Hope in the SAD

I come alive in March.

In fact, I count off the weeks during January and February, looking forward to the day I can flip the calendar to March.

Why March? Because it signals the beginning of spring. The days are longer. The sunshine is brighter.

sad emojiFor years, I didn’t know how to define my problem with the first two months of the year. Then I read an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder and recognized my symptoms:

  • Feeling sad – duh!
  • Losing interest in normal activities
  • Low energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Wanting to escape, move, go somewhere warm – I added this one.

Check, check and double check.

Every January and February I wish I could become a snowbird – flee to Arizona and bask in the warmth. But instead, the cold gray days of the Midwest seem to multiply as 31 days in January plus 28 in February equal 500 million.

But hope lies in the knowledge that seasons DO change. March DOES come in like a lion, and I will once again roar.

So I focus on hope and do what works for me:

  • As much light as possible
  • When the sun DOES shine, I stand in it
  • Extra portions of the supplement Saint John’s Wort
  • Extra exercise, especially walking which releases endorphins. On cold days, you can find me walking around the perimeter of Target or Wal-Mart.
  • Plenty of self-care, homemade soups and comfort food like blueberry muffins
  • Coffee chats with friends
  • Reminding myself creative energy WILL return – in March
  • Staying in gratitude. Every day, finding some reason to say, “Thank you, God.”

And if the SAD gloomies persist, curl up with a good book and a heavy blanket.

©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

If you also suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder, curl up with Hope Shines until March.    

Hope in Autumn Blooms

mumsIt is the season of mums – that glorious coloring of perennial happiness that I plant and nurture each year. These are the plants I prune in the spring when everything else yearns to bloom. Because I know that when late September and early October creep onto my calendar, these will be the plants that greet me with tiny buds and then full blooms.

Rust, purple, red, yellow – I love to fill my garden with these spots of color. Yet even within the enjoyment, I feel a chill of remembrance. Mums were the plants that loving friends brought to me when my babies died – Ryan in 1981 and Rachel in 1983.

Such promise those pregnancies brought. After years of infertility, sharing the joys of friends and family who so easily bore children while I waited with empty arms. It was finally my turn.

Waiting, hoping, praying for the lives of my little ones. Yet both of them – each life ending at 12 weeks.

How does a mother reconcile the image of her own womb becoming a coffin? She cannot. I could not.

Numb, then raw, then screaming out my grief to the God who watched my babies die and did nothing to save them. Was he not supposed to be a Savior?

Why? No answer. It is in the silence of our griefs that faith best grows. Faith – the evidence of things not seen. The babies never held yet somehow carried to heaven where I believed with certainty they were safe and loved.

Friends who provided no answers brought mums to plant, to nurture, to prune back and wait until autumn brought them to life. The hope of this mother that another autumn might bring another child – a living babe I could hold and kiss and sing to.

Again with divine silence came only the belief that somehow God knew a time and way to bring life to my womb just as mums somehow know when it is their time to bloom.

My Caleb – third born yet my only living child – delivered in 1985. Did ever the screams of a newborn sound so sweet?

Still, each year in late September and early October, I seek out another mum plant and gingerly plant it. Some unresolved grief so deep I can no longer weep cries out for a tangible reminder of the babes that were taken. Miscarried babies receive no funeral, no cemetery plot where mothers go to grieve. So I honor my children by planting mums as my personal cemetery token.

I wait for spring to cut them back, then marvel at the first blooms of autumn. And in those orbs of color, I see hope that somewhere in heaven wait two children who want to meet me, throw their arms around me and whisper love words we have longed to share all these years.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Why Mums?

The doctor’s eyes filled with empathy tears as he handed me the Kleenex box. “You know,” he said, “no one – not even the medical community – knows how to explain miscarriage. No one truly understands what happens to the woman or how she feels.

“For whatever reason, God chooses to take these babies early.”

After my second baby died, they decided to run tests. The results also provided no answers, no reasons why those little babes slithered out of my womb.

Each of them lived only 60 days. 12 weeks – enough time for me to fall in love with them and desperately long to hold them.

Ryan was born and died on November 3, 1981. He was the promised child, after six years of infertility – the baby who would finally fill the nursery with his whimpers and his tiny smile. I have wondered many times what kind of man he would be now, at the age of 32.

Only God knows, and God chooses to keep that secret from me – for now.

My daughter, Rachel, was born and died on January 6, 1983. She was the child who was expected to survive and grow to someday be my friend. She was the daughter of tea parties and coloring outside the lines and making chocolate chip cookies and shopping for just the right shoes. I wanted to help her fasten her wedding gown.

Someday, I will see her in a heavenly gown – both of us in our robes of white.

Every year in October, I celebrate the brief lives of my first two babies. I remember them this month because the chrysanthemums bloom.

Someone gave me a beautiful mum when Ryan died – red mums with orange centers and yellow tips. Someone else gave me a mum when Rachel died – deep, dark purple.

Both of those plants died, just like my children. Living and vibrant one moment. Cold and gone the next.

So every year, I find a beautiful mum and plant it in my yard. In the spring, when the first green leaves appear, I cut it back to protect it during the summer heat and encourage more growth. Then in October, it begins to bloom.mums

As I water my mums, I think about my children and thank God they are safe in heaven. I will never have to worry about their health or wonder if they are okay. I picture them happy and free – waiting for me to get there so we can finally meet in person.

The season of the mums helps me to find hope within these unraveling memories. It reminds me that no matter what happens to our children, mother love continues.

Even when our children leave us – through death or distance – our hearts are forever connected.

And somehow, whether it’s a journal entry, a faded sonogram photo or a beautiful mum – we keep the memories of our children alive.

We honor them and bow to the omniscience of Almighty God who knows best. He keeps the timelines for each of us and of course – he is the one who offers final hope.

So on this first day of October, I celebrate you, Ryan and Rachel. Your momma misses you, but I know you’re okay.

Someday we’ll meet and wow – won’t that be fine!

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1