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|Publisher:||Dimensions for Living|
|Edition description:||Trade Paperback|
|Product dimensions:||5.06(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.17(d)|
About the Author
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Markings on the WindowsillA Book About Grief That's Really About Hope
By Ronald J. Greer
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2006 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMoments by the Window
* * *
... with hands outstretched toward the window. —Tobit 3:11
Eric was not yet two and was all boy. He loved adventure. He liked to try things out. And he had a pen. We had just moved into our new home. The freshly painted woodwork around the dining room windows looked like a great canvas to this budding artist. He let his creative juices flow.
I stood there that evening looking at the marks all over the woodwork and the windowsill. They were drawn with authority, etched deeply into the wood. They couldn't be washed off. I was less than pleased.
Four months later I was standing in front of that same window, looking at those same markings. This time there was no anger. This time there were only tears.
Eric had died tragically in the accident. Our older son, Patrick, was in the hospital with his leg in traction. My wife, Karen, and I were practically living there with him. I had gone home one evening soon after Eric's funeral to get clothes and check on the house.
It was quiet. It felt empty. All I could think of was Eric. I walked through the house crying, remembering. I paused for several minutes in the small yellow bedroom that had been his. I sat on his bed. I picked up his pillow to smell it one more time.
It was time to go. I turned out the lights as I went past each room. I stepped into the dining room to reach for the switch. And there it was: the window. There before me was Eric's art. Those same markings had gone from being a blemish to being priceless.
I couldn't leave without touching it. I knelt there rubbing the woodwork, following the lines our son had drawn. I treasured every curve and slant he'd marked into that painted wood.
I could picture the pen in his little hand, the wrinkle of his brow as he bent to do his drawing. It would never be painted over. It would be forever Eric's signature.
His markings connected me with him. I hated to leave them. I wasn't ready to go. But then, I hadn't been ready for any of this.
Psychologist Carl Rogers wrote in On Becoming a Person, "I have almost invariably found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal ... has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people.... What is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would ... speak most deeply to others" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961, p. 26).
It is in that spirit that I offer what I have learned—in the hope that it might resonate with you and your experience. I offer these writings both as a person who has known profound loss and as a pastoral counselor who has been with countless others in their losses.
I am indebted to those who have allowed me the privilege of listening to their life stories. From them I have learned much of what it means to live courageously with grief.
My intention here is to write this as a conversation with a friend. I write much of this in the second person. I am writing to you. These reflections need not be read first to last. Read the ones that speak to you.
I have waited years to put my thoughts into writing. I did not want to bleed on every page. Instead, I wanted these words to be useful to you, so I waited until I had healed more fully and could reflect on all that I had experienced. I did not want to report as a journalist from the intensity of the battle scene; the emotion would be profound, but the perspective limited.
Perhaps now I am ready. Perhaps.
It has been over two decades now since Eric's death. I am still learning to live with my loss.
Also involved in the accident were Karen, Patrick, and our sitter, whom Karen had picked up just moments before. All were injured. Patrick, who had his femur badly broken, would be months in healing.
The emotional healing has taken years for all of us. In fact, it continues still. There is wisdom in the old saying, "There are some losses you never get over. You simply discover how best you will live with them."
This is my experience. Perhaps it resonates with your own.
Excerpted from Markings on the Windowsill by Ronald J. Greer Copyright © 2006 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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