Ripples and waves…

I started this blog almost one month ago.

I have been surprised how hard it is to formulate the words that fit with what swirls within me. So many times I have sat at the keyboard and started a sentence or two, contemplated, closed my computer and somehow concluded not yet today.

I am not sure that my thoughts are any more clear today than they were a month ago. This is the sixth week since my Dad died. I will say that the journey of grief is more unpredictable than I was prepared for.

wavesHave you stood on the shore and watched the power of the waves. There is a power that comes with the bigger waves. You can watch it build and come with some momentum and then it breaks. Then there is rippling from those waves that continue for quite some time. Then the water stills, but in time, there is another big wave, and then ripples, and waves and ripples. This is how I find my grief journey has been.

There are many moments that I feel like the sadness of missing my Dad comes over me like a wave. This wave can take my breath away for a moment and require me to take a deep breath. Grief is powerful and has the momentum to disrupt almost every part of your being.

Then there are other times where grief comes in ripples. This is much more common. I ripplesfeel the ripples in my heart and soul almost all the time, but they are not always disruptive. Sometimes one can stand at the shore, and the ripples just seem part of the way the water is moving. What I appreciate about the ripples of grief is that they allow for more than the feeling of sadness. When grief is present in ripples, there is room to feel the goodness and the joy

In six weeks time, our lives have been full. There was Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and July 4.  We celebrated Ellie’s graduation, the following birthdays: Hermie’s 91st, Jonna 50th, Suzi’s 40th, Peter’s 15th,  Janneke’s 25th, Matt’s 27th  and Sonta’s 20th. There has been a weekend away to Milwaukee, lots of baseball games and family gatherings. Then there is the never-ending tending to details that need attention when someone you love dies. Six weeks in the Borgdorff family brings lots of activity.

It is good to be together in our grief and in our joy. The other night one of the kids was crying. “What is wrong?”, an adult asked. “She is grieving” was her mother’s reply. It is just like that in our world right now. We all feel the ripples and waves and are learning to how to navigate the absence of a good husband, Dad, Papa and friend.

In a text with my Mom tonight I mentioned that my heart is overflowing right now and I am sure that in time, the tears will not consume so much space. In response she said, “And the tears are welcome, sometimes unexpected.  I get it.  The tender parts of our hearts are touched unexpectedly, and it shows.   There is nothing the matter with that.”

I am grateful for people who stand in the water with me/us and bear the weight of the waves and understand the ripples.

I am grateful for people who understand that when you lose someone you love, sadness is just part of your being, but grief does not consume your being.

And I am thankful for a community which surrounds us with love, kindness, and goodness as we move forward into each day, living just as my Dad modeled, one day at a time!

Happy Hour

Happy Hour is one of those things that I grew up with and believed everyone else also did. I remember as a child when my Dad would come home from work, my parents took time together to connect. They would pour a beverage and sit in the living room. It happened every day, and I love how together they prioritized the importance of setting time aside to intentionally connect.

I remember it as a time when as younger kids, we knew it was our parent’s time. As we grew older, we joined in on happy hour and now as adults, we all cherish the time when we have happy hour (and now kids are always present as well). Happy Hour in the Borgdorff/Bos/DeKam world is a staple of almost every day and a must when we are together. It is not uncommon to hear the question: “how long until happy hour?”

If you have not been someone who celebrates Happy Hour as part of your regular routine, I invite you to give it a try this summer. Consider setting a time to connect each day, to sit together and reflect, remember and celebrate all that your life holds.

In these last weeks, since my Dad’s death, I have reflected a bit more on the role of happy hour in our lives. These are some of my happy hour takeaways:

  • Happy Hour is cherished because it is when we are together.
  • Happy Hour is cherished because it is when we take time to listen and engage one another.
  • Happy Hour is intergenerational. During happy hour conversations, we hear stories about our parents growing up years and about the plans of the grandchildren and every conversation in between.
  • Happy Hour always has room for more. So many people from around the world and right at home have enjoyed an invitation to join in. A glass of wine, a beer, a diet coke, or some water and crackers and cheese and happy hour begins with whoever is present.
  • Happy Hour is a way of celebrating the goodness of life.
  • Happy Hour is cherished because it is just what we have always done and will always do. It says in some way that everything is going to be ok, even on hard days and in sad times.

And so I was not surprised when the adult grandkids offered to get what we needed for a happy hour in my Dad’s hospital room on Sunday, May 20, 2018. After all, we were together and so they came with crackers and cheese and red and white wine and diet coke and water, and we gathered together and we remembered together and we toasted Papa and celebrated the goodness of life even in our sorrow.

And just a few days later, after we had a private committal service, we had one last toast to Papa. For in all that my parents have taught us, so much of it has been shared during happy hour. We love all that we have learned, and we cherish all we have shared. And we raised our glasses celebrating a life well lived that carries on in each of us! To that, we said, Cheers and Glory be to God!

IMG_2399.JPG

We knew time was limited, but…

We knew time was limited…

But we thought we had more.

So many of you commented on how surprised you were in the timing of my Dad’s death.

We were also!

I can’t help but replay the events as they unfolded two weeks ago tonight. It caught us all off guard and yet we see God’s hand. As my Dad so faithfully said and so solidly believed, “one day at a time is how we will live, while we also know that our days are in God’s hands.”

It is true that my Dad was diagnosed with a life-ending diagnosis on April 5, 2018. At that time we knew he had a neuroendocrine tumor and that over time it would continue to progress and his abilities would diminish.

Neuroendocrine CarcinomasNeuroendocrine tumors are rare, accounting for less than one percent of all malignant disorders in the United States. It is estimated that fewer than 2,000 new cases occur in the United States each year.

lg6dBy46QwittwpJ1Qw6oQMy parents chose to live life to the fullest without treatment (another blog, another day) and I will say they were living well, even in the unknown and difficult spaces that were very real. My DadIMG_2239 continued to golf, even if the quality of his golf game was affected, he continued to attend the meetings he had the energy for, and he continued to engage all of our family events in his own Papa way. My Mom became my Dad’s chauffeur since he could no longer drive due to a seizure he suffered. My Dad was counting down the 6 months and fully intended to drive again.

He also fully intended to meet his first great grandbaby due at the end of September 2018. My Dad knew his days were numbered, but he did not stop living. He lived at peace with God’s timing and still fully engaged all he longed for until the time God called him home.

The Friday before he died, my folks were told the same consistent message, things will continue to progress but there was no reason to believe that life would be ending soon.  And with that, we all took a deep sigh and continued with the commitment to live one day at a time.

And then Sunday morning my Dad woke up, sent some emails, planned to go to Worship and during breakfast with my Mom had a sudden onset of severe pain. It was clear something wasn’t right and they sought medical treatment. In the Emergency room, we learned he had a gastric ulcer which perforated the stomach lining. Due to his current medical condition, he was not a surgical candidate. It was evident in this conversation that although we had believed we could have months with my Dad with us, this new situation would limit us to weeks. My Dad and Mom opted to have him admitted overnight for pain control, and then we would transition to Hospice at home. He asked us to go home and get his computer, after all, if he was going to be in-patient, he had some things he wanted to get done.

And then within a few hours again, it was clear that my Dad was being released from all that held him here and we would be saying our final goodbye until we see him again. Almost the whole crew made it home to gather and although my Dad was unresponsive our time together was filled with tears, goodness, and love.

We knew our time was limited, but we thought we had more time.

We all wanted more time, just a little, just another month, another week, another day, another hour…

But in the end, we have peace, even in our sorrow, because we know and embrace the same God and the same faith. May we never lose sight that every day holds much more than just our sadness, for we know that God is still on his throne and the birds will sing in the morning.

And now to end with some words my Dad shared in the last few days of his life, just prior to his unexpected death. May we all live in this confidence and truth: “but we wanted you all to know that we are grateful for each day, and rest in the assurance that all of our days are in God’s hands. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

 

Peter Borgdorff: who was he?

I am aware that there are people who read this blog who do not know who my Dad is, what he stood for, or what his influence was in the church, for social justice or around the world?

I have been struck by how much I have learned about my Dad in the last week. There is something so good in hearing the stories of his ministry, his relationships and his passion and calling.  I am soaking up the goodness of his impact worldwide, and I am aware that the man in our lives rarely if ever spoke of his influence.

At home, we lived with a really ordinary guy. He was a husband, father, father in law, Papa, brother, uncle, and friend. Some of these pictures show him in the ways we knew and loved him:

Today I want to share his memorial service video with you. It tells a bit of his story from many different angles and I am so grateful for the faith foundation that my life has been built upon.

You will hear a bit of the story of how my parents became involved with some dear Karen people. I have included the translation to the special music they shared at the service.

It is my hope that by listening/ watching this recording of one week ago today, you will be encouraged.

Thankful for the life of my Dad and his impact in so many spaces.

Forever live with him

 V.1       I believe that it’s God who calls me back to rest

My body and flesh will disappear.

But the soul that he gave me,

Will forever live with him.

All my friends, young and old who are still alive

Carry on the work and continue to serve the Lord

To those, I love, all my family and friends

May you accept the will of God

V.2      Man will think that this is a loss

But for me ‘tis not like that

This is God transforming me, to lead me to heaven

To see his face and live with him eternally

People come and people will go

Keep on Sharing the gospel with talents that he gave you.

While we’re alive and have chances to serve him,

Serve him with strength and faithfulness

Coda.   I will move forward and step into his kingdom

Living a new life as God’s son

The joy and honor I have,

to forever live with him

 

 

Great courage and profound peace…

peaceDuring the last 8 weeks, I have been honored to witness how peace prevails in the midst of illness.  There are so many spaces that my parents could have lacked peace. Yet from the day of my Dad’s seizure to his unexpected death, through the diagnosis of cancer and in difficult conversations about if to seek treatment, the presence of peace was undeniable.

I remember my Dad clearly telling a Doctor who came into his room before his biopsy was even done that he doesn’t like to discuss all the “what if” conversations. He wanted to wait until the biopsy came back and then consider what we know to be true. He had a way of setting the tone and ensuring that my Mom and Dad did not clutter their minds and hearts with unneeded thoughts.

As my parents processed that my Dad had a life-ending diagnosis, it was clear to so many that peace prevailed. In their conversations, their communications, their presence, and their hearts their words carried peace.

Here are a few snippets from a variety of communications:

one of the things that has surprised me some is the calmness with which (so far at least) we have been able to accept the reality of what is.

We find ourselves in new space and are discovering that there are unexpected blessings also in these moments. 

We are mostly at peace with the realities thus far though still in some shock about how quickly and silently this has developed. 
We are walking a path where many others have been. We pray for grace to go on, and we do have peace in our hearts.
We also continue to be blessed by being surrounded by encouragers, family members, friends and helpful advisors. Most of all we rest in the providence of the Living God who holds in the hollow of His hand.

My prognosis will have to await further information, but we wanted you all to know that we are doing well, are grateful for each day, and rest in the assurance that all of our days are in God’s hands. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

IMG_2410I share this and record this, so we can always remember that my Dad did not fear the end of his life. He was committed to living one day at a time and trusting God to care for him, my Mom and each of us!

I am so grateful for how I have been reminded that to live in peace does not mean that life is without trouble. There are questions, and there is sorrow, there is uncertainty, and there is the hardship, but none of that can erode peace if our faith is strong.

My parents lived with great courage and profound peace in living and in dying.

 

 

Where to begin?

 

kindnessrock.jpgI have been overwhelmed with the amount of kindness that our family has experienced in the last week. It is hard to believe that one week ago we were all filling a hospital room as we awaited the end of my Dad’s life. God has been gracious to us all in the last week as we have journeyed a road we did not believe we were ready to yet travel.

At the start of this year, I had hoped to blog every day, or close to it. I started out strong, and then my Dad suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with an endocrine tumor that started in his lung and advanced to his brain. Life felt very different as we committed to living as normally as possible in a space that held a new kind of unknown. And yet we learned or at least practiced focusing on faith and living one day at a time.

There were many times I sat down to write during these weeks, but there was something that did not feel right about posting my thoughts, questions, and musings. Although there was nothing wrong with them, they crossed over into telling my Dad’s story, and it was his story to share. I wanted to respect the space he was navigating living with a terminal illness. And I so admired his commitment to focus on living and not some unknown prognosis of dying. But for that reason, I opted to set aside my blogging until a later time.

That later time is now here.

It has been important for me to remember why I blog.

I blogged about that once. 🙂

trishborgdorff.com2014/12

In the coming weeks, I plan to record for our family history the journey of my Dad and his impact and legacy.

So many of you have graciously encouraged me to keep writing. I have missed writing, and when I write from those deep places of my heart, writing is both hard work and a tremendous opportunity to see God at work. I am ready to marvel at how God is at work, even during the difficult seasons we encounter.

Until tomorrow….

 

Oh how I will miss you…

Today I lost my Dad.

It feels really odd that it was only today. 2 am seems like so very long ago. So much has happened today and so many very kind people have shared words of comfort. The stories I read of my Dad’s impact around the world are inspiring and I find myself longing to ask him more about each name or face or experience you all shared.

I will never forget when my Dad’s cousin Joke said it looked as if I had walked right out of my Dad’s mouth. We had so many similarities and also our very unique differences. I find that my heart aches for the spaces I long to continue to learn from him. In the last 5 years he taught me to play golf and I feel as if I just recently began to hold my own and understand what club hits how far and what strategy is needed when hitting out of a variety of spaces. I will miss my golfing partner.

Your words have been such a gift and it has only been one day. My Dad’s death came as a surprise in some ways and my system feels like it knows it is real but my processing has to come up to speed. It is good to be with my family as we remember, weep, laugh, share meals and remember Papa in so many ways.

We are planning a private family committal service, a visitation and a memorial service. We are learning of friends who will fly in to share with us in the celebration of his life. We feel the closeness of those who live in our neighborhoods and are a part of the day to day life we carry out.

We are aware that he lived well, and how we would have liked him longer. We are aware he left such an impact in our world, and how we would’ve liked for his impact to continue. We feel that deep sadness, and we are aware of the gratitude that mingles with the sadness in almost every moment.

I lost my dad today, I am deeply grateful for his life. I will miss him, and I will live as he modeled: One day at a time!