Finding the Beautiful Story (And a Surprise at the End!)

photo @ by Luis Llerena

We just pulled into my husband's home place in Mississippi to spend a long weekend. I love the peace of this place. It's like God holds his fingers to his lips to tenderly shush my busy mind and invites the animals to fill the airwaves. The calf calls; the birds chirp; the horses whinny; and the hound dog howls, just to welcome us back.

As we cross the cattle gap, memories float as fresh and sweet as the smell of his Mama's blueberry pie. After three years, I'm still struck that Papa isn't waiting in the driveway to help us carry in our bags. But then I remember what I already knew before we left home, his mama and daddy don't live here anymore. And the pain of death punches me still, a right upper cut to my ribcage. The sharp ache hangs there until we get the truck unloaded.

I think it must sucker punch my husband and son as well, though none of us says a word about it. Instead, wide-eyed and anxious to get situated, we trip and talk over one another until someone gets mad. But we aren't really upset about the silly business of who didn't grab what bag and how to open up the garage door.

We are working out our grief still.

Maybe we are each afraid if we speak of it that we will break the fragile balance we've found between holding tightly and moving on?

I don't really know.

I do know that my sister-in-law is gracious to come let us stay in this house that she now owns and cares for. I bow my head in gratitude that we are able to visit this sanctuary.

I pray for strength to move through the first few hours as we adjust, again.

And soon we will, because one of us will tell a story.

Sam might say tonight after he takes his shower, "Remember how me and Papa used to chase each other up and down the hall and play 'Gip?' I was little so he would let me catch him and grab the red bandana after a few minutes of keep away." Or while Shep stacks and stokes the charcoal for burgers on the back porch, he might say, "Can you believe this was mama's favorite meal? Hamburgers? And fried fish- She loved to have a fish fry."

And we will smile and laugh and then the silence will fall. I'm never sure how long it stays. But we will hear cattle lowing in the field and come back from our memories. We will recall what beautiful people they were... and still are as they live on in our words and our hearts.

I think most of us have a general tendency to walk away from difficult feelings- to push them down or turn them away or put them under foot.

But as I write this post today, I realize the best part of allowing ourselves to feel them is that we arrive at the beautiful stories on the other side.

Next time an uncomfortable feeling arises, I encourage you let it come in and stay awhile. Get familiar with why it hurts. As you do, I believe, you will find something fresh and sweet inside, something you might miss if you dismiss the initial ache.

I'm going to be listening for beautiful stories this weekend. My sister-in-law is coming tomorrow and she will bring some too. I'm going to laugh (and definitely cry) and most of all do my best to be present to the stories.

Because more than this house or this land or these animals, what my husband's parents left behind are these precious people... and these beautiful stories.

We are all in the process of writing our story, and I want mine to beautiful, too.  Don't you?

There is a specific way we can look more closely at the stories we are writing in our own lives. It's the way of Eulogy. By writing our own eulogies now, we can get clear about our lives. It may sound weird? But if you've gotten up close and personal with grief, you know the immediacy loss stirs.

I've written my own eulogy. I know first hand it is difficult work, so I made something for you in case you want to try it. It's a framework that generates your eulogy based on the answers you give it. It's really simple. You fill out the form and submit your answers. Then confirm your email address and get your personal story in your inbox.

Go to this page to this page if you want to try it. I would love to get your feedback here on the Huff Post or via email (, Facebook or the blog!