Message in a Bottle

More than a year ago, my son sent me an audio file of a phone conversation he had with his father about a week or so into his dad’s diagnosis. He sent the audio file to my phone, but I never listened to it…..until today. My phone was trying to download an update but couldn’t. The error message said I needed to review some large attachments in order to clear out some space for the new update. I was dutifully reviewing the files and deleting, and there it was. A modern day message in a (digital) bottle washed up on my emotional shore.

My husband and our son talked for about 12 minutes mainly about his diagnosis and the amount of time he had left. At the time, I was struggling to make sense of his diagnosis and our treatment options. I was desperate for anything that would give us some more time. My husband was concerned that I was not fully in touch with the situation, that I was in denial about how much time he had left. He was partially correct. I thought he might have months left to live. In actuality, he only had weeks. He knew it. I think I knew it, too, but couldn’t fully accept it. Recently, I have been feeling like I am once again at that same crossroads, the cosmic, cognitive space where the paths of acceptance and denial intersect. There is something that’s been tugging at my heart, something that I know, but I can’t seem to see my way clear to fully accepting where this grief process goes next.

My son and I were talking about this and he said, “I think we’re just scratching the surface of what you are capable of, and I don’t want you to get stuck in grief.” Uh-oh. An arrow straight to my heart. A ripple of panic through my body.

In a recent comment conversation with a fellow blogger, I admitted, “Breaking through is a good way to describe what I feel like needs to happen next, but I really question whether I have the mettle necessary. I am reminded of days on the farm when I was warned by adults not to help the baby chicks as they struggled to emerge from the shell. I felt so sorry for them. I wanted to help so badly. Just a little bit! But, no, I was told that if they were not strong enough to emerge from the shell, they would not be strong enough to survive to adulthood. Yes, indeed.”

Well, folks, leave it to my husband to tell it like it is. In my digital message in a bottle, Paul said….

“Mom’s been a trooper. She’s just…like I said…I appreciate you talking to her because she needed to…she needed to hear it, and from you, and, and realize that, yeah, it’s time, as much as all of us hate to do it, move on. It’s time to move on. She’s only going to listen to me…and you.”

Holy smokes…..that message was recorded in February 2018, given to me over a year ago, and heard for the first time by me today. Amazing. Now, I have no idea what moving on looks like, but I heard my husband loud and clear. I have done my best to love, honor, and obey him in all things. This next chapter can’t and won’t be any different.

People say that time heals all wounds. No, it doesn’t. God does. Reading His Word has taught me the truth about grief and healing, and I am standing on His promises. Paul was a gift to me, and I am grateful. My cup is full and overflowing with precious memories, and I rejoice in them. I will continue to use my experience with grief to tell others about God’s Grace in my life. I consider it a high honor to reveal His strength in my weakness and pain. God has comforted me and still has more work for me to do. I know this because He is daily equipping me for the task.

In their book Grieving with Hope, Samuel J. Hodges IV and Kathy Leonard warn that choosing to remain stuck in your ways will result in grief becoming your identity. Yikes. No, thank you.

The Bible also provides an appropriate warning in Isaiah 17:5-8, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.  They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope and no future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit.’” Yes, thank you, because being a stunted shrub sounds like no fun at all.

Moving on with hope, joy, and peace in the midst of my grief, Malia

17 thoughts on “Message in a Bottle

  1. Josiah Towles

    Luv ya!!!

    On Sun, Oct 27, 2019, 11:11 AM Party of One, or Life after Death wrote:

    > maliadunn posted: ” More than a year ago, my son sent me an audio file of > a phone conversation he had with his father about a week or so into his > dad’s diagnosis. He sent the audio file to my phone, but I never listened > to it…..until today. My phone was trying to download a” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joan Collazo

      There is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking of Him You And Aaron! Thank you for sharing his final days with us! We understand you needed to be with him alone to tell him how much you Loved Him and still do to this day! We too Love Him to this day and miss him every single one of them….I think these blogs help you to understand a little bit more how strong you have been through it all and we are grateful you are sharing them with us! We Love You Malia, always know that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loren Bethea

    Hello Malia,
    again, you have touched my heart in so many ways. Your words always seem to be just what I need to hear yet I can never express. Whenever, I read one of your posts..I always say out loud, “YEAH, what SHE said!” haha
    I am struggling with “moving on” as well and what that looks like. Still not comfortable in my single skin yet but I know I can’t stay here.
    My cousin died in May 2019 and his wife and I are great friends…even more so now that we are both “widows”…God I HATE that word… but we decided last night that we were going to start wearing our wedding bands on our right hand. This is common in Europe to indicate a spouse has died…not divorced. Today was my first day wearing it and I felt so much more confident in church and grocery shopping. Before today, I felt like people were staring at me and judging me! I figuring they were wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t keep a husband….silly, I know but it was so uncomfortable that, sometime, it kept me from leaving the house. I like wearing it…it makes me feel close to John.
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I always feel a little jolt of excitement whenever I see a new post from you come up. As soon as it cools off, let’s get together for that glass of wine we’ve been talking about…or tea…whatever…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bereavedandbeingasingleparent

    I needed that this morning. It’s reminded me of something I had forgotten. Probably suppressed. Before our son my partner would have one trip a year where she would visit a new country. Before each journey she would write a ‘if I don’t come back’ letter. On her return she would burn it. Well a few days after she did leave us I came across one of those letters which had survived from a trip to India. It remains unopened. Maybe it’s time. Your words have warmed a cold soul – Thank you. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. maliadunn

      Wow! Keep me posted. And a word of warning. Even though I am fairly self-aware, I was unprepared for the deluge of tears my message in a bottle unleashed. It’s been quite some time since I cried that hard. I realized I had been holding back. Have a box of tissues on hand and, as crazy as this next part sounds, enjoy a good cry if you are moved to. And one last thing, you are never alone. Your community is here for you. Be blessed!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. bereavedandbeingasingleparent

    Yes it did produce floods. As ever she was very matter of fact and practical. But it was like she was by my side again. Even just looking at her handwriting again. Still very shaky though. Yes it was a few years ago but it sounds like it was a similar message to yours. Now I need to think about it and see how it applies now. It’s been one of those crisis of confidence spells so probably needed this. Thank you for giving me the push to do that. Look after yourself . Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. personalhuman

    Followed your blog a couple of weeks back but just read this now. I lost my dad to cancer back in August of this year and I’m still learning how to deal with my grief. This post is a wonderful encouragement and help. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maliadunn

      I am so glad you found some encouragement and support in this post. I wish you the best as you continue to grieve, learn, and grow. I don’t write much about my son’s process because it’s his story, not mine, to tell or not to tell. He manages his grief differently and that’s exactly as it should be. Having lost a parent at a young age myself, I can tell you that anger, feelings of abandonment (at any age), problems with attachment, struggling with unresolved issues, and grieving all of life’s little and big moments that could have been shared with that parent are very common challenges. Reach out, lean on others, and lean in to that grief so that you can continue to grow and be healthy. Take care, Malia

      Liked by 1 person

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