“Merry….” “Happy”….Good Grief!!!

” Merry”…”Happy”…. These words will be said to me and I to others  many times in the next few weeks…how I wish I could remember  what it felt like to be merry or happy.

I spent the holidays last year in a state of survival. I was “getting through” each day. When the holidays came, I just went  numb. I tried to not be a “drag” and I put on my best face. Those days have failed to become any kind of holiday memory. I couldn’t tell what I did on any of those “holidays”.  Maybe, I blogged about them. If I did, I need to read those entries  to know where I was and what I did because I truly do not have the faintest clue.

This year, the numbness is off  and I feel the emptiness and the loneliness more acutely than ever. Today was past “hard”. In many ways, it was unbearable.

I spent Thanksgiving with my younger sister who is afflicted with dementia. She has Down’s Syndrome and it isn’t  uncommon for people with Down’s to develop dementia should they live into their middle age years. So it is with my sister.

It seems that Dan’s death uncovered her memory loss. Even though she attended Dan’s Memorial service, she forgot about his death until this past July. When I met her at the doctor’s office, she asked about Dan and how he was. I told her that he died and, from that time to this, she has been in a state of inconsolable grief.

Her grief isn’t just for Dan. It is for all of the losses that has been in her life.  We lost our mother in 1990 and Dad in 2001. She went to live in the group home a few years before Dad died, but she never accepted the group home as her home. Now, it is more clear just how much she never acclimated.

For the past several years,  it seemed that she adjusted to living her own life at the group home rather than live a peripheral one through our parents. Life with Mom and Dad was a secure one. Her disability placed her at the center of my parent’s life. At the group home, everyone there is like her. She isn’t the “princess” and she misses the life where her wants and needs were met without having to share the lime light.

Every visit with our older sister or me, she would always thrill when we passed the sign for the city limits. A huge sigh would escape her and she would say, ” I am home.” Now, when she comes to visit the thrill has become a desperate desire and she says, ” I want to live with you.”

She reasons that Dan’s death opened space for her and  she should live with me on the family farm.  I know that I cannot take care of her and work. I can’t give to her the  dearest desire of her heart and the guilt compounds each time I see her. It makes finding joy in the midst of such unhappiness overwhelming at times.

As she tries to process Dan’s loss, she is reliving the loss of our parents as well as other losses. Our older sister has Multiple Sclerosis and, due to her health, had to sell the “home place” and the family business.

When she visits me, we turn directly in front of the house in which we grew up. Because she forgets that the house was sold, each visit causes her to relive the shock of seeing people living in her house. Each time, my eyes well up as I watch her tears roll down her face. Each time, I am reminded of that ache that comes to a heart after loss and the guilt compounds.

It is the same when she passes the location of the family business. She sees strange cars there and she insists on stopping. As I try to explain that our older sister had to sell the “plant” and that we cannot stop, she asks, “Why not?”. She wants to go inside and sit at the desk that was once hers.

She tries to hide the tears and frustration, but lately, she cannot contain her disappointment or her anger and fear.

Her bewilderment at the changes in her life only exacerbates the cloudiness of mind that dementia brings. Dan’s death, the sale of the home place and the business, each one would be hard for her to process, but now, she must try to work through these great losses as she struggles to remember the most simple things.

Where she once was independent in caring for herself and her personal needs, now she requires supervision and encouragement to stay on the smallest of tasks. As she roams from room to room, she knows that something is wrong. She shakes her head and says, ” my brain…” or she will sit on the couch and blankly stare and say, ” what’s going on?”

I didn’t take her to the family Thanksgiving dinner today. In the last few weeks,  an uncle and an aunt  were diagnosed with cancer. I knew that, during the dinner, my sister would learn of their illnesses and she would become hysterical.

When my sister hears the word cancer, she  immediately starts to cry, then sob, then wail…loudly. To her, cancer and death are synonymous. Our mother died of cancer, Dan died of cancer and so many others in our family have succumbed to this terrible disease. In my sister’s mind, Cancer=Death.

Her display of raw grief is hard to watch. Because the diagnosis for our aunt and uncle is so recent, I didn’t want my sister’s sobs to add more emotional stress on my afflicted uncle and aunt. My sister cries so hard that small capillaries will break in her face.

 All of this takes a great toll on my sister, on me, and on the staff at the group home. After the visits home, my sister’s behavior is becoming more difficult for the staff as she acts out her anger over  the uncontrollable events of her life.

Call me a coward, but I couldn’t emotionally handle the nakedness of my sister’s expression of grief. I am not strong enough to help her process the natural question of “Why?”. The depth of her losses is so much greater than mine…and I wonder how, or even if, my sister’s grief can be managed as her own ending is approaching.

Thankfully, she forgot that today was Thanksgiving and I cowardly chose to avoid the pain instead of walking through it. Instead, we ate at the local Cracker Barrel. While we were eating, I realized that she didn’t remember having dinner at this restaurant the night before with our older sister. Her short-term memory has worsened since her last visit four weeks ago.

As the holiday season descends on us, it feels like a dark cloud that must be endured rather than celebrated. I can redirect my thinking, but my sister can’t. My sister is lost in this fog and I know that her time here on this earth is ending.

I cannot remember how it  feels to be “merry” or “happy” anymore. These days are a continuing reminder that the world as my sister and I knew it has ended….and her ending  is fast approaching .

I suppose I must discover a way to gain through loosing. It is such a confusing concept, yet it is the only way to walk out of these shadows. I just wish I knew where to begin walking through this loss. Maybe, I need to look for A Star to guide me.

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Changes….Part I

A Work of ArtAs some may noticed, I haven’t been posting as frequently as I did in the past…there are several reasons.

At first, it seemed that what was in my heart was already written. I have found that grief can be a continuous “loop” of emotions and images in my mind. There have been days when I wished that I could hit the “Stop” button and take a rest from my tumultous feelings and intrusive thoughts of Dan’s death.

But, unfortunately, there is no such button and the continuous play of these ever present memories wear me down both physically and emotionally.

Weariness is a thief to the body, mind and soul.

I didn’t post as much because I felt that writing and re writing thoughts and feelings that I had expressed here was a redundancy that no one should be subjected to, not even me.

Also, in the past few months, this old computer has made quite a few unnerving sounds that only supports my fear that it is about to take a major and expected full stop. It  is getting “old and moldy”. I have spent many hours at this keyboard that  resulted  in loosing all that I wrote. It has become a frequent occurrence.

When this happens, I don’t know whether it is a part of grief or my natural “red head” reaction to frustration because my next thought is to take a hammer to this churning box of circuits and make a permanent “adjustment” in its motherboard. Thank goodness reason returns  and I count the cost…close to a thousand dollars to replace it…and I don’t have the money for that, so I put the hammer down and start over.

Much of my lack of posting  has its base in my “technical difficulties”….there are other reasons….

AmazingAs the months and weeks approached in marking Dan’s death, a restlessness began to “boil” inside of me. I talked with my grief counselor and found that everyone has different reactions when this milestone is reached. Some become more emotional; I, on the other hand, became more anxious which results in a lack of patience and a relentless need to keep moving.

She asked how things were going at work. I replied that I had a few frustrations and I told her about  things that had happened that was leading to my discontent. The majority of my differences are with personalities. I assured her that it was  nothing that I couldn’t handle and I expected some of this kind of frustration as I have employed people when I owned my own companies. I find that I do not enjoy working with an all female staff…I prefer working with men… male clients, male coworker…I am not the sorority sister type.

I also told my counselor that I had a “knowing” that I would not be with this company for much longer. As I explained this intuition, I demonstrated what I was feeling about my job by placing my hand to the outer perimeter of my peripheral vision to show that I knew that a change in employment was coming soon. I also said that I felt that it would be better for me, yet I was relunctant to make any change because of not wanting to leave my clients.

I explained that, in April,  I had been offered a position with an Indianapolis based company who provided home care for children and that, even with the offer of more money, I decided to stay with my present employer. I continued to explain that I believed that my clients gave more to me than I could ever give to them. My loyalties lie with my clinets over any loyalty with the present company.

Yet, in my heart of hearts, I realized that I just could not face changing anything as the first anniversary of Dan’s death loomed before me. I suspected that my decision to stay rather than accept the new position was one that was rooted in grief and anxiety.

Little did I know just how accurate this forknowledge would be.

In late May, I talked with the scheduler and requested that I have Tuesdays  and Thursdays off. I told the her that I knew that they were having trouble replacing the 22 hours that were lost when one of my client’s grandmother became disgruntled with the company and changed agencies as provider for her granddaughter’s care. The issue that prompted the change wasn’t one of quality of care, but rather, an issue over how her hours were administered by this company.

Since April 1st,  the company tried to replace these lost hours, but 22 hours is a lot to replace in a short time. One of my goals was fast becoming unattainable. I wanted benefits i.e. paid vacation time and medical insurance.

I stated that it was clear that I was not going to qualify for these benefits before my anniversary date and that with having only 25.5 hours/ week, I felt that  I didn’t need to go out on a daily basis. I knew that I could work those hours  in three days and that would help with the wear and tear on my car,on me and was more cost efficient for me.

 After some discussion, she agreed to my having one day a week off rather than two that I requested. The schedule was modified for me having Tuesdays off.

I also discussed with the scheduler that even without paid vacation time, I wanted the week of Dan’s death scheduled off. I explained that I needed the time because I didn’t know how I was going to emotionally process this anniversary.

I was concerned about the financial impact of loosing the weeks hours, but emotionally, I really didn’t care. I would find a way to meet my obligations, even if I didn’t eat…it would not be the first time that I had to do without something. Time is what I needed…more than anything.

It is just another example of how so many health care workers are denied health care coverage and benefits because many home health care companies refuse to guarantee hours to the field staff.

Never mind, that is another post….

Two weeks before the unpaid vacation, an opportunity came that would allow me to pick up 20 extra hours. That would pay for my week off and I accepted the extra hours gratefully.

What it would require is for me to work the extra 20 hours as well as my regularly scheduled 25.5 hours. It would require my regular clients to adjust the times that I normally arrived, but it definitely was able to be done.Lost in the Storm

By mid week, there was a problem….

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 I

When I wrote the last post, I was dressed and ready for work. I was about to go out the door when, unexpectedly, out of my mouth, I heard, “I don’t want to be alone tonight.” Almost a spontaneous utterance, I was surprised  by the sound of my own voice.

It was a deep realization that I was not prepared to face this old year out and the new year in totally alone.  I just couldn’t do it and yet, I didn’t want to go out anywhere or be around a bunch of people who would try and take my mind off of my loss.

So, I called my sister in law. She is my brother’s widow. She  knows what it is to live through all of these “firsts”. Nineteen years ago, my brother was killed in a stock car racing accident. Of all of the people that I know, she would completely understand.

I asked her if she would mind coming to my house and spending the evening and night. Somehow, I, who normally relish my solitude, just couldn’t look into the face of 2009 with the feelings of being left behind and totally alone. I needed to have someone to talk to when I needed to speak out my pain or someone who could honestly say, ” I know how you feel.”  and mean it. Someone, who wouldn’t be uncomfortable if I dissolved into sobs and tears.

Without any hesitation, she said that she would come. Thank God! After hearing her answer, some of the panic that I was feeling receded, but, I still had clients to see and I had no choice but to gather all that I had inside and go out that door.

As I drove into town to see my first client, the tears were coming. Like riverlets, they were gathering into a torrent. I was crying a river and I couldn’t stop them from coming .

For my makeup, it was beginning to be a lost cause . My eyes were swelling and my nose was red. Even if I could reapply my makeup, there was no disguising my breaking heart.

A few blocks from the clients house, I came to the realization that my anxiety level was not going to abate and I needed an intervention. I needed medication so I phoned my doctor’s office to see if he was in today and if he would call it in for me.

I was silently praying that I could talk to a particular member of his office staff. She was an old acquaintance and she became a true friend to Dan and me over the last few years. I really didn’t want to explain my need to anyone new.

I felt such relief when she was the one who took my call. When she heard my voice, she knew that I was in “trouble” and she immediately went back to  my doctor’s office area to speak  to him directly.

I was so grateful to her. She didn’t have to make that kind of effort.  Her willingness and kindness to leave her desk would help speed the process of receiving the medication along.  By doing this, I would not have to wait until later in the day for the usual time when doctor’s take their “refill requests” or place their “phone orders”.  Without her help, it would have taken most of the day to get the medication that I needed to function and accomplish all that I had to do this day.

When I finished the call,  she said that  the medication should be ready to pick up in 30 minutes. The panic started to recede.

Relieved that help was on its way, I continued to drive to my clients house. The tears just would not stop and they were blinding my eyes. No matter how much I “talked” to myself about the fact that I didn’t have the luxury of “falling apart” today, they just kept falling.

Thirty minutes is a long time when you are trying to get your head clear enough to handle some one else’s medications. I was really concerned about making errors. I knew that I had to be extremely vigilante in my accuracy today. I would be checking and double checking myself. It would add time to a day that was going to be nothing but difficult.

High anxiety is a peculiar thing. When it reaches its peak, it seems to bring a thick fog to normal brain processes. It literally can paralyze and confound. The only way for me to function was to reduce it quickly. Period.

All of these wrenching emotions threw me back to those fresh days immediately after Dan’s death.  I had not felt this kind of  anxiety for the past few months and I was totally unprepared for this huge wall of pain to crash over me… I thought I was past this part. I was wrong. It took me unawares.

It was uncomfortable to go into the clients house with all of the obvious signs of my distress worn on my face. I always hide my emotions well, but not today. It was self evident to my client that I was not myself.

Somehow, I managed to do my visit and I was out the door and on my way to pick up  my medication at the pharmacy. I was onto the rest of my day.

The next stop was at the company office. I had to deliver the weeks results of my client’s monitored blood sugar readings so they could be faxed to her doctor’s office.

Thank goodness, no one in the office seemed to notice anything. Thankfully, they were too busy.  Today was not the day for me to deal with anyone seeing me in this kind of pain. It takes a lot out of me to comfort those who try to comfort me.

That seems to be the way it is. Someone has to do the comforting and most times, it is me who comforts them.  I just wanted to get through this day without having to  “fix” someone who was not able to deal with my grief.

As I was leaving the office to get into my car, the wind was gusting and it caught the door. As the door was rapidly closing, I wasn’t completely inside. As I was lowering myself into the seat, the wind pushed the heavy door into my head. 

Like a cut suffered by a professional boxer, the door cut a gash into my eyebrow. Of course, the pain shot through my head like a knife, but I continued to get into the car and put on my seat belt. As I started the car and checked my rear view mirror, I noticed blood running down my face.  Crap!!!  Then came the headache.

I had to go back into the office and tend to this open wound. This day was really turning for the worse, but I kept going in the hope that it was going to get better.

The gash was long and deep enough that it could have used a stitch to close it, but I didn’t have the time for that. I cleaned it up and covered it with a bandaid.  I had strips at home that would do better than the bulky bandaid, but I didn’t want to take anymore time out of this day.

As the day went on, my state of mind improved and I was able to get to my last client of the day. I was in no hurry. I was enjoying the conversation as much as she was. I began to relax.

As I gathered my things and told her that I would see her next week, I looked out to see that I had left my parking lights on.  My heart sank. I knew that the old battery wouldn’t take a two hour drain and, most likely, the car would not start.  And sure enough, it didn’t.

I couldn’t ask for help from my 82 year old client, so I was off to ask a neighbor for a quick jump to start the car. Fortunately, next door neighbor was home and more than willing to help.

I assured the neighbor that I had what I needed and I knew how to hook up the jumper cables. I assured him that it would not take any time at all and I would be on my way home. I was so ready to get this day done.

When I pulled the latch to release the hood, nothing happened. I pulled again and again. The latch was not working. My heart began to sink.

I was tired. I was emotionally spent and I was overwhelmed by this perplexing irritation. I just needed to hook up the cables, but without being able to open the hood, there was no quick fix.

As I continued to struggle with the latch and the neighbor was trying to lift the heavy hood, out of my mouth came a cry from my deepest recesses for God’s help. Instantly, the neighbor was able to lift the hood. I silently whispered a “Thank You”. What a relief!!!

We attached the cables and allowed a little time for the battery to recover. I tried to start the car, but it wasn’t going to turn over. Again, I opened my mouth to call on the Lord for help.  I was without thought or care as to what this neighbor was thinking about my instant prayers.

I just knew that I needed more than a little human help to get the car started and this day done. I was feeling so worn and desparte. This set of circumstances would have been annoying on any day, but today, my body and my heart was weary. “From where comes my help?” came the verse from Psalms. It comes from the Lord. Litterly, at that moment, I knew that my only hope was in those instant prayers.

The second try to start the car was successful and I was relieved to hear the engine roar to life. Finally, I was going to be able to go home….that is all that I wanted. I just wanted to go home.

I thanked the neighbor for his help and began putting the cables away. At least, I had a 30 minute drive to help the battery recover from the drain. I realized that I will need another battery soon. Cold weather and careless draining will sap the life out of any battery. Another unexpected expense. I really hate these “surprises”.

twilightAs 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….

School Days Part I

Growing up in the ’50’s was all about doing it “right”.  It was re enforced by watching Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans.  We identified right and wrong in the black and white of the TV Western and the good guy always won in the end. For some, it was a good time to grow up in this world.

 Of course, I don’t remember my mother wearing high heels and doing housework like June Cleaver, but I do remember some of the magazine articles that were printed for instructions in how to have a “Happy Home”.

Women were encouraged to change into nicer clothes just before their husbands arrived home from work. (That didn’t work in my home because we never knew when my dad would be home. He was always gone before I woke up and I was in bed many times when he came home)

They were instructed to cook good meals including making the table setting appealing. There were many magazines that instructed how to “entertain” in the home. The fifties were the hay days of Emily Post and proper etiquette. The late ’60’s were the years of Lady Bird Johnson’s “Great Society”.

For the most part, my husband’s family was like everyone else. A father, a stay at home mother, well behaved children, a house, a car and a lawn to mow. All was perfection and everyone expected the pastor to have the highest reflection of a good home. Everything looked perfect to the outside world.

Growing up in a pastor’s home brought many pressures that were unique. My husband learned at an early age to not get attached to the house that he called home or to the people in the congregations. The church provided the roof over his head and it was tied to a  “vote” of the congregation that was taken every so often. If the congregation voted yes, they could stay, if not, they would have to leave and find another “home” and leave all that he had known behind.

At an very early age, my husband learned to set in a church pew by himself or with his younger brother while his mother played piano and his father was in the pulpit. He also recognized that “look” from his mother that said if he didn’t behave there would be consequences when they got home. These were the days before churches had  nurseries or children’s church.

It wasn’t all that much different for all of us who were born into “church” families. We all had to learn to “sit still and be quiet”. We all learned that there were  high expectations for us. In the light of today’s lack of discipline in young children, I think we learned things that prepared us for when we entered school. The teacher didn’t have to spend weeks to get us to listen or follow instructions, we already knew how to sit for endless hours because of sitting quietly in church. It wasn’t all bad, in fact, I think it was a good thing. We learned to respect a place of worship and we also didn’t fight against authority as much as some.

For my husband, it was in these early preschool years that he welcomed a brother. He was about 4 1/2 when he became a “Big Brother” and he soon took his position as his brother’s protector very seriously. He was no longer alone in this world.

The difficulties for my husband’s journey through his school years began with the incident with the Kindergarten teacher and proceeded after a particular incident that took place between my husband and the neighborhood bully.

Around the age of 8 years old, the neighborhood bully enjoyed backing my husband up and he would walk backwards all the way home. I am sure that he believed that he shouldn’t fight with this kid because he was a preacher’s son. But, after so many times of turning away from the fight, a different lesson was learned.

On this day, my husband’s mother watched as this kid backed my husband up to the steps on the house. Neither he or this bully knew that his mother was watching as this scene unfolded. As my husband was about to walk up the porch steps, his mother told him that he didn’t need to back up anymore. She told my husband to let this bully have it.

Whether she understood what she did by giving my husband permission to fight with this kid or not, we will never know, but it was a permission that my husband took seriously. And, yes, he whipped up on the neighborhood bully. That kid never bothered my husband or his brother again. But, this incident set the stage for the trouble my husband had in his grade school years.

Growing up in the ’50’s wasn’t easy for a preacher’s kid. Every kid seemed to test the child of a pastor by trying to get them to do something “wrong” or “testing” them so that they could go home and tell their parents what this preacher kid, who was held up to them as an example, wasn’t all that “good”. Recess time was not pleasant for my husband. He was “called out” and he never failed to answer that call.

My husband refused to be bullied by any one in his neighborhood or on the playgroud.  Of course, the school called his parents and they would “talk” about his fighting problem. But being bullied by anyone was not acceptible to my husband especially after his mother instructed him to settle things with the neighborhood bully.

Unfortuantely, the incidents of fighting only esculated and as the years passed, and my husband’s brother began school. My husband became his brother’s playground protector particularly after a terrible playground accident.

My husband’s brother was playing on the “see/saw” when a kid pulled him off and the fall fractured one of the vertebre in his neck. Of course, my husband believed that he should teach this kid a lesson about pulling his brother off of anything. He fought the kid who was picking on his little brother.

It seemed that once this reputation for fighting was established, every kid big or small wanted a “shot” at him.

In those days, corporal punishment was meeted out for sassing the teacher, chewing gum after warnings and fighting on the playground. After it was all said and done, school was a microcosium that seemed to foretell my husband’s future. He would not be bullied, he would not be “paddled”, and he would not bow to school authority.

Due to my husband’s fighting, the grade school years resulted in three different schools within the same small town and the last one was the worst. It was a “Christian School” with a dress code and more church. More sitting quietly for long periods of time. It was enough to drive any kid to distraction.

Moving from house to house and school to school insured that my husband had little if any security and it also insured his inability to make attachments to people and places. My husband’s young heart was wounded and confused at a very young age.

When my husband told me about his early school years, I wondered how many times we give our kids “implied permission” to do things that we scold or reprimand them for later. It seemed that my husband lived with a lifetime of mixed messages.

I believe these early school days impacted my husband by hardening his heart. He was going to be noticed, if not by his academic achievement then by his ability to hold his own in a fight. School was a hard place for this son of a preacher man and there were changes on the horizon.

There was to be another house, another school and other bullies with which to deal and he would be enduring all of these changes as a pre teen in a big city….

Thou, Oh Lord, Are A Shield For Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections in the Shadows

It is 11:37 on Friday night and my husband and I were on the kitchen floor looking at the condenser, the evaporator coils and the compressor of our 15 year old refrigerator that isn’t working quite right. My major thought was, “Not now, don’t pooped out on me now. I don’t have the money to replace you because I need everything I have for funeral expenses.”

So, I use all of my weakened strength to push and pull this big side by side refrigerator out from the wall. I leave to get the sweeper and when I return, my husband is getting on the floor to “take a look” and determine what may be the problem.

In spite of my protests, he continues on to spread out on the floor with his over sized abdomen and he assumes the position of repairman and Mr. Fix It  just like always. I know just how difficult this is for his tired and wasted body. I watch him juggle the tubes and take extra precaution so as to not pull the PEG tube ( It can be easily dislodged from its placement ) and to not drop the IV pump that sends a steady supply of potent pain killer into his pain racked body…There is no stopping him because this is what he has always done.

The refrigerator had set on thick carpeting for the 6 years that we were away and it sucked up every bit of animal fur as well as dust bunnies…all of these things kill appliances. But the grime wasn’t the problem. In spite of it, the old ice box had kept the milk cold, the jello jiggling and prevented spoiling of many left overs. Now, at this time of night and in this kind of warm weather it was going to quit on us…and there he sat,  trying to clear a spot so as to see what was working and what was not.

We did basic Home Repair 101 by checking the power source and sure enough,  when we tested the surge protector, it was clear that it had failed and not the appliance. That was a huge relief. I don’t know if we were just lucky by finding the problem so early and before anything could spoil or if we are just that good at spotting trouble before it gets too far, but we both breathed a sigh of relief when we learned it was the surge protector.

For both of us, the absolutely last thing that either one of us needed was to be wrestling with a huge refrigerator and with deep dirt. He, because of his body’s limitations, and me, because of my asthma. No matter, there was nothing stopping him and if he was going to sacrifice his comfort and willingly experience pain, then I would follow him and treat my asthma symptoms all night, if need be. As I have posted before, we are a team…

As I approached the refrigerator with the vacuum, he looked up at me and said, ” Have I told you that I love you today?” I smiled and went on with what I was doing. As I was chasing the dirt and dust with the hose attachment, I thought about how many, ” I love you..s” that I heard for the past 17 years. I could not begin to count how many times. The number rivals the stars.

Early on in our relationship, he told me how he didn’t want to miss a day of telling me that he loved me and if he couldn’t remember doing it by the end of the day, he would ask the same question, ” Have I told you…”.

While the roar of the vacuum made conversation impossible, I pondered further on the things that I would miss. I wondered if I heard his love expressed in words enough for a life time. I began to wonder how would it feel to live my life without hearing, “I love you.” ?  Will I ever hear it said again by someone else or will I even allow someone to ever say those words to me? Will I even desire to share my life with another man again? If I thought for a minute that I wanted to find another husband, are there enough men out there?  I don’t know.

As I poked and proded the stubborn grime, I pictured myself at 11:37 PM on a Friday night worrying over an appliance. It is just me and our little dog. There is no one to ask for their opinion as to what may be wrong. I saw myself tug at this old fridge pushing and pulling it away from the wall without any help and wishing that I had this man, who is presently setting in the midst of this mess, to ask what he thought was wrong.  Or wishing that I could hear his voice asking for my opinion as to the problem.

I saw myself earlier on that Friday evening wondering if it is worth the effort to cook anything for supper and opting for a peanut butter sandwhich because I didn’t see the need to make a mess for one person to eat a small meal.

I saw myself take the sandwich into the living room and our little dog following after me as if to beg for a bite of my “supper”. I saw the TV playing and there was only one lamp to light the room of shadows. I saw myself going through the motions of living without the companionship that I craved. I would remember that I had it for too short of time and loosing it to the thief called, “Cancer”. Later, I would try to find a way to go to sleep or find a way to block out the unending lonliness.

 I feel myself sitting on the couch, trying not to think about the weekend days that held nothing for me to anticipate, no planned pleasure or outing, just sitting on the couch waiting for the hours to pass until I could return to work on Monday. I could see myself trying to will these hours of lonliness to pass more quickly. It seemed to be a long time until Monday.

It isn’t a hard stretch for me to imagine this scenario because this was what it was like immediately after my divorce and I still remember the emptiness and the lonliness. I still remember the pain of coming home at the end of a work day to a dark and empty house with no one to greet me or ask me about my day. No one to call to say that they would be late coming home and what about supper. No one to get concerned if I didn’t arrive home in a timely manner. I still remember how that felt and I fear that it will feel as badly as I remember it.

In those early divorce years, I experienced a precusor as to what life is like when you loose someone that you loved. I realize that no matter how painful that time in my life felt, it will pale in comparison with the loss of the love of my life. I thought that if I felt like I almost didn’t survive the lonliness that divorce brought to me, how in the world am I going to survive living life when every part of me is bleeding from the tearing asunder what God put together? How will I be able to function effectively while in the throes of depression. Depression almost swallowed me whole after the painful loss of divorce.

At least, in divorce, I had lost that feeling of deep love that once lived but finally died. I mourned for the loss of the life that I had known and not the loss of the person who was in that life. If I grieved so hard over a marriage that was bad on its best day, how would I survive life without the love of the man who made the worst day wonderful? How will I be able to work and concentrate so as to earn a living and be competent and effective in whatever job I find?  How raw will my emotions become when death brings a multiplied suffering such as this? I don’t know? 

The cure for the loss of companionship is to find another to share your life. I don’t know if I want to find another someone to share my life again. I don’t know if my heart can trust someone that I just met or will I ever find the same trust as I found in my husband’s heart? I don’t know if I am enough of a gambler to risk finding a companion, a friend or even a lover. Can there really be another mate who was made just for me? I don’t know. My mind cannot conceive that being a reality. In all of my questioning and confusion at this moment, I definately know that I do not want to go through loosing another love by divorce or death. I don’t know if I could survive loosing another mate. Once in a lifetime is more than plenty.

My life with my husband has been full of great love, wonderful experiences and happy memories that only this depth of love can create. This life also had many emotional wounds, difficult trials with children and the atrocities brought about by mental illness. To repeat anyone of those experiences would be beyond my ability to cope. Sorting through the family dynamics alone is enough for me to say, ” No, Thank You.”

I don’t know if it is possible to love another person in the manner in which they deserve to be loved. How can I ever open my heart up again. How can I ever be totally commited to someone else? I doubt that I could ever rightly love another man again. It would not be fair to them. My husband would always be there.

All of this thinking takes me to a place of contemplation about my “Golden Years” as a widow. A widow that cannot rely on anyone else and one that must be self sufficient for the rest of her  life. I do not have a retirement or pension. All of those plans were lost in the bankruptcy of 2003. I will have to work and hopefully have a little income from Social Security for the rest of my life. Working will be much more than a means to an income and independence. It must be a tool that will cause me to not stay inside myself. It will be a necessity to pull me through the grief and mourning that surely follows such a devastating loss…

When I think of my family helping me, I know that my son and daughter in law will be very supportive, but I do not want to be the “third wheel” or the “Obligation”.  To put it succinctly, I do not want to be a burden or live life through my children and grandchildren. I still want to live my own God given and appointed life. Good or bad, I need my identity and self sufficiency. I need that more than consolation, pity or sympathy.

I think I need to stop here. If I stare too deeply into the reflection of these coming shadows, I become too fearful and the multitude of ” What If’s” overwhelm my senses. I close my eyes tightly so as to not see anymore. I am tired and I can’t see how all of this ends. I have endured this reflection to its limit and I do not care to peer into this pool of shadows any longer this evening. I reflected and I saw enough…

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…

In the Shadow of Forgiveness-Part I

In the light of Eternity and in the shadows of cancer, soul searching is an important inventory to keep. Forgiveness is a concept with which I struggle a lot lately.

I have written about some of the difficult times and circumstances in our lives. It is funny that when I write and then read it, I think, “Wow! That is really bad!!”  I suppose the mind is funny about keeping things repressed until the heart and soul can safely handle the intensity of the emotions.

Lately, I have taken time to research “Forgiveness”. I was always taught that you forgive and forget.  Humanly, it is impossible to forget the actions that become like hot brands used on a soul. There are things in my life that seared so deeply into my heart that, if I allow it, I would never attempt forgiveness.

My brother always said that he didn’t get mad, he got even; and he usually did. He, his wife and I discussed a particular vexing situation that he had with the leader of a gospel band in which he played guitar. He had just cause, but because it was a “gospel” band, he didn’t want to act badly. It wasn’t his nature to fly off the handle like “some” of us did. (See me with a halo. *smile*) The longer the situation went, the angrier he got.

His wife and I suggested that his anger might find release if he would write a “hit” letter. That is a letter in which you tell the person how you truly feel about them, the situation, their parentage or anything else you felt inclined to grouse about. I explained that after writing it all down, you take the letter out to the fire-pit or fireplace, light a match and burn it….Not my brother…

He wrote the letter and then he mailed it…yes, he did. Then he proceeded to take back everything, including instruments that he contributed to the band….he was done. He could genuinely smile, greet them kindly and be totally free from any hostility.

Of course, those in the band were quite uncomfortable around him, but they would not engage in such honesty because they needed to keep their “righteousness” intact. My brother knew this. He had already anticipated their behavior. He was free from the anger and he was done with the band…

My mother was different. She would overlook the transgressions over and over until an invisible line was crossed. When the line was crossed,  that would be that. She would never treat the person impolitely, fail to greet them will a “Hello” or say a cross word about them to anyone. However, she was done….stick a fork into it kind of done. There was nothing anyone could say to cause her to allow the trangressor back into her good graces. Done.

The only people that had half a chance to uncross the invisible line were her children. Even for us, it could get to a point that the relationship would not return to its orginal state. She didn’t love us any less, she just didn’t trust us like she did. She forgave you, but she never forgot how ugly your words or your actions were. Her wisdom instructed us that when you find yourself confused, look to the actions. If they were the same as the words, then life was true. When the words walked a different path from the actions, then believe the actions. Actions were more of a true indicator of the heart…I have found her wisdom true.

For me, I can forgive and I can lie to myself and say that I am able to forget the infraction. It is only over time and in my explosion of anger that I learn that I never truly forgave. That usually causes a lot of guilt for me. I always wanted to believe the words more than the actions. In my younger years, I thought my mother was just “old fashion” and the words were more true. Silly, I know.

In today’s society, forgiveness seems to be granted before it is asked. In the justice system, the punishment is abated before the crime is even charged. Forgiveness seems to be considered so lightly and its insincerity cheapens the word and action.

Personally, I truly wanted to forget as well as forgive. I wanted to forget the pain, the humiliation or the fact that someone could be so callous. Also, I believed that forgetting was the way God would have me to forgive. I believed that He would have me “release” the person from the offense and carry on the relationship as if the transgression never occured…that is what I wanted.

Lately, I have learned that forgeting was never a part of the act of forgiveness. Forgiveness did not erase the crime. It released the offender from the punishment by granting a pardon, but the crime still stood.

I also learned that there were three degrees of forgiveness and that there were steps or criteria that had to be met before forgiveness could be granted.

Firstly, the offender had to ask for fogiveness. There was no such thing of talking around the subject or just ignoring that the offense occurred. The words had to be said. My grandfather never uttered the words, “I am sorry” in his long life. When he would gamble or play cards, he would come in the door with a new dress for my grandmother. That was his “Sorry”, but hearing the words was never an option.

The second part was that the offender had to stop doing the offense. Intent was not enough. There is no such thing as saying that you are sorry and then contining on with the offending. That denotes a lack of remorse of any kind or a lacking of change in the heart. No action to follow up the words meant absolutely nothing.

The third component was that they had to make restitution. Something had to be given or an action of some sort had to accompany the remorse. I think that my grandpa went straight to this part of the process….and grandma didn’t complain too much, she just knew that he was guilty.

Without all three components, forgiveness was not to be granted. According to the author of the article of explanation, to grant forgiveness without meeting the criteria  promotes evil in the greater community.  In light of today’s headlines or leading news story, the concept of cheap forgiveness promoting evil makes some sense. The crime still stands and the punishment is dispensed or pardoned in the making of the plea deal. Somehow, we have confused forgiveness with mercy.

When all three components were met, the criteria for granting forgiveness was satisfied. With that satifaction, an obligation to grant forgiveness was required.  To withhold forgiveness was committing a sin or transgression as serious as the original offense. No one could say, ” I’ll never forgive you for that.” if the offender had met all of the requirements.

Accepting that the person satisfied the requirements, forgiveness was granted. It was a moral obligation to forgive. No emotion required. That was the first kind of forgiveness.

The second degree of forgiveness is when the person that was wronged empathizes with the offender. This seems to be easier for some than for other. This deeper kind of forgiveness involves the heart of the one offended and can make life easier on all involved.

The third kind of forgiveness is reserved for God. It is called “atonement” and it is when the crime is not only forgiven after the person meets the criteria, but it is totally forgotten. When it is forgotten, the relationship resumes as if the offense never occurred. Atonement is reserved for God alone because it is humanly impossible to totally forget offenses done to the heart or to whose heart you offended.

After all these years of attempting to grant atonement for offenses when that person never ever admitted that they committed the transgression, I realized that I had it all backwards. That is why I would want to believe that I had forgiven. I confused myself further by believing that I had forgotten the transgression only to act out and reveal that I truly never forgave. I was trying to be God.  No wonder I messed everything up!

I understand that the New Testament teaching doesn’t agree with this concept, but it was a great help for my own understanding. I really had this forgiveness thing warped and I was the one paying and satifying the crime on the part of both parties… Now for the really hard part…

Just how do I forgive???

All I can say right now is that I am working on understanding more about this very important concept and action. The offense held to the heart is more damaging for the one offended than to the one who committed the transgression. I suppose it is like the death sentence that the Romans  pronounced when they strapped a dead body to the guilty person until the decay and bacteria caused the living to die. Unforgiveness is that deadly…

I am still learning and I truly want to forgive. I want to forgive rightly and whole heartedly, but I am still in the shadows of forgiveness…..