Thoughts on the tragic loss of Kate Spade

Kate Spade
“I adore pretty things and witty words.” Kate Spade

Right now, I am mourning the loss of Kate Spade, a woman I never knew. A woman who I most likely would have never met.

It’s just beyond awful that another person has tragically died in an alleged suicide. And sadly, she is among so many that we’ve lost.

After hearing of her death, I took to the Internet like so many others did, searching for the whys of what drove a successful, talented, seemingly effervescent personality to such a drastic end.

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Where were the parents?

 

 “Where were the parents?” is a question that I have read and heard countless times, especially since the victims of Dr. Nassar, the former US Gymnastics team doctor, have taken the stand to face their attacker. The video of this distraught father brings it all home for me – click HERE to watch it.

Anxiety and depression have plagued me off and on for years. The recent news coverage of Dr. Nassar has brought my experience up again. It happens – it is a form of PTSD. Though this essay easily flowed from my heart through my fingertips, it was the decision of whether or not to publish it that has brought me the most angst. For years I have felt that God has called me to discuss this. And for years, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. The fear of sharing this story is real. How will people react? My children, grandchildren, family, friends, co-workers, readers. But I feel that I have been repeatedly nudged by the Holy Spirit the past few weeks. Maybe my experience will help someone. Maybe that someone is you.

It seems to be a logical question. How could hundreds of victims have been sexually assaulted by one man, and the parents seemingly be clueless?

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When your dog dies

The best dog ever.

When your dog dies…

“I could give you some medication for him. It would alleviate some of the pain, but…”

I knew when I hugged him that it would be for the last time. Cradled in my oldest son’s arms, I bid farewell to our family’s dog.

He had a wonderful life. He lived better than some humans, as he never wanted for a meal or a warm place to lay his head.

Apparently, I slept through what my husband said was Jack’s very labored breathing. Our dear old dog made some very odd sounds, jarring my husband awake. And since I woke at my usual time, I let Jack outside while I filled his dish with his breakfast, not knowing what had transpired through the night.

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Autumn, Grief and Season of Change

Season of change
Season of change

Life is a season of change…

This morning I had the privilege of watching my granddaughters before school started. It was a “late start day,” which used to cause me some angst in the mornings. I know it messes up the routine for many working parents, since an hour of childcare is needed at an awkward time, causing a disruption in the usual hurried morning.

But these days, since I don’t have to corral sleeping kids off to school in the morning, I enjoy helping out by having the girls over for breakfast – even if they ended up eating the pumpkin muffins their mom sent over for me.

We had a little silly time, a little talk time, and a few rounds of playing “Go Fish.” I laughed when one of the girls said, “You go first because you are the oldest,” which I thought sounded much better than, “Because you are old.” A little before nine, we headed outside. A neighbor was going to drop them off at school, so I walked them down the sidewalk adjacent to our yard, which is now sporting a beautiful blanket of colorful leaves – a season of change.

“Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something’s time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings.” – Henry Cloud

Just a moment ago, it was summer, and they were running around in the yard catching fireflies in jars or doing cartwheels or playing basketball. Now, they will be excited to come over and rake all the leaves into a huge pile and jump into it.

As they made their way into our neighbor’s car, I turned around and looked at the yard. Other than the leaves and my trusty dog, it was completely empty and quiet.

Though it seems like yesterday, it was almost ten years ago that our yard had a completely different look. It was a hot summer day, and it was early morning when my husband, kids and a few other relatives were moving around under the huge canopies set up for our oldest daughter’s wedding. My husband made a wedding trellis; tables and chairs were decorated; a dance floor was set up, and we were ready to welcome more than 100 family and friends to celebrate.

Sometimes when I look into the yard, I can’t believe how it had held so many people, and how beautiful it looked with tulle along the fence line and pots of flowers scattered throughout. So many people pitched in to help. So many people attended and shared a special day.

I thought of all the people that filled our yard that summer day.

For a moment, I let myself have a cry. In less than a decade, both sides of the family have lost dear loved ones: my dad, my grandfather, my great-aunt, my husband’s cousin; the groom’s grandmother, and, sadly, this year within ten months, we lost the groom’s parents. I was kind of taken aback, because I didn’t expect to look at my quiet yard and feel so moved. Just standing on the sidewalk, I looked over the fence and saw where everyone was sitting, smiling and talking.

Grief doesn’t really know a time frame. Some days you smile at memories, and sometimes you weep. There isn’t a right way to grieve, or a wrong way. You never know which way a memory will take you, so you just go through the moment.

Maybe today’s memory happened because the leaves on the grass reminded me of my dad and his vigilant effort to get them out of his yard. Maybe it happened because the quiet was a little too quiet once the girls left for school. Maybe it was because of hormones. Or maybe it is because midlife is like fall – a beautiful, colorful season of change – a time of enormous transformation, yet a time to reflect and perhaps even mourn.

Watching the next generation skip down the side walk heading to the neighbor’s and ultimately to school, the grief lifted momentarily. How could I not smile as they waved and yelled, “Bye, Mema!” They are so full of life and wonder and growth – like spring.

Back in the house, I allowed myself to mourn a bit more. I realized that like summer, life seems short. I took a few minutes to remember the loved ones my granddaughters are probably too young to remember. I thanked God for the people that are in my life, and those who no longer are – physically, anyway – because they will always be alive in my heart.

And I promised those we’ve lost that we will keep them alive in my granddaughters’ hearts, too. They loved those little girls, just as we do. So, we will make great memories and tell the girls stories about the ones we loved and lost – the ones who shared a special wedding day with us – the day that was the beginning of their little family, and a day I cried happy tears when I looked into the yard.

© Lynne Cobb –  2016

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-22

The Grief Club

“I am going to need you to help me through this,” was the message my sister-in-law sent to me in a text.

We’ve been through a lot together – she’s been in our family over 30 years. We’ve had some great times, and she knows I would never tell her no – unless she wanted to do something illegal. But, oh, I so wanted to tell her, “no, I can’t help you this time.”

Problem is, I have the experience to help her. And I wish I didn’t. She wishes she didn’t need my help. But she does.

She is now part of the club. The club we didn’t ever want to join. The club that has the most expensive membership of all. The dues are high – no one wants to pay them. No one wants entry into the “My Dad Died Club.”

Problem is, I have the experience to help her. And I wish I didn't. She wishes she didn't need my help. But she does. Click To Tweet

My dad died sixteen months before her’s did. Both of our dads died due to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. That life-sucking, memory-killing, obnoxious, horrid, dreaded stupid disease took down two good guys that we loved dearly. She watched us suffer and she supported us. We watched her suffer and we supported her. Our families are like so many others these days, witnessing this awful disease and its devastation.

So when she called me, crying, and asking me to help her, my heart was breaking. Of course I would be there for her. This awful Club is big – and gets bigger every year. I had plenty of friends that were there for me, guiding me and listening to my stories and just being a presence as I grieved – and continue to grieve.

I will be there for her, because I know what she will go through, and it won’t be easy.

She will experience a wide range of emotions, and it shouldn’t surprise her to laugh and cry at the same time, though she will think she’s lost it.

She will smile at his memory, and cry when she hears his favorite song – sometimes simultaneously.

Her birthday will never be the same. Nor will his.

The first year of holidays will be difficult to get through, but she will do so for her children.

Father’s Day will be difficult.

The anniversary of his passing will sting. She may relive each and every moment, not because she wants to remember the suffering, but because those moments, as hard as they were, are the last precious minutes she spent with him. And difficult though they may be, she will savor the memory.

She will see a gray-haired gentleman and look for her dad.

She will turn to ask him something, and then she will cry.

Her days will feel empty. Her heart will feel heavy.

The best advice I received regarding the grief process was from a dear friend. She gently said, “You can’t go around it; you just have to go right through it.”

My sister-in-law will get through it with the help of those who’ve been there. We will love her and support her when she is a sobbing mess one minute… and back to her usual self the next.

We seasoned Club members will pray for her. We will hurt for her.

We will get it when she calls her dad, “Daddy.”

We will understand why she wants to talk about him. And we will encourage her to continue to talk to him.

We will understand her needing time to process this great loss. And we know it may never make any sense.

We know that, even though she won’t believe it today, that each day makes one a little bit stronger.

We will encourage her to cry, and tell her stupid jokes to make her laugh.

We know she will survive, because so far, we have.

We know she is stronger than she thinks she is, because when we were told we were strong, we didn’t believe it, either.

We know that when it is her time to comfort someone who enters the Club, she will do so with grace. It will be hard, because she will remember her own hurt. She will cry for the new member, because she knows their pain.

But she will love and guide her friend, because that is what we Club members do.

And our dads would be proud.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb