I woke up this morning feeling so wistful. Even before the sky lightened I was watching the trees silhouettes through the window blinds and remembering other holiday seasons, years and years ago, when as a kid I was excited for some time off school, for big fancy meals with family favorites, for lots of company and grownup conversations.
I haven’t felt that excitement for a very long time. Maybe you haven’t either.
Mostly holidays seem like extra work and grownup conversations leave me frustrated and sad. And though I realize I can’t get those childhood days back, I wonder….how do we bring a little bit of joyful excitement to our lives these days? What small things could we do to experience a tiny bit of the wonder of the season?
What suggestions do you have? Let’s share with each other and spread a little hopeful joy around. Tis the season after all.
How many of us are lucky? I feel like I am, lucky to be born into the family I was, to be given the opportunities I’ve had. To never wonder where my next meal would come from or where I’d sleep for the night. Nothing really bad ever happened to me or my family.
And when the unimaginable happened and Dad was killed by a sleepy semi driver we were not equipped to know what to do. We found the Truck Safety Coalition who helped us make the initial decisions, and who provided us education later on when we started to ask all the whys about what had happened.
That was almost eighteen years ago. Today I sit on the board and we’re working hard to provide the same services to other new families. Sadly there are always new families.
We’re struggling, as always, to raise funds to support our work. We don’t have pictures of cute elderly folks who need transportation to appointments or the grocery store. No sweet puppies that need adopting, no kids looking for someone to hang out with. No, all we’ve got are the faces of those we’ve lost and those injured in crashes with semi trucks.
Last year over 5,000 were killed and over 145,000 injured in crashes with large trucks. Stop a minute and think about that. How many people does the football stadium of your favorite team seat? What if all of those people were run over by a truck? Plus everyone out in the parking lot? Wouldn’t the nation take notice?
But people are dying and getting injured one by one, two by two, on highways and little back roads, spread out across the country. It doesn’t usually make the news. Even if it does the next news story buries it and no one remembers. Except the families.
We have so much work to do. So a week from tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday I’ll be asking for your help again. Over on Facebook I’ll be posting my request for donations. It’s easy to donate there, click a button, send us a few dollars. Last year you all astounded me and doubled my goal. This year I guess I should just start where I left off.
I hope you can help, every dollar counts. Every single dollar.
If you’re not into Facebook, you can donate directly through our website, trucksafety.org. There’s a green donate button, and an address if you’d rather send a check. And it’s there, on the website, that you can read some of the thousands of stories. It will break your heart, so have tissues ready.
If you don’t have time to go over to the website, here’ just a few of the thousands of faces of those directly affected by large truck crashes. Dad is 3 rows down, four pictures from the left, right next to Anna who is paralyzed from and lost her best friend in a semitruck crash. I know the names and stories of all these people and so many more. It makes me mad and sad and frustrated because it doesn’t have to be this way.
I thank you all for your support, both emotional and financial, over these many years. They say it gets easier. It doesn’t. It just gets different.
Help us help another family get through their new different. Change is hard.
It all started, as things often do, with an early morning appointment.
For years Katie-girl got me up extra early and while we were outside doing her business I’d usually witness beautiful but fleeting things. Geese or swans flying low with bellies glowing in the early light. Full moons dipping below the branches of our trees. A fox slipping silently through the woods. The flick of a deer’s white tail. Wisps of fog dancing on the pond.
But I haven’t been out in the early morning light lately.
Last week, once our 7:30 a.m. oil change was completed, my sister and I were driving home just as the sun was trying to break through the fog. It was beautiful, and we looked at each other and said….”Where can we go to get pictures of this?”
And…lucky for us we were only one exit away from one of my favorite parks, Holly Recreation, where Katie and I used to camp and wander the trails.
I felt a twinge of grief as I contemplated visiting one of her parks without her. But as we entered the park I realized the best place for pictures would be down near the lake and there was a parking lot Katie and I hardly ever used that would work perfectly for morning fog photos.
I felt relieved. I could be in the park, but not in Katie’s favorite part where I would feel her loss the most. Progress ,on this grief journey, is often made with tiny steps.
We parked and walked up and down that section of the road, taking pictures of the sun rising above the water, and the fog through the trees.
The reflections were gorgeous and we probably looked like crazy old ladies as we giggled and called back and forth to “come here and look at this!”
And when our fingers were frozen and our feet were soggy we climbed back into the car laughing as we cranked the heat up and scrolled through the images on our phones, each one better than the one before.
You can’t beat a good morning adventure – Katie taught me that over and over and over again. I like to think she was with us that morning, saying “I told you mama! You have to get out of bed early in the morning to catch the best stuff!”
I know, little girl, I know.
I’ve been thinking about the best way to share this, some eloquent words that capture the loss our family experienced this week. But there is no easy way.
My last post, Wordless Wednesday is an image I captured in May when my aunt and I were walking through Hudson Mills Park. She was looking for dogwood and trillium. I was trying to capture as much of the experience as she’d let me.
Which means most of my images were taken from behind.
We walked slower this spring than we had the year before, took the shorter trails, gauged whether a hill was too steep or manageable. We stopped to rest on convenient benches more often. There was, after all, no hurry. In fact there was more savoring the moments because we both knew it was our last spring together.
She’d been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and she had chosen not to take any treatment. They told her she’d have a good summer, and, right on schedule, she did.
My sister and brother came up, then my sister came up two more times. We visited her as often as we could. We attended her last symphony, brought her simple suppers rather than expecting the elaborate meals she has made for us our entire lifetimes. We swam with her at her community pool, walked in her beloved Mathi gardens and the University of Michigan Arboretum.
On our last visit, she sat in a wheelchair, pulling sheets of music for my sister and me to play, music she had written when her children were small. She sang along. We played music until she seemed tired, and then we talked just a bit. “Say Hi to Dad,” my sister said, “He’ll surely be waiting for you.”
It was a gift, she said, that she had these past months to spend with her children, with us, with her friends. And so that she could plan and arrange to make things as easy as possible for her family to carry on without her.
We all cried a bit, and then had a long, last hug.
This past Monday morning she left us to say hi to her brother, my dad, and to her husband, her mother, my mother, and so many other family members who had gone on ahead. And on Saturday we all said “see you later” at the most beautiful funeral I’ve ever attended.
She had, of course, planned it all, including her own words to all of us, the hymns to be sung, the prelude and postlude played by the incredible pianist, and the bagpipes played by my sister.
The time she spent with us was our gift as well. She was a gift to all of us, her family, her friends, musicians in her beloved symphony, her neighbors, the students she taught, the community band in which she played.
I can’t be sad, though I will miss her so much; she had a wonderful and joyous homecoming on Monday morning. And, as someone said at the funeral, she’s probably up there organizing heaven right now.
Thanks for all the good times, good meals, good conversation and good company, Aunt Becky. I’ll see you on down the road.
The maple trees around here are turning colors. They are brilliant reds and oranges and golds this year.
Each year I notice how beautiful they are, each year I think the colors are the prettiest ever.
Just like this year.
But today I also feel tinges of sadness as fall progresses because my little girl, the one who loved fall and who believed the trees turned color just for her isn’t here to enjoy it.
Katie looked so beautiful in fall colors.
She’s everywhere I look.
I cleaned your nose prints off the windows yesterday.
I ran my fingers across the little bumps one last time and then spritzed them away.
Because I don’t need those little smudges to know you were here.
And that you’re still right here beside me.