Monday, June 29, 2015

Peace at the Beach

Spending time at the beach with family this week. The first thing I thought of this morning was that on this date exactly 2 years ago, I went to sleep with my husband, after a long day of baseball tournament games. I never imagined that would be the last time I would say "goodnight." The last time I would lay next to him or hear the words "I love you, Missy" come out of his mouth. I still can't believe I am here at his favorite place almost 2 years after he left this earth... without him.

In just over 2 hours from right now, I would be frantically trying to save his life in those early morning hours of June 30, 2013, after he went into cardiac arrest. It still feels unbelievable and I still remember everything I did and what happened, almost as if I am floating above and watching it all take place. It takes my breath away and is almost too much to allow myself to sit in. PTSD is a funny thing. It creeps up and catches me off guard, even when I should expect or anticipate the arrival of it's symptoms. I always like to think I have "outgrown" that diagnosis with time. The triggers and symptoms that they bring, are inescapable though, during certain moments surrounding these dates.

I hate looking around and seeing so many of the things we used to do together when we came to the beach. Places we stayed. Restaurants we ate at. Things we did here. At the same time, those are the very things that feel comforting and make me smile. I can't help but feel closer to God and to Bunky when I am at the beach. It's just one of those special places for me. And I know he would want me to just enjoy our boys here, too!

This morning I read, John 14:27

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Let not your heart be troubled and do not be afraid."

This is the verse that is on Bunky's marker at the cemetery. The verse that I opened up my Bible to on the first day we were at the hospital, before I knew that he would not survive this. I believe part of me knew when I read these words, that God's plan wasn't going to be what I wanted.

This morning the words "MY peace" really stuck out to me. I am realizing with each passing day, week, month, and truly is Christ's peace that causes my soul to rest in Him. By the world's standards, there should be no such thing as "peace" in this situation. So, tonight I am thankful that His promise to give peace, not as the world gives, but as HE gives so freely, has given my soul an unshakeable hold to the anchor,  even in the fiercest of storms. And, yes...I still feel like I can't breathe sometimes, but this peace quickly rushes in and reminds me that He has got this!

I will trust that. I must trust it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's we will be celebrating!

Honestly, I am not quite sure how to express in words what I feel about Father's Day this year. I have experienced such heaviness in my heart, as the day approaches. It has triggered my own childhood feelings of sadness experienced on Mother's Day, after losing my mom at a young age. It has caused me to feel bitter and angry that my own children, now face a holiday, much like I have for years...blemished by great loss. I have found myself wanting to shield and protect them from the sting this holiday will carry for them, most likely for the rest of their lives.
The last picture of the boys with their dad. This was taken about 2 hours before he went to bed that night and then suffered cardiac arrest in the early hours of that next morning.
I don't know if it's my heightened awareness, but the "marketing" of Father's Day is persistent. It's on TV, the radio, pop up ads on the computer...and it seems to be so constant. Everything dad. Everything about "remembering and doing something special for dad, who does so much for you". None of this is wrong, it just feels like wave after wave of it crashing our shore, with no end in sight. I know this will get easier to handle over the years. But, every time it's mentioned feels much like a dagger in my heart all over again, for my boys. I am thankful for my own father and for Bunky's dad, who are very much a part of our lives and we celebrate these men and love them dearly. I just wish my children's daddy were here too.
The boys and I with both of their "Papa's"
I find myself wanting to get to the other side of Father's Day, and wanting to do so quickly! It's almost like the long car trip, when every child asks "are we there yet?" a million times, and you know you still have hours to go. I feel like we will never get there. The anticipation of it this year, seems to be in slow motion.

However, this morning I found it interesting to read that Father's Day first began in July 1908. The day was founded by Grace Golden Clayton who lost her father in a town mining disaster. The disaster known as the Monongah Mining Disaster killed 250 fathers, leaving 1,000 children fatherless.

So, Father's Day began out of loss and remembrance of a father. I never knew!

Tomorrow will, no doubt, be difficult in a lot of ways. We will not go to church. I don't know what we will do, but that will not be on our agenda. I love to be in church, but Mother's Day or Father's Day, as a child who is without one, can be agonizing. Believe me, I know. We will do something to honor and celebrate and remember their dad and just try to have some fun together as a family.
The boys with their dad on his last Father's day with us.

I will remind my boys of the amazing father they had and the amazing Father that they still have in our God (Psalm 68:5), who promises to be a Father to the fatherless. I will remind them that because God has chosen special trials for them to endure, then they can be assured He has kept a very special place in His heart just for them. We will no doubt, tell some stories and watch some old videos of their dad who had an immeasurable impact on their 10, 7, and almost 5 years of life. A legacy, that I would guarantee had more impact than some father's have in a lifetime on their children.

I will remind them of (some of mine and their dad's favorite quotes)...

"A badly bruised soul is one who is chosen."

"Difficulties challenge our energy and our perseverance, but bring the strongest qualities of the soul to life."

"To burn brightly, our lives must first experience the flame."

"Many of the things that are most precious to us today, have come through tears and pain."

"God often chooses brokenness and difficulties as a catalyst to our faith and ability to bless others."

"Combat comes before victory."

"Fly the plane." (those who worked with Rod understand this quote and the story he used behind it)
Finally, not only am I thankful for the boys' father, for mine and Bunky's fathers, and my grandfather, but also a whole LOT of fathers and men (friends and family), who have generously given of their time and invested in my boys' lives for almost 2 years now. I know their dad must be humbled and honored to witness the amazing men who have never tried to step in, but who have lovingly walked alongside these boys. Men who have poured into their lives and have helped to put salve on a wound, in a way that only a man could for them. All without ever trying to step into their dad's shoes. There are no words to show my unimaginable appreciation for that blessing! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

1 month

1 month

In one month from today, it will be 2 years since Bunky died. To type that out just feels surreal. I have been thinking a lot about what was going on in our world 1 month before that day. It has caused me to stop and realize how many days just came and went before July 3, 2013. Days that held a seemingly insignificant value in the moment. There were too many of them. I wish that were different.

I say to myself,

"But if I had known then, what I know now."

"If only, I could have seen what was to come."

I couldn't have known. If I had, I WOULD NOT have cared so much about the stupid little garbage overflowing or dirty clothes in the floor.

I couldn't have seen what was coming. If I had, I WOULD have spent that last month with him treasuring EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.

I would have encouraged him more and criticized less. I would have kissed him longer and spent less time nagging. I would have appreciated how hard he worked and the time he poured into others lives. I would have demanded less and forgiven more. I would have spent more time praying together. I would have been less resentful, less selfish, and less concerned about how he filled my needs and more concerned about how I could fill his. I would have been more kind, more understanding, and more loving. I would have overlooked the toothpaste on the sink or the "not so great" aim for the toilet. I would have picked up every last sock off the floor and been thankful for every damn one of them...because it meant that he was here to wear them. Oh, there is so much I would have done different in that one month...if I had known. I'm sure there were things he would have done different too.

I have no doubt that Bunky knew how much I loved him. I also never questioned his love or commitment for me. I do know that over time, I didn't go out of my way to show him that love as I should have on a consistent basis. I didn't always cherish and respect him the way that I should have. Usually it was out of my own frustration for something I felt I deserved and wasn't getting from him. My vision of all that was amazing about him was clouded by my own bitterness over completely stupid and selfish things at times. That was wrong and not what God calls us to in marriage. However, marriage is made up of two imperfect people. Two people who come together with their own sin. Their own bags packed full of everything from shame, hurts, habits, and insecurities. Open them up and throw those bags in a room together and you have a laundry disaster. Only by the grace of God, can two messed up suitcases join together to pack a perfectly seamless and simple carry-on. And even the carry on, may not always fit into the overhead compartment. It may sometimes have to be "checked," but it's better than traveling alone with one big, bulky, messed up suitcase.

I guess I say all of this because I want to challenge those who know me, or even those who don't,  to take a minute and ask yourself this question,

"If I knew that this was my last month on this earth with my spouse, what would I do differently?"

That's all. Just truly try to imagine that he or she would really be gone and your reality as you know it would no longer include that person. Then, LIVE IT. Live it like it was your last month to live. Love like it was your last month to love. Give like it was your last month to give. Don't waste another minute, because I assure you...those minutes are numbered.

Today I have had several people send me the link to the Sheryl Sandberg's Facebook post, regarding the loss of her husband. I love her ability to put her feelings after only 1 month, into words. You can read her post HERE. It is really beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

My favorite part of her post was this:

I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

I am thankful for a whole lot of people who have helped me "kick the shit" out of Option B for almost 2 years now. 

If you are still living your "Option A," even if it's not always like you want it to be, please do not take one more single minute for granted. I assure you that I would give anything to have my imperfect "Option A" here again.