Wednesday, August 30, 2017

200 Days

200 DaysMy love has been with Jesus for 200 days. 200 very long days for me. A blink of an eye for Joel. Some may feel I’m crazy for counting the days. I just can’t help it. For me, it keeps it in perspective. It also reminds me how far I’ve come on this grief journey (or in some cases how far short I’ve fallen).

I’m reminded quite often of something I learned the first time around. Grief isn’t linear. The Type A, check-the-box-and-call-it-done person that I am always had a hard time with that. I wanted to go through the steps of grief and call them done. However, they sometimes found their way back to me, and I couldn’t seem to grasp why when I had already finished the “anger” phase or the “denial” phase. And then I learned…

GRIEF IS NOT LINEAR!

It’s actually quite messy. It’s not circular, it’s not triangular, it’s not any type of recognizable shape or pattern. It’s just a messy blob!

Right now, I’m in the thick of the “messy blob”. I’ve had several very dark weeks. It didn’t help that my anniversary fell in that time period and that Joel’s birthday is coming up as well. Lots of firsts right here in this season of the year. But, being completely transparent, I’ve been depressed.

Compared to what much of the world lives daily, I have so much to be thankful for.

Compared to what my friends over in Houston are living in right now, I have so much to be thankful for.

Compared to the fact I had the privilege of being loved so deeply by two men now with Jesus, when other women are still waiting for their Prince Charming, I have so much to be thankful for.

But…yes…here comes the but…

I’m still hurting daily for what I have lost, regardless of what I still have.

I’m still aching for the man that loved me with all that he had.

I’m still yearning to have that “picture perfect” two-parent family life that doesn’t exist for me anymore.

I’m still frequently exhausted due to my solo parenting duties.

I’m still overwhelmed by the various things that need to be taken care of in and out of the house that Joel would have been on top of, but I can’t do it by myself along with everything else.

I still long for Christ to return and soon!!!

I just had the privilege today of sitting down with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen since then. She drove a little over an hour to bring us dinner tonight…just because she could, and she knew it would be a blessing. And. It. Is. I am so thankful for all that God has been doing to protect us and provide for us, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for what we’ve experienced lately. I truly am most grateful. I’ve seen God with fresh eyes over these 200 days, and I know I would have missed out on seeing His glory in the ways I have had Joel still been with me. But, God also knows, I wish I had both. Thankfully, for eternity…I will!

#HeIsStillGood

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mystery Solved

mystery solved

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

I think I finally solved the mystery of my recent emotional swings. I’ve been exceedingly emotional for several weeks. Crying bucketfuls of tears daily. The loss of my precious Joel seems to have slammed me really hard all of a sudden. Why now? It’s been nearly 6 months, and I thought my emotions would be a little more under control by now. After all, I’ve been through this widow journey before. And yet…I feel his loss deeper and deeper each day. Even typing this is causing my throat to tighten, knowing the tears are soon to follow. I know to expect the waves to overtake me some days, but this has been unending for weeks! However, I think I jut solved the mystery.

The shock of Joel’s death is finally over.

In a nutshell, I’ve been living in a state of disbelief since February 12, 2017. While I know my husband is gone, the shock of this agonizing tragedy has shielded my body from feeling the full effects of it. It’s a natural physiological mechanism God gave us to literally protect us from events that could potentially do severe damage to our bodies (even to the extreme of causing death, itself). In my case, shock has been a “friend” for quite awhile. I had a short stint with it following Chris’ death but got through it relatively quickly. This time, not so much. Believe it or not, I want my “friend” back (sort of).

I don’t want to feel all that I’m now feeling. Being on this side of it, I prefer “living in the dark”, so to speak. All the gut-wrenching, heart-tearing, “stuff” I’m now feeling is WORSE than living those first few days all over again. I had a shell of protection around me then. Now. It’s. Gone.

Then, there’s the realist in me. I really don’t want to live like this forever. I really don’t. I want God to heal my heart to the point I’m able to remember my love in such a way it brings more smiles than tears. I don’t want to cry in front of perfect strangers each time they say something (no matter how small) that might bring up a memory of Joel. I want to be able to drive by Exit 105 on Interstate 40 going East through Morganton, NC without feeling nauseous each time that tall white building looms into view where my husband took his last breath on this earth. I really DO want to be well. I’m just having quite a bit of difficulty getting to that point. Time is my friend, but it feels like it’s moving at a snail’s pace right now.

#HeIsStillGood

Saturday, August 5, 2017

We Should Have

We Should HaveToday shouldn’t feel like this.

We should have had a lazy morning were we get up a little later than normal after being awakened by little fingers tapping us on the back.

We should have been spoiled by your yummy hand-cooked Saturday morning breakfasts.

We should have been gone yard-sailing followed by grocery shopping at Sam’s where lunch just might have consisted of nibbling from each of the sample carts.

We should have napped while the kids did and then got up for a late afternoon swim together.

We should have rocked on the porch together while supper finished up in the crockpot, and the kids rode up and down the driveway on their bikes or other wheeled toys.

We should have had movie and popcorn night with the kids following their showers.

We should have had our own movie night after the kiddos went to bed, or maybe we would just catch up on a TV show we’d been watching on Netflix.

We should have fallen asleep in each others arms, content with having spent a wonderful family-filled-fun Saturday.

Instead…

I’m sitting alone, pushing through the dense darkness that’s enveloped me today.

I’m struggling to want to do anything, and yet it’s my last day before the kids come home tomorrow after being gone for a week, allowing me to have some respite time.

I’m having crying spell after crying spell, and I even cried out to God asking Him why today has to feel like this. Why today?

I’m shoving memories aside, because they hurt too much to endure.

I’m scrolling Facebook, because of my paralyzed state of mind, and it’s the last thing I should be doing, because seeing other’s pics of family togetherness, date nights, vacations, fishing trips, etc. only reinforces what I don’t have anymore,

I’m begging God to take away even a smidgen of this pain today.

I’m wondering when the fog will lift.

I’m missing you, my precious Joel, and longing for my true Home. How much longer will you tarry oh Lord?

Friday, July 14, 2017

It’s a Small World After All – Bound for Disney!

Disney

Our crew in 2014…from left to right…Leah, Anna, Joel, and Aaron

It’s been three years since I last went to Disney World and three years again prior to that, when Anna and I went alone. In 2014, it was only four of us…Joel, me, Anna, and Aaron. We happened to be there over the exact same time we’re going this year. Yes! We’re going to Disney World again!

We have been tremendously blessed by an anonymous donor with a trip for six of us to travel to Disney World, and we’re leaving Saturday! The four littles, along with big (adult) sis Anna, and me will be flying out Saturday morning and returning the following Saturday morning. I can’t believe it’s almost here, and I honestly can’t believe someone loves us this much to do something so HUGE!

We’ll be staying at a Disney resort and visiting all 4 theme parks along with Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). My youngest kiddos have no idea what they are about to experience. They are excited, but it’s an excitement they, themselves, can’t even comprehend until they lay eyes on this place.

I doubt I’ll be blogging much while we’re gone, but then again…you never know. (Laptop is going with me for evening entertainment after kiddos are in bed.) Even so, I’ll be sure to share all about it when we return, as I plan to take in every moment I can with these children and capture (through photography and journaling) their expressions and experiences. Each one of these kiddos of mine (Anna excluded) are former orphans and have never had an opportunity, such as this, in their young lives.

I ask, in advance, for your prayers in several key areas:

  1. No sickness develops for any of us.
  2. The children behave better than ever.
  3. We have no snaffoos to have to deal with…need a smooth week.
  4. The children realize the blessing this is and enjoy their week to the fullest without a feeling of entitlement.
  5. For emotional healing for all of us!

It absolutely breaks my heart that Joel won’t be with us to experience their first Disney trip. It breaks my heart Joel won’t be here to experience Austyn’s first plane ride with him. It breaks my heart to know this trip came about as a result of his death. And yet…I am so grateful and so undeserving.

Thank you Abba for this blessing through generous people! Please continue to bless them with abundant favor!

#HeIsStillGood

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Month Marker Five

marker

Our engagement photo!

So many times, I’m driving down the interstate only to realize I have no idea how far I am in my travels. Thankfully, if I wait a few seconds, the old faithful mile marker will pop up to tell me exactly what I need to know.

The same is true in grief. Yesterday, I received that mile marker, or in my case, a month marker. It was five months yesterday that Joel went Home to Heaven. Five months. On-the-one-hand, the number of days I’ve had to survive without him have felt much longer than the 150 days he’s actually been gone. My heart aches for him daily, and the days feel soooo long sometimes. At other times, however, it feels as if he just left us yesterday, making the pain so much more near.

Speaking of pain, I’ve been asked quite often over the last few weeks how the kids and I are doing. In short…we’re surviving. I don’t think I can use the word thriving just yet. The older kids miss their dad so much. There are so many areas he would normally be very active in within their lives right now, and his absence in those areas makes his physical absence from this earth that much more noticeable.

As for the littles…each one is responding so uniquely different. Josiah (our 9-year-old) misses his daddy but makes sure to point out anything that reminds him of daddy or the things daddy used to do with him. He grieves quietly, and I’m afraid he’s internalizing many of his emotions. We have counseling planned for his near future to help with drawing some of that out in a non-confrontational way. Katerina (our special needs 7-year-old) is blessed to be a special needs little girl right now, because she doesn’t feel the depth of pain the rest of us feel. Now, she’s never too quick to tell us when she misses daddy, but it’s more fact-based than feeling-based. She also reminds everyone of the rules that were in place when daddy died. Such as…when eating at Taco Bell, one MUST eat all their food before touching their cinnamon twists, “Because daddy said so!” I just had to chuckle the other night when she very loudly made that announcement.

And…then…there’s…Austyn. My precious 3-year-old. There’s no double about it…of all the littles…he’s hurting the most. His pain is HUGE, and he’s struggling to make sense of it in his little mind. He cries for daddy daily. He has tantrums daily, because he doesn’t know how to handle his emotions right now. But, he also asks such wise-for-his-years questions, making me wonder if his intelligence is making him think very deeply about everything, causing fear and worry to keep popping up. Many therapy plans are in the works for him too. As you can imagine…I have my hands full simply trying to help them deal with their own grief journey, making mine a bit more complex.

I feel I haven’t been able to even come close to grieving Joel the way my body needs to. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m about to blow, because I just want to cry an ocean and yet have to reign it in to be able to still function as a parent for my children. Sure…I cry around them, but not as often as my body wants to or probably needs to, because I’m just trying to provide a sense of peace in our home. We’ve had so much upheaval, change, and dysfunction (if truth be known) that we now need a huge outpouring of peace. The more I can help to usher that in, the better.

The real me misses my beloved deeply. My heart literally hurts so much sometimes…a physical aching, where I often wonder if I’m having a heart attack. (No…I’m not having heart problems…just heartbreak problems.) I can’t go anywhere without seeing something that reminds me of Joel, and we have a ton of other “mile markers” in our near future that I’m already dreading. Our wedding anniversary is next month. My heart is already breaking over how I’m going to handle that one. I had some dear friends make that 1st very special for me after Chris died, so I know I need to do something different to take my mind off of it, otherwise I’m afraid it will be a pity party day full of grieving that loss all over again. I have lumps in my throat just thinking about it. September brings Joel’s birthday, then the busy season of fall – Thanksgiving – Christmas – my birthday and back to February, the one year anniversary of his Homegoing. Mile markers every single month until then. But, who am I kidding…those are just the “big ones”. I see the little ones daily.

I often go back and read my posts from my first widow experience to see where I was on that journey compared to this one. It appears I was a little more “alive” on my 5th month back then, but it remained a roller coaster ride for quite awhile. I have to remind myself of the very words I speak to other widows and widowers. No grief experiences are the same. They can be identical in scope (suicide, cancer, auto accident), but the people are different, so the experiences will always be different. The same is true of me and my own two experiences. The men were different, I was different (younger then, older now), and our situations were different (4 newly adopted children to parent solo this time). Different towns. Different family members. Everything is different. Well…except for One.

The same God who reached for me out of the deep waters, rescued me, and ultimately restored me, is the VERY same God who will do it again. Until then, I cling to Him as my life raft, and I know the rescue will be complete one day. Until then, I long for His return. I long to be with Joel for eternity, and I long to be in my forever Home!

#HeIsStillGood