Grief Stew


As I sit here tonight typing on my MacBook, I cannot help but reflect on the enormous impact Steve Jobs has had on my life. I don't wish to be so self-absorbed here---I realize that he, Wozniak and all of Apple Computers have made a significant difference in the world as we know it---but this is my blog and Mr. Jobs is one of my heroes.  And even though I did not have the privilege of knowing this man personally, his passing is no small thing to me and I am mourning the loss of this creative visionary.


I would not be on any computer if it were not for a Mac. I started on a Mac and have never looked back.  The simplicity and creativity associated with Apple Computers always made sense to me. Frankly, I do not understand the appeal of other PC's.  Macs just match my right-brained inclinations and natural order. Putting myself through ministerial school, I did not just work for Apple because it was a job, it was because I believed in the company. Wasband David and I were known to spend our weekend's at Fry's Electronics hovering around the personal computer section eavesdropping on customers comments, confusion and frustrations and we would quietly step in and guide them over to the Apple section and educate them on their options. 


I began on the first little Mac from 1985. That sweet little one box, 64 kb machine that did amazing things. I also recall my first experience with the world-wide web when I joined something called "e-World" which was a cyber community dedicated and inhabited solely (soul-ly) by MacHeads and I ended up running a chat room on spirituality.  I am a loyal MacEvangelista.




Emotions have the better of me right now but I am trying to be proactive to shake my way out and yet allow for myself the space and place to grieve. Last night my dreams were filled with my personal feelings of grief and loss about many things, many people.


Much has transpired since my last post that I am uncertain as to know where to begin. The saving grace is that it is now officially autumn. For me, that really makes almost all things tolerable. Even my tenderness and sadness. It's been a long cycle of disappointment and loss over the past few months. And anyone who knows anything about the process of grief understands that one circumstance of death or loss usually opens up a Pandora's Box of other, often unresolved grief bits of yore. The disappointments have been building for awhile and came to a head which means now allowing things to shift into better alignment. 


The grief? Well, that's trickier. A beloved congregant and friend died a few weeks ago and then we held her memorial service. I was privileged to walk with her through her final week of life and to be at her bedside when she passed. Being the seasoned professional I am, I found places along the way to let my sadness surface and release so that I could be present for her, for her family and for her angelic caregivers.


In the midst of that, I dealt with a different kind of loss when the iconic soap opera staple, "All My Children" went off the air after 41 years of episodes.  I realize I risk being misunderstood and ridiculed because I am throwing this into my grief stew when there is real death to deal with but please pause and withhold your judgment for one moment for me to explain.  (After all, ins't judgment just an act of ignorance or misunderstanding anyway?)





Coming from a dysfunctional and broken home, raised by a single parent, we moved a lot and I did not know any semblance of a traditional--dare I say?--normal family life.  Being a sensitive and atypical kid, I was often sick and was frequently absent from school for long periods.  Even though my grandmother watched her C.B.S. soaps during the day, I was not a fan and in fact, preferred all the game shows instead. Yet one day in January, 1970, I was home with some ailment or other and I landed on A.B.C. during the lunch hour and the premiere episode of "All My Children."  While waiting for "Password" and with nothing better to do, I watched the show. And I guess I never stopped.


Of course, I did not watch every day. I did finish high school and I did enter the adult world where one often had a job during the day. But I did eventually get a VCR in the 80's and my Wasband, David and I got very attached to watching the young love story lines. (Perhaps for David, he got hooked because a friend and former co-star was one of the young female leads at the time).  As the years went on, I watched less and less and less.  However, when I would find myself at home during the 12:00 p.m. airing, I would tune in and see what Erica or Adam might be doing and who or what was new in Pine Valley.


Pine Valley, the fictional small-town in which the characters lived and loved became more consistent and more like family or community than anything I had experienced in real life. Some people could go home to their relatives for the holidays, I tuned into "All My Children." So when the show ended, I felt another loss.  A piece of my childhood; a sure-thing was now over. 


I am not resistant to change. In fact, I often court it.  After all, I am dyed-in-the wool Religious Scientist that thrives on change.  And yet, when there is a lot of change--especially change that feels like loss--occurs simultaneously, it can wreak emotional havoc.


Our church center is moving causing enormous changes. People and things are changing and it creates stress at the very least. We had another beloved church member collapse at work last week and it was touch and go until yesterday.  Our community held its collective breath as we did our prayers to see this member and her family through.


Last week, the mother of one of my dearest friends passed away in her sleep.  I knew Dorothy of course, but it was her daughter, Jane who filled in for me as a 'surrogate mother' through my tumultuous childhood that I was closest to. And now, my prayers go out to Jane as she deals with the loss of her mother.  Dorothy's memorial is this Sunday in North Hollywood but I doubt I will be to travel there to be there for Jane as she was for me when my mother died. Therefore, it is no surprise that this week, my own mother has visited my dreams for the first time in years.


And now, we have lost one of my adult heroes, Steve Jobs.  Again, he was not a personal friend but who he was and what he did was very personal to me.  I have only felt like this two other times with "celebrity V.I.P.'s". The first time was when Gene Kelly died ( not only did I have a huge crush on the guy, but his artistry in the M.G.M. musicals filled my soul as well as kept me entertained as a by myself latchkey kid watching T.V.); and when Jim Henson died.  Both of these men were in my mind, creative geniuses who changed the lives of millions of children and fans by honoring their innate gifts and being able to share them with the world.


When I woke this morning after having my dreams filled with recollections of friends and phases gone by, it was no wonder that I felt heavy laden and sad.  My dreams played out like a nocturnal touring company of "Our Town" when Emily replays poignant moments and memories of people and times gone by.  

 "Oh earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?"  Emily in "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder

Hence, grief stew.  


Complex. Chunky. A mixture of people, places and things that are the bittersweet ingredients of my life that is no more. Laced with salty tears this stew sits in the pot and every so often it does bubble over and I experience the sadness and loss that is mixed with my reverence and gratitude for life.



This is something from Apple's "Think Different" campaign and I had it read at my ministerial installation and I have it framed because I consider it my personal credo:

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. 
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Godspeed my friends.


















  

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