Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Six Years

This is a very difficult post for me to write. So difficult, in fact, I haven’t been able to write for an entire week, because I knew this one was coming up. Please pardon my blog absence.

How do you continue to grieve so deeply the one husband who just recently went Home to Heaven while remembering the events of six years ago today that led to the Homegoing of my other late husband? I. Honestly. Don’t. Know. Somehow…I’m doing it.

Before going any further, I need to offer a little disclaimer. Chris’ official date of death is May 4, because that’s when his body was recovered. However, due to the sequence of events, I know he took his last breath on this side of Heaven the evening of May 3. Therefore, in my heart…the anniversary of his Homegoing will always be May 3. 

The first year after losing Chris was very difficult. His death, by suicide, brought with it many multi-faceted emotions. I think I experienced the grief phase of anger for quite awhile, but God allowed me to move on and see Chris again through His eyes, and it simply allowed my love for him to grow that much stronger. Only by the grace and mercy of God and those He chose to walk alongside me, did I even survive that first year. As I reflect back…my faith was THE reason I was able to heal so completely and so quickly from Chris’ death.

Year two after losing Chris…something completely unexpected (and unwanted at first) caught me by surprise. I fell in love with another man, and Joel ended up asking me to marry him, and we did on August 25, 2012. I struggled with how to tell Chris’ family about Joel, but I’ll never forget how precious they were to me and to Joel. They said they prayed I would marry again, and they counted Joel as their son and brother. (I can hardly type through the tears at this point.) Joel had the privilege of “meeting Chris” through my stories about him, and I’ll forever cherish the day he took me up to the cemetery, and he prayed over our new relationship right beside Chris’ grave. Almost like bringing “closure” (of sorts) to one part of my life in the most direct way possible. Joel made that one of the most beautiful days of my life. Sounds crazy, but you would have to have been there to understand.

The third anniversary of Chris’ death brought back a lot of guilt for me. I was a newlywed (again) and very happy in my marriage to Joel. And yet…that first April and May that rolled around after my remarriage brought with it feelings like I should grieve Chris’ more deeply than I felt like grieving that year. Almost as if I didn’t, something must be wrong with me. I quickly learned that was nothing more than a lie from the enemy. Married again or not…many widows experience grief on the anniversary of their husbands’ deaths at various levels (and some non-existent). The next year could be an entirely different situation. That’s how grief works…

And…sure enough the fourth anniversary of Chris’ death was the hardest one since the first one. It was 2015, and we were in the thick of our adoption journey. Something Chris and I had discussed pursuing but never got to the point of actually beginning that journey. Joel and I had just gotten our “unofficial” referral for our children, and we knew our family would be growing again soon. It just made me very emotional, mainly from the standpoint of seeing how mightily God had saved me from the deep waters (of grief) that tried to once consume me and was in the process of restoring my life in a beautiful way through the lives of orphaned children.

The fifth anniversary…I feel it affected me the least up to that point. I was a new mom to three little feisty (yet adorable) Bulgarians plus still foster parenting a very active two-year-old little boy (we would adopt just a few short months later). My life was a crazy zoo! Therefore, while I’ll never forget Chris, especially on this anniversary of his death, 2016 allowed me to be not quite as consumed in the grief part of it, due to all the family changes we were experiencing.

That brings me to today…six years from the time Chris breathed his last on this earth. And…honestly…I’m in shock once again. Not the same type of shock as when I first learned he was gone. Just the shock of knowing I’ve been twice widowed in less than six years, by the age of forty-five, and I’m still here to tell about it.

My heart has been shattered too many times to count, but the two shatterings that did the most lifelong damage were the two that caused me to have to bury two husbands (prematurely in my selfish eyes). I will never be the same again. In some ways, I’m better. In other ways, I feel forever broken. Regardless…I still trust in the God who gave us all life and will be right there with those of us who call Him Savior when we take our last breath on earth and our first in Heaven. What a day that will be!

I deeply long to be reunited with so many people, but at the top of the list are Chris and Joel!

It is well with my soul! #HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gonna Finish What I Started

About four months before Joel suddenly went Home to Heaven, we had embarked upon a health journey together. While our journeys were a bit different in the specifics, the end result intention was to be the same…we longed to get to get to the healthiest adult versions of ourselves we’ve ever seen (or at least get as close as we safely could).

Austyn’s adoption party! Just so happens to also be the day I was at my very largest…ever. 🙁

My biggest cheerleader in this fight for good health was my precious man! During the time we were were married, I had been up and down on the scale repeatedly (which, in and of itself, is not healthy). He never doubted me. Never doubted my ability to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Never doubted my goal of running my first 5K someday. (I was scheduled to participate in one several years ago, which sadly ended up being the day of my previous husband’s funeral.) He never doubted anything I set my mind to do. However, I was my own worst critic. I guess I’ve tried and failed at so many different things in the past that I began to believe that was my “lot in life”. Attempting, yet never reaching the prize.

Upon Joel’s death, I promised him I wouldn’t stop. I would hold up my end of the deal, no matter how the large the challenges I encountered (and boy…have there been challenges!). I so long to please him, to please God, and to please myself. And…ultimately, our children need their mama to be around for a long time, God willing.

So, I’m excited to announce that since October, I’ve lost 70 pounds! Aside from the trauma I’ve also experienced over the last several months, I really do feel great! Now…Joel had promised me little rewards with each measurable goal that I reach along the journey. While I don’t have him to do that for me anymore, I’m asking God to step in as the husband He’s promised to be and provide little pick-me-ups as He sees fit. He, of all people knows the incentives that will keep me motivated.

I’m getting there…little by little. Considering all I’ve endured since my health journey began, I think I’ve held out okay.

As for you…if you are a praying friend, will you fervently join me in asking God to help me reach me the Goals He has for me please?! I so want to continue to please Joel, and I trust God will give him (Joel) a little glimpse when this is all said and done. Thank you friends!

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Found Beauty THERE!

flowersThe end of 2014 could not have come sooner, in my opinion. The year started out full of promise and ended full of sickness. Several members of our household contracted the yet-to-be-defined “crud”, including me. As it turned out, it was actually a combination of sinus infections, bronchitis, walking pneumonia, and multiple unexplained viruses. I was sick for the better part of seven weeks!

The worst day for me within that seven week time span was Christmas Eve! After working a half-day, I finally made the decision to go to the Urgent Care. In all honesty, I thought I had full-blown pneumonia and even “warned” my husband of a possible hospital admittance before the night was over. (Thankfully, that didn’t happen.)

Before I could go to the Urgent Care, I had to stop by Walmart to pick up a last minute Christmas gift in the photo center. I fully anticipated popping in and out, because I had already received a text alert from Walmart hours before that my two prints were ready!

I had our foster baby with me, as he had been sick too. I decided not to grab a cart…it was only going to be an in-and-out kind of trip. Certainly I could hold the little guy, pay for the two pictures and head home.

Or so I thought…

Before I go any further, I need to say I’m NOT a fan of Walmart. I know there are many of you that are loyal shoppers of the big W, but I’m not one of them. I’ll do anything to prevent having to step foot in that store. Without fail, nearly every single time I’m in there…something happens…sometimes very bizarre things. Usually, however, it’s poor customer service or very rude shoppers. Regardless, I needed the pictures quickly, and there is only one photo center in town that will print on matte paper that quickly. I didn’t want glossy prints for this purpose. So, I succumbed and gave Walmart this tiny business of mine.

By the time I waited in the line at the photo center, and it was my turn to pay for my pictures, I had already been there 15 minutes…a little longer than I had planned, but oh well, it was Christmas Eve after all. I quickly gave the cashier my name, and she began the hunt for my order. Finally, she came back over to me and said that she couldn’t find them and would have to reprint them. Ugh! What choice did I have? I had to wait. She assured me it wouldn’t take long.

OVER AN HOUR LATER…YES…AN HOUR…I’m STILL standing there…sick as a dog with a sick baby in my arms! I was exasperated, fighting back tears, and simply overwhelmed.

I called my hubby to see if he was anywhere near us. He wasn’t too far away and said he’d head that way. I needed him to take the little guy home while I continued to wait on my TWO pictures.

After an hour and twenty minute wait, the clerk found the original order (still hadn’t completed the reprint by this time either). Imagine. That. I paid and headed to the front of the store to meet up with my husband, who should be coming in the door any second. While standing there, I reached him on his phone, and the tears finally gushed out. I was at the end of my rope, and unfortunately Joel got to hear what that sounded like. He told me to stay put, as he was already in the store headed to the photo center only to discover I was no longer there.

Crying into the phone, I managed to get out a few words… “I can’t stand here much longer. I have no cart. I have been holding this baby for almost an hour and a half, and I am SO sick and need to get to a doctor right away.”

As soon as the words, left my mouth, a woman walked up to me…started emptying out her cart of all its belongings and then handed it to me with these words, “You need this more than me. I’ve been in your shoes before…take the cart.”

I was stunned. Something beautifully kind was happening to me inside Walmart. God has such a sense of humor.

He also took that moment to show me a little nugget of His truth. Sometimes, the ugliest, most painful person or thing in your life…the one you want nothing to do with, the one you can certainly live without, but the one that just won’t go away is the very place or the very person through which God chooses to shine brightest.

He did for me…in Walmart.