Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

It’s been long time

I once read an article where the author admonished bloggers for blogging faux pas. Too many photos. Lack of photos. Too much text. Not enough bullets. The author’s list was pretty extensive. Well, readers, I’ve broken one of that author’s rules and I’m about to break another — 1) posting infrequently or on an unpredictable schedule and 2) apologizing for infrequent posting.

So, dear readers, I apologize. I’ve been gone for a very long time. Eight months, if not more. There was only one other time when I fell silent — from February 2012 until a few posts in March 2013 about a trip to Raleigh, N.C.

Both then and now have very similar themes — I lost a dear loved one and needed a break from activities and responsibilities that did not need my energy or attention. I guess you can call it a time of reflection and evaluation. I needed to focus on living without the worry of additional responsibilities. Blogging was certainly not a necessity. It’s a hobby. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t help with my education or research. So it took a back seat. I set it aside.

The first extended blog hiatus occurred soon after my grandfather passed away. I grieved for several months and it took a long time before I felt like writing again. Looking back over the blog, I realized how much I enjoyed it and turned back to snapping photos and writing. I enjoy creating and traveling and sharing those experiences with you.

This time, our sweet puppy, Sydney, passed away last May. She was nearly 15 and had been struggling with illness for the past year. Chris and I made the difficult decision of letting her go. She had continued to lose weight at a rapid pace, and she had been on lots of antibiotics for the last month of her life.

Imaging showed she was losing bone mass in a back leg; the same one that had been swollen and painful for months. We never discovered the cause of the infection or the reason for her weight or bone loss. It was time and we didn’t want to expose her to more poking and prodding than she’d already experienced for the past several months.

So, I took a break for blogging again. Only, this time, I debated whether or not to even continue the blog. I would still leave the site up, but I didn’t, and still don’t know, if I would continue writing. Sydney has been a central part of Chris and my life, as you can certainly see from the many trips posted under the Small Travels and Musings section where she is spotlighted in many photos. It will seem odd to travel without our furry “dog”her.

I’ll continue to think about this and may continue to post from once in awhile. Bear with me, dear readers, as I decide what I’m going to do.

Quick update

Hi! Just a quick update. The last couple of weeks have been keeping me on my toes. Most of last week was spent painting rooms in the new house. All that is left is some cleaning of the floors and we’ll be ready to move in. I’m blessed to have great in-laws who’ve spent days helping us get it ready for us. This week has involved a lot of packing, phone calls and donating books and other items that didn’t sell at a yard sale we held this past weekend. The Final Move Date will be a lot sooner than expected.

Last week also brought along with it some unexpected and sad news. My mom’s 42-year-old boss passed away of a heart attack. I attended the funeral with several of my family members last Thursday. The man leaves behind two young kids, a significant other, parents, brothers and many other loved ones and friends.

I spent most of the following week in disbelief and shock. I’ve known him 22 years and he’s not much older than I. It’s just hard to imagine he’s really gone. I also spent a lot of time thinking how life is so fragile and fleeting. Our bodies are miraculous and can show amazing strength, but, at the same, time our life is so fragile.

Among the rabbi’s stories of our friend’s generosity and caring spirit, the assembly recited Psalm 23. I couldn’t do it. I would have started bawling if I did. I’ll end this post with it. Until next week:

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Birthdays and grief

Today would have been my grandfather’s 90th birthday. He died two years ago on Oct. 29.

Here’s a memory I shared on here a few years ago when Nannie and PawPaw still had chickens. At the time, PawPaw still recognized me. He could still walk, though his chickens seemed to be the only reason he’d get out of his chair in the morning and at night. I read the post a couple a weeks ago when I started to think of PawPaw’s upcoming birthday. It made me smile.

Recently, I’ve heard people expressing grief over loved ones who have died in the past year. I empathize.

Though I had been preparing myself mentally for my grandpa’s death for years, I didn’t expect the level of grief I experienced. I’ve had friends and family members die over the years, ever since I was 5, but this grief was something new and overwhelming.

The next several months were hard. I lost joy. I no longer enjoyed things I once loved — baking, knitting, sewing, hiking.

I was angry. I muttered under my breath at anyone in my path. No one could do anything right.

I cried. A lot. And at the drop of a hat. Anything that reminded me of PawPaw made me bawl.

For a long time, I talked about PawPaw to whomever would listen. I began to fear people would think I was crazy for going on and on about his death. So I tried to rein that in.

I let things go that weren’t necessary and began focusing on the things I had to do —school, paying bills. Everything else I let go. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. No socializing. No crafts or baking. I deleted my Twitter account and deactivated Facebook. I needed a break.

Christmas and Thanksgiving weren’t easy, either. I couldn’t bring myself to shop or wrap gifts. I couldn’t summon the motivation to do it. I didn’t want to deal with it. If I could have, I would have stayed at home under the covers until the new year.

It took several months — April, in fact — for me to feel happy again; for things to return to normal. I started reaching out to friends again. This past spring I reactivated Facebook and have slowly reconnected with people there.

I still think of PawPaw often, but now, instead of overwhelming sadness, I can smile at happier times.

A friend and my pastor recommended On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I don’t think it helped. It was interesting, but it didn’t explain the emotions and pain I was going through. But maybe it’ll help you. Another friend recommended Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I didn’t read it. It didn’t seem relevant.

I can tell you, though, that no matter what you’re feeling now, it gets better. Friends told me it would. And it did. Embrace the process. Just go through it.

Maybe you feel guilty that you are hurting so much for this person’s death, but didn’t grieve the same for another. Don’t do that. Each death is different. We don’t know how we’re going to react until we go through it. It doesn’t mean you loved one person more than the other.

Talk about it. Even if you think you sound crazy. For me it was therapeutic. It helped me process the pain.

And when you start to feel joy again, don’t feel bad. It doesn’t mean you love your lost relative any less. It means you’re healing. You’ll always have the same amount of love and you’ll have the memories.