Plant your own garden

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
I am somewhere between the grief of a child and the grace of a woman as I write this column today. Ted, my sweet husband, has been gone four years now and this Christmas Season will be the fifth we have celebrated without him. It wouldn’t be so hard except that Ted loved every holiday. He loved the decorating, buying gifts, sending cards, shopping, cooking, and having people in our home.

Every once in a while, I was tired, and wanted to lock the doors and just be, but he always had someone else that needed to visit or share a meal or at least dessert. Some days it seems like it has been at least this long, but other days, it seems like only yesterday that I got that call from the director of the surgical team that had been caring for him to say he was not going to win that long battle. Cancer is a beast and sometimes the different cures hurt almost as much as the dread disease.

I started not to put these thoughts into the computer, and eventually into print, but then I remembered Pam, Edith, GinGee, Johnelle, Peggy, Barbara, Anne, Myra, Dan, Melvin, Ed, and so many more that have lost mates. After a season of prayer, I decided that perhaps it was a good idea to write what was in my heart. Perhaps it will be the blessing that each of us needs to get through this holiday season and to perhaps find we can enjoy much of it in our own way

Cooking a big Thanksgiving spread and decorating was a little harder this year for some reason. I thought I had gotten over the worst, but lo and behold, one of those unplanned waves rolled in and almost got me. While shopping for the last few things I had forgotten at the teeming grocery store, I happened to remember this writing that a dear friend of mine for many years, Jessie Sandburg, had given me on a plaque when I was going through some deep in my life. Ike took the actual plaque, but I found the writing and I loved it all over again.

After a while
By Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child.

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down I mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

Any you learn
That you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every goodbye, you learn.

As I was heading to the checkout lane, I spotted some beautiful fresh flowers, and although I watch my budget more these days, I walked right over and chose the bouquet that I liked best. When one of my Thanksgiving guests asked where I got the beautiful flowers, I answered, “Oh, they came from my own garden.” Of course, she and I both knew I did not have a garden at this time of the year, so I explained about the writing I had been given all those long years ago.

We really do have to plant our own gardens and decorate our own souls at times. We cannot sit idly by and grieve because we are so caught up in the past that we cannot enjoy the present. And, if we are blessed, we learn quickly that we are truly strong enough for this battle that God has assigned us and that we have worth and that we are capable.

God bless us all this Christmas Season.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or


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2 Responses to “Plant your own garden”

  1. Ginger Bragg Doster says:

    Beautiful message. Have lost many family members and friends.
    It never gets better… live with this every day.
    A certain scent, a movie, a song, a place that you had shared together.

    I try remember the good times with these wonderful people whom I love and have made me the person I am today.

    Thank you my forever friend for sharing this beautiful message.

  2. Rhonda Tanner says:

    Thank you for sharing & remembering us who also go through the heartache of a lost spouse. My own left me six years ago & Dec 25th is exactly six years & six months. To make it harder our anniversary is on December 20. This year would be our 43 rd. We met when we were only 13 years old and kinda grew up together. Most of our romance was long distance after I moved to Dallas area when we were 16, But having a sister living here was always able to visit and spend time together during school holidays. We really became serious at 17 but didn’t Mary till we were 20. But now I look back on 50 of my 63 years that. Included him. It is really hard to go on. Only my faith in God and that assurance that we will be reunited keeps me going on. Thank you again. I always say God brought us together and made us one, but he never explained how to go back to being one again. But I’ll keep the faith and carry on until that reunion. God bless you to the comfort only he gives.

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