Somehow…/De alguna manera

Somehow…I think I’ll get so much done in a day… like I used to. I get invitations or there are things I want to or need to get done. I’ll mentally make a plan. And it just never happens that way now.

De alguna manera pienso que voy a lograr tanto en un día…como hacía antes. Me invitan o hay cosas que quiero o necesito terminar. Hago mis planes dentro de la cabeza. Y ahora nunca sale como yo pensé.

Somehow…I sleep but wake up with my sheets and covers all twisted and my mind tells me every morning that Chris is gone now.

De alguna manera… me despierto todos los días con las sábanas y las cobijas hechas un desastre y me dice la mente todas las mañanas que ya no está aquí Chris.

Somehow…I get out of bed with my aching body, my body that feels so heavy and that doesn’t even feel like my own anymore. Somehow…I do some kind of morning routine, dress, drink my coffee, eat a little. Somehow… it’s 9 am when I start and all of a sudden it’s 2:30 and I have no idea how that can be so.

Dé alguna manera me levanto en la mañana con mi cuerpo adolorido, mi cuerpo que ahora es tan pesado y que no siquiera parece ser mío. De alguna manera sigo mi rutina diurna, me visto, tomo mi café, como un poquito. De alguna manera… cuando empiezo son las 9 de la mañana y de repente son las 2:30 y ni siquiera entiendo cómo puede ser.

Somehow…I’m writing and preaching and singing and teaching. Somehow….I sometimes accept invitations.

De alguna manera…escribo, predico, canto y enseño. De alguna manera…a veces acepto invitaciones.

Somehow…I’m riding a bike in memory of my beloved son. Somehow…I’m going to ride the length of the Mississippi, might mystery.

De alguna manera…ando en bicicleta en memoria de mi amado hijo. De alguna manera…voy a andar por todo el Rió Misisipi, misterio poderoso.

Somehow…I’m still breathing through all of this sorrow. Somehow…

De alguna manera… sigo respirando en medio de tanta tristeza. De alguna manera…

Keep up with the bike ride here/sigue el progreso del viaje en bicicleta aquí:

https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Stanley-Mississippi-River-Memorial-Ride-2018-1925187301099554/

 

 

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Dreams

I used to wake up remembering having had vivid dreams in color. I can even remember a couple of dreams from my youth. I once had a dream about the cartoon characters from Mad Magazine chasing me around my house. I hid under the kitchen table and I looked over and the red-headed one with freckles was sitting next to me and it scared the bejeebers out of me. That was the only time I wet my bed since before I was two.

I had another dream a number of years ago. Chris, Austin and I were walking along a river and I was holding their hands because it was dark. The next thing I knew, one of them was missing and I couldn’t find him. I can’t remember which. As I’m frantically looking for him, someone grabs my hand and I startle awake. It turns out I had grabbed my own hand.

When Chris disappeared, I stopped remembering my dreams. I’ve only remember two or three since that time. But I’m sure I’ve been having nightmares because I wake up and my bedding is all twisted up and my body, especially my back hurts. Actually hurts.

This is not unexpected, I guess. This has been traumatic for many reasons… Chris being lost, not knowing how he ended up in the river and having no acceptable explanation, believing Chris had been physically hurt in the water because of where he went in, and of course, Chris’s death.

I have now received the autopsy report and I will just say that his beautiful body was broken, most likely I would think, by the concrete aprons at the bottom of the falls. This was not so surprising, I guess, but hard to read.

There was one dream I had recently where I actually laughed. I don’t really remember why, but I do know that laughing now feels to me like a foreign language I’m supposed to learn.<br>But I am sharing this post because of one dram I had in particular, and because Chris documented his daily dreams for quite awhile.

A few mornings ago, I was dreaming that Chris was in a hospital in a coma for some reason. He’d been there about 10 days but I hadn’t visited him and I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t gone to see him. I woke up confused and then remembered Chris wasn’t in the hospital. He had died.<br>If you read my posts, I’m sure it’s quite obvious I am struggling with all of this. And though I am so incredibly sad, I somehow have to hold on to some kind of hope because that’s the only way I can hold on to my loving memories of Chris.

As a pastor you might think I turn to the Bible for comfort. It’s not exactly where I conscientiously turn. I have verses and songs and stories that run through my head. I believe God knows my sorrow and cries with me and with Austin and with all those who grieve this tremendous loss. And I have many around me who share their prayers and where they turn to in Scripture to find comfort.

Right now, where I actively turn is to Chris’s writings. He seems to have a pretty clear-eyed view of the world, the beautiful and the ugly, and there is still so much hope and light in what he writes.

So when I had this last dream, I read through many of Chris’s dreams in his journal. He dreamt about so many of his friends, his family, girls.

Here are a couple of his dreams that are so Chris they make me grin in the little spaces of my heart where there is still some space to do so.

And finally, here is one more, a dream  Chris had about heaven.

I don’t know what heaven might be like, really, but I do believe his body has been made whole and that he is frolicking with the saints and resting in Jesus’ loving arms. And somehow I still believe that Jesus holds me in his loving arms, too, and that he’ll have to be holding me for a very long time.

Peace

You can’t fool the youth of today…for Zach

My kids never really swore in front of me. I don’t swear all that much. Sometimes, when I’m pretty angry. But not often. I wouldn’t let Chris play music with profanity so I could hear it. Not my thing. 

And because Chris was passionate about his beliefs, and he might say the same about me, we would argue sometimes, especially about the f-word.  He would say I gave power to the word by not using it and I would say it was more powerful when l used it because l only used it on rare occasions. I’m sure Chris swore when he was with his friends, but there is not much swearing in his poetry. 

(We were at a youth and family gathering once at Camp Amnicon when Chris was in junior high. I went to check on the kids all hanging out for ages in the sauna. Just as I opened the door, Chris blurts out to another kid, “Shut the f$%^ up.” To be fair, this was a kid that could be annoying. The kids all looked at me and I looked at Chris and just shook my head. And another friend said, “Nice, Chris.” And I shut the door and I’ve laughed every time I’ve told that story because it was so unexpected and he was so embarrassed. 

Now since Chris disappeared, I have mostly tried to hold on to things that bring me some little bits of piece. My activism has basically been reduced to listening with sadness at healthcare being cut, people being deported, others dying from overdoses and suicide, the dismantling of environmental protections and what I see as an erosion of the already fragile rights of many in our society. 

I haven’t been able to “go there” yet. When things get too argumentative the little bit I listen to the radio or when I see things on Facebook, I have to tube out. And I so want to be there, but as another activist friend of mine recently wrote to me… baby steps. If I don’t take care of myself now I’ll never be able to be there for others. Feels selfish though I know it’s what I have to do. 

So I haven’t posted yet some of the, what I might call edgier poetry that Chris wrote. But today I’m taking a baby step because Chris’s friend Zach and his family are suffering, along with other families across this nation, because of a gross injustice. And so tonight I share a little bit of what I think Chris might share with his friends if he were still physically with us. 

This first poem is a critique of our society. Chris used to say to me that my generation really messed things up for his, and he was probably right annoy that in a lot of ways. 

Chris recognised the injustices of our world. He had to learn about the privileges afforded to him because of his gender, class and skin color. But he was, indeed, learning. And like so many of his generation, he put his body on the line to walk with those who are oppressed and suffer more injustices than he did, because in the end we did suffer some injustice. (I’ve written some about this previously and I’m sure I will again).

These pictures are from the Climate March in NYC after which Chris became a vegetarian because of you’re going to march you have to change things in your own life, too, and from some marches around Minneapolis..

With Zach at the Climate March, 2014

He was so hopeful as he was on his way:

And right now, it’s hard to carry this optimism.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that it just starts with a few. And right now, I know that my community is holding me up and they’re showing up where I can’t. And Zach’s community is fueling him with love right now, too. 

Some who have been blinded are starting to wake up. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. And that light is love and hope and solidarity and faith, even when it’s hard to see or feel or believe. 

But I truly believe that love is revolutionary. By love we cannot fail. 

Peace. 

How can this be?

A relative was killed by a police officer last night in Minneapolis. Chris’s really, really good friend’s step-mom called 911 last night because she thought someone was in distress and now she is dead. 

Read a report here

And I can see why she and Chris would have been connected: Video presentation

I’m not even sure how to continue this post now. It’s about another family’s loss, and it is about my family’s loss. And as my first nations friends have been teaching me, we are all related. 

As you know if you’ve followed my story these last few eternal months, I have been mourning since my son Chris’s disappearance into the Mississippi River in April the 10 days he was lost and then when his body was found May 4th, the official date of his death. 

Zach, the young man who is in this article, was one of Chris’s best friends. They met in junior high and were buddies ever since. They played lacrosse together, got into shenanigans together, and were there for each other. Zach came home from college when he heard Chris was missing. 

From Chris’s house

Zach’s dad was the one who initially introduced Chris to meditation and meditation changed Chris’s life. From what I understood, Chris had even attended Justine’s meditation class. 

All three were with us in the terrible days of Chris’s disappearance. I hadn’t met Justine until a prayer vigil for him at the river when he was missing, but then she reached out to me and let me know she was there with me. She and Zach’s dad and I were going to get together soon so they could share some of their experiences with Chris with me. 

She was a person who carried peace with her and shared it generously. I could feel that. I met some women at a vigil held for Justine tonight who knew about Chris because Justine had led a meditation session in his honor soon after Chris’s death. They told me it was beautiful. 

And so Zach has lost now two of his best friends in a matter of a couple of months. My heart aches for him and for his family. My heart selfishly aches for me, too, because I hadn’t yet gotten to know her and to feel the connection that I know she had to Chris. 

Before Chris died, I was very involved in social justice issues. I haven’t been able to be very active or vocal since my heart was shattered. But now I must speak and I must stand. I don’t yet know what that will look like. I will follow the family’s lead. But I will be there for them as much as I can just as they have been here for me. 

What will it take for our nation to stop shooting? What is the deep-seated fear or anger or pain that causes police officers to shoot their guns at people? 

As so many have said to me, I don’t know what to say. There are no words to express my sorrow for this beloved family. I can only be with them as my tears mix with theirs and as the Creator weeps with us at the loss of another beautiful soul. I’m hoping that Chris is meditating with Justine in heaven and that they are both watching over their family that is suffering. 

I’m sharing this poem that Chris wrote because I want to hope we can fuel this world with love in memory of our dear lost ones. 

And because I don’t know how to pray tonight…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26

And finally, this poem I turn to often these days, because these coming seconds, moments, days, weeks, months, will seem unbearable art times. 

Peace, though it is hard to find tonight. 

What Would the River Say? ¿Qué diría el río?

Por primera vez en algún tiempo voy a escribir una entrada bilingüe. For the first time in awhile I’m writing a bilingual post. 

It seems mourning for me has mostly only been possible in written form in English so far. I’ve asked bilingual friends to help me translate other posts to Spanish and I’m starting here again with my own bilingual posts. There may be days when I just don’t have the energy for it, but today I do. 

Parece que estar de luto ha sido para mí casi sólo posible en inglés hasta el momento, al menos en forma escrita. Les he pedido a unos/as amigos/as a traducir unas entradas previas y aquí empiezo con entradas con mío propia traducción. Es posible que hayan días que no tenga la energía para hacer las traducciones, pero hoy sí. 

Otra vez estoy sentada al lado del Lago Harriet con algo de comer, aunque sólo comí un poco, y un vaso con vino, entre gente y sola a la vez. Pensando…

I’m sitting here again at Lake Harriet with a little something to eat, although I’ve only eaten a little, and a glass of wine, among people and alone at the same time. Thinking…

Un letrero explicando por qué está tan sucio el lago

Sometimes I’m surprised that I’m drawn to water and not afraid of it given what happened to Chris. But I suppose having grown up among lakes and rivers and creeks and swimming my whole life, well, it makes sense that both Chris and I were… am…drawn to water. And I don’t blame the river. I don’t know who or what to blame, but the river was just there doing its thing. Powerful, beautiful, mesmerizing, dangerous. 

A veces me sorprendo que tengo ganas de estar cerca del agua en vez de temerla dado lo que pasó con Chris. Pues supongo que creciendo toda la vida en medio de lagos, ríos, riachuelos toda la vida y nadando también toda la vida, pues tiene razón de que a Chris y yo, a los dos nos atraía… me atrae…tanto el agua. Y no le culpo al río. Yo no sé exactamente a quién o qué echar la culpa, pero ahí estaba el río tal como debía ser. Poderoso. Bello. Hipnotizante. Peligroso. 

The main thing I want to say today is that it makes me sad how much garbage I see when I’m out by the river, the river Chris loved so much. 

Lo principal que quiero decir es que me pongo triste cuando veo toda la basura en la orilla del río, el río que tanto quería Chris. 

By the Mississippi/En el Misisipi

El año que entra andaré en bici desde Minnesota hasta el Golfo de México al lado del Río Misisipi. Voy a pedirles a los que quieran darme la bienvenida que limpien el río. Sería una manera de respetar y valorar nuestra creación y así recordamos a mi hijo. 

 (Traducción aproximada: primer párrafo)

Hablo por el Misisipi. 

Qué sepas estoy harto de toda esta contaminación. 

Ya basta con la basura,

¿No sabes cuando la tiras en la calle llega a la alcantarilla y me llega a mí la alcantarilla?

Y las pesticidas que usas para que no hayan bichos en el césped, 

Cuando llueve me llegan arroyos de residuos tóxicos…

Next year I’ll ride my bike from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico along the Mississippi River. I’ll ask people along the way to welcome me by cleaning a part of the river. That is one way we can respect and value our creation and remember my son. 

Just a piece of this poem. I’ll share more later. Un pedazo del poema. Comparto más en el futuro.

 Un pedazo del poema traducido:

He vivido por casi 20 

      De la explotación del ambiente al nombre del progreso, al nombre de Dios. 

A ver si podemos trabajar juntos y cuidar la bella creación que es un regalo para disfrutar y honrar. 

Let’s see if we can work together to care for this beautiful creation that is a gift to honor and enjoy.  

Peace. Paz. 

Finding the Way, Or “The Sun Faces the Same Fate as I”


I would love to be able to stay in bed all day. I really would. But my body won’t allow that. It has, however, been moving as if I’m in a time warp or something. I meant to exercise today. I woke up about 9:15, got my exercise clothes and tennis shoes on. I did a couple of things and walked out the door. I got my coffee and started heading toward the lake, trying to decide whether to walk or bike, because I had so little energy. 

But then I glanced at the clock and it was somehow 10:36 and Austin and I were meeting Ahmed at noon for lunch. Walking or biking would take too much time. 

So I went home instead and took Socky for a walk. Well, he was pretty lazy today, so I mostly stood with him. 

Time and space are different now, as I hurtle through the universe while I feel like I’m in an unending eternity that just started yesterday. 

So, often I wander in  now familiar places. A couple of days ago I ended up by the Lake Street Bridge again. I haven’t exactly seen yet where Chris was found. Couldn’t quite bring myself to ask Rick, the Water Patrol Supervisor to show me. But I texted him from there and he’ll be in touch with me this week. And I’m terrified of more heartbreak. But it’s one more step I have to take. 

And so I cried and walked on the path high above the river. I looked at a map of the area, just to make sure my bearings were still reliable, and I was almost to where I thought I’d turn around and I saw some steps heading down and toward the river. 

So I followed them down and back toward where I began. Why not?

And I thought of Chris’s “Old Growth Forest” poetry collection. And I thought of Chris. And I found just a little bit of peace in the forest by the river. 

By the way, there’s an awful lot of trash along the river, but I’ll write more about that later. 

And then I found my way back by a different, unknown route. The metaphor isn’t perfect, is it, because I’ll never find my way back. It’s just not possible. 

And then today I finally got the courage to ask for the autopsy report and to contact the investigators so that even though I’ll never have all the answers, and even though the outcome won’t change, well, I’ll know as much as I can.  And I’ve started to look for a grief counselor. My friends are encouraging me to do so. My friend Anne tells me the coroner’s report will be very hard to read. I already know that, though I imagine it will still be a shock seeing the words that I’ve been imagining in writing. 

And somehow, I’m still standing even though I don’t know how. And please don’t take this for strength. We all handle this tremendous grief differently. I’ve been thinking about this today. 

I shared this post earlier on Facebook:

Chris’s friends from his mindfulness group (or one of them…I’m not sure how many he participated in) sent me this poem he wrote around Christmas last year. Thought I would share it with you as you go about your day and your week:

This life is a gift here for you to open,

so rip off the wrapping paper, and see what’s inside.

This life is a ride to be enjoyed in rapture,

so capture what you can with light fingered hands.

This life is a present, floating by to meet your eye,

so keep your heart open to a world waiting to happen.

~Chris Stanley, 2016

May you rest in peace my beloved son who saw how beautiful life can be, even if it isn’t always so. ❤ always, Mom 

People sometimes say you should live your life as if it were your last. I don’t think that’s quite it and I think Chris, Austin and I all learned this with Tom’s stroke: I think we should live our lives like today is a good day to live. 

That will look different for each of us each day. Some days it’s way harder than others. And for those days, look for someone to reach out to or reach out to someone. And maybe all you can manage is… well, I don’t know what that looks like for you. For me it’s different every single day and sometimes every moment. Some days I don’t quite get there. 

So I wander in my grief. I wander with my heart so heavy in my chest…yes…I understand that phrase now…and I trust God will lead me and that Jesus walks with me and that my family and my friends and all who loved Chris or who have been touched by his life walk with me, some with grief that you also struggle with. 

One last note… we worshiped with Tapestry last night. I really, really spent want to go. But I did. And it was the place to be, praising God and being together with my beloved community. We had visitors last night, people invited by some newer people. And the wife had lost her daughter a couple of years ago. They hadn’t known about Chris, but when they told me about their loss, I shared with them mine. And they understood my tears and we grieved and prayed together. 
I hope you find beloved community. And if you don’t, please come and join ours. We will love you for who you are wherever you are in your wandering or if you’ve found your way. You are loved. You have nothing to fear. You are not alone. 

Peace. 

Brains and Getting Over It

I didn’t think I’d write tonight, but the tears continue to fall and the pressure on my chest and in my body overwhelms. I find that the words I write here help me understand what I’m feeling and allow me to release some of the weight as I release the words. 

There are certain tragedies that have already occurred in our family that we have all learned to live with in somber sense though they are hard to accept and understand. I have written some about them before. 

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 8 years ago now and we moved her into a memory care unit last October. The decline was gradual at first and seems to have gotten more extreme over the last two or three years. One part of the reason Chris was studying neurobiology was because of his grandma. He sent me a video about it from a class a few months ago and told me to let him know if there was anything I didn’t understand. Grandma took care of the kids for a few years when she retired.

Christmas 2016 

I couldn’t visit my mom from the time Chris was lost until a week or so after the funeral. That was three weeks and that’s a long time for my mom. I have been visiting since then, but my visits have been fairly short and I don’t really know what to say, especially when she asks about “the boys.”

Through South Dakota on our trip to Yellowstone. Maybe around 2007?

She remembered her three grandsons for the longest time. She always talked about how kind Brandon was and that he’d give her hugs and how smart Austin was and funny and she would always talk about how she loved it when Chris would come over to visit and have a big smile (if you knew Chris, you know this smile) and say, “Hi grandma!” And she would be so happy and proud. 

Mom and I doing our own version of the Science March in April of this year, just a few days before Chris was lost and when she still kind of remembered the boys. 

The first couple of times I visited after the funeral she asked how the boys were. I told her Chris graduated from the U, her alma mater. And she was happy and proud. Just two months later and she maybe asks about the boys but it’s a question out of habit and I mumble some kind of answer. 

I visited yesterday and it was the first time she didn’t recognize me the entire visit. She was asking me when her daughter would visit and looked confused when I told her I’m her daughter. She told me how kind her daughter was and that she helps people. 

And today was Tom’s birthday. I’ve written and spoken quite a bit over the years about his stroke and how our family has walked through this devastating time. 

These pictures are from Chris’s Instagram in the days after his dad’s stroke. 

I think part of the reason we were so happy as a family is that we’d learned to live pretty well with our new reality and Tom had done better than we probably expected. 

But he does have a brain injury, and this was a very large part of Chris’s motivation for choosing his specific major, of course. 

I will say a couple of things about this. Tom was always very mechanically minded. He could fix pretty much anything, and can probably still fix a lot of things, though he can’t use his dominant hand, so that would look different. 

Chris totaled his dad’s Roadmaster on Tom’s birthday when he was a pretty new driver at 16. Tom repaired it. Amazing to me. 

Today he was showing us these drawings of machines he designed and drew to help him walk and ride. From what I understand, be may be working with someone to build them. He now says “thank you” a lot and he talks a lot but we can’t understand him exactly, but his mind  allowed him to draw this machine with his left hand. 

And again, I’m not exactly sure about this, but it seems his mind also functions quite a bit in the present. Tom waa devastated when he heard Chris was lost in the river. And his grief has been deep. But he seems to live much more in the present than I’m able to do and so the intensity of the loss seems less when he’s not being reminded of Chris’s death in the moment. 

This is hard to explain and only my sense of things right now. I hope he gets relief in that way. 

But today these things make me feel very alone in my grief, and I grieve these losses again, or still, too. And I know Austin is devastated and it’s too hard for us to talk about together right now. And I know so many others grieve with me. And family and my friends and Chris’s friends and complete strangers reach out to me daily. And I am so grateful. 

But today I grieve deeply and today I feel alone in my grief, even though I know I’m not. 

And today I paid less on my phone bill because I don’t have to pay for Chris’s phone anymore, though I still have his number and picture on my phone. And I’m making baked beans for Tapestry tomorrow, even though that was really hard, too, because Chris really liked my baked beans, as long as I made sure to remove any stones. And I used herbs I had just bought for him to try from Penzey’s to make the baked beans. 

And I’m so tired of being sad. I’m tired of crying. I feel like I’m complaining and like I should be doing things. But I can’t seem to yet. And so patience is forced upon me. And I continue to be thankful for those who are able to walk with me in this. And I maybe even pray a little for peace. Peace for me and for Austin and for all those who mourn Chris’s loss and for those who mourn loss in their lives, too. 

And I’ll share this poem from the book of poetry Chris dedicated to me. I have the only copy. I searched and searched and couldn’t find it and then it revealed itself to me a couple of days ago. I had just overlooked it. I am so incredibly grateful for this book. 

Peace.