Bittersweet: bit·ter·sweet. (bĭt′ər-swēt′) adj. 1. Bitter and sweet at the same time: bittersweet chocolate. I’ve never been a fan of bittersweet anything. But lately I seem to be living my life with a daily mixture of bitter and sweet. Today was such a day. Today is my 65th birthday. For the first time in my life I have been dreading this day, rather than looking forward to it with eager anticipation. Being just straight up honest - today was hard. So hard. I miss my Bill terribly. There was no way I could muster up a brave or even near celebratory face or mood. Bill always made my birthdays such special days when he was alive. He never forgot one and always went all out to celebrate them. I always woke to flowers each birthday morning and I knew that this year there would be no flowers - because there would be no beloved Bill. But God remains close to my broken heart and today, like every day poured out gifts of His grace through His people - people like you dear ones. A dear friend sent me flowers to have when I awoke, another sent me a beautiful gift made from one of Bill’s special gifts to me. I will be sharing it soon. There was the gift of presence from my family, and a suprise visit from an out of town friend. Beautiful cards and gifts arrived. The same heart that holds so much grief, also holds so much gratitude. Your messages and gifts of love did not go unnoticed or appreciated. . So even though I am terribly missing the love of my life, I haven’t missed God’s love and gifts of grace poured out over me in so many different ways through each of you. I have felt so very, very, loved. Thank you. Thank you for loving me. I love you too - each and every one.
I came across another poem Bill wrote me - simply entitled “The Smile”. (Swipe Left to Read it). This was one of his favorite pictures of me because it captured that smile he loved so well, and that little bit of twinkle in my eyes. He also loved to hear me laugh. In fact, he (and our adult children) loved to sit around the table and impersonate my New Orleans accent, as they re-told many of the stories I told many times over (to whoever would listen). BUT, they always took the liberty of embellishing the truth, making those stories a bit wilder than they were on their own. Hearing them tell my own stories with an exaggerated accent, and added embellishments (which I denied vehemently were not true) would make me throw back my head and laugh - a deep belly laugh - both loud and long. And then they would all start laughing too. I’m glad I found the poem. It will remind me to smile and laugh again - because he loved it so, and because he would want me too. It won’t happen today, and probably not in the near future. But one day....
I have no words of wisdom today, no words of faith, or hope. They are buried too deep within my grief. All I have today are tears. Tears that won’t stop flowing. Tears that I can’t damn up, but that keep flowing like a river that’s about to overflow it’s banks and drown everything around it. I cry more tears in a day than I thought possible in a lifetime. And I think surely at some point, the well will run dry. But then they appear again in abundance -hitting me when I least expect it - a picture, a memory, a fragrance, a word. Bill still is - and always will be - a part of me. He feels to me that he is at the same time all around me, yet not here at all. This picture was taken a year ago - one of those Facebook memories that pop up - and instantly pierce your heart. We were having lunch out at one of our favorite restaurants and I was trying to get him to look and me and let me take a serious picture. As usual, he refused to cooperate, and what I got instead was this picture of him “trying” not to laugh, but failing miserably. I glad he did. It’s become one of my favorite pictures! Oh how, I miss my Bill! And how I miss his laugh! I still can’t believe that He is gone. Each time I think my mind has wrapped itself around that, everything in me screams “No! Please don’t go!” And wishes desperately to go back in time and have the outcome be different. Desperate to make it so - but I know I can’t. So the tears continue to flow.
This is a picture of my young Bill very shortly after we met. I came across it and his two trumpets this week. Aren’t they beautiful? Bill and the trumpets!? We had been dating only a couple of months in 1984 when Christmas arrived - and Bill was playing trumpet at the Christmas Eve Service at First English Church in New Orleans where My daughter and I attended church. I have to say, that although Christmas Eve Services have always been special to me - this one was even more so - Bill and I were falling in love.
My Dear Bill: Your friends and colleagues at Baptist unveiled this beautiful gift in memory of you this week. One of the nurses and her husband had it made in your memory. It graces the same floor you worked on for so many years. I know you would have loved it -but as your dear friend Chaplain Parker, who dedicated it said, you probably would have been embarrassed. You were always a very humble man and never saw in yourself the precious gifts God had given you to serve others with. You just served. And served well. The beautiful crosses and trunk they sit are all made from reclaimed wood after Hurricane Katrina. How special is that? Made from wood where I grew up, where we met, where we were married, where you served your first church, we bought our first home? The engraving on the brass plate reads simply: William Dean “Bill” Gassett 1955-2020 A Faithful Nurse Psalm 23 And you were - a Faithful Nurse, Pastor, Son, Brother, Friend, Husband, Father, and Grandfather. I am in awe of how many lives you touched, and the love and service you have freely given of each and every day to those God placed in your path. We were all blessed by your presence, and I privileged to be blessed most of all. Thank you for loving people. Thank you for loving me. You are now home with your “Shepherd” in perfect peace. Lying down in those green pastures. Passed from Death to Eternal Life with Christ. But you are dearly missed here, each and every day, by so many. But none more than me. 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔 Thank you friends at Baptist for such a beautiful gift - just one of the many ways your have and continue to pour out your love to our family. Your love and kindness greatly touches our hearts. We love you, each and every one. ♥️ (Swipe left to see the crew).
I went and stood in the rain today. I stood there as the drops washed over me with my hands and face raised toward heaven. I stood there to remember: To remember the way rain feels on my skin. To remember that it is possible to experience some brief moments of joy, even in the midst of grief-filled days. To remember that God’s Grace is poured out each day in far more abundance than the most torrential downpour, in ways I am aware of, and ways I am not. To remember that rain is necessary to water the earth and bring new life - just as God’s Grace is necessary to water my soul in the middle of what feels like a sun-parched desert. To remember that sometimes we have to seize the moment, or the moment will be gone, never to be retrieved. To remember that THIS DAY may be all we have to enjoy the abundant free-flowing grace-gifts of God. And to remember that my God collects each and every one of my tears and that one day, one glorious day, when we meet face to face - He has promised that “He will wipe away every tear from (my) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4 I went and stood in the rain today. To remember. I’m so glad I did.
Beauty is such a gift. That’s always true. But especially in times of turmoil. We need it. It lifts our spirits. It opens our eyes. It points them heavenward to the Creator of all beauty. I’m sharing these beautiful Dahlia photographs today. They were taken by my friend Patti Saunders who looks for beauty. And then instead of keeping it to herself, she shares it. She has an artist’s heart and is a true artist. But I think she may be too modest to know that. So I’m saying it. I hope these beautiful flowers bring a smile to your face today, right in the middle of all the world’s chaos. You may need it. I know I do. Thank you Patti, for sharing your lovely art with us. 💕
WE MISSED SPRING The morning sunlight streams through my bedroom window signaling my eyes to open. They open slowly, look around, not fully focused yet. Everything looks familiar; yet at the same time eerily different. I remember then that it is. Although my surroundings are exactly the same, they are completely and forever changed. The sunshine, usually a welcome greeting, now has become hot, searing, an unwelcome intrusion to the gift of sleep. I remember now - it’s June And I completely missed Spring. It came didn’t it? I know it did. You and I awaited it, plotting and planning beautiful flower varieties we could add to our garden this year and beautiful memories we would make. We waited eagerly for Spring’s arrival, knowing it would be a time to feast our eyes, engage our senses, and celebrate another year of marriage. In April. In the Spring. But I missed Spring this year, and so did you. Instead of finding ourselves basking in the sunlight, breathing in God’s fresh air, we found ourselves deep in a unfamiliar darkness, far away from any sunshine, as you bravely fought an invisible, insidious, merciless, disease that had already claimed far too many lives. But in its greed, it took one more. One more precious to me than my own life.
It’s time to listen, really listen to the deep cries of the hearts, and the chasms of brokenness which have only grown deeper and wider as the years have gone by - while the injustice continues. I pray the listening starts now - and that the cry for Justice is finally heard. To all my black friends - I’m so sorry. I stand with you. And I’m listening.....