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For the First Time

For the first time, today I went to church by myself, sat by myself and didn’t completely blubber through all the music.  OK, so there were a few tears during that last song, but no blubbering and it didn’t turn into the big ugly cry.  (There’s something about singing “All I have is in You” that brings me to tears.)

For the first time this week I went out to eat by myself – just me.  Table for one.  It was to one of Michael’s favorite places.  The manager came over and talked like he used to talk with Michael and me.  It’s not as much fun to dine alone.  (But he did pick up my check – thanks Paul!)

For the first time next week I will be travelling without Michael.  It’s a girlfriends’ trip – something I would have never done without Michael.  And for the first time I am planning an overseas trip without Michael – that will really take me out of my comfort zone!

For the first time I am making investment decisions and business decisions by myself.  It’s the kind of thing that we would always discuss together, no matter whose idea it was to begin with.  We were partners that way.

For the first time I attended a board meeting in Michael’s place and for the first time I went to a seminary event without him.  I spent the entire time that evening thinking that he should be there celebrating his good friend and when they showed a picture of Michael I lost it.  The tears started flowing and couldn’t be stopped and I had to make a hasty exit.  Sorry friends.

For the first time I went to the farm without Michael.  He wasn’t there physically, but he’s all over that place!  And soon I’ll go for the first time to the beach house.  Another hurdle to face.

For the first time I made bread.  Not banana bread or zucchini bread or cranberry-orange bread.  Not the kind out of the box or in a bread machine.  The old fashioned, from scratch, add the yeast, knead, wait, punch and knead some more kind.  And it was pretty good, if I may say so myself (especially with some homemade peach preserves – mmm).                           homemade bread

For the first time I had to sign a sworn affidavit that I am not married.  It’s like adding insult to injury and made me reach for the tissues.  Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming at all.

Some days I actually feel a little stronger and think there are things I will try that I’ve never done before.  I see a lot more firsts in my future.  Life looks very different.

Wrestling

I’ve been having a hard time lately.  I don’t pray like I used to.  I pray short prayers.  Thank you’s and grace over meals.  Quickly whispered requests for safety.  But not long intense conversations with God.

I used to wake up every morning and say “Good morning God. Thank You for another day.”  Now I wake up and say “Good morning God. Please tell Michael I love him and I miss him.”

My lips sing “Jesus I sing for all that you’ve done for me”.  But my heart cries “Why didn’t You heal Michael?”

My lips sing “I lift my hands to believe again.  You are my refuge, You are my strength.  As I pour out my heart these things, I remember. You are faithful, God, forever.” But my heart cries, “Why wouldn’t You heal Michael?”

Today I went to church and heard an awesome teaching on prayer. On the way Jesus prayed and the way prayer is a conversation where we talk and we listen.  On how prayer is wrestling with God to a resolution.  Well, I’m still wrestling.  I can’t seem to get to resolution.  There’s too much I don’t understand.  I don’t understand why God didn’t heal Michael.  I don’t understand why all the things he planned to do won’t get done now.  I can’t believe he’s really gone.  I can’t believe I’ll never hear his voice.  I don’t understand why there’ll be no more holidays with him.  Why he’ll never know grandchildren.  I don’t understand how I’m supposed to keep doing things that I was only able to do because of his encouragement.  I am wrestling.  I am wrestling with God.  And it’s a battle I know I cannot win because He is greater and more powerful and I know that in the end I will just have to accept that this is where He has brought me. But right now I’m not going down without a fight.  I am wrestling.  And so far I have no resolution.

I’m Learning

I’m learning that every day is a new day.  Not every day is a good day. But every day is new in its feelings and emotions.

I’m learning that not every day is a complete wash-out.  The tears come and go, sometimes when you least expect it, over the most incredible things.

I’m learning that I can drive by myself to the farm and to MC for move-in day for our youngest child.  I can get busy in packing and lifting and sorting and organizing.

I’m learning that I can sleep in the bed by myself.

I’m learning that I can accept invitations to social events by myself.

I’m learning that no matter how many questions go unanswered, my faith in God is still strong – not because of me, but because He inhabits me through His Spirit giving me the strength and confidence in His word.

I’m learning that I can do things that I haven’t done in a long time. Things that I was always able to do, but that Michael always did for me – just because he wanted to.  Things like putting gas in my car and getting it washed.  Things like taking out the garbage and changing light bulbs.

I’m learning that my stomach doesn’t ache all the time anymore and that the headaches are starting to be less intense.

I’m learning that I’m too young and my children are too old to benefit from the social security that Michael paid into for 40+ years.

I’m learning that, in the midst of my whining and complaining, I have so very much to be thankful for.

I’m learning that feeling sorry for myself is easy to slip in to, but not a fun place to be.  I’m learning that I have to fight my way out, pick up my head and find out what life has to offer.

I’m learning that there are projects and plans for things in the days to come – things that will take my time and energy; things that will occupy my time and challenge me to do things I’ve never done before.

I’m learning that I have a lot to learn.

I’m So Alone

God, where is Your perfect plan in this?  I don’t see it.

God I’m so alone.  Michael was my partner.  We did everything together and now I’m so alone.  I’m scared and afraid and I’ve never liked being alone.  But now I’m so alone.  I want him back and I know he’s not coming back and I’m so alone.

I have friends.  Good friends.  Great friends.  But I’m so alone.

Nothing fills this emptiness up God.  Please fill it up.  I know he’s in a better place but I want him back.

I have my children and they help me and try to be there for me but they have their lives and I’m so alone.

God I know You say You will never leave me or forsake me.  But I’m so alone.  Please put your arms around me.  Let me feel your arms around me.  I don’t want to feel so alone.  I don’t want to be alone. This will never get better.

God please don’t let the enemy win in any of this.  Don’t let him scare me or gain any ground.  Please.  Please.

I cannot even imagine what the next week will be like without Michael.  How will I get through the next year or 5 years?  Or 30 years?

Precious L

A few days ago I had lunch with a precious young friend, L.  Precious L has suffered a tragic loss almost two years ago.  She has so much to teach me about loss and grief, or I should say I have so much to learn from her.

Our lunch lasted about 2 ½ hours – that would be ½ hour of lunch and 2 hours of crying, laughing and remembering.  Precious L is still hurting and has been so kind to share with me what her deepest feelings are – how sometimes she just doesn’t want to be here, how she’ll never “get over” her loss, how other people view her.

Our circumstances are not the same.  I’m many years older than Precious L.  We are at different places in our lives.  The situations that have caused our grief are not the same.  But I’m learning for both of us our grief is great.  It is very painful.  It is life-changing.  It doesn’t matter if your loss is from a spouse, parent, child or friend, your loss is your loss.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest loss, the one that hurts the most, is whichever one you’re going through.  Because it is your own personal pain.

It makes me aware that there are people all around me dealing with their own pain and grief from loss.  I guess I’m just more keenly aware of it now.  I think that I’ve not really appreciated what my own mother-in-law’s life has been like.  She’s been a widow for 33 years now.

Maybe the sadder thing would be for someone to be gone and not have someone that loved them so much and mourned for them.  The saddest thing of all would be for someone to be gone and not to be in the arms of Jesus, not to know beforehand where they would be going, not to have the assurance in this life that they would spend eternity in heaven.  I’m thankful for that – I’m thankful that I know where Michael is, that I have no doubt he is in heaven.  I’m as confident of his salvation as I am of my own.

As lunch progressed Precious L and I found many things we agreed on and our corporate response quickly became “That sucks”, followed by the clinking of our glasses in a toast.  People that tell you you’ll get over it (and lots of other stupid things, which I think will be the subject for a future post).  Clink!  Seeing other people celebrating anniversaries and birthdays together that you know you’ll never get to celebrate.  Clink!  Going to places you used to go with the one you’ve lost or knowing that you can never go to those places again.  Clink!  Having to deal with the personal clothes of the one who’s gone.  Clink!  There was a lot of toasting going on at that table.  Which was fine because we were drinking water and tea.  But next time Precious L wants to do margaritas, so I think I’m gonna need to call a cab.

Also, Precious L is the consummate animal lover.  So she’s had this incredible idea that I need a dog to keep me company.  She’s even been looking at different dogs to gift me and is talking about just leaving one on my front door step.  For anybody that knows me, you know this is NOT a good solution for me.  For the sake of the dog, this is not a good idea!

Thank you Precious L for what you are teaching me.  That grief is universal, yet very individual.  That grief cannot be defined by a timeline.  That grief shows up in many ways.  And that most of us don’t understand until we’ve had to walk through it.  And Precious L — I look forward to the next meeting with margaritas and queso, BUT NO DOG!

Where I Go From Here

On July 21, 2014, life as I knew it changed when my husband of 36 years died.  Michael had lived for many years with liver disease.  In his last months his health deteriorated as the disease and the treatments both took their toll on his body.  On June 1, 2014, Michael received a liver transplant which we thought would restore him to good health and give him many more years, but it didn’t turn out like we’d hoped.

Now life looks different and I will be trying to find my way without his presence and his partnership.  If you decide to come along with me through this blog, I hope you will find some sort of encouragement and that I can let you in on how Michael lived his life, influenced others around him and how I’ll somehow find where I go from here.  This is my first attempt at a blog, so I’m setting only two goals: first, to post at least three times a week; second, to be transparent (though I warn you – transparent ain’t always pretty).

Welcome!

25 Days, 600 Hours

 

By the time today is over Michael will have been gone for 25 days, 600 hours.

During this time I have planned and attended the funeral and burial, looked over pictures, told and listened to thousands of stories, laughed and cried.  I have eaten too many home-cooked meals, gained 5 more pounds, resumed Pilates classes and my daily time on the treadmill.

I have read countless cards, emails, texts and letters.  I have had lunches and dinners with friends trying to keep me busy.

I have planned one trip out of town and have three others in the works.  I have gone to three movies and 1 concert (I tried to go to another but was just too teary to go).  I have watched more mindless TV than I have in the last 6 months.  I have tried to go back to reading, but can’t seem to concentrate on it enough.

I have written some posts and blog ideas and lots of thank-you notes and I’ve even been offered some opportunities to do some other writings.  I’ve been asked when I’ll go back to teaching Bible study classes many times, but still haven’t been able to come up with a good answer for the question.

I’ve avoided sitting in Michael’s chair because I can’t stand it and I’ve sat in Michael’s chair to find comfort; but I can’t bring myself to lay on his side of the bed.  I’ve emptied the medicine cabinet and vanity of all his medicines, but I can’t seem to touch his clothes, papers or the Hummer.

I’ve returned to the blood bank at the hospital, but don’t know when I’ll be able to return to the ICU.

I’ve gotten through a day or two with no tears and just when I think I’m making progress the flood returns.

I’ve prayed and been prayed for.

I’ve remembered.  And I’m already afraid of what all I’ve forgotten.