From shattered to aching…

sweet brotherI remember typing my post as if it was yesterday….

Our hearts are shattered

There were not many other words to put with it one year ago. Len was killed in a car accident, gone, no warning, no good byes…

And we began to wonder how would we live through the next moments, hours and days….

And somehow, in the fog of shock and grief, we put one step in front of the other and moved through a time that felt paralyzing.

It is so hard to believe it was one year ago.

Tonight we gathered

To be together.

To remember,

To honor Len’s life and

To marvel at God’s presence over the last year.

 

We can not deny, It has been a difficult journey….

A journey of wondering and searching and struggling with many why questions. Texting often with my sweet sister-in-law and their four kids about the intensity of grief when there are a lot of Dad’s at soccer games or it is prom night and Len would be so proud. Feeling the depth of the ache when they are trying to have a family dinner, but the sting of loss zaps well intended joy. It has been a hard year.

And so tonight, there was 29 of us in a smallish house on Sylvan. We had cheeseburgers, cause Sonta knew that is what her Daddy would have grilled. Len’s memory video Remembering Len looped on and some watched in passing while others stood and watched with intention and purpose. We have learned that everyone grieves differently and there is great kindness IMG_0929in allowing those closest to you the freedom to grieve in their own way. We went to Reeds Lake and sent Chinese lanterns to Len. There were stories shared and laughter and tears were abundant in any given moment, but we shared honest space, and Len’s life was honored. And tonight, in our grief, I believe God was glorified.

We don’t have many answers and we don’t have any magical healing salve, but we have each other and we have learned in this past year, that our hearts have somehow, through God’s grace, gone from shattered to aching. Our family was changed when we lost a member. We do not live every moment in the shadow of death. We laugh, we enjoy each other, we dream, we hope and we ache. Thank you family and friends for journeying with us this past year. God’s provision has been evident through the prayers and participation of His people. We are aching and grateful! We can only imagine but we remember Len with grateful hearts, for the 48 years he was with us!

 

 

 

 

 

Guest blog: 44 Reasons…

If you read Trish’s blog on a regular basis, you know that often for family birthdays she writes a blog for one of us that makes us sound better than we really are. The problem with this set up is that Trish can’t write a birthday blog for herself about how great she really is. There are words for people who do those kinds of things and they are not very nice. As part of my gift to her this year, I’m guest writing her birthday blog. She deserves it.

Yesterday Trixie (as we affectionately call her) turned 44. How can that be? She is one of those ageless people, don’t you think?

Trish is 8 ½ years older than me and has influenced me in more ways than I can

sistersrecount here. When I was a young girl, Trish was one of the most constant companions in my life (and she still is). She coached my teams, played endless hours of catch with me, occasionally picked me up to skip school and took me for weekends to sleep at her dorm at Calvin. She made my life seem special and exciting. Anything was possible with her. One of the gifts of motherhood for me has been to watch this same thing transpire in the lives of my own children. With Aunt Trish, all things are possible.

A few years ago I purchased one of the compilations of NPR’s StoryCorps Project. I came across a quote in that book that summarized what aunts are for. It says: “Aunts are to be… a delight to boys and girls and a comfort to their parents; and to show that at least one daughter in every generation ought to remain unmarried, and raise the profession of auntship to a fine art.” Fine art is exactly what she is. Just ask any one of those charmed nieces and nephews.

One of our affectionate jokes about Trish is about her love for words. Words are everywhere – in her house, her office….this blog. She lives her life through words. I understand that. The words help us make sense of who we are and what happens around us. So, in honor of her birthday, I came up with 44 words to describe her. Most of them are nice. Sometimes when my parents go to a memorial service, they come home and say that the eulogies were so glowing that the person would not have recognized themselves. Although this is not a memorial service, I do hope Trish will recognize herself. I added some comments, but restrained myself from commenting on every last one. So, here we go.

Trish is:

1. resilient: In “Tattoos on the Heart” Gregory Boyle says “Sometimes resilience arrives in the moment you discover your own unshakeable goodness.” I think Trish has discovered this about herself and it has allowed her bounce back time and time again from heartache or struggle. Do you know that she almost died at birth? It was the first of many obstacles that she has had to overcome. Resilient almost seems like a flimsy word for this woman. I’m so grateful she survived.

2. loyal: Don’t cross someone she loves (including Dutch). You might be sorry.

3. faithful: She has a seemingly unshakeable faith in her creator and redeemer. And she is always pointing back to Him and his faithfulness to her.

4. thoughtful

5. silly: Have you ever gotten the silent giggles with Trish? It’s an experience I would recommend having before you die.

6. extravagant: Not in a diamonds and Gucci bags kind of way, but in an iPod for every niece and nephew kind of way.

7. generous: See number 6. But also generous with herself – her time, her attention, her space, her love. We all love the gifts, but it is the latter generosity that is more valuable. Hands down.

8. wise

9. visionary

10. supportive

11. spoiler: In that she likes to spoil people. When I was first pregnant with Peter, her shower gift to me what a massage for each of the nine months I was pregnant. Spoiled, indeed.

12. tenacious

13. leader

14. creative: Trish might laugh when she sees this adjective because she is not known as the “crafty” one in our family. But she is creative in her own way. Her slide shows are always lovely. And she is creative in the way she thinks. Who ever dreamed of a Tapestry Party until Trish came along?

15. committed

16. celebrator: I’m not even sure this is a word, but it should be. Trish loves to celebrate the goodness and milestones in life. She is a walking party.

17. loud (sometimes): Loud in the best kind of way. She just has a few shy-ish nieces and nephews who cringe at their sporting events when she cheers for them by name.

18. encourager

bos kids and me 219. delighter: One of my favorite parts about a night when Trish watches our kids is to come home and listen to her recount all that happened. She delights in them. That may be one of the best gift she gives all of us. We are smarter, brighter, funnier in her delighted presence.

20. hopeful

21. prayerful

22. negotiator: When the kids were smaller, at the beginning of a cottage vacation week she would gather them and chair a meeting. In that meeting they would make a plan for the week and agree on some ground rules. Master negotiating with the toughest demographic.

23. directionally challenged: She was likely the first person in the country to own a GPS and it may have saved her life.

24. tender

25. empathetic

26. forgiving

27. non-conformist

28. unforgettable

29. unafraid: Trish and I have a shared love for singer/songwriter Sara Groves. In one of her songs she writes “Sit down awhile and share your narrative with me. I’m not afraid of who you are.” Trish is not afraid of who you are and what you struggle with. She can sit with someone in their grief, their mess, their brokenness, their dying, and be unafraid.

30. sticky (like glue): She holds our family together. I don’t think I could overstate this. She calls us. She plans things. She invites kids to sleepover. She calls us. She writes clues at Christmas time. She goes to kids’ sporting events. She calls us. She makes family dinner. She drives to Chicago. She drives to Detroit. She drives to Muskegon. She calls us. Need to know what is going on in the Borgdorff clan? Ask Trish.

31. gracious

32. available: Trish has a gift of being available to help without making you feel like you are inconveniencing her in any way. In fact, I often feel like I did her a favor by letting her help me. She is that nice about it.

33. unselfish

34. eloquent: If you read this blog, you know it’s true.

35. capable

36. persuasive

37. persistent

38. genuine

39. strong

40. advocate

41. flexible: More in spirit than body. She can “roll with it” with the best of them.

42. determined

43. beautiful

44. loved: Oh so very loved. She must hold some sort of record for Facebook friends. There is something magnetic about Trish and her perspective on life – people want to be a part of her circle.  And she will always take you in.

RK Big family

We have been fortunate, by birth, to be born into the same circle. I can’t even imagine who we would be without Trish. We love her so.Happy Birthday, sweet sister. I wish you every good thing in the coming year. May you experience the same generous joy and grace that you extend to those around you. Whatever this year holds, know that you are loved for all that you are and that you will never walk alone.

Love,

Suzi

Faces…

Tonight I marvel at the faces I paused and envisioned throughout my day.

With each Facebook birthday wish, I paused and envisioned the face of the person who sent it.

There were faces from Sylvan Christian and Holland Christian High School. Faces from Calvin and Western Michigan University. There were faces from First CRC and Bethany CRC, there were faces from Sunshine Community Church and many of my Sunshine Kids, and Three Rivers and Visiting Angels and Adoption families. There were friends from Fitness North, Living Stones Academy and there were faces of cousins and aunts and uncles and very dear friends. The faces of my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my cousins kids and friends and relatives in Europe. There were faces from those I have met through Journey Group, and faces from Open Hearts Ministries.

As my birthday draws to a close, I am overwhelmed with the number of people who have journeyed with me in these years. I find myself deeply grateful and so appreciative. As I wrote in last nights blog, I am not at all sure what these days will hold in my 44th year, but I do believe that I have an army of people who will love, support, celebrate and pray me through.

tapestryJust before my 42nd birthday I threw a Tapestry Party., you can read about it here: What is a Tapestry Party

It was a celebration of so many of those faces as shown here in this video: Tapestry Party Video

And tonight I am reminded again that my life is a tapestry, woven with many strands of colors, representing God at work through each of you in my life.

Thank you one and all for being a part of my tapestry!

 

A new year ahead…

Not as in January 1 new year, but tomorrow I turn 44.

I often say being single and without children, there is not much that marks the days and weeks and years.

me and my kiddo'sIt feels like yesterday that my nieces and nephews were born and yet most of them are starting to talk college talk and establish themselves as fine young adults.

I can’t quite comprehend that I have lived in my home and owned my business for 10 years, and Dutch has shared this space with me for almost 5 years. IMG_5651dutch

I am grateful that I enjoy my day-to-day so much; I am blessed with great family, good friends,and a job that is meaningful. I experience more balance in my routines now than I have over the past years. I have personal goals in wellness and I feel hopeful about them. I have changes I would like to make in my choices and habits and I am even more aware that those decisions can be affected by my commitment to change.

 

And yet as this new year begins, I am keenly aware that I feel the mystery of the year ahead. It is true every dayIMG_2869, the unknown of what each day holds, but because my family experienced sudden and tragic loss this past year, my heart feels hyper vigilant to this reality. The loss of my brother marks my 43rd year. And yet I am grateful that is not the only mark of this past year. I can also choose to embrace the goodness that is now woven through our story of tragic loss. There are kind faces and tender hugs, there is deep laughter and meaningful conversation and hours of small talk with new photo (40)and old friends. I am deeply grateful every day for the space I have created in my home which created inviting and wonderful space to be at home in every day.

And so what will this next year hold. I wonder if I want to know? I would guess it will hold more of the same. Wonderful, beautiful moments intermingled with sadness and sorrow. New beginnings and maybe perhaps even some endings that will catch me off guard or take my breath away.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in this past year is to hold people close, be honest and kind, offer an abundance of grace when I feel critical or misunderstood and speak honestly about what I need or desire. I long to be healthy and content, even in sorrow or disruption. I long to be loved and love others with kindness and grace. I long to make a difference in each day and strive to bring change that enhances quality of life for others. I have come to embrace that living a life to the edge of all my possibility is not to live with crazy risks or impulsive decisions, but to be generous in my words, thoughts and actions in a meaningful and life-giving way. I look forward to being 44 and seeing what God has in store for me. I look forward to writing again, Lord willing, on the eve of my 45th birthday and stand grateful for God’s presence, provision and unending love.