Shadows of Joshua

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

I found the beginning of this post. I do not know when I began it and I can’t recall what my train of thought was when I quoted this verse. I suppose it is one of those things that I was to find “after the fact” for encouragement.

The words of the verse are exactly what I needed to hear. My reality is that I know that I need  “strength and courage” at this very moment. I am walking into a new job and I am not familiar with all of the “ins and outs”. That always makes me nervous.

Tomorrow, I see my first clients and I am anxious to meet them. I hope that I like them and they like me. It is my adventure into home care and I know that I must be at my best as a nurse and as a person.

It is the words of the song that seems to impart the strength that I need to face my tomorrows. It is a reminder that there were never promises in this life that excluded disappointment, pain and even suffering. The promise has always been that we don’t have to face them alone, no matter how alone we feel. We are not….

 

The songs says everything that I want to say, but I think it does a better job…it is my comfort.

For those who aren’t into Gospel Music, here are the words to this song….

So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances or things I could not understand.      And many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision and then my frustration gets so out of hand.      Oh, but its then, I am reminded that I’ve never been forsaken and I never had to stand one test alone. That’s when I look at all the victories and THE SPIRIT rises up in me and its through the Fire my weakness is made strong.

Chorus:    He never promised that the Cross would not get heavy and the Hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered our victories without fighting, but He said, “Help” would come in time. Just remember when your standing in the Valley of Decision and the Adversary says, “Give in…”, Just hold on. Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the Fire again…

Bridge:    I know within myself that I would surely perish. But if I trust the Hand of God, He’ll Shield the Flames again…again…

Chorus….       

 

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Counting and Counseling

It is four weeks and counting since he left. I don’t know why we humans track time. I think that the Native Americans did it better. They counted moon phases or seasons.

His passing is still so fresh, yet,each day takes me a little farther away from  him, or so it seems.

I have sent out resumes and I have a few prospects. I know that this is what I need to do because the days are empty. I am hoping to be employed by September at the latest. I have to have income; the sooner the better.

I noted how those who are left behind in this world  keep track of how long they have been bereaved. I didn’t do this with my brother, mother or even my divorce. I suppose that those losses are not quite the same as loosing the one that was such a part of me.

As I re enter into a world that I left when cancer came in, I seem to be seeing it with different eyes. I am not disillusioned by what I see. I have been on my own before.

There is a white band on my  left ring finger. It looks so strange. Now, I place a birthstone ring on the finger that was covered for so long. I have to have something to take the place of the wedding band.

My husband was very observant and he would notice if I took off my rings. If I didn’t place them back on, he would begin asking me questions as to why they were not on my hand. Usually, it was because I was in the kitchen and doing something messy with my hands and I didn’t want to have to clean my rings…he always noticed the little things. I suppose they were not little to him.

So, I have begun making small changes. I have major decisions to make regarding finances and I keep hearing my mother’s voice in my head. She always said, “Try not to make decisions in time of storm”.

She knew that whatever decisions you make when life has you rocking and reeling from the waves of uncertainty can cause you to not clearly see the best choice. She also knew that those important decisions are the ones with which you must live for the rest of your life.

My mother was a very cautious person. She was the perfect German, logical and methodical, to balance out my Irish father, who was very impetuous and emotional in his decision making. I hear her words often and I realize that I listened and placed inside my heart her pearls of wisdom.

I am doing my best to heed her advise. I just have pressing circumstances and I know that I can’t make a mistake. At this moment in time, missteps would be a luxury that I cannot afford.

One of the unseen blessings for me in this journey is that I have a dear friend who lost her husband a few months back. Over the years, our lives have crossed paths many times and it would seem that we have met up again for this season in our lives. 

Her circumstances are similiar, but different, but we are learning that grief is something that can’t be spiritualized and sailed over. It must be felt. Tears must be cried, Loss must be faced and anger is a component to grieving. Some of the things that people say to those of us who have lost our identity by loosing our spouses are just plain cruel.

That is the case with my friend. She had few who could understand how much pain she felt inside. When we try and not feel the pain, the emotions catch up when we least expect it.

She “hit the wall”. That proverbial wall is rather big and it is very hard when hit full force.  As my friend and I shared our grief, we realized that we needed to have the wisdom of someone who has walked this road. I knew the right person to call.

I met this counselor 20 years ago when I was trying to deal with the multiple losses of brother, mother, marriage, grandmother and I called this Woman of God.

She presently is the hospice chaplain. I felt such relief  when my husband was in the hospice program. When I saw her again, I felt a comfort that only an old friend could bring at that moment in time.

She was there at my husband’s passing. When my husband left this world, this kind woman put her arms around me and held me as if I were in my mother’s arms. She let me sob my heart out.

This woman also has known the loss of her spouse. She was 39 years old when her husband died of a major heart attack. She has walked through this Valley and she has come out on the other side.

When I realized that my friend and I needed someone who had actually lived the life we were experiencing, I called her. I have every confidence in this person and I know that I knew that I could entrust my friend with her wisdom. I know that I can trust her words of comfort. I know we are safe in her counsel.

How long will this be needed? I don’t know. I don’t care how long it takes. I am determined not to get stuck in this Valley of the Shadows. I realize this loss will always be a part of me because it will define me and my future. I also know that this Valley was never designed for anyone to dwell in it, but rather, it is to be passed through.

This valley is a part of the road of life. All who have married will go through this portal. It may be premature or it may be when all of life has been exhausted, but it will be faced by the the two who became one. It is part of the wedding vows and it is recognized as the ending.

So, each day, I take another step. Some days, it is a very small one and I know for those who look on, it may seem like I didn’t move at all. For me, the smallest of movement forward is progress and I know that I may step back and undo what forward motion that I made.

It is just part of this living again. It is still movement and the days will come when I move outside of myself and re emerge as my own person instead of one part of two…

So, for now, I am counting the days. I remind myself that this injury to my heart is still very fresh and to be gentle with it. But, I know that, as in all things of healing, you must press on to regain whatever the injury cost you.

Counseling is good. It keeps me honest. It will help to know that what I feel is “normal” and not as crazy as it feels.

I had an advantage over my friend. Because of those who meet me here on this blog and whose blogs I read, I had an understanding of what was approaching.

For what I find lacking in this physical world, I have found satisfying in the cyber world. I want to thank you all for the wisdom, comfort and support. Before and even now, you are my counselors and comforters as much as anyone.

Thanks ever so much.

Forgiven, Not Forgotten…

This song has brought me a complex kind of comfort. It seems to speak to that place in my heart that is open and bleeding.

I know that my anger is multifaceted. It isn’t at anyone, it just is.

To be as honest as I can be, I know that I am angry at God for allowing me to be left here on this earth without the love of my life. A love that for 25 years, I thought was lost to me because of the circumstances of when we were 17 and 18 years old.

When he came back in my life, I was amazed that we were given a second chance at happiness. And what hurts so, we found true happiness after 25 years of heartache and heartbreak. Then, to have only 17 years instead of the rest of our lives, it feels like salt rubbed into my wound.

I suppose, there is a part of me that is angry with him. I know that he could do nothing differently. It was not in his power. I know that if he had the power, he would still be here with me, enjoying his grandchildren and we would still have a life together.

It is the part of my heart that is like one of a child that says, “He left me…” that hurts. It is that primal fear that says that I will not survive and I could die if you are not with me.

Would I bring him back if I had the power? Absolutely not. I could not wish him back here to a life that was nothing of the essence of the man that he was and still is. What a cruel and selfish thing to do!!! It would be pure selfishness to have him to be here in suffering just so that I would not have to feel this loneliness and emptiness. I loved him too much to keep him here for my benefit.

The multifacets of anger are in the loss of my life as I came to know it over these past few years, in the pain that wells up inside of me when I hear the throaty rumble of a Harley and I know that I will never be in the “Queen seat” that was mine to occupy with him in control. Anger when I see familiar places that we frequented, when I see a couple that is our age and they are holding hands like we did in the grocery store. It is just plain anger at having to loose.

When hurt finds its way so deeply inside of me, anger becomes a protective response so as to stop the pain from consuming me.

I don’t know how long this stage or phase of grief lasts. It is wearing me out already.

To help dissipate some of the anxiety and anger, I have been doing a lot of manual labor. It seems that if you wear out the body, the mind and heart soon follows, so I have been removing the dirt from around the old farm house.

This soil has not been disturbed in 70 years or more. It is full of “spider” roots from the maple trees that line the drive. The roots are stubborn and they resist my efforts in every way possible. How like me these little roots are.

Like these tenacious  roots, I seem to  resist change until I am violently forced to do so. I put down my roots in this man. He nourished me and I him. We grew together in every way. Loosing him to cancer has torn me in places that I cannot identify. I am so much less without him.

But, the other day, while I was digging and diligently pulling  the “spider” roots, I heard my husband’s voice say, “Oh, Nome, if you could just see this..”

When I heard his voice, I turned my head to see him. When no one was there, I had that kind of delayed response that reminds you that the person is gone. 

For a moment, I was in pain again, then I thought about what he said. He was trying to tell me that the place where he is is wonderous, so very awesome that he wanted to share it with me. He was letting me know he is in a place that is nothing less than amazing.

As I went back to digging dirt, it soon turned a little muddy from the tears that fell from my face.

Yes, I do  want to see the wonders of God’s mysteries. I want to experience the life that he was telling me about, but I can’t.

I feel so hurt that I was left behind to face this life alone. That is a very real part of my anger…

So, for now, I will forgive him for walking into the sunset. I always knew that I would have to turn and walk away from the final sunset in his life.

But as the song says, I will never forget the man that loved me and the one that I loved.

He is forgiven, truly by his Lord and by me, but he will never be forgotten. As long as someone lives who knew and loved him, he will never be forgotten.

Mozart’s Mourning

Even though my husband bought this little dog as a gift for me and for a way for me to fill my “empty nest” after my son went into the Marine Corp, he has always been more attached to my husband.

Most times, he would position himself in a place so as to be able to watch both my husband and I. Many times, it was in a doorway or a place that was directly in our path. It was his job to see that we were in his line of sight at all times.

Most times, he was at my husband’s feet or behind the recliner. He seemed to sense when my husband’s pain would increase because he would keep himself in a position that my husband’s hand could easily reach out and rub his ears.

For a “Companion Breed”, he never has been one to be a lap dog. He may lay on your feet, but if you decide that you want to hold him, he refuses to stay in your lap.

As my husband’s condition declined, he would stay in the bedroom with him. He would hide under the bed or he would lie directly by the side of the bed where my husband would lay. As each day past, he seemed to sense that a drastic change was upon us and he began to hide. He refused to come to me when I called him. He was diligently keeping watch over my husband.

As the time approached for my husband’s leaving, I placed this faithful companion up on his bed. Mozart approached my husband’s hands and gently laid down. As if to place his head in his hand for a last rub of the ears, this little dog lay quietly and seemed perplexed as to why his ears were not rubbed. My husband was unable to respond, so this little dog was content to keep his head on his hand.

Reluctantly, the little dog allowed me to put him back down on the floor so that others could come and hold my husband’s hand and say their goodbyes. If a dog could cry, this one was sobbing.

The days since my husband’s passing, this little dog has hidden himself behind the couch and other furniture. When he walks, his tail isn’t curled over his back but it is down almost to the ground. He has refused to eat and he lays around and sleeps a lot. I think he is as depressed and bereaved as I am.

A few days ago, one of the local farmers  parked across the road. I  noticed that Mozart lifted his head and tilted his ears as the farmer approached. The farmer’s diesel pick up truck sounded like our truck. He quickly was on his feet. Before I could say anything, he bounded out the door just like countless times before to greet my husband when he returned home.

As he walked toward the truck, he saw the farmer. He walked a little closer then sat down. It was as if he suddenly realized that it wasn’t his master. It seemed that he remembered that my husband was not here any longer and his tail went back to the drooping position. Ever so slowly, he turned and came back into the house with one of the saddest expressions that I have ever seen…it broke my heart.

Even though this little dog has a vocabulary of a two year old child, I am at a loss to explain what happened to his “daddy”. He seems to know that my husband isn’t coming back because he is more attached to me than he has ever been.

He isn’t the same happy little dog that he once was and he seems to be so very sad. It is breaking my heart especially when he has moments like the farmer’s pick up truck.

This little dog went with my husband everywhere. He road in the semi trucks when he went to work. He was always ready to go “bye bye in the truck”. He also road on the back of the Harley like a pro…and he always got the first ride of the season with my husband.

The day that the Harley left here, Mozart noticed that it was outside of the garage. When he saw the bike, he planted himself next to it expecting the routine ride that he always received by my husband. That day, instead of a ride on the bike, it was loaded on a trailer and as it was being strapped down to go to its new home, I put Mozart on the seat that he usually occupied.

I asked the new owner if Mozart could ride on the bike as he  pulled “Black Betty” out of the driveway and down the road a little. I wanted Mozart to have one last ride on one of the things that was shared by him and my husband…

After a couple of trailer lengths, I approached the trailer to take him off. He didn’t want to come to me. I had to drag him off of the seat where my husband sat. I thought my heart was going to break into a million pieces.

It wasn’t my grief that was so hard to endured. It  was seeing that this faithful friend of my husband’s feel the same grief and to see his berevement.  

Mozart and I  watched that which symbolized my husband from his youth disappear down the road. It was a devastating moment for both of us.

As we watched the Harley until it was out of sight, held this trembling little dog in my arms. The only way that I could comfort him was to speak to him in the most gentle and soothing tones in between my sobs. 

Everyone says that  Mozart will be alright. They say he will be more like himself as time goes on. I don’t think so. I think that it will be a very long time before he will hold his tail up over his back like he always did when he would take walks with my husband.

Neither me or the little one eats much in the past weeks because, like me, he just doesn’t have an appetite. In his grief, he refuses to leave this place of safety. In the past few days, he has to be beside me or I must be in his line of sight at all times.

To try and help him in his grief, I began to walk him down the road. He and my husband would take a walk down the back of the property. Their walking route was around the neighbors pond and then  over to the neighbor’s barn to see the cows.

My husband was faithful to walk with him about the same time every day. As that time of day approaches, Mozart starts sitting in my line of sight.

So, now, to ease our hurting hearts, we take the new route at the at the time of sunset. So, off we go down the road. Mozart on his leash and the two cats who refuse to left behind. All of us are walking down this westward direction at the time that my husband loved. I am sure we are quite a picture.

This little dog feels lost and alone. I know that his heart is breaking and I feel so helpless. I cannot communicate the abstract thoughts that brings comfort to me. It forces me to come outside of my grief and try to find ways to comfort him.

I know that I must begin to fill his time with things that he and I do together. He can only feel the pain of the loss. He knows that his master is missing and he is sad…just like me…Mozart is mourning.

Some Things Just Don’t Work Out….

As I said on my last post, things were bearing down on me and I needed to just change scenery and get through this huge ball of anger that was building up inside me.  Some times making plans just fail to materialize as you thought; and so, I am back…

The friend that I was going to visit had plans for this past weekend and I wanted to go there this weekend. As I thought about the 2 hour trip for a weekend stay abd after estimating what I would spend in fuel getting up to her place, I realized that i could not afford to go.

I do not have an income, so I must watch, with much caution, how far I can  stretch all of my resources. I realized blowing money out of the tail pipe of the diesel truck is a foolish thing to do. And, I can say, that I am alright with this because I received a call today to come in for an interview for a home health nursing position.

The fuel that I would burn just to “get away” will be very important should I come on board with this company. Home health nursing requires a reliable vehicle and, at this moment in time, that criteria is met by the pick up truck.

I know that I will have to find another vehicle that is more affordable because the price of diesel fuel is close to $5/gallon and I need to make an income. To continue to own the truck makes this job more of a hobby than a way to financially survive. I like nursing, but not enough to make it a hobby.

Finding the right vehicle at the right price will be tricky, but I must obtain this position first. I am confident that everything will come in time, but the position must come first.

So, here I am again. I can’t stay away because I miss the support and the kindness that I find here on my blog.

Right now, the cyber world is a lot kinder than those who are in my physical world…that is to be expected and I suppose what I am saying is that I missed writing. I also missed the kind words of encouragement and support by all of you…

Funny, how that happened. Beginning my blog on my husband’s birthday last year has been one of the best decisions that I made. I have no worries or regrets.

I am grateful to all of you for meeting me here and your faithfulness to read what I write especially at this terrible time in my life. Thank you for reading my words, even though they may be full of pain and anger, I thank you for being paitent with me. I believe that I am  truly blessed to have started this outlet for my journey.

So, with all that said, I am posting another entry after this one. I wrote a post a couple of days ago. I just couldn’t help myself. So, no matter how much I thought that I was going to take a break from here, I couldn’t….

I am not disappointed that I decided to not  go. I will get up to my friends house soon, but it will be when I know that I have an income and that financially, what I let go of, I can replace.

Security, in every avenue,  is very important to me at this time. Some things just don’t work out for a reason.

Just Too Much

The past few days have been more than I ever could imagine. I think that I need a break from thinking and writing.

Hopefully, some time away will help clear my thoughts and feelings. Maybe, in a few days, I will have sorted out a few more things, but for the next few days, I will be away from the computer and the blog….

Thank you all for your support and kindnesses….

Thunderclouds…If This Is Numb, I Don’t Want To Feel Pain….

If It Seems

 

If it seems that I am ungrateful for the kindnesses that you do,

Please, overlook my lack of enthusiasm or my plain expression of gratitude.

 

If it seems that I have lost my patience and “irritable” is my only mood

Please, know that I am angry and I feel so cheated.

 

If it seems that I am sad and nothing can bring a smile to my face,

Please, know that my heart has lost its joy and nothing can bring back my happiness.

 

If it seems that I am not listening as you tell me your heart,

Please know that my pain is crying so loudly that I cannot hear yours….

 

If it seems that I should be past all of the grief and the tears,

Please know that it will take more time to overcome the idea of being alone.

 

If it seems that I have changed,

You are right.

My heart was torn in two when

The love of my life died.

 

If it seems that enough time has passed and I should be over this,

You are wrong.

 My brokenness is not on a time schedule.

 

If it seems that I will never be the same,

You are right; I won’t

 

If you think that I should be on medication to make me feel better,

Please, keep your opinion to yourself..

 

All I ask of you is to let me grieve and be sad without judging me.

Continue to care even if I don’t know how to show that I still care.

 

If you cannot, wait for me to find myself,

Then go.

 I don’t want to waste your time,

 

But, if you can wait patiently for me to become myself again,

Know that, even if I don’t show it,

I am still here and I will survive.

 

Please, let me grieve

I sent my friend this writing.

She is younger than I am and her husband died four months ago. She is trying to work and resume her life as it was before her husband’s death. She is struggling and she is so sad. They had been married for 25 years.

She has endured some of the most thoughtless and tactless comments. Things like, “Your young, you will find someone to marry.” to “Your numb now. You are going through the motions. Wait, until the real pain starts….”

Finally in desperate emotional pain, she turned to her pastor and elders for help with this “black hole” that keeps following her around. The pastor told her that she didn’t need prayer, she needed to get out of her self pity.

What total denial on his part!!! How wounding that was for her !!!

When she told me about these circumstances, I referred her to Merry Widows website. There she found others who truly understand what she is experiencing. It was for her that I wrote “If It Seems…..”

After I emailed it to her, she replied that I captured how she truly feels. I know that her pain is real and she is not numb. I know that my pain is real and I am not numb…for anyone to assume that you can wish this pain away, they are deluding themselves and others. It is their own pain that they are trying to avoid and you are making them face that grief and berevement do not vanish with the flowers that are sent as a condolence.

This pain must be felt. It may take a long time for me to ever feel like who I was once. At his moment in time, that is alright. I must grieve because I need to live and not just survive.

I know that I do not need for anyone to tell me that it has been 2 weeks and I should be getting over all of the sadness. “Life goes on” is the phrase of the day.

Maybe it goes on for everyone around me, but my life stopped when cancer entered in…I am not living right now. I know that I am “treading water” and it won’t take much to push me under.

 I feel so cheated and disappointed that I can hardly bear it. And I know there is an unpleasant conversation with God about all of this. I am just still to angry to talk to anyone about it.

As Sally Fields said in the movie, Steel Magnolias,  she wanted to hit something and to hit it hard. She wanted to make someone else feel as badly as she felt as she stood next to her daughter’s coffin. I am relating to wanting to hit something. I don’t know if I could ever make anyone feel as bad as I do now…I can’t hit hard enough.

I am so thankful that I am aware that anger is part of this process. I know that this is part of the journey out of the Valley of the Shadow. Anything that I do to cut this process short will result in a longer stay.

That is why I am trying as hard as I can to stay as honest with myself and others as much as I can.  I know that I don’t really want to be so irritable. But, it is how I am feeling and I will not deny the place that anger plays in recovery.

I feel like I should wear a sign to warn people about my disposition of the moment, but, as usual, people don’t read signs, do they?

To care for my husband, I had to live in my head most of the time. I knew that my heart was breaking, but I had to keep it together so as to not fail him in his care. 

Now, I am not living in my head. I am living in my present and I am living in my heart. My heart is a very painfully raw place and it is bleeding.

It is so raw that it doesn’t take me long to ask if anyone understands this process and most people that I know do not have this set of circumstances in their lives.

I don’t know how my friend kept from loosing her composure when her pastor was so “high handed’ with her. I don’t know if I could have walked away without belting him one. I find it sad that so many in the ministry do not know how to cope with death and dying. If they are unable to understand those processes, then how can they ever understand grief?

So, it is my hope that no one tells me that I am numb. I am not in the land of “No Feel”. I feel this mounting pain everyday and every moment of everyday. 

 

 All I can say is that I will reject her pastor’s words and accept what Jesus said, “God blesses those who mourn because they shall be comforted”. End of story.

My friend, Roads on “The Price of Love” has a  wonderful post that addresses grief and berevement. I would recommend for everyone who has someone in their life that is going through this kind of pain to visit his site and drink in the understanding that is missing in our society today in regards to grief and berevement….

These Are My Shadows

Long Shadows of Seasons

    Until July 1, 2008, I walked this journey with my husband. It was his Valley of the Shadow of Death. It was mine to share with him and I have no regrets that we walked the last steps together.

The moment that he left this world and entered into the arms of Glory, I began my own journey. I began trying to find my way out of these shared shadows. After yesterday’s melt down after filing for the Death Benefit, I realized more than ever that the Shadows that belonged to him are now my own to dwell or to dispel.

Even though, I understood in my mind that this journey is not over, but entering into a level that requires me to move alone through this Valley, I am finding the grief and the pain deepening. Each day, I awake to this trial and I don’t know if I have the strength to pull through this darkness.

After coming home from the Social Security office, I was struck by the visual illustration that was laying on that desk. As I viewed these documents, it was a sobering moment. I saw his worn and tatered Social Security card, my social security card, birth certificates, marriage license, death certificate, his and my drivers liscenses,  all of these document were silently stating that he had lived, loved and died. As a collage, these fragments of time, was illustrating how terribly short that our life together was.  Most of all, it brought my loss of future, my loss of happiness and my feeling of despair to a new level.

All of these pieces of paper were necessary so that the agent could certify that I was entitled to a death benefit.  It was the essence of his existence that was missing from the inanimate paper. It was a hollow ring of a bell that I heard in my head. It was the realization that it wasn’t just his life lying there in a scrambled pile, but it was my life there laying in random order. My birth certificate, my marriage liscense, my social security card, all of my life events were represented and presented with a death certificate. The full weight of understanding that my life was over as well.

Irish Cross

For the first time, I realized that life as I had known it died on July 1, 2008. All of my dreams that were once shared and were a part of my very fiber are as gone as he is. My future has been consumed with dark shadows and total emptiness.  I was born, I loved and married this man, and I remain as his beneficiary. That is all. That is my sum total at this moment.

I realized in that instant, that I had no hopes and no dreams that were outside of him. I had no secret desires of self promotion that excluded him. The shadows of my future lost was bearing hard against me.

My feeling of being so cheated and short changed was hitting me like a tital wave.  As statistics, I was so impacted by the lack of substance that our lives are. For a moment, I understood that I was as dead inside as this death certifcate states that he is physically.  My future, my hopes and dreams, my other self…all gone.  I was not prepared to endure this stark revelation and another deeper wave of grief blindsided me that at that very moment in that setting. I felt the panic rise inside me and I desperately wanted out of there.

It was a revelation that began to grow and it was overwhelming my soul. As I sat in that chair in a gray and cold cubicle,  I felt my life with my husband reduced and diminished to the point of extinction. It is over. It really is over…my dream of loving him and growing old with him is over.

I made it out of those sterile offices and got in my vehicle. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to drive to the nearest bar and get totally drunk. I wanted to make this pain stop…I hadn’t had that thought or desire for years. This was an old shadow that I thought that was eliminated, but apparantly not.

As I struggled with this strange need for obliteration, I decided that this temptation was one that I could not allow myself to bear alone. I needed help and I needed to call someone that understood what this kind of desire brings to a soul.

I called my brother in law. My husband’s brother has known this same temptation and I knew that I had to hear words from someone who knew how deep this desire goes and how dangerous it is to give into it.

At this darkest of moments, I recalled how my husband told me that he knew that I wanted to “check out” but I had to stay because my grandsons would be devastated and I told this to my husband’s brother. Until this very moment, I explained to him that I never had those thoughts on a conscience level . I knew that I was in deep, deep trouble.

The pain of the finality of all my hopes and dreams, the realization that this life as I knew and needed it to be was lost. Being reduced to a few pieces of paper was almost more than I could bear. I didn’t know how to make a life without his brother and I didn’t want another life without him in it….the pain was so deep and raw that I wanted to just go somewhere I didn’t feel it for a moment. I needed something to break this overpowering hurt that seems to build on a daily basis.

As I knew he would, his brother began to pray. He prayed for my release of this torment and he prayed that this terrible pain would pass as quickly as possible. He also reminded me that my husband has joined several people that are friends who have unexpectedly and recently passed. He reminded me that they are a part of that “great cloud of witness” that is talked about in Hebrews.

He said that he truly believed that all of those who love us and that we love are concerned with the things that take place with their loved ones. He reminded me that they see with a clear vision as we only see as in a “glass darkened”. His words began to fill what was so empty a few minutes before and I began to feel this terrible pain inside subside.

It isn’t that I didn’t expect this kind of emotional devastation. I knew that this loss would reduce and diminish me. But, no one can help you understand the potential pain that becomes a force in and of itself. It looms over your very existance to kill your heart, steal your future and destroy your soul. At this moment, my feelings were not only my shadows, but they were becoming my enemy. Ones that I could not allow to take control.

What frightens me more is that I know that this pain isn’t totally fulfilled. I know that I have yet to experience its total intensity.  I know this in my head and  it paralysis my heart with great fear.

These are my shadows. They are as dark a time as I have ever known. I know that I must make a new path but I am frozen here in this deep well of pain for whatever time is…

I have to learn to deal with its intensity. I have to also know when to not push and to rest.

I am in the deepest of forrest surrounded by dark and deadly obsticles that purpose my fall. I am so tired and weary of the emptiness yet, I realize that this is the beginning and there are many more trials ahead that are just as painful, if not more so, than my present pain.

 I am also afraid of the next

revelation.                                                                                                                   How much will my heart be able to endure. How long before I begin to find my way out of these shadows?

 I have no answers, just a slight glimmer of hope that has no source, but God, Himself.

Death Benefit

   Today, I must go to the Social Security office and file for the death benefit. I didn’t do it over the phone; I made an appointment.

I have my reasons for wanting an appointment.  I want a face with their name and I want my face with my name. I am tired of everything being so impersonal.

To collect this benefit, you have to present the originals to so many documents. Here is the list

  • my husband’s birth certificate
  •  his death certificate
  •  my birth certificate
  • our wedding license
  • a photo ID/driver’s license
  • original social security card for both of us

 …all of that for the grand total of $255.00.

There were times since my husband’s passing  that I thought about just letting this go and not applying for it. At one time, maybe, $255.00 was a big deal, but in today’s world where we spend $100.00 like we once spent $20, it doesn’t seem a big deal for all of the documentation. But, money is money and I will make the effort,

The second reason for the appointment is to have someone explain as to why they resended my husband’s money for June after depositing it. My husband survived the full month of June and by the Social Security website, I am entitled to that money.

I wonder how long it will take them to get the money back into my account? Or, for that matter, how long will I have to wait to receive the death benefit? All questions that I want answered in person.

I have dreaded this day. It is just one more thing that reminds me how permanently alone I am in this world. It seems that each event that requires my attention scrapes over a raw wound that is still bleeding. Days like today are so very overwhelming.

It isn’t difficult in the sense that it requires a skill set or anything. Doing all of this makes the reality more real. It is that confirmation of what your head tells you. He is gone and he is never coming back and I can not go to him….I know, it is redundant, but so is grief. It is like a loop being played over and over and over again.

It seems with each administrative event a new stake is driven in my heart. Each event or action makes it more clear that my brokenness is so large and this pain I am living is my present reality. All of these emotions are real.

I never been without him this long in the last 16 years. I think my heart is tricking me to think that he is just gone on a delivery run, but my head keeps reminding me that he is truly gone from me and this life.I think that somewhere in myself, I still am not able to grasp his passing. What a strange kind of denial this one is…

I also know that I am very “cranky” with everyone. When I am irritable, I am no respecter of persons. I don’t care who you are, or who you think you are, I have not problem in saying my mind and then turning away. I don’t like being this way, but I also know that this is part of the grief.

I have gone from “pained to pissed off” in record time. I know that my kids will be pushing toward the doctor’s office if I don’t get over this terrible mood. Yet, there is a part of me that believes that I have earned a “Mad at the World” kind of attitude. 

When I get in one of these moods, I do not suffer stupidity with grace…none what so ever.  So, let us hope that the poor soul who I have this appointment with is someone who is knowledgeable, intelligent, pleasant, and agrees that the check for June should be issued on the spot, immediately….

Written Legacy

One of the daily devotionals that my husband and I would read was Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost For His Highest.” I remember telling my husband about the extraordinary man who wrote those deep and inspiring writings.

Oswald Chambers had been one of my favorites for a long time. I remember reading a book about his life’s struggles. I also knew that he died at an early age and his wife organized and placed his writings in the format of a daily devotional.  My husband was impressed with the insights and with the man’s life story.

At some point, my husband began keeping a daily journal. I found it today.

I read his hopes and dreams, his thoughts and his prayers over the past few years. And I cried…and cried…and cried.

There was nothing in those pages that I didn’t already know. It was his expression of hope and love that now are my great treasures. In these daily pages, he wrote of his love for me, his love for his children and his love for his God.

There were a few entries that I wish I found before he left this world, but, for the most part, there has been nothing in these journal entries that would indicate that he wanted or needed anything that wasn’t already being done for him.

Without the use of words, I am astounded as to how  well we knew each others thoughts and feelings. I suppose that is the meaning of the term, “Soul Mate”.

These journal entries stopped after a few entries. Writing wasn’t the enjoyment for him as it is for me.  I think that the effort in writing his feelings was more than he could physically and emotionally endure.

In each entry, he praised his God for another day. He loved life and he was so grateful to wake up so that he could lift up the name of his God.

His courage and his faithfulness in the face of disappointments, still overwhelms me. I know that he wanted to be healed and he believed deeply that his God could raise him up out of this Valley of the Shadow. He never stopped believing until it was the last days. It was then that he surrendered himself to the Will of God.

Most days, I have moments that I break down for a while. After a good cry, I am much better. Finding these entries broke open the flood gates for all of the pain in my soul. 

I will find a special place for all of these precious pages.  I decided that when I miss him the most, I will read these pages from time to time and, at some point, I will no longer cry, but I will feel the comfort that he wanted for me.

In the mean time, I am sorting through things. Deciding who would best benefit or who he would want to have those things that represent the essence of the man that he was on this earth.

The hardest thing is watching those things leave here. It is like a part of him leaves me daily and it hurts. Yet, I know that these few earthly and temporal things will help in the healing of others who feel the pain of loosing him. It would be very selfish of me to keep them all to myself. He was loved by many and he also loved deeply.

As in the final scenes of the movie, Immortal Beloved, Beethoven wrote to his lost love while still composing on his death bed, “Must it be?” and her reply in ink was, “It must be.”….so it is with me…

” Must I Walk through this Valley of the Shadow, must it be….?”  “Yes, it must be….”