Friday, July 31, 2015

17 years...still celebrating our anniversary

Today marks one of those days that I imagine will always hold both a sting and a wealth of joyful memories. Seventeen years ago I said "I do" to the man I believed would grow old with me.

I am known for having a terrible memory. I truly forget details of even the important events that most people will never forget. In fact, I have been told for most of my life that I am a great person to tell your deepest, darkest secrets to, because I will probably forget what you told me within a few days!

However, the details of the days surrounding my marriage to Bunky, are crystal clear. I will never forget some of the precious moments shared between us. We decided to write each other letters and exchange them when we parted ways on the night before the wedding day. We also wrote another note to each other to read right before we took our vows on the day of. This "letter-writing" tradition continued on each of our anniversaries. They are truly treasures. I have them in a box, labeled with each year. They have only been read on the anniversary, then marked with the year and put away.

Many people who were close to Bunky know that he would fairly often talk about how he just knew he would die earlier in life. He even talked with me on many occasions about how he felt like he was probably going to die before me. I would always tell him to stop talking like that or that he was being crazy to say such things. Once he said to me, "You know, when I die, these letters will be really special to you...that is why I will always write them." I is mind boggling to think about the reality of words which seemed so far-fetched in the moment, yet now are the truth.

So, it feels overwhelming to acknowledge that he was right about that...and I just can't bring myself to read them yet. He was right though. They will be more special to me than he could ever have imagined, when I finally am able to read them.

I'm not able to fully capture what it means to grasp with your heart, the finality of "till death do us part." Everyone who marries says those words, but I don't think anyone wants to imagine that they WILL happen. I didn't. At least not until way down the line when you have lived a lot of life and the end is somehow more expected. I envisioned that day would come, but not so soon. Not when there was so much more life to live together.

Death didn't just part us.

Death took away so many hopes and dreams still left to be. It crushed every plan I could've ever imagined to come. It not only stopped me in my tracks, but completely derailed me. Death took what I found comfort in knowing and threw it out the window. Death not only did this to my marriage, but to the children who were born out of it.

I will be honest. And I don't say this for any will be bitter. A day that was once celebrated with my other half, will be a memory instead of another milestone to embrace as a married couple.

And with that being said, I will do my best today to be grateful for the marriage we had. One that was definitely not perfect. One that could certainly have used more grace and forgiveness. But, one that was solid...for better or worse. One that was built on a foundation of Christ, where trust and loyalty were never questioned.

I hope that those who read this and are married will squeeze their spouse a little tighter, kiss them a little longer, tell them how much you love them (even when you don't think they deserve to hear it), serve them in a special way, pray for them, encourage them, write them a love note, take a picture together, laugh a little longer, and STOP what you are doing that seems so make them a priority, when you have that opportunity. You very well may not get that opportunity again.

If you want to take it a step further, I would love to hear about it. It encourages me to know that people are loving their spouses well and living like today could be their last. So, if you are reading this and it touches you in some way to be moved into action, please don't hesitate to share it with me. It really does mean the world.

Happy 17th Anniversary, Babe!
Forever loved and always missed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 3, 2015

I'm very aware that I have not posted anything since before the 2 year anniversary of Bunky's death on July 3rd. Honestly, I have tried several times to sit and share my heart, but I couldn't. My spirit has felt crushed and there have not been words to truly capture the loneliness that I still feel. At the same time, God is near, and I want to give him glory for how He has carried us.
I spent the evening of July 3rd sitting on the beach. I watched the waves come in and out. I could see the sun setting for a while before it went down behind a building. Unfortunately, this time of year at the beach is not great for watching the beautiful sunsets over the ocean that I used to watch with Bunky at other times of the year. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the remnants of what the sunset brought to the place I was.
Then, I cried. I cried hard. I had a beer, as that was exactly what Bunky would have done watching the sun disappear. I listened to music. I prayed. I wrestled with God and praised him at the same time. I told myself over and over, "You need to pull yourself out of this. People around you must surely tire of your sadness by now." While at the same time, knowing I will never be the same person again and so to those people I it or leave it! 

I watched couples walking up and down the beach. Some were holding hands, and it made me smile. I wanted to stop them and say, "Good for you...enjoying this sunset together. You are making it count." 

Some walked beside each other, but looked a million miles apart. I wanted to jump up and tell them to seize this moment. It made me sad and angry that they walked together, yet seemed so far apart and wouldn't even look up to enjoy the beauty around them or appreciate that they had this moment to experience together. 

Then, some were hurrying up to get inside and were probably worried about where they were going to dinner. To those, I wanted to say what I know Bunky would say, "But, are missing the best part."
My sister and brother-in-law took the boys out, so I could have this time. I waited until the sun was completely down and the moon was making himself known. Then, I walked a 1/2 mile to where we were staying and almost couldn't find it in the dark. In fact, I started walking up 2 different sets of stairs, only to discover I was on the wrong boardwalk. Everything looks different in the dark and honestly, every house looked the same to me, along the area we were staying in.

This reminded me of a verse that my mentor mom at church, Debbie, had continuously told me she prayed for me throughout the year. I love it.

Isaiah 42:16

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them. and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them."

He really has done just that. Grief is something no one would choose. A path that one minute included my spouse and the next minute he was gone, has certainly been unfamiliar, dark, and rough. I have experienced my own "blindness" during a season of unknowns. And, even though I stumble in the darkness, I will not fall, because Psalm 37:23-24 reminds me that when I do, "the Lord upholds me with His hand."

I have often had conversations with people who say things like, "I can't understand why 'good' people like you, have to go through such difficult things in life." Or, I have come in contact with others in a similar journey who question God's goodness and why He would allow these things to happen to believers, causing them to doubt or even turn away from God. 

I too, have to remind myself that God is still good sometimes. His goodness and grace are not correlated with our life's circumstances as we see them, but reach far beyond to the beauty He is making out of those circumstances. To the redemption that awaits. If only we could see it...we would fall to our knees and thank Him for the work He is doing. If only we could see it. 

We live in a fallen, sinful world. He never promised he would shield those who believed or those "good" people, that he would protect them from the hard. No, quite the contrary... He even went so far as to say, "WHEN" you experience trials....NOT "IF" you experience them. He knew good and well they were coming and gave us strength to draw from His word and promises. He gave us HOPE that there would be a better tomorrow. He told us there would be new mercy EVERY morning. 


He clearly declared in Isaiah 43:1-3

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
(He is clearly talking to those of us who believe and follow Him...not just those who screw up, do bad, or who we think should have it rough)
WHEN you pass through the waters, I will be with you. 
(When I lay in bed at night and Bunky is no longer next to me. When my boys cry because they miss their dad, when parenting alone overwhelms me and I feel insufficient to give my boys what they need)
and WHEN you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
(When the pain of loss takes my breath away, when I can't bear the thought of my children not having their dad here to see them drive, graduate, marry, or have their own kids, when I remember a joke that was just between us and he is no longer here to laugh with me about it)
WHEN you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 
(When the quietness I experience at night after my children are asleep brings both reprieve and pain, When I still want to say we have a 'party of 5' at a restaurant, when big parenting decisions are made without his input, when you find a note from your 6 year old telling his dad, 'I miss you more every day and will see you in Heaven.'

For I am the Lord your God..."

Finally, I continue to be humbled and amazed by those who loved Bunky and those he impacted during his life on this earth. The simple act of remembering him and many who reached out and even intentionally did things for us and others to honor and remember him, fill a precious place in my heart that I don't think I can accurately describe. I read posts to the Remembering Rod Facebook page, emails, texts, and cards to the boys and they touched all of us in ways you cannot begin to understand. I am beyond grateful! 

So, here we are, entering the 3rd year. It is surreal. It is still painful. It is also filled with peace and hope that I know surround us as we will continue to stumble sometimes...BUT, I know He's not going to let us fall!
Thank you for continuing to lift us in prayer as you remember. Thank you for those who continue to walk alongside us, helping to pick up the broken pieces along the way. Thank you for those who don't assume everything is okay now, but encourage us gently to move forward. Thank you for those who continue to reach out...God uses you mightily and shows Himself to me at desperate times through you. So, do not underestimate what a simple text or card on your part, does for me. Thank you for those who have tirelessly helped me with 3 energetic boys who are longing for their dad. Thank you for loving us and continuing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.