l Vol. 1 Issue 1, Spring 1997 Contents l Vol. 1 Issue 2, Summer 1997 Contents l Vol. 1 Issue 3, Autumn 1997 Contents l
Sena Foundation was establised in 1985 and ten years ago in March of 1987, Sena published it's first magazine. It is fitting that we inaugurate our first webmagazine, ten years later, with the following article written by Sena's Founder and Director, for that first magazine. It expresses the same sentiments about that first magazine as about our first webmagazine now. So, as you read, substitute the word webmagazine for magazine.
Remembrance by Bill Schaefer
It is rare in a lifetime to watch a dream become reality. So often our dreams remain elusive, somehow always just beyond reach. Some dreams linger with us lifelong; others sadly die a bornin'. But sometimes dreams become real. To see it happen, to be involved in the birth, to watch a dream take on a life of its own, is to experience a unique and fulfilling joy. The experience itself draws attention to the balance and order we long for in our external life. To realize the dream, to allow it to live, forces us to nurture and guide the dream, to allow it to find its own direction. It is a lesson in being responsible for those things which need our attention, and in letting go of and in grieving for those things which we cannot, should not, try to control. The process is a joy and a lesson. So it has been with Sena Foundation and this magazine. Just as all Sena Foundation programs seek to share, so this magazine will become a vehicle not only for us to share with you but also for you to share with us a safe, compassionate place to share our fears and angers as well as our joys, our lessons.
Recently I was standing in a funeral home with a grandma and her two teenage grandchildren. Before us on a gurney was grandpa, who had died suddenly the night before. He was covered to the neck with a white sheet and was without makeup. He was to be cremated and we were there to say goodbye. The four of us were alone in the room. The room was silent. Grandma had wept but now was quiet, looking down on her husband of forty years. After a long time she reached down and patted his cheek, then bent and kissed him. "Goodbye." Then she stood aside. The grandchildren, a boy and a girl, stood still, looking at their grandpa. I had seen the grandma give them permission to come here to say goodbye. She had allowed them to come without making them feel they had to come. I had seen them over the course of several hours decide that, yes, this was what they wanted. As they stood without tears but with sorrow, I saw them each decide (without the distress of "This is what I should do") how each needed to say goodbye. A minute, maybe more, passed. Then the boy leaned over his grandpa and kissed him on the forehead. "Goodbye, Papo," he said. And the girl then kissed him and said sadly, with resignation, "Goodbye, Papo." We were quiet for some time before we left. In the days that passed since then I have been amazed at how this loving grandma was able to allow her grandchildren to choose their grief style. She is a country lady, old and tough, who lives simply in a log cabin. Yet she knew. It reminded me that what we need to do in our grief, in all our struggles, we already know. We have just forgotten. Our lessons are all lessons in remembering. Our sharing with each other simply reminds us of what we already know.
That is the original dream of Sena Foundation: to create safe places for us to share, to remind and remember. I have experienced the birth of this dream. For two years the Sena staff has acted as midwife. Sena Foundation is alive. This magazine will be a significant aspect of its voice. But the voice which now speaks of new life will also serve to give us direction in the future , a future which can, with our balanced attention, allow Sena Foundation and this magazine to be not only a reflection of the original dream but an ever,unfolding dream in a constant state of rebirth and growth.
This we can do together.
Reprinted from first Sena Magazine --March 1987 ©Bill Schaefer, 1987-97
Sena Magazine Masthead
"Sharing" by Marj Massey, An Introduction by our founding editor
"Seasons Change" by Dick Richie
"The Greatest Loss of All" by Jean Moneyhon
"Quality of Life" by Jean Moneyhon
"Annar's Dream"a meditation by Lee Schaefer
"Meditation on Metamorphosis"a poem by Jean Jones Anderson
" Joe" a poem by Mark Reil
"New Hope" by Jean Moneyhon
A Biography - Jean Moneyhon by Jean Jones Andersen
MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTORS... Jean Andersen, Marj Massey, Mischelle Messenger, Jean Moneyhon, Dick Ritchie, Lee Schaefer. Publisher: Sena Foundation, 306 George St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401 (703) 373-2311.
COPYRIGHT 1987 - 1997...Permission to reproduce art or text in any form should be requested from the individual author/artist, or from Sena Foundation, at the Fredericksburg address above.
Spring is a symbol of regeneration; the dormancy of winter is ended: life bursts forth internally and externally. The day of my husband's death was for me a springtime experience with an eternal message. If marriages can be labeled typical, our was -- he had his desires; I had mine; we struggled to accommodate and advise each other. Mostly the advice was more to satisfy the one offering the advice than it was to help the one receiving it. There seemed to be so much safety in control. But on the last day of my husband's earthly existence, when everything seemed so out of his or my personal control, there was present a spirit of regeneration, a love that had nothing to do with desires. Obviously his condition was deteriorating, and the care-giving was about to be precipitated by that fact into more concentrated involvement that would have to include full or part-time help. We were both fatigued. Perhaps it was weariness that propelled us into seeing each other unconditionally. That last day we had no more agendas for each other, but we had a lot of appreciation and respect. Neither of us demanded, "I want it thus!" Instead we declared through our words and actions an overpowering, non-judgmental concern which was the forgiveness of perceptions and the acceptance of life as it is. It was a shared experience -- overwhelming and deeply spiritual like spring coming forth out of winter's magical austerity. In reflection I see that without the winter there could have been no spring, and I would not have missed that spring, not for anything in this world.
©Marj Massey,1992 - 1997
Seasons Change by Dick Ritchie
Here in Fredericksburg they say, "If you don't
like the weather, hang around a while. It'll change." There are times
when one day is cloudy, windy and cold, and the next day is sunny, calm
It seems to me life is a lot like the weather. It seems as if some of the seasons that are harsh, bitter and cold may never end. It keeps raining all the time! I've had to struggle through a few of those tough seasons--particularly when I was losing my parents to failing health and I knew that it wouldn't be long until death took them from me.
Dad was strong and healthy almost all of his life. It seemed that he wasn't sick a day in his life until he suffered a heart attack. He even bounced back quickly to good health. But the cancerous tumor that grew in his brain was too much for him. The operation was not a success. Dad died six months later.
During that time I saw this strong, proud, independent man who used to help others, turn into a weak, defeated person who had to depend on others to help him do even the smallest tasks. I hated to see him like that. I know it broke his heart, too. I thank God for my sister, who quit her job to care for Dad during that difficult time. It was almost a blessing for everyone, especially Dad, when he died. He's better off in heaven.
My sister and I then had to care for Mom. As her health deteriorated and she could no longer live alone, we had to make the agonizing decision to place her in a nursing home. I had always thought that I would bring Mom to my house to live with our family. She had always expected that is what we would do. But, when it came down to time to do it, the idea just wasn't practical. I had to consider not only the wishes of my family at home but also other practical aspects.
I felt a lot of guilt about putting Mom in a nursing home, even though I did exhaustive research to find the very best facility and we all agreed it would be the best thing to do for everyone involved. We never told Mom that we had to sell her home to pay for the nursing home care. It would have broken her heart and spirit.
My dear sister saw her almost every day. I drove up to Pennsylvania as often as possible to visit. The last words Mom said before she died of pneumonia in a hospital bed were "thank you."
Those were the two worst "winter seasons" of my life. I've experienced several "autumns" that were easier to take. Everyone has periods in life that include little hurts and setbacks. We usually get over those slightly difficult days of little troubles without too much of a problem. I truly believe in the power of prayer and that God helps us make it through those tough seasons of life. As time passes, there always seems to be a "spring season" that follows. Days are brighter, you feel warm again. Those winds of life that tossed you around are calmer. Perhaps you see a few flowers blooming that make you see some real beauty in life.
I've taken great pride in accomplishments of my son and daughter. It has made me feel good to see them doing well. Perhaps you'll be offered a new job or a new challenge that looks like it would be enjoyable. Things happen that give you hope that the coming days will be better.
Oh thank God for summertime! The wonderful, glorious seasons of your life when the sun shines brightly, you feel warm all over, and you enjoy the little breezes. You get a vacation from your struggles. You get to relax and enjoy some fun! You change your locale and explore new territory, head for the more pleasant places, the beach or the mountains. Perhaps you experience the joy of falling in love. Perhaps it's with the same terrific person you've loved for years. Life is wonderful! You don't have a worry in the world. I've enjoyed my fair share of super summertimes. God has richly blessed me with an abundance of summer sunshine: most notably, a wonderful woman who shares all those "seasons of life" with me and makes me happy. But don't tell my wife! Just kidding. Actually, I am, of course, referring to my wife of 31 years. I've also been blessed with two wonderful children and many other people who really care about me. They help me through those tough seasons of fall and winter and into the spring and summer of life.
So, if you're struggling through one of those dreary, cold, tough winters of your life, remember that saying, "If you don't like the weather, hang around a while. It'll change." Here's hoping you enjoy lots of summer seasons.
©Dick Richie 1992 - 1997
Five years ago, I lost my mother. She died prematurely. She was a young, vibrant woman of only 59. She and all those she loved were robbed of the rest of her life. At age 57, Mom went into the hospital for relatively minor surgery. She was going to have an artificial blood vessel implanted in her leg to improve the circulation. When she walked into the hospital, she was a proud, independent, high-spirited woman who had raised six daughters and had then worked her way up to a manager's position in a local variety store. I think now that she had had a premonition about her own future because, before the surgery, in early October, she invited me to the house and showed me where everyone's Christmas presents were hidden, "just in case anything happened." I teased her and made light of it, of course, but later I regretted that. Mom's operation went beautifully, but it was all down hill from there. Within days, the implanted blood vessel had failed and become infected, her foot turned gangrenous and was amputated, and she had a heart attack from the undetected blood clots formed after the surgery. Within weeks, she had been pronounced "as good as dead," had been rushed by emergency vehicle to a larger hospital, had had both legs amputated above the knees, and had a stroke which left her without speech, with only partial eyesight, and totally paralyzed on one entire side of her body--or what was left of it. In only a few weeks, she had been rendered a completely helpless, bed-ridden invalid. The doctors sent her home saying they "couldn't do any more for her." They thought she would die soon. My dad called his six daughters together, and we made out a caretaking and nursing schedule. All seven of us took turns caring for her 24 hours a day. We gave her medications, spoon-fed her meals, bathed her, and turned her every few hours to prevent pressure sores. Her amputation wounds healed. She learned to eat again, with help. She learned to communicate with a few garbled sounds and gestures with her one good hand. And, her fears of falling and dread of dying subsided somewhat. For months, she healed and progressed, surrounded by her husband, children and grandchildren. It was a very tender time for all of us. We had many quiet, loving moments and hours. There was nothing Mom loved more than having a grandbaby placed on the bed next to her to talk to and touch and smell and love. But, all the hours were not this lovely. There were also very hard, gut-splitting, heart-wrenching moments. Her stroke and disabilities had left her somewhat impaired mentally and personality-wise. She had times of fear, sheer frustration and real anger. There were times when she would be depressed and afraid or mean and belligerent. Sometimes, she lashed out at the very loved ones who cared for her. Her pain in her legs was almost unbearable most of the time (we later found out that this was due to nerve damage, a complication of the amputations). It was clear to all of us that she was humiliated and suffering. Both her body and spirit seemed broken. As I cared for her during each of my turns, I realized that I had a real opportunity here. I had the opportunity to feed her and wipe her chin when she drooled, just as she had done for me not so many years ago. I had the opportunity to bathe and lift and dry and powder her body, just as she had done for me not so many years ago. And, I had the opportunity to sit with her and hold her and rock with her, just as she had done for me not so many years ago. I had the opportunity to return some of the love she'd given me so unselfishly for so many years. I still cherish those months. As I bathed and stroked her body, I studied the sparkle and devilment still so clear in her eyes. I marveled at the youth and vibrancy still evident in her skin. I studied her expressions (even though they were now a little twisted by the damaging stroke)--the angle of her chin, the twist of her mouth, the lift of one eyebrow. I memorized the way the hair grew on her face--the patterns of swirls and twirls of soft yellow face hairs. I held her hand and felt all of the strength still there even after so much pain and trauma. I tried to memorize the smell of her body, still so sweet and so dear to me. I looked at the many stretch marks on her abdomen--so ugly to some--and to me they looked like lovely silver threads woven into her abdomen as if in a tapestry of love--a lasting banner of the six babies that she birthed and loved and endured. I tried to drink in her beauty with all of my senses--sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste--so that I could capture it and keep it forever--so I could savor it even after she was gone. I found myself wondering whether some day my own children would see me with such love, if all my flaws would be so forgiven--my marks of imperfection loved as a part of me. After nine months of this backbreaking caretaking, everyone in our family was bone-tired and thoroughly exhausted--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Our children and husbands were suffering from the time we spent away from them for our turns to take care of Mom. Our dad was exhausted and broken in every way, including financially. We had been searching for speech and physical therapy for Mom that we could get at home and at a rate that we could afford. There was none. Our family was heavily in debt from the medical expenses already incurred. Finally, my dad found a good nursing home which would take Mom, which wasn't easy because of her age and degree of disability. It wasn't too far away, and they could provide both physical and speech therapy for her. It was clean and homey and well-staffed. It was an extremely difficult decision, but we admitted Mom to the home with the hopes that we would bring her home again later, after therapy, to enjoy the remaining years of her life. Mom hated the whole idea. We began our weekly trips to see Mom. It was an hour-and-a-half ride to the nursing home, but the grandchildren held up pretty well. Most of my sisters and I took turns going there weekly, primping Mom, bringing her goodies and news of each of our families, and comforting and holding her. As I look back now on those months, I realize that I must have sensed that these would be our last times together. Each week, week after week, it got harder and harder to leave Mom. Those weekly visits every Friday evening were special times together. My whole family--myself, my husband, and our four children--would ride up to the nursing home every Friday. My husband would drop me off and then take the kids off to shop or to see a movie. Later, he would bring them back for a visit with "Nana." When I arrived each Friday, Mom's dinner tray had already been brought to her, so I would help her finish it up, then move it out of the way. After some hugs and catch-up talk, we began our weekly primping session. I'd help her wash and dry and fix up her hair, put on lipstick or perfume if she felt like it, and manicure her nails. And then, our magical time began. We'd sit for hours, holding hands and recalling the memories of our youth, or we'd talk about the grandchildren and what their activities had brought over the week, or, sometimes, we would just sit in silence touching each other--sometimes crying together. Then, the children would come rushing in a whirlwind of noise and laughs and confusion. They'd chat with "Nana," flop on her bed, watch her TV, eat her candy, and zoom around the room. The frenzy wore her out, but she loved it! When it was time to go, each grandchild would line up for a kiss and a hug, enough to last the week.
I was the worst and biggest kid of all. I was never ready to leave.
When my turn came for a kiss, I felt as if I just couldn't let go. I clung
to her, trying to savor again and forever the smell of her skin as I pressed
myself to her, the softness of her hair as it touched my face, and the
warmth of her body and her love for us. Mom stayed in the nursing home
for almost another year. Then, in the spring, she needed some minor corrective
surgery, so our family transferred her to a local hospital for treatment.
Several days later, she had another heart attack and died. Her ordeal was
finally over. She had suffered unbearably--both physically and emotionally--for
almost two years. I have always thought that it was appropriate that the
last time I saw my mother alive and held her and kissed her was on Mother's
Day, 1985. As much as I hated to let Mom go, when she died I was relieved
that her pain was finally over. She could rest now. And I, too, was at
peace, knowing that our last days and weeks and months together were spent
telling each other all the things that we ever wanted to say and supporting
each other with love and hugs. In case you think I have painted a pretty
picture--it wasn't really. My mother's catastrophic illness and disabilities
were caused by medical malpractice. It has taken me years to deal with
and accept that. We have all tried to put aside our anger and bitterness
and go on with our lives--lives without Mom. It hasn't been easy. We have
children and grandchildren that never got to know her and find out what
a great lady she was. My siblings and my dad and I have never put our relationships
back together again, though we're still trying. You see, in every family
that catastrophic illness strikes, the damage is immense. Each member of
the family has to find his or her own way of dealing with the trauma and
pain. Some can and some can't. There are those who handle the pain by staying
away from it. They want to help, but don't know where to begin. There are
those who handle the pain by causing more. They try to blame and accuse
their way out of the situation. Each handles it the best they can, but
all hurt. This hurt tears the family apart, sometimes for years, maybe
forever. My mother suffered in many ways. She was often stripped of all
human dignity by her disease and those who cared for her. I've thought
about it an awful lot, and I can't imagine what it must feel like to have
large parts of your body taken away permanently without warning--or how
frustrating it must be to suddenly be unable to communicate with anyone,
even loved ones--or how terribly frightening it must be to have no legs
or arms that work and be constantly afraid of being dropped by those who
must move your body for you. I've thought about how she must have felt
to have to be completely dependent on others for everything--to have your
children and husband have to feed and bathe and even move your body around
for you. And, as if that weren't humiliating or humbling enough, she had
to endure everyone's impatience and irritation with her. She had caretakers
and health care workers make fun of her and taunt her when she was too
slow or looked or spoke funny. She had loved ones and strangers invade
all the private parts of her body for temperatures and treatments. I remember
vividly the one time that she was the most angry and the most hurt I'd
ever seen her; it was when her public hair was cut off by a well-meaning
caretaker so that it "would be easier to keep her clean and dry."
There were so many times--even more than I can imagine, I'm sure--that
her body and her feelings were manipulated for the ease or speed or convenience
of others. She suffered the greatest loss of all--the loss of her human
dignity. This woman who had prided herself all her life on her independence,
who spent a lifetime lovingly caring for others, who was always mindful
of her appearance and manners, was eventually stripped of all of her pride.
Her human dignity was rarely even considered. I truly believe that my mother
died, not of a heart attack, but rather of a broken heart. After she died,
my mother was carried to her grave by her six daughters as pallbearers,
and was laid to rest with her loving and devoted husband grieving at her
grave, but there was much more to this story than it appeared. All that
she had stood for--the love and peace toward everyone, all that she had
tried so hard to bring to our world--family harmony above all, all whom
she had left behind--her loving husband and six daughters were all called
to test. In the years following Mom's death, I felt so sad, lonely and
lost. I grieved so much, and I was very depressed. Even though I was in
my late thirties, I felt very much like a little lost child who had been
separated from her mother. Then, slowly, I began to lose that feeling of
being lost, and my grief began to subside as I began to see the rhythm
of life and death. I realized that life is really about death, and death
is really about life. As I study my children with love now, I look forward
to their growth and maturity, and I know that it is inevitable that I will
age and have to leave them behind, too. I can only hope, as I have said
before, that they will someday see me with a similar love as that which
I had--and have--for my mother; that they will love all my strengths and
forgive my weaknesses. This to men is the meaning of life--the beginning,
end, and continuation of life on slender threads of love. Each life is
like a tapestry waiting to be woven; each of us colors our tapestry in
our own ways. As we pass into and out of life, we are surrounded by love--people
to love and people to be loved by. Each is a thread in our tapestry. Each
of us weaves our tapestry of life differently. You see, I used to worry
so much that I would forget Mom after she was gone--forget her look, her
touch, her smell, her sounds--that I would lose my memories of her. I even
kept her old, worn bathrobe to hold and wrap myself up in now and then.
But, now I've begun to see that I can never lose her. She is within me--she
is part of me as I was a part of her. I see and hear and speak as she taught
me. I touch and feel and reach out to others as she taught me. I love as
she loved me. She is always in me and with me--in love and spirit. I couldn't
get rid of her even if I tried. She left enough love in me to last me the
rest of my life. I hope I can give this gift to my children--the gift of
love, as well as life--that I can always be there to comfort them even
after I am not there anymore--that they will always feel and know and practice
my love. As for my mother, I am constantly reminded of a quote by Kahlil
Gibran on death. He said, "And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then you shall truly dance." I believe in my heart that my mother
is dancing again.
©Jean Moneyhon 1992 - 1997
Quality of Life by Jean Monyhon
Five years ago, we had a son born to us -- a magical child, a child
whose smile can light up a room like sunshine, a child who is loved by
all who meet him. I sound like a real doting parent, right? Probably my
first child, right? Wrong. This is our fifth child, second son. Now, believe
me, I love all my children -- and each is a special creation to me. But,
there is something quite extraordinary about this particular little boy.
He has suffered much pain and had many setbacks in his life, but he refuses
to let it get him down. He has faced death and chosen to live. He always
has hope. He is extraordinary because he is so ordinary. Like any other
little boy, he runs and plays and fights. He rides a two-wheeler and is
never without his cowboy boots. He falls down and gets right back up again.
So what's the big deal? Sounds like any other little boy? You're right.
The only difference is that this little boy was born with severe heart
defects, had surgery at one day of age, almost died of congestive heart
failure before he was eight weeks old, had yearly close calls with pneumonia
that sent him to the intensive care unit for days, and survived extensive
open-heart require surgery when he was only three years old. His doctors
say he has "chronic heart disease" and are amazed at his growth
and health and stamina considering "his condition." He says,
"It's no big deal. God just gave me a heart that needed fixin'."
Pain has been a very real part of his life -- from constant sticks and
pricks to the opening and rearranging of his entire heart. Some say that
he doesn't know any different -- that he thinks everyone goes through these
things, but we think it's more than that. We think that he's very brave
and very strong and touched by God. He's alive because he's a fighter.
He had to fight -- to breathe -- to remain active -- to stay alive. He's
survived on determination and sheer will to live. He wants to live because
he thinks he has all of life's possibilities open to him, (and we're not
going to try to tell him any different). He is not handicapped or restrained
by his medical diagnosis. It is only a technicality -- words on paper --
but it doesn't control his life. So how have his parents survived through
all of this? Well, we're here, and still together, and we think of ourselves
as a happy, healthy family. Certainly, it was quite a shock when we found
out about our son's heart problem. We had been worried about the baby all
through the pregnancy because we are "older parents." And, we
were very relieved to see him emerge at birth fully formed and pink and
beautiful. He even breast-fed right away! It wasn't until about 20 minutes
after his umbilical cord was cut, when he was taken to the nursery to be
routinely weighed and measured, that he turned blue. (Eventually, we learned
to love that color!) I've never been able to erase from my mind the ghastly
look on the pediatrician's face when he came in to tell me that something
was wrong with our baby. I remember feeling such sorrow and compassion
for this doctor -- he was so distressed by this task. His fears were written
all over his face. He said, "I'd rather do anything else in the world
than have to come in here and tell you this . Something has gone wrong
with your baby." It was clear that he feared the worst for my child.
This all seemed so unreal to me -- like I was watching a dream, a real
nightmare. And, I remember with perfect clarity the neonatal team of doctors
and nurses that arrived in the specially-equipped ambulance to pick up
our son and take him to a larger hospital fifty miles away. When they wheeled
his traveling crib into my delivery room and told our son to "kiss
Mommy good-bye and tell her that you'll see her in a few days," they
were smiling and there was such a positive sound in their voices that I
really wanted to believe them. I made them promise to baptize him, in case
"anything happened." But, I resolved at that moment that this
child was to live. They had given me that spark of hope that I so desperately
needed. I couldn't even say the word "die" at first. It was unthinkable
that this beautiful child that I had carried in my body for nine months
could just die for lack of oxygen. I wouldn't even consider the thought.
It had been a long, difficult labor and birth complicated by toxemia and
sudden high blood pressure. I lay dazed in intensive care for the first
day -- my mind was blank. And then, in the next few days, as I began to
pump my breasts and save the precious colostrum for my baby, I tried to
remember him only as he was initially -- fresh and pink and healthy-looking.
My poor husband ran back and forth between the two hospitals, taking milk
to the baby and bringing me instant photos of him, so I could see his progress
on film. On the third day after birth, I transferred to the same hospital
as my baby. After much ado, I got to visit him in the neonatal intensive
care unit. I will never forget how good it felt to touch and hold and smell
him again. He had already had his first surgical procedure when he was
one day old. He had only a small bandage on his right thigh remaining as
proof. And now, his skin looked better -- he was still a little blue, but
he had "pinked up" much more than before. The nurses had already
recognized that he was a real determined guy -- "willing to fight
for life on his own terms." I remember so many thoughts those first
few weeks. It was only weeks before Christmas. I remember thinking of another
baby born and destined to suffer. I thought of his mother and tried to
imagine what we must have gone through. I remember feeling not nearly as
brave or as virtuous as she. I was filled with fear and anger. Why had
this happened to us, to our baby? What had this tiny baby done to deserve
such pain? I also remember thinking about the possibility of my baby's
death -- running through in my head what he would look like and how we
would react. I thought of what arrangements would need to be made and how
we would tell the other children. I was consumed by grief for my child
-- fear for the pain he would have to suffer and told at first that he
would be very small, "dwarfed," and weak and limited physically.
It wasn't until after Christmas -- well into January -- that the doctors told us that they really thought he was going to make it! Those first few months were full of joy and sadness. Joy that he was alive and beginning to thrive, and sadness that his life was destined to be difficult, for however long or short it was to be. We began to realize that everything would be different with this child -- but we strove to make it the same. We decided early on that, if his life was to be meaningful and good and worth living, it had to be normal or as near normal as we could manage. We decided that quality of life was important and more than just an ideal. He would not be raised in a protective bubble. He was going to experience all of life he could. We had brought this baby home to a household of seven -- with children in four different schools -- all bringing different germs back to our home. In addition, our family was used to leading a full, active, public life attending church, scouts, sports, etc. We had to find ways to minimize the risks to this new child, while also minimizing the effects of his illness on our other children. We decided to be cautious and confident -- cautious when and where we could identify real dangers, such as trying to keep him away from noticeably sick people, but confident that he would survive when we couldn't identify real dangers. He would live life to the fullest, not be enclosed in the strangle hold of a safety net. His life had to be good for him to want to live -- worth living for. This wasn't easy at first, but, as time went on and we became more convinced of his strength and will to survive, it became easier. Another decision we made as a family early on was to have hope -- hope for his future. Even though despair and grief sneak back into our lives and hearts occasionally, overall we have remained positive that he will live and prosper. After all, technology offers us nowhere to go but forward! Besides, we realized that none of us is given any guarantees. We have a child "at risk" -- but aren't they all? Any of our other healthy children could have an accident and be gone tomorrow. Our son has taught us to remember this and to live each day, one smile at a time. We love Patrick for all that he is, not what he isn't. He is a happy, active, boisterous five-year-old boy who exudes love and trust. And, he is, for now, ours to hug and to hold. We'll deal with tomorrow when it gets here. We have to have hope. Hope is available to all of us, if we can let go of our fear and put aside our grief until tomorrow. For today, we can have hope.
Our grief for our chronically-ill child is an ongoing process, not here today and over tomorrow. Rather, like the ocean, it is always there. It changes each day like the tide -- sometimes it rushes up in huge, stormy waves and envelopes us like helpless drowning children, and it seems to suffocate our very will to live. And other times, it licks our feet with gentle, little reminder waves that allow us to feel like we're still in control of our own destiny. It ebbs and flows -- ever changing, but always there -- right next to the fear in the back of our minds.
It's not that we don't grieve or worry about our chronically-ill son, we do. When we have a setback or some new negative situation comes along, we do take time to think about and express our worry and grief. We allow ourselves to cry and scream and fully experience our anger and sorrow and fear, sometimes for only hours, sometimes for days or weeks, until our grief is spent and our pity is over. And then, we are done with it for now. We put it away till later, the next time we have a setback or feel the need to feel it again. We have felt it and acknowledged it and let go of it so that it doesn't rob us of what we can feel and do today -- for today, we can feel and acknowledge and express the positive. We havethings to do, places to go, lives to live in the present. Yesterday is gone -- over -- and we can't change it. Tomorrow will come, like it or not, no matter what we do. So, we concentrate on today. We live today with the hope that tomorrow will be positive.
It doesn't matter if we're dying, if we're sure that we have people who love us around us until we're gone -- we will live forever in their hearts and memories. It doesn't matter if we're living, if we have no one around us who cares about our innermost feelings -- we may as well be dead.
Life is for living. Death is for giving. By giving in death, We find life.
My life has always been filled with hope. Some of my friends see it differently. They have pitied and prayed for me. They see my life as one which is full of tragedies and sadness’. This may be true. But, I see my life as one which is full of changes and challenges, exciting renewals of faith and commitment. Over and over again, I have found hope -- a new hope for each new day.
©Jean Moneyhon 1992-1997
Annar's Dream A meditation by Lee Schaefer
You close your eyes, you are in a dream, but not a dream.
You are floating in a sea of precious warm space. Like floating in water but not wet. When you move you feel no restraints. Your body feels light and free and warm. Your skin is being caressed by a gentle warm breeze, more like fine smooth powder than mist, neither dry nor wet, it is soothing and gentle and calming.
Ahead of you, you see a large billowing figure riding a giant winged steed. As you move closer you see shiny glimmering pinpoints of light. Stars through a filter.
The figure is moving towards you and you towards it. You are curious and look more intently as you move towards each other.
You begin to make out the shape. It seems to be covered in billowing gossamer veils of indigo blue. Deep, deep indigo blue. The points of light seem to be attached to the veils and are moving with it. As the veils unfurl and swirl, your attention is drawn by a shapely female leg anchored under one of the veils, or so it seems. You can hear a powerful movement of air and realize that the veils reveal a huge wing and you can see now that it belongs to the giant steed this veiled creature is riding. Huge, sleek and of palest white, almost translucent. It is not a pegasus, but a horse with powerful dragon's wings and instead of a mane, a crown. Its eyes are gleaming black coals. And there is a black crescent moon on his forehead. As you draw nearer you can see that the veils covering the awesome rider are not solid but silken slender threads of feathers all moving and shimmering like streams of smooth long hair and all covered with thousands of glimmering lights.
Beneath the steed is another deep, black figure flying in regimental unison, a twin to the White. But you realize it is not another mount, but the White's own shadow being cast on nothing solid, only the air beneath, by a streaming, bright light being issued from the rider's head like a fiery comet. It is brilliant and unwavering and you are amazed you did not see it before. In your amazement you realize that the figure is much closer and is approaching you with deliberation.
You strain to see a face under the mass of living feathers and as though with your effort you willed it to move, the veil lifts to reveal beautiful feminine features set perfectly on an oval moonstone. Her complexion flawless, her eyes closed, her lashes moist and shimmering. Her full lips are also gently pressed together, expressionless. Her head bowed, the comet's vapor escaping from her head radiates a glowing halo of light around Her perfectness. You are so close now you can hear her breathing and feel the rhythm of her heart beating. Or is it the flapping of the great beast's wings? Or his heart, or the echo of his shadow wings? Or the swirling mass of feather veil?
Or is it your breathing and your heart beating? Is it the movement of the air?
You close your eyes and take a breath to feel separation, but there is none. Maybe you are dying.
You feel a gentle warm mist and you open your eyes. Her enormous eyes are open. She recognizes you.
Now you are locked in her gaze. It is steady, strong, and sure, and you are not afraid.
You notice her right eye first. It is large, clear, shimmering, fiery; warning not to come near. The lid begins to close and you are drawn to her left eye.
Deep. A pool of the same black indigo that you first saw as the distant shape of her. Her left eye is deep, moist, open. You feel yourself being pulled into it. It is welcoming and glad to receive you. You have no fear as you are gently but firmly received into the cool black vapors of her enormous eye pool.
You realize now that you are inside her. Being held firmly in her. Being comforted. Being nurtured. Being one with her.
There is nothing else now. You open your eyes and you realize that you are deep in yourself and deep inside her.
You look at the world through her eye and you see nothing new yet everything is different. It begins to change and you believe you are seeing the world for the first time as it really is.
She closes her eye. You close yours.
The comet light begins to glow inside of you. It warms you.
The comet light is getting brighter and brighter. The only heat you feel is comforting and warm. The energy from the light is beginning to pull you outward and to the right.
The light is so bright now that you know it must be bursting out of every pore of your being. You are pure light and energy. You allow it to flow through you and move towards its goal.
The energy needs more room, more space. You are being pulled outward. It is growing brighter, more vibrant. More energy. Expanding. Flowing out. And you with it. You open your eyes and with all of your new energy you push forward. You must let it out. You must do it. You must be it.
Moving forward with your eyes open you know you are seeing the world for the first time. It is out of her own right, bright, gleaming eye that you must be seeing the world as it really is for the first time.
With this realization comes your first conscious breath since entering that beautiful left eye. It explodes out of you with such force that before you realize it you are out of it.
Out of the eye. Out of her.
Now you are alone. You look back into her right eye and in its reflection you see yourself as you really are.
She looks back at you with that fiery, glowing, blistering, challenging eye and you realize it is also strained and bloodshot and something there that wasn't there before; a part of you, a part of her now. Do you see it?
Is it the tear far back in the recess of that penetrating eye almost gone now? Gone.
Do you remember it? Will you remember it?
Never mind. You know you must go forward now. The energy is propelling you. You can only go forward. Searching, stretching, reaching out.
As you move forward on your own now, you sense a gentle swaying behind you, a keening departure.
Is it a tear you feel on your cheek? Is it her tear? As you close your eyes the tears merge and become one. For a moment you are comforted but, you have work to do. Your energy is limitless.
You awake. And you believe you are seeing the world for the first time as it really is.
©Lee Schaefer, 1992-97
Meditation on Metaphorphosis by Jean Jones Andersen
A human sits at Mother Maya's feet, subdued, depressed by thoughts that overwhelm imagination's dream and logic's grasp: What right have I to call this tree worth more than caterpillars that devour its leaves?
I can't avoid responsibility, cannot escape the fateful choice, once seen: cannot withdraw, refuse to intervene-- and suddenly I feel a pity for the God who, once incarnate, never then is disentangled from creation's snare.
Once Unity has given birth to Two, what supervening power can heal the breach-- restore or re-create a One that's whole and strong enough to hold together all our shattered facets in the holy gem? Must we create--and dare we worship--One who does not just reflect our image back . . . who holds our opposites as intimates, and permeates the boundaries we've set as definitions of I/Thou, us/Them, in/out, right/wrong, good/bad, win/lose, this/that, and all that forms and orders birth to death? Pretensions fail: I dare not--yet, can't not. Creation must give birth to God, and nurse, and teach, and serve the Child who, once mature, will hold dominion even over her.
No wonder Mother Maya grieves: she knows such monarchs die--their rule too rigid to allow for growth; yet laughing while we weep both she and we, her daughters, faithfully conceive another possibility-- a larger shell for God to wear "next time" . . . and in the lengthy labor come to know ourselves the "missing Fourth" split off by Love for Love's own sake, to be beloved, and love.
~Jean Jones Andersen, ©1992-97
"Joe" by Mark Riel
In the mornings,
I have coffee
with a crazy guy named Joe.
A crazy guy.
He's a dreamer and a poet,
and he communes with hummingbirds.
His poems always rhyme,
and they're always in time;
but they never make sense.
Before he knew me,
he thought me a priest;
I thought he was a crazy angel.
So now, in the mornings,
at Dee's Diner (serving since 1943),
I have coffee
with a crazy guy named Joe.
-- By Mark Riel,©1992-97
Mark died of AIDS in 1992. Sorry you didn't get to see this Mark. We miss you.
New Hope by Jean Moneyhon
Hope is new every time we have to summon it. In each new, fearful or desperate situation, we have to find a new hope -- a hope that allows us to exercise and test our strength of faith and character.
Hope is the bridge between our fear and desperation and our relinquishment of the future to a higher power. When we step onto that bridge, shaky though it may be, we walk forward into the future with our most positive foot forward -- we leave behind the tracks of fear and grief.
Our hope can transcend the negative. It brings us to a new world of good feelings and thoughts of positive outcomes. It reminds us to cherish and enjoy what we have now, today, and not wait for what may come in the future -- for what we may lose tomorrow.
To paraphrase an old saying, we don't always get what we hope for --
but, hope helps us deal with what we get!
©Jean Moneyhon, 1992-97
BIOGRAPHY~ Jean Moneyhon, a King George resident, has experienced many manifestations of hope during the course of raising her family of six. Told she couldn't have children, she adopted two, Christie, and April. She then gave birth to Betsey, who is now 11, and Ryan, now 8.
Shortly after Ryan's birth, he developed a chronic seizure disorder. Mrs. Moneyhon's mother became bedridden by illness and required round-the-clock care until her death many months later.
Mrs. Moneyhon's fifth child, Patrick, was born with a life-threatening heart defect. After many hospitalizations his parents agonized over the decision to have him undergo risky surgery to repair his heart. Mrs. Moneyhon went through a period of not wanting to go to church, of not wanting to see friends with healthy children. Once the decision was made for surgery, she wanted only to be with the child she might never see again.
After his surgery, Patrick was so wired with tubes she could only stroke his hair and his foot but he knew his parents were with him. They were allowed to stay with him round-the-clock, and he recovered very quickly.
Though more surgery is possible, Patrick is a robust and ingratiating 5 year old who rarely goes anywhere without wearing his cowboy boots. Mrs. Moneyhon has also taken on the job of raising her 3 year old grandson, Jonathan.
A former technical writer, she is a group leader for La Leche League, an international organization promoting breatfeeding. Her husband Jim is an engineer for the Navy. She chose to write about Patrick's birth Nov. 22, 1986, one of many days she had to reach for hope.
biography written by Jean Jones Andersen©1992-97
Wendy Jo Heinen 4/ 19/ 1965 - 1996
Wendy, You are still in our hearts and minds. We miss you terribly. You were like a brite and beautiful comet in our lives. - Love, Your Aunt Lee
Norma Jesse Almstedt 11/14/1910 - 4/3/97
I have no sorrow because I know you are at peace now.
All my love. Dedication
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