Sunday, February 7, 2010

Aristotle died long before this man lived...PKW

...but his words of philosophy and wisdom must surely have been written for this exact moment in time...this exact day...

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper” Aristotle

At Christmas I shared this story with you...It was entitled "Can I Show you Christmas?" and I'd like to share it again with you now if that's OK.

Technically her name is Riley, and she is our middle Granddaughter. Our dreamy, sweet, heart-driven, lovely Riley who is six years old. And who has one of the kindest hearts I've ever been around. Although she is wearing a pink and white dress and is holding a puppy in this photo, that's not why she is Christmas.

She is Christmas because of this drawing. And many others like it. Espcially because of who she has been drawing them for.

But I think for me it is this drawing in specific that whispers Christmas into every particle of my being. May I tell you about this picture?

This picture is drawn for a wonderful man who is suffering from so many awful things it would take me an hour to tell his tale. He is the son of one of the most loving friends I have.

This picture was drawn at Riley's own initiative. When she saw an envelope on my desk and asked who it was for and I told her "Mike" she immediately ran for the colored pencils.

This picture was drawn with two legs because Mike has had one amputated and Riley says he wants to see himself the way "his heart wants him to be."

This picture was drawn with the two of them getting onto an airplane because Mike goes back and forth between bedridden and the ICU unit at the hospital and Riley says he wants to see himself going on a trip. With her. To Disneyland.

One morning several weeks ago Riley was here in my office actually drawing a picture to send to Mike when my friend called to tell me her husband had suffered a stroke. All this in addition to dealing with the sadness and medical horrors that encompass every single moment of their life.

Riley listened to my conversation and then looked up at me to ask "Grandma, who is Bob?"

I replied "sweetie, that is Mike's Dad and he is very, very sick now, too."

And Riley said to me "oh boy, Grandma, I have a lot of drawing to do here."

And went to get another piece of paper.

Did I say that this picture whispers Merry Christmas to my soul.

It doesn't. It shouts "Merry Christmas!" to every atom that makes me who I am. It makes my heart swell with carols and pride and love and certainty.

Certainty that because this little girl exists there is still hope and love and joy and possibility and kindness in a world that sometimes feels otherwise.

And Mike, I hope this dream of walking sturdily and confidently onto an airplane to take a trip to somewhere wonderful soothes your soul and eases your pain for just a moment.

And Riley? Sweet, sweet girl.

Merry Christmas.

But that was at Christmas. And the story continues today.

Because this morning when our Granddaughters were here Riley made her first card for Mike. It was this Valentine. Just as Riley finished her card the house phone rang. I struggled to find it in the clutter on the table. Then my cell phone rang.

And it was Mike's brother saying Mike was gone. That he passed away peacefully this morning listening to his I-pod.

It's taken me the whole day just to actually take this out of the little place in my mind where I put things I don't want to know. You know that little locked-up place where you can put sad, bad things and hope they aren't real?

And even though I know on some level that Mike is whole again and getting off the plane with two sturdy legs to go to Disneyland I just don't want it to be true.

I used to think that what Mike did on a daily basis was heroic. You know? An ordinary hero. One of those people that seem to make all the bad things in our lives feel bearable.

And tonight I'm not totally sure what I think. My heart is so heavy for Mike's family...and in small, selfish way for me. It is his family that bears the sorrow of his passing and the true joy that he is free of pain and suffering finally. But somehow death always touches each of us...profoundly. And becomes personal. So please send your kind words and prayers to Mike's family.

Because this isn't really about me. Or Riley.

But Mike, just in case you're blogging up in Heaven, I want you to know that even though I mailed you silly card after silly card I never really came out and told you that I know Aristotle had you in mind, or someone as crazy brave as you when he wrote those words...

So, I'm going to say them to you just once more...

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper” Aristotle

Go in Peace, Mike.

Your going makes the world a sadder place. Because you weren't just an ordinary hero. You were amazing.

April 4, 1964 - February 7, 2010

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40 comments:

Moriah said...

I am so saddened to hear
this! I haven't been following your blog very long but did read about your friend's son and was touched. It's a sad day indeed. However, at least now he's no longer in pain. My thoughts are with you and your friend and your families.

Linda said...

Jenny my thoughts and prayers are with you and Mike's family. This is a wonderful tribute to a man who lived with courage. Riley is a very special child. I am sure this is hard but know you are loved.

Martha's Favorites said...

Oh Jenny, I am so sorry for your loss. That was an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I will pray for you and the family. Blessings and comfort, Martha

RNSANE said...

This is so very sad...also, for your little granddaughter who so busily kept coloring pictures for the ill people for whom she cared.

Cedar ... said...

Hugs to you Jenny, and also soft words telling you what a wonderful granddaughter you have. Mike is on his way to Disneyland for sure. Thank you for letting us share your sadness today, in that way I hope it makes the heart burden a little lighter for you.

Kathie @ Just a Happy Housewife said...

I'm so sorry to hear this Jenny.

Your granddaughter is a special little girl, reading about her made me smile.

Susan said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your granddaughter is beautiful and precious.

Theresa said...

Oh Jenny, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of this precious friend! I am smiling at the sweetness of you Granddaughter and her beautiful pictures. I am sad for this family and all they must be going thru. I will PRAY for all of them and you! Have a blessed day and let us hear how Mike's Dad is doing. HUGS to you, Jenny!

mbkatc230 said...

Jenny, I am sorry for your loss. What a special man, you know he has a special reward waiting for him. And Riley, what a precious child. "Grandma, I have a lot of drawing to do here" - leave it to a child to cut to the chase. Hugs to you. Kathy

My name is PJ. said...

Matlock my heart breaks for you and Riley and Mike's family. No words can make it better right now, but I have hugs and 2 good ears.

But truthfully, my heart soars for Mike! SOARS! He's freed from the body that suffered and, just so you know, the hearts of heroes like Mike make Heaven an extra special place.

5thsister said...

Although I am saddened by your loss I am also uplifted by this lovely, lovely post. Both Mike and Riley are true heroes. God bless them both. My prayers will be with all those whose lives were touched by Mike.

Justine said...

Jenny, what a beautiful tribute to this man you obviously loved very much. And to Riley, whose heart truly is as big as the sun. How has she taken the news? Did she ever meet him, or did she do all of these drawings just because you spoke of him? Either way, she's a loving little girl the world is lucky to have.

Try and keep your chin up.

Justine

Julie Schuler said...

Oh Jenny, I am so sorry for the sad news... the house just got all noisy, so I can't even think of a proper thing to say! I am sorry for the loss to this family. Give everyone you love a hug and a kiss today. We all should.

Terri and Bob said...

Thanks for the email earlier... beautiful, touching post.

All My Yesterdays said...

Mike was an amazing hero, along with you and Riley. What a touching story from Christmas and today. Hopefully as some time passes, the peace Mike feels now will also come to your heart. And the place where we lock up all those things.My thoughts are with you Jenny...and precious little Riley.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I am so sorry for the loss to Mike's family, and yours.
Yes, that little Girl is Christmas.
Thinking of you today, take care, Suz

Viki said...

I'm so sorry for his family and friends.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

A very bitter/sweet posting...

.♥.♥.♥.

Amy said...

Sweet Mike - may he rest in peace. Thinking of our Mo, Bob and the rest of the family. Lovely post, Jenny.

MaryB. said...

Jenny, thank you for writing this tribute to Mike and for letting everyone know about his passing. My heart and soul go out to Mo and Bob at this saddest of times. I know that his loss will leave a huge hole in thier lives and that of all his family.
thank you, Riley for brightening Mikes days with your wonderful pictures.
much love to everyone,
Mary

Anonymous said...

Jenny,

Thank you for the e-mail earlier about Mike. My heart is so heavy for our sweet Mo and Bob ~~ for the loss of their child is heartbreaking..but seeing him painfree will hopefully bring them peace. Sweet, beautiful, dreamy Riley ~~ what a special little girl to feel so deeply.

LindaB

Jana said...

Miss Jenny my heart is breaking for you, I am so glad I got to see Christmas in your sweet grandbaby. I am praying for peace for all of you today involved in this mornful process. You are loved. Email me if you want to talk. I dont want to bug, but know I have you on my heart.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

How difficult it must have been to explain this to that sweet child. I'm sorry for your loss and for his family. This was beautifully written...I hope his parents get to read it.

Sue

Diana said...

So sorry Jenny, Riley is a sweet girl. Perhaps Mike is enjoying Disneyland now!
Love Di

Catherine said...

So sorry about the loss of someone so special. What a precious little girl. Bless you both!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, Jenny, I'm so sorry. Please give his family my condolences, and my condolences to you and Riley, too. I remember seeing the Christmas card, and the Valentine is so bittersweat. It just reminds me of how fragile life is and how important it is to say, "I love you" and really mean it.

Speaking of which, love you much and Riley, too...

XO,

Sheila

Tony, Jimi, Nicki, Joey, Ryan and Kaycee said...

Jenny, you said it perfectly. I am still trying to soak it all in, and thinking of Mo and Bob every minute. Cannot imagine their hurting hearts, but it is words like yours that will comfort them. Thankyou for writing such wonderful words about such a wonderful man...

Jen said...

I am crying, but have the joy of Christmas in my heart after reading this. It needs to be there everyday.

Jo said...

this is why i shouldn't be sneaking on to your blog from work... sometimes my eyes start to leak. Peaceful thoughts to you and your family as i know you all must have breaking hearts right now ... Riley has a beautiful spirit ... how lucky you are to have her as a grandchild.

gayle said...

I am sorry you are hurting now!! Your post has touched me in so many ways ~ I have that place and I use it far to much but never knew how to put it into words~~~I love your Words~~ "take this out of the little place in my mind where I put things I don't want to know. You know that little locked up place where you can put sad, bad thing and hope they aren't real?" I will remember these words!!

Deb said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss...my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family...

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

How sad for the people left behind, but Mike is in a better place.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

How sad for the people left behind, but Mike is in a better place.

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

This story is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Death does affect us all deeply. Thank you for sharing the story of Mike and of Riley and the hope and love in her young life.
Blessings,
Marcia

Rustique Gallery said...

Jenny, this is so sad and sweet. I love the thought that Mike is flying to somewhere wonderful with his 2 legs. My prayers are with you and his family. Love...Sherry

Jacque said...

Good Morning Jenny,

I am so, so sorry to hear about Mike. My heart is deeply touched with the beautiful eulogy you have written. What a granddaughter you have!!

Tolentreasures said...

So sorry for your loss, what a beautiful granddaughter, so thoughtful and insightful. Love the quote.

Cathy

Chatty Crone said...

I am so sorry to hear about Mike. What a beautiful story. And what a sweet granddaughter. sandie

Obee Designs said...

Hi Jenny!
It is so nice to meet you and thank you for becoming one of my followers!!! I am so sorry to hear about your family friend,Mike.
I do not know you, Mike's family or Mike, but I can tell you I do know exactly how sad you all must be feeling right now. It is a profound loss for all of you. It is terrible to see someone that young gone too soon. From what you say, the only good thing is that Mike is now well in heaven. I just hope he now has a chance to be liberated from his health problems and can at last be happy. It is just so sad for those he has left behind.
Your granddaughter is a sweetie. I just love her honesty and big heart! You must be so proud of her.
Thanks for coming to visit, I'm glad to have you as a new friend. Again,I extend my sincerest sympathy to you and your family for the loss of your friend, Mike. May he now rest in peace.
Best wishes for you to have a blessed day!
XoXo
Gail

Anonymous said...

Digital memory,to me, is something that I seemingly will never have enough of. It feels like megabytes and gigabytes have become a permanent part of my day to day existence. Ever since I bought a Micro SD Card for my DS flash card, I've been on permanent watch like a prison guard for large memory at low prices. I feel like I'm going insane.

(Posted from FPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)