Category Archives: Grief

Not Invisible – Art Installation #4

There is no them
There’s only us

I can’t see him but he’s not invisible

The plain truth delivered in U2’s powerful black and white

If my 18-year-old son were alive would he be rebelling and saying
you can’t see me but I’m here
I’m not my father’s son

doesn’t matter, that’s all drama, invented by my brain
my body knows we are all just bodies in one soul

There is no them
There’s only you
and there’s only me
There’s only us

Thank you to U2 for helping me see what’s not invisible
and for giving me the glue to keep it together
it’s always fiction if we imagine we are separate

There’s only us
I will not turn away from the one, not today or any day

I’ll take the pain and savour it all
once again

and besides, this song is about helping bodies on this planet who are invisible even though they are physically present
and that’s where I’ll turn my attention today
my son would have liked that
taking care of our oneness

there’s only us

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Art installation #3 – @U2 > Ordinary Love

I appreciate music.

Like art and beauty, taste in music, is totally personal and subjective.

It doesn’t matter what type of music I like or that you like. No matter what it is; the fact that we like it is enough to have a positive impact on our brains and our lives.

This post was inspired by U2’s new song Ordinary Love because in watching the video and listening to the lyrics, I got to thinking about how music affects our lives and our ability to savour it all.

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Savour life – musings on the power of nature as we endure the #yycflood of 2013

Elbow River Fall 2012

Elbow River Fall 2012

Elbow River - Winter 2012

Elbow River – Winter 2012

Elbow River Spring 2013

Elbow River Spring 2013

Elbow River  - First day of Summer 2013

Elbow River – First day of Summer 2013

I decided last fall I would snap the odd photo from this one spot I always pass on my walks around my neighbourhood. Without fail the view of the Elbow River from this hill always makes me pause for a moment to enjoy its beauty and tranquility. I love the sound of the running water and think of it as bringing life where ever it goes. I treasure having something in my day that causes me to stop and feel the joy of being alive and in the moment for even one moment. Nature has the power to engage all of our senses and help us live in the now. Even a moment of not racing ahead to my to do list or not dragging the past like an old sack behind me can deliver a little transcendence. Nature is a true blessing in this regard.

Nature also has the power to scare the bee-jeepers out of us. Today we are experiencing the worst flood in Calgary’s history. Today’s walk around my hood was engaging all my senses but not in a relaxed and joyful way. The last photo in the study above was taken a few hours ago. The Elbow River has become a raging torrent and as I stood and watched it from my usual perch, I was deeply saddened as I know the wrath it is wreaking on my friends downstream. I could hear the thunderous power this avalanche of water is gathering as it hurls itself towards the city of Calgary just around the bend. I could see the earth and debris it is tearing up and dragging along. Everything in its wake is powerless. It is in fact designing a whole new riverbed as it goes. I’m not sure the double bridge around the bend will even hold up under its forces. I could have gotten away from here but I wanted to stay. Being one who savours food I have a pantry, fridge and freezer full and I might be needed by my neighbours. Like all Calgarians, I’m longing for the flood to hit its peak and begin to recede so we can rebuild our beloved city.

I just spoke with a dear friend who told me her home is under 10 feet of water. Another is in a Best Western motel and can’t locate her father-in-law. Still another fears her home might be dislodged completely. I’ve got oodles of friends on Facebook joking about their new riverfront property and hiding anxiety about the mess they’ll soon face. Still others have texted to let me know they are okay. They have not been able to get back to their homes but they are dry and safe and happy to be drinking wine with friends or just watching movies with their kids as they hang with relatives. My friends that I do business with in Inglewood have called and emailed to say they might not be able to do a food tour with me tomorrow. Good grief! – the grace they had to think of me and my little business at a time like this astounds me.

I pause in the helplessness of it all. I pause and think about those friends. I was surprised as I talked to people who not once did I hear worry, pity or defeat in anyone’s voice. I heard strong people calmly accepting what nature is doling out. I did not hear anyone talk about the things they were losing. I heard them talking about what a miracle it is that all are safe and how happy they are to be with their families. I heard them making plans for rebuilding as soon as they possibly can.

I felt helpless. They seem strong. Perhaps I only feel helpless because I can’t help them at this moment. I know what I need to do. I’m going to rest and I’m going to do what I always do in times of trouble…GET COOKING! I need to be ready to feed my friends. That’s something I’m good at. That’s something they’ll need when this initial calmness dies off and they are left in grief, shock anger and despair when they return to face the reality of the devastation this flood will leave in its wake. We may have to gulp the food I’ll cook down in moments spread here and there between days of clean up in the weeks and months to come. We may not be able to savour our food in the days to come but we can savour friendship and savour the gift of life even when nature threatens our life with its amazing power.

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Savour food Savour Life – Cool things #5 – @TakeThemAMeal

Using our hands to cook, clean or provide child care is a healthy coping strategy when a friend is in crisis

Using our hands to cook, clean or provide child care is a healthy coping strategy when a friend is in crisis

I grew up in a town of 1500 people in a close-knit Maritime community. When someone died, had a baby, or was convalescing my mother, grandmothers and friends took loving care of them by cooking for them and dropping things by. A little visit ensued. Support and love were shared. Healing happened. Flash forward to the new millenium. Have we lost such caring traditions? No. In fact I think we are improving on them and here’s a beautiful example of what I mean; an example that’s unfolding even as I write this.

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Savour Life – because it comes with the ultimate deadline

In the last few weeks I have had a lot of deadlines. They’ve kept me busy working when I’ve not been playing with my family and enjoying the bevy of engaging social events we’ve had lately. It’s been a demanding but fun time.

In the last few months a dear friend was given the ultimate deadline. She was told that she only has a few months to live. She had to move to a hospice.

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Savour it All – Finding Joy after Grief

Avignonessi Angel photo - Karen Anderson

Avignonessi Angel
photo – Karen Anderson

Angel things
By Karen Anderson

Because of Ryan (March 18 – 20, 1996)
Originally posted in 2011. Updated March, 2014 – because he would have been 18 on the 18th of this year. A golden birthday…not forgotten.

My son is an angel.

I knew it the second I laid eyes on him. His energy was bold and pure. It was something perceived, sensed, understood. He suffered while he was here and knowing he would he came anyway. He is just that kind of soul; brave and loving; thinking only of the gift he could give his father and me. It took awhile but I see his power now.

He left us after only a short time but he is always here in my heart. He serves as a powerful reminder each day to stop and think about the way he would have us live. He would want us to treat each other gently, to be our best and not waste time. He would want us to dream and to realize our dreams. He would be happy for us to be outside in nature and to feel humble everyday as we realize the splendour that surrounds us.

Since he left there are days I have ached for him. I expect there will be more too. My loneliness for him used to be vast and dismal like a thick gray fog. It could not be helped for I am only human and the space in a mother’s empty arms – where a child might have been – is a void reaching into the depths of the universe.

I believe my pain, a mother’s worst, was felt in that place so deep and dark and far away. That which pierced my heart, pierced an eternal heart and it in turn sent an infinite number of details to soothe the sorrow of my soul.

Every once in a while, a chickadee comes the birdfeeder outside my window. The friendly song of the buff-coated and black-capped caller reminds me of the sweetness of my innocent son. I am thankful to the little bird for bringing that feeling to me.

Snow falls and the earth wears a coat of white which sparkles in the moonlight and the sunlight and I am reminded that light is healing. I feel my son is the sender of this blanket of white. It is there to comfort me and wake my heart from the dark spell it had fallen under. I am surrounded by the warmth and light of his love.

A flock of geese fly into the sunset and their honking makes me look up to the sky and catch my breath with excitement. I realize that my son has crossed over the imaginary line that is this human existence and he is now apart of all that is beauty on this earth.

A vision came to me one day. I was walking a tight rope high above the city. I was not afraid but instead rather playful, dipping and dancing back and forth. And when all this playing led me to fall; I simply smiled and floated through the sky as my own angel wings sprouted and I drifted to safety with a look of deep contentment on my face. I looked up at the sun and saw its rays turn into tiny crystals of light and the tiny crystals turned into angels the size of dust. The bits of angel dust landed on my face and each and every one of them was a tender kiss.

I know love and I feel safe at all times.

I don’t feel nearly so sad when I think of these things my son has shown me. I don’t mind the pain anymore because I know beauty now. I am enjoying what I have.

Right now I am calm and centred. I believe I will be shown my way. I will be loved and taken care of. Perhaps I will even be able to help others find comfort.

Love is gentle and angels are about love. They love better than anyone because they are made of love’s energy. Love’s gives them the power to heal.

Think about how love makes you feel. Don’t you wish you felt that way all the time? Maybe you can. What would happen if you did? You would smile a lot. The small things probably wouldn’t bother you very much. People would just want to be around you. You’d have your priorities straight.

Would it be hard to feel love all the time? Where would you even start?

I think you would have to start by loving yourself. First you accept, then you trust, and if you commit to love, you can become aware of every dream and hope and thought you have inside. I’m sure that the deeper you look the more love you will find. We mirror the universe and that has been my experience with the universe.

How could this life be about anything else?

Go to light. Be love. Feel safe. Dream.

These things are natural to angels. It is their way of being.

I think we could all live an angel’s life. We’ve maybe just forgotten and need to practice but with practice it is possible to let the power of angels into your life.

Isn’t my son incredible? He taught me all these angel things.

2014 – Post Script
I wrote the story/prayer/thoughts above the year after my son died. That was 17 years ago.
I look for and see angels everywhere since he died (see photos below).
I’m grateful that my most frequent encounter with angels is the love I see in my friends.
Nature, also, still delivers the most divinity for me. Life’s miracles need only be looked for in nature’s attention to the tiniest details. Time in nature keeps me present and fully alive.
Knowledge of our oneness, delivered by my son, has helped me heal.
This gift that he delivered is really what helps me as I strive to use my time on earth to savour it all.

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