grief is messy & highly caloric.

I lost my Dad in the early morning hours of August 30th.  He was a generous, loving, humorous and complex man.  He also was in a great deal of pain. Thankfully he no longer is.  But, damnit, he isn’t here anymore either.  Now, I’m in pain and I would like to talk with him about what bullshit it is to lose someone I love.  He knew this pain, he lost his baby brother, my Uncle Tom, almost exactly one year ago.  

I flew home to South Dakota from Vermont the morning Dad died.  I wept through both airports—Burlington, Vermont and Chicago’s O’Hare. I had a light blanket wrapped around my shoulders that dried my tears as needed.  I walked to my gate in Chicago, blanket draped and carrying a garment bag.  I caught the eye of a few people who offered nods of acknowledgement and held my gaze, maybe understanding that grief is messy.

Oddly, I kept hoping I could tell someone, anyone that I just lost my Dad.  I now understand what to do if I see someone else in the shape I was in.  To hell with privacy.  I will offer a hug.  Or I will buy them a coffee.  Or I will ask them why they are crying and listen, even if I only have a minute before my flight.

I arrived mid-afternoon.  Flowers, casseroles, baked goods, fruit baskets, cheese and meat trays had already begun arriving at the house.  The doorbell was ringing.  The landline was ringing.  Our cell phones were ringing and pinging.  Hugs and tears filled Mom’s back entryway and helped eased the weight of it all.

I knew the process of the “business” of death wasn’t going to be easy.  However, writing the obituary, picking out Dad’s casket and clothes, making phone calls and so on—these things kept us busy.  Busy is needed those first few days.  Making arrangements gave us something to focus on with a deadline, providing a little scaffolding to a messy emotional process.

There were times before the prayer service and funeral, I wanted the whole world to just leave me alone in my sorrow, because I just lost my Dad.

Thankfully the world didn’t.

I’m now keenly aware of how I didn’t give nearly enough attention to the loss of other people’s parents.  I’m sorry if I seemed cavalier.  I just didn’t know how much even a small gesture could mean.  I always thought of grief as a private process.  I understand better now what’s necessary to get through it all.

I’m so sorry for your loss, no matter how many years it’s been for you.

The outpouring of love, time and culinary talents from the good folks in Burke, South Dakota made it the whole process a lot more bearable.  No one would’ve loved having all of those goodies around more than John.  Right, Dad?  Although I think he would’ve hidden the bag of Dorothy’s famous peanut butter cookies in the freezer and pretended they were already gone.

I’m grateful to you all.  Thank you so much.

pie and coffee.JPG

PLEASE NOTE:  Is there a metabolic trick that helps burn the calories (mostly from homemade baked goods) that are delivered to the family during a time of loss?

grief + baked goods + casseroles + visiting + crying + fatigue = COMFORT

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John Lowell Lillibridge lived 79 years, 3 months & 21 days.

Rest, in peace, Big Guy.

You will be greatly missed.

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my fabulous dream…

In my dream, I wake up in a city of unknown origin, I think New York. However, it could’ve been any big American city. It was busy, loud and there were tons of people on the street. At first I was disoriented, then I keep saying to myself, Life is Kind. A mantra of sorts, to keep me from being afraid of anyone or anything.

I start walking, it’s midmorning and the first person I encounter is a homeless man. He seems quite drunk, but his eyes are kind and clear and a bright very unique shade between between blue and green. He looks at me, smiles and says, “For a beer, I’ll tell you a story”.

Well, there are few things I enjoy more than a cold beer and a good story.

In my dream, I even thought, “Well, it’s midday, there are lots of people around, it will be OK…Life is Kind”. He stood up, took my hand and led me around the corner and down just a few stairs. The outside looked pretty dirty, scary actually and I hesitated, pulling back from his hold. He calmly said, “It will be OK”.

He opened the door and it was surprisingly a cool, sun-filled space that looked more like a diner than a dingy bar. People were talking and laughing, kids playing and there was a lively piano player. The bartender welcomed us warmly. We sat at the end of the bar where it was a little quieter. The old man ordered us two beers, looked me in the eye and smiled.

With no transition, or any recollection of the old man’s story I’m now back out on the street. I’m suddenly surrounded by young, tall, black men. They are talking and laughing, goofing off, they notice that I’m uncomfortable, but I stay right in the middle of their group. I walk a few blocks with them and then to get out of the pod, I have to excuse myself and duck around them, awkwardly bumping into and nearly tripping a few of the guys. They’re all jumping up to touch things, like light fixtures and the tops of signs.

They start giving me crap about being afraid of them because they’re black. I turned to them, said, “I’m not afraid of you because you’re black. I’m afraid of you because of your youth and there’s so many of you and you’re all so big. It’s intimidating to me today.”

Oh, Ok, yeah, I sort of get that, my grandma said something like that too”, one of the boys offered. He thumped his chest to me and smiled. They all said goodbye in mumbles and waves and off they went jumping down the street into the afternoon light.

 I turn the corner and bump, literally bump into this a woman and knock a bunch of papers and books onto the ground. She’s dressed in a well-tailored grey, plaid suit with a skirt and jacket, high end, high heels and a pink, silky blouse with a bow at the neck. Her slightly grey hair was fixed in a stiff, old lady hairstyle like my grandmother had done every Friday morning. Teased, smoothed and fastened with pins, a satin pillowcase required to keep it all tidy until her next appointment.

I apologize for knocking things out of her hands. She’s rushed and while we’re gathering everything back together, she says, “We can have lunch at two. I have a very busy day. I’ll see you at (I don’t remember the name). I can’t wait to catch up.”

Well, we all know how dreams go. So, even though I have no idea who this person is, I can’t wait to catch up either…waiting until two o’clock seemed like an eternity.

I kept walking around until the appointed time. I was very excited about my lunch and all of the catching up we’re going to do. I arrived at the place and everything is odd, the scale of everything really strange and disorienting. The stairs have a very difficult to maneuver tall rise between steps. The tables were all different heights. The lights were bright on some tables and really dark on others.

I suddenly hear someone a little out of breath in my ear. I get a quick hug from behind and a peck on the cheek. Then I see my lunch date. Who appeared was an older gentleman in a pink shirt, a bow tie, a grey striped suit and beautiful shoes. “Huh” was all I thought to myself. He launched into news and notes about his day and his life. He talked about his children, his work and relayed a story about recently missing a flight. He asked me about my projects and if I had seen someone we allegedly had in common recently.

All of this was so very ordinary. I didn’t question that who I thought I was meeting for lunch was an older woman. I just went with along with it and enjoyed his company. Apparently that missed flight story was a hoot.

He paid for lunch and said that he needed to head back to the office. He asked if I minded heights. I said that I sort of did, but that it depended on the situation. “Ok, follow me”, he said and we headed toward the back of the restaurant. He was walking quickly. I kept up. We got to an unusual door, walked out into an alley and went about seven steps to what seemed like nowhere. It was strange, but he was confident and I went along.

Can you climb?” he asked me. I said that I could. “Jump?” I told him that I could, but that I didn’t really want to. He climbed up the wall, got to the top, swing his legs around, sat a minute and jumped down, now out of my sight. I climbed up. Swung my legs around and looked down. It was about ten feet. I then said, “I don’t want to jump this far, I’m training for the senior olympics. I don’t want to hurt my ankles or knees.”

It will be fine, dear. I’ll catch you.” I jumped. I landed in the arms of my lunch date. An older woman in a plaid, grey suit, wearing a pink blouse and high heels. She caught me, shifted me upright, gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again soon”.

Then, I woke up.

I love this dream so much.

I’m going to put this dream in the category of:

WATCH YOUR JUDGEMENT & ASSUMPTIONS, LISA.

humidity, wakefulness & meditation

I don’t excel at sleeping. I really never have, but now in middle age, my sleep is interrupted constantly. I’ve decided to not fight it, embrace my natural rhythms and see how the universe wants me to use my extra waking time. Last night was no exception.

I went to sleep around 10:30 and was wide awake at 2:50. Our cat, Karen was sleeping soundly next to me. My husband is gone and I don’t mind waking up Karen, so I felt free to roam. I got up to pee and I noticed that all of the windows were covered with the soft, haze of humidity.

The whole world seems to be trapped in heat and haze right now.

I wondered how I could photograph Cape Cod’s humidity in the middle of the night without leaving my bedroom. I took a few shots. The camera wasn’t capturing what I could see. I decided that wasn’t the inspiration I was searching for, not at all what the universe wanted me to do in the middle of the night on August 9th.

I decided to get back into bed and listen to a guided mediation on the INSIGHT app, which I highly recommend. I have a favorite voice, Sarah Blondin who guides me with her Live Awake series. I consider her a very close friend. Sarah’s voice and words have provided so much, well, insight and spark since I downloaded the app in January.

This morning at 3:10am I chose Life is Kind. Here is the start to her meditation.

Though we are strangers, we are kindred in spirit. There’s no difference between us. We are the same.

We are here in the name of our hearts, in the name of opening, in the name of unstitching what has overtime grown closed within. We are each here in the name of reuniting with our soft centers. It is the place we are most alive, most accepted, most whole.

It is where we seek refuge from the from the weight of the world.”

I fell back asleep shortly after these lines and had a remarkable, beautiful and kind dream.

I’ll share that dream with you tomorrow.

 

thoughts on anxiousness

anxiouscharacterized by extreme uneasiness of mind about some contingency 

contingencyan event that may but is not certain to occur

(Merriam Webster)

READ THIS OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF:

extreme uneasiness of mind about an event not certain to occur

Why are we spending so much time thinking about our hypothetical futures?

Anxiety is at epidemic proportions in the world.  I’m personally having far too many sleepless nights lately.  I want to get a handle on my it before it affects my health, my choices and how I respond to events in my life, both big and small.

Research always makes me feel settled down.  I dug in this morning.

FAST COMPANY ARTICLE BY HALEY GOLDBERG: “When we stare into a fuzzy crystal ball, it’s easy to start to worry about what’s inside, like a present we can never unwrap. And it feels productive. Studies show that we often believe worrying can prevent negative outcomes or it can help us find a better way of doing things.”  FAST COMPANY ARTICLE

These three words really stood out to me…it feels productive.   “FEELS” is the cue I needed to settle my brain down a little bit.  Feels implies it isn’t productive at all, our brain has been tricked into thinking that the act of worrying is somehow keeping bad things from happening.

If my brain can be TRICKED, then my brain can also call bullshit when it notices the trickery.  Not every time, but with practice, at least increase the frequency of noticing.

Today, I feel anxious about a few big things happening in my life right now…my father is in the hospital, my three young adult children are all in transition and my life is going to change quite dramatically in the next few months. And yet…

“I know what to do, even when I don’t know what to do.”

I’m trying to remind myself that, even though THE FUTURE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNCERTAIN, I believe I can handle whatever the universe throws at me.

Handling it, might mean falling apart, calling upon my team to steady me and going through a period of deep grief and sorrow.

Correct me if I’m wrong, that’s still handling it, right?

I try to remind myself of this often.

 

 

my modern fresco

fresco noun
1. a painting done rapidly (not so rapidly actually) in watercolor (interior latex & acrylic) on wet (old) plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.
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My twin girls are graduating soon and I’m feeling nostalgic.
I’m not surprised I had a little trouble prioritizing things this week.
I focused on this instead, the other stuff will get done somehow.
Getting up at 4:15 to paint with the birds chirping was pure joy.
Below is the evolution & some details of the painting.
I haven’t felt “painterly” for a long time.
I do now.

Lisa Lillibridge's modern fresco

 

 

Thank you Ruby, Lena & BHS YES (year end studies) program.

I was very inspired talking about art and process.

Please Note:  I’m off FACEBOOK, please contact me through e-mail, not messenger.

alone for a few days in NYC…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I traveled alone for a few days last week. 

I moved at my own pace, noticed different things and returned home inspired.

Thank you New York City, you never disappoint.

  • street snaps of strangers
  • graffiti near Grand Central Station
  • coffee at the Fitzpatrick Hotel—44th & Lexington
  • The NoMad Hotel—28th & Broadway

fledge, far more than just a verb.

My twin girls are graduating from high school in a few weeks.

We noted when they were born that they would be the Class of 2018.

 Lucy is on the left & Willa on the right—one hour old.

FLEDGE verb (Merriam Webster)

1: to rear until ready for flight or independent activity

This definition of fledge, makes the process sound so simple, so animal.  I’m finding that this process is not so simple and requires some emotional skills far beyond natural animal instincts.  A few questions keep coming up for me.

What do I need to let go of now?

What’s at stake by holding on to my girls too tightly?  Too loosely?

What relationships do I desire moving forward?

Who am I when I no longer have kids at home?

I’m allowing myself to grieve the end of this stage of family life.

I know I won’t hang out in this emotional space forever.

If I stuff these feelings, they’ll leak out in remarkably weird ways.

Perhaps even weirder than usual lately.

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Congratulations to fledglings throughout the land.

Happy Graduation 2018!