Bittersweet


I think sometimes it's the little things in grief that make the heart skip a beat. The milestone occasions – holidays, birthdays, anniversaries – one feels the sting of loss there for sure. But in some ways, it's an expected hole. You step into Thanksgiving or Christmas knowing you step into a gaping abyss, bracing yourself for it, willing yourself to smile, to find joy and thanks.

But it's the unexpected moments that sear my heart and steal my breath.

I place the kettle on the burner, reach into tea canister and pluck fragrant Darjeeling with the purple tag – the tea I bought special when she visited.

Darjeeling was her favorite. She drank two cups each morning, carefully squeezing and then setting the used bag on a tiny plate, saving it to reuse for her second cup later in the morning.


There are just three purple-tagged bags left in my kitchen canister, mixed with the Lipton and the ginger-green. I remember sitting with her on the screened porch, feet tucked beneath floral cushions. I watched chickadees swoop between birches. She did the crossword. We sipped tea.

The boys beg to decorate the house for fall. I haul out Rubbermaid containers packed full of plastic pumpkins, garish leaves, light-up ghosts. A grocery bag sits knotted on top, in it tangled bittersweet, brittle, looping vines and flaming berries bursting from papery husks.

She always stopped to pick me a bag full by the roadside on her way to visit Hilma.




I lay the bittersweet gently on foyer table and mirror shelf, careful.

I hum Silent Night under my breath as I sit on the patio. I don't know why the song springs to mind in early October. But I think of Jon and Janice, standing in the pew of the tiny yellow church in Big Pine Key, hand on hand as we sing the solemn Christmas hymn that Eve.

Sleep in Heavenly peace.

Sleep in Heavenly peace.

I hum and remember.

Bittersweet.


"The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace." Romans 15:13

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Marcy {pine creek cottage}  – (September 28, 2010 at 6:58 AM)  

You have me in tears... you've captured the feeling beautifully... bittersweet.

Deidra  – (September 28, 2010 at 8:15 AM)  

All choked up over here. And still praying for you.

Grief is hard, but God does good things to us and in us and through us when we experience it. This post is proof. God is good to us. Even now.

Dawn  – (September 28, 2010 at 8:38 AM)  

you have been on my mind... and in my heart. your words today are just right... it is the unexpected little things that will bring on the tears more than anything, proof i think, that it is the little things in life that are really the big things. so i will think of you sitting there, warming your hands on that mug, trying oh-so-hard to warm your heart... surrounded in bittersweet (which is a favorite of mine.) and singing. because sometimes the words to a familiar song are the only ones that God will place in my voice as prayer...

Nancy  – (September 28, 2010 at 9:29 AM)  

Christmas hymns are my go-to place when life is bittersweet. Seems right to sing of Him who was born that men no more may die, the One risen with healing in His wings. Beautiful piece.

Tabitha  – (September 28, 2010 at 9:40 AM)  

WOW...This warmed my heart this morning..You've described beautifully how I feel about a few losses in my life.

Grace on the Narrow Path  – (September 28, 2010 at 10:34 AM)  

So very beautiful my friend. My mother passed away last October and now I find myself getting ready for Fall without her. There has been so many times that I thought to myself I need to tell mom about this or that . . . then I remember she is in Heaven with Jesus. Bittersweet describes this perfectly. I am praying for you. May the Lord give a peace that will pass all understanding.
Blessings,
Bren

kendal  – (September 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM)  

my sister said it well a couple of weeks after our nephew died suddenly, "the ouchies are sneaky."
And they are. And they will be.

Jen  – (September 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM)  

All I can say is that I understand completely.

Em and Lib  – (September 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM)  

OH. I can feel your heart in this post. I can feel a taste of what the loss will be like for me...glad your was some sweet mixes wiht the bitter!

Blessings!
LIB

Manda  – (September 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM)  

I felt as tho I was sipping tea too... beautifully written. Lovely remembrance.

Jean Wise  – (September 28, 2010 at 11:22 AM)  

wow look at all these lovely comments - all praying and supporting you in your time of grief. This is a beautiful tribute to her memory. Keep expressing yourself through your words - it is also blessing us.

Lara Prachar –   – (September 28, 2010 at 12:42 PM)  

Bittersweet indeed. You never know when a memory will sneak up on you. Just yesterday I wanted to call my dad and tell him something and then it hit me that he's not here anymore. Thanks for your beautiful writings Michelle!

Elise @A Path Made Straight  – (September 28, 2010 at 12:52 PM)  

This is so beautiful. I feel your heart, see you searching for the beauty in the bittersweet... and you found it.

Thank you for sharing.

togetherforgood  – (September 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM)  

You made me cry, a little. My heart hurts with yours.

Cassandra Frear  – (September 28, 2010 at 1:22 PM)  

Gorgeous writing. YOu make me want to do Tuesdays Unwrapped, too.

Bev  – (September 28, 2010 at 4:46 PM)  

i can truly relate to your grief......you put on paper so beautifully those out of nowhere moments that happen...
hugs for you...

Ostriches Look Funny  – (September 28, 2010 at 7:52 PM)  

Oh how are you?

This was beautiful like a song, poetic and rhythmic. Beauty for ashes?

alicia  – (September 28, 2010 at 8:18 PM)  

Beautiful... continuing to pray as you journey through your grief. Blessings

Alita  – (September 28, 2010 at 8:57 PM)  

I understand. I understand this. Very well written Michelle. You are in my prayers.

deb  – (September 29, 2010 at 7:50 AM)  

ah, Michelle
gorgeous writing.
hugs...

Laura  – (September 29, 2010 at 12:23 PM)  

Typing through tears...

I love your acknowledgement of both the bitter and the sweet. The more I live, the more I find that life is a lovely paradox, a breathing oxymoron, a balance of bitter and sweet.

Tricia  – (December 24, 2010 at 12:53 PM)  

Praying that the memories that wash over you this holiday season are more sweet than bitter. Praying that God brings a peace and joy to your heart that consumes you. Praying that you will look forward with hope. Blessings.

Lara Prachar –   – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

Bittersweet indeed. You never know when a memory will sneak up on you. Just yesterday I wanted to call my dad and tell him something and then it hit me that he's not here anymore. Thanks for your beautiful writings Michelle!

Marcy {pine creek cottage}  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

You have me in tears... you've captured the feeling beautifully... bittersweet.

Tabitha  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

WOW...This warmed my heart this morning..You've described beautifully how I feel about a few losses in my life.

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