You started out strong and I felt healing was going well. I had a much needed time away with my boys and good friends. You brought the most precious gift in a tiny dog that I did not know I needed. I saw my boys thrive with new adventures and new jobs. Mom was settled into her new home and life appeared to be good from the outside looking in. We had survived the year of first and were moving along until that unavoidable wall of grief smacked me in the face.
Some say the 1st year is the hardest but I have found that the 2nd year brought a reality like no other. Real life is hard which make real grief even harder. I spent most of the year in a fog of self preservation. I found myself retreating from my life which can put you in vicious circle. Most people would never have noticed but I noticed yet I could do nothing to change it.
As the year closed out we found our family in a new New. This was our first Christmas without Mom. Due to her declining health and the progression of her Alzheimer's we have had to face some hard realities. Life has taken on new roles for Caryn and myself where Mom is concerned. I will tell you that hard does not even touch what this disease does. We have learned to cherish moments instead of days, to not expect anything and to role with whatever is happening. There are still a few fleeting moments that life is how it should be and we are thankful for those.
As 2019 begins, so do new adventures. Trips are being planned and memories are being made every day. I have never been a New Years Resolution person but this year I am making some New Year Promises instead.
I promise to try 1 new thing every month.
I promise to attempt to live life to the best of my ability each and every day.
I promise to forgive myself when I fail.
I promise to be kind to myself.
I promise to be intentional with those in my life.
And I promise to continue to grow in my grief.
So here is to a new New and an even better Now. Enjoy life, hug a little tighter and laugh often.
Questions not asked, Answers not heard, Always is what I miss the most
Now this is a tough one to say out loud because I am exposing my deepest fears. These past few weeks I have been struggling with the feeling that I left Eddie alone to deal with the emotions of his illness. I have wondered if he felt it too. Like the things we did not talk about because they were too hard or we knew it would cause pain. The things we sugar coated because it was easier. Maybe it was a defense mechanism or maybe it was us being selfish or maybe it was just us living the best we could with the cards we were dealt. Or, maybe just maybe we did talk about the important things rather than the things we could not change. I will never know this side of heaven but it still hurts.
There is no answer that can bring comfort when there is only one of us left. I have a lot of shame that comes with these unanswered questions. Working through that is tough, admitting that you let your husband, your kids and yourself down is not an easy thing to do. I find it hard to like the person I see in the mirror and to not focus on the negative because the only constant I have to fall back on is that Eddie knew without a shadow of doubt how much I loved him and I knew how much he loved me. Hopefully with time that will be enough.
I saw the picture above where two oceans meet but do not mix and it was a perfect depiction of my life at different stages. One side was clear, calm and blue and the other was a cloudy, turbulent and green color, both beautiful in their own way but each so different. I can pick out times in my life where there were distinct meetings of two oceans, turning points where I felt cloudy then clear or clear then cloudy. It can be hard to take the leap into the unknown but I try to remember that both oceans were made by God therefore he walks on both sides with me.
Whenever I travel for long distances it always brings back the memory of our last drive home from Dallas. I remember how Eddie looked out the window taking in everything, memorizing the things he would never see again. It taught me to put my book down and look out the window, to really see God's beautiful work. I try to see the world as Eddie saw it that day and to enjoy it.
Being in the mountains with my boys was hard but so renewing to my spirit. I tried to remember to be in the moment and not get caught up in the past or the could've. I have found myself being more brave. I try new things for myself as well as the boys because it is what we all need. I don't want to waste our time because it is precious.
ALWAYS is what I miss!
The first time I read this was like a lightening bolt. This speaks deep into my soul. I have never felt completely comfortable with any description until I read this. I miss everything but I miss ALWAYS the most. ALWAYS having a hand to hold, arms to hug, shoulders to lean on. ALWAYS having someone to plan with, to do life with, to argue with. ALWAYS feeling like you were enough or not enough with, share fears with, joys with. ALWAYS having someone to laugh with, cry with, be with. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS...
I was lucky enough to find my ALWAYS and to share two great boys (that have become great men) with and I will ALWAYS be grateful to God for this.
Looking at myself in the mirror and finding someone that I not only like but love is proving to be tough at this stage. Finding forgiveness for myself as well as from Eddie will give me peace, I just don't know how to do that. So I am learning to cherish the good and peaceful moments even though they are far and few, hanging on tight to my support system and focusing on living the best life I can each day.
Grace and Love to all
I have discovered that grief can be loud and all consuming. The best way to describe it is like a big pink elephant in the room. Sometimes it sits there looking cute and you can pretend it is just part of the room. We all know it is there but I just find ways to ignore it but then there are other times it takes a big giant elephant size poop right next to me and it is hard to ignore. It is loud and messy!
I have also figured out that grief and cancer have many similarities. Both choose at random. Both attack the physical body. Both attack you mentally and cause fear, heartache, loneliness and loss. I have learned that grief is a life long battle just like cancer can be and both can hide from the outside world while attacking the inside.
I have been totally alone while standing in a crowd. I hurt so deep that I know there has to be a physical wound that everyone can see. I know deep down that my smile will never reach my heart yet I keep pretending that it does. But the hardest part is that I am so broken that I cannot pray. I cannot find the words to ask God for help. These are all things that our family experienced during Eddie's illness. I watched him struggle to make sense of the senseless as we all did. We prayed for answers, for hope and for healing and we held on to each other. Now I struggle with the same things as I walk alone but I know without a shadow of doubt that I would choose this path and my life with Eddie every time.
There are many days I find myself wanting to withdraw from life more often than not. Making plans and the simplest decisions are hard, they overwhelm me. My heart hurts and I miss Eddie with every part of me..
I am not angry with God but I do find myself being indifferent towards him. More often than not I feel like a fraud when it comes to my faith because I am having a hard time showing up. Church is one of the most difficult places for me because I feel Eddie's loss everywhere. His absence is huge there so I often take the easy way out and I don't show up.
I am incredibly blessed to have family and friends close but I often wonder how can I want them around me when I cannot stand to be around myself. Life continues to move along even when I don't want to participate.
I have discovered that along with grief comes depression. Depression isn’t about not having enough faith. It isn’t about choosing joy over sadness. It isn’t about digging deeper and getting on with life. It isn’t mind over matter and it isn't about not trying. It’s a real thing, no matter how much faith you have, depression can steal away everything that once made sense.
When loss cracks you wide open and leaves you raw and exposed, you quickly learn what’s worth the hard work and emotional energy and what’s not. It has taught me the importance of focusing on things that really, truly matter and letting everything else wait. Every day I struggle with how do I make it through this hour, then the next and the one after that. I choose to smile even when I don't want too and I lie most every time I am asked "How are you doing?" I find that pretending gets easier and before long I hope it becomes real.
The one thing I know is that God has not left me even when I am indifferent to him, even when I don't show up and even when I don't ask. I am finding out that if I am still and listen, God whispers, "I am still here, lean on me" even when the noise of grief is too loud.
May each one of us embrace the pink elephant in our lives.
Grace and peace
July 3, 2015 will forever be the last day of our life before cancer, the last day of our life that was perfect for us and the last day that we were your typical family just living life the best way we could. We were still planning for tomorrow and a future that we would never have. Oh how I wish for that day back.
July 4th was always a time Eddie and I loved, not because of the holiday but because of our boys and their friends. We would cook for them, hang out with them and then go to bed early while they hung out and shot off fireworks. Eddie would get up to make sure they had buckets of water just in case the grass caught on fire(which it did once) and he would lecture all of them on the proper way to clean up the street. I know all of the kids heard that talk more than once but they always came back, year after year.
This year will be a weekend of relaxing, sleeping and a lot of nothing. My heart has hurt more in the last couple of weeks and breathing has been hard, BUT, I am so blessed. My boys are healthy and happy, Mom has come home and is settling in, Caryn and I have almost finished with cleaning out their duplex and we have found the most wonderful lady to stay with mom during the day. Lots to be thankful for!! We were so busy during June that I find myself wanting to sit and do nothing and I find comfort in solitude. Kade has been gone most of the month of June and that is always harder on me.
The "What if", "If only we had" and "We should of" games are playing over and over in my heart and head. It is a struggle to make sense of the unthinkable. I want to believe that I would not change anything and that I did the best I could but who knows because the ending was always going to be the same. I have come to realize that when you pray for a miracle, you cannot complain when God's miracle does not match ours. Even though the tears fall more frequently, I continue to find strength in the quiet whispers from God. Learning to take the moments I need has been hard but I am trying. Giving myself the forgiveness and grace I give others is a challenge. I fail at this daily so God and I are working on it.
They say the 2nd year is harder than the year of first and I believe it will be. I was so focused on surviving that I found myself lost in the here and now during this past year. Now, I find myself longing for a time that will never be again and wondering if I will ever feel like myself.
Grace and peace to each of you
Today, I choose to not celebrate nor do I choose to see it as an anniversary because I feel that would lesson every day that I have spent without Eddie. The simple fact is, I do not have my husband, my boys do not have their Dad, Belle does not have her son, Stephanie and my siblings do not have their brother and so many do not have their friend. I will not acknowledge today as anything more than yesterday or anything less than tomorrow. Everyday is one more day of loss but also one more day filled with God's grace.
Today does not define who we were or who we are. It does not get the privilege of having it's own day nor does it get to mean more than the 49 years before or all the years that will come after.
So I choose not to morn today but to celebrate the life we had and the life we have made since Eddie's death. We are so much more than the foundation that "the year of first" represents. As I reflect back on the past year and the year before that, I realize how far we have come and how far we have to go.
I have thought a lot about how after someone dies, we tend to only remember the good and happy times. We talk of what a good man he was and all the great things he did. We rarely mention how he would drive us all crazy with his "attention" to details, how most of the time he was too stubborn to ask for help or how he never threw away ANYTHING because he might need it. We see all the beauty and ignore the scars that marked his hands and body, when we should rejoice in the stories that each beautiful scar tells. You could see the story of his life in each of his fingerprints and see the scars from years of work and think about how much his fingerprints had changed over the years since we met. We seldom mention the real and hard times that made us, US.
Eddie was a great man, an honest man, a man of many talents, a man who fiercely loved God and his family. He was a man who gave a lot and who loved serving others. He was also a stubborn man, a picky man, a "take no short cuts just do it right the first time" man and a man who had flaws just like we all do. He was not going to die so he refused to talk about it, refused to leave phone numbers or instructions because like most of us he could not wrap his mind around dying. If I had regrets, that would be mine, how I wish I would of been braver and stronger about talking about "things" But when you are living and letting go, we all do the best we can. So we did what we always did and we just provided the best way we could and loved each other. We fought hard everyday for our marriage and our family but neither one of us were or are perfect but we found we were perfect for each other.
I still find myself looking for Eddie but he is so present in my life and through our boys that I have found that some days I forget that he is gone. I am so proud of where the boys and I are today. We are healing and finding our path but most importantly every day we courageously choose to "GET UP and LIVE. Some days it might be ugly but some days it might be pretty great and each day it is filled with God's love, grace and forgiveness.
So today I will remember the peace and relief that we felt on this day last year. I will remember Eddie, NOT where we were a year ago today but where we were everyday before that. He deserves more than the day he died, he deserves each and every one of the 17,930 days that he lived.
So, for me, today is just like the previous 365 days that came before and just like the 365 days that will come after and I will choose to GET UP and LIVE!
I read that Loss does not Lessen Love and I stand firm in my love for Eddie and all that he gave me because I was the luckiest girl to get to love and be loved by this man.
So today I will love a little harder, be a little more courageous and give myself the grace I deserve AND I WILL CHOOSE TO GET UP AND LIVE!
sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe,
desolation, dejection, despair
These are word that you will find when looking up Grief. Sure grief is all of these things but it is also so much more.
Look at my picture. This is what grief looks like...
It is my best friend and worst enemy.
It is the joy I find in each day as well as the gut wrenching sorrow I carry with me.
It is the love that I feel as well as the love that I have lost.
It is 24 years of memories as well as today and every tomorrow to come.
It is my life.
Living with grief is the most exhausting thing I have every felt. Yet, living without it would mean living without Eddie and our boys. It would mean living without my my dad, my grandparents, my friends. It would mean living without me!
Most days I can put a smile on my face and pretend long enough that it is a good day but if you ever look into my eyes and my heart, I mean really look you can see it. I have not been very good at masking it lately. Everywhere I turn I am smacked in the face with memories, fear, longing and heartbreaking loneliness even in a crowd of people.
I found myself reaching for my phone the other day after a friend stopped by to check on me and he shared some exciting news about a new grand baby. It took my breath away because that has not happened in a while. It seems like the strangest things threaten to pull me under at a moments notice.
But...with that being said, I have had an overwhelming desire to "Praise my blessings from the mountain top!" "To give Glory to God for continuing to show up!" because I get to see how God is working in our lives every day just as I did throughout our journey. He is walking beside our boys, guiding them and healing their hearts. He is sprinkling good Godly people in my life that are showing up and walking beside me. They pray for me and they listen when I need them too. I mean really listen whether it is with words, hugs or just being there. And they always "really" look into my heart no matter how hard it is to see, they always look. If you can be this for someone, it is one of the best gifts you can ever give.
One of my greatest blessings IS my grief. As hard as it is and as much as I wish Eddie was with me, I am thankful for his love. He worked really hard to take care of the boys and me. He began years ago preparing us for this without even knowing it was coming. Eddie was a quiet man who could say more by not saying anything. I told someone the other day that the boys are a lot like Eddie because they can say so much without actually saying anything too. Now this great gift can also be the thorn that causes pain. It can leave others to hear what they want. Trust me when I say, Eddie and I had many discussions regarding this. LOL
I guess what I want to share is the thing I am most thankful for IS my grief because GREAT love comes with that grief.
Be kind to yourself and to others.
Give someone the gift of really looking into their heart.
And, allow love into your life, the reward is so worth it!
I stood at the front door alone and said, "Go be great and live your dream!"
I never could have imagined how much our lives would have changed over the past year and a half. Eddie and I always knew that the day would come that we would watch Zachary drive away moving to Colorado. He has always talked about it and we prayed for the day that he would leave to find his place in the world. On this early morning, I was filled with so much love and pride even as I watched a little more of my heart drive away. Just as I knew that my boys would never be the same one early morning in May, I know that Zachary will come back a better person than when he left and we will all be stronger than when he left. This new normal is going to be hard on all of us, especially Kade since he gets me all by myself! But we will move forward just as we have done over the last 6 months, one step at a time.
In the last 17 months our lives have changed so much. I have held my family as we lived through the most devastating time of our lives. I have watched my boys become men and grieve while trying to move forward. As a mom and God serving woman, I could not have been prouder. They served, nurtured, loved and said goodbye to there hero, friend and Dad. And then, they did what they had to do to find a way to move forward.
We have all stood bravely by as God's plan has unfolded in ways we never dreamed possible. We have seen day in and day out God's hand at work in our lives and in the lives of others. He continues to walk before us, beside us and carrying us. I have learned so much about myself and am learning to be brave walking alone. I am also learning to ask for help from others besides my boys. It is a work in progress as God teaches me that asking for help is not a weakness or a burden to others but a gift we give to ourselves and our family and friends who want to do something, anything to help. I have learned that allowing someone to help can bless me as well as them and can be a form of healing. It is something I am trying to get better at.
Eddie and I were such a close couple that we were rarely apart and often did without thinking. We were so in tune with each other that it could be one of our most frequent disagreements if we did not immediately help each other, always ending up saying,"Well you did not ask or all you had to do was ask!" Neither one of us liked to ask for help but loved to serve our Lord, each other, family and others. I am finding out that sometimes we all need help.
So as I move forward I am trying to stay connected and to allow others to give the gift of help. I am encouraging my boys to follow their dreams even if "said" dreams takes them away from Home. The key is to remember that they always have a Home to come home too.
So as this Christmas season and New Year grows near, spend as much time as you can with those you are close too. Stop for that extra hug. Take the time for that call you have been meaning to make. Take an impromptu trip for the day or week. Plan a date night or family night. BUT most importantly, love those around you and don't waste time with too many plans. God has a funny way of letting you know that your plans are not always his plans.
This past year my brother, sister and I have been intentional about making memories with our mom. She has Alziemers and the time is drawing near that she will not be able to travel anymore so we felt a need to make memories with her and our kids. I am learning a new level of patience with this disease and a whole new level of grief. I have said it before and I will say it again.
Do not waste time, make as many memories as you can! Life sometimes gets in the way of the most well laid out plans so love each other and those around you well.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours
As November rolls in and the holiday celebrations start, I find myself reflecting on the past year. Five months have passed since Eddie took his last breath. Five months since I held his hand. Five months since I felt his earthly body. Five months since I heard his voice. I find myself replaying the last year more often these days. It is hard not to try and figure out what we could have done differently to get a different outcome. How we could have made a different treatment plan to give us more time or wonder if we did enough, said enough, fought hard enough? These things haunt me more than I can say.
BUT, the reality of pancreatic cancer is YOU will die way too young and way too fast. Ten months is a life time and so much more time than most get but I wanted MORE. I am selfish and I wanted more time. I can say with great confidence that Eddie lived life every day of those ten months. He fought the battle while living life like he had a tomorrow. We took it day by day and spent a lot of time being a family. He fought until the very last breath to stay with us. I know that he was not ready, our boys were not ready and I was not ready. But just as we did on that final morning, we make the choice to get up and to live life the best we can every day. Some days are harder than others and most days I can look back and say "There was joy in my day."
The holidays will look a little different this year in more ways than just Eddie being gone. For the first time in my entire life, we will not be with my mom and sister for Thanksgiving but with my brother and his family. I have mixed emotions about that but it will be so great to spend some time away and with them. I hear there is a fishing trip planned for the guys and the trash talking has already started. It should be fun. Then, Christmas will be here before we know it and a new year.
Zachary is moving to Colorado so he will not be with us this year. I am extremely proud and excited for him. He is following his dreams and making his own path. Christmas sure will be different with him being gone. I have been blessed to have never spent any holiday away from my boys, which means I will have to put on my big girl pants. You all need to pray for Kade, he is going to be left with me!
We packed up Eddie's clothes and soccer stuff a couple of weeks ago. I made the decision to donate his clothes to an area school to pass out to students in need. Eddie would have been so happy that he was helping some kids. I have donated his soccer referee stuff to some different organizations we have been involved with. So slowly were are getting stuff done before Zachary leaves. We just did not want his stuff sitting in his closet when it could be helping others.
I am trying to live in the present as much as possible without forgetting what got me here. I found this passage and it has resonated with me. I find myself going back to it often. They are the most visual words I have read lately.
"I cradle the scarred places tenderly and cherish the love that made the wound."
If you have ever wondered what everyday grief feels like to someone who lives with it, my best description is this. We have all seen or experienced a child laying on the floor hanging onto someone's leg while they pull them across the floor. The weight causing you to step and drag, step and drag. For me, my grief is like that, heavy, pulling me back while I take each step. It is heavy but it is comforting because it reminds me that Eddie and I loved well. I pray every day that I am strong enough to make it through the holiday season without totally withdrawing. I try to remind myself that His grace is enough!
May you be blessed this season and thank you for traveling this road with me.
So, here is my disclaimer because I would never want to hurt anyone with my words that might be walking this same path. I want to remind you that this is my journey and I do not discount how anyone chooses to grieve and walk in their own journey. It is a path that is so intimate and personal for each person.
Over the last couple of weeks and the deaths of friends, I have found myself wondering why it seems that some people get more than their fair share of illness, heartache or loss and others get happiness, security and love? Have you ever wonder why them or how do they do it? I have thought to myself, "Their load must be heavy", "It is so unfair" or "They are so blessed." We never know what a person is going through or has been through that shapes them into who they are at that very minute. I have found myself asking these questions about others and have found others asking this of my life. I am sure when you list out the ones I have lost to death or am loosing to Alzheimer the list seems overwhelming and the load seems heavy AND it can be. But when I look at the list, I see love, happy memories and laughter. I see vacations, church activities, soccer games and precious stolen moments. And I see, family and friends that have shared our load with meals, notes, hugs, prayers or just time. AND, I see joy and God's grace.
Now I will not say I don't have my dark, angry moments or my pity parties. I just try not to dwell in them. For me, I choose to acknowledge the pain and welcome it in but I rarely ask it to sit down and stay a while. Because as sad as I am and as much as I miss Eddie, Daddy and my grandparents, I still have my boys, my mom, my sisters, my brothers, my family and my friends and I don't want to miss out on the time with them. It would cheat them, it would cheat Eddie and it would cheat me out of living life, finding happiness in the smallest or biggest things and most importantly loving each other.
I realized that my post have been dark lately, and probably will be again, but I also wanted you all to know that I am OK, my heart is OK and my boys are OK. We are learning to live in the moment and not put too much pressure on the future. Recently, we celebrated Kade's birthday with a shrimp boil and a house full of friends. Then we went on a trip to San Francisco for mine and Eddie's anniversary. We laughed, cried, remembered and made precious memories. We are making plans for the rest of the year and we feel blessed. We continue to ask for your prayers as the holidays approach and new challenges come up. This time of year can be harder than summer because darkness comes earlier and with that darkness come quiet memories. And, with quiet memories comes tears, anxiety and loneliness.
As Fall turns into Winter, Thanksgiving into Christmas, take time to slow down and make memories. Do not let life pass you by. God is all around us in the beauty of the changing leaves and the cooler temperatures. Embarrass your kids by hugging them whenever you want too, give yourself permission to have an extra piece of pie or a new scarf and live each moment with the eyes of a child and the love of God in your heart. Always, listen to the nudge in your heart that says check on your people, who knows, it might be just what they need to make through the moment.
Be happy and make a good memory each and every day. Laugh out loud and love each other well.
I have never been a person who makes my bed. Mom and Daddy did not make us growing up and we did not make our boys. It was never one of those important things to us. We were just going to get back in it later so what was the big deal. These days there are few mornings where I do not make my bed and I really never paid much attention until Sunday. On this particular morning I did not make my bed, not a big event in the grand scheme, right? No earth shattering reason, I just did not feel like it.
As I walked into the room in the late afternoon, I found myself standing at the end of the bed looking at it. You see even during Eddie's final weeks, our bed was the gathering place for everyone who visited. It had held so many quiet moments and now it was so obvious that it was a bed that one person sleeps in. No longer did the pillows lay beside each other with the blankets thrown up on both sides. The pillows were stacked for one and only half the covers messed up the others lay undisturbed and cold. Missing was the comfortable bed that held so many secrets and so many dreams of two people in love. Missing was the bed for family talks as the bed for 2 held all 4 as we discussed all of our hopes for the future, disappointment of the moments and life in general. And in its place, was a bed that holds so many tears and broken dreams, a bed that feels way too big and just not as comfortable and inviting. I know that someday it will hold healing and new dreams for the future but until then I will just make the bed...
There are so many moments in grief that are all consuming and heavy. A friend sent me a link to a wonderful article about the children's book "We are going on a Bear Hunt" and its lessons that relate to grief. In the book it keeps repeating
You can't go over it.
You can't go around it.
You have to go through it!
It is so true. As the boys and I walk this path, we often talk about this. How we can either avoid the grief or we can face it and let it wash over us. Our mindset is "Let's just get through it." Avoiding it will not bring Eddie back nor will it make the pain less so why wait.
At the end of the article it says, Can we stop with "Let me tell you how to feel better" and start with "Let me sit with you right in the middle of it?" Can we acknowledge that lament and loss and despair are not only a part of life, but a part of real faith?
I have an overpowering faith that MY GOD has walked before me and that he will walk through this WITH me. My GOD loves us and will not leave us even on the days we are quiet. And MY GOD will sit beside me, all in, and love us no matter what, as we go through this.
So as I crawl into bed tonight, I pray that each of you find comfort in your unmade bed.