Mourning Coffee with Tracy Lee

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Steve, 1

Mourning Coffee, by Tracy Renee Lee

As I sit in the foyer, waiting for my best friend to arrive, I notice the details in the fabric of the chair across from me.  I have seen that chair in so many churches over the span of my life and the familiarity of it is somehow comforting. I think back ten minutes ago, I walked through the door and searched for her husband.  I found him, his familiar face with his friendly smile gleaming, but his eyes were closed and his skin cold.  I bent forward, over the edge of his casket, to place a kiss of farewell on his forehead.  As I did so, my soul could feel his ever-present chuckle and sweet voice telling me that all would be well. I moved toward the foot of his casket to tidy up the folds of his flag, an honor for me.  One by one, I neatly folded the pleats representing his service to our great nation.  Then I walked to the foyer, sat on the couch, and began waiting for my dear friend. 

Today will be the worst day of her life; it is the day she will lay her beloved husband, Steve, into peaceful rest. 

Her children and grandchildren will be here by her side, to help her through this most dreadful day.  Friends will surround her and extended family too.  She will have plenty of support.  There will be moments when she will feel overwhelmed by too many people wanting to console her, all saying the same thing – that they are sorry for her loss.  It is true, they are sorry for her loss.  What more can be said?  Emotions are so strained that barely speaking those few short words is difficult enough. 

My husband and I have traveled four states to be here with her.  Deep down in my heart, I need to be with her today.  She and I have experienced life together, had our children together, celebrated life’s milestones together, endured war as our husbands were called away together, explored religion together, and grown older together.  Our friendship is deeply rooted. 

My utter love for her drives me to stand beside her as she walks through hell today.  I would rather close my eyes, turn the other way, and wait for her nightmare to end:  but this is not a dream.  This is my best friend’s reality and I will be with her as she walks down this pathway of pain.  I want to help her.  I want to comfort and love her, and lift this burden from her, even though I know that is not possible. 

Carrie is my dearest friend and today she travels a new life that neither she nor I, would ever choose.  Within the next few hours, she will lower her beloved Steve into the earth’s protection, and she will say farewell.  Carrie and Steve will now endure a separation that will try her sanity and test their endurance, but they shall not remain separated forever. 

It has been two months since Steve passed and tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the wee Babe born in a manger, who suffered, died, and resurrected, so that all mankind might be saved through obedience to His laws and ordinances.  The miracle of Christmas, the beginning of the greatest gift any of us has ever received, is upon us.  That tiny Babe, born so long ago, came to redeem us and forced death to relinquish captivity over us.   His grace offers us life eternal, the miracle of forgiveness, and the mighty power to resurrect.  That brings peace to my soul, hope to my life, joy to my heart, and the ability to love and serve others.  I pray for all humanity to know God’s loving embrace, that His peace will comfort those who suffer and mourn, and that the miracle of Christmas will transform your life to a better existence. I hope that through this loathsome journey of pain, loneliness, and sorrow, upon which my friend is thrust, I can be the friend she needs, the friend I should be, the friend that my Savior asks of me. 

Merry Christmas dear friends, may God’s love embrace you, and if you suffer loss and pain, may God’s eternal gift of life reunite you with your loved ones through His gift of grace. My name is Tracy Renee Lee. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 8 – Denver Statues

Earlier this year, when we lost our grandson, our family agreed that the best place to bury him was at our funeral home.  His death and funeral seemed so surreal; dreamlike, in a nightmarish sort of way. My husband and I reside in our funeral home.  Mikey Joe is buried just outside of our great room window.  The location of his grave places him beside us when we sit to eat our meals and relax before retiring to bed.  This closeness allows me to tend to my grandson’s needs, just as I do for any of my grandchildren.  Mikey Joe’s needs, however, are different from theirs.  For him, I tend to the physical needs of his grave.  Doing so tends to my emotional needs and encourages my grief to soften. When we buried Mikey Joe, we decided to uproot our plantings around the funeral home and place in their stead, a memorial for deceased children.  For the past eight months, my husband and I have sought and purchased bronze statues of children engaged in the merriment of childhood activities.   These statues will be the focal point of the memorial, surrounded by pavers engraved with the names of lost children.  The memorial will assist families to heal by providing a permanent spot of remembrance.  We have a lovely ballerina, a boy playing football, two children playing leapfrog, and a little girl cooing a little bird.  Last week, I acquired three additional statues; a boy sitting on a saddle, a boy roping, and a girl with her lariat.  Although these three children complete our goals for the monument, I hope one day to obtain a bronze pony to match them. Two days ago, I drove my husband to Dallas to hop a plane to Colorado to collect the three statues and transport them back to Texas.  I made the air flight and vehicle rental reservations online.  Because his flight was too early for us to drive there in a timely fashion, we rented a hotel room in Dallas. I waited as he checked his luggage to make sure that all was well before I drove away.  During check-in, the attendant informed him that he was 14 hours early for his flight.  I had made a terrible mistake and in order to return safely home, I would have to drive away and leave him there.  I dreaded the discomfort he would endure. Continue Reading →

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I Hope

Through my research this weekend, I came upon an interesting story about suicide prevention. The article showcased a young man who was contemplating suicide. Unlike many persons in that state of mind, he reached out to his family and community. The article encouraged all to reach out, and rather than judge, offer support and love to those who might be contemplating or have attempted suicide. This young man’s family concentrated on telling him how much he was loved and how much they wanted him to stay with them. Continue Reading →

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Failure Produces Success

Death can be a frightening, lonely, and painful experience.  I see death every day of the week.  In fact, I have seen death every single day of the past decade. In witnessing this plethora of death, I have gained a unique perspective on the ultimate pain of loss, as well as the struggles through its ensuing grief.  Of late, I have found the number of proportionate deaths within the generations younger than my own, soaring.   These deaths seem directly related to lifestyles that have negatively affected physical and/or mental health.  It seems that a good number of prime-aged adults either do not realize or do not care, about consequences related to actions and choices: even when that consequence is death. I find that persons devoid of consequential beliefs often act irresponsibly toward themselves and others.  They seem oblivious to the pain they impose upon those who love them and disrespectful toward a higher being.  Upon their death, those who share their inconsequential belief system suffer the demons of loss and grief through inconsolable hopelessness.  It seems that more times than not, their solutions are based on wrangling their pain, as they do their responsibilities, into suppression.  This myth of recovery is not one of healing; it is one of self-deception and may impose confusion, derangement, paranoia, and neurosis into the life of the survivor. In all fairness, I see these same behaviors in older generations.  It is a reality, however; that I see the consequences of death in greater numbers among prime-aged adults.  It pains and worries me that so many of them self-inflict their deaths due to selfish acts of abuse upon themselves.  Additionally, it frightens me beyond comprehension, as I have children and grandchildren within this demographic.  As their mother and grandmother, I see the impact of the inconsequential lifestyle infiltrating their tolerance and becoming acceptable to them.  Before long, I fear that they may succumb to the same end as those I see lying on my embalming table. What then is the answer to this life-threatening lifestyle of inconsequential behavior? Continue Reading →

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Give Oh Give

When I first entered funeral service, I did not realize the impact funeral homes have within the community.  In college, my professors would talk about the politics of owning a funeral home.  Now that I own one, I see the opportunities to help make the community at large, a better place.  

Yesterday, as I sat in the great room of my funeral home, two women entered.  They introduced themselves and stated they were walking my city looking for people who needed help.  They were also seeking support from those who had resources to share.  They themselves had once been in desperate circumstances and had been rescued by others seeking them out. I listened to their stories and became interested in the organization that rescued them.  It turns out that a pastor and his wife started a rescue program and have helped many people recover from various types of abuse and addiction.  I donated to their cause and they left. It is a wonderful thing to see someone help someone else, to see the effects of positive change, and to witness one who has lost his/her way find redemption.  I believe there are times in everyone’s life when caring assistance or rescuing is needed.  Additionally, it is my opinion that outreach is the key to saving humanity. This morning as I perused this organization’s website, I thought, how fulfilling it would be to open an outreach facility and help lost souls find refuge.  As I began formulating a plan for such an undertaking, I remembered, I am already in the undertaking business.  Not only have I undertaken the responsibility of preparing and burying the dead, I facilitate survivors recover through grief counseling. Continue Reading →

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The Joy of Chores

When I was a young mother, I loved spending time with my daughters.  My husband and I would plan inexpensive weekend get-aways and mid-week activities that centered on making wonderful memories and traditions with them. Our daughters are now adults with children of their own.  I watch them doing the same things with their children that we did with ours.  It brings joy to my heart. As a young mother, I did not enjoy housework.  In all honesty, I loathed housework.  To this very day, I truly do not enjoy housework.  My focus, however, has changed.  Now as I clean my house, I wish it were as easy as it once was.  The aches of age and the wear and tear on my joints protest as I bend to scrub the shower, or as I stand leaning over the sink washing my dishes.  My heart has changed too. How I yearn for those days when my house was filled with children.  My chore list was enormous, but my heart was full.  Now I look at my chores and think how wonderful it would be to be washing sheets for my daughters again, fixing their beds, brushing their hair, and planning wonderful outings with them. My girls live far from my home, which means my grandchildren live far from grandma’s home.  That makes my heart lonely.  As I work through my chore list, I remember fondly the joy my girls brought into my life.  Those memories help my chore list seem lighter and less dreary.  The love I have for my children sees me through my loneliest days. Continue Reading →

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To Vault or Not to Vault

I was speaking with a loved one recently. Our topic of conversation was to determine if he would add a burial vault to his wife’s burial plan. While conversing, it occurred to me that perhaps the purpose of a vault, compared to that of a casket, is confusing to those who are not funeral professionals. Casket: a receptacle of wood, metal or plastic into which the dead human body is placed for burial. The casket has only one basic function – to move a dead human body from one place to another in a dignified and safe manner. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 7 – Due Date

Today was my grandson’s due date.  Instead of being at the hospital with my daughter to welcome him into our family, my husband, younger daughter, and I took our bistro table and set it beside his grave.  We had dinner and birthday cake and took photos to send to his mom in Hawaii.  We placed a baby boy balloon and carnations upon his tiny grave and prayed to our Heavenly Father to let our Mikey Joe know that we love and miss him.  It was a very somber and difficult day. When Mikey Joe passed five months ago, my world stopped.  It has been reeling ever since.  My concentration has suffered, my stamina has suffered, and I find that things that used to matter a great deal to me now are mediocre and somewhat unimportant.  I find that I do not wake up every morning ready to jump out of bed and begin my day.  I do not attack my work with fervor as I once did.  Even lifelong habits, like applying my make-up, fall out of order and are disorganized.  His tiny little life inside of his mother’s womb affected my life ever so deeply.  Only my belief that we will reunite as a family in God’s presence keeps my life going. As I prepared for bed, I checked social media and saw this post from his mother.  As her mother, my heart breaks for the pain she suffers.  I know it pales compared to my own. “Five months ago I gave birth to a baby boy. He was so beautiful and precious. Continue Reading →

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My husband and I go to a movie and out to dinner every Tuesday. Unlike most couples, our weekends are almost always filled with funerals and Mondays are insanely backlogged with paperwork. That makes Tuesday our weekend. It is the slowest day of the week for us and it is the senior discount day for many businesses. The movie theatre near our home offers a wonderful discount every Tuesday so it makes our evening out very affordable. Continue Reading →

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Breast Cancer

Six weeks ago, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  This devastating announcement was unexpected.  She and my brother rushed off to a cancer treatment center in another state.  We have great expectations that her treatment there will prove miraculous.  

I traveled to Louisiana this weekend to see my brother and his wife.  We are expecting results from a recent blood test to inform us of whether her condition has improved, remained the same, or worsened.  We are praying for improvement. My sister-in-law has always been very health conscious.  Among us, she has been the one who has deprived herself of any food-related pleasure, has maintained a routine exercise program, has avoided excessive sun exposure, and seen her doctor annually for check-ups; yet, it is she who has extensive cancer. She suffers pain, nausea, confusion, sadness, self-blame, fear, exhaustion, depression, etc.  My brother does too.  We are all confused.  We wonder how this happened and what should be done to save her?  She and my brother research exhaustively, potential treatments (natural, of course) and the rest of us pray intently for her return to health. We discussed possible treatment options this weekend.  There are so many obstacles to obtaining them, primarily distance and expense.  My brother and his wife are professional people; however, her treatments within the last six-weeks have already exhausted their financial reserves.  They are now looking at creative options to afford additional treatment. Continue Reading →

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