Saturday, March 06, 2010

a FRAGRANT love | march 6th ponderings

I've been thinking about lemon chamomile tea this week. Especially since the doc confirmed I have Acute Pharyngitis. I blushed, but I did tell him thank you. Lemon is good for the throat, yeah? Well there's this blend of tea that is good for my soul. 

It's The Republic of Tea Lemon Chamomile.

And it smells like memories.
Memories of a raw heart.
Memories of salty tears, red puffy eyes.
Memories of an emptier home.
Memories of an ache that still comes and goes.
Memories of that first year after my Dad died.

It smells of grief and sorrow and loss and hopelessness and questions and togetherness but separateness.

I still have the original can that was purchased as a gift by our friend Sheila small. I keep the lid sealed tight to preserve the remnants of it's fragrance.

It triggers flashes, pictures stored in my mind's eye. Of how my 14yo sister came out to meet me on our front steps as I pulled into the driveway too fast after being summoned home.  She was waiting there for me.  Before I knew.  Before I KNEW. Kleenex, so much kleenex and a contorted, pained, tear-soaked face and hair.  I see pictures of how dark and cold the house felt on nights I could do nothing to ease the sorrow or ebb away the sound of a bereaved young wife. I could do nothing to fix it. So I fixed tea.

I worked at Shopko. It was an hour away from my house and I would drive and stare at the skies each night, dark midnight blue littered with a few frosty clouds and boasting with stars. I had one star that I searched out each night. It was the only thing that was predictable, solid in my world rocked by change.  I would sing to that star and yell at that star.

All 59 minutes home.

I just wanted to hurry and walk back through my front door so I could comfort my mom with her tea. Provide her with one predictable thing.  

You know, I don't know if she ever drank the full mug, but it was our routine. I bought her a lavender sleep mask in New York and I would warm it in the microwave while I steeped her tea. Lavender. Lemon. Chamomile. I just wanted to soothe my mom. I just wanted her to rest.  

Sometimes I would get home and find my sister and brother had shut themselves in their rooms. And Mom would too.

Sometimes the Joe Cocker song we played at his funeral would fill the house, filtering out of the crack at the bottom of one of their bedroom doors. CRY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS... Kawow wow kawow... I NEED SOMEONE TO LOO-OOOVE... That CD got played loud and always on repeat.

I remember when everyone was closed up in their own shattered worlds behind their closed doors and that song was echoing into the hallway and bouncing off the wood floors and into the cavernous void of my heart, I just walked around the house touching everything Dad had last touched. The blinds even. Well, the blinds especially. Dad had installed the blinds and then he died. The two should not go in the same conversation or even sentence or paragraph, but that was how the chapter was being written. It wasn't real. But it was.

I remember one night, my brother, Rob, found an Eric Clapton song that spring. "Tears in Heaven." I'd either never heard it before or it held no meaning for me before. But he brought it up to my loft above the garage and the 3 of us kids cried and cried and cried as we listened to it over and over. Rob wasn't even 13. Music. It feeds something inside us. And the music from that time still moves me. Memories have soundtracks. Don't they?

We lost Dad. It was so final.

And we all dealt with our loss differently.

In losing that one person came the death of the exponentiality (it's a word, I'm in the process of inventing it) of all the dynamics of our family.

There was the death of a husband-wife relationship {affecting 3 children}, there was the the death of a father-daughter relationship and another.  And the death of a father-son relationship.

And not only those, but death came to the mother-to-daughter-daughter-son relationships when part of Mom's  one flesh died leaving her un-whole (another vocabulary word today).

It rocked me.
It rocked us.

You know, when death comes, it's because death has an appointed time. And Dad's appointed time was March 6, 1996.  

That was 14 years ago today.  

I need to drink that lemon chamomile tea once in awhile. Because it triggers a heart response and a gut response.

If there's one thing I remember from my Biology classes, it was my fascination with the design of our olfactory glands and the sense of smell. {That and my zoological study of mallards, but that's another post.}

God designed our sense of smell -- it is intricately woven into our neurological system and is purposefully connected to our memory centers -- I think it's rad.

God loves fragrance. He talks about how our praise is like incense. He loves our offerings, it's like a huge, juicy, seriously tasty porterhouse steak smoking on the barbecue. He says each one of us is fragrant. I think I just really digg that about God, imagine how our fragrance fills the heavens! Dude.

So with this tea, the aroma as it's steeping and the taste, sweet from the honey and hot on my lips, I am transported back to when I was raw with grief. After 14 years, Jesus has done some healing, I'll tell you. He's done some rebuilding in my heart and so I'm not so raw, and it's good. And healthy. But sometimes? I just need to feel that devastation. Sometimes I want to allow myself to feel that overwhelming ache/void/rawness.

I need to breathe in its steamy lemony fragrance. It simultaneously makes me yearn for the yesterdays and the what-might-have-beens and makes me long for living a life of fullness -- a life with purpose.   

It reminds me that I'm alive.  

It reminds me that there is today.
It reminds me that I have choices.
It reminds me that I have hope.

It reminds me that the breath in my lungs is God-given.

It reminds me to breathe deeply.


To exhale.

That breath? Is not mine to keep. That breath is not mine to hoard.
I wouldn't survive if I clung to it.

Clinging to that breath would be self destructive.

3.6.96 was not the end. Even though it felt like it at the time.  It was a milestone, a memorial stone on this road I'm on.  

We really don't know when our last breath will be.

But when that last breath is released, what will have preceded it? Am I exercising my love and heart and sharing truth and encouragement and hope? Am I restoring? Am I forgiving? Am I living beyond myself?Am I living like I'm alive? Am I giving my most loved my most best? I am oftentimes not!

That lemon chamomile blend is one of the signature notes of the fragrance that is my life.

I want to choose to not be stale.
I want to choose to be alive.
And live like it.
I want to give my most lived my most best.

I dont know why the Lord gave Dad breath for only 41 years and 355 days.  But I do know that His plan is good.

The fragrance of that tea is the same. The star is in exactly the same spot. The hope, though, is larger than the expanse of midnight blue. And it's because of Christ.

It was a dark time. Everything fell apart.  But I know, know, KNOW that there is a Redeemer who takes my ashes and gives me beauty. I've seen it. I've seen it in my children, my husband, and in His word.

Will you do me a favor today?Daughters, will you love on your dads or grandads for me? I would soooo give anything to love on mine.

And parents? Will you love on your beloved and your precious ones?

They are watching and listening to everything you do and say. If you were gone tomorrow, everything that you ARE and they PERCEIVE you to be is seared into their little minds and imprinted on their hearts. {ohhh, I cant wait to smooch and squeeze my trenkletoes}  Your impact on them is profound. I know from experience, from a child's-eye-view -- I am still my dad's CHILD and his heart and hopes and his character are still forming my own heart and hopes and character. As a daughter and as a mother. I want to give my most loved my most best.

This has been one "smelly" week for me as a wife/mom/friend on lots of levels and both good and bad. I am weary of living for tomorrow instead of living ALIVE today.

I want to breathe deeply.
And exhale.
I want to cling to Jesus because He is the aroma of a love that knows no bounds.

Because I know He savors the tea and the time with me.

***Jesus, tell Dad I respect him more everyday. That I need him as always and love him as ever. Tell him his  'Rocket' said so. And give him a huge hearty hug, if you would.   

Thank you for that.

1 comment:

KI said...

You smell good in my book, sister. Wish I could have met him, to know where half your coolness came from.