com

Sunny is registered for the NYC Marathon!

Bloomingdales

Wow! Bloomingdales! Let’s go shopping!!

 

 

 

 

Good Grief – What to Say and NOT to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

     This morning I find my heart very heavy for dear friends who lost a beloved niece and nephew Thursday in a tragic car accident.  Just 12 and 16 years old.  Their only children.  What to say to them?

     And we’ve had another Ft. Hood shooting this week.  Tragic and heartbreaking.

     And many other losses continue; military, gangs, illness, etc.  So much grief in our lives today.  And reality is that each of us will, at some point in our lives, either experience the loss of a dear loved one, or find ourselves trying to comfort someone else who has.  What in the world do we say, or what do we do in trying to help or comfort someone who is grieving?

     With these emotions heavy on my mind this morning, I am reminded of when my own son died in a tragic school bus accident; the terrible, desperate need for comfort, and the loving but uncomfortable hesitance of those around who longed to provide comfort to me and my family.

     It is never easy to see the pain and anguish of a heart deep in grief.  And for most, it is not easy to attempt comforting those wandering through this engulfing pain.  But having wandered through that darkness myself, and finally emerging on the side of daylight once again, be it a little dimmer, I put down words of helpful suggestion for talking to and helping those experiencing grief.  I have inserted this article below.  I pray you never have to wander this path of pain yourself, but hope these suggestions will help you feel more comfortable when helping someone who is.

With a full heart,

Mindy

GOOD GRIEF: WHAT TO SAY AND WHAT NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS GRIEVING

              Have you ever found yourself struggling to say the right thing to someone who has lost a loved one?  Maybe you were afraid your words might make them feel worse or make them cry?  Rest assured, you are not alone.  Expressing your sympathy to someone who is grieving can be awkward and uncomfortable.  With a few simple guidelines, however, thoughtful words of sympathy can be sincerely expressed.

     To begin, we must first realize that there is nothing we can say or do that will make a bereaved person feel better or hurt less.  Grief is not merely an emotion we feel, nor is it something we simply get over.  Rather, the loss of a loved one is an ever present emptiness we somehow learn to live with.  Consider Sigmund Freud’s insightful words:

      “We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else.”

      In my experience, Freud’s words proved true indeed.  In grieving the loss of my little boy to a tragic school bus accident when he was only nine, there were no words or actions which could ease the gaping wound in my heart.  However, in the midst of my deepest mourning, a sincere hug and “I am so sorry for your loss”, or “I am praying for you” were very comforting.

     Listed below is a helpful guideline focused on words frequently said to the bereaved which I found to be either comforting and helpful, or confusing and hurtful.

 Things You Might Say to Someone Who is Grieving

If you are comfortable with the grieving person, then make eye contact, touch them, take his or her hand or give a sincere hug as you say:

  • “My condolences to you”, “I am so sorry for your loss”, “I am so sorry your son died.”

If you don’t know the person well, or are afraid you might break down and make their pain worse, try to be simple, open and sincere when you say,

  • “I don’t know what to say, but please know how sorry I am that your _______ died.”  “Please know I care.” 
  • “I can’t imagine what you are feeling.”  “(Name of deceased) was a wonderful person.  He/She will be deeply missed.”  It is important to validate the loved one’s life, as well as the grief felt in the loss of that loved one’s life.
  • If you are a close family member, you might wrap the grieving person in your arms and hold them as they cry.  Share their grief.  Affirm their grief.  I remember lying on the couch with my head in my mother’s lap, as she stroked my hair, softly encouraging me as I cried.  This had a great calming and soothing affect on my utter desperation and anxiety and feeling of drowning in a sea of pain.

 Beyond What To Say: What to Do

  • Time permitting; relate a fond memory of the loved one, using the loved one’s name.
  • If you visit the grieving person in their home, and have pictures of their loved one, take an envelope of the picture(s) and leave it on the table for the guests to linger over, or the grieving one to look at and hold onto when they are ready.
  • Listen intently as the grieving person talks.  The grieving heart often hungers for words of the loved one and rejoices in telling personal memories.
  • Be sensitive to his or her faith.  This is not the time for theological arguments.  Do tell them you will be praying for them if you genuinely intend to. Knowing that others were praying for me and my family was great comfort to us.
  • Offer to perform specific tasks for them such as providing groceries or meals, feeding pets, running errands, doing household chores, returning messages, helping make arrangements, etc.   Especially during the first few weeks, simple tasks can be overwhelming to the bereaved.

 Things NOT  to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

  • “Shhhh, don’t cry, everything is going to be ok”  while patting them on the back. Please don’t do this.  Everything is not going to be ok for them, not for a long time.  Try to understand this and let them grieve.
  • “Don’t cry.  No matter how uncomfortable or sad their crying makes you feel, it is only through their thousands of tears that healing begins.  It is okay to gently cry along with them.
  • I know how you feel.”  Even if you have suffered a similar loss, it is better simply to say, “I know the pain of losing a child, husband, wife, etc.”  If asked, then briefly relate your story.  Hearing someone else’s story of loss helped me to not feel so alone in my suffering; but only when I was ready to hear it.
  • “He’s in a better place now.” or “It was God’s will.” or “She’s better off now.” or “God must have needed another angel.”  These words make the bereaved feel as if there should be no reason to grieve.  I needed my grief – to me, it was all I had left of my son, and I needed to envelope myself in it until I was emotionally able to say goodbye to him.
  • Again, be sensitive to their faith; saying that their loved one “is a beautiful angel in heaven now” will offend and anger those who don’t believe that, and make their grief worse.
  • “It’s ok, you can have more children.” or “You’re young, you can learn to love again,” or “It’s good that you were too young to understand.”  These are cruel words that can strip away the importance that the loved one held.   Having another child can never replace the one lost.  And no matter your age, a loss remains a loss, for the rest of your life.
  • “Get over it.” or “Get a grip.” or “It’s time to get on with your life.”  For the bereaved, life has stopped.  Those words will only make them feel guilty, fearful, and angry

When contemplating words of sympathy to the bereaved, please understand that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  There is no set timetable or pattern within the stages of grief, which are: shock and numbness, denial, guilt, pain and deep sorrow, anger, depression, and acceptance.  Each of these stages is normal and essential to healing, and the order and duration of each stage will vary.  Any stage may be visited many times during the grieving process.  Some may need professional counselling to help them cope.  This is normal and acceptable.

In reflection of losing her brother and later her father, my daughter Tiffany stated, Sometimes it wasn’t so much about what they said, it was about them being there, supporting me, letting me talk.  Sometimes I just wanted someone to sit with me.  Her words sum it up perfectly.  If you find yourself at a loss for words, remember – a human touch, soft eye contact, and just being there to listen will always be the right comfort.

 

I'm so handsome!

I’m so handsome!