Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day for the Fatherless. Don't forget the "gift" of your dad!

So, I really REALLY wish, that I could say that today was something sweet and special for our family, even with the absence of their dad. Unfortunately, I think it was one of the harder days we have had in a while.

We don't like to go to church on Father's's just a hard place to be, so we don't. Everyone just slept in and there was yard work that needed to get finished before the rain came, so we worked on that this morning. I saw lots of cars drive by on their way to church or wherever they were going as a family. I wished that were us. Truthfully, I felt pretty angry about it.

We had planned to do our "annual" hike, but that got rained out when the storms started moving in sooner than I thought they would, so we ordered food from our favorite Mexican restaurant "to go" because, A) we were filthy from weed-pulling and mowing, B) it sucks to sit there feeling like we stick out like a "sore thumb" amidst all the "complete" families, and C) I didn't feel like answering, "will your husband be joining you or is dad joining us today" which is a typical question on Father's Day when you eat out at a restaurant, believe it or not. So, we got our food and went home with it.

Our plans to take flowers out to their dad's grave got "washed away" too and none of them wanted to go. We ended up watching lots of back to back shows in a series we have been watching together on netflix. Then, the fighting started between the boys so everyone dispersed and I just wanted to cry. We did end up watching an older little video of some slides I made of pictures of them with their dad over the years. Hard....that is the only word for it. It's like they want to see it, but they also don't. It's a mixed range of emotions and I just didn't know how to handle them all today. I know of several friends who were spending their first Father's day without their dad, and my heart was heavy for them. I also feel the kindred emptiness that a lot of my widow mom friends were facing today and thought of each of them throughout the day.

Basically, I have watched the clock tick by and just wanted this day to be over. I couldn't be more grateful for the dad these boys had, but today I just feel sad and pissed off that he is not here with us. I know I sound like "debbie downer" but that is the reality. I know it's a lot easier for everyone to hear how we were "victorious" over the hardness that this day brings. We were not. And, that's okay. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day. I don't want anyone to pity us or feel sad for our situation. I don't! I only hope that people can stop and realize what they have for what it is...a gift. A gift that is not guaranteed tomorrow.

I've been blessed with an amazing father and Rod's dad is here in Franklin and does a lot to help me and remain a part of our lives, so I am thankful for them both. I hope that every dad out there felt so much love and that every mom did all they could to make that happen for them, and so did every child who has their dad around!!

New mercies tomorrow...thank you Jesus!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Update from the Cooks....almost a year later!

It's honestly sad, yet not surprising to me, that I haven't posted one thing on the blog in almost a year! Our reality is plain busy. There is no other way to explain it. Lots has changed and lots has not.

The school year seemed to fly by with Carson finishing 7th grade, Colby finishing 5th, and Cooper finishing 2nd. Sports, sports, and more sports seem to be what consumes most of our time. They love having a basketball, or any ball for that matter, in their hands.
Time with their friends is important to all of them, as well. They all did great academically and I am really proud of how independent each of them are with their school work. I guess they kind of have to be that way, because there just isn't enough time in our day for me to sit down and "help" each of them.

In October we had the craziness of the Cooper Trooper Pumpkin Patch going on, as always. We also welcomed my great niece into this world, which has been such a treat for me and the boys. We love that she lives here in TN and we get to see her often. My niece and her husband, Jordan, named her Olivia Layne...with "Layne" being named after Rod's middle name! She is one adored little angel.
Back in November, we got to take a beach vacation with our dear friends' the Whetstone's! It was a BLAST!
We continued to spend as much time as possible, when we didn't have games, visiting and reading with our refuge friends on Saturdays. 

In May we went to Arkansas to my niece, Alea's, high school graduation and enjoyed visiting family there. Then, the next week, we headed to the beach with my sister, Heather and her family for our annual beach trip with them and also visited the boys' grandma in Alabama.

Parenting alone is not for the faint of heart. It is emotionally and physically draining. I miss Rod every day and try my hardest to continue keeping his memory alive and talked about with the boys. They miss their dad, but sadly this year, I was more aware of how memories of him seem to be fading for them, despite my efforts to talk about him daily.

God has worked a lot in my heart to remind me that it is okay to move forward. I find myself remembering our loss, without it consuming me or necessarily sending me into a place of deep sadness, as it once did. I will always have my heart ache at the thought of what I wish were still my reality. But, this year has been full of more moments of anticipating what lies ahead and being content in where God has me, trying desperately to embrace my story for what it is and not what I had hoped it would be.

One thing that has been especially neat for me over the last few months, is an opportunity I have had to walk with some other "solo" parents in being on a leadership team for a group at my church. God made it so evident to me that He had plans for me to use my story to reach out and help others. I was able to lead a group of widows/widowers each Sunday as we walked through what it looks like to parent after losing a spouse. They even allowed me to call this group "PALS" (Parenting After Losing a Spouse), which was something God actually showed me in a dream, believe it or not. It has been instrumental in healing for me to share and be vulnerable with others who are doing this parenting journey alone.

We continue to have great friends and support from others when needed. And, while sometimes it feels more lonely and like people have forgotten more and more, I appreciate and cherish when someone remembers and reaches out to let me know they haven't forgotten. I think it is just something to be expected as time goes on, and I try hard to keep that all in perspective.

In a nutshell, this past year has been so fast that it feels like a blur. I have sat down many times to write, because it truly is "therapy" for me and I like to record what is going on with the boys, so that one day they can enjoy reading when I am long gone. There just hasn't honestly felt like enough time to do it in a way that I could even get my thoughts together. Hopefully, I will find more time to stay on top of it.

Finally, I'm reminded so much of all the brokenness and pain we have to endure in this life. I have so many friends who are in extremely hard places right now with everything from a new diagnosis of cancer to battling depression to navigating unbelievably hard stuff with their kiddos. So, I continue to question and doubt, but then I dig deep to remember who holds it all. I remember that this is all temporary. I pray and pray and then pray some more that my doubts and fears will be replaced with hope and trust.  I long for the day when the brokenness of this life is no more and all the tears are wiped away! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!