Friday, November 29, 2013

When a mother wishes her child was here

It's something about life that's just right.

It's that hole in the heart.

That jab to the lungs that makes it hard to breathe.

The knowledge that there will never be a family picture with him in it. Ever again.

It's that longing and wondering . . .

What would he look like?

What would he like to do?

How would his voice sound like?

What would he joke about with his three siblings?

What would it be like?

To hug him . . .
at five,
at ten,
at sixteen,
at twenty-one?

What if . . . . ?

What if he had not died?

What if the infection that crept in had not killed his compromised cancer body?

What would my life be like with him still alive and in it?

I'd never have to cry when I heard the song, "Daniel". Or sing it in his memory one cold February night.

What would it be like to never know what it feels like to light a candle in his memory?

When others hear of other children who have died and say, "I can't imagine," what would it be like to be able to say the same thing?

What would it be like to not know what it feels like to look at a grave and think, "I miss him."

To not have to write about him, but to be able to make a plate of pancakes for him?

To not know what it means to have a "Daniel Moment"?

But this is not the case.

So I join lots of moms and dads and know that I am not alone. We are the Hole in the Heart Club. And we hope no one else ever has to join us again.

Because this loss is so sad, so devastating, so unexplainable, so life-changing . . .

We never wanted to join and we certainly don't need any more members.

"I can't imagine."

We don't want you to have to know what we know.

Because it's just not right.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A shop of memories

My grandfather Hall had a hardware and lumber shop. As a child, when my family made the trek from Osaka, Japan to Richmond Virginia, we visited his store. The memories I have of it include the loud buzz of a table saw, the fresh scent of red oak, and sawdust everywhere.

Fast forward many, many years to North Carolina. Step into our garage. While not a brick and mortar store with a bell that rings when you open the front door, Carved By Heart is in business. Inside the garage, wooden creations are made---signs, plaques, clocks, bird feeders, pet remembrances, and more.

Plaques in memory of loved ones, custom-made signs, memory pieces. And yes, the aroma of red oak and pine permeates throughout the garage as the saw buzzes to cut the wood.

We love providing handcrated wooden items for our customers.

My son Daniel never met my grandfather Hall. My grandfather died when I was a senior in high school. But the inspiration I hold from the life of my son, who died at at the age of four in 1997, coupled with my grandfathers's love of wood, makes for a lovely tribute.

It is those memories that give our shop the desire and inspiration to create and make items that bring solace and smiles to others.

Find our shop online at Etsy and spend some time there. Let us hear from you! If you can think it, we can carve it! We can be serious, funny, silly or sentimental.

Let us carve some memories for you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Special Deal for a Special Christmas!

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Leafwood Publishers) is a companion through grief and makes a lovely gift for someone going through the heartache of loss. Losses come in all shapes----the loss of a loved one, a financial loss, a career loss, loss of health and loss of relationships-----but they all carry a sizable wound to the heart. This devotional is written by a mother inspired by the life and death of her son, Daniel. I am that mother and my heart goes out to all in grief and loss.

These forty devotionals address the painful hardships realistically, as well as the doubt, worry, and fear that come with them. The pages are packed with tips on how readers should take care of themselves and draw near to God so that healing is possible. Each devotional includes reflection, prayer, and suggestions for those who want to integrate walks into their daily routine.

Memories Around the Table is a cookbook of favorite recipes and remembrances of those (both old and young) who are no longer around to share a meal with us. Many contributed to this special book and because of this, this cookbook is a tribute to sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and grandparents. Remembering them in this way brings comfort.

[Pictured: Peanut Butter Cookies from the cookbook]

Purchase a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, and get a $14.99 Memories Around the Table cookbook for free! Both will be signed by the author, me!

Hurry, this deal only lasts till December 12, 2013!

Here's how:
Send a check for $13.99 plus $4.00 S/H ----a total of $17.99 to the address below:
Alice J. Wisler
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707

Or purchase via PayPal by using the button below:

Read the reviews for Gettng Out of Bed in the Morning at Amazon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Carved in the Heart of Memory

When my son Daniel died, I feared many things. One was that no one would remember him. He was only four and hadn't learned to read or tie his shoe.

Often in the still of the night, I would stand on my deck and look up toward Heaven. I focused on the distant stars. In the summer evenings, I'd watch the brilliant sunsets, the purples and marigold----painted brushstrokes across the clouds.

I asked God, "Why?" and "How do you expect me to live on?"

The ache in my heart was wider than the sky.

One evening, as I sat on my deck and wondered about remembering and forgetting, suddenly, as if through the spring air and from the sky, came these words:

"Who will remember those who no longer sing on earth?

We, who hear their songs from Heaven."

I wrote the verse down and immediately felt the comfort from the sentiment. Later, I had it printed on cards. I sent the cards to those, who like me, missed their loved ones. People asked to purchase the cards, so I offered them online and at conferences.

When my husband first carved the verse into a piece of red oak, it was as though a big soft blanket wrapped around me. I shared the plaque with others and then there came the requests from fellow bereaved mothers and fathers. "That's beautiful. I want one." "Can you make me one, please?"

Who would have thought that the verse that came to me over twelve years ago would now be bringing solace and hope to others?

Thank you for coming into my life, Daniel. Thank you for the reminder that you live on, and when I listen, I can hear your songs from Heaven.

Visit our Etsy Shop to see this plaque and other products all carved from wood.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Surviving the Tinsel: 11 Tips to Get Your Broken Heart Through the Holidays

That holiday-pang hit my stomach the first October after Daniel died. Greeting me at an arts and craft shop were gold and silver stockings, a Christmas tree draped with turquoise balls and a wreath of pinecones and red berries. What was this? And was "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" playing as well? It was only October.

I had anticipated that Christmas and the holidays would be tough. In fact, I'd wake on those cold mornings after Daniel died in February and be grateful that it was still months until his August birthday and even more months until Christmas. I dreaded living both without him. I would have preferred to have been steeped in cow manure. At least then I could take a hot bath with sweet smelling bubbles and be rid of the stench. But bereavement isn't that way. As those who had gone on before let me know, you have to live through it.

Christmas came. I did live through it. It continues to happen as do the other significant days of the calendar year. Daniel never arrives at any of them although his memory lives on. By incorporating him into these days of festivity, I can cope.

Some of you have your child's birthday and/or anniversary day within the November through January season. These days, in addition to the holidays everyone else is celebrating, make the season even more complicated and painful, I'm sure.

I offer eleven tips I've used to survive the holidays. Some are my own suggestions and some are borrowed from the many who walk the path of grief.

1. Know you will survive. Others have done it and you will, too. Keep in mind that your first Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day will not be easy.

2. Find at least one person you can talk to or meet with during the holiday season. Perhaps this person has gone through a few Thanksgivings and Christmases before and can give you some helpful ideas that have worked for her.

3. Things will be different this holiday season and perhaps for all the rest to come. Don't think you have to do the "traditional" activities of years past when your child was alive. Your energy level is low. If no one in your household minds, skip putting up the tree. Forget spending hours making your holiday cookies.

4. Spend the holidays with those who will let you talk about your child. You will need to have the freedom to say your child's name and recall memories, if you choose to do so. Your stories about your child are wonderful legacies. Tell them boldly again and again.

5. If going into the mall or stores brings too much pain, shop for gifts online or through mail-order catalogs. Thinking everyone is happily shopping at the malls with intact lives while your heart is crushed is terribly tough. Go easy on yourself.

6. Getting away from the house is an idea that worked for my family. The first Christmas without Daniel we went to a nearby town and lived in the Embassy Suites. The kids enjoyed the indoor pool and breakfast buffets. Christmases that followed were spent at a rented cottage on the shore and the Christmas we rented the beach house, we were able to invite extended family to join us. We all shared in the cooking.

7. Create something to give to those who have helped you throughout the year. I made some very simple tree ornaments with "In Memory of Daniel" stamped on them and gave them to friends that first Christmas.

8. Decorate the grave. Put up a plastic Christmas tree with lights. Sometimes being busy with decorating the grave gives a feeling of doing something for a child we can no longer hold.

9. Do something in memory of your child. Donate to a charity or fund in his memory. Volunteer. My oldest daughter Rachel and I volunteer at the Hospice Tree of Remembrance each December and share memories of Daniel as we spend this time together.

10. If your bereavement support group has a special candle-lighting service to remember the children in your area who have died, attend it. Doing something in memory of your child with others who understand the pain these holidays hold can be therapeutic.

11. Spend time reflecting on what the season is about. Everyone around you may be frantic with attending parties, services, shopping and visiting relatives. Perhaps you used to be the same way. Now you may want to avoid some of the festivities. Give yourself permission to excuse yourself from them. Light a candle in your favorite scent. Record some thoughts in a journal. This is great therapy, too.

One day you will wake up and it will be January 2. The holidays will have ended. You will have made it. If you are like me, you will find that surviving the tinsel has made you stronger and although you may cry, somewhere within you, you will feel that core of new steel.

~ Alice J. Wisler
[First published about twelve years ago, about four years after Daniel's death.]

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cooking With Author Cheryl Colwell!

Readers, today I have a treat for you. Author Cheryl Colwell is here to tell us about her new novel, The Secrets of the Montebellis, and share a favorite meal.

First, a bit about her book:

Lisa Richards is caught in an abusive relationship and devises a clandestine plan to build her dream and escape. In league with the secretive Montebelli Corporation, she grasps her one chance to gain financial freedom and fulfill her dream to bring new life to the town her ancestors helped settle in the Pacific Northwest.

As a stranger to town, Steven Taylor distrusts Lisa's suspicious behavior and sets out to expose her. Instead, he discovers the truth and becomes one of her few allies.

With attacks coming from many directions, they set out on a gripping course, working against time and the traps set in motion to break her. Imminent threats, at work to crush her efforts, thrust her to the edge of destruction.

I asked Cheryl to tell us what she likes to cook.

Cheryl said, "Here is one of my favorite meals, set in a dramatic moment in the book."

Thomas spun around from taking off his jersey and glared at her. “I don’t know what you do all day, but it’s clear your interest isn’t here.” He threw his clothes against the mirror.

Angry tears stung her eyes, but only served to increase his ranting. “I left you a message telling you we have company coming for dinner. Steven Taylor was on the mountain and I invited him and his daughter to join Jesse and us at seven o’clock. It’s six-thirty right now. What do you propose to do?”

With her heart racing, Lisa opened the freezer and blessed Jenny for organizing it this week. She grabbed two packages of filet of sole and the pound of shrimp off the middle shelf, turned on the oven, and stuffed the shrimp and fish into the microwave to defrost. Next, she dumped jasmine rice into the rice maker.

After pouring the shrimp into a metal bowl, she tossed in cayenne pepper, mayonnaise, and garlic salt, then wrapped each filet around a scoop of shrimp. Over the top, she sprinkled lemon juice and breadcrumbs, then dribbled each with melted butter and set them in the oven to cook. "Okay, what’s next?"

Now that sounds like a good meal! Thanks, Cheryl!

Cheryl's website, where she reviews books, is here.

To read reviews and order The Secrets of the Montebellis at Amazon, click here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Moms Need This Free E-book: a time to reflect and write

Today I drove my youngest to a few shops so that she could buy a birthday gift for her brother. Since it was a nice afternoon, I waited for her in the car, having brought a book to read. I rolled the Jeep window down a few inches, relaxed, made sure that I had a view of a color-filled robust tree, dug out my reading glasses, and began. During that half hour, I aborbed the pages. The book was one written for writers, so it was highly interesting for me and caused me to reflect on my hopes and dreams. As I read, I paused to write out a few choice reflections and then even penned a prayer. (Luckily, my glove compartment is always stocked with a notepad and extra pens.)

I needed that time. That time energized me.

As moms we can run around thinking we need to hoist the world on our shoulders. But the reality is, if we don't take care of ourselves, then what good are we for anybody?

Last year I put together an e-book for moms of all ages. The blurb about it reads:

A journal designed for moms of all ages. Filled with Bible verses and prompts to guide you, this book is a companion to carry and use to rejuvenate you from your busy life. Writing is a wonderful gift from God and has many benefits for the mind and body; use this journal to draw closer to Him.

The Mom Spa Journal can be yours today for free! That's right----free! All you need to do to get this book of writing prompts and scripture is to follow the directions pasted below.

Simply go to my Smashwords page by clicking here. Once there, add The Mom Spa Journal to your cart and then upon check-out, enter this code TZ94Y to get the coupon, making the e-book free! Yep, free!

Then sit back, and make some time for you!