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

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Gentle Tap

Weekday mornings were always a struggle for Joel and me to greet with great enthusiasm. We brought this dilemma upon ourselves, as we typically stayed up entirely too late the night before doing projects in our new home, unpacking (yes…I’m still doing so after six months), or watching whatever TV series we were into at the time on Netflix. Whatever the reason, we became “Night Owls”, by default which led to early morning wake-up struggles.

Joel was not a fan of the snooze button. He didn’t want to become a slave to it, so he always turned his alarm off as soon as it went off the first time and then began the “chore” of waking me up. Now…don’t get me wrong…I’m fully capable of waking up (with an alarm) on my own, but I also knew my hubby was right beside me, and it was a lot more fun being awakened by him each morning than that obnoxious noise coming from my phone.

He would begin by simply moving in closer to me and maybe put his arm around me. That always woke me up, but it certainly didn’t give me the desire to get up (although I didn’t tell him that)…it made me want to snuggle in all that much deeper and lay there for as long as I could.

If that didn’t cause me to get up (and, it rarely did), he would start gently tapping me on my shoulder. Depending on my response, the gentle taps might lead to firmer taps which would ultimately lead to annoying back-to-back taps. If I ever got to that point, I knew I pushed the limit a bit too far and better put some speed to my movements and get going. But, he never yelled at me or pushed me to get up…aways gentle. The price was always mine to pay if I chose to wait to the zero hour to actually start getting ready, but in hindsight, I can say it was always 100% worth it, because I never realized how soon I’d lose him and that precious morning ritual. I’d do almost anything to get that back and Joel, too, of course.

You can only imagine my surprise yesterday morning. My alarm went off, and I pushed snooze. I knew I had one snooze built into my time before I had to go unlock the kitchen door to let my morning helper in to come get the kids ready for school. Suddenly, I felt that gentle tapping on my shoulder. It literally took my breath away. I whispered, “Joel?” Of course, no response. I turned to look to see if Austyn was awake, and he was sound asleep with his hands nowhere near my back or shoulder.

I just had to smile. Somehow…God gave me that gift yesterday morning. The tap on my shoulder. My wake up call. It may have been totally in my mind, but He allowed what was in my mind to manifest itself in the physical, and made Joel feel so near again. Oh how I needed that gentle tap yesterday morning. Thank you Father for being in the details!

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

38 Days

38 Days. What’s the significance of 38 days anyway? It’s a little over a month. It’s less than the number of days and nights rain fell on the Earth during the days of Noah. It’s still quite a few days less than it takes to reach our next Christmas. So, what’s the big deal about 38 days?

It just happens to be the number of days you’ve lived in Heaven, my love.

It also happens to be the number of days

  • I’ve been a widow
  • I’ve slept in our bed without you
  • I’ve cried consecutively
  • I’ve worried over some element of my future (even though I’m trying really hard not to)
  • I’ve had to go without seeing a text message or phone call pop up from you on my cell
  • I haven’t been able to snuggle with you on the couch in the evening after putting the kids to bed
  • I’ve had to cancel another dream we shared together in our hearts or minds but never had the opportunity to fulfill
  • I’ve had to miss your warm embrace through your large teddy-bear-like hugs
  • I’ve had to go to bed without a goodnight kiss from you
  • I’ve had to wake up without hearing you say “Good morning sweetheart! How did you sleep?”
  • I’ve had to realize my life will never be the same again without you in it
  • I’ve had to parent our four youngest children alone
  • I’ve failed repeatedly at parenting our four youngest children alone
  • I’ve begged God to let me see a glimpse of you in my dreams
  • I’ve had something wonderful to share with you, but you’ve not been there to share it with
  • I’ve had to walk into our closet, and see your clothes hanging there…in the same places they’ve been for the previous 37 days
  • I’ve talked to you repeatedly, but you haven’t responded back
  • I’ve slept with your pillow in my arms
  • I’ve thought about how empty the rest of my life will feel without you in it
  • I’ve had to go without hearing you tell me you love me

Thirty-eight days…typically a rather insignificant amount of time. Until today. Today…38 days took on grand significance. Sadly, most of it brings on the tears. But…even so… #Godisstillgood

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maybe You Know Her

Photo credit: Inspirationfalls.com

Photo credit: Inspirationfalls.com

I have a feeling you know her. Maybe not all of you, but I would venture to say that most of you do.

She’s the worn-looking lady down the street with the three rowdy children that frustrate you frequently.

She’s the sweet white-haired woman that you faithfully find at church in the same seat on the second row.

She’s the one in line in front of you at the grocery store spending the last of that week’s paycheck and scrounging for one more dime.

She’s the white-collar executive that drives the fancy sports car yet never looks happy to be living that carefree life she loves to display.

She’s your child or grandchild’s teacher at school they always complain about, because she’s running low on patience.

She’s the greeter at church that flashes her pearly whites each Sunday to mask the flood of tears on the verge of spilling out of her eyes.

She’s the teller at your local bank with the scowl across her forehead.

She’s the blogger who has openly shared her challenging journey.

She’s the one you cut off on the interstate the other day, because she was daydreaming and driving a bit too slow for your liking.

She’s the one spending Thanksgiving alone this year.

She’s the one who volunteered to work at the diner Christmas Day, because she has nobody to spend it with anyway.

She’s the widow often forgotten.

I know her well. I used to be her.

I’ll never forget the first Christmas after becoming a widow. I dreaded it with a passion, because families everywhere would be enjoying that special time together, and my daughter and I would be spending our first Christmas without my late husband.

I begged God to allow me to smile that first Christmas even though everything within me didn’t know how to show happiness. I asked Him to allow my daughter and me to feel His love in tangible ways. I prayed that although that first Christmas was expected to be quite hard, I wanted to experience true joy within the season.

God answered each of those prayers exponentially!

Most of the smiles I displayed or the joy I felt or the tangible love of God that surrounded me came as a result of others taking time to love on us. I wrote about a group of “angels” who, to this day still remain anonymous, blessed us immensely (you can read that post HERE)! These “angels”, as I fondly call them, became Jesus with skin on to my daughter and me. They helped to make each of the twelve days leading up Christmas something we looked forward to waking up to greet. They allowed us to know that we were not forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyone else’s busy season.

As Christmas nears again this year, my mind returns to that first Christmas as a widow, and I think about “her” – another lady experiencing that first Christmas without her husband. Or – perhaps – it’s a precious lady who’s been a widow for twenty + years but continues to dread this holiday season, because it brings nothing but sadness.

And so…I challenge you. I challenge you to think past the busyness that you’ll encounter this season and try to find a widow to bless. A neighbor…a co-worker…a church member…

There are so many things that you can do to help make her season a little brighter:

1) Invite her over for a meal (especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day).

2) Take her a basket of homemade goodies.

3) Make her a stocking and fill with little mementos or gift cards to show you care.

4) Offer to help decorate her house for Christmas and bring a tree if needed.

5) Be a Christmas “12 Days of Christmas Angel” anonymously – read more HERE!

6) Take her to an area Christmas program.

7) Fill her pantry for the rest of the month.

8) Invite her over to spend Christmas with your family.

9) Take her to a Christmas Eve service.

10) Do something else creative to let this precious widow know she’s loved and not forgotten this season.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds that we forget those who are hurting around us (especially during this season). Allow God to use you and your family to bless His precious widowed daughters this Christmas. I promise…it’ll be a Christmas neither of you will ever forget.

~A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5, NIV)