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I spy joy (and love) in Renee’s heart

Renee's Heart

On April 30, 2011, at 7:55 am, my sister Renee became an angel.

Well, I suppose she already was one, but on that day it became official. Renee had been living with cancer for nearly 8 years. What started out as breast cancer, became liver, lung, and bone cancer; and then ovarian and abdominal cancer.

Although she lived in Montana and I in Washington, my kids and I were blessed to see her less than a week before she passed. We said our tearful goodbyes and Renee told my kids she’d be watching over them–their very own angel. I believe her. And I believe she’s my angel, too.

A small group of family and friends went to spread Renee’s ashes the day before the service. We went to Glacier, one of her favorite places to visit. After each of us tossing some of the gritty ash that remained of her physical form into the lake, the larger portion was released at the edge of the water. As the ash slowly dissipated into the clear, cold water, I photographed it, thinking what a beautiful view she has.

Several of us picked up a few rocks–mementos of the day. I looked for pretty rocks in shades of red, yellow and green. I found a sparkley green one that looked a little like a heart.  And then I found a ruddy red rock that looked exactly like a heart. Thrilled with my tangible reminders of this last bodily touch with my sister, I showed them to everyone there.

Yet this was just a trifle compared to what I was about to discover.

My purpose fulfilled, I began looking through the images I shot while the others lingered. When I saw the photo above I gasped, loud enough to draw attention. Where did this heart come from? Clearly shaped from Renee’s ashes, this heart formation was undeniable. And it was also unbelievable–it wasn’t there when I took the photo. I never saw it until I looked back through the images. How could I have missed seeing that when I took the shot?

Everyone looked at their own images.  Nothing. Neither did they see Renee’s ashes ever looking like that as they stretched out into their resting place. We were all nearly speechless.

Unbelievable. And yet undeniable.

Renee sends her love. And I believe a greater message even than that. Her final resting place isn’t a lake in Glacier Park, Montana. It’s in love. LOVE.

Love is what’s on the other side. Lots of it.

After all, underlying everything, that’s all there is.

L. O. V. E.

Rock hearts from Renee

May 18, 2011   19 Comments

I spy joy on a trash can

Spreading love in Portland

Graffiti is a word that carries a negative connotation in our society. But sometimes graffiti can be good.

Just a couple of days ago I was walking around Portland and saw this trash can had been tagged with a heart. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “love.”

Who would have thought you could spread love through garbage? Certainly not me, but there it was. Plain, simple, clear as day. Love. Love thy brother. Love yourself. Love your life.


June 21, 2010   1 Comment

I spy joy in art

I have always enjoyed art. Whether it’s a sculpture, a painting, a photograph, collage or what have you, I love knowing that what I’m looking at is one person’s creative expression of their unique perspective at just that moment.

This particular piece of art, drawn by my daughter, makes me smile. A bold, colorful flower, a really big heart, and her name in whimsical letters.

Joy, indeed.

May 14, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in music

The benefits of music are many. Music can elevate your mood, enhance your immune system, stimulate your brain and even change the beating of your heart in proportion to the tempo. And that’s just listening to it. Making music, being the vessel it flows through, is nothing short of rapturous.
This is my seven-year-old son on music.

Joy lives!

February 23, 2009   No Comments