Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Want Off!

I love rollercoasters. There’s just something about the thrill of speed, twists and turns, and the abrupt ending that excites me. I’ve been this way my whole life. I get carsick so easily, but put me on a rollercoaster, and I can ride it over and over with no ill effects. Strange, but true.

The grief “rollercoaster” is another story, however. It makes me sick. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sometimes, the twisting and turning of this type of “ride” literally has me on my knees in front of a toilet. I’m not trying to be graphic or disgusting…just real. Last night was one of those nights. My mind goes into overdrive with memories and lost dreams, and it has the power, at times, to make me physically sick. I hate it. I want off this rollercoaster!

I have no idea why I can do so well for a few days and then get saddled with deep, intense pain all over again. It’s just the non-linear aspect of grief. Sometimes I can see it coming…my motivation to do anything drops off, my appetite is virtually non-existent, I spend my days wanting to just sleep…simply put, depression increases. But there are the times I am blindsided by it too. That was last night. I was doing okay and…bam! I felt like I had just been run over.

I can’t stop the increasing painful heartache. It feels like my heart is being shattered all over again. Pictures from the night Joel went Home keep flashing in my brain. I start thinking…could I have done anything differently? What if… That’s when it overwhelms me to the point of physically getting sick.

There is nothing I can do to make the pain go away. I just have to ride it out. This is when my prayers turn into two-word mumblings again, “Help me!” Thankfully, I know the Holy Spirit is interceding for me (Romans 8:26). I know these days won’t last forever, but they feel so incredibly long when they come.

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the things happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ~C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother’s Day Crisis Averted

This is certainly not a “picture perfect pose” for Mother’s Day. Just keeping it real…

As you may have realized from my last post, I was most hesitant about my first Mother’s Day without Joel. He was so good to me in this area of honor, and while I don’t deserve anything…he always made me feel very special.

I was most concerned about my littlest ones. First of all, Josiah understood it was a special day for mothers, but the others just didn’t get it. At. All. That being said, I didn’t know if I would be experiencing a day of temper tantrums and bad behavior (like can be common on an unstructured weekend day), or if by some miracle…they would be perfect little angels. Let’s say…they fell somewhere in between. But…I’ll take it!

Outside of that, my day was very special. No breakfast in bed, but we ate a quick bite before church nonetheless.

I either saw or heard from every single one of my kiddos and “bonus children”. Anna made it home from college by Sunday afternoon and made my request for a Mother’s Day meal…tacos! I’ll never turn down Mexican food! She also worked with her little siblings so that all of them signed a card for me…precious! And…Anna’s gift melted me heart and turned on the tears, as it was a framed pic of Joel, Anna, and me from her high school graduation a couple years ago.

My bonus daughter, Amy (Joel’s oldest child), was at our house a few times over the last month, and she worked with Josiah (in secret) to have gifts here and ready to pass along on the special day. She also sent cards in the meal, along with Justin and Virginia, and I cried and cried (happy tears) upon reading each one.

The kids also presented their gifts they made for me at school and even church that very morning, and what a special joy to receive. They were so excited to give them to me!

The day was complete later in the evening when I received phone calls from both Aaron and Caleb, out in Oklahoma (Joel’s youngest two sons). My heart was full with the love I received from all nine of our children.

Yes – it was a hard day. But…it was also a beautiful day. Even on the hard days…#HeIsStillGood!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trying to Avoid the Mother’s Day Blues

He had a way of making every holiday special. While decorating for the major holidays as always been “my thing”, Joel made sure I felt loved and treasured on even the minor holidays.

Mother’s Day.

It hurts to type those two words. It brings with it pain on many levels…some of those reasons I choose not to even speak of here, as it doesn’t edify anyone. However, since 2011, Mother’s Day has been an even harder holiday for me to muster. I buried Chris on Mother’s Day. I can only imagine the pain his own mother feels on this day each year.

This year…the loss of Joel and his precious ways of making me feel like a princess will be most notably missed. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t need to feel like a princess. I don’t need to be doted over. I don’t need a holiday dedicated to the fact I’m a mother. But…Joel sure knew how to make me feel like royalty, and he had begun teaching the children to do the same thing. It was truly an everyday teaching in our home. He taught them to love and respect me, and while he didn’t have long with our littlest ones, I know the groundwork had begun. Mother’s Day, however, was just the day set aside to allow me to rest and feel loved on even more.

I can tell my children Sunday is Mother’s Day. And…we’ll call Grandma to be sure. But…that’s where it ends. I don’t know if they’ll get it. I don’t know if they’ll be nice or give me a hard time all day long. I don’t know if rest will be in the equation, or if I’ll be exhausted from having to referee arguments. To them…it’s just another day without their daddy here to emphasize it. I don’t blame them. I don’t blame God. It is what it is.

If there are single moms, especially with young children, that cross your path this weekend…remember this might be a difficult holiday for them. Show them some extended grace, an extra smile, and offer up a prayer on their behalf. Any of those acts might make all the difference between a difficult Mother’s Day and a great Mother’s Day.

#HeIsStillGood

Friday, May 12, 2017

Three Months

Hard to believe Joel took his last breath on earth and his first breath in Heaven three months ago today. And…the pain of watching that with my own eyes will never go away. The precious respiratory therapist (who happened to be a co-worker of his) was so gentle and sweet with him as she removed the ventilator. As the ventilator came out, so did his last breath. That was it. His time here on earth was over. I had one hand on his chest (begging God for more breaths) and one hand on his head, caressing his hair.

As protocol, two nurses have to check for a heartbeat before calling time of death. They walked in and did their “duty”. I saw the look on their faces, and I knew…his life here was over. And…in that moment, I felt mine was too.

I laid my head on the side of his bed, and I have no idea how long I was there, but I was told by friends I remained in a trance-like position for quite awhile. I was in shock. Literally. I just couldn’t stop staring at him. MY HUSBAND HAD JUST DIED!!!! And, I honestly wasn’t ready to believe it. I think, subconsciously, I prayed things would miraculously change. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…I never doubted ANYTHING was possible. But in Joel’s case, He went Home to Heaven in the first hour of February 12.

Eventually I rose from the side of his bed, and I walked to the ICU waiting room, and I knew it was over. Just like that. Joel’s life was over. My marriage was over. My children were fatherless (some of them for the second time), and I had no idea how I was going to survive this. But…I know my God, and with Him all things are possible.

Now, three months later…I’m still grieving…some days pretty heavily. Joel’s absence has left a hole in my heart that might never be repaired. I physically ache over his absence. I struggle to sleep at times, because I so badly want to talk to him about my day, my dreams, the things the kids are doing, decisions I need to make and prefer to discuss with him. But…he’s not here.

I often repeat, in my mind, those days in the hospital. Could I have done something differently that would have allowed him to still be here? The enemy constantly plays those games with me…games of condemnation (which I know are NOT of God). It was Joel’s time to go home, but it doesn’t stop my mind from wondering…what if…

I want to be better. I want to heal from the oppression of grief. But, I know – realistically – it’s only been three months. I expect too much, but the pain hurts so badly…I just want it gone!

As Mother’s Day is coming up…followed by Father’s Day…I dread the absence of His presence. Nobody will understand the pain of that absence but me. I’m sure others will grieve, especially family members…but, he was MY husband…the father to my adopted children and my step-children and the step-father to my own biological daughter. And…he’s not here!

Pardon my anger! Pardon my grief! Pardon my loneliness! Pardon my heartache! I just hurt, and I’m trying to keep it real and not tie every post up in a pretty bow. Even so…nobody, and I mean nobody, can shake my faith. God is good…all the time! His plans are always better! And, He has never failed me yet!

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Never Ending Ache

You know the headache that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you try…medicine, nap, essential oils. neck massage?

Or…how about the arthritis in your knee you feel with every step you take?

Perhaps for you…it’s constant reflux that aggravates your core and can only be controlled with medicine.

For me, it’s the ache of the heart. I live with it all day long, gnawing at the core of my being. Sometimes, the pain of it might soften just a bit, and other times, it throbs so deeply I don’t know how I’m still living. There isn’t a pill I can take to put an end to the ache. Naps might help temporarily, but I’ll eventually wake up, and it will still be there. Massages are great, but the effects from them are also short-lived. Essential oils do the same thing. They DO help, but they aren’t THE cure. So…what will alleviate the pain?

In short, I’ve discovered only two things that have been able to heal broken hearts. Remember…I’ve been down this road once before…the Widow Road, that is. Obviously the second time around brings an entirely new dimension of grief and (as I’ve learned), the former grief episode now attaches itself to the new grief episode and compounds the effects. But…all-in-all…time is a healer. How much time? That is a question I can’t answer. It’s individualistic and completely circumstantial.

After becoming a widow in 2011, I felt my shattered heart mended rather quickly. It didn’t feel that way at first, but when healing arrived on my doorstep, it was there to completely repair the broken mess left behind by the traumas of losing my spouse to suicide.

This time, however, it feels as if my broken heart is content to remain in its state of brokenness. I don’t like that feeling. I’m ready to see strides in the direction of healing…I know it takes time, but I want to see something…anything…to make me feel I’m heading in that direction. If the signs are there, they are very dim and haven’t made it to my line of sight just yet. And so…I wait, and I pray.

And…that takes me to only the second thing I’ve found that has ever healed a broken heart completely. Yes…time is a factor, a VERY important piece of the healing puzzle. For me, however, even more importantly has been my faith!

I don’t use the faith word lightly. As a follower of Jesus Christ, He *is* the Rock I cling to on my good days, my so-so days, and the worst days of my life. He has *never* failed me. Ever! Some may challenge that statement when looking at my life and all the tragic events I’ve experienced in my forty-five years. Jesus didn’t cause that. Sin and this broken world in which I still live caused that. Yes…God allowed it, because He will use it all for His glory, and His plan of redeeming the pain is much, much bigger than I can see right now. That’s where faith steps in.

I know Jesus. Oh…do I know Jesus. And…as I told a friend a couple days ago, going through this grief journey is all but impossible for me, however without my faith…I doubt I’d even still be here. Christ is upholding me on my darkest days. He catches every tear, He meets me where I’m at, and He sustains me when my strength is gone.

He will ultimately be the repairer of my broken heart. Until that day comes, I keep looking to Him to not only get me through this nightmare but to help me come out on the other side a much better woman, mom, and Christian than I am right now. To Him be ALL the glory!