Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Path Forward

I guess you could say this post is about a farewell to life as we know it for one person and his family, and also about new life to come.

My brother-in-law Arnie died two weeks ago. His death came shockingly swiftly after a cancer diagnosis. We were not prepared. 

I have been sad and worried for my sister Laurie. She and Arnie had a tightly knit partnership of a marriage and his loss is heartbreaking.  Laurie lives a hundred miles away from us and her three children have been with her these last two weeks, supporting her and helping to take care of arrangements and all of the paperwork that is necessary when there is a death in the family. I have been in contact with her by phone and texting, but I longed to be there in person.

Arnie's service was yesterday, Saturday. It was a deeply personal service. His seven grandchildren, one pre-teen and the rest in their teens, all participated in the service. One opened the service with a cello solo, one played the piano and sang, they all sang several numbers, and the youngest one played us out on his electric guitar with the song Wipe Out!"  Yes, there was laughter with the tears.  Arnie's two sons delivered the eulogies and shared stories. Arnie was himself famous for his story telling and the large crowd in attendance, full of family and friends from from all aspects of his life nodded and smiled or grinned at the stories they fondly remembered. 

At the lunch reception after the service I finally had a chance to see my sister. We hugged long and hard, and she assured me it would all be all right. As I talked to her and to her sons I could see they they were making a plan for the path forward. I felt the burden of worry lighten off my shoulders.
Yes, there was going to be a path forward. There might be bends and turns in the path so that it may not reveal itself all at once, and there might be some small obstacles and rough patches, but there will be a path moving forward. It will be hard, but she will be OK, and so will her family. 

This morning Tom and I walked in our park in light rain, but now, this afternoon most of the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining through. My heart is lighter, and I can only hope that Arnie's family is feeling some of that lightness too. 

It helps that all around me, in the middle of winter, new life is springing up. Here in the coastal Pacific Northwest there is no "dead of winter". Life is resting but always ready to burst worth. Here is what I mean as seen today in my own garden. 
 Early hellebore. 

 Primroses hardly ever quit. 
 Winter blooming hardy cyclamen.
 Witch hazel

 Intensely sweet fragrance from the tiny blooms of Sarcococca. 

 Winter jasmine
 Winter blooming mahonia, loved by the resident Anna's hummingbirds. 

 Candy tuft that likes to rush the season.
 And old rose, not giving up. 
 Shoots, like these of day lilies, emerging from the cold, wet winter soil. 

 Kaffir lily.

 Green buds on the red flowering currant. 

There is a path forward out of the dark of winter, and there are hopeful greetings along the way. 

Be at peace, dear ones. 


  1. My best to your sister and family, it will be an adjustment for you all. The service sounds like it was a wonderful tribute to Arnie's life.
    My goodness you have flowers...I enjoyed seeing them:) Spring is still 4 to 5 months away for us:)

  2. I'm sorry for your loss. He sounded like a very jovial character. I like the analogy you make of the road forward and the bends twists and turns. It helps to see that plans are in place for the family to move forward.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear of this rapid change in your sister's life. It sounds like he was a wonderful person and hopefully you will be able to connect often during these next weeks and months. And your beautiful pictures of flowers give me such joy to see. Sending you my love and gratitude for your constant presence in my life.

  4. I am sorry for you and your family's loss. It is good to know your sister has her children there with her and I'm sure she is grateful for your love and support. Such sudden changes are difficult and will take time. Your pictures are lovely. I can't imagine having flowers this time of the year.

  5. It has to be a relief to know your sister has a strong, tight support network. The funeral service sounded so beautiful. I'm amazed at all the gorgeous flowers in your garden already.

  6. The service for your BIL sounds very touching and beautiful. By coincidence I am currently rereading Gladys Taber's book Another Path which you probably know she wrote after her beloved friends died. She writes about the dark time after Jill died and how eventually she could find peace and joy again. I pray that will be the way it will be for your dear sister.

  7. sorry for your loss, but just as spring returns so will be see our loved ones again in another time and place. May you find peace and comfort in remembering all the good times and the love that binds your family together...

  8. A beautiful post in all ways, Linda.

  9. My deepest sympathies to you, your sister and her family. It sounds like he was a delightful man and will be gratefully missed but also fondly remembered. So glad she has so much support.

  10. This is beautifully written, Linda. Glad the sun came out after the rain yesterday. Sunshine makes everything seem a little brighter. Your flowers are so pretty. Wish the best for your sister and her family...all of you.

  11. Your Sister is blessed to have you as part of her family. It will all work out. So many adjustments for all in the family but most of all for your Sister. I am glad you can see the light of a new path because your Sister will need you there for her along that path. Best wishes for all of you. Big hugs.

  12. What a beautiful post. I am sure Arne and his family appreciate the thoughts and comfort in the words. Love, Jeanne

  13. Such a lovely post. Your sister is fortunate to have the support of family and friends, and despite the mileage between you, I'm certain it isn't far at all in your hearts.

    Love the photos of the spring flowers!


I would love to read your comments. Since I link most posts to Facebook, you may comment there if you do not have an account. I have eliminated Anonymous comments due to spammers.