Coincidence or Timely Messages?

12_77_57-red-rose_web1Sometimes, the anticipation of pain is worse than the actual pain in and of itself.

I had a neighbor who suffered from kidney stones. He had terrible pain when one would develop and the doctor allowed him to have a very strong pain medication for relief. His wife was a RN so the doctor allowed the medication to be administered by injection while he was home  . It was given every 4-6 hours “as needed”.

It wasn’t too long before the multiple dose vial was empty. The doctor refused to refill the medication because the neighbor went through it so quickly. The neighbor was upset because he only envisioned that the pain would come and he was without anything to offset the excruciating pain.

As his frustrated wife discussed this with me, she voiced her anger that her husband would become totally unreasonable when she tried to encourage him to try a pain pill before having the injection. She also was upset because she knew that the doctor lost trust in her as a nurse because of the quick consumption of the potent pain killer. Once a doctor believes that someone is abusing this kind of medication, there is nothing that will pursuade him to order the medication again.

I suggested to both the neighbor and his wife that it wasn’t the pain that was causing him to reach for the injection, but rather, it was the fear of the pain. The memory of having that kind of horrific pain caused such a fear of its return that a person will want to be relieved of the possibility as much as the pain.  The medication can become a “security blanket” of sorts and the fear had to be dealt. The doctor was not going to allow the fear to become the first steps toward the chance of addiction.

When I said the words “fear of the pain”, my neighbor chimed in that it was the fear of the pain that caused him to become irrate and unreasonable when his wife tried to get him to delay the injection. The fear became more powerful than the pain.

So it seems to be the same with me. I think that the past few weeks of living mountain-in-the-midst-of-a-stormthrough the first wedding anniversary without Dan, remembering in disbelief that the happiness found in the Renewal Ceremony had come and gone and it was just a year ago. And then the first Valentines Day without Dan; all of this was akin to  my neighbor’s fear of the pain. 

My anticipated fear of Valentines Day was more potent and dreadful than the actually living through the day and being reminded of loosing Dan.

Yes, it did hurt to not have the customary card or gift from Dan. Overhearing of everyone’s plan for the special day also was a hurtful reminder that I was alone without love in this world. For a while, it caused melencholy to sweep over me  as I spent the evenings alone.It was the fear of the approaching day that became more intensely painful. That is until I received something special.

I came home on Friday to find a voice message on my home phone. My neighbor said that he found an envelop with a card in it in the ditch in front of his house. It was addressed to me and that he walked the 50 feet to my mailbox and placed it inside. He made the comment that he thought that it was peculiar that the card was so far from my house. He just couldn’t understand how the mail man had lost it so far from my house.

After hearing the message, I went to the mailbox. Inside was an ink smeared envelope. My name and address was barely legible.  On the return address was a familiar name. It was from a friend of Dan’s and mine who worked in one of the doctor’s office.

I stood next to the mailbox and opened the envelope. On the inside of the card, our friend wrote of how much she enjoyed reading this blog and how she looked forward to each new posting. She added how both she and her husband realized how difficult this holiday would be for me. 

She was already familiar with Dan and my story. img_2036She saw us every week for the past year and half. She knew Dan’s personality well. She watched our life unfold around Dan’s  final days. In the card she wrote …”He was so strong and had that certain edge about him that made him so tough-Yet, he seemed so kind and loving at the same time…”  She and the doctor commented on Dan’s will to live and how he fought a hard fight to survive cancer. Inside the card was $25 with the instructions to “treat” myself with coffee and chocolate.

As I stood by the mailbox reading this wonderful card, I marvelled at the special circumstance of receiving this card and I pondered over if this was just coincidence or was this a timely message that I needed to hear???

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A Hard Day’s Night-Part II

“As I turned the car for home, I called my sister in law. I was ready for a meal and I knew that the hardest part of this day still laid ahead. The end of 2008, the year of my husband’s death, was fast approaching…

This hard day was entering into night….”rebirth

My sister in law was waiting for me when I arrived at the restaurant. I felt such relief to see her face.

I needed the warm hug that was at the ready for me when she saw me coming in the door. I needed that hug more than I needed food.

The first thing that she saw was the gash on my head. By this time, the bandaid had fallen off and the wound was exposed for all to see. So, the waitress was curious about what had happened and I was too tired to go into detail. I passed it off as a loosing battle with a car door. It was.

Today, the car had the better of the score. Car- 2, Me- 0…

By this time, I was all out of decision making ability and deciding what to order was just too much for me to do. I ordered soup….That was something that I hadn’t eaten for a long time.

Dan had been on a clear liquid diet for over a month and I had eaten what he could eat. Soup was eaten on a daily basis, until that moment of indecision, I hadn’t wanted to see another bowl of soup. Tonight, soup and a sandwich was a safe decision to make.

It was good to sit and talk about the day. She listened and her eyes welled with knowing tears as I explained how I just couldn’t shake the never ending tears. I knew that I didn’t have to hide anything. With her, I could be as transparent as I needed to be.

I don’t think that the average person comprehends just how much of a mask that people in grief must wear. If you allow people to see the deep pain and terrible sorrow, they run away as fast as they can.

They don’t mean to. They are just so uncomfortable with things that are not controllable. They are helpless in the face of such pain and, in their empathy, they become as overwhelmed as your own heart.

Transparency of the heart is like walking in on someone coming out of the shower. Embarrassment seems to be the first response such full exposure. It is the natural tendency to turn your head and leave the room. So it is when people see your breaking heart. You are fully exposured. They are totally embarrassed.

At least, at this moment, in the presence of my sister in law, there was no fear of over exposure or transparency. It felt good to let down my guard.

I finished telling her about all of the vexing details of this day. She shared her heart about her heartaches with her son and his family. It was good to share the things that we hide from everyone.

She shared her heart about missing my brother, the things that she said at Dan’s Memorial Service and how much she loved watching him with his children….it was good to be able to talk about Dan and my brother.

Dan and my brother were very much alike. The two women that knew them best had no problem seeing just how much their hearts were similar. Their personalities were made from the same cloth.

The main difference was where Dan was not shy about his opinions and extroverted, my brother was more cautious and more reclusive with his thoughts and opinions. That didn’t mean he didn’t have them, he just avoided conflict as much as possible.

As we recalled how both men believed that they walked this earth without a friend, we recalled the scenes from my brother’s funeral and from Dan’s Memorial Service.

My brother had people who waited for hours to come to his viewing. The line outside circled the block. Both, my sister and I thought how ironic that my brother thought that he didn’t have a “friend”.

Dan’s inner heart was always looking for a friend, a man, who he could trust to always be in his corner. He had “friends”, but I think he was looking for that bond that he could trust wouldn’t be betrayed.

As we remembered the outpouring of people at the final event in their lives, we wondered how could they not know the hundreds of people who counted them as friends?

I believe that their inability to believe that they had true friends was rooted deeply in their childhood. Each had learned to keep their scars hidden. They both missed having a close father/son relationship. The emotional scars visited upon them from living in the families that judged their own rather harshly had caused them to place  high walls around their willingness to allow people to know them. I saw that it was their way to survive those who they loved.

The day continued in its stubborn and annoying irritations. I asked the waitress if the coffee was fresh. I needed a cup of good coffee. She replied that it was 30 minutes old. She called it fresh. Not in my opinion, but she said that if I didn’t like it she would fetch me something else to drink.

She brought the coffee. I tasted the coffee. I said that it wasn’t fresh. She took it back and brought me something else to drink.

When the soup arrived, it wasn’t warm enough to melt the cheese on top. I sent it back to be “zapped” in the microwave. When she brought out the BLT sandwich, there wasn’t any tomato on my Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. I sent it back….

I don’t know why I expected that my string of minor irritations should end just because it was later in the day. It was just a continuation of whatever this “string” of annoyances was all about.

After about the 4th correction of my order, I just started to laugh. It was just a “BAD DAY” and it had nothing to do with me, the waitress or the date. It was just one of those days that the simplest of tasks was accompanied by a complication…

I don’t know how those kind of days occur. Is it a manifestation of the person’s state of mind for that day? Is it just a phenomenon of events lining up that are determined to not go smoothly and like a intricate domino string, once one thing is knocked over, each one sets the other toward a cascading misadventure? I don’t know and I didn’t have the emotional or mental energy to contemplate it.

We left the resturant for home and a wonderful welcome awaited from Mozart. He was so excited to see his “aunty”. He loves my sister in law. She stays with him on the weekends that I have to work.

As she brought her things into the house, he followed her everywhere. He even refused to go outside without her…

I still wanted a cup of coffee, so I fixed a pot of coffee for us. As we drank the warm brew, we talked. We talked about this year, the past years, Dan and his heart, and my brother. Even after 19 years, my sister in law still has the pain of loss and the longing for my brother to be with her.

Yes, everyone says that time will blunt the acute pain that I feel now, but I also know that it never goes away. My sister in law told me of how, not long ago, she passed a place that she routinely passes on her way to her mother’s house.

For years, she has seen the old stock cars sitting in the garage area of the neighbor who still races. But on a day, not any particular day, she passed the location and seeing one of his stock cars,  she burst into tears.

It was one of those unexpected waves of grief that she didn’t know was creeping up on her. Nineteen years later, this kind of pain surfaces out of the blue…grief…

Grief is sneaky. I thought that it is like an amputated limb. Your eyes tell you that that it is gone and you work towards rehabilitation and compensation so that you can go on and live life. No matter how long it has been since loosing that part of your body, you can still feel it. In the middle of the night in a half sleep, you reach down to scratch an itch on a limb that is no longer there. 

The medical world calls this  phantom pain. It can be maddening. You continue to have feeling as if it is still there, then, you remember, it is gone. A part of you is missing, but you still feel as if it never left you.

As I tried to understand why all of this hit me on New Year’s Eve, I realized that it didn’t matter.  A very real part of me is feeling, but I am missing what has been  real, a core part of me. And I shall feel the phantom pain. Always.

By what my sister in law shared, I know that I will never get over being left behind to spend my life alone. I don’t know why being alone is so frightening for me. I think that it is something that reaches back so very far in me. Maybe it stems from being a very lonely child and remembering what it was to find Dan.

There was such a soul tie between Dan and I that, even when we were married to other people, we were still bonded. I don’t understand this kind of emotional tie, I just know that from, the time I was 17 years old, I have been a part of Dan and he of me. I wasn’t alone as long as Dan was in my life.

The night was uneventful. My sister in law and I talked, we “cat napped” to wake up in time to see the ball drop in New York. Then, we slept the first few hours of 2009 away…

New Year’s Day became just another day again. A day that caused our minds to think about the upcoming day of work and I began to realize that the luxury of doing nothing was over.

I know that this month may have more difficult days ahead. It is the month that Dan and I dated for the first time. It the month of our  wedding anniversary and it was just last year that we celebrated our Wedding/Renewal-our last anniversary together.

Three weeks later, it is Valentine’s Day…memories and  milestones in time. That is what is ahead and I must be better prepared and more aware that grief is waiting in these early days of 2009.

Janurary 1st….Dan died 6 months ago today…

A Daughter’s Sorrow; A Christmas Wish

On my blog roll, there is a site listed  “Just My Thoughts”. It belongs to my husband’s oldest daughter. On this site, she writes about her father’s illness, her children and other things that are close to her heart.

One of entries was about her fear of loosing the memory of her father’s voice and how she lost her “Protector”. She calls and emails from time to time, but, as for many, the contact with me causes her pain. I am the remenant of her father and the hurt is just too much to bear.

She  mentioned that others have memories that she does not have. Some are good and some are not so good. I  posted this comment on her blog.

Dear One,
You knew the real person that lived inside your dad. He didn’t allow many to see this side, but you did and he wanted you to know him.

Yes, you are the same artist and lover of beauty that he was. He couldn’t live without music playing in the house. He was always looking for that inspiring sight that he recorded deep inside his soul. As with you, his innermost being was that of an artist.

 

I believe that, had he been granted the wish to live his life over, he would would choose to be that long haired “hippie dude” playing the bass violin in the symphony orchestra…a true bohemian, who would have thrilled to the sounds of music created by the orchestra every night.

He would have sculpted the wonders around him and yes, he would have ridden his Harley as his primary vehicle.

Like a diamond,  he was so multi faceted, and you, dear heart,  are a part of that flawed but, brilliant gem.

I am coming to terms with the lack of his presence. I can imagine him riding a moonbeam or I can see him standing before God’s throne singing the songs of the Redeemed.

Never forget, angels cannot sing about being redeemed. They can never know, as a personal experience, the price of sin and its effects on our human life.

You father knew the experience of redemption. Your father knew exactly from what  he was saved and how much he was forgiven.

Regarding those things that people remember about the dark side of your father’s life, unfortunately, they may not be able to know nor can they comprehend this miracle. It is their loss.

Your father knew all of the things that are remembered by others. Now, he knows  his freedom to be all that he was created to be. 

I lived with him during his metamorphasis and that is why I am so confident in the man that was renewed.

Even in sorrow, I can rejoice that your father left this world a wonderfully changed person He left a completed man….He was REDEEMED…and God has welcomed him with open arms…

It will forever be my privilege to have known the man before redemption and after it. I loved both men and I am the richer for it…so are you, Dear-heart..You are the fruit of the man that lives on. Your children are the testament to his life…

         

           Love always,

           Mom II

  

As I thought more about the man that my husband became, I realized that it was not me, not circumstance, not anything of this earthly life that caused him to become that wonderful man.

 

It was  a “Saving Grace”, the unmerited favor, of his God that penetrated his heart and caused him to finally become what God intended from beginning of the foundations of this earth.

 

He did reach this final goal.

 

I believe all of us are doing the same. We are on a lifelong journey to discover and to become what our Creator designed us to be.

 

My husband was a loving and caring man. He was a concerned and compassionate father.  He was a man who could not allow a day to pass without praying for those he loved.

 

He was the man that said, ” Oh, Lord, let there be nothing between You and me.”

 

It must be have been hard for his oldest daughter to hear what others said about her father. Those who once knew him but never knew him as the finished product can never comprehend the change in him. They knew the “old man”. They never knew the “new man”.

 

As Jesus said to those who were amazed by the miracle of Lazarus rising from the grave, “Loose that man and let him go”. That is what I want to say to those who only remember the man he was.  “Loose him and let go of what was, he is not the same man.” 

 

He is no longer bound by his actions of the past or the opinions of others. He no longer must pay the consequences for his actions and choices. He was loosed from those things that bound his heart and soul for so long. He is finally free to love without fear.

 

It is sad that there are those who will never see the miracle of a changed life because they insist on holding on to the pain and anger of the past.  Little do they know that they are running the risk of becoming one as a person bound in grave clothes… tied to past pains and old resentments.  

 

While it is human to bear resentment and grudges, the human soul cannot live with long remembered pains. Should we refuse to forgive, and hold onto to these past hurts, these resentments can become a great price that is paid on the alter of “dead” issues. 

 

They can hang like a millstone around our necks. The longer we refuse to let them go, their weight increases with bitterness. . As bitterness grows, it eventually crushes the life out of a person.

 

No one can bind my husband any longer. I like to imagine him riding a raindrop as he once rode his Harley.  If that isn’t fast enough for him, I can imagine him riding on the tail of a gas filed comet. In my mind’s eye, I see singing in the choir of the Redeemed.

 

I fail to understand why our human condition continues to look for him here? He is no longer held down by this world. He is free…and he is at Peace…

 

This man loved Christmas. I have no problem imagining him singing the original songs of the Heavenly Hosts. I can hear him sing along with the Angels as they sing their songs of comfort and joy  to the shepherds.

epiphany1It brings me joy to think that he  is celebrating with the original angelic throng who sang God’s announcement of

                  ” Peace On Earth, Good Will to Man”.

As the final moments of this Christmas Day come, I wonder, if, I listen carefully, maybe, I can hear his sweet tenor harmonizing with God’s angels?.

 

 He has every reason to sing.  He will gladly lift his voice and join in the heavenly celebration because he knows that, we on earth, are remembering that his Savior was born…Somehow, this brings me comfort. I am doing my best to have a good Christmas….I wish you all a Merry one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Geese

statuesque1

It was a moment that struck me as picturesque. The newly harvested field of corn seem to blend into their gray colored feathers. The only contrast was the black bands around their necks. They were standing perfectly still. This in a field that was a  bounty for the flock standing at attention.

I expected to see them bow their heads and begin feeding on the loose kernels of corn, but instead, they were like soldiers outside Buckingham Palace; erect and still as statues.  What was their focus of vigilance? It was curious.

For me, scenery with geese was nothing out of the ordinary, but I am at a loss as to understand this concrete like behavior. They just stood there facing toward the east.

After 40 minutes or so,  another flock of geese began to circle overhead. Their cries and calls seem to stir the statues in the field. Both the statues and the fliers called back and forth until the arriving band landed on the pond behind the field.  They all began to stir. Those on the pond first and then those in the field began to move and shift into a preflight mode.

In a few minutes, all rose from the earth and circled the pond and field a couple of times. With an unseen signal or a specific cry was sounded and they were off. The lot of them were flying in a predetermined direction. I watched until they were no longer in sight. I was spellbound.

Awestruck by their percision and the timing of the gathering of the flock, I stood amazed by the way they waited on the others to arrive. How did they know that this smaller band was coming?

As an afterthought, I realized, for a moment in time, my thoughts of sadness and loss were suspended to observe one of God’s wonders. sunset-and-geeseI am sure there are those who know much more about the habits and migration of geese than I, but this was so curious to me.

As I contemplated the autumn scene, I wondered as to why they were still here?

 Everyone, even humans, know that the days of ice, snow and unrelenting cold are about to descend upon us, so why are these geese waiting? How did they know to wait for the smaller band of travelers? Why were they not  south  already? Why were they so still and facing east? So many questions about what I witnessed and no answers, but I don’t know if I really want answers. I was lost in wonder.

The first thing to capture my attention was,  while standing in a field filled with food, the total lack of motion by these large birds. I was astounded; not a ruffle of a feather or a bob of their head. How can any living creature stay that still and silent for 45 minutes?

But, the greater mystery is how  were they able to capture my attention and distract me from my constant feeling of loss? For those 45 minutes, I was transported from my loneliness and dread over the approaching holiday season to an attentive observer of that present moment.

After the geese were gone for a while,  i realized that I appreciated those minutes of wonder. I became aware that I found relief from my grief. Because of my curiosity over the behavior of 20-50 geese in a newly harvested field of Indiana, I was mesmerized by the curiosity of the moment.

I think that I saw a glimpse of clearing in the fog of grief in those 45 minutes. I needed the reprieve and comfort while I pondered a mystery that was before me. It gave me hope. Hope that I will begin finding my way out of these continual shadows that live in my heart…

Leave it to God and His creation to fascinate me!  I have always been entranced by the outdoor “Cathedrals” I find in his Creation. I have thrilled to the Majesty of the Red Rocks of Sedona Arizona and I marveled at the wildlife in the wilderness of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. These were my heart felt places of worship. 

Just as it was here where my teenage heart called out to God with the intent on knowing Him. Now, I may again, walk pastures and fields in open conversation.  I know that He will meet me here. This is where I first opened my heart and my mouth and walked and talked with my God. It was in His Creation, not a man made building, that my awestruck heart came to know true worship.

Maybe, it will be as it was then.  Maybe it will be in this place of security and familiarity I will be able to call out to my Creator, my Lord and Savior and end this silence between us.  Maybe, it will be in the midst of these woods that I will lift my voice in keening of my mourning and finally give my inner pain back to the One who holds our sorrows?

I know that My God and Creator can do nothing until I am willing to release this pain. It is not His lacking, but my unwillingness to let go.

In a strange way, I may be afraid that I will loselife-mates2 the final part of my husband that I carry inside of me. This pain is one of the few things that exists that is shared by our hearts. Yet, I know that my husband would never want me to keep company with him through sorrow. He loved me too much to have me stay this hurt.

As with geese who mate for life, I too must make a choice as whether to stay with my fallen mate or leave for the life-giving horizons.

new-sunSomehow, I realize that I have stood perfectly still while waiting for him to somehow join me again so that we may continue our flight together. Now, it is the changing of season and I must either stay by his lifeless body and eventually die, or I must join the others who are flying to a new destination…

I suspose I could do a little online research and become more knowledgeable of the habits of geese, but somehow, I don’t want to spoil this learning observation that I received from the Heart of Creation.

Maybe, it is a beginning of a sunrise out of this long sunset and night that I have been living. Maybe, it is a little wind beneath my wings.

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

The Video says it for me….I can’t add much to what the song says.

Everyday, as I, in fear and trembling, leave the sacturary of my home to face new people with serious illnesses, it is this song that comes to my mind.

When I am so tired that I don’t know if I am going to be able to force myself to get into that old car and drive an hour to my first stop, I have to recall that “It’s Gonna Be Worth It”.

When I look into the faces of children and into the faces of the aged, my heart breaks for them and the betrayal of their bodies that bind them into a shell of the life that they once knew, I hear the melody and words that says, ” I don’t understand Your ways, but I give you my song, give You all of my praise…”

I especially don’t understand the pressure cooker of events that seem to befall me as I deal with the greatest loss my heart, mind and soul has ever known. I just know that I must not fail to live. If I fail, then who would take my place to tell of this man who was taken too soon from those who loved him.

But, most of all, there is only one way that I know that I can survive this crushing pain that consumes me body, mind, and soul. It is through my faith that I look past the hurt of my heart and cry out to my Lord…

I especially identify with the lyrics that says that He is using my pain to pull me closer into His ways….and if I must walk the rest of this life alone, I want to see His face. I want to see the Mysteries that my husband now knows.

He would quote the verse that says, “I would see Jesus”.

That was his goal. He wrote in one of his prayers that He wanted NOTHING between him and his Lord…I saw with my own eyes the smile on his face when he left this earth. The only thought I had was that he must have just seen Jesus…

I would see Jesus and I shall give him my “song” and all of my praise…because He is pulling me closer and bearing my pain…

For today, that is all that I need. I no longer live in my tomorrows because my days are full of bringing a little hope to those who are hurting in ways that my heart can understand. It is my hope that I am a “light” into their world and that they are God’s light in mine…

So as my weary heart, soul and body cries out in pain, I play this song and remind myself that Heaven is a little sweeter because my husband is there, but more than that, Heaven is my Hope and seeing Jesus face is worth it all…

In that I have absolutely no doubt….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Thank You, Lord For Another Beautiful Morning”

I found this post this morning. It was dated in June and I don’t know why I failed to post it. I decided to post it now. It is a reflection of the man, the mature and completed man, that came out from all of the troubled youth and adult life that he led. It shows how the terminally ill come to value the next morning. He knew that he lived on borrowed time for the last 2 1/2 years…and he was so grateful for each day.

My husband is a morning person and I am not. He has always risen early for work, sometimes at 3 AM, so to take whatever load to its destination and to get back home in the early afternoon. He says that he feels his best when he first wakes up. How I envy that quality.

I am a “second shift” kind of person. I naturally wake around 8 AM, that is if I went to sleep before midnight. I like to take a hour or two to fully wake up and drink my several cups of coffee. I don’t like answering questions or making decisions until I feel that I am fully awake. By 10 AM, I am usually ready to start doing things around the house and get my day started. That is my natural biorhythm.

When I hear my husband up and about, I make myself get up and check on him. I want to know if he is up because he wants to be or if he is up because there is something that isn’t quite right. After I determine that he is OK, sometimes, I lay back down. It is then when I hear his morning “talk” with the Lord.

Usually, the first things he says out loud is, “Good Morning, Lord. Thank you for another beautiful morning. Thank you for letting me stay for another day. I am yours, you know and I am waiting to see Your Hand to save my life, but if it isn’t to be, it is OK….”

There is more, but I feel that I am eavesdropping on a very private conversation and I try not to listen. Sometimes, I go back to sleep or then the other times, I hear his prayer for his children, grandchildren, parents, and for me.

The tears roll down my face as I think back to the days when I didn’t have a husband who prayed for me. My first husband was at best an agnostic and at worst, an atheist. I had prayed many years for this man to come to know that there was a kind and loving God who knew his name.

When the day came that my first husband wanted to leave me after 17 years, I finally let him go. One of the main reasons was that I knew that he would never share my faith or my love for God.

Three years later, my present husband came into my life. As a son of a minister, there was no doubt as to his faith. He didn’t always practice what he had learned at his grandmother’s knee (she also was a minister and a female Evangelist). He had his rebelliousness, but there was no doubt that he knew that there was a God.

As I hear his prayer, I am so grateful for a husband who prays for me. Many times, we have dropped everything to hold each other and pray for the situation that we were in at the time. Many times we have laid in bed and talked about God and about His Word. We have laid in bed and sang the old old hymns blending our voices into one voice lifting the melody heavenward.

We sang together when we were teenagers. The tember of our voices complimented each other beautifully and it was the harmony that was felt between us that made our voices as one. That has been the nature of our relationship. Harmony.

This morning, I join him in his prayer of Thanksgiving for another day, another beautiful morning with the sounds of summer as our personal symphony. I am so grateful that he is still here with me. I know that whatever this day brings, it has been ordained by Heaven and in that knowledge, there is peace.

So, I echo, “Thank You, Father, for another beautiful Morning, for this day and for all that You have ordained in our life. Thank You for all that surrounds us and is for us. May we always be grateful for all that this day brings. For now and always, let us give thanks….”

In light of what I am about to write regarding his early teen years and his young adult life, I wanted there to be a comparison of the “finished product”, of the man that he became before he died. Like many who have many talents, his path in this life was a difficult one. But, in the end, he did find peace, joy and love…and so did I.

Finding this draft of a post again brought tears over the loss of a man who prayed for me daily. I miss sharing our faith and praying for each other. I have to believe that he still prays for me. Now, the prayers that he offers for me, his children, grandchildren and all those he loves are in heavenly places….and, yes, I am still grateful for his life and for our life together and I do give “Thanks” for having him for the years that I did.

Life Does Go On….

Today is a day that my husband hoped to see and even though he is not here on this earth, I still want to believe he is aware of this moment in time.

This morning about 5:30 AM, I received a call from my husband’s son. He was letting me know that his wife was in labor and that today was to be the day that we all were waiting for.

At 8:30 AM, he called to say that little Emma was here. After coming home from church, I had a message saying to check my Facebook account. Pictures were waiting for me and what wonderful pictures they are.

Little Emma is beautiful. And, so is her mommy. What a wonder and what a miracle is giving birth!

A little later after looking at the pictures over and over again, I thought how proud my husband would be to have another grand daughter and that she is the namesake of his mother. He loves little girls.  Well, in fact, he just loved women, but he especially loves little girls just like I love little boys…he would have been so thrilled that his life is continuing through his children’s children.

It was then that the phrase that sometimes gets stuck in my throat came to mind, “Life does go on…” When I repeated this phrase to myself, I could smile and yet, a tear came to my eye. Little Emma is one of those hopes that my husband held onto as he fought to survive. He wanted to see this day.

This day will have its bittersweet moments, but how can there not be joy when this wonderful child filled with hope and promise has made her entrance and blessed our lives for just being. Nothing can spoil this moment in time as my husband’s legacy takes another human form.

It will be exciting to watch her grow into the wonderful woman that God has intended. It will be my honor to watch for both her PapPap and me.

Yes, this is one time that hearing “Life goes on…” will not cut both ways. It is a great day. Happy Birthday, Emma….

Love,

Your NanNan

Thou, Oh Lord, Are A Shield For Me

So far, things have been going in the same direction as was started on the day my husband died. It seems that it is not “when it rains, it pours” kind of thing. It feels like a 100 year flood type of scenario.

As I wrote in another post, my lawn tractor blew a head or something. I must buy a manual because my son, who was a helicopter mechanic in the Marines is at a loss as to what this engine is missing. He said that something wasn’t put back together correctly, so he needs a manual to try and find what was done when the old man that we bought the tractor from rebuilt the engine…no one knows and should we ask the old man, he may not remember…I don’t have a clue what the parts will cost after we find what is missing…it is a worry. In the mean time, the grass grows higher and higher…

This morning, I went to church. I didn’t feel like talking to many folks (most are family) so I purposefully went late and I was one of the first to leave when the dismissal was given.

When I got into my car, it refused to start. Now, I know that this car has had it self almost rebuilt one piece at a time. The last thing that was changed out was the starter. All it would do is click…that is the sound that a celinoid makes when it is refusing or unable to engage.

 Because it didn’t “zing”, I knew that the Bendix in the starter wasn’t the problem…it was acting like it was the celinoid wasn’t able to unengaged or  it was stuck on the flywheel. It didn’t matter.  It is the starter.

As I sat there turning the ignition key and listening to the useless clicks, I remembered how difficult it was for my husband to put this starter on in April. My husband was trying to prevent what was occuring at this very moment. The tears started  to well up and I told them to “dry it up” because people’s pity is more than I can bear right now.

So as in all things refurbished, something has decided not to perform. One of my many cousins walked over and asked what was wrong. I asked him which part of the car did he suggest that I kick first…he smiled and said, “pick one”. No help.

I knew that when the celinoid gets stuck, you can tap/hit it and sometimes that will make it unstick, so one of the congregationers went to his truck and got a balpine hammer. Both my cousin and this kind man were trying to find a way to get to the hammer on the starter, but that wasn’t easy due to the location of the starter in the engine compartment.  Getting a good swing and hit wasn’t going to be easy… 

Almost everyone that was in the parking lot had left except us. I was almost resigned that someone was going to have to take me home when I said, ” Hit it again, guys.” That time, the starter engaged the engine roared to life. I was so relieved. I made a mental note to myself. “Don’t leave home without a hammer and jumper cables.”

I don’t know how long this thing is going to act up, but I can’t stop driving this car. The other vehicle is a diesel Ford F-250 pickup truck. It has the wrong gears in it for fuel mileage and I can’t afford $4.73/gallon. That is the price for diesel fuel today. Earlier in the week, it was over $5.00/gallon….without income, these vehicles are going to leave me worse off than I am already…buying anything newer is out of the question. Cancer has destroyed any ability for me to have credit. Besides, I don’t need a payment of any sort at this moment.

As I was mulling all of this worry, stress and concern in my mind, a song came into my head. I didn’t recognize it at first, but the melody became so strong, I started to hum it…then I stopped and thought to myself, “What is that song????”.

When the I got to the chorus of the song, I began singing the words..It was a song from the Brooklynn Tabernacle Choir CD that my husband and I listened to a lot…the words are something like this….it is based on Psalms 3:3…

“Many are they increased who trouble me.  Many are they who rise up against me.

Many are saying of me, “There is not help for you in God”

But, Thou, oh Lord are a Shield for me, my glory and the Lifter of my head.

I cry unto the Lord with my voice and He heard me out of His Holy Hill.

I laid me down and slept; I awaked for the Lord sustained me…

 But, Thou, oh Lord, are a Shield for me, the glory and the Lifter of my head…..”

The melody of the song is thrilling and somehow, the words have infiltrated that emptiness that seemed to  attach itself to my every waking moments. I don’t have a clue as to how all of these troubles that are increased against me will be resolved.  I don’t know how I will overcome this terrible hole that is in my soul. The “wheres”  and the “whys” shall remain unanswered. But, at this moment, I know that I am being sustained by my Heavenly Father who hears my heart’s cry.

There is a stirring inside of my being that tells me not to worry about the loss of security that my husband’s passing  placed in my heart. I only need to remember that it is ” The Lord God Almighty that is my Shield, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head…

The part that has invaded my soul is that God is my Shield, The Lifter of my head so that I will not be ashamed or pitied. He has taken my husband’s stead and has become my Protector.

Since the Soc Security money was taken from me, I fear the cost of everything….I don’t know how  all of these “troubles” with the mower, the car or with anything else that decides to become an unwanted surprise will resolve,  but, at this moment, I am realizing the protection that far outreaches that of any husband.

God knew He would be receiving my husband so He has made His Provision for me. My God has become my Protector/Shield. I must learn to relax a little and trust that My God will be there to provide what I need when I need it.

 To relinquish control to God is not an easy thing for someone like me. I truly like being the “Project Manager” and controlling production/time tables, but right now, I am totally out of my comfort zone which translates to being “out of control”.

I have a choice. I either trust in my faith and allow the same faith that got my husband from this world into the next to do what is best for me, or I can stress over everything and begin to unwind as a jeweler watches the spring unwind in an old pocket watch.

I choose the first option. I know the Hand of God when I see it and it has moved on my behalf in the past. I must remember the mighty things that He has already done and I must do all that I know to do. Bu,t when the troubles increase and they are more than I can manage, I must let my God be my Shield/Protector, my Glory and the Lifter of my head.

Compounded Pain III

Because of the Memorial Service, my anger and my problems over the final arrangements faded. It helped to forget the upset when I saw the people who came to my husband’s Memorial Service. It was so good to see people that my husband loved. As I wrote in “Overwhelmed”, my husband received his last wishes and I feel a completion that surprises me a little. Maybe it is knowing that I kept my promise to him.

 I am still receiving cards and condolences from his family, my family and from those who we know in our small town. Little did I know, when Monday arrived, the other compounding pain was going to shoot through me like a knife.

As I mentioned in my past posts, my husband and I lived on his disability benefit for the past 2 1/2 years and the benefit came into our account on a set date.

After the service on Thursday, it was on Saturday, that I realized I had bills due and owing. I called the bank automated phone line and I learned that our account had received the disability payment. The main thing to remember is that the payments are paid a month in arrears, so July payment is for the month of June.

Since the time that my husband was accepted in August of 2005, his benefits didn’t begin until the last week of February of 2006. The time from August to February seemed endless. Until my husband was  disabled, I thought that everyone was paid on the first of the month like my parents, but between 2004 and 2006, payments were allotted according to the week of your birth date. My husband’s birthday fell at the end of the month, January’s payment didn’t arrive until the last week of February….

Once things started, we adjusted to the late benefit, that is until his second ex wife petitioned to have child support withheld out of his disability benefit. She was aware of his diagnosis and the child was 19 years old with her own children. At that time, we had no one and no court to appeal, so this allotment continued until February of this year. By having this allotment taken, the payment changed from the fourth week of the month to the 3rd of the month, however, the benefit payment date did not revert back to the origninal schedule.

As I said, I checked our account and the deposit was in the account. I thought that I was ready to pay for utilities and those things that are due. As I began writing the checks,  I felt a little hesitation, a feeling that something may not be right and I decided to take a  “Wait and see ” perspective before spending any money.

It is a good thing that I waited because at 7:38 AM on Monday, Social Security retracted the payment. Thank Goodness, there was enough money in the account that the retraction didn’t place the account into a negative balance. I learned later that, if I would have used any of that money, Social Security would have demanded it back with approximately 20% interest. I thought only “Loan Sharks” were allowed to charge that kind of interest????

Finding that the money was gone was traumatic. What little peace of mind I had when I started out this week completely evaporated after learning of the retraction….in fact, I was quite frightened.

As my daughter in law searched the Internet, she found a site that may help me recover the payment. I must deal with Social Security anyway because I have to apply for the death benefit …as if $255.00 is going to cover much. So, I am hoping that this last pain can be reversed. All I really want is no more surprises like I had with the funeral home and with Social Security. But, I am sure there are more to come.

With these kinds of moments, I find myself more scared than pained. When I realize that what I am feeling is fear, I have to slow down my breathing and tell myself, “God will make a way when there is no other way.” I have to stop and appreciate that I really am OK and there is nothing any harder out there than what I have already lived through. 

Fear is a tricky kind of thing.  If I let it,  fear can cause me to run ahead into a future that may not ever materialize. It is the “What if???” Syndrome and I cannot allow myself to go there. I just can not.

I remind myself  to take each minute, moment, hour and day one step at a time and not run ahead of the reality no matter how much I want to run away from this pain.

It is just one more thing in which life doesn’t feel fair,  but then life isn’t fair especially  when it leaves you alone in your mid 50’s.

There are moments that I just don’t have the emotional energy to slug my way through all of this, but the reality is that I must “buck up” and get on with this fight. My main problem is that I always could fight for someone else easier than i could fight for myself. \

 But, those days are finished. I must be my own advocate.

The next day, after the shock wore off, I figured that this may be a customary practice for Social Security to  retract the benefit payment. I suspect that once Social Security is notified of the passing of a disabled person, the benefit is automatically retracted. I suppose that the government counts on the people just letting things be.

It takes a lot to try and  recover the money. Forms, time on the phone, pressing for more information; all of those kinds of things that take a toll when you are feeling like you misplaced the other half of yourself. Emotionally, people cannot face the hassle.

There may also be an appeal process that I may have to go through because, the payment is for the month of June and my husband did survive that month. Expenses for June continued on and the payment rightfully is due him and due to me.

So far, this part of the journey seems more compounded and complicated than I expected.

I really don’t know what I expected other than this huge amount of grief that I feel. I knew that I would feel lost and afraid, but I didn’t expect to have all of these events mount on top of me when it has only been 10 days since he left.

My head tells me that all of this will lessen. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know that I must survive and live a life that is still mine. I just haven’t discovered how to get all of this from my head and down into the innermost recesses of my heart, therefore, the tears…all of this would trouble my husband so much.  He just wanted to take care of me and all I wanted in life was to take care of him…I miss him so..and this compounded pain doesn’t help anything right now….

” If I Don’t See You Again, It Has Been An Honor “

I have just come inside after trying to mow our acre lawn. I seem to have lost a part of the exhaust on the old Bolens mower and it seems to have overheated and blown a head gasket. At least, that is my best guess as it blows white smoke from under the hood…

I stopped mowing when it started to belch out the smoke and when I raised the hood, oil was thrown all over the exhaust. When I opened the breather, it was full of oil…most likely, head gasket…it is going to be a long summer.

I started the LawnBoy push mower to try and finish up, but I finally gave up. I am really tired after today’s events and my allergies are having a fit. What a disappointment.

I was looking forward to mowing until sunset…around 9:30 PM. I do a lot of thinking while I ride the old lawn tractor. I needed to do some thinking this evening. I needed to ponder on what our family doctor said to my husband today.

Usually, on Wednesday, after his usual patients, our family doctor has us come in to do a little talking and then he takes my husband through some peaceful imagining and sometimes, he lays his hands on my husband abdomen.

Early on, we learned of our physician’s commitment to holistic healing and we have enjoyed this 45 to hour time that is used to block out the events of the week and look ahead to whatever comes into our lives. Today when our doctor saw him, the first question that he asked my husband was how much he weighed.

My husband told him and then he looked on the chart and saw that he had lost over 20 pounds since he last weighed in at the office. That was about 2 weeks ago. That is a lot of loss in a short time. It seems to be advancing and the loss of weight tells most of us that the cancer is winning the battle.

My husband enjoyed today’s session immensely and he got up off of the table to feeling like a new person. His energy level was increased, he felt a sense of well being and he was renewed. His fatigue seemed to be gone. That was amazing.

Our doctor informed us that he would be gone for two weeks and then he said, ” I expect you to be here when I return, but, if I don’t see you again, it has been an honor” and he put out his hand to shake my husband’s…

I wasn’t surprised by this statement. I think that my husband will be here when our doctor returns, but I also see why our doctor wanted to say this to him. There is no guarantee that he will be here. The time is getting closer for my husband’s journey on Cancer Road to end.

My husband complains that he is so tired and he is short of breath when he moves around too much. He doesn’t have the will to push himself to do things as he has always done in the past. This kind of fatigue is beyond just being tired. It is an absence of life force, it is an emptying and a lack of replenishment of life…

My husband has said a few things that lets me know that he is aware that he cannot continue on much longer. He sees his face in the mirror and he doesn’t recognize the man that is standing there. His eyes look so big and open now. He sees that his muscle mass is dwindling.

It doesn’t make it easier to see this and make these kinds of realizations. He wants to live and he wants to be a part of his children and grand children’s lives. He knows that all, but my oldest grandson, are too young to remember him when they grow up. He wants them to remember him, not from photos or from stories; he wants them to have their own memories. But, most likely, they will not.

Our time with our family doctor has been such a blessing. This young doctor has a wonderful heart and he does practice the healing arts and not just the science. He truly cares for my husband. That bond has grown over the months and it was clear that saying this to my husband struck a deep cord within his heart.

There are no words to express our gratitude towards this remarkable young man. He has been a great part of this journey and he has played one of the most important roles in my husband’s survival…I truly hope God blesses him as he has blessed us…

As for the next few days, I will have to push mow this monstrous lawn. Summer is just beginning and that is a lot of pushing and shoving….maybe, I will plant wildflowers and place signs along the road for people to not mow, native wildflowers growing…