Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faith Quest

On JJ’s birthday 255 days ago his mama, my sun and soulmate was torn from her body and from us. Since that time I have wrestled with the question, does she still exist? Unfortunately I still do not know. Months ago I was completely overwhelmed by loss, darkness and doubt and I was leaning in the direction that she was gone never to be seen again.

For the last 10ish years I have been a divine seeker of truth. I sincerely enjoy learning from faith traditions across the globe on my quest for God and the divine. I love Jesus and I love Buddha. I have always believed that there is a God out there and gravitate toward the LDS (Mormon) idea of there being a divine Father and divine Mother. But after this tragedy I lost my quest partner in an experience that is so heart breaking I began to have extreme doubts (I have of course had little doubts) if a loving God could exist with such pain and suffering in the world. It is one thing to read about it in the news and quite another to experience it first hand.

I have reached toward God and Shar in agony with intense hope and a “mustard seed” of faith. Now months later I think the dial has been tipped in the direction of belief. Difficult to quantify but I’d say I’m currently at 60/40 (belief/doubt) as compared to 35/65 back in June. Hope has been at a steady 100+ all along. So I’m making progress on my journey without the other half of my soul (at least in this physical realm).

What has helped me on my path?
  • Time. The more removed I am from the immediacy of the tragedy I think the more able my spiritual ears and eyes are to hear and see
  • Reading. I have read lots of books. Books on loss and grief. Books on near death experiences. Books written by psychics and mediums. Scriptures from Christianity and Buddhism. Unfortunately there is no “silver bullet”. Probably the book that was most helpful to me on this journey is “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kusnher
  • Embracing my suffering. Instead of turning away from it turning toward it. This has helped me grow in compassion and feel connected to Shar
  • Talking to others about pain and loss as well as their own spiritual findings. This of course includes family, friends, strangers online, and my beloved students.
  • Seeking out professional help. I have ongoing meetings with an incredible therapist. I have met with a three different mediums (with a healthy dose of skepticism) where I have had incredible faith/hope affirming experiences. I have sought out religious leaders who have been incredibly kind, compassionate and Christ-like.
  • I journal. Not as in depth or as beautifully as Shar did. But I try to keep two different logs. One, a gratitude journal and the other “Shar signs” in my life.
  • Meditation and prayer. Most nights before going to bed I light some incense, sit on my meditation cushion, get out my prayer beads, and while facing loving images of Sharry, JJ, Jesus and Buddha sit and meditate. I look forward to this time every day. I start my session by asking that I may be in tune with my “Buddha Mind, Christ heart and Sharry soul”. Then I have a variety of different meditations that I cycle through on different nights that last 10-15 minutes. I follow my meditation by prayer, often emotional, where I plead with God to bless JJ and to have his and Shar’s presence known to me, to help my heart and ears to be open and that together Shar and I may work to bring greater light, love and compassion to this world. Then I try to study at least a bit from some sort of spiritual text. My mind wanders like crazy, doubts abound, and my spiritual ears have yet to be open but I think I am making progress.

I believe Shar exists. Do I know? Not by a long shot. But I do believe that we will be together someday. I hope that I can learn to feel her presence in this life. Because as one extraordinary religious leader told me, “Sharry surely still exists and is closer than you’ll ever know. Her primary job now is to watch over you and her baby.” And this quote shared by a Baha’i reader of our blog that is a teaching of her faith:
"when two people, husband and wife for instance, have been completely united in this life their souls being as one soul, then after one of them had passed away, this union of heart and soul would remain unbroken." And " why should thou be sad and heartbroken? This separation is temporal; this remoteness and sorrow is counted only by days. Thou shalt find him in the Kingdom of God and thou wilt attain to the everlasting union. Physical companionship is ephemeral, but heavenly association is eternal. Whenever thou rememberest the eternal and never ending union, thou wilt be comforted and blissful."

Isn’t that beautiful!? Since receiving that I have added some Baha’i scripture to my reading queue.  

I still have a long way to go on my divine adventure and sincerely appreciate whatever insights, prayers and well wishes you can send my direction. We all, at different times, experiences periods of intense darkness, suffering and doubt in our lives and I know that there is strength and power in giving voice to those moments of vulnerability. May peace, light, health and love be with you all.

In closing I wanted to share this poem that I heard on a recent “Terrible thanks for asking” podcast about death. Love it and I am choosing to believe that Shar is just off on a sailing adventure as she always wanted to do, and for now, is just gone from my sight.

Gone From My Sight
-Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone where?
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
Love this picture of JJ and Shar's newly placed headstone
It reads "beloved and eternal friend, sister, daughter, mother, soulmate"

Monday, February 20, 2017

Self Compassion Letter

I have been challenged by a good friend and my fabulous counselor to write a letter of self compassion. Here is the result. I think it's a great idea for any who are deeply suffering.

Jared, what happened to you last summer is one of the greatest tragedies that can happen to anyone. On the day that was supposed to be the happiest of your life you lost your best friend and soulmate in a freak tragedy. After nearly 12 years in an extraordinary relationship full of connection, adventure, joy and profound love you finally were getting your “ducks in a row” doing all the things that you were always told were the path to happiness and joy. You and Shar bought a house and were finally starting a family after much disappointment and difficulty. Now you lost your dream girl, your favorite job ever, your beautiful new house that Sharry made a home and your entire planned out future. That is shitty, unfair and should never happen to anyone let alone to a couple that was so deeply connected, in love and one. I cannot imagine a worst thing to happen to anyone outside of acts of violence.

The last 250 days have been incredibly difficult. You are grieving deeply and mourning your profound loss. It will get better, never completely and that is probably a good thing but the tidal waves will continue to lessen in intensity over time until over months and years they are lapping at your feet with gentle memories that bring a smile with the tears. You have JJ a living literal piece of Sharry. He can be very difficult and exhausting but then the next moment he melts your heart. You are the most important person in his life and he is yours. He is your anchor and your salvation. Love him and savor him with your whole soul. As he grows you will see parts of Sharry shine out and you will be amazed and feel her presence about him and you. You have amazing family in the Deckers and Buhanans that are mourning with you and for you and will do all that they can to help you. Help them as well, especially Shar’s family. Show them how grateful you are to be one of them. You have amazing unexpected friends who are full of compassion, wisdom, insight and love. Be grateful for these people in your life. Jared choose to believe the heavens are with you. Your Heavenly Father and Mother and their angels abide with you. They love you and suffer with you. Turn to them for guidance and strength and you will find it. Sharry is one of those angels and she misses you deeply but knows you are doing the best you can as a single daddy with her beautiful baby. She wants you to find joy, love and happiness after your time of grieving is past. She is by your side supporting you and cheering you on.

Jared you are a kind, good hearted, compassionate and good person. You are strong, you can do this you are doing it. You are accomplishing much good in the world as a counselor and other pursuits. Love deeply. Love JJ, your family, your students, your friends, Sharry and yourself. You will be OK again. Life may never be as joyful and carefree as it once was but it you will know joy and you will know love on a more wise and mature level. Grief and this profound suffering are a receipt from loving so deeply. Always remember that life can be both so incredibly difficult and unfair but also so beautiful, wondrous and magical. You have lived the extreme ups and downs that life has to offer. Use your experience as a tool to savor the good, and to be a force for love and compassion in all that you do. Jared I love you, JJ loves you and Shar loves you forever. May peace and light be in your life as much as possible.

JJ first time in the pool, he was nervous at first but then loved it!

In Shar's journal, love it and I am definitely embracing my pain

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Homesick for Her

Recently I’ve had a quessy pit in my stomach and chest that I cannot shake. It reminds me of when I moved as a kid and missed everything about my old home. My friends, my room, the weather, my school, the routines and traditions...everything was missed and it took quite a bit to adjust and reorient myself to the new place. Now 20+ years later as a 34 year old grown up adult (more or less), I have the most excruciating longing for home in my entire life. I am so intensely homesick for Shar.

When you are blessed with finding your twin soul at the age of 21 you grow accustom to some pretty amazing things:
  • 24/7 best friend...the only friend you ever want or need
  • Touching, holding and cuddling
  • Kissing! Little kisses and big kisses with everything in between
  • A partner in crime
  • A loyal confidant
  • The greatest argument adversary
  • Sharing hopes and dreams then filling the calendar with plans big and small
  • Being vulnerable and finding amazing depths of love and support
  • Adventuring around the world on a shoestring budget
  • Live music enjoyed in tiny coffee shops and giant multiple day long festivals
  • Reading and cuddling
  • Tv show binging
  • Protesting
  • Camping and hiking
  • Road trips
  • Service
  • Faith questing
  • Blending family traditions and creating our own
  • Finger interdigitation
  • Thrifting
  • Loving love love love love
  • ...and much much more

We made a home of our enmeshed lives and hearts where we both climbed inside and lived for 12 fairy tale-ish years. Now the core foundation of that structure has been ripped apart. Our life used to be a story, our story with dual protagonists. That is no more. There will be no more stories beautifully written from Shar’s perspective but rather me grasping with an aching chest to recapture the home that is no more.

Thank God for my living breathing beautiful piece of her and all the memories, goodness and legacy she has left behind.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Shar songs & some Natural Clemency

Sharry and I at one point were going to be a folk duet, we even had a sweet name Natural Clemency. At least that was one of many of her grand plans that was to be accomplished at some point in our lives, unfortunately the only audience Natural Clemency ever ended up playing for live was our kitty Lola. Recently it evolved into the idea of having a future family band with our musical 1-3 children. Now instead JJ and I listen to Shar's songs almost nightly and I try to sing along with an angels voice as I rock him to sleep. Let's hope that he gets his mama's musical ability. Here are a couple of Shar's original songs w/ lyrics. The rest of her songs can be found at this sound cloud profile where I have them posted along with a few uploaded music videos.

Time Steals

You say opportunity knocks
But it’s just the house next door
It will come my way next May
When the sky ???
And the clouds are flowering
Time steals my life
But it can’t get my soul
We climbed up to zion’s peak
And rested then to think
Of ideas that slip by
Dripping castles in the sky
Swimming pools in my mind
Time steal my life
But it can’t get my soul
We waited for someplace paradise
The place where water falls
America was made for me
So let’s take it baby
Time steals my life
But he can’t get my soul

I've Got You
I’ve never worn a golden bracelet
Or diamond ring
All I’ve ever had is you babe
And some dirty old guitar strings
And i’m not blue
Because baby I’ve got you
I’ve never seen the Eiffel tower
Or the empire state building
All I’ve ever seen is you babe
And some background concert scenes
But i’m not blue
Cuz baby I’ve got you
I’ve never met the president
Or owner of anything
All I’ve ever known is you babe
And some lonesome street bum kings
But i’m not blue
Because baby i’ve got you
Forget about motors and money
And cuddle close to your honey
I’ve never stayed in a mansion
Or Trump’s dwellings
I just wanna stay with you babe
While the record player sings
And I aint blue
Cuz baby I’ve got you

Bonus Track and video "In Spite of Ourselves" by John Prine...once again let's hope JJ gets his mom's talents. (o:

Isn't she so talented and beautiful!?