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This day, five years later, and the lessons of grief

Today’s Special

I have a small 4-wheeled garden scooter that was my mother’s. When she moved to assisted living, I brought it to my house. It has a padded seat with cargo space below for gardening supplies plus a strong nylon strap for towing.

It’s rather handy, it makes gardening easy…much easier than squatting and getting up and down while planting flowers or weeding, or moving potted plants. Gardening is good for my soul. I’ve learned that grief must be countered.

For our family, Sept. 19, is a day we think about everyday, but not a day we look forward to, not a day that we want to celebrate but a day we’ll never forget. Many days have since passed since the death of our dear Nicholas. We grieve.

Like 9/11 we remember where we were and what time it was. I was in a fabric store in Germantown with my sister and daughter-in-law Kristine waiting for fabric to be cut when I looked up at the clock on the wall, it was straight up 5 o’clock.  I still see it so clearly.  I’d learn later that night that was when the accident happened.  And Zachary, bless him.…he took the call, he had to tell DW and me that his identical twin brother was gone.  Then we drove to Jackson… somehow, to Laura and Mack. The memories of that day still haunt me.

For weeks upon weeks DW and I paused at five every Saturday afternoon to think about Nicholas and console ourselves. After a couple of years, I finally stopped counting the weeks.

My brother-in-law and his middle son were at the Ole Miss-Alabama football game when my sister called them to come home that night. It was probably a year later before I wondered who won that game. My sister and brother took the news to my mother. She later shared with me her memory of the last time Nicholas came to see her. Grief’s swath is wide.

Loving people surrounded us and held us up, remembrances came, people around the world prayed for us, hundreds of cards came, our needs were filled. My life was then about helping Laura and Mack face a different day while learning to live with mine and worrying about how DW, Zachary and James were handling theirs.

We all had to learn to handle our collective and individual grief, some days it was easier, other times more difficult.  Grief doesn’t follow a straight line moving from A to B to C, etc.  Instead it hides, then attacks, it subsides. It’s unpredictable.  Another grieving mother told me to expect it to take 10 years to finally come to grips with our loss. We’re halfway there. It has been a long but yet quick 5 years. Grief is like that.

What comforts me most is knowing that love never dies, love is eternal. Death does not diminish love. Our loved ones continue to love us and we them.  My mother recently told me of a quote she came across that explains it, “grief is hard because we love hard.”

Nicholas would not want his family to be sad, ever. And even though each day seems to take us further from him, it’s really just the opposite, each day is a day closer to being together again.  Grief cannot keep us from that day.

My point in sharing this is to say please never discount anyone’s grief.  And if grief is too much for you or someone you love please reach out for help.  Grief can be controlled and made constructive.  And in light of all the recent world tragedies, don’t make life tougher than it has to be…. death, disease and disaster will do that anyway.

The garden scooter was a Christmas gift from Nicholas to my mother.  Nich would love to know that Mack has had so much fun playing with it, his imagination running wild…filling the cargo space with rocks and sticks (being a typical Walker boy) and pulling it around the yard, sometimes with a dog or a cousin on top. It brings us joy to see this.

Grief can’t diminish love either.

Recipe of the Week

Nice Pork Chops

A favorite of Walker boys, young and old

½ cup apricot nectar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Water

Salt & Pepper

4 pork chops (bone-in have more flavor, but boneless chops work too)

Mix nectar and Worcestershire sauce in a one cup measure.  Add enough water to make a scant cup.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  Lightly spray a skillet with pan spray (an iron skillet or a grill skillet work well). Brown pork chops on both sides over medium high heat.  Pour nectar mixture over chops, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 20 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce and tenderize the meat. Remove lid and carefully caramelize the liquid until nice and brown and rather sticky, but watch carefully to avoid over cooking chops and drying them out. Serve with dirty rice, broccoli salad, field peas and sweet potato rolls.