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A Wonderful Life

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Posted 04-07-2013 at 10:33 PM by Jeff Westover

I continue to have many conversations with folks about Caninemom3. It never ceases to amaze me, this power of community here.

I have some concerns though. As I observed earlier there are different ways we all deal with death. I recognize we can't see it all the same.

I also recognize that there is no real way to "make it better".

Through other sad experiences I've learned that mourning is a process and we need to go through it, awful as it is.

There are those who are telling me that some feel now a need to take a break from MMC in light of these recent events.

I understand if you feel this way.

But please reconsider your actions.

One of the things that has been suggested to me by many is that we'll never be able to replace Louann.

Well...of course not. Why should we even think of such a thing?

I can't help but pondering on Clarence's words to George in It's a Wonderful Life:

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

We know how true this is now, don't we?

But let us not forget the lessons Clarence taught too. He said:

You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

Louann's passing is tragic. It is premature. It is a loss, for sure.

But I humbly suggest we begin to change gears here a little bit. Let us let go of the sadness.

She would not want that for us.

Let us begin, instead, a celebration of her life, a recognition of her contributions here, and an emulation of what she contributed.

What would that mean?

It would mean doing those things we've seen her do that we so much appreciate now that she is gone.

Reach out to a new member. Welcome them, ask about them. Be their friend.

Reach out to an old member. If someone shows up who hasn't been around for a while let them know they have been missed and ask them what is new.

Speak your mind. You all have a blog here on MMC -- start using it! It took me a while to get Louann to see the wisdom of that but thank goodness she took that advice and put down precious thoughts into words. How valuable and lasting they are to us now.

Step up to contribute. Offer to work the podcast. Volunteer for some other role here on MMC. Reach out to serve.

You see? These were things we loved about Louann. She loved doing these things because they made her feel a part of you and a part of the Christmas we all celebrate.

Now is not the time to be sad. Let that be over. Let us go forward with gladness of spirit and light.

Do not run away and shy from facing the new reality we have here. Christmas comes again and I need you all here, more than ever.

Deep in my family past -- on my mother's side -- her grandmother came from what was then called Yugoslavia. Hers was a tragic story.

When she was about six, her mother died. Then, when she was about ten, the war torn country led to the early death of her father, leaving her an orphan. She lived with the nuns of the church for some time and then was shipped to America, to the area surrounding the iron country of Northern Minnesota after WWI. She was sent to be married and to begin a new life.

Though religious her emotional wounds from losing her parents were so great that they haunted her the rest of her life. When her father died this great grandmother of mine was so distraught she tried to throw herself into the grave with him. Whether it was what she believed or perhaps it was what the nuns told her to soothe her soul, I'm not sure which, she developed a belief that when someone died the way to deal with it was to let everything associated with that person to die with them.

This harsh and sad belief carried over to when her son -- my grandfather -- was killed in World War II.

When he passed it was as if my grandmother and my mother ceased to exist. They were a part of him and he died, and in the belief of my great grandmother, they died with him. She would never have a thing to do with my mother and, by extension, nothing to do with me or my siblings later in life.

In 1985 I made a journey to visit my mother's side of the family and to learn more about them. I met my grandfather's brother, who told me the story of my grandfather, details that even my mother never possessed. I met a cousin who remains a dear friend of mine to this day.

And I attempted to meet my great grandmother -- who still was alive -- and would live for several more years.

She would not see me, because I was dead to her.

I never got the chance to hear her story from her. I never got the chance to tell her the very strong connections I felt to my grandfather, her son.

It taught me a valuable lesson about death and dying.

I cannot escape the fact, and haven't since I was a little boy, that there is a very strong connection between here and "the other side". Whatever it is that separates us, it's not much. It is very, very thin.

I have had experiences -- sacred experiences -- that teach me these things.

I don't expect most to understand that. How can you understand something like that that you cannot see or experience for yourself. I know that very few are given such things.

But I tell you don't -- and I tell you stop -- the mourning for those who have gone on. We're wasting life, both here and there, when we do that.

Louann's powerful witness -- in her actions, in her goodness, in her simple reaching out to others -- should be lesson enough for us to carry on, in good cheer.

I am certain she would not want anyone to go away. If she had her way, she'd be on that countdown now. Every day.

And she would know everyone's business.

Just like before.

Many have said it over the course of the last couple of days. They hear the bells.

I relish those thoughts. I relish hearing Louann's actual laugh, the few times I spent on the phone with her.

Do you hear what I hear?

I hear it still. And I think she wants you to hear it too.

Please stay.
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Total Comments 5


  1. Old Comment
    ChristmasHeart's Avatar
    Very well said Jeff! I agree!

    Thank you for sharing your personal memories and experiences. It touched my heart...
    Posted 04-08-2013 at 06:18 AM by ChristmasHeart ChristmasHeart is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Meceka's Avatar
    As ChristmasHeart posted, very well said, Jeff! This touched my heart, too.
    Posted 04-08-2013 at 07:07 AM by Meceka Meceka is offline
  3. Old Comment
    MerryCarey's Avatar
    Thank you again for having the right words, Jeff. All of us have a little Louann in us, and if we put all those pieces together, we can continue what she gave us here every day.
    Posted 04-08-2013 at 07:11 AM by MerryCarey MerryCarey is offline
  4. Old Comment
    lilnoelelf's Avatar
    Well Said Mr.Jeff, very well said
    Posted 04-09-2013 at 01:01 AM by lilnoelelf lilnoelelf is offline
  5. Old Comment
    caninemomssister's Avatar
    Thank you Jeff. That is exactly what Louann would have wanted.
    Posted 04-11-2013 at 01:18 PM by caninemomssister caninemomssister is offline
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