Just Some Things

I went to Dr. Smokewood's memorial yesterday. It was a warm service with a few surprises, like the fact that she liked Blue Grass music. I'm also a huge fan, and just as some would not peg me as such, neither would I pick her out of a group to be the same. I can't pick a favorite thing about the service, but part of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself from Leaves of Grass stuck with me because it perfectly states what I feel about how my body should be laid to rest. I'll save it for the end so you'll keep reading.

Aunt Hannah died on Monday, Dr. Smokewood on Tuesday (if you can't be born on 1/11/11, you might as well be able to die on it, right?), and Uncle Leo on Wednesday. It naturally makes one ponder what the hereafter holds. Most of the time, I am quite certain that God is there, that my prayers are not thoughts/words vanishing somewhere in the space of my own being. But there are times when I question. I'm a mix of logic and abstraction, of faith and doubt. While difficult at times, it's one of my favorite qualities [I'm like that with everything, not just God...that's why everything is "a bit complicated".]

It was said that in the last few weeks of her life, Dr. Smokewood told her family and friends that she was seeing light. I still haven't wrapped my mind around how beautiful that is. Perhaps only through God, one with a disease as terrible as ALS can continue finding ways to make life fuller, to know that there's still so much to learn, to figure out how to take advantage of time in a way that most fail to do. I want to live that way without knowing that my time on earth is coming to a close sooner rather than later. Why is it so difficult? There were also some amazing words about teaching. All of them true, but most touching to me is how we should always be 100% genuine, never distanced by the feeling we must maintain a professional self and a personal self when teaching.

Jake became ill this afternoon. His symptoms were frightening. I stayed very even-keeled through calling friends and family, making arrangements for the care of our girls if I ended up taking him to the emergency room. He was given a blessing by two elders in our congregation. We were also able to speak with another member of our congregation who is an emergency doctor at OU. I felt much better afterward, but in winding down, I found myself getting emotional. All of my plans have him in it, and tonight was the first time I caught a glimpse of what it could be to start down a path without him. I had a shrill few, broken up moments of wondering if this was the beginning of the end. He seems to be doing much better now, which is why I'm taking this moment to let my mind relax.

Onto Walt Whitman:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

When I die [you knew this was coming, right?], I don't want to be embalmed, but if I must be, that's all. No glued eyes or lips or stuffed anything. I don't want a casket. I want to be dressed in my temple clothes, wrapped in a soft, old quilt, and placed directly in the ground. I want to go become part of the earth as quickly as possible. I want my body be part of the grass, the flower that grows on that spot, the tree whose root might one day extent to my little resting place. Walt did a good job, didn't he? Reading my mind from his time and place. I want to be under your boot-soles.

"In lieu of flowers," plant a little garden when the right season comes, or a tree, or send the money to someone/some organization that needs it. Buy a notepad and Go outside a while, look up and count the clouds. Can you draw a picture of the backyard of the house you grew up in, can you remember how it smelled? and then draw and write about it. I'm sure my idea of the perfect service will change, but for now, you should sing Amazing Grace and My Shepherd will Supply my Need [and whatever else you want]. Isn't a service more for everyone who's left anyway? To share their grief and fond memories...happily commiserate. I'm sure I'll add to my list as I find things I want to add to my "lasting legacy," but for now, the most important part is really the no casket/gluing thing. No worries though, I'm going to be at least 100, and hopefully I'll go out on my birthday. It seems nice and complete that way. And don't you just love this song? You will if you haven't heard it yet. It's Lay My Burden Down by Caroline Herring [she's good. You should listen to more of her music, too. You can find the lyrics here.]

(the bit about clouds and the backyard is from Words by Ryan Adams)


  1. Glad to hear he's feeling better I was worried about him last night when Mom told me!

  2. My sister told me along time ago that people die in threes. It's always weird to me that they do. Death always makes me think as well. Will I know when my time is close? After my dad's funeral a family friend mentioned that my dad was telling everybody goodbye the Sunday before. Part of me thinks we do know, but I'm with you. I'm not sure if I would want to.

  3. I was going to type EXACTLY what Larae said!
    Glad Jake is diong better- what happened? Darrell was having gall bladder and really bad heart burn a few years ago and they manifest as feelings of a heart attack. I had to get him off the floor and rush him to the hospital being 5 months pregnant and two little girls. I can't tell you haw many things went through my mind! Stupid heart burn- he felt really dumb until the nurse told him just how many people that happens to.



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