New Years Eve…an Outside Looking In Kind of Moment

New Year’s Eve, again. I know that sounds like it occurs often. Maybe, it is because I am becoming older and it seems that this holiday occurs quicker than I remember, but, since Dan’s death, it seems to come before I am ready.  It always feels like I have unfinished business and it is too late to complete it because a new year is beginning.

This New Year’s Eve, I had one of those surreal moments. You know. The kind where you step outside of yourself and see your life from a small distance. It is the kind that is a glimpse of yourself and you wonder just who is that person that is standing there.

The last time I did this was a Christmas Eve when Dan was in ICU in IU Medical Center. He was in 6 ICU due to complication from the massive debulking surgery. They had removed all the tumors and pronounced him cancer free. Then, two days before coming home, he began running a temperature. The next thing we knew, he had a body shudder and the young resident ordered a series of tests in the imagining department.

After 30 minutes, the charge nurse on the post op floor came into Dan’s room and began gathering all of his things and instructed me to do the same. Dan was going directly from the imaging lab to 6 ICU. He had 2 blood clots in his lungs. This was a common but critical complication of abdominal surgery. The primary risk was that the clots would break loose and go to Dan’s brain or heart. Dan was facing death again.

I spent the next sleepless 48 hours in his ICU unit. No sleeping was allowed for the visitors staying with a patient, so, if I wanted to stay with him, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t. I sat next to his bed, holding his hand as he slept. I had to touch him. I had to know that he wasn’t going to leave without me. As I watched every part of his face and body for a sign that the clots had dislodged, I kept telling myself this wasn’t happening to him or to me. This was just a bad dream and I would wake up soon.

I knew the next 48 hours may hold the moment in which I became a widow or a wife of an incapacitated man who required more care than I could give. No matter, I was not going to leave his side. If it was going to happen, it wasn’t going to take place without me there. Finally, I was ordered by Dan, my son and the doctors to sleep. The only place to do that on the ICU floor was  in a bleak, overcrowded and smelly waiting room just outside double doors which held the gateway to my future.

That Christmas Eve, my son walked me to the waiting room and tried to help me find a recliner that would allow me rest. I was one of the late comers and all the decent recliners and chairs were occupied by the ‘regulars”. These people had loved one in the ICU. Many had been here for weeks and some for months. They already had staked out their territory. There wasn’t much left to choose from for a new comer like me.

I had to take the least damaged recliner. My son tried to help me into a chair that was a little skewed when the foot rest came out. The chair itself was broken on one side so, when the foot rest was extended, the whole chair bent like a pretzel. Regardless of  my son’s help, I still had a very uncomfortable bed. It was all that was left.

After positioning myself into the chair, I closed my eyes. Sleep was the farthest thing away from my overly tired body. My mind wouldn’t shut off. I replayed the events of the past 48 hours and it was in the midst of those reoccurring scenes that I found myself looking at my life as if I was someone  peering through a window on the outside  looking in on what couldn’t possibly be me and life as I knew it.

I remember wondering how this could be. I had seen these scenes many times. Throughout my nursing experience, I watched very critically ill patients and their families. Families trying to find a way to sleep in the ICU waiting area, watching them consume gallons of coffee. I saw worried looks on lined faces and I tried to dry the inconsolable tears that fell from the faces full of fear and grief. Now, it was my turn to not sleep, consume gallons of coffee and cry inconsolable tears. How could this be? On that Christmas Eve, I asked the questions of ” Where had life as I knew it gone? How could this be me? How could it be Dan?”

So, this New Year’s Eve as I sat in my own broken recliner watching the old movie on the TV, again the pondering over my life as it was and as it is came again. The questions began again, ” How could it be the second New Year begun without him? How could it be my life as a single person….again? How can I live without him and most of all, Where is my life without him?”  And, again, I didn’t recognize this existence as mine. But, it is.

It is a life that is consumed with making enough money to afford heat, lights and food. The basics. It is a life that is lived as a peripheral part of others, a caregiver. It is a life that is very small in the terms of being a requirement to  anyone. I no longer am someone who is in the life of my son, my daughter in law or my grandsons’.  I am not an essential part of anyone’s life anymore.  It is such a small life. ( this is not an exaggeration) My present life  is the result of how people change when the process of grief is not understood nor is there a desire to understand the details of grief and its deep scarring on a life and heart.

It is the first time of living a “small life” for me. My circle of friends are made of quality people, but the numbers are few. My working life is limited in the small number of people I care for. The majority of my professional contacts are with people who I have never met  face to face. They are voices on the phone or an address in my inbox. My work interactions are done from 60 miles south of the main office of the company. I work remotely and the distance makes things quite impersonal.

I have stopped going to church. Not because I have lost my love or interest in God, but primarily because I cannot deal with the look of pity in people’s eyes. To be pitied is a little more than I can bear. It grows tiring to be the shadow of the foreshadowing that is in literature. I know and others perceive me as their life that is to come.  I represent loss, the  pain of loneliness and grief. 

I realize that I am pulling within myself more now than the first year since Dan’s death. There are some finds this kind of withdrawal as alarming. I am not. I see this as a time for me to reassess my life and what I choose to do with it. It is a time that I take an inventory of sorts so as to know that I am living my life according to my choices and not according to my circumstances.

I must face and accept that I lost an essential part of myself, but not all of me. I lost  my other self; the person that helped me  feel alive and secure. I know that this thing called grief is a process and it is one that cannot be hurried. I also know that I have come to an understanding about something that has never been before.

For the first time in my life, my life is about me.  No longer is my life about maintaining a marriage, raising children, finding a career or making sure that everyone around me is happy. I realize that I  lived the majority of my life ensuring that others are cared  for and happy.

Now is the time that I rediscover my original self; the average yet unique person that God created me to be. It is about me learning and uncovering what Dan meant when he said that he was in my way and that he had to leave so that I would fulfil my destiny.

Of course, there are those who don’t understand, nor do they want to understand. They want me to be as I have always been. The change in me causes confusion. The by-product of being the one who maintains the emotional balance in relationships causes a dependence of sorts and when this discontinues, people can get quite angry. These changes not only confuses them, but their reaction can and does confuse me.

I was a person before I was married, had a child, divorced and remarried became a step mother, mother in law. I know for a certainity that I am not the same person I was when Dan was a part of my life. Nor, will I ever be that person again…Death changed me.

The most astonishing realization is that I do not choose to be that person any longer.   Life is about me.

My mother would not have tolerated this kind of thinking or behaving. She would have considered it selfish and self-centered. My mother was very clear that, if you loved someone, you placed their wants, wishes and needs above your own. She taught that you loved everyone more than yourself and you loved yourself last.

My mother was wrong.

It is true that you love others by meeting their needs, but it is not at your own expense. That isn’t love. That is co dependence. That is unhealthy. Learning to strike a balance is the hard part. It isn’t all or nothing. But, it is learning that wanting and doing things for yourself isn’t being self-centered. It is finding how to have life and not just existence.

Life is about me. It is about finding a way to love again. It is about finding what is my purpose and design. It is about being happy and doing so without making others miserable. I wonder if there is a book about this? Most likely, but why would I want to read about someone’s journey. I have my own book of life to write and this is the beginning of the first chapter of the last section.

I cannot continue to live as a shattered fragment with the majority of myself missing. Yes, I am in pieces, but isn’t there beauty in a mosaic creation?

I am on the outside of life looking inwards and wondering what it is that I am seeing….What is the meaning of this New Year and will it hold a new kind of happiness or will I be looking from the outside in again next January 1st and wondering just whose life is this?

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Silhouettes

August SunsetNothing signals the change from late summer to fall like the brilliant sunsets. I grew up in a house that faced the west and I became fasinated with the glories that heraled the end of day.

The autumn sunsets were always the announcement that a change was approaching. It was the ending of a season of warmth and bounty. It was the sure signal that colder weather was coming. A new and harder season was fast approaching.

One of the most striking differences from the summer sunsets and the fall was the contrast seen in the silhoutes cast by the fall sunsets. Everything before the sinking sun and its fading rays were sihouetted. The trees with their lost leaves, the barns, the houses were all dark against the intensity of the fading sun.

This has always been a bittersweet, melancholy time in my heart. I truly hated seeing the end of warm summer breezes. I waited in anticipation of the coldness of the winter snows that were sure to add more difficulty to the everyday happenings.

This year has been especially difficult for me. With each new sunset, I see Dan and I riding the motorcycle in our leathers. We would find the highest vista in the Hills of Brown County to observe the freshly harvested fields. We would catch the fading rays in the distance and know that we needed to leave before the ride back home would permiate our bones with the cold air.

I miss looking into his eyes to see my reflection. In his eyes held all unspoken but clearly known feelings reserved from his heart to mine. I miss his eyes.

Many times we would set in a coffee shop and I would just watch him watch people. He was an astute observer of people and he had a discernment into their character. He would watch them and I would watch his eyes.

I could dance in the palm of his hand with just a look from him. To him, I could do no wrong, even when he knew that I was as wrong as I could be. His eyes never betrayed me.

As I watch the fall silhouettes, the words written in his lost letter come to me.
” As I lay on the couch filling up time contemplating what is going to be, I watch you sleep. So soundly is your slumber, I wish and pray that this disease would pass and we could start all over…I miss sleeping with you and holding you in my arms. I miss the soft tender touches that passed between us. And, I miss your kisses, oh, so sweet.

I miss our bike rides in the evening sunsets. Watching your hair blow in the breeze. I miss your laughter and you wonderful smile. I miss watching our grandchildren grow up.

I feel that this disease is driving a wedge between us. I am so sorry. All I can do is pray for healing and the healing of our children’s hearts. I love you so much that my heart feels as broken as does my body.

It seems to early to stop making memories and plans. I miss you more and more…I love you as no other…

Dan

In his words, he seems to capture the silhouette of our life together. He wrote the essense of our life together and he wanted to begin again. He wanted the memories to continue. He wanted to be restored so that we could be husband and wife with all its responsibilities and wonders.

My life is so much less without him here with me and I feel my life become the shadows of the tree that lost its leaves.

His sunset has come and gone. Mine is still above the horizon. It is not as brilliant as it once was. It feels so faded and worn.

Will I ever know what it is to thrill at the changes embedded in the glories of the seasons again? I wish I knew…but where ever I am, so he will be…

Immobilized II

Thanks to you all who commented on the Immobilized post.

I was able to get out on Friday, but it was still “tricky” to get around. The roads out here were finally attended to at 3:30 AM on Friday morning. I was awake when the snow plow raked what it could off of the road. At least, it took the ruts down so that I would not bounce in and out of them and find myself in the ditch.

Sunday afternoon, everything was in a major melt mode and the ruts were as bad as before. Later in the day, the snow plow came back through and the pavement was a welcomed sight.

Today, I only had to deal with the refreeze and that was a little challenging at 5:30 AM, but I got to my client’s without incident. But, tomorrow, the forecast is for 3-6 inches of fresh snow and I need to be at the client’s house 30 minutes earlier than usual because the mother is traveling to a new location…

Oh, how I will welcome spring and it takes more and more of me to daily say, “Thank you Lord for another beautiful morning”…

I know that February is the month that we in the “southern” part of Indiana have the most snow and winter woes…please pray for me.

My biggest battle is not the weather, but it is the fear of what the consequences of poor driving conditions or poor driving skills can heap on my fragil state of existence.

As I tried to explain to my employer, I am the only income in this household. I have no one to find me if I am missing, provide for me if I am injured nor keep me safe and warm if I do not work…so I am evaluating each day as to the risk involved and weighing it against loosing the car or my health…

I doubt if it made a dent in her thinking, but that is the way it is when others haven’t experienced what it is to loose a spouse or a livelihood…so, whatever they want to do to me for not venturing out in a Level II Snow Emergency, it is what it is

This is my reality.

As far as my being grateful, I am truly grateful that my daily needs are met and that I have electricity and warmth. So many in Kentucky are without power and heat. There are some who have been in shelters since the beginning of this mess and they are being told that they may have an additional week or more before power is restored.

Gratitude is never relational, but our awakening to our blessings may be…Gratitude is a way of life and I am striving to learn the lessons that Dan taught me regarding the subject…I am not a fast learning when it comes to things that are against my circumstances, but I am determined to learn. If not for my own benefit, for Dan’s memory…

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…

The Angel Came To My Friend’s House

Many of you have come to know my friend, Frank. He writes 2 blogs, Within Crepusculum and Four Chances.

Frank and I met through our blogs. We both happened upon each other’s blog early on in our blogging endeavors and discovered that we had many shared experiences, especially those that occured in our childhood. With that shared history and our love of writing came a great admiration and friendship that I deeply value.

Frank is a remarkable person. He has faithfully cared for his elderly mother for years. The last few months have included care at home with a ventalator sustaining his mother’s life. As a nurse, that speaks volumes to me about Frank’s character. The average person would not have been willing or able to do this for their loved one.

Frank has written about his devotion and love for his mother. Her influence on his life was a lasting one and was a major influence in his life choice for a career. Because of her, Frank achieved a very successful career.

His education for this talented career began in his mother’s kitchen. He writes of his memories of being in her kitchen learning everything that she could teach him. There is no better place to learn anything about life than at the feet of a loving parent.

Through his posts, I developed a deep respect and admiration for his mother. She loved life and she looked forward to tomorrows rather than dwelling on the things in the past. She was a remarkable woman.

Many of those who come to my blog regularly have been fortunate to “discover” Frank and are faithful to visit his sites. But, Frank is unable to post at this moment in time.  

With inevitable expectation, Frank lost his mother this past weekend. His heart is breaking and I am asking that you all support him and his family with prayer and kind expressions of understanding for this devastaing heart loss.my-utmost-for-his-highest

His last post was about seeing Death approaching the door to his home. He saw dread and fear. Finally, he was able to see “Dying Grace” also found his home. His poem was so moving.

This has been a long journey for my friend. Now, he sets out on a new path after the years of care giving. Please remember Frank at this time in his life…his loss is great.

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.

He’s Your Saving Grace…

I recieve daily emails from a site called GriefShare…today’s mailing began with this quote…”Although your mind knows the facts, your heart is often reluctant to accept the death of someone you know and love.”

That is something with which I have been dealing. There are days when it seems that my life with my husband never happened…it was just a dream…and now, I am fully awake with the devastation.

The mind does all sorts of gymnastics to protect itself from such unbearable reality. Then, the fullness of it floods in on me and I am overwhelmed with such pain, disappointment and sorrow. It is such a cruel dance.

As I was driving home, I heard this song on the radio. It was if someone had a secret window into my heart and truly saw the endless hurt that it held.

I admit, that I do not feel the comfort of God that the songwriter sings. I am numb to the spiritual side of my life and that disturbs me alot, but nevertheless, it is the truth.

It is my hope that I will feel the “saving grace” and fully understand the “Peace” that she sings.

In the meantime, I am filling time and space. I intellectually know that this isn’t the best thing to do, but it is the only thing that I can do at this time.

it is too much to comprehend at this moment.

In The Present

Time,. We measure it. We manipulate it. We feel it pass and it is either dragging on endlessly or it is flying by.

In an of itself, it is mankind’s concept. Nature doesn’t measure time in minutes, hours and days. It is measured in seasons.

The old adage, “Time heals all wounds” comes to mind. I don’t think that the wounds ever totally heal, rather they are just less visible or we fill the time with other things so that we don’t focus on the cause of our pain.

But, in time, there is the past, the present and the future. While here, we live in one of those dispensations. I have seen so many people who get stuck in the past, or they are always planning for their future. They are afraid of living in their present.

At 26 years old, I learned a valuable lesson about always planning for a “future”. I was a young wife and mother. I worked at the local hospital on second shift. My neighbor was also a nurse at the ER of the same hospital and she and I would watch each others child while we worked. I would bring the kids to work with me and she would take them back home with her until my son’s grandmother got off work and then he would stay with her overnight and I would pick him up in the morning.

This arrangement and the fact that we lived next door fostered a friendship with her and her husband. Their daughter and my son were best friends. My neighbors were in their 30’s and we all had a lot in common.

I remember the day that they returned from vacation.  They had driven all night and arrived home in the early hours of the morning. When their little girl came over to play with my son, my friend came too. She told me about the property in Maine that they purchased while on vacation. She shared all of their future plans and trips that they would be making as they built their retirement home.

At my age, I thought that they were a little strange for thinking about retiring when they were years and years away from it, but that is the viewpoint of youth.

As evening approached, she, her daugher and husband left to go get ice cream at the local Baskins and Robbins. I had no idea that I would be the last person to see her alive.

On their way back from the ice cream place, a car ran a 4 way Stop sign and hit them broadside. The impact threw the little girl out of the back hatch of their small car and, when she landed, she sustained an open skull fracture.

My friend was 5 months pregnant and the impact caused internal bleeding. As her fellow ER workers labored feverishly to replace the fluids that were leaving her body at a faster rate, she looked over toward her daughter. Her child was her main concern. I think that she knew that she wasn’t going to be there for her. All the efforts of her co workers were futile and my friend died.

Her husband was severely injured and he was transported by Lifeline to a large hospital in the city. He was in ICU for a couple of weeks while their daughter fought for her life in another city hospital.

She survived but she was definately brain damaged and she never was the same little girl that was my son’s best friend. Her father was an odd sort prior to the accident and it only caused him to be a bit more pecular.

I remember thinking that the accident changed all of their plans. They had decided to make so many sacrifices for their future dream. At some point, I realized that my neighbors were always living in the future and not enjoying their present.

Maybe, I took the wrong lesson from this event, but in light of my life with my husband, I am very glad I saw the importance of living in the present. If my husband and I did as this couple, we would never experienced the many wonderful places and things that we did. If we had waited for “retirement”, he would not be here with me and our life would have been devoid of some wonderful memories that I hold dear.

I took the correct lesson from that friend’s life and I purposed to live as much in the present as in the future. It is in the present that memories are made. They are the warmth that your heart needs when it is alone.

It is the in present that you are to make sure that tell your loved ones how you feel. There is no magic moment that causes you to think, ” I am going to tell them that I love them, tomorrow”. You do it in the moment that has presented itself. That way, there are no expressions of love left unsaid.

What of my present? Normally, I like to ” get on” with the task at hand. My temptation is to move the unpleasantness and the pain on down the path and into a past state instead of dwelling on it, however, I know that my husband’s death is not something with which I can move. It “IS” and therefore, it is a “milestone” and it set a course for my life.

After 25 years and 2 failed marriages, my husband’s life impacted me when he walked back into an old familiar door and there I stood. He wasn’t expecting me. He was expecting my brother. He was unaware that my brother had been killed in a racing accident 6 months earlier.

I didn’t even recognize him when he walked in the door, but the moment he spoke, I knew him. I was amazed that he was crossing my path, especially, at that particular moment in my life. I was  “thunderstruck”.

Seventeen years later and 7 weeks after his passing, he has “thunderstruck” me again. My present is totally re arranged and I am living in the state of the present with multi-emotions and lost direction. That man could always shake up my world!

In life and now in death, he has caused me to look at myself in a new light. Even though I did not asked for it; it has come all the same.

Through him, I began to write this blog. Through him, I realized that by walking this path, I was gaining while  loosing him. I gained the support and friendship of a community that fails to exist in my physical world. How glad I am to have this blog!

Through him, I gained children and grandchildren that biologically would never be mine, but by his sharing them and by making me their step mother, my life has been enriched.

Through him, I also suffered many things by the circumstances and choices he made before he re entered my life. At the time, some of these sufferings were very bitter, but the joy that his love gave me always out distanced the pain and the disappointments.

Through him, I learned that this thrist for life is never quenched until we  see the face of our Creator. It is in that moment, we release our hold on these temporal things and we grasp the new life that awaits. This metamorphosis is so full of awesomeness that, at the moment of passing, it leaves a wondrous expression on our face.

Now, it is time to face my new definition of “Present”. I have to learn to walk, talk and think as a “whole” person instead of part of a team. I have to look out for myself and my best interest because most everyone has others that need their efforts… No one else is responsible for me.

Today, my present is a sobering place, but at the same time, it is my place. I am defining it. I am living in it. I am not hurrying through it. It is what I can make it.

Many days, I am helpless to make it anything more than something that I must pass through, but I also am aware, that I do not travel it totally alone.

I take every wonderful and sad experience that I had with the love of my life with me. I am forever changed because he lived, he loved me and he died and that has become a part of my fiber.

As with all living things, we adapt. We take our sum total of life experiences and we forge ahead. That is what we were designed to do and so I must do it.

I wrote in one of my posts that I would live for us both. Brave words that are yet to begin. When I wrote those words, that was what was surging through me. Those words existed while he was yet on this earth. Those words are still true. I still must live for us both.

To learn how to do that starts in this present, and to accomplish that, I must find a way to reconcile our lives as they once were and take it forward to what is awaiting ahead of me. I can not leave him behind, but I must allow him, yet not rely on what he would do or be totally directed by those memories.

So, I am trying to walk in this present state of mind and I continue to place each step as carefully as possible. I am trying to find a little progress out of each day. I am aware that there shall be days that I walk backwards instead of forwards, but I will be walking, none the less….

To the present and what it holds for me, Today….

“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.

Shadows of Joshua

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Chorus….