I want to thank all of my readers today and invite you to follow a series of posts that begin tomorrow, March 28. The posts will reveal how friends and other kin help us navigate our lives as the incredible burden of grief presses on our hearts. They “stand in the gap” left by the deaths of our parents.
In my first post, I’ll write about Suzi. She came into my life amid one of the worst periods of my life. I had lost my dad and was caring for my mother. Suzi had just lost her mother. Yet in her own grief, she met me in mine.
I’m blessed with a lot of space, but many others struggle with finding a space for the things they inherit. Useful things aren’t the challenge. Grandmother’s casserole dish? To the kitchen it goes.
But what about the things you aren’t going to use? Things that perhaps aren’t at the top of the sentimental list, but still is wrapped in a memory? Something too big to put into a box?
I’m not going to be exhaustive right now, but I do want to suggest one solution. Photography.
Do you dream about your parents? Do your loved ones seem alive again in your sleep? I love dreaming about my parents, but often dreams are uncomfortably instructive rather than happy.
Such was the case in 2015. That spring, I was focused on devising a way to articulate for my first book what the cleaning out of my parents’ home meant to my grief journey.
I didn’t like my name. School teachers and classmates misspelled and mispronounced it. Others expected me to be a boy, to be Tony. Not Toni. But I’ve long since gotten over that, and even love my name now. I’ve never met nor discovered through Google another Toni Lepeska. It’s unique.
Maybe you’ve struggled with your name. Maybe it means you’ve struggled with your identity. If so, I’m right with you.
Every first full week in March is Celebrate Your Name Week. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on who gave us our names and on the joy with which we entered the world. Maybe we can recapture that joy. Maybe we can celebrate ourselves in the way we were celebrated at birth.