This post originally appeared in a previous blog, Sowing Seeds of Grace. For a variety of reasons, I found it hard to come up with a new post this week. So, I dug into my old blog posts and found something I enjoyed reading again. The original post was published May 7, 2014. Minor changes were made to the title and text.
It began just a few weeks ago. Intermittently they appear together because of his schedule. All are watching with amusement and charmed hearts.
He is many years her senior, but they don’t seem to notice. Just the rest of us.
This past Sunday was one of the best to date. As he moved throughout the building, there she was. Right on his heels in her red sweater and beautiful spring dress painted with red poppies and light green leaves on a white background. She even wore matching shoes—red patent leather. Continue reading →
With plenty of time on my hands, my mind runs to thinking on gratitude. What I’m grateful for in our cocooning.
We decided to substitute “cocooning” for “sheltering in place” and “quarantining.” The genesis of cocooning is a statement shared in our church’s weekly men’s Bible study group. I’ll share the entire quote in a moment.
Here’s what I’m grateful for this past week:
Shelter and food to eat plus clean water to drink.
Being stranded in the middle of Meyer Woods with the man God blessed my life with almost 39 years ago.
Health and welfare of our three children and their families.
A long drive in the countryside to see what Spring is up to, and she’s up to a lot!
Frontline workers in Portland, OR, who show up every day putting their lives at risk to care for others.
Reaching out to others in our community to check on their needs.
Continuing recovery of a dear friend after a serious skiing accident two weeks ago.
All these things for some reason stand out in greater light than usual. That’s because there are so much tragedy and uncertainty around us. The stress and tension have a tendency to bring our senses into sharper focus.
How much longer will we need to follow the guidelines issued by the various levels of government? We don’t know. But one thing is sure, and it is in the words spoken by a dear friend on Wednesday morning:
Quarantining is like being cocooned. We are waiting mostly in the dark, and we don’t know what form we will take when we emerge. But I imagine it will be beautiful beyond our imagining.
Take these words with you and while cocooning, think on those things for which you are grateful.
Most of us enjoy surprises. Some of us don’t. When Bob and I married, we vowed not to surprise the other at work on birthdays and anniversaries. I should have thought about Valentine’s Day.
One year Bob sent me a singing telegram on Valentine’s Day. It came straight to my desk at work. Sung by a Barbershop quartet made up of members from the chorus Bob sang with, I blushed as the center of attention.
Spring is full of surprises. One has appeared in the one sunny spot in our front yard. I noticed it a few days ago and mentioned to Bob the leaves unfurling on tiny green stems looked like cosmos. Bob knows I love cosmos.
After several such comments, Bob looked at me and said, “Surprise! I planted some cosmos seeds.” What a delightful surprise and beautiful thought my gardening husband shared with me.
Throughout the history of the writing world, love has been among the greatest muses. Did you realize that Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets dealing with love, time, beauty, and morality? Pablo Neruda was well-loved internationally for his poetry which consisted of nature imagery as well as physical intimacy. Such works by Shakespeare, Neruda, and many others speak to the power of love, not just on Valentine’s Day but throughout history.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite. ― William Shakespeare
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving. ― Pablo Neruda
Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age. ― Anais Nin
Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. ― Helen Keller
There is no remedy for love but to love more. — Henry David Thoreau
When I read the last words of Susan G. Weidener‘s Again in a Heartbeat, I knew I would be picking up Morning at Wellington Square. Susan had shared the story of a blissful courtship and love found under blossoming dogwood trees with a man who loved her more than she had ever imagined possible. A story of building a family and careers disrupted by her husband’s long and difficult battle with cancer.
I wanted to understand how a young woman with two young sons moves on from the hurt and pain of loss, a loss many of us will never experience, much less so early in life. Morning at Wellington Squareis Susan’s honest and moving tale of finding her way through a maze of responsibilities and social interactions as a single, working mom.
Like a tapestry woven from rich and vibrant threads, Susan invites us along as she searches for identity beyond the roles of daughter, wife, mother, journalist. The book opens 11 years after John’s death, and John and Susan’s son’s are away at college. Living in their home alone, Susan is aware it is time to map out her journey into a new role.
However, as Susan’s writing shows us by using flashbacks and memories, lives continually build upon memories while anticipating the unknown waiting down the road.
For me, the search for community or, as others might describe it, relationship was the most meaningful and poignant part of Susan’s story.
Having been a single mother with a son in my 20s, the search for relationships, whether with the opposite sex or not, can be like walking through a mine field. After all, how do we ever know who another person really is? Is a relationship or community the source we seeking to heal our scars?
Following a testing of friendships and even a move to Arizona, Susan comes home and unexpectedly finds a way to share her gift of creative writing. One day while driving around she happens upon a bookstore called Wellington Square. And here she and others gave birth to the Women’s Writing Circle. These women, through Susan, have experienced a new life through writing and sharing their writing with others. And through Susan, her books and her blog, Susan shares her experiences as a journalist and writer with the rest of us.
I highly recommend Morning at Wellington Square to those working their way past grief and loss and to those who are looking for a way to heal from those painful emotions through writing. Susan is a gift to fellow memoirists and other writers.
Again in a heartbeat . . . an ordinary turn of phrase. We’ve all said it. Some of us mean it; some of us say it jokingly.
Susan Weidener, in writing about her husband John and their life together, through good times and bad, means those words. In fact, she uses them as the title of her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat.
Susan’s writing style is comfortable and her story draws you in immediately . . .a young woman meets the chair of the English department at the military academy where her father had chaired the same department and went on to become dean. Immediately, the reader is caught up in the potential for romance, a life together forever, and dreams. Susan writes in an engaging manner of their joys and plans, of their intense love for one another. Their life together is so believable.
And yet it will come to be a story of love, loss and starting over again.
Soon, Susan and John are happy parents of two sons. But in the midst of that second pregnancy, something evil and daunting enters their life together, their family. John is diagnosed with cancer, and this uninvited guest begins to change the course of their lives forever.
Susan Weidener is not shy in sharing her most intense emotions during this time in her life. In fact, at times the rawness of her exchanges with John are almost unfathomable to the reader. You ask yourself how could she love him and say that? But the reader must remember, he or she is not at the center of the story. The writer is opening a door onto her story, and the reader is allowed a glimpse of what was.
Weidener takes her reader on a journey through serious illness, loss of John, and then to starting life over again on her own with two young sons. She tells this story with frankness and honesty, and anyone reading her words is soon awash with a sense of hope and promise. As the title so aptly states, Susan Weidener was willing to do it all over “again in a heartbeat.”
When the reader arrives at the last page, there is no doubt that Susan and John shared an incomparable love for one another, that Susan felt hope as she faced her tomorrows, and that this author has written a guide for anyone who has loved and lost.
* * *
In September 2012, the sequel to Again in a Heartbeat was published. It is called Morning at Wellington Square, the story of a woman’s search to find herself outside of traditional roles.