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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Day of Grace

~ maple, overhead and l to r - oak, maple, tamarack ~
I took a break and had a toes-up on the lawn while the dogs, cats and Carly wandered around me and the yard. There are ancient maple, hemlock, oak and tamarack trees in the yard which provide shelter, shade and color at varying times of the year. While the dogs alternatively gave me sloppy kisses, then trailed the scent of something, I watched the tree branches move lazily against the sky.
~ Carly, old bones sleep a lot ~
Do trees live in three-quarter time, rooted to the ground and struggling to be free? In days of old, before the Fall, did trees roam the earth, clapping their branches in praise to the Almighty? Are they, now, conscious beings, doomed, or permitted, to live at a slower pace? The Good Book says, "a time to be born and a time to die" but it doesn't say if all living things are living at the same pace but in their own time, in their own space.
~ Sam and Sadie ~
This season of grief, of mourning, since Dave died, leaves me with no one to talk to. No one who looks at me other than strangely when I talk about trees as cognizant beings.
~ curious creatures ~
Some years back, Tumbleweed was a rescue, as are so many here on the farm, including Dave and I. He and I rescued each other, a gift of grace from Abba. Tumbles was a birthday gift from Dave; this black American Curly mare who had known harshness, perhaps mistreatment, in her early life. When Dave found out we had to pay for the privilege of rescuing her, he shook his head and muttered, "Only you would pay to rescue." I brought her home and put her in a small lot where she had fresh water and I could feed and touch her every day. I wanted her to get used to me, to begin to trust me and I, to trust her.
~ Tumbleweed, American Curly horse ~
As I was coming or going, she would come to the fence to watch me and nicker a greeting. The dogs and I would go into her lot to give her love and she would patiently stand, letting me brush her. When I started to move away, she blocked my path; she wanted more love and attention. When I told her, "Later", she would prance off sideways, keeping me in her line of vision and, all of a sudden, would throw her head up and begin racing the small lot, bucking and kicking and watching me watch her antics. Tumbleweed ran for the pure joy of knowing I took joy in watching and she'd run in larger circles around me, but always, watching me, watching. It was a memory moment and a good one; this farm is full of such moments and some threaten to overwhelm, then suffocate.

If you're still reading, say a prayer for those of us here at Thistle Cove Farm. Especially me...for good health, safety and wisdom to take care of those in my stewardship. For me to prepare us for winter, for me to have the heart to keep going. When Dave first died, I thought the grief would kill me; now I'm afraid it won't. When Joy, his wife, died, C. S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, "Her absence is the sky and spread over everything." O dear God, how this strikes me at my core! Lewis also wrote, "When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of 'No answer.' It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child;you don't understand.'" (emphasis mine)
~ do you see them? ~
They are both right, I don't understand and thought I'd be further along by now. When I first met Dave, Cathy had been dead for eleven months. I confess, I remember thinking, "Why does it still hurt you like it does? Why are you still grieving so desperately?" 
God, help me, now I understand and, almost, wish I didn't. 

Grief is physical and damn hard work. It's unrelenting in its assault, a constant daily fight and the only peace I get is when I'm asleep. Thank God, I sleep well due, I'm sure, to the physically demanding work of keeping the house, farm and animals. 

It's a tender work, tenuous at best, living the grief down and trying to move forward. Just last week, a young woman asked, "What's it like, burying a spouse, the work of grieving?" I told her, "Nothing I'd wish on my worst enemy" and yet, most of us will experience it. Statistics show women are widowed, on an average, at age 52 and more women than men will bury their spouse. Even so, there's no joy in knowing. 
~ now do you see them? ~
It's a cycle, this circle of birth, life and death. Once born, everything has a season of life and then death no matter if it's trees, grass, animals or humans. I'm not sure about the trees and grass but I do know animals and humans grieve; desperately in some cases, and some never, quite, move on. It's not that they aren't willing but they aren't able and only God knows and, right now, He's not saying other than, perhaps,

"Peace, child; you don't understand."

Joining with Jen at Finding Heaven Today, the Soli Deo Gloria party. 

Blessings ~ many, but for the life of me, I can't see through the tears to count them ~


  1. Sandra, I read every word and my heart aches for you. I can feel the depths of love you had for your husband. It is palpable and still live. There is never a time line for grief Those of us that have experienced deep grief move in and out of it...with the flash of the light on a bird's wing and in the soft stirring of the trees at dusk. It is a lonesomeness you can't explain to anyone even if you feel it yourself.
    Your joy is that you loved, and were loved, so deeply. There are those that never experience that type of love- one that wraps and enfolds you and leaves you aching and wanting when it is gone.
    I am praying for you to weather this storm in life- to lean into that which you know and look up to God....for in the end that is all we have. Blessings and hugs and love- Diana

  2. I wish you had someone to talk to the way you used to talk to Dave. I know God wants us to talk to Him, and we can talk to Him in a way that has the potential to be more comforting than conversations with our human companions, but it's so different, and most of us aren't at a place where we feel the benefit. Thank you for that line, which I hope to remember often, "Peace, Child, you don't understand."
    My earthly father didn't usually have too much to say to me, either. May I be as I was as a child, taking comfort from the quiet and strong presence of my father.

  3. Sending you warm hugs.....huge hugs.
    Love ya!

  4. This is raw and beautiful, writing, dear Sandra, and i know you are speaking from the heart and with great difficulty. Some do grieve so deeply, so painfully, that it never leaves all their days. They stand in this life as monuments to how we should all oppose death and loss of love. I remember the feeling of having release only when asleep. How I hated those first few moments of waking each morning, when for seconds I hadn't remembered yet, and then would be overwhelmed yet again (each day!) with the pain and grief of my situation! I do not know how you carry on, and you know I have no clever, new words to say, and you aren't asking for that. But we do hear you, we who listen here. We hear and acknowledge your grief and stand with you as much as we can. All I know, and this I know, is that God promises to compensate us, to return to us the years that the locusts now eat. I do not know what that compensation will look like. Perhaps that's part of what we don't understand, as we grieve. Love you.

  5. Dear Sandy, I know that empty feeling so well. I used to talk to my dog, I was so alone.
    God was good he sent Renee to her Mamma , she loves horses and wants to work at a farm just to ride.
    Big hug to you sweet Sandra.

  6. Oh, how I hear your hurt...and I wish I could come to your farm in a whim and have you tell me how to prepare for winter so you had a break. I can't imagine what you are feeling as I have not lost my spouse. My prayer for you is not that the grief would be taken away...that is part of the healing of your deep hurt, but that in the hurting and the journey you would receive the support you need. Hugs to you!

  7. Sandra, it hurts my heart to know you are down right now and I have no words that will make it better. Just know that we all are here for you in spirit and wish we could be there physically to give you a hug and some help. I think about you often and always you are in my daily prayers.

  8. Sandra, I'm sending you so much love and praying for you & thistle cove. Your writing is so beautiful and vulnerable. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I can only imagine what you are going through as you grieve, mourn and reinvent a new normal for yourself. As you share your journey here your words are preparing those of us that will walk in your shoes and lose a spouse some day. Thank you. And I hope you will share more of your inner thoughts and wonderings. I too wonder about the trees :)

  9. Sandra, thanks for your comment over at Three Way Light....I'm going to have to come back and read this post. Wow.

  10. Lord, right now, I pray for my dear sister. I ask Lord that you would send Your peace and Your joy to comfort her. I ask that you would surround her with family and friends who can strengthen her and encourage her, while You comfort her. Help her Lord, to feel Your love surrounding her every minute of the day. And to know that You hold her in the palm of Your mighty hand. It is in Jesus name I pray, and I thank you. Amen

  11. I know you have the heart to keep going.

    A monc, a friend of me, 85 years old now, said once very oeaceful: "I'm used to ave troubles and pain." - i think you are the same, brave Thistle. you are used to the tthistles, you know, they have wonderful flowers and many butterflies enjoy them finding sweet honey there.

    Yes! This kind of work makes our body healthy tired, so we can sleep good.

    carly looks like a sheep.

    Wonderful animals you have.


  12. I sometimes feel only those who have grieved can truly know the aching loss. It will be 33 years since Gary died this October . . . Sometimes I am thrown back into waves of the deep sorrow I felt after his death . . . the going on, the living again seemed impossible, yet bills had to be paid, the children fed and work had to be found. I was laid off from my teaching job on Friday . . . Gary's sudden death on the next Tuesday . . . our son 16, daughter 13 . . .

    I still feel the discomfort from others who seem to wish I wouldn't talk of him, mention his name . . . At first that was difficult for me to understand until I realized it was their own discomfort, not mine that was happening. Gary was a 25 year chapter in my life. There will always be our connection.

    As I have grown older, entered new chapters, I look on our years with more love and joy then I thought possible then. The grief isn't as fresh and raw, yet the unspoken reminders are part of my everyday. Most of the people I know now didn't have the pleasure of knowing my beautiful partner . . .

    Speaking of your Dave . . of your grief observed . . . gives me a credence to sharing my own personal journey. It was part of what helped me, as i became transparent enough to reveal my sorrow I was able to step into the sorrow of another. . . . I felt less alone.

    God has blessed me with a beautiful tender life . . . and all is right with my soul . . .

    My caring Sandra . . . be well my friend . . .
    Love, Lynne

  13. Love to you, Sandra. You're in my prayers. ♥

  14. Your words and photos touch my heart, Sandra...sending a big XO and prayers your way...

  15. I send you a big hug...praying for you, Sandra!

  16. Animals do communicate with us in whatever ways they can. My little dog's conversations are different than the ones with my kitties. I never thought about a tree's life in the way you expressed but I do feel sorry for a dead leaf that is left lonely and skittering in the winter wind. I enjoy reading what you write and send my support from afar for your process.

  17. Sandra - your writing is so raw and honest. Dear friend I know your pain and yet each of us goes through/deals with death in different ways. Bless you sweet sister in da 'hood

  18. Hi Sandra, I did read every word. I have not lost a spouse. I can't say I understand but I do know from your blog what a special relationship you and Dave shared. I know from losing mother what it is like to both want to stay and want to leave because of the memories of a loved one associated with a place. Some days, it's hard to put one foot in front of the other. I keep you in my heart and prayers.

  19. Oh Sandra I truly wish I could hug you and let you know how much I care about what you are going through I have no idea and honestly hope I do not for a long time but your post struck my heart and I can feel your loneliness and pain. I do hope you find the peace you so need and deserve. I believe he is with you.HUGS B

  20. Sandra, my heart hurts for you. I wish you were my neighbor right now. I am faced with more time on my hands right now, and if nothing else.. I am a good listener. I'm also sure there is no way that anyone can truly understand this.. unless they have experienced it firsthand. It is one of my worst fears. God Bless You, my friend, and I pray that He gives you peace and strength. Hugs, Tammy

  21. I like the posts about your animals. You are so good to them.

  22. Sandra,
    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I can feel the tears coming on, and that does not happen often to me. As I read the post, I join you in seeing the trees and creation glorifying God, and I feel a sense of your loss. I will keep you in prayer. I wish that we were geographically close, because I am always blessed by your beautiful heart.

  23. I just want to come to TCF and sit with you. Your words catch my heart, touch me deeply, and bend my words to prayer. You are loved.

  24. Dearest Sandra- you write so beautifully--- I am praying that everyday you find the will and a million new reasons to carry on. Your precious farm babies need you-- you rescued them and they are here for you. Their care and needs are a reason to focus and provide for them. In all the ways they can-/ they love you back.

    Your beautiful box of knitted gifts came today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for such generosity and for the gifts of your talents. The scarves and hats will be loved when they go to new homes-- lives will be touched.

    You are so generous and so giving-- I love you for all you do. I pray that each day brings you a blessing that will leave you fulfilled--


  25. Wow. Was that powerful. You are a fantastic writer. Your words paint such a real picture.

    This discusssion brings home how much I still grieve for my mother (died 1966), for the father who never really loved me, for the grandmother I lost in 1981, etc. All I can say is for me the wounds never heal, one just keeps breathing, working and moving. That's all I know what to do. Hubby and I have discussed our final days openly many times. We've made Wills and pre-written Obits. I know one of us will be the Last (Wo)Man Standing. I'd much rather it be him if God allows choices (don't think He does). I've had enough grief in my life, thank you very much.

    Well, as you know, the Bible teaches us, this is a world of goodbyes. Nothing can be done about it. At least I can say I've been really, really loved: by a good man and patient friends. Not everyone has that priviledge. And when we're all in Heaven we will never have to say Goodbye again.

    And WE all love ya! Feel free to talk about this with us anytime. We're listening. Sending prayers of joy, comfort, love, patience and anything else you require your way.

    Luv ~:)

  26. I wish there was something I could say to ease your pain, but I know that's futile.

    Time. xo

  27. i was wondering why some people 'get' to die
    of a broken heart while others have to live
    with theirs. i pray that yours will mend and
    that you have the strength to prepare for the
    long winter.

  28. Sandra, This is my first visit her and your post touched me so much and my heart goes out to you . Sending caring thoughts of strength and peace,

  29. I have nothing to offer as for words, but prayers I can do.

    As for the trees, the Bible speaks of them clapping their hands and all creation groans for what our sins have caused on this earth He has created. So many trees are ancient in the true definition of the word, and I have been in ancient forests with trees older than the discovery of America by Columbus,there is a definite "feeling" in the forests that causes un-ease, and awe.

  30. Sandra, yours is a beautiful story on so many levels, the love so evident and the life you've made together truly inspired and inspiring. It's no wonder the grief runs so deep. What a gift to have known such love... may you find peace in your faith and courage to move forward in a way that is best for you -

  31. I will, indeed, say a prayer for you, as you continue to heal a broken heart and also meet your many responsibilities.

    This grieving business brings on a weariness that can settle into our bones. I have already started my personal grieving process. My husband was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. Two rounds of chemo done, and now surgery is next week. More chemo and radiation to come. The cold, hard fact is that the long-term odds are very slim for his type of cancer. And God is right - I don't understand.

    Thank you for a beautifully written post. God bless you.

  32. Thank you. And for you and those women who have walked your path and shared it also thank you. For those of us who are walking that pathway with the unspeakable raising its head to often remind us it is not a question of if but when. Thank you all for drawing out to us the map, different for all, but knowledge that we are to be neither the first, or to be alone in this journey. Thank you for your voice. Sandra you and others like you are doing I believe the work that God laid out to you when He took Dave Home. Blessings on you friend.

  33. As you and I have said many times ... we both have sweet Dave's. I wish I had met yours and love your stories of how you met and how you loved each other.

    Sharing your sadness, dear friend.


  34. Thank you all for your comments; I am going to send personal notes to each of you. God bless you.

  35. I am happy today to visit your blog, its a beautiful and inspiring place to be... your writings are so deep, and touches one's heart.

    Thank you for sharing.. its not easy to forget our loved ones... memories are so deep, that it is not easy to move on.. I still struggle to cope with the loss of my only son.. wish you faith, grace and strenght to move on...


Thank you for visiting Thistle Cove Farm; may God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart. My goal is to respond, here, to your comments although it may take a while.

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