Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year

Maybe you noticed that I have not posted much in the last 12 months. That has been both intentional and necessary. At first, it was simply because I had taken a short maternity leave to help my newest daughter and the rest of our family adjust to life as a family of six. Then, more and more happened and I sum it up here, along with my strategy on managing.
Many people are similarly affected by their own life circumstances. Some are even disabled by the sheer magnitude of what is on their plate. I hope by offering this personal experience I can help someone, even in a small way, begin to take tiny steps towards healing.

It begins with a prayer:
God grant me Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Marty & Cindy, Thanksgiving 2011

I cannot even bear to write this, but writing is my healing, my processing, my outlet, so I will. On December 18, my beloved brother, Marty, died suddenly from heart failure. The earthquake that this has caused in my family and in his community is unimaginable. He was the rock; the caretaker and inspiration of literally, thousands of people, through his family, his pediatric career, his music, his running, his advocacy and his gentle nature, and we are all left bewildered and numb by the loss of such an amazing person.

I cannot change it. I cannot bring him back. It is so final. So awful. My heart aches for myself, my husband and my children, but also for my parents and sister, who are deeply scarred, and for my sister-in-law and her family who are trying to piece together a devastated life.

I cannot change it. We drove our family to Georgia for the funeral. We spent two days traveling down and two days back. The service was a beautiful tribute and was attended by about 1000 people. We are still recovering from the emotional and physical exhaustion of this difficult journey.

In reality, we are recovering from a year of exhausting events, starting with the adjustment of our 7 year old daughter, Shanna, our 4th child, home from China on December 13, 2010. It was a rocky and painful process for her, as she learned to trust that our love was real and permanent. That she was safe with us and that we would not leave her. The first six months were really tough and Eric & I were stretched, but Love Never Fails (as I learned in a workshop with Heather Forbes) and Love Prevailed. Our daughter is thriving in every way and is a complete blessing to us. In February, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. In May, she came to live with us and we provided hospice care until she died in July. Her husband suffered, too, with Parkinson's and severe grief, requiring a change in living situation. Their house sold in two days and had to be completely empty by July. In late summer, my stepfather, who had gradually declined in health and independence since having a heart attack in April, moved into nursing care, which was both a blessing and a sorrow for my mother. He died in November, and now Marty has died in December, completing a full year of emotional and traumatic events. I cannot change it. I cannot change the impact of each of these events on the people I love.

So what CAN I do?

I can make sure my family is fed, both emotionally and physically. I can physically connect with them each day and put a nourishing dinner on the table each night.

I can keep order in my home and our routines. I can do the laundry, empty the dishwasher, keep the environment uncluttered so our brains can think. I can rely on the routines of our life, and forgo extras right now. I can keep it simple.

I can help my children make time for school work. I can sit quietly by them while they do what they need to do. I can help the little ones learn their sight words and their math facts.

I can be the buoy to my extended family. I can offer my home as a gathering place. I can support from afar through Skype and phone calls. I can encourage connections and I can applaud steps towards rebuilding independence. I can reflect healing.

I can pace myself. I have responsibilities outside our home. I have a business and clients to serve. I can return to them as I am ready, and not before. I can hope they wait for me. I can encourage them to seek other solutions if they cannot.

I can remember the Serenity Prayer. I can recite it over and over  in my mind if I lay awake at night. I can work within my circle of concern (Steven Covey) and make a difference there.

I can appreciate the joy of life. I can be thankful for the blessings I have. I can stop and watch a flock of birds circling in unison in the sky and I can wonder at the beauty of the world.

Yes, things are difficult and I am strong. I am flexible and I won't break.

"It's going to be alright". Marty always said that to us and I can hear it now. It's going to be different but it's going to be alright. Because life cannot help but go on amongst the tough stuff.

Happy New Year


  1. Oh My God! That was put together and said so beautifully! I cried while reading the entire thing. I am one of your extended family and love you all very much. Marty was the most positive and wonderful men that I have ever know and I can only wish I had known him even better. My heart goes out to Cindy because she and he were perfect matches!! What a terrible tragedy!We will miss Marty so much and also my dad. Time heals all emotional and physical wounds. I hope you, your Mom, Cindy, and all heal well. XO Pegi XO

  2. Linda, you are an inspiration. I am so sorry for your many losses, and amazed that in this year of grief you have been able to find meaning and provide comfort for your lovely children. Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. Linda,
    You continue to inspire me with your grace, strength
    and ability to focus on what truly matters. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family.
    Linda Birkinbine

  4. I'm am so thankful you came into my life. You have made it better in so many ways. My heart goes out to you and your family.




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