Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tidal Waves at Disney

If you were able to read yesterday’s post about our recent trip to Disney over Labor Day Weekend, then you know that we had a blast. The time I was able to spend with my daughter was nothing short of treasure-filled. We needed that FUN time together…away from the heartache and stress-filled days of the last 18 weeks. And…we were blessed.

But, even within that blessing, a few tidal waves of grief still appeared. Two of them, I handled slightly better than the other. Regardless…the waves threatened to suffocate me.

While sitting in the airport waiting to board our flight to Orlando, I was suddenly – and, I mean suddenly – overcome with emotion over missing Chris. All I could think at the time…

He should be on this trip with us.

Why are we going on a mini “family” vacation when we’re missing a key member of our family?

What was I thinking in trying to do this so soon after Chris’ death?

So…I did what I always do in these little panic moments. First, I prayed…”God help me!” Then…I texted, Tweeted, Facebooked, and/or emailed a need for others to pray for me. I know, beyond all doubt, that the reason I’ve made it this far in the grieving process is because of all the prayers lifted up on my behalf! For that, I am so very thankful! God carried me quickly through that mini “panic attack” and re-directed my mind back to Him and to my time with Anna!

Tidal wave number 2 arrived on Sunday – the 4 month anniversary of the day Chris’ body was found. I never really spoke of it on that day to Anna. I really tried hard to go on “business as usual” throughout the day. However, I found myself unusually cranky at times. I blamed it on the heat. I blamed it on the crowds. Finally, I had to face the fact that it was all me. I felt guilty for having fun at Disneyworld when only 4 short months before, I was being delivered the news of my husband’s suicide. Guilt – as I have learned – is a byproduct of grief, a natural emotional response. Even so, it’s not healthy to remain there. So, I had to emotionally move forward…Chris would want us doing exactly what we were doing. We were actually planning a family vacation to Disney in 2012, and he was so excited about it. It was just happening a little earlier and with one less of us.

The third tidal wave…I didn’t handle so well. It was actually so minor in the grand scheme of things, but so HUGE to me at the time. Right after Chris’ death in early May, I started wearing his sunglasses. It was such a trivial little thing, but for me, it brought a sense of closeness to him. Silly as it sounds, those cheap Walmart sunglasses brought me comfort. Of course, they went to Disney with me, as well! Our last day at the parks was spent at Hollywood Studios. On one of the 4-D movie rides, I realized I should have probably taken off my sunglasses for fear of them bouncing off my head. So, I gave them to Anna and asked her to put them in the netting under her seat made to hold belongings (since mine was already full with my camera bag).

After the ride was over, we went to gather our belongings, but Anna couldn’t find the sunglasses. Then, I crawled under and started to look for them. I looked as long as I could, but they were loading up another group of riders, so I had to vacate the ride. The sunglasses. Were. Gone. And just like that…I felt another dagger pierce my heart. I even took my frustration out on Anna a little. I didn’t blame her, but my response and body language said otherwise. It was truly my fault. I should have been more responsible with them, so in all honesty, I was very upset and angry at myself. All this emotion over a little pair of cheap sunglasses.

But…that’s just it. It’s those secondary losses…the other parts of the greater loss (of my husband) that continue to show up in the tidal waves of grief. Yes, it was just sunglasses. They could easily be replaced. But, they were the same sunglasses that had rested on husband’s head, that had protected my husband’s eyes, that been held by my husband’s large hands. Those could never be replaced. Then again…neither can he.

I apologized to my sweet girl for my abrupt reaction. I replaced the sunglasses. And…I moved on. I continue “surfing the waves”…until the next one sweeps over me. But…even so…I will NOT drown!

Isaiah 43:2

When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We’re Back!

We’re back from our weekend getaway to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL! My daughter and I had a blast and crammed a whole bunch of fun into 3 days and 3 nights! This trip was a much needed break amidst a summer of heartache and chaos. We both worked really hard to make this trip happen by selling lots of “stuff” that we simply didn’t need anymore. We’ve decided we’d rather spend our time and effort making memories together than collecting “stuff”. So, between Craigslist sales, a trip to the flea market, and two gifts…off we went to the most “magical place on earth”.

So much happened while we were away that it’s simply hard to condense into one blog post, but I’ll just highlight a few of those lighter moments today…

**Our trip began with a flight from Charlotte to Orlando. As we were just about to land, the gentleman sitting beside me struck up a conversation with me that went like this:

Man: “What was that?”

Me: Thinking he was referring to the pilot letting down the wheels, said, “The wheels of the plane.”

Man: “No. I KNOW that. What was that wet, smelly stuff that just flew all over me?”

Me: “Oh…that? The lady in front of you just misted herself.”

Man: “Great. How am I gonna explain smelling like a woman to my WIFE sitting a few rows ahead of me. Will you be my alibi?” (with all seriousness in his question)

Me: “Uh…sure.”

Later, after landing and exiting the plane. The man pulled me aside to have me “meet” his wife and proceeded to say, “If I smell like a woman…this lady here can vouch for me.”

**One evening, while having dinner at the resort food court, Anna suddenly announced, “I’m stuck!” Perplexed, I asked her what she meant by that. Apparently, she sat in a seat that hadn’t been wiped off too well from the previous patrons, and her pants were stuck in something sticky sweet. It wasn’t super glue, so she was able to get up. But, at this point…I was laughing so hysterically that I could hardly catch my breath.

**That laugh would later come back to haunt me. On our flight home, the kiddos in the seat behind me apparently spilled their soda. At some point during the flight home, my shoes didn’t want to come up off the floor. Now…I was the “stuck” one! (What goes around comes around.)

**You know how when standing in line for a ride, someone will usually come up and ask you how many are in your party? In other words, they need to place you in the correct line based on the number of people you’re riding with. Well, when this particular ride worker asked this question of Anna once during the weekend…she confidently announced “FIVE”. The worker walked away to find 5 spots and then came back to get all “five of us” only to discover only 2 of us standing there. Again, she said, “How many did you tell me?” Anna then realized her mistake and said, “Oh…I mean two. Just two.” While on the ride, I asked Anna, “Where did you come up with 5? Are we riding with some of your imaginary friends? Or – were you saving spaces for some newfound folks you met?” Giggles ensued…and so did the ride.

**One of the highlights of the many shuttles that we took to get around Disney was the bus driver that led our caravan of riders into singing the famous children’s tune, “The Wheels on the Bus (Go Round and Round)”. As I looked around, the faces on the bus represented Indians, Muslims, Caucasians, African-Americans, and Latinos. But, everybody on the vehicle knew that song! (Now if it could just be that way with “Jesus Loves Me”!)

All kidding aside, we had a great trip. There were a couple more serious moments that I’ll blog about (maybe tomorrow), but this time together was nothing less than an expressions of God’s abundant mercy and grace showered down upon us! To Him be ALL the glory!