Grief 2.0

If you’re on Facebook, you know how Facebook does that “memories” thing where each day it gives you the opportunity to look back on something you did, pictured, wrote about or whatever 1, 2 or however many years ago.

On April 16, 2014 – so 4 years and 3 days ago, I wrote this post about grief – http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/04/grief-its-not-only-about-dying/.

At that point, we were dealing with some big issues – my daughter’s heart condition, the loss of some of her dreams, her changing reality, our changing reality.   In addition to that, my career seemed to be at a crossroads – not a cross roads that we wanted or encouraged.

Now we’re in what I’m calling Grief 2.0.   What does that entail?

Life – I’ll be writing about him more in the future, but on March 23 of this year, my dad, Howard Vanderwell, passed from this life into eternal life in heaven.   He fought pancreatic cancer for 15 months, it was his fourth major battle with cancer, and in the end, it was complications from chemo and radiation (some from previous battles) that took him home.

I wrote a piece on his CaringBridge page that last week called “Painful Peace.”   That’s what this last month has been.   It’s been grief, it’s been pain but it’s also been peace.   Peace that in the end, he went home surrounded by his family and without struggle or pain.   Peace that he is now spending time and eternity with the One who he devoted his entire career and life to.   Peace that he is spending time with my grandparents and my younger sister.

But it’s also pain.   It’s a loss not only of a family member, but a church leader, a supporter, a friend, an encourager and a believer – a believer in Christ but also a believer in his kids and grandkids. 

Yesterday, my daughter defended her doctoral project and became the second Dr. Vanderwell in the history of the Vanderwell family.

And the first Dr. Vanderwell wasn’t there to share it with her and with us.

Next week Saturday, she’ll go through the actual graduation.   My dad wanted very much to be there – but God said, “Come home, Howie.  You’ve been faithful, your time on earth is done.”

And then there’s the grief of medical issues gone “not quite right.”   I’ve been battling a condition with the blood vessels in my left neck, shoulder and such called an Arterio Venous Malformation (Google AVM if you want to know more).   It’s been a part of my life and my reality for 40 years and I’ve had surgeries and treatments for it numerous times.  

January 30, 2018 was the most recent one.  The treatment was successful but it brought up some nasty side effects.   I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, I am now extremely sensitive to noise, especially loud noise and my left vocal cord is paralyzed so my voice is significantly impacted in terms of volume, clarity and, well, it sounds like I have a nasty case of laryngitis all of the time.

Grief 2.0

It’s different.

But it’s the same.

Dreams changed.

Plans altered.

Losses experienced.

Questions.

Pain.

But……

There’s also God 2.0

God is still here in our grief.

God is still here in our questions.

God is still here with our changed dreams.

Our unfocused dreams.

Our losses.

God is still here.

And just like we did 4 years ago, when we held faith that God was there (here), we do now too.   Some of the same issues carry over – my daughter’s heart condition hasn’t gone away, my career path is in many ways murkier than ever, and then there are new challenges.

God never said believing in Him would be easy.

But  he’s here.

In our grief.

In our sorrow.

In our blessings.

In our peace.

And so, I say, “God, I don’t get it.   I don’t understand.”

“But I’ve got you.”

And then focus on the peace rather than focusing on the pain.

God is good. (All the time)

All the time.  (God is good)

TJV

Gilligan, The Department of Homeland Security and Haiti

I know I’m providing hints at how old I am, but how many of you remember the song that starts the TV sitcom, “Gilligan’s Island?” Especially when it comes to the part about the “three hour tour” that lasted way longer?

In 2017, the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security went to visit Haiti to “see for herself” whether things had improved enough to no longer allow the Haitians who are in the United States on emergency status to remain here.

In other words, is there anything in Haiti that they can go back to?

While Gilligan went on a 3 hour tour that got them stranded on an island, apparently, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke could spend four hours in Haiti and determine that things were just fine and that it would be no problem for 60,000 Haitians to show up with no place to live, no job, nothing.

4 hours.

4 hours and a decision that impacts not only the 60,000 Haitians but countless others.

How can you truly analyze the capabilities of a complex and fragmented place like Haiti in four hours?

How can you truly analyze the capabilities of Haiti without spending time in their “used to be Green Belt” that had most of its agriculture wiped out from Hurricane Matthew?

In a place like Haiti with the lack of infrastructure, I can almost guarantee you that Ms. Duke did not come anywhere close to the rural parts of Haiti which are, I’m told, a totally different world than the capital of Haiti, Port Au Prince.

You can’t.

I can’t.

Even the Department of Homeland Security can’t.

So why did they make that decision?

I don’t know, but I have a pretty strong hunch that it has to do with the other decisions that the current administration is making about other immigration issues.

I strongly disagree with Ms. Duke’s assessment of Haiti. I have friends in Haiti who have told me the same thing, some of them in substantially stronger language than I’ve used.

The ramifications for these Haitians who are in the United States, for their children who were born here (and are US Citizens) and for our country and the economic and moral impact are way more significant than most people understand.

I’ll be talking about it more soon and I urge you to talk to people about it, talk to your government representatives. More to come……

It was a four hour tour, not a three hour tour.

But many more people are at significant risk because of that decision and that’s not right.

It’s wrong.

Tom

My Story, My Life……

For those of you who know me closely, you know that 2018 has been, shall we say, rocky.   For those who don’t know me as well, stay tuned.   I’m going to be talking about my story and what it all means.

This quote from TobyMac is my hope and dream as I share my story on here.

Tom


“Yes” “No” and “Huh?”

As my doctor told me (but in a different context). “It’s complicated.”

“There’s nothing to say about Haiti.”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2018/04/how-can-i-speak-of-haiti/

A Betrayal

This is a long read, but an important story.   

I’m not going to say much about it other than to urge you to read (or watch it for yourself…….)

TJV

“The choice to turn an informant like Henry over to ICE has consequences far beyond his individual case. If gang members can’t receive protection in exchange for coming forward with information, police will have almost no means to penetrate the insular world of MS-13. School officials who turned Henry over to the authorities were outraged when they learned he had been trapped in a no man’s land between the gang and the law. “They certainly were taking advantage of what he had to offer,” says Robert Feliciano, the head of the Suffolk County school board. “You can’t just do that and then drop him.””

https://features.propublica.org/ms-13/a-betrayal-ms13-gang-police-fbi-ice-deportation/