To say my heart is broken yet again is an understatement. The collective grief of surpassing 500,000 US souls lost to COVID-19 is beyond comprehension. When my mom suffered, gasping for breath in her battle and loss with CoVid on May 16, 2020 – there were approximately 60,000 souls who had passed – and 9 months later that number is over 8 times more of our loved ones gone.
More than ever this instills the truth within me we need a collective love to surpass the collective grief and help others get through and bloom again, better, higher, wiser, and with the very essence in which they thought they lost…
LOVE. The gardeners of TLG, plant your love in honor of Your lost beloveds because your love for them and they for you was never lost or died. It loves forward in helping others in its honor. Bloom Love On for these 500,000 beautiful loves and so many more.
We love you.
PLANTING MY ROSE
It is With a deep bow of love and gratitude for my stillborn son Elijah I am Godfrey that The Loving Garden was created. His journey into this world was not meant to be and his diagnosis of Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder that is not compatible with life was laid upon my heart 5 months into my pregnancy.
Against all advice, judgement and opinions from those who bore the label family and friends, I carried on and carried my child in my body and in my heart until God chose to take him home. I would not make any other choice offers but to carry my son Home. In the 4 months of this Truth- I wrote frantically hundreds of pages, I broke down more times that I can count, I mourned in silence, as a traveler – I continued on and I traveled through many states and showed Elijah the world from within, documenting our travels as my belly grew with every passing day, I read to him, talked for hours with him and sang and danced with him until my body frame could not hold the weight standing up. So I sang from the $40 lazy boy armchair I bought where I slept most nights with pillows tucked all around me. It was his chair, Elijah’s chair. That I still sit in today.Read more
in the still nights of silence, The Loving Garden bloomed in my heart, perhaps from a dream, and one morning I awoke and began to write about the garden, sketch the vision, flowchart and architect, writes its purpose and knew I was determined to trust this impending loss and grief had greater purpose. It had to!
I had to grow love forward from the growing love within me and give to those who need it as much as I needed it and it was withheld in a fractured childhood. But I held steadfast from a young age that love must exist beyond those walls. And said over and over, There is ‘more’. I knew it and sought it out in adulthood.
I worked fast to create The Loving Garden as I wanted it to be part of Elijah’s memorial announcement. While impending motherhood should be about planning baby showers and buying newborn outfits, mine was juggling and struggling to raise a 9 year old daughter as a single mother while planning a funeral for my son still in utero. I look back and perhaps focusing on this charity gave it all a bigger purpose as to why my son would die. As the days went by filled with documenting hundreds of hours of journaling and writing letters to Elijah and doing videos and non stop photos of ‘us’ together to fit in as many memories as I could knowing any day the memories would cease with his heart.
I loved to feel him move inside me, an elbow, a foot poking my humongous belly that put me in a wheelchair because he could not absorb the amniotic fluid. I did whatever needed to keep him with me just one more minute.
The grief moments were beyond any words I could share. I grieved my son while his heart beat inside me. Until one morning It didn’t. God took him Home on 11/20/2011 while I slept. 3 weeks before my due date.
Elijah came silently into this world on 11/21/2011. It was only me and God in the hospital room when Elijah was delivered for all who had been present and wiping my tears had stepped out when I asked for a moment alone before birthing him. And it was in that moment of silence and my eyes closed in prayer to help me ensure in this final moment, is when I delivered him. I was not alone. My loves above and God were with me and welcomed my child Home. (As I write this 9 years and 2 months later, I am crying. To share with the Gardeners here the Truth of the true depth of my love and my grief is a moment in time long waiting and a conviction of my faith and trust that the journey with my son had greater purpose beyond the pain and suffering. The tears now are a mixture of a heavy heart and a soul that smiles.)
On That day when I awoke to a heavy belly and a knowing in the depth of my soul that my son left this world, I knew one day I would bloom what he left behind, a LOVE so limitless, so deep and unconditional, and so massive in its purpose that it humbled me to my knees.
And through my journey with my baby son Elijah, I experienced what unconditional love really was and it took me on a journey through the years since, and thousands of written pages since, how to unconditionally love myself.
Every grief tear shed like raindrops or torrential downpours, I know channel for the greater good, the greater love, and these tears are what water the flowers of love to bloom in this very garden. Flowers of Love to share and give to others in need to know they too are loved and worthy of love and supported so they can love themselves too. And perhaps one day they will be the very ones to rise another up to bloom in love and plant their own seeds.
This Garden is limitless and eternal because Love is.
Thank You for Loving. You are Loved.
With Blooming Love,
Lori Freed, Founding Gardener
The Loving Garden
This moment staying in a tent on top of a mountain in Malibu amongst the ashes from my friends property burnt to the ground from the wildfires in California. I was up there with her dragging all the paperwork of 2020 around with me between my life and my mothers. One of the packages I had been carrying around for awhile I finally opened just to lighten my load, my heaviness of the compounding grief. Nothing good was in so many documents and stacks of bills and mail left ignored in my tears.
And I opened the big package only to discover my soul purpose was waiting for me to unwrap the box, to open it and let it breathe – and when I did- I set it’s contents free – The Loving Garden approved and official binder was waiting impatiently in the dark box to get into the sunlight to be nurtured and bloom. With grief tears turning to elated tears and a saving grace like no other – I forced myself to rise from the ashes of my life like the ashes on the burnt ground I was sitting upon – I had to in order to rise and bloom the loving garden from the very same feelings so many others are lost in – If I didn’t get up I couldn’t bloom love for others. It had to start with me before I could ever give it to others. From the depths of nothingness where I found everything…Self love.Read more
So I rose in the love that I AM – did it for myself so I could do it for all and show them the way back to their truth of who they are – LOVE. I found my way back, crawling through and rising from the ashes, but I did it. And you can too. Come bloom with me…
No matter how many times the winds swept me up and battered me about like a game, that tests ones will to survive, it would eventually give me mercy and release its grasp on me. In that release I plummet like a skydiver without a parachute and hit the density of life‘s cold ground with such a force it shattered my body and being into 1 million scattered pieces.
I would lay there in death yet still breathing for there was something inside of me that was not done. There was something undone within me and I could not leave this world until it was completed.
The unknown was my driving force to use my shallow breath to get up.
I just knew I had to get to the unknown of what somehow, I knew that I knew deep inside. In the rise to my knees and eventually to my feet from the fall miles above, I look about the shores of my life in search of the pieces of myself scattered beyond site and collect them to put myself back together.
But each time the winds got me in its grasp – it squeezed me into suffering again until it released once more with mercy where I would once again plummet and crash into 1 million pieces again.
Over and over and over again. And each time a strength beyond my knowing had me rise after a long while and off I would go in search of the pieces of self, scattered about.
As this became a repetitive exhausting cycle, I noticed each time I went in search of these scattered pieces that were supposedly me… many I could not find any more. Less and less were picked up with each fall and many got left behind.
Upon that final day out of nowhere the winds came to get me in its grasp – but it could not grab hold. There was nothing left of me for it to hang on to and sweep up – There were no pieces left in the last falling for me to reclaim. I was as transparent as the wind itself – in nothingness.
I stood on the shores in that nothingness – and that is where I found everything.
Through each descend and crashing, I had finally found what was undone, the force that kept me rising again after each crash. I have reclaimed what all those millions of pieces of shattered self, strewn about masked. In the nothingness I stood naked in the answer- Self Love. I did not find anything new- I returned to and reclaimed What I was born with and lay buried when the world touched me long ago.
And then I looked around as saw the nakedness of all – everything became Love to me.
So, I faced the winds in that final attempt to take me again like a thief in the night, And I said to the winds hovering, “Thank you. You showed me my own strength, my own courage and depth of my faith in the undone that led me back to me.”
The strength of the winds heard my Voice, as I heard it for the first time, for all of a sudden, the wind calmed and became a gentle breeze that felt like the touch of love.
In which I too became and touched the wind back.
The winds too shed its masked layers and revealed its true self, Love. As did I.
The gentle breeze then said to me – “Thank you for setting me free too. You and I are One. Come dance to a love song with me.”
And so, I took the hand of the gentle breeze and have danced on in love, in everything, as one, ever since.
The Loving Garden was created from the tears of love and is the proof of what Love can really do when you allow it to lead beyond the pain.
You will see the beauty again.
You appeared in my photo stream this morning Jon Michael. My soul brother from the ‘90’s.
You were my love, my family, my joy, my laughter, my belonging in our mutual orphaned feeling kind of way.
I never got to say goodbye- and hope you see my tears for you helped water the garden with love – and that my love blooms on for you forever more to help others who grieve from cancers taking. Until we hug one day again; when I too come Home – you bloom on- in The Loving Garden my dear soul brother.
Because I say I have always walked with God does not mean it has been a saintly life. The walk with God includes stumbling and crawling on your scrapped and bloody hands and knees through the depths of hell and dark nights of the soul.
Through the deepest griefs and terminal sufferings, through the excesses of food, shopping, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, oversleeping, depression, all those dark crevices we go to hide where one tries to outrun the pain- I could never outrun nor satisfy the void that consumed me over and over.
Nothing ever filled the void – nothing outside myself.
It was filled with and by the very one who walked beside me in the depths of my darkness and upon the heights of my joys. God.
The void within held the answer to its filling – I had to go into the voids to find it. Reclaim it. Pull it out like a flag of surrender and victory all at once. Love.
And the Love of the One who walked beside me on my journey taught me How to walk the walk of love. That mirror of whom walked with me and never left me abandoned in the depths.
To remain in the depths of darkness and the darkest nights of the soul in familiar comfort of the pain that is, not walking with God, nor is it Love. For it is in those depths of suffering we scream for the release of it into the wisdom from it and Rise up to continue our walk with God. To heights one never thought possible. That path is called Love.
At the age of 40, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), who had never married and had no children, was walking through the park in Berlin, when he met a little girl who was crying because she had lost her favorite doll. She and Kafka searched for the doll without success. Kafka told her to meet the next day to look for the doll together.
The next day, when the doll had not yet been found, Kafka gave the girl a “written” doll letter that said, “please don’t cry. I went on a journey to see the world. I will write to you about my adventures “. Thus began a story that continued until the end of Kafka’s life.
During their meetings, Kafka read the doll’s carefully written letters with adventures and conversations that the girl found adorable. Finally, Kafka brought the doll (bought one) that had returned to Berlin. “It doesn’t look like my doll at all,” the girl said. Kafka handed him another letter in which the doll wrote, “My travels have changed me.” The girl hugged the new doll and happily took her home.
A year later, Kafka died. Many years later, the girl, now an adult, found a letter inside the doll. In the tiny letter signed by Kafka it was written: “Everything you love will probably be lost, but, in the end, love will return in a different way.”
Woke up this morning and this is what I was compelled to write:
Each time we rise from the ashes/ our wings of love grow bigger – it is the ultimate choice of Self love when we rise again- then we take flight in that love and soar through the sky where our wings release seeds of love that scatter and plant in places you may never know or see but where love is needed. The seeds find their home and you gifted the bloom of love for many by blooming in love of self.
You’re allowed to leave any story you don’t find yourself in. You’re allowed to leave any story you don’t love yourself in.
You’re allowed to leave a city that has dimmed your light instead of making you shine brighter, you’re allowed to pack all your bags and start over somewhere else and you’re allowed to redefine the meaning of your life.
You’re allowed to quit the job you hate even if the world tells you not to and you’re allowed to search for something that makes you look forward to tomorrow and to the rest of your life.
You’re allowed to leave someone you love if they’re treating you poorly, you’re allowed to put yourself first if you’re settling and you’re allowed to walk away when you’ve tried over and over again but nothing has changed
You’re allowed to let toxic friends go, you’re allowed to surround yourself with love, and people who encourage and nurture you. You’re allowed to pick the kind of energy you need in your life.
You’re allowed to forgive yourself for your biggest and smallest mistakes and you’re allowed to be kind to yourself, you’re allowed to look in the mirror and actually like the person you see.
You’re allowed to set yourself free from your own expectations.
We sometimes look at leaving as a bad thing or associate it with giving up or quitting, but sometimes leaving is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Leaving allows you to change directions, to start over, to rediscover yourself and the world. Leaving sometimes saves you from staying stuck in the wrong place with the wrong people.
Leaving opens a new door for change, growth, opportunities and redemption.
You always have the choice to leave until you find where you belong and what makes you happy.
You’re even allowed to leave the old you behind and reinvent yourself.~
Author: Rania Naim
I was still determined to pull the overgrown weeds in my moms garden months after she passed from CoVid.
Nothing with strangle Love ever again.
I just looked down at my flip-flops and realize they say love. Yes, I do walk in love. Every step.
A sunset is a beautiful waning, a denouement to an experience be it a moment, a day or a lifetime.
I chose the sunsets of my life – always chasing them before they set in the waters of the pacific. Perhaps subconsciously I was wanting the ending to storylines and pain and feeling lost and alone. The sunsets felt me and were always there to keep me company in my solace.
Now…here I sit, at 53 years – not chasing, just sitting, just being as I wait patiently for the sunrise in the East to greet me over the island mountain. I receive it as it does me, in my solace however I realize with every sunrise – they are the beginnings of a moment, of a day, of a lifetime. And yes, perhaps I am now ready – in the dénouement of my lifetime, to begin again. Or maybe, for the first time.
And rise like the beautiful sunrise that always shares it’s light, it’s love, it’s truth. And she rises every single day receiving any open heart that is ready to return to their own light, their own love, their own truth…like I did.