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.
3 day weekends are the worse. I used to love spending the extra day with Eddie and the boys but now it is just one more day to find something to occupy my time. It is even worse coming off our first week long vacation without Eddie.
When we started talking about the family trip last year, Eddie had not been diagnosed but then life changed in an instant. Even though things changed we longed to give mom a vacation with all her kids, so we really got serious back in December and Eddie was feeling great. He had finished his radiation and first chemo, all scans showed no cancer and life was somewhat back to normal. We had a future we could dream about again. We never talked much about a future that did not include him. A trip that he would never see. It just was not something we could ever imagine but it was always the big pink elephant in the room. Now all these months later, here we are traveling a road that quiet honestly stinks. It seemed like I I missed him more on vacation than I do at home. He was our leader, our safety net, our driver. He was my next breath. He was my cheerleader and my protector.
After I had the boys, altitude has always caused my migraines to be worse. He understood that and helped me manage them. After all these years he could see them coming on almost as well as I could. So every morning at 4 am I woke up with a migraine, took medicine and spent time with Eddie. In the quiet, cool Colorado morning I felt him and missed him terribly.
This trip has been about our family loving on mom, my boys getting to know my brother and family from Georgia and to give us memories with my mom. But it is harder on the boys and I than we thought. This was Eddie's and the boys kind of trip. They loved the outdoors. We all feel closer to Eddie in the outdoors and the pain is bigger there. His absence if more evident there but he is more present there too. Probably because all the distractions are not there. No mindless tv or places to go just fresh air, God's beauty and quiet.
We are so thankful for our family and the opportunity to love on each other, to begin to build a new normal and to create memories that will last a lifetime with my mom. As our vacation comes to an end and life enters a new season I feel the loss of Eddie with every breath. As Fall moves in so does hunting season, TTU football, cooler weather and holidays. All the things we love and all the things that make us miss Eddie more. I find myself struggling to take deep breaths and I look for signs of Eddie everywhere. Sleep does not come easy and neither does peace in my heart. It is crazy how the smallest thing can bring on crippling despair.
Saying goodbye to our dog, Mogey before vacation was hard and took a lot out of me. We lost another friend to this stupid pancreatic cancer this past week and I received word today that another close friend who has been battling a different cancer is not doing well. Another husband, father, brother, son, wife, mother, sister, daughter. All these young people who have so much to give are being taken way too soon. It all seems too much most of the times.
I am not sure how it is for other people but for me the months leading up to Eddie's death and the couple of months after, I felt a peace that got me through. Now as I learn to live again, each day becomes harder than the one before. It is like I was living in a fog and as the fog lifts real life begins to set in. Whatever real life might be, I guess we will have to see.
Even with all this despair, God keeps giving me the grace to see the beauty in each day and I see glimpses of healing in my boys. I thank God everyday for the path he is helping me walk even as I find it harder to breath each day I am without Eddie. I am so blessed that God trusted me for this journey even on days that I do not understand. I live with the knowledge that God is walking beside me and will carry me through, even on the days I am filled with anger and days that I fail him.
Make memories, take silly pictures and laugh with each other. Thank you for walking with me.
I find myself longing for one more connection, one more touch, one more kiss, one more hug, one more breath, just one more of everything. I have never been the kind of person who longs to be alone or the kind of person who wants time away from my family. I love being surrounded by people and to feel needed. I love having a purpose and a way to serve others. But, when you loose someone, especially after an illness, the quiet, the stillness, the need to do something and to be needed is overpowering.
I lost my identity on the morning of May 28th. I no longer belonged. I became a widow instead of a wife, single instead of a couple, a single parent instead of co-parent and a party of 3 instead of 4. I have noticed that no matter where we go out to eat, there is always an empty seat, Eddie is always missing because you don't find a table for 3 or a table for 1. The seat next to me in the car, that I used to occupy, now sits empty. The moment the lights go out at night I no longer hear "Are you through pulling the covers?" or "Can you move over a little bit more so I am not falling off the bed?" I just hear silence... For 25 years that was our nightly conversation. Laundry for one person is stupid. Cooking a meal is too much so I either don't eat, eat junk or pick something up. Calling people to make plans to eat is overwhelming. Simple task take extreme energy because you are doing everything that 2 people used to do. Every decision falls on your now.
In my case, life was easier the month following Eddie's death. To be honest, I was probably in shock and I was needed to make decisions and plans. But as life moves forward I find reality setting in and the despair is greater. Most days I make a conscious decision to live or at least fake it because lets face it, life moves on for everyone. It has been 3 months since I last held Eddie's hand, 3 months since I last felt his heartbeat, 3 months since I was a wife and 3 months since I belonged somewhere.
Life can seem overwhelming. Life can seem like you are pulled in every direction. Life can seem like there are not enough hours in the day. And life can see loud. THEN...Life seems overwhelming but in a totally different way. You find yourself doing the pulling just to have connections. And now there are too many hours in the day and it is way too quiet.
Love your people and be grateful for those loud moments...quiet is not all it is cracked up to be!