notes on grief #1

I have no idea what this blog will look like over the months to come, but I suspect that I will have many notes on grief.

Today is note #1.

 Sunset with angel wings above our house

Sunset with angel wings above our house

  • Observation 1

My grief is extremely physical. 

The first few days my entire body was in agony. When I woke in the night, I was in such physical pain I could barely move. As I woke, I would get a jolt of adrenaline through my system like a million tiny arrows, as if my body was firing warning shots, telling me that nothing is okay.

I did yoga and that helped. I got a massage and that helped.

After a few days, the grief seemed to gather into specific parts of my body. My fingers and toes were functional again, but my lower back and hips sank into agony.

I am still doing yoga, breathing, and getting massages. Cold packs, hot packs, Epsom salt baths.

These all help for a while, until the grief finds a new place to show up in my body.

  • Observation 2

It doesn't seem real.

And then it's horribly real.

And then it doesn't seem real again.

  • Observation 3

Making things beautiful helps. Creating beauty is an act of hope.

Rearranging the flower arrangements as they fade has been a good little exercise in letting go. I put the faded flowers into our fire pit, and saved out the bits that will dry nicely.

I chalked in a meditation circle on the concrete pad behind our garage and walked it every day the first week. Then rain washed it away, and today we painted it in place.

  • Observation 4

Love helps.

All the love that comes to us in cards and flowers and visits and dinners (even the dinner that the Uber Eats driver stole).

Of course it doesn't replace the love that went out of our lives with Libby's loss, but love does help.

It's probably the best help, and I suspect that everything else that helps is just tapping into Love.

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So, here we are.

Kevin and Michelle are moving in with us, and that brings us joy.

Three years ago, we turned our upstairs into a rental suite and had just updated it to rent out with AirBnB. It's a studio suite with a little kitchenette. Not large, but airy and looks out over the treetops to the lake in the park next door. 

Michelle will have Libby's old room, still the same beautiful blue that Libby picked out in high school, that happens to coordinate perfectly with the colors she chose for Michelle's nursery.

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It's been a week today since Libby's memorial service.  There's a YouTube channel with both her memorial service and a short video Kevin's brother, Daniel, made about her life. 

I wanted to share with you all the brief bio that I wrote, and that Andy and I read aloud at the service. 

She was such a light.

So full of love.

We will always, always miss her. 

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Elizabeth Michelle Davis was born September 8, 1989, at Charlton Methodist Hospital in Dallas, received as a gift from God by her proud parents.

She joyfully welcomed three brothers into her life over the next few years: Matthew, Michael and Jacob. She loved to play with them, especially dressing them up as the sisters she hoped to have.

In 1993, we moved to the Solomon Islands where Libby and her brothers were raised by the village of Tawatana, on the island of Makira. Of special importance to Libby were her nearest neighbors, Hida and Irene, whose daughter Maki was Libby’s dearest friend in Tawatana. Libby and her brothers spent their days cooking over open fires, playing on the beach, swimming, and avoiding school as much as possible.

When we lived in the capital city of Honiara, she reveled in spending time with the sisters she found in the missionary community: Claire and Corrie; Kathryn; Laura, Rebecca, Emily and Hannah and many more. She made friends with the neighborhood kids, who loved to ride the zipline down the yard and drop into the little above-ground pool in the Bruner’s yard. Sleep overs and play dates and visits to the beach marked the passage of those childhood years.

When we were back in the States, we stayed in Tennessee near Kay’s family. Of course Libby made many friends there with whom she stayed in contact throughout the years.

In 2003, our family came to Dallas. Friends of Libby’s attended Tyler Street United Methodist Church, and invited Libby and her brothers to youth group events. While we searched for a church home in Dallas, Libby and Matt finally made it clear that Tyler Street was the only place they wanted to be. The entire family was loved well within these walls, and here Libby met two more heart-sisters, Mary Anne and Mary Katherine. Her heart-sister from the Solomons, Kathryn, came home to this church as well. Each of the girls is an only daughter in a family of boys, so they formed their own sisterhood of the heart and stuck together.

The years of 2005-2007 found our family in the highlands of Papua New Guinea in another missionary community, where all of the children and their parents were welcomed into the homes and hearts of many friends. Libby found more sisters there: Katherine, Bethany, and Lenise, to name just a few.

In 2007, our family moved back to Texas for good. Libby was entering her senior year in high school and quickly renewed her sisterhood with her Tyler Street girls, who could often be found all sleeping together in Libby’s single bed on weekends. Kathryn recently confessed that they used to “rebel” by sneaking out of the house and running to the park next door and back again.

Libby also made friends that year with an exchange student from Turkey, Ayca (Aicha). After high school graduation, Libby and her friend Brianna spent a month traveling in Europe, and Libby always said that the highlight of the trip was the days that she spent with Ayca and her family in Bodrum, Turkey.

At Libby’s high school graduation party, a certain young man entered the Bruner household for the very first time: the love of her life, Kevin Michael Davis. Kevin quickly passed the brother-test with flying colors. Kevin pronounced our family “quirky,” and everyone agreed it was a match made in heaven.

While Libby was on her Europe trip, Kevin missed her so much that he decided he must propose without delay.

We gave our blessing, and when Libby arrived home, Kevin proposed at a little restaurant in Oak Cliff, using a song he composed and sang for her. He gave her a beautiful and unique pearl-and-diamond engagement ring, perfectly suited to the one-of-a-kind girl he loved so much.

Their wedding took place in this lovely sanctuary on January 1, 2011, in an evening ceremony that included candle-lighting and worship music provided by Kevin’s childhood friends.

Libby graduated with high honors from the University of North Texas in Denton and enthusiastically embarked on a teaching career where she made many dear friends.

In her teaching career among special education students, she consistently shared God’s love with them through her life.

The light and love in her deeply impacted those whom the rest of us might easily overlook. Libby saw the image of God in every person she met.

In 2014, Libby suffered a serious illness which brought together a team of loving family and friends to care for her. Kevin’s mother Jeannie became especially dear to Libby during her illness and was a trusted source of strength and comfort until the moment of Libby’s passing.

In early 2016, Libby and Kevin were ecstatic to learn that they were expecting their precious Michelle Rae. This beautiful light came into the world on November 5, 2016, bringing indescribable joy to Libby, Kevin, the entire family, and all their friends.

After a short maternity leave, Libby returned to teaching her beloved students while Kevin became Michelle’s expert stay-at-home dad. 

A recent recurrence of her illness was far more serious than anyone could have imagined. She was in touch with friends, family, her therapist and her doctor, to help her battle the darkness once again.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” Those words are true of Libby. She was a light in this world, and we affirm that darkness cannot overcome light.

While her physical presence is gone from us here, her light will never die.

Our family wishes to express our deep appreciation for the outpouring of love from friends near and far, which reminds us of the truth of Libby’s light, love, and life in our time of heartbreak and grief.

 

A Poem by Libby (age 15)

I’m thankful for an interesting life

A spring day full of shining sun,

A loving home without much strife,

Laughing friends and lots of fun,

I’m thankful for clean, clear, running water.

 

I love acting in plays,

Talking to whoever will listen,

Eating chips, especially Lays,

Seeing happy tears glisten,

Swimming in the summer.

 

I want to make an impact when I go,

To not shed so many tears,

To learn how to walk slow,

To live in a house for longer than two years,

To make a good grade on this.

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