22 Days of Losing Paul


Love Never Dies

Week One: It is a very strange feeling. I know I will be ok, and I know that I have much love and support but life will never be the same again. There is this huge, bold mark on my timeline. The before, the after. I am not the same person. It is not my first big loss and grieving process, but it is the first loss of a sibling. I am not sure how to do this. I don't want to do this. I am still tumbling from the rug being pulled out, however people all around me are (as am I) going grocery shopping, banking, driving, working, planning....It's like in the movies when the scene is paused but some objects are still going by in slow motion. Surreal. I am so very grateful for the love and support of my husband, kids and grandkids and other siblings, family and friends. I treasure the evening just spent with Tommy, my sisters and brother in law, sharing in communion and prayer, laughing and crying and singing/worshipping together as we remember Paul and hold on to our lifeline, our Heavenly Father, for strength and comfort.  A much needed part of our process and such a gift for us all.


Week Two: The night before Paul's celebration of life I wrote something out to help me process and with the thought that I might, but really not sure, have the courage to stand up and speak if there is a time of open invitation to come up and to share any memories. Unbeknownst to me at the time I was writing, this ended up being Paul's eulogie.   Paul's Eulogie.  These 2 words still crash in my ears and in my brain, in my heart.  So jarring. Had I been asked to deliver the eulogie, or known at the time I wrote it that it was the eulogie, I would not have been able to, crushed by the weight and meaning of it. But in God's infinite grace and love He gave me the ability to put some thoughts to words and the courage and strength to share them.  It wasn't until long after they were shared that I felt the impact of what had transpired.
Thank you for allowing me to honour my brother this way.
It wasn't pretty through my tears but here is what I said.

Paul
I was very fortunate to have Paul as a big brother. He was smart, fun and kind hearted with a great sense of humour.  He had the spiritual gifts of serving, teaching, and giving. Even to total strangers.  I cannot think of a time being around Paul when he wasn’t operating in these gifts, of which we have all been the recipients.
Hanging out with him I learned so much about music, animals, baseball and cars just to name a few things.
We never fought and I never felt like I was in the way. As siblings we are all very close and love each other deeply but we have each our own unique relationship and memories. 
I remember sitting on the balcony of his apartment, just him and I, a young girl. He taught me about the different cars and we sat there a long time playing a game of name that car, as traffic went by.  Pontiac! Chevy! Olds!….I still do that to this day by myself to keep entertained waiting for a bus or as I wait in the car for someone to return. 
We talked about rock bands, and dog breeds as much as we talked about cars and he taught me about the M on the forehead of tabby cats.  He had a huge tabby named Meathead and smaller one named Minou. I named mine Misty-Gris because of that. I can’t remember a time he did not have any pets (often more than one at a time) and was so compassionate with them.
He taught me about the meaning of the Expos logo as we both loved our Montreal Expos and about Gilles Villeneuve the French racer. He was very proud of his French heritage.
I can’t believe he is gone from this earth.  I am still in shock and just can’t comprehend how to do life with this loss, in this new way, with this huge void. When I got the news, I had just arrived in Kelowna to visit my kids and grandkids.  I didn’t know what to do. Should I stay or head back?  I felt like curling into a ball and staying in a fetal position, but I could almost hear Paul’s voice saying “You go right ahead and enjoy those grandkids!!”  He was all about his grandkids.  He knows how healing they are for one’s soul. It was just what I needed. I truly felt his encouragement and blessing to stay in the moment with them.
I was also thankful to be with my sister Denise when we got the news. That we could be there for each other was such a gift.  Later that evening when we lit a couple of candles for Paul, very loud fireworks went off right at that moment.  It was not a coincidence. I believe Paul went out with a bang and in celebration. Reunited with Kim and family gone before who welcomed him.
A few days later I saw this in my daily devotional, inspirational reader.  Here is a portion of it:
      Be prepared to be blessed bountifully by My presence, for I am a God of unlimited abundance.  Open wide your heart and mind to receive more of Me. When your Joy in Me meets My joy in you, there are fireworks of heavenly ecstasy. This is eternal life here and now: a tiny foretaste of what awaits you in the new life to come.

In all my many years of doing daily readings I don’t recall ever seeing anything about fireworks.  I don’t think that was a coincidence either.  Since then, we have seen several other gifts from God for us along those lines in how things were orchestrated, and signs from Paul.  We feel and see God’s comfort and care and Paul’s spirit with us.

Last Memory
The last visit I had with Paul was at our home to celebrate Tommy’s birthday. It was so fun and relaxed. We ate and talked and laughed.  He spoke with pride at being 30 years in his home, Kim the love of his life, his kids, and EXTRA beaming when speaking of his grandkids.  The visit started and ended with big hugs, kisses and I love yous.    I will always treasure this and every moment I had the privilege of sharing with him.  I am grateful beyond belief and hold you in my heart dear Paul until we meet again.


Week Three - 21 Days: It is widely believed that you can make or break most habits/life changes, when consistently practicing a routine for 21 days. The magic number. I am an intelligent person.  I know this does not apply to grief and yet….maybe?  21 Days.  Could I land on my feet, function, feel normal, and settle into this new life?  Nope.  This still sucks. In fact, since the shock and denial are wearing off in layers it sucks even more!

22 Days: I still don’t want to accept the truth, as if somehow my refusal of this reality could bring Paul back.  If I just say NO I’m not ok with this, we can go back, negotiate something, anything.  The bargaining stage of grief.  I fear that if I try to let go of my pain I am letting go of Paul. I never want to let him go. When speaking of my siblings I usually say there are 6 of us. We. The slinky effect (inside joke). Now our slinky is broken.  I see an image of a broken slinky, disconnected, strewn aside.  If you grasp that image, I don’t need the words to explain what that means on so many levels. Functionality, emotion, purpose… I cannot change this, I cannot fix this, but I choose to place us in the hands of the Master Toymaker.  He will restore. He will repurpose like only He can if we trust and allow him to.  The hope of healing and joy returned.
This morning I have another image.  It is me in the arms of Jesus.  I have my head buried in his chest. I need to stay here or else I am totally overwhelmed, shaken to the core and cannot face this on my own.  I lament. He truly is my comfort and strength as the waves of pain wash over me.  Just as He promised.
Lament means a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  I read the following words in The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp shortly before Paul passed away.  They struck me then, but they mean so much more to me now.

      “The broken way begins with this lost art of lament and until we authentically lament to God, we’ll never feel authentically loved by God.   Lament’s not a meaningless rage, but a rage that finds meaning in His outrageous love. Lament is an outrage…that still trusts in God’s good outcome. Lament’s this articulation of the ache at God’s abandonment, then an acquiescence to His ache, and finally an abandonment to His will. Go ahead, child.  Lament carries brokenness in its hands straight into the heart of God and asks for His arms. In the midst of suffering, no one needs clarifying arguments as much as they need to feel arms close. So He gives an experience of Himself instead of mere explanations, because He knows explanations can be cold comfort and His arms are warm.  What warms us is the wounded, weeping God who doesn’t write any answers in the stars but writes His ardent love for us with His wounds. Right into our wounds.  Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart’s broke open?”


This photo was taken at the celebration of my 30th wedding anniversary. Tommy knows for better or for worse, when you get me, you get the Dussault siblings in full force.










Comments

  1. I like to read your 'page' Dede. I understand so much of what you are speaking about...having lost 2 sons and my older brother.....all too soon and apart from 'expected' losses like my Mom & Dad. (they were hard enough!!). I don't have any answers. One goes on and the 'scars' remain forever. I still can't accept that Michael is gone & I keep expecting his usual phone call or email. I know we are not 'close' but I do so much love being part of "The Dussault Clan"!! Thanks for letting me in.

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    1. Thank you Donna. Such a hard journey. Hopefully we will connect in person sooner than later. xoxo

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