Monday, June 30, 2014

The Scars

Just a "heads up," if you haven't already figured it out…writing is therapeutic for me. These next few days feel heavy. There is a lot stirred up in me as I remember, too specifically at times, what transpired over these days between late Saturday/early Sunday until the time Rod was taken off of life support on that Wednesday morning a year ago. Therefore, I may post more than normal. Bear with me or stop reading if you wish.

I picked the boys up today, after they were at a friend's house for 2 nights. I missed them a lot and it was good to have them home. However, I realized quickly that I am still very "edgy" with them, and just feel extremely depleted emotionally. I hate feeling like this. It makes me feel inadequate as a mom when I feel such a lack of control with my emotions. After all, I have done a pretty decent job of keeping it together for almost a year now.

I am continuing to pray for wisdom and a sense of peace to wash over me. I had always hoped I would be in a better place by this time. That somehow I would boldly walk through these days, with such a sense of hope and gracefulness. Instead, I feel myself slipping backwards emotionally. I feel more lost and unsure than ever. Then, I remember…there is no certain way this should look. Whatever perceptions or expectations I have of myself should just be thrown out the window. Grief is unpredictable and takes sudden, crazy turns. Loss of any kind is painful. It comes with both the predictable and unpredictable moments of sadness.

Tonight I am reminded to BE. STILL. Just be still, Missy. It sounds so easy, yet it is one of the MOST difficult things for me to do. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." He wants me to be still, because when I am "still" with my thoughts, emotions, and all the expectations I conjure up in my head…HE is able to come in and fill me with the only voice I need to hear...HIS. His voice is truth. His voice tells me that He is good and faithful, even when the circumstances are hard. His voice reminds me that He is near to my broken heart and will never leave me. When I allow myself to really hear His voice, I am filled with strength and peace like no other to face the days ahead.

Interestingly, I was reading a book to Colby at the counselor's office last week, as we waited on Carson to finish his session. He picked it up because it had a tree on it and he thought it might be a children's book. It was called The Tree That Survived Winter. I had never heard of it, but it was beautiful and so full of truth and metaphors that aligned with my story. One line in particular caught my attention and I read it over and over. (see below) The entire story is of a tree who had to go through the winter and basically felt forsaken by the sun in those cold, hard months. But the tree realized quickly as she blossomed and bloomed and was stronger, that surviving the winter shaped her into this beautiful, strong, resilient tree. I love this! I want to be grateful for the scars one day. I want God to use those scars to produce an unspeakable solidarity in Christ within me. And I pray that I will.

"Profoundly humbled, the tree bent low, grateful for the obvious gifts she had to share, but even more grateful for the less obvious- the scars that produced an unspeakable solidarity." - Mary Fahy, The Tree That Survived the Winter.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bruised- The beginning of God's new story

"Combat comes before victory. If God has chosen special trials for you to endure, be assured he has kept a very special place in His heart just for you. A badly bruised soul, is one who is chosen." - L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert.

Today marks the day that it all began 1 year ago. The series of events that forever changed everything from that moment moving forward into what I thought my future would look like. I have felt a great need to have some time alone…only with God. So, graciously, a friend took the boys for a couple of nights, to allow me to do just that. My counselor recommended I do this and she was right. It has been a gift.

I realize how for so many months, I have had to be "on" as a mom. This doesn't mean I couldn't be upset, angry, or show any emotion. It just means I had to contain it to a certain degree. My boys worry about me. Carson is especially perceptive and gets concerned easily about how I'm doing. I have probably perpetuated that, as I am a master at keeping it together most of the time. So, a "respite" at home is exactly what my soul needed.

The summer has felt intense, particularly. There are really no breaks from all of the boys at the same time. One or two may be at camp or a playdate, but typically not all 3 are gone at the same time, as they are when school is going on. So, I have felt heaviness and sadness stirring within me, that often comes out sideways. They are out of routine. Bedtimes are later. All making for a not-so-great combination for this exhausted and lonely mama, who is desperately missing her husband, and weary from doing it alone.

I know the next few days will be difficult. I would covet your prayers, as I am having a hard time sleeping. Lots of flashbacks. Lots of emotion. God is faithful and I am loving some one on one time with Him. It is like a big hug. You know how you can think you are fine? Then, the moment that particular someone hugs you…the floodgates open and the emotions come barreling out. Something about that "hug" from my Heavenly Father reminds me of how much He cares for me and that it is okay to let it all out. To be vulnerable. To cry so hard that my bones hurt. I am resting in a great big hug from Him right now, and as the quote above says (which I love, by the way), I'm believing that "He has a special place in His heart for ME." He sees that I am badly bruised, and tenderly cares for my every need.

God chose this road for our family, one year ago today. I will probably never understand why. I can only hope that my response to His plan is one that brings glory.

Some days I know it doesn't, and I give myself grace for that. But, today I give Him all glory and honor and praise!
I love you, Bunky, and miss you more with each passing day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Last "First"

We survived. Not only did we survive the last of the "Firsts," before the 1 year anniversary of his death, but I would even venture to say we thrived. Was it hard? Absolutely. But I can honestly say I felt so covered in prayer on this day.
Father's Day will forever be a difficult day for these boys. It will break my heart every year, I have no doubt. It will never be the same for them. However, as I shared with them from my own story of losing my mom, the day will hopefully come when the sting is not so painful and the hole does not feel so gaping. It may be, as it was for me, once I had my own children. I don't know the answer to that and it may be different for each of them. But they now know that they CAN get through it, and they can do as we did…choose to focus on what we had in their daddy, rather than on the loss.
We decided that morning to find somewhere to go on a hiking adventure! So, we decided on Edwin Warner Park in Nashville, which is only about a 25 minute drive. It was really beautiful and we ended up spending almost 4 hours out on the trails. The time truly went by fast. We covered a lot of ground, but we also played a lot along the way. Boys are drawn to water and there was a perfect stream and pond to play in on our trek. We probably spent an hour there alone.

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We really enjoyed just unplugging from everything and everyone for a few hours. Along the way we had some great discussions about the kind of man their dad was and the things that were most important to him. We laughed as we talked about some of the funny things their dad said and did. I will admit I had tears falling as I walked behind them on the trail and longed deeply for him to be there walking with us.  I was even asked by one lady (not in front of the boys, thankfully), "you must be giving dad a break today, huh?" I just nodded and couldn't bring myself to say anything else.

The night before, we talked about how the boys wanted their Father's Day to look or what special things we could do to celebrate what an amazing earthly father they were blessed with. They decided they each wanted to make a rock for their dad and leave them at his gravesite. This was actually Cooper's idea! The other 2 thought it was perfect. So, I brought the rocks and my sharpie with us in the backpack and they decided to find a special spot to sit and write on their rocks, while hiking.
After we left our hike, we went to the cemetery and the boys left their rocks. There are no words to describe how heart wrenching it is to watch your children sit and stare silently, tears falling, at their daddy's grave. We didn't stay long, but it was something they all said they wanted to do and were glad they did it. When I asked them how they felt about the day…they all said (in one way or another) "Better than I thought it would be."

And I felt the same. 

Thankful for prayers. They do make a difference. God heard and the day was in fact, better than I thought!

Then, it was off for Master Blasts at Sonic, followed by mom's grilled hamburgers! Yes…I can grill…I learned from the grill master himself…their daddy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day

Just thinking about Father's Day this year, takes my breath away. I've always thought Mother's Day creeps up quickly with all the end-of-year school chaos that starts during the month of May. Then, Father's Day seems to come just as quick and unexpectedly; although, you would think it would be on the radar after Mother's Day has set the stage.

This year is different. I have been all too aware of Father's Day, looming in the shadows…waiting to make it's debut. The Hallmark aisle filled with blues, greens, plaids, and stripes. The U.S. Open going on. The advertisements for grills and golf equipment. Ties, shavers, electronics, and fishing gear staring me in the face at every turn. I absolutely dread it for my boys. It's like a big slap in the face. A glowing reminder that "Your dad is not here to celebrate."

I think I am especially sensitive to it because I have experienced 34 years worth of "Mother's Days" without my own mom. Even after all these years, there is still a sting that comes with that holiday, so I feel fairly certain my boys will have a similar story when it comes to Father's Day. And well, that just makes me sad for them.

People have asked what we are doing. I don't know the answer to that. I know what we are NOT doing. Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but we will not be going to church on Father's Day. I remember being in church on Mother's Day one too many times, where crafts were made for your mom, not to mention all the recognition for the moms present. Nothing wrong with that. However, it feels hard and cruel to expose the boys to a situation that will, undoubtedly, be placing an emphasis on dad this year.

Over the last few days we have chosen to focus on 2 things, as Father's Day approaches:

1.) Our Heavenly Father loves us beyond compare and we can put our trust in Him. He is a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), and the role that God plays as their "Father" will be monumental in the days and years to come.

2.) Rod Cook was the MOST amazing "earthly" father, and we will choose to be thankful for the time they got to experience having him as their daddy. His legacy is full and rich. He packed more into his few years of being a dad, than many dads can say they have in a lifetime.

I hope that as you celebrate Father's Day, you will whisper a prayer for the Cook boys. I pray that you will choose to be thankful for the dad you have, even if he is not perfect. Show him he is loved and appreciated like never before. Ladies, put aside any frustrations you may have about making your man feel special on this day (even if YOU are the one that carries the bulk of responsibilities as parent). God made these men fathers. Their impact is immeasurable and they deserve to be celebrated. Respect them. Make sure your children lavish them with love and hugs. Spend time together as a family if you can. Take pictures. Cherish the moment. I didn't know that Father's Day 2013 would be the last for my boys to celebrate their dad on this special day. If it's the last for your children's father…wouldn't you make the most of it?

One of the last pictures of the boys with their dad. Taken outside of Nachos Restaurant (where we ate lunch for Father's Day last year), before heading to one of their post season tournament games. Rod did not want to take a picture, because we were in a hurry…I'm so thankful I insisted!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

11 months

I honestly don't have that many words tonight. My heart is heavy, yet peaceful. I am blessed beyond measure to have the support I do. There are three things that I have consistently said throughout the past 11 months. The three things that have kept me going, and I couldn't imagine getting through this without them:

1.) Faith in Christ. He is who He says He is. My hope rests in Him.

2.) My three boys. I continue to be in awe of them and what amazing kids they are. They inspire me to be a better mom. They inspire me to make life count.

3.) My support system. Family and friends (those I know extremely well and those I have never actually met or seen), who continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

It still feels completely surreal most days. I still feel like I should wake up and this all be a horrible nightmare. I don't know when I will shake those feelings. Everything will always be different for us…that is still hard to accept, but I am trying.

Tonight I was reading a devotional on Mark 4:35….when the disciples were in the boat with Jesus and suddenly a strong storm came. They were shaken to the core with fear and couldn't understand why Jesus didn't immediately come. Instead He slept. Slept. Really! They questioned his care and concern for them in this moment.

The point that I grasped was that Christ may delay coming and rushing in to calm our storms. It's intentional. But, sometimes, I just want to scream, "Enough Already!" However, I know that my faith has been strengthened and He is riding the storms with me. I don't have to fear and I don't have to question. This girl's boat has been rocked. There is no doubt about it. Stormy days are yet to come, I am sure of it. Yet, I will continue to do my best to rest in the assurance that he will not let the storm take me out.

Missing him more than any words can describe!