Monday, March 4, 2013

February and Joy - SOLC #4

My OLW for this year was "JOY".  Inspired by our friend, Ruth, I wanted to look for the joy in as many moments as I could.  But I have to tell you, parts of the month of February made that very difficult to do.

My father-in-law was rushed to the emergency room on Jan. 31, and by the next day, Feb. 1, things had progressed to a place where he left the hospital, and moved to an end-of-life facility (very hospice-like).  He was there for six days before dying.  His funeral was Feb. 11, two days shy of the anniversary of his wife's death eight years ago on Feb. 13.

As I worked very hard to comfort my husband (an only child, who shouldered this entire burden) and my two daughters, who were very close to their grandfather, I really struggled with the word joy.  A few weeks removed from these sad events has given me perspective, however.  I'm not sure "joy" is the word that leaps to mind, but I do know that my heart is full of "gratitude" for many reasons:
  • Dad's suffering wasn't prolonged.  That is always reason for gratitude.
  • The end-of-life facility, Kobacker House, was a true gift to us as a family.  From the nurses who took such good care of him, to the doctors who made sure he was never in discomfort, to the aides who bathed and talked to Dad, to the custodial staff who cleaned his room, to the chaplain who would listen to my husband tell numerous stories about his dad and growing up, to the social worker who smoothed the way for us financially -- we will never be able to tell them all how very much we appreciated their kindness.
  • We are blessed to have so many caring relatives, friends, and coworkers who were willing to make a 6 hour round-trip just to let us know they cared and to pay their final respects to Dad.  We are so grateful to have you all in our lives.
  • Our family and friends that actually live in Youngstown; you stood by our side during a very difficult time.  
  • My brother for being a hero - one of the girls had left something at the hotel she wanted to place in the casket before it was closed forever. He thought nothing of heeding my frantic request to drive 20 minutes back to the hotel to retrieve this very precious item minutes before the prayer ceremony at the funeral home.
  • My college roommate for being there throughout this entire ordeal - what would I do without her?!!  She was my go-to person for over a week during the time Dad was at Kobacker House - she brought us food to eat during our time there up until the day of the funeral, where her presence and hugs meant the world.  She and her husband dropped everything to be there for us.  She still continues to check in regularly.  I do feel both joy and gratitude that she is my friend.
  • My husband wrote the most beautiful eulogy for his dad - I cry every time I read it. He couldn't stand up and deliver it, but he made multiple copies of this tribute to his dad.  What a gift of words he gave to his dad and to us as he celebrated his life.
  • All the cards of caring and sympathy that people sent.  I will never underestimate the importance of this small gesture.  We were very appreciative for each of those cards.
  • And there is joy knowing how peacefully Dad left this world and went to the next.  I know he and Mom T are together now, and that brings me peace.
So, no, joy isn't a word that comes to mind.  And the healing is still a work in process.  But, my heart is full of gratitude right now.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting us again for the Slice of Life Challenge.  Head on over there to find out what other "slicers" have to say each and every day.


  1. Your gratitude is a form of joy. I just found this on "a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated:" You are not feeling keen pleasure or delight which we normally equate joy with. However, you are greatly valuing or appreciating things and lots of someones. I'm glad you chose writing to help your own process when you have to be strong for so many others. Take care.

  2. Karen, I'm so sorry for your loss. You are right, "joy" would be hard to find right now. But I like how you looked for small moments of gratitude in the midst of your grief. Take care of yourself.

  3. This is beautiful, Karen. Finding joy in these situations is hard, but knowing it is there to uncover will make future difficulties a little easier to bear.

  4. I am sorry to hear of such a dear loss, but feel so fulfilled just reading how richly you were blessed to not walk that journey alone. There is something about being so surrounded by community during times like this, that truly is joyful, if you consider that joy can so easily counter pain, fear, and loneliness. While it may not have been jumping kinds of joy, it seems as though it was a subtle joy that lives as grains of peace and comfort when we most need it. Blessings to you and your family as you continue to heal!

  5. Karen, So sorry about your loss. Joy will come in the morning…

  6. Even in times like this, joy does ambush you here and there. The contrast is stark and sometimes you feel such guilt for experiencing it. Know it will show up. Accept it when it comes. I know I was frustrated that life seemed to continue on it's regular course while I have grieved, but as painful as that was, that is where those moments of joy showed up. I'll be thinking about you and your family and your OLW.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss, Karen. I admire you for your perspective, the fact that you were able to find the comfort in the actions and words of those around you. February is a tough month for me too, for much the same reasons. My father passed away on February 11th of last year, and the year before that my sister passed on the 21st. I understand how important the love of friends, family, even acquaintances can during a time like this. Last year, my fellow slicers were an amazing source of strength for me. I hope that this will be true for you too this month.