05 September 2016

Heart to Heart...



Misty morning in the garden, Tahilla Farm


I have had several heart to heart talks these past few days…some of the longest days that I have ever had. I talk and I talk and I talk…until I think the words will no longer come...but then they do. I am talking in silence...to myself…every minute and hour of the passing days as I take in the full measure of life and death.

My brother Charlie passed away this month after a long battle with diabetes. He was 54 years old.  Husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend to the many people who came to farewell him last weekend. His death was expected and unexpected. He had been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation since May.  He was better and then he wasn't and then he was again. Every day was a 'wait and see', every day gave us hope. He had that fighting Irish spirit...knock him down and he would get up, knock him harder and he would get back up again and again. His last fight came in the early morning hours on August 20th.

He will be missed profoundly, more than words can say.

Lavender in bloom...

During the past two weeks family and friends have come together in grief…in it's raw and inexplicable form. We have started a journey together, one that will never end. Together we will weave the memories of his life, cherishing the ones that intertwined with each of ours.

It's personal, it's private, it is something we all carry together, each holding on in our own way. In the days, months and years to come we will breathe him into existence, into the very fabric of our being. He will continue to be with us forever more.

Butterfly calling...

When we built Tahilla Farm I thought of many happy occasions that would be held here but it never crossed my mind that it would be the starting point for healing over the death of my brother. In fact, he told me just a few short weeks ago that his goal was to be well enough to come to Tahilla to sit on the porch and enjoy the view. He said he would stay for as long as it took to fully enjoy it. I shared that story as we all sat on the porch this weekend...sisters, mother, wife, son and daughter.


Porches are the best remedy...

We all came together this weekend, doing the things you do to start to find inner peace. Talking, crying, laughing, reading, walking, writing, sketching, eating, shopping, cooking, exploring…just doing what each of us needed to do, together, to start the process.

My mother, sketching a view at Tahilla Farm.

A sketch of me.



And that is when it started to happen...the 'signs' appeared.

I should mention that some of us are great believer in 'signs'. It doesn't take much to stir the imagination in our family. During the church service I noticed a bee swirling around each speaker, including myself, at a dizzying pace, much like my brother's personality.  I knew then it would be the topic of conversation in the hours to follow and it was.

There is something comforting about these little 'signs' when they appear. I think of them more lightheartedly than some but knowing that it brings comfort to those that 'see' is worth the tale. They bring lightness and joy at a time of deep sorrow. A gentle reminder when we need it most, to say I am with you…even now.

As we gathered at Tahilla, we noticed an abundance of 'signs' in every direction.

Garden views...

The life of a garden..


Dragonflies, butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and a feather...

I occasionally spot dragonflies in the garden but on this occasion they welcomed us with eager enthusiasm.  Dive bombing was more like it. I have since discovered that dragonflies are a symbol of survival and when present it is a 'sign' that our loved ones are never far away, even after death. They bring peace to a grieving soul….and they did..to us all.

I purposely planted flowers to attract butterflies. I have been told they are a symbol of personal growth and spiritual rebirth, bringing peace, joy and love to those who appreciate them. We all marveled at the number of butterflies gracing our garden this weekend, surely a 'sign' that our loved ones who have passed before us were all together.

Butterfly bliss...

A favourite of mine, the ever curious hummingbirds,  darted in and out and amongst the butterflies and dragonflies.  It is said their wings move in the shape of an infinity sign symbolizing love. We felt love all around us.

Like butterflies, bees are said to be a symbol of the soul and a symbol of a unified family. You do not need to wander far from our doorstep to see and hear them. We listened quietly…a symphony like no other.



I didn't think much of it at the time but it did pass my mind that a beautiful downy feather laying in our path while we walked in the woods two days ago might have some meaning. I left it…but it nagged at me. I read today that if you come across a feather in your path, an angel is with you, offering comfort, to let you know you are on the right track. I was curious to see if the feather was still waiting for me.

I grabbed Tika and went in search. I recalled where I picked it up and that I had placed it on a hemlock branch, thinking it would be protected amidst the needles. We walked back and forth a few times, Tika with her nose to the ground and me with my eyes to the ground..and there it was, in my path again.


That little feather is now tucked away with my collection of feathers. It rests front and center forever more to remind me that an angel rests at Tahilla.


Me and Charlie

My brother Charlie, may he rest in peace, forever more.


PS.
Thank you for reading along and for the words of sympathy
that have followed these past weeks. It is so very deeply appreciated.
If you would like to contact me, to talk about your 'signs' 
or what has helped you through the grieving process, 
please do. I would love to hear from you.

jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

Jeanne xxx




40 comments:

  1. So sorry to learn of your brother's passing. I know you and your family will miss him dearly. What would we do without the birds, bees, and butterflies in our life .....not to mention feathers, also! Keep those fond memories alive and take good care of Mom. I'll bet she will paint a lovely view of Tahilla Farm that you can hang and treasure forever.

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    1. Thank you so much Judy, I truly appreicate your well wishes and I know my brother would too. xx

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  2. Jeanne, so very sorry for your loss. Frankly, i cannot imagine my younger brother dying or how i would handle it. i hope i would be as strong as you seem to be. i do know that mending the tear in the tapistry of your life will take time, and it will look different forever, but the memories that you bring closer to the surface will help. May i suggest another "sign"? Have you considered a memory plant? I have planted shrubs and trees in memory of my parents - some are varieties that they loved, and some are plants that remind me of them. I find it very comforting. With all the beautiful views you already have, an additional flowering tree couldn't hurt.

    You'll be in my thoughts as i work in my garden this week - along with the bees, dragonflies and butterflies for your brother.

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    1. Thank you Webb and yes, interestingly, when I received this message, I also received three wonderful japaneese plants for our 'contemplative garden', in memory of my brother. I could not think of a more wonderful tribute. He will be with all though all the seasons. xx

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss, and will be praying for you and for his family. So young.

    Perhaps Tahilla Farm is like the Velveteen Rabbit...all the more precious for living all of life.

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    1. Thank you Kate, I couldn't of said it better...without a doubt, all the more precious for living all of life. xx

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  4. My deepest sympathy and prayers for the loss of your brother, Charlie.
    I also believe there are signs. I'm sure his spirit is full and present.

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    1. Thank you Maywyn, even these few weeks on, his spirit is full and present. He had that way about him in life as well. xx

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  5. Your very sad news certainly stirred personal feelings for me dear Jeanne. I have just one brother, no sisters. He is younger than me, and far away in France. Although we don't meet often, just knowing he is there is always a comfort. Losing your Charlie, long before it should have been his time, is so hard for your entire family. What a dear man you all will now remember - and what wonderful memories you must have of the special times you were able to live and share with him over his lifetime. May Charlie now be in a different beautiful place. As you walk around Tahilla may the little lovely signs continue, bringing him to mind, on a cool misty morning walk or a when the sun sets silently in the evening over your piece of New Hampshire paradise.

    Deepest condolences Jeanne - you will be in my thoughts often in the days ahead.
    Fondly, Mary

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    1. Thank you so much Mary, a lovely thought, especially when travelling. Knowing how much he enjoyed the thought of recuperating at Tahilla Farm warms the heart. xx

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  6. Oh Jeanne, I am so very sorry. Strangely, my best and oldest friend lost her older sister this week as well. I know from our conversations that it is a unique pain to lose a sibling, quite unlike the loss of a parent, and I grieve for your special loss. Please know you will be in my prayers this week as you adjust to the changing of the light. Your friend, Pamela

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    1. Thank you Pamela, so very much appreciated..xx

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  7. With fondest sympathy. Ruminate on those cherished memories. Continue to find comfort in all that nature provides.

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    1. Very kind Marielle, thank you so much..xx

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  8. I am sorry for your loss Jeanne. It is wonderful to hear that your family was at Tahilla farm, healing together.
    Yes, I do believe in signs. I think that each of us finds comforts in these little things. Each in in his or her own way. They help us heal and give us the strength to carry on.

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    1. Thank you Loree, I truly appreciate your thoughts and agree, those little signs have a way of appearing when we need them most...the fact that they appear so unexpectedly is a gift. xx

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  9. It sounds like Charlie was working overtime with myriad signs! This is the most beautiful post you've ever written. The photo of your mother sketching is so touching.

    "Together we will weave the memories of his life, cherishing the ones that intertwined with each of ours. It's personal, it's private, it is something we all carry together, each holding on in our own way. In the days, months and years to come we will breathe him into existence, into the very fabric of our being. He will continue to be with us forever more." You are so right.

    As Eckhart Tolle says, “Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.”

    Healing prayers for your family, Jeanne.

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    1. Thank you Susan and yes...his signs appear as they did in life...working overtime. He lived life large and his 'signs' have appeared in the same way. xx

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  10. Jeanne, your pictures are beautiful.. thank you for bearing your heart..
    I truly also believe in signs .. and always after the storms of life that we are so suddenly presented with.. the butterfly to me is a very significant sign.. she reminds me always of my storm I survived somehow. And for that survival I am eternally grateful.
    The butterfly when she emerges from her cocoon, needs time to gain strength for her wings to unfold, and grow strong so that she can fly. Like grieving.. it takes time. If we rush it, our wings will never learn to fly again.. so take time out and heal well..
    I found writing it down, much like you've done in this beautiful post, did put some perspective onto it.. I found making memory albums to treasure for years to come helped.. but most of all.. time heals. Blessings and strength to you and your family xx j

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    1. Thank you Jean...couldn't agree more, time heals when we open ourselves to it. xx

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  11. I am so sorry for you and your family. Beautiful souvenir of you and your brother.

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  12. OH MY GOSH.............SO SO SORRY.
    I too LOST a BLOGGING FRIEND on THE 30th of AUGUST.I too wrote about HER and shared some of our emails back and fourth.I too talked about SIGNS...........on instagram.I too found a FEATHER on the bottom of my CAT's PAW this EVE..............I took NOTICE and pulled it OFF!WHERE DID I PUT IT.............
    KEEP LOOKING FOR SIGNS..............HE IS WITH YOU!
    XO

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    1. Yes, he is Elizabeth, thank you..xx I was so sorry to read of Ellie's passing, it was wonderful of you to feature her. Healing words for you and a gift to her family. xx

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  13. I am so sorry to read this, i know words don't do anything in these cases, they just lose their weight, only i can say may he rest in peace and i am sure he is in a better place. Maria

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  14. Dear Jeanne
    How very sad for you and your family to lose your brother long before what seems to be his time. I wish you and your family all the comfort and healing Tahilla Farm can provide. I'm also very cpmforted by the appearance of signs at times of need.
    With love
    Ceri

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    1. Thank you Ceri, once you are open to them, it feels like stepping into another world. Fortunately, one that remains with you. xx

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  15. I'm so sorry for your loss - way too young. These words and images of peace and mourning and reflection are beautiful.
    Love,
    Mary

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  16. My deepest sympathies. My thoughts and prayers of love are with you. xoxox Vicki

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  17. Thinking of you at this sad time. X

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  18. Jeanne,

    You have been on my mind these last few weeks, since I saw your post on Facebook about your dear brother Charlie. I am so very sorry for your loss and have you and your family in my preyers. How wonderful to have your entire family together to talk, laugh, cry, reminisce and to just be with one another and share your stories and memories about your beloved brother. I believe that God gives us these signs to help us grieve and to offer comfort for our broken hearts.

    I hope you find some comfort among the beauty of your beautiful farm, with the birds, bees, and dragon flies/ Perhaps as you walk you path each day your brother walks alongside to keep you company.

    Take care of yourself dear Jeanne and of your mother. Hugs to you.

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth, it has been a long few weeks and I imagine many more. I believe you are right...and it is a lovely thought...walking alongside us to keep us company. xx

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  19. Jeanne, you are on my mind. I hope that you are well, enjoying life and taking in the beauty of your beautiful farm. Enjoy Tika and all of the beauty around you.

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  20. Dear Jeanne,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your handsome brother Charlie. I hope he is hanging out with my beautiful brother Thomas who died last year. I kind of understand what you are going through but somehow we never fully comprehend another's grief. I will keep you in my prayers.

    I love the beautiful signs of dragonflies, the feather and the bee hovering around at church.

    Sending you a big warm hug
    Helenxx


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    1. I feel the hug Helen...thank you for thinking of me. What a lovely thought to think of your Thomas and my Charlie hanging together. Two Irish spirits in the wind. I will look for the signs...xx

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. Just a few words or a few paragraphs, no matter. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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