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Sharon’s Annual Letter – a Little Late

Posted on Jan 7, 2018 in Blog |

Dearest Friends and Family, As I prepare to write each year’s letter, I reread the previous year’s letters. Rereading my 2016 letter was like reopening a fresh wound and rubbing salt in it. My grief has “improved,” lessening in intensity and frequency, but it remains constant. I have always believed that even our worst moments offer gifts, if not immediately, eventually. I know God is always with me, guiding me to my next growth opportunity. Work Jeff is continuing with Home Equity Builders ( We are readying for a big master bath renovation. I am continuing with Gifts At the end of February, I was dreading the first anniversary of Dad’s admission to the hospital and the 26 days that followed. That same week, I started dreaming in images, something I have never done before in 54 years. It became so intense and obsessive, I bought some paint and brushes and try to paint what I saw in my dreams. I had never painted, drawn, or done anything artistic before that week. The entire month of March, through the first anniversary of Dad’s death, I painted. And I have not stopped. Nor have the images in dreams and visions. A friend saw my work and encouraged me to join our local Artist Studio. I did and then I participated in my debut show in the local art tour. I sold my three largest pieces and did very well. It was a fantastic start to a new passion. I have also completed commission works for individuals as far as Las Vegas, Nevada. You can see some of my pieces at I had two more successful art sales/shows in December. In the meanwhile, Jeff started perfecting his work with the camera lens. His favorite subject is a pair of bald eagles near our cabin in Maggie, VA. Though, honestly, I love his scenic pieces more so. He can capture birds in flight and sunsets on the pond. I think I have talked him into joining the local Artist group as well and participating in local events. Entertainment In September, Jeff and I saw Sting in concert at Wolftrap. Score...

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Imperfect Holidays

Posted on Nov 23, 2017 in Blog |

Five years ago, Stephen had surgery on his shredded collarbone the day after Thanksgiving. He was miserable that entire holiday. Another Thanksgiving, Joey had strep throat and Jeff stayed home with him instead of joining the rest of the family. We brought leftovers, but . . . One Christmas, a relative’s oven broke and the turkey was not cooked completely – some guests didn’t realize until they had eaten some. On our wedding day, the airlines canceled our flight and we had to rush to the airport to catch another flight. We were in the back of the limo eating our dinner with our fingers b/c the caterer forgot to include utensils. We spent hours in the Tampa airport trying to get to Ft. Myers. The Christmas before Stephen was born, I was on bedrest for ten weeks – I could only get vertical to shower every other day and to use the bathroom. On New Year’s Eve, 2014, Jeff’s dad died at 12:30 in the afternoon. On Good Friday, 2016, Dad died at 5:55 am. Not all holidays have good memories attached to them. Some can develop into funny stories later on (like our wedding day mishap). But some don’t. Sometimes a big family argument breaks out; sometimes you wonder why you are even surrounding yourself with this group of people. It’s all ok. A wise friend said to me, “Lower your expectations; raise your acceptance.” So Stephen was miserable that holiday. He was alive and his collarbone healed (with the help of a few screws and a plate). Joey healed from the strep throat. I can’t bring back our parents, but I can tell funny stories about warm memories I have of them. I can hang ornaments on my tree that remind me of our loved ones. Life goes on and we do the best we can with what we have. Today, I went to a fancy restaurant with a slipper on because I think I tore a tendon in my heel yesterday. I could barely walk. But I went and I had fun. Stephen wore one of Dad’s suit jackets to today’s festivities. In a weird...

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Father’s Day

Posted on Jun 16, 2017 in Blog |

I mourn for a father lost, and i celebrate my husband who gave me a son. I didn’t want children when Jeff Rainey and I married. I woke up one morning, turned over and said, “Honey, I want to have a baby.” He replied without missing a beat, “It’s a good thing I’m flexible.” My teacher today reassured me that though I miss Dad greatly, he fulfilled all of his obligations here and did all God needed him to do. His life was complete. I trust in that knowledge. But it still makes me wistful. And it does not take away Mom’s pain which remains fresh and unsettled. My teacher and I talked about the trip to Turks and Caicos – you remember, the #vacationofalifetime. She said, “Every time you think of that trip, you think of it as magical . . . ” I nodded my head. We all do. We all believe it was a magical trip. She shook her head no. “That, my dear, was Love. It was Love felt by every single one of you at one point or another during those seven days. For once, for just a little bit, you felt as though you belonged in that family in all ways. It wasn’t magic, Sharon. It was LOVE.” A friend of mine is in Turks and Caicos right now with his own family. The first night, he sent me photos of the sunset and texted, “It’s your dad saying hi from T & C.” It made me cry, in a good way. I suppose what I am trying to say in a convoluted way is that while these holidays are difficult for those of us who cannot be with our loved ones, to remember they truly are with us. I know when i look at the empty chair, or when we holds hands to say grace, instead of looking for Dad, or Jim (Jeff’s dad), or Aunt Betty, or Troup, or Aunt Cherry, I simply need to close my eyes, take in a breath, and feel them. I might feel a light brush on the cheek, or the sun shining a bit brighter,...

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When Words Become Unlanguagable

Posted on May 13, 2017 in Blog |

Earllier this week, I saw this photo of Glennon Doyle Melton on Facebook. The power of the imagery was almost overwhelming for me. I remain in awe of Glennon’s determination to live authentically. While I do not necessarily agree with all that she has said, says, or believes, I honor her as a fellow Love Warrior and know that she is doing exactly what she needs to do in this life. A day later, I saw this photo of my son and his girlfriend. Again, no words are necessary to describe the love, commitment, and desire these two young lovebirds hold for one another. For the past 14 months, since Dad’s death, I have found my emotions and everything else in my life unlanguageable. I have tried to write of my grief, sometimes successfully, but mostly, lacking in depth and breadth of what is happening in my heart. I have been silent in many ways because I didn’t know how to explain my experience. In the past year of combing through thousands and thousands of photos, I have found a few treasures. I see the look Dad gave Mom and the love becomes tangible for me again. I see that same love in a few photos of Jeff and me as well. Again, words cannot describe the heart. Only the image can. Without cause or prior notice, a few days before my birthday, I started to dream in images. Vivid images. I mentioned to Jeff that I thought I wanted to paint. No, I needed to paint. I had never painted before and was actually jealous of the artists around me who could create such magical visions. Jeff bought me an easel and other supplies and encouraged me to move forward. And I did. For the past two months, I have been painting almost daily, almost in a manic mode. I cannot produce these visions quickly enough at times. I have been told I have some talent for which I am grateful. Though, honestly, I am doing this for me and for no one else. Painting is the only way I have found to describe my heart and my...

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Valentine’s Day Without Dad

Posted on Feb 12, 2017 in Blog |

We are almost through our year of firsts without Dad. With Valentine’s Day approaching, my heart sinks at the thought of Mom being alone. Soon after Dad died, the three daughters agreed that we would still send Mom flowers for each event that Dad did. Just because he was dead doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get flowers anymore. Her flowers will arrive Monday. In the past, my family didn’t gather for Valentine’s Day. Mom sent cards to the daughters, but dinner was for couples on their own. Not a big deal until this year. For Jeff and me, we usually eat dinner together, but sometimes the dinner has included a child who might be at home with us, due to illness or maybe a recent breakup. We have viewed Valentine’s Day to be a day about love, not necessarily always just romance. Jeff and I stopped going out for Valentine’s Day early in our marriage, frankly, because any meal we had in a restaurant, he could usually fix one better at home. When we stay home, our dinner is quiet, intimate, and most importantly, it is a leisurely time that we enjoy. No one is rushing for a second or third seating. I have always loved it this way. So for this year, I asked my husband, who is the most romantic man I’ve ever known, if he would give me the greatest gift I could ask for. I asked Jeff to come to Mom’s with me on Valentine’s Day and cook dinner for us both. Mom’s diet is a bit restricted, so going out would probably not be a great option. Plus, I don’t want her to see all the couples celebrating. I feel like it would be shoving the loss in front of her. We will bring the food and pots and pans and cook at Mom’s this Tuesday. We will make her a healthy, delicious, colorful meal. And we will eat leisurely. I thought I would bring some of the videos she hasn’t seen yet from our childhoods that we have been transferring onto DVD. Dad can’t be there in person, but he will be with us...

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