agnestirrito

"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


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Sunday’s Song: A Sentence and a Step

Week 5 of Lent. Easter is not far away, and my Lenten promises have pretty much gone by the wayside. But… a sweet surprise came along and helped me see that when we strive to follow a better path, things do indeed work out, and sometimes we don’t have to follow through on this plan or that goal…we just have to be the real me or you and walk on.

I met a new friend this week, one who knows me from what she saw me post on social media. We were at a mutual friend’s party and were introduced there. You may not remember this but you defended your religion awhile back. She went on to say what I’d written and the one part that stood out for her: You ended with Peace be with you and I thought wow. Yes. That.

Turns out this new friend has a Catholic upbringing. Thinks about coming back. Attends Mass when she’s visiting her mom.

She is also a cancer warrior, and has just spent several months recovering from treatments.

She’s seen a lot, been through a lot. Walked some dark roads like others have. Is still working things out. Thinking things through.

But she stood there and talked to me about one little sentence I posted months ago…maybe even a year or more ago. And she remembered that. Not because of the theology. Because of the grace. The kindness. The “no matter what you think, I hope you find peace on your way” which is how I strive to live.

Look, you cannot change people. You cannot force anyone to do this or be that, but you can wish them well. And mean it.

And while I am not the best Catholic in a lot of ways, that day she saw me as one who brought her a step closer to coming back to church. So, I am grateful to know. I am grateful to see a God who works through every person in every way…simple people like me and simple things like comments on a public post.

Grateful because I ask God routinely to help me lead others to Him…and to look for Him in them.

And this week, He said yes to all of that. And that meeting, that reminder, beats any list of things I could hope to do. So, keep on living your best day to day, not just during Lent, but any day. And God will use you if you ask Him to…and likely even if you don’t.

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Sunday’s Song: Smiles and Sentimentality

This week brings me to another marking of time. March 8 will make four years since Sam left this world. Five years since knowing we were in a very bad place. Terrible, terrible times.

I look back sometimes and wonder how we made it. I would not wish what we experienced on anyone.

But if you just keep moving…

Today, our daughter Skyped with me from 5,000 miles away. She’s been ice skating on a frozen lake. She tells me of her adventures, the friends whose names I did not know five years ago. We laugh, we visit, and I am aware of the arrival of a new day. Happiness. Joy. Peace. Living.

I sit with our son at Mass. I visit his family  tonight. Laugh at the constant motion, constant buzz of his house, filled with family and laughter. Good food, good conversations. Laugh at the antics of two little girls we did not realize would be  coming to us.  Happiness. Joy. Peace. Living.

Never ever could I have predicted the days we lived five years ago. Never ever could I have predicted the happy circumstances my family lives today.

Smiles from living in the moment we are in. Sentimentality from remembering a good man who would be smiling at all of us.

Wherever you are,  whatever sadness might stun you, overwhelm you, paralyze you, breathe through it. One day, it will get better.

Maybe not in four years, or five. Maybe later. Maybe sooner. Just keep at it.

Walk —when you cannot take one more step, take just one more. Sooner or later, you will walk into sunlight. The ice will glisten like diamonds on a frozen lake and you’ll marvel at all the colors you see.

Wait—when you cannot wait one more second, a child might arrive. Or two. And they will bring laughter from a well that until then was unopened.

I have watched my children’s smiles return. I have seen real joy in their eyes.

This is a gift from walking and waiting.

So, smile when you can and remember what you must, but know that a lot of good is right down the road. Live to see it.


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Good Friday 4/14/17

I bought a rose bush this morning  to honor the memory of my best friend. A drunk driver took her away from me on this day five years ago. I spoke to her that morning. A few hours later, she was gone. 

I thought I’d die.

That year began a journey of losses and realizations and change. Over and over, death stared me in the face. Then, the very next year my  husband was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Again…

I thought I’d die.

Some days I really wanted to. 

I do not have the answers to why people suffer and struggle. And even though some say Jesus already suffered for us all, we know the reality is that we still suffer here. 

This isn’t a post about looking for the good. It’s a post about realizing even though.

Even though there is pain and loss and suffering…

Even though we sometimes live seasons when the world is falling apart around us…

Even though we are not sure how the light will come to us again…

I’m only here to remind us all…

The Light is in you. It is deep within you and will never be extinguished. It is waiting for when the day comes you are able to walk in it again. 

Unconditionally.

Today, I pray for the broken-hearted. For the world at large. For all those who suffer physically, mentally, spiritually.

Back to the rose bush. A dear and mutual friend gave me a rose bush to plant in memory of our friend. She planted one, too. Hers, five years later is blooming in yellow radiance. She sent me a picture of it. I confessed mine didn’t make it, but today I am  trying again. Pink double blooms for a woman named Waydean. 

When I drove up with it to the area I’d decided on, one lone cardinal greeted me as if it say Finally. 

The sun is bright here today. I can feel it. 

God bless you ALL…




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Open Your Eyes: A Lenten Journey 3/28/17 (Tuesday)

Today I received a text from a close friend. 

It’s not cancer.

I know she will see things differently for a very long time. Brighter. Clearer. Cleaner. 

Sometimes days stop us in our tracks. When the news is good, it is the sweetest stop of all.

Wishing you all good and beautiful news today. 


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Open Your Eyes: A Lenten Journey 3/14/17 (Tuesday)

Today would have been my husband’s 50th birthday. It was not meant to be because an aggressive form of cancer took him from us three years ago. 

I share this with you partly because I realize there are hard journeys in life. I know if you have lived many years at all, you’ve had your share.

Today’s post isn’t about looking for the good or appreciating what we had.

It’s about opening our eyes to the suffering of those near to us.

Life is filled with turmoil, misdirection, unsurity. We are not alone in that.

Sometimes we can be present for someone. Not try to fix their pain. Not try to disregard their anxiety. Just be a witness. Stand with them.

Tonight, I offer a prayer for those among us who are suffering in any way. May our God send you people to pray for you, to love you, to let you know you are not alone.

Amen. 


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Friday’s Five…More Like 25…

It’s been five Fridays since I last posted my weekly remembrances of five good things.
Why is that? I think more than anything, it boils down to procrastination because since December 19, I’ve had so many blessings to list, truly.
Let me start with #1:
I found out on Christmas Day that my son and his wife are expecting! I’m a grandmama in training! That truth is the happy place my heart goes to when I start thinking too much about
stressful things. A baby is coming in August!
A knit cardigan is in progress, new baby hat and blanket patterns are printed almost daily, and I’m thrilled at the thought of rocking my first grandchild. I hope to be the “old fashioned” grandma who always has cookies ready, who has time to sit in the floor and play jacks, who has an endless supply of crayons and paper and books ready. Bliss…

The camellias are all blooming or getting ready to, and on a walk a few days ago, Sara pointed out a new blooming bush we’ve never seen before. It’s about twenty feet from the three bushes that have bloomed on this property for decades. It was surely a sweet moment to see new red blooms welcoming the new year. Who knows? Maybe I planted it years ago and just forgot. Maybe Sam did. Whatever the case, it stands along the edge of the driveway today, and we notice and are glad.

There’s a pot of narcissus welcoming January in the back porch window, an orchid from last spring that has, much to my surprise, decided to rejoin us…its new shoots reaching toward the west window.
Hopeful, living things. Lovely.

No snow yet, but it’s coming soon I think. My mama used to say that it warms up to snow. We’ve had warm January days (60s) and more forecast for next week, so I’m holding on to the possibility!
I’m glad those old sayings live on in our minds. They keep our loved ones with us.
This time last year, Sam was still here and we had hospice nurses visit every day. It seems like yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago. His memory will not fade from my heart. The good days and bad and sweet and sorrowful, all become intertwined. Lives filled with stories.
I spent some time during the last couple of weeks with a lady I didn’t know. She was the mom of my husband’s best friend. Cancer decided to do its thing on her, but she was surrounded by love and laughter and good stories until she made it to her heavenly home last Monday. Her son asked me to speak at her service and I did. It brought to mind other times I’ve written or spoken in memory of people I loved. All I can say is God has His ways with us. He knows what we need to do. He makes things happen.
Two of my shop owner friends have husbands with a cancer diagnosis. I didn’t know them a year ago. I met them through “random” circumstances this year and somehow we all know it’s not random at all.
This week, a colleague talked at length about her father’s recent passing. She spoke of pain and family drama and medicine schedules and situations she never dreamed were part of life. Later, she thanked me. Just for listening.
And I realized again, sometimes that’s all we need. We don’t need judgment. We don’t need a solution. We just need a place to be ourselves, to say the things we need to say. I’m glad I could be her listener.
There’s been a lot of creativity the past few weeks.
Sara and I took a watercolor class and it was such fun! We learned a lot and I’m excited to get started on a new project.
I finished an acrylic canvas of trees for Samuel. I’m not sure what I was happier about: his positive reaction or the actual completion of a project. Maybe both.
Samuel entered a piece of prose into a local contest and won second place. It makes my heart happy to see him use his gifts.
I’ve started a bible study with a dear friend and a bible verse memorization with another.
There’s laughter. I drove to my book club get-together the other night and stopped at the wrong house, book and bottle of wine in hand. I was greeted enthusiastically and was on my way in when I asked if this was the right house. It wasn’t. My goodness. I’m glad for good souls and guardian angels on the way.
Joy jars. That’s how I’ll end my post today. I’ve made a couple and hope to share more. The premise is easy:
Decorate a jar. Fill it with colorful slips of paper. Write down the joys and blessings of the day. Save this rainbow of happiness until the end of the year and reopen. Relive the good.
Always, always, relive the good. I’m glad to share my “good” here, late or not.
Peace and joy dear readers.
Keep moving forward.


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Friday’s Five

Well, it’s technically Saturday, but I’m calling this my Friday’s Five anyway. I’m not worried about technicalities. Neither is a knitter named Jimmie who I met a few days ago. Several of us were at the yarn shop knitting, and I listened to her comments on this and that for awhile and told her, “I like how you think.” She smiled and said, Look, if it’s not cancer, it’s all good. Twelve years ago I had that bearing down on me. After making it through that, most everything else rolls off of me.
I am thankful for people like her. Ones who get it. She’s my #1 this week.

#2: Hospice of Texarkana plans to publish a story about my Sam this year. The kids and I sat around our table with one of the writers/layout designers. He listened to us tell stories about Sam and what a gift hospice was for him and us during his last weeks. I will always remember how the staff cared for and supported Sam, and
how they supported us.

#3: I’m grateful for any opportunity to honor the fact that Sam lived. He mattered in this life. My daughter, sister, son, and I are all involved in making and contributing handmade items to a vendor area at our local Christmas artisan marketplace. We are donating 50% of the proceeds to the Lt. Sam Tirrito Sr. Memorial Scholarship fund. It is a small but important way to keep his memory with many people, to help many people, and to create something beautiful for a world that sometimes can be anything but beautiful.

#4: Other widows. I’m not glad they are widows, but
I feel especially blessed to have stumbled upon two different sites that are filled with women like me. Women who face the same challenges and situations that I do. Women who, although they have suffered great sadness, get up and keep going. Women who support one another daily, with no reason other than
they get the walk.

#5: Motivation. On days when it seems lagging (or absent!), I remember there’s a lesson in everything. Sometimes the lesson is to try again. Sometimes it’s to let it pass and rest. Every time, it’s to remember to celebrate when I feel mentally and physically at 100%. I do not take it for granted any longer, and I have a new compassion and respect for others who really truly just can’t
some days. Until you experience something that has the power to control you mentally and physically, you really cannot imagine it. Grief can sometimes have that power. It’s a tricky, tricky thief.

#6 (it’s that kind of day) : Friends who stayed in for the long haul. It’s been almost nine months since Sam died. I still hear from some lifelong friends frequently. They teach me how to help others. They do not question me. They don’t judge. They have made my journey easier. So often, after a loss, everyone goes back to their busy life and routine. It’s natural. Expected. But I am grateful to say I have a few who never left. How do I explain what they do? It’s more than the text, message, card. It is a commitment to a friendship. Rare these days. I really see so many in a different light now than I did a year ago. I’ve said it before, but it is true:
after a loss–I think especially after the loss of a beloved spouse–you understand things you didn’t even have on the radar before. The best I can explain it is that it is an intuitive understanding of how people behave.
Note I didn’t say why they behave a certain way. I’ll never figure that part out.

And, since it is Small Business Saturday, here’s a shout out to some of my home town favorites:
Alexander’s
Gayle’s and Abby Gayle’s
Fan Fare
The Yarn Garden
The Swoonerie
The North Forty
Julie’s
Patterson’s
Smeltzer’s
Shelby’s
Christopher’s Framing
Chris Thomas Pottery
U.S. Lawns
These are just a few of my hometown favorites. The products and services are good, but the owners are the reason I keep going back. Nice people.
I’m sure as soon as I hit the publish key, I’ll realize I left out someone. There are so many good places and good people. When you find them, keep them.
Have a blessed week, dear readers.