It Was Only A Dream

I felt his touch and I could smell the scent of his skin. Then, I saw his face.

He was smiling that warm, filled with mischief smile that he reserved just for me.

Without speaking a word I poured out my heart… In my  heart I heard his voice  echo my words. I didn’t hear words, but I heard an unspoken melody that emanated from his heart to mine.

It seems that our souls are as entwined as deeply as they were before he died. The bond is alive and as strong in death as it was in life.

Then he invited me to nestle by his side, to hold me in his arms.. .. as I slipped into his arms, I felt that I was finally safe.

I felt my mind, soul and body relax for the first time since the day he died. I returned to my place.  I was safely cradled in his embrace. 

Yet, as I felt his warmth, I knew that this wasn’t occurring in the present. I was aware that he and I were in the land of dreams and this fading moment cannot  be measured in time. I knew that it couldn’t last.

The tears began to flow down my face as I whispered my words of love in his ear.  As I gazed into his eye, he was fading before me. As he became transparent, I was willing myself to not wake.

But, I did. As he faded from my dream filled eyes, I woke to my tear drenched pillow. Stardust had evaporated and he was gone.

On my pillow were tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of deep longing to stay in those strong arms.

He held me. I touched him.

At this moment, I know that I am awake and alive because I feel the pain of being left behind again.

It was only a dream, a vapor, a wisp of  whimsy…

It was wondrous. It was heart wrenching. It was comfort. It was security…all of these things captured in the state of dreams.

After all of these month of missing him, I was blessed to see  his face one more time and…

Then he was gone.

How ironic!

Today I prayed and told God that I realized that I was open to the idea that I desired to share life’s path with someone and asked God to show me if there was someone that would be a friend and companion, possibly a mate….and then Dan came to me in a dream…

I can’t help but wonder if the dream is the  answer to this prayer or was the dream my way of letting Dan go so someone else can come into my life? Is this dream my final goodbye? Or, is the dream telling me that no one will be in my life but Dan?

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In The Living Year III

As I write my husband’s life story, I see more and more the hurt and anger that festered inside of him. This all began from trying to be the “good son”, the obedient son, and the frustration that came with his efforts. These emotions spilled over into his adult years as well. As a son, he was always obedient, with a “twist”.

An example of his being obedient with a twist was when his father wanted him to drive the church bus. This happened when he was in his early 20’s and he drove a “big rig” since he was 19 years old so, naturally, he could drive a bus. However, at this time in his life,  he didn’t attend his father’s church. He had enough of church by the time he left his parent’s home. But when his father asked, he always obeyed. On his only day off of work, he agreed to pick up all of the kids and others who needed transportation to church.

Keeping true to his rebellion, he would pick up the kids and others, let everyone off of the bus at the church, then, he would pick up all his “hippie” buddies. While everyone was at church, he and his “friends” would smoke up the bus with a little “weed”. He did as he was asked and then did as he wanted. Yes, this wasn’t very wise, but it was so like him and his way of being obedient with a “twist”.

Over the years and after two divorces, I think his parents “gave up” on him. They gave their approval to the second son and because of the developmentally delayed status of the adopted son, they reserved most of their concern and attention for  him. They knew that my husband could take care of himself. By his early 30’s, my husband had a true love/hate relationship with his parents. This lasted for the majority of his life. I think that it was the same for his parents.

I should clarify. Over the years, time was given to my husband. It was not done from a willingness or a parental concern, but it was done in the midst of crisis or drama. My husband’s choices in his early life always brought these elements with him. He received attention.

Much like when a child needs attention and they are unable to get it positively, they will act out and receive it negatively…that seems to be the operating principle over my husband’s youth and young adult years…

As the effects of life wore on my husband and his restlessness abated, his need for peace and contentment finally won out over his need for rebellion.

Over the years of our marriage, my husband and I “worked” on his “Father Hunger”. We bought books, tapes and listened to sermons that addressed the unending needs of an adult child when they lack a relationship with their father. My husband knew that his father was repeating in him what his grandfather sowed into his father…not much time or thought.

In 2003, my husband’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. She knew that something was wrong and when they finally told her, she began to become frightened of her future. My husband tried his best to reassure her that he would always remind her of whatever she forgot. He could remember things that happened when he was 2 and 3 years old and his parents were always amazed at his accuracy.

In 2005, a CT scan of his father’s brain showed atrophy and he too began to not relate to the present. He seemed to go into a trance and do whatever my husband’s mother bid him do. He seemed to cease being an individual.

On several occasions in those early days, before my husband’s cancer was diagnosed, we told his parents that, since we lived close by that we would help in any way with whatever they needed. On many occasions my husband would go over and “check” on them.

He tried to have a conversation with his dad about things that were on his mind, but all he received was silence. 

Many times, after the fact, we would find out that they called on someone else to do what my husband said that he would do for them.  I could see the hurt in my husband’s face  with each one of these occurrences. His heart was bruised again with each incident…..He finally gave up on the hope that he could resolve his issues with his parents. He had to let them go…

In the months prior to his passing, he gave up on calling them. They didn’t remember that he was sick or they remembered that his brother had prostate cancer, but didn’t remember that he was sick. He felt worse after trying to talk to them and, afterwards, it drained him emotionally so he stopped calling. For him, It was too painful to bear their dementia and his cancer.

The final week of my husband’s life, I spoke to my husband’s brother about whether he should make the effort to bring my husband’s parents down to our home. Traveling was a  difficult task and both my brother in law and I knew that they would not remember being here or seeing their son.

It seemed that my brother in law and I came to the same conclusion at the same time because as I called him, he was about to call me. I said that it didn’t matter if they remembered seeing my husband or not. If it were one of our children, we would want to see our child, so it must be with my husband’s parents.

By this time, my husband was unable to communicate with us. His level of consciousness was anyone’s guess at this point. When my husband’s brother said that they were coming, the children and I cleared space for chairs to be by my husband’s bedside…

I was not feeling well that day. I was having a major physical reaction to knowing that my husband was hours away from dying. The hospice nurse had instructed me to take my anti anxiety medication and lay down. I was sleeping when they arrived. The children assisted them.

I woke up after they had been here for a couple of hours. I knew that they would not stay much longer than that. As I lay on the couch between being fully awake and still drowsy, I heard something amazing.

My husband’s mother was talking to him in that voice that every child knows. It is the one where you are sick and your mother’s voice is as soothing as any medication or medical remedy. My husband couldn’t see his mother because she was standing by the window and he was facing away from it. The next moment I heard a cry come out from my husband.

With every ounce of energy he had left, his voice rang out, “Mom!!!”. No one will know just how difficult it was for him to say that word! It was his desperate attempt to reach her and It took every ounce of life left in him. All of us knew that she could never appreciate that is was one of his lasts words heard on this earth.

In many ways, it sums up their relationship. He was crying out for his parents and they never truly heard him. They were always lost in a fog when it came to their first son…

Yes, my husband’s parents are still living, but they are not here. They are in a place of confusion, a twilight of shadows, that robbed my husband of an opportunity to express his love for them and they for him. We think that we have years and years to tell our parents the hidden things, the wonderful treasure of memories that we have of them and us.

The reality for my husband was that, even when he tried to overcome the obstacles that were in their relationships, they could never listen and hear him. That moment of reconciliation never happened for him.  Dementia took his parents before death took him.

It is during the act of living that we take the opportunity to tell those we love how we feel. It is in the memories that we make that we feel their love and acceptance. It is too late for my husband and for me to express ourselves to our parents.

Now is always the best time to tell those you love how important they are to you……Now is always the best time….

1968 Through 1969

Before writing this part of my husband’s life, I needed to talk to his brother. Four years my husband’s junior, he remembered events on which I needed more information.

His brother said in one of his sermons (yes, he is a pastor, too) on Martin Luther King Day that he remembered my husband coming home from school on a daily basis battered and bloodied. After school, those who resented his ROTC role as peacekeeper in the halls of the high school would wait for him and beat him. Of course, he gave as good as he got and again, his parents were called to the school.

My husband’s views of race were very much influenced by the riots and the beatings that he received. He told of a particular incident that happened during the riots.

He said that, during the worst rioting, a girl was taken by several boys and he could hear her screams for help. As he rushed to her rescue, he was ambushed by several other boys and taken to the school swimming pool. There, these boys held my husband under the water with the intent to drown him. My husband spoke often of his feelings of helplessness as he heard the girl’s cry for help go unanswered. He never let himself off of the hook for her fate. He never stopped to think about his own life being in jeapordy. He was tormented by the fact just that he was unable to help this girl.

This particular event was the seed that was planted in my husband’s heart of racial prejudice and hatred. Over his lifetime, it yielded a bountiful harvest. He was forever changed and hardened by his role as peacekeeper and ROTC. This hatred would surface from time to time especially when his daughter was interested in dating a boy of color.

This was the beginning of his darker side; the side that he would hide from his parents and from those he loved. He never wanted those he loved to see it because of its great verosity. He wanted to shield others from this part of himself, but it would continue to grow.

In early 1969, his parents made a decision to leave the Chicago area. They believed that in order to save my husband’s life, they needed to change geography. That was an acceptible option in those days, now, we know with those who are troubled or on drugs, changing location does nothing. As with most everyone who has had a drug problem, moving locations does little to help them. Like the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”, my husband found those who were like minded where ever he went.

So it was, in 1969, the family was uprooted again and they moved 500 hundred miles from northern Chicago, IL and came to “Cornfield County” Indiana, my hometown.

His father became my pastor and the Son of the Preacher Man walked into my life on a weekly basis…and our Love Story begins….

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.

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….

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….

These Past Few Days

This week has been a very difficult one. I find that I restrain myself from becoming to familiar with the daily routine or from becoming accustomed to  everyday life. Why? Because I am afraid.

I am afraid that just when I come to such a place, there will be a change or an emergency that upsets what I have grown accustomed. I am afraid to take life “for granted” like I did before Cancer came…

This week has had a few days like the ones that I have always dreaded. Truth is, I have dreaded many days since that afternoon when all that the doctor could say was, ” I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I am soooo sorry.” But, these kinds of days and the changes that they contained are the kind that I have been watching for since the beginning.

I believed that I saw it before, but I was mistaken. In January of this year, I saw him fade. I saw him loose hope and he predicted that he would be gone from this earth in March. Thankfully, his prediction was wrong and he not only made it through March, but April and now, we are beginning the month of May.

Currently, things have changed. I see it. Even when I refuse to let myself think about what I see, I feel it. He has an increase in pain. All of the medicine can’t bring relief. As a nurse, I am not without a few skills in regards to medication and I know how to get more ” bang for your buck” with his pain pills, but even with my knowledge, it is not enough.

I see the palor that is on his skin and I watch him become so fatigued. Doing the simplest of things, I see a different kind of recognition in his face. He tells me and his doctor that he is staying postive. Yet, I know in the dark hours of his sleepless nights, he is battling fears; fear that he may be dying. He has so many unspoken fears.

He trys his best to not be as irritable as he feels. I see this great effort as he “bites his tongue” and remembers to ask for things politely when he really wants to yell out whatever is on his mind. He is always giving me little hugs and tells me that, “There are no words for the love I feel for you.” And I know, that he is trying to tell me, not only how much he loves me, but how grateful he is for all that I do for him…

It is tearing my heart out to watch his simple gratitude. He never takes things, no matter how small, for granted. He must have a hidden fear that I will become unable to take all of this and leave him…doesn’t everyone have that kind of fear??? I think that I would. His past tells him that there are those who would leave him should cancer been his plight in his earlier years. It cuts my heart out with a spoon to see this primevil fear rear its ugly head to him. I would never willingly leave his side nor could I leave it.

Deep inside, I know that this isn’t the hard part as yet. I know that the hardest of days come at the end of life itself. The most difficult of days and nights come when he can’t find relief from the pain. It is when the medication enfolds his mind in a semi-twilight, in a place where my words fail to reach him. It is a place that leaves him in between worlds and I can’t go there with  him …

Maybe, I haven’t had the faith that I should have. Maybe I have depended too much on those who are faithful to pray for us and uphold us. Maybe, I have failed to pray for him enough….I don’t know.

I seemed to have placed us  in these wonderful people’s care. I believed that I did this because there are times that I am too close to the situation and my ability to know how to pray or what to pray is beyond me to form words… have I failed him???

I don’t know. All I know is that right now, the pain has lifted and he sleeps. When, I covered him with my cape, he stirred and I quietly asked if the pain relented. He said it had. All I could do was say, “Thank God, thank God, oh, thank you God…” I suppose that I was praying and was not aware of it. I must have been praying because all I could do was give God thanks for the relief.

I have a feeling that I will be doing that a lot…praying without knowing and thanking God when I realize my heart’s silent cry has been heard.  I wish that I could do more, but that is the best I can do now…I am so relieved that he is relieved…I don’t care how long, just as long as he finds relief.

The tears are on my face as I write these few words. I didn’t realize that I was so stressed until these tears of relief spilled over my eyes. He must not see them. I always make sure that he doesn’t see me cry. He is a “fixer” and he will feel responsible for my tears. These are tears that he can’t fix but his heart would try….

I am afraid of these kind of days…but, I know that they may come and I hope that they will go. I hope that these days won’t stay and we can return to the little familiar ways that we have found to live. Yet, I know that I can’t take anything for granted anymore.

All I want is a quality of life for him. I want this quality right up to the very end…This is my desire. It is all I want. Just to have these most precious of days to last and to be without pain. I know that is a lot to ask, but still I must ask for these days to pass and we find a few more days…

Shadows of Unkept Promises

Tonight is a dark, cold and rainy March night. It is part of the coming of Spring. When the temperatures fluctuate, it is a sure sign that spring is coming. But, not tonight….

Tonight, is filled with grief and sorrow. Excrutiating pain is in the hearts of parents who have lost a promise. It could not be kept. They lost their child   .

One child was 16 years old. He just received his driving license last week. At the end of the week, he was gone. Gone in an accident where he lost control and hit a tree. If it were not for the horrible head injury, he looked as if he was ready to go on to school and live another day.

On the back of that brand new license, he signed that he wanted to be an organ donor. His family was aware of his wish to give life should he be denied. And, this 16 year old boy gave the gift of life. He lives on in the heart, the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, the eyes of others. He, a sacrificial lamb, gave life.

The other child was 16 months old. He was a new promise. He was still new from the hand of God. It is still unknown why this tiny life left this world. He left in the middle of the night as a wisp of vapor. A promise not kept.

All of the parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors feel this horrible loss. Once there was life; now there is unspeakable emptiness. Their hollow lives are trying to live without these wonderful promises. The grief and sorrow has effected our small town.

One of the women in our Bible Study was a nurse on duty when the teenager was brought in. Others in the group were friends, neighbors, cousins and acquaintances to both of the promises; all hearts are touched by this devastating sorrow.

The loss of a child is in a category of grief all its own. I don’t think there is anything more painful than the loss of the child. Mystery O Riley’s blog tells of a mother’s love as it mourns a mystery and a lost child. It is beyond human capacity to understand this terrible devastation. There is no way to comprehend a loss such as this and its senseless,  destructive  pain. The loss of years, loss of lifetimes gone too soon….

In light of this grief, our Bible study subject was on trusting God. Do you trust God??? Do you trust God with everything? In the deepest part of humanity, we would find an area of life where we just cannot trust God. Such is the human condition. We would much rather trust what we can do for ourselves. 

It is times like this cold, dark, rainy night that we try to comprehend these losses. It is the night when we have no light that we must make a choice. Do we choose to trust God with all of the disbelief, the unspeakable pain, the deep wounded lament with one word, “Why???”

As it rings in our ears, we are at a crossroads. Do we choose to blame God for not protecting the very life that He sent into our care to raise and watch them grow? Or do we echo Job as he said, “Even through You slay me, Yet will I trust Him”.

It is the proverbial choice that is ever before us. Trust vs Distrust? Belief or Disbelief?

For me, the answer to trusting God came in the form of a young cousin, Jeff.  At 12 years old, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor…As close knit of a family that we are, it might as well have been my younger brother that was diagnosed with cancer.

As cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents, we bonded together in a manner never experienced before Jeff’s illness. We vowed to pray and believe in God’s healing of the impossible. Some prayed, some encouraged, some searched out every promise that was in the Bible and we all stood in faith believing for a miracle.

Many miraculous things did happened. The doctors said that he would not complete high school. He did. They said that he would not see adulthood. He did. The doctors said that he would not become a father, but he did.

The years passed and the tumor returned. Again, our faith rose to this new occasion to meet this new threat and challenge. We believed that a miracle would happen and Jeff would not leave us, his wife or his daughter…but he did.

For many years, I could not speak of my cousin, Jeff. After his funeral, the bond between us all remained, but we were silent. In fact, until last week as I prepared for this chapter of the Bible study, I never spoke about Jeff. Thirty minutes before the study started, I found myself racing to my cousin’s house. The first words out of my mouth was, “Why Jeff????, Why???” The painful word was out of my mouth with a pain that had festered and was unsaid for over 30 plus years……..                                                 holding-me-when-i-cant-stand.jpg

Tomorrow…Part II

Tiring Shadows of Winter

Today, I am feeling tired….I am feeling the cold on this snowy February day. I think that I need some Spring….

When I was young, I had a terrible time getting through winter. It seemed to drag on and on. I started trying to grow plants inside…I would save them from the summer flower garden and I thought that the flowers would help me get through this time…but, I wasn’t too successful in getting them through the winter.

I seem to be able to grow most anything outside. This past year was such a disappointment with the drought. Most everything shriveled up under the intense sun and heat….the vegetable garden was a waste land…all of my plans to can vegetables and have to provide for my family and my son’s family was lost to the insufferable heat….

The other day, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I “splurged” and bought a couple of primroses. They are new to me. I never tried to grow those flowers before. I always wanted to try them. My ideal flower garden is and “English Garden” complete with Hollyhocks, ivy vines, Phlox, and Delphinia and Primroses…these flowers have a hard time surviving in this climate. It is too hot for these delicate flowers…and I found out the hard way that Hollyhocks will take over any garden should you not stop them…

It is on these kind of days that I look at the cold, snow covered ground and dream of the time when the earth warms and the early daffodils push themselves toward the sun. I love the delicate colors of the crocus and the particular shade of green of the leaves of the new tulips. I am impatient to see the barn swallows return to the barn and reuse the nests that have been here since I was a girl…I want to hear the croaking of the frogs in the ponds and the chirps of the robins…I want to smell the ground and feel the grass on my feet once again….I am waiting for life to renew itself and for the awakening of things that sleep….

I am looking forward to this spring so that my husband’s prediction of leaving in March will have come and gone. I want to celebrate my birthday without the coupling of sorrow as were done too many times in my life.

Then there is the new grandson’s arrival in April…My husband’s namesake….He is a part of the looking forward and not of the looking back on this cancer and this cold  winter…. In my heart, I know that he is part of life renewing itself.  He will take his place in the circle of life…..

There is much to hope for this spring and each spring brings with it hope. In all things, there is hope for a better tomorrow and, should the tomorrow not hold better things, the flowers will still have their brilliant color, the grass will feel the same on my feet, the robins and the barn swallows will still come…. and life  goes on….how precious is each day of hope….Hope in God, hope in healing, hope in a miracle….

I shall think “Spring” today. I will plan my landscape and dream of my fantasy English Garden and hopefully, I will not ponder these tiring Shadows of Winter…