Several weeks ago, I began a new tradition for me.
On Sundays I will only allow myself to watch inspirational movies.
I am limited on the movies I have at this time, so I find myself watching the ones I do have over and over again.
Each time I watch one over again, I catch something I didn’t before.
I learn a new lesson.
It was that way tonight.
I watched “Amazing Grace”, again.
From the first time I saw it, years ago with Rick, it became one near to my heart.
William Wilberforce’s dedication and commitment, his passion for what was right, against the evil and wrongs in his world.
Tonight the message to my heart was a reminder that:
Yes! One person CAN change the world!
One person with PASSION!
One person with God on his/her side.
One person who is willing to step out and lead.
So often I have been told to be quiet, to settle myself down
To keep my passions quiet
To act like a good-sensed woman!
However, God has been speaking to my heart, especially of late, about passion
There is a time to be still, be quiet - and that is before God in prayer, listening as He reads His Word into our hearts
My focal reading the last 3 months has been the book of Isaiah
And as I only have one chapter left to read in the morning, I know that God has indeed changed my heart from the reading
This movie tonight has solidified within my spirit the change,
That I have heard the Voice of God these 3 months
That I am where I am supposed to be
And that He is leading me to use my voice (perhaps my writings) for His honor
I do not know the plans God has for me, for my life
But that’s ok -
Because I know Him, and He knows the plans
So I rest in His promises
And I trust in His Amazing Grace
This is Sunday, the first day of Thanksgiving week ... this year, also the first day of Rick and Mandy’s birthday week.
When Rick and I got married, he told me that he was not a “big holiday person”.
He wasn’t a “Bah-hum-bug”, but he just wasn’t into the commercialization of the holidays.
But he told me that I could do whatever I wanted for any of the holidays, or for none of them.
That he would help - and taste ;) ,
and that he would make sure I had the money and resources to do whatever I could dream up.
He was absolutely true to his word.
We decided together that Thanksgiving would be an open door to anyone who wanted to come,
and that we would invite - “the more, the merrier”!
And that Christmas would be our little family day, we would not go anywhere.
It would just be a quiet day at the house.
If someone wanted to come over, they were more than welcome to, but we would not have a big cooking day.
We also decided that instead of celebrating birthdays just on the day of birth,
we would celebrate the whole week that the birthday was in for that year.
The only “holidays” that Rick truly celebrated was May 3, in his words, “The birth day of my Beloved”;
and September 5, the day of “his greatest gift besides his salvation” - our wedding anniversary.
He nearly always managed to be off work on both of those days, often taking a day of vacation.
We never had a lot of money,
but we were both creative and somehow always managed to buy the kids presents, decorate the house,
and have the food we chose for that year.
My memories are working over time today.
Remembering all those years together.
The different menus.
The baking, and how he loved to lick the beaters and bowl.
Then as the kids got old enough, they wanted to help -
so there was plenty of laughter in “helping” clean the bowl!
The music playing in the kitchen.
How he would come up behind me, wrap his arms around my waist and dance to the music.
- I at first thought it was so sweet, but I quickly found out that it was his way of sneaking a bite! Lol
The look on his face when I would scoop him out a taste of whatever I was cooking and hand it to him.
The smile and the “mmmmm...that’s good!”
The long walks we would find the time to take on a back country road,
or if the weather didn’t permit a walk, the long country drive -
- just to get me out of the kitchen for a little while.
The smell of cleaners as we worked together to get the house ready for our guests.
And that moment when all the baking was done,
the dinner was ready,
and I would step outside to the porch for a breath of fresh air -
- he would wait a few minutes letting me breathe and get centered ...
Then he would come up beside me.
Put his arm around me.
Pull me close to him.
The sweetest and most tender forehead kiss.
And with a husky voice filled with emotion: “You done good, girl.”
I would look up into his eyes,
and see nothing but pure love and acceptance there.
God in Heaven - I miss that man!
I miss everything about our life together.
But this day, on this first day of this week?
I didn’t think I could miss him more ...
But. I. Do.
I love you Rick.
Thank you for these memories.
I read these words of a prayer the other day,
Words that came across my Facebook feed -
From Janene thru www.awidowsmight.org
They spoke volumes to my spirit when I first read them,
And since that first reading, they have become a prayer from the depths of my being
Lord God, Savior and Shepherd to my broken heart,
I am found in You but feel lost in this world.
It is altered by a single absence - my husband, my love.
How could I be ready?
There is no readiness for the amputation of two made one in marriage,
the knife of death in this life
and the grasping for hope in the aftermath.
I lean into You in the boat in which You have me.
You carry me forward.
You care for me.
Your compassion surrounds me and I am swaddled as Your child.
You look ahead for me.
You know the thoughts and treasured love behind every tear that drops.
I am fully understood and completely loved.
I am secure.
I am Yours.
The lost that I am continues these 5 years 7 months after Rick died
Complicated grief is what I have been “labeled” with
Every one processes grief in a different way, at a different pace -
Just as everyone had a different love story, and depth of love
I have tried to stay around people more than to withdraw and isolate myself
(although I must admit that the isolation has been more since moving into this apartment, for one reason or another)
Couples have been a painful reminder that I am not one any longer
- but I am learning to smile as they hold hands, or give that knowing look to one another
The struggles of raising kids serves to remind me that my nest is empty
- but I am learning to rejoice in the memories of those sweet days, and to enjoy the blessings they are enjoying now ;) lol
The voices and busy-ness of life when around people tends to drown out the cries of my own sorrow and sadness
- and selfishly? I have let it.
But now, living alone -
And being alone more hours each day, more days each week, more weeks each month ...
That has brought about a change in the grief
It has made me face the fears
Listen to the sorrows
Acknowledge the anger, the hurt, the frustrations
Look deep into the eyes of worry
Question how am I going to handle this life - alone
So many questions
Not enough answers
There has been a letting go of those I have held on to
They have their lives
I need to find mine
I think the thoughts that wander and wonder have been some of the greatest struggles in this quietness, so far at least
Those that take me to a time past
- forcing me to admit that there is nothing more I can do about the regrets I must bear
- leading me to believe that God knew my stupidity when He created me, and when He called me. So, nothing has caught Him by surprise, nor shocked Him.
And more especially those that take me into an unknown future
- where the song, “Trust In Jesus” takes on a much deeper meaning and comfort than I can explain
- it’s ALL I can do
Oh I’m still lost
But my roots are going down into His Mighty Name with every passing day and night
His Promise is that He will not break a bruised reed
And bruised I am
But He knows that
He is God over all these storms in my life
And I am His.
So, when it’s all been said, or written, it’s just that simple -
I. AM. HIS.
I. AM. HIS.
I. AM. HIS.
So what shall I do?
The next thing
Whatever is in front of me
The next thing
Laying down the burdens of this life
So that I may go undistracted into the night, and then the day -
Listening to His voice as He sings over me, quieting me with His Love
Feeling His arms around me, holding me - just holding me
Smelling His coffee and sugar cookies ... cause that’s what I believe God smells like. ☺
And that makes me smile -
When nothing else can
That makes me smile
Thank You God for understanding me completely ... and loving me anyway
You sure have Your hands full with me, don’t You?
I love You.
All for Jesus
I watched The War Room again a few evenings ago.
If you have not seen this movie - PLEASE! Watch it.
But I offer this warning: It will change your life.
Lord only knows how much we ALL need our lives changed in these days.
My take away with this watching:
- I wrestle not against flesh and blood ... not even against my own.
I never once thought about it like that.
I have prayed that verse in the Bible for years - reminding myself, reminding others
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood”
But not once have I prayed that verse over my own life, for ME
- I wrestle not against my own flesh or blood
God, the battle is Yours
For my mind, my thoughts
My body, my very life
The Victory in the Battle belongs to You, God
Just like I do
Teach me Your ways to pray over me
Teach me Your ways to live this life
Rising above the circumstances that life has placed me in
- a widow, alone
God, teach me how to let You love me dearly
And teach me how to love myself - like You do
So that I may learn to love others the way You already do
God, you know the thoughts that I have wrestled with for oh so long
- some for longer than Rick has been gone. Those were the ones that only You and he knew about.
- others I have shared in the words of my blog, and at different times with others
- and then there are those kept in darkness and secret, that only I know ... well, You and I.
God, I am oh so tired and weary of the struggles
There is nothing good in me, of my own self
Galatians 6:14 - May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
The only good in me is You, God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But no where in Your Word does it tell me to beat myself up - on any level
God, You have forgiven me of my sin
How can I do less?
Romans 6:1 - 2 - What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
This is true repentance
And it is a gift of God’s Amazing Grace
With the Faith You have given to me, I accept the gift of repentance
Teach me Your ways to live it out in my day to day life
Teach me Your ways of Honoring You with every word I speak, every move I make, and every breath I take
God, I love You.
Oh how I love You.
In Jesus’ Name
And for Your Praise
I had these words printed and they now are on the wall in front of my computer -
So as I sit here writing, I can raise my eyes and see them
“A day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you’ll start writing.”
I cannot remember a time when I did not write
As a kid growing up, I was always writing - mostly poetry at that time
I gave almost all my poems to our pastor, Bro. John.
Not long ago, I saw Bro. John.
After hugs, he told me that he still had all those poems.
And that one day soon, he was going to have them all printed and bound into a book.
What amazed me the most was that he had kept them all these years!
One of my poems was published in a book of poetry in the UK several years ago.
After Rick and I got married, I wrote in bound journals.
I wrote poems, stories, thoughts and ideas
I wrote as I studied the Bible, things that were just “wow” to me.
Many of those I read out loud to Rick as we sat over coffee in the mornings
He asked me to write a book
Just a book of all these thoughts and emotions, as well as memories
He would often tease me, saying, “Are you working on that book? I’m ready to retire and ride my Harley!”
He was convinced, or so it seemed, that I could write a book, sell enough copies to buy him a brand-new aqua blue and white Harley Soft-tail.
When we lived & he worked in Idaho, he bought me a website to write in -
Simply because 1. It was easier to keep family and friends updated as to where we were and what we were doing; and 2. We were living in a small RV and did not have a lot of room for storage of all my journals.
So, www.kamelotrose.com was born - the thought of my Sweetheart.
I had no idea how to create a website, much less what to call it.
Rick worked with me on it. We bounced around ideas and thoughts for days.
Then, one morning we were sitting there over coffee and he said,
“I know what to domain to use for your website.”
I just looked at him, and waited.
“kamelotrose”, he said
When I asked him why, his answer made soft tears in my eyes, and they found their way down my cheeks. He stood up, came over to me, lifted my face, and kissed those tears.
“Kamelot - because you not only love King Arthur so much, but you have the heart of Camelot. Rose - because you love roses, your Momma’s middle name is “Rosie”, and you my love - you are my precious Rose.”
The name of my website has often changed, depending on where we were, and what we were doing.
Currently it is titled with “Coffee Love” - which I do not think is hard to figure out, lol!
My little website has grown in these years since that day.
I have many pages, and several sections.
Lately, I have been tweaking it.
Sometimes taking things away.
Sometimes adding other ideas and areas.
I will continue to do this - even more in these days to come.
Every day that I open my editor, I ask God for the wisdom and creativity to work on this.
- that the words of my mouth and fingers, as well as the meditations of my heart, will please Him and honor Him, my Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
When we first began the website, it was a way to share stories and pictures of where we were
Then it became a way to share the stories and life of our kids and grandkids
When our health began to change, Rick came to me one day and said,
“I want you to get out of your comfort zone with your blog. I want you to share our good days, our bad days, and all the days in-between. Be brutally honest. Perhaps just one person will be helped in some way.”
So as difficult as it was, I did as Rick requested.
Some people said I shared too much. That I was too honest. But to every one of those comments, Rick would answer for me. Defending me. Standing behind me. Always having my back.
After Rick died, it was hard to write in it at all, or do anything to it.
Rick was my reader. Everything I wrote. Everything I did.
He would look at the website. He would read my writings.
And he was the one to stand for me, when others came against me.
When he was no longer here to do that, it became almost impossible for me to write.
Yet, just a month before he died, he had pulled me into his arms and made me promise to keep on writing, no matter what.
I remember his every word, just as though he had said them this morning:
“Honey, I believe in you. I believe in your ability, talent and gift to write. I want you to promise me that you will keep writing, no matter what. If just one person can be helped, or encouraged ... or just one person can read of our struggles and trials and be inspired to make the changes needed, thereby being spared our fate - then all of this will not have been in vain. We will go thru a lot between now and my final breath. Then you will go thru a lot more without me here. I want you to continue to be brutally honest, sharing your thoughts and feelings, the good days and the bad nights. Be real! Be YOU! Promise me that you will not stop writing.”
With many tears I promised him.
And every day that I did not write, I felt the weight of that promise.
I came back to the website, and I wrote some.
I wrote about being a widow.
I cried a river of tears with some of those writings.
Then I began to share some of our memories, stories of Ricky Lee & our life, our love.
Still I struggled with the writing
- just because he was not here to read the words
And then, I found these words that are printed and on my wall ...
I realized the truth of those words
And how that the story in me is breathing
Gasping for air
Wanting so much to breathe on its own
I’m finding my way to let the story write itself
I would rather ride the waves of life
Than to know those extreme highs and lows
Give me the waves any day
Momma taught me to be thankful
To always have the attitude: it’s better than nothing!
Life in the extremes is a hard way to live
But as long as we have ups and downs?
We know we are breathing, alive
Think about the EKG’s that show the ups and downs of our heart beating
Ask your doctor what extreme ups and downs mean to the heart
Even physically it is so much better, easier on the heart and body, to go with the waves
How many times have I been told in these 5+ years since Rick died that I need to:
- not wallow in the grief
- not be so down
- stop being so discouraging with my words
- smile more
- cry less
- think positive
- and the comments go on ... and on ... and on
No one, much less a widow or widower, can live at all times on the mountain tops
I remember Rick preaching about this very thing - often
And he would ask what kind of growth is on the mountain tops?
Not a lot.
Take a good look at a mountain - not a hill, but a mountain
But then, look at the valleys that surround that mountain
The lush & green growth
Some of the best soil in the land is at the base of a mountain, in the valley!
That’s where we grow - in the valleys
We can go to the mountain tops ever so often, but even experienced climbers will tell you, you don’t want to go to the mountain top often - it’s hard on the body!
Now, look at the rolling hills in our land
There is growth on the hills and in the lower places
I want to ride the waves, the hills, the lower places, in this life
To be able to grow as I need to
I enjoy the mountain top experiences of life as much as anyone else does
But the waves ... that’s where my heart and life are, that’s where I want to live!
So to anyone who feels led to say, “don’t be sad” ... that’s in my lower moments - I will be sad!
I will spend those moments being sad at all that I have lost
I will spend those moments being sad to not have my Sweetheart here with me now
I will spend those moments breathing in the sadness
Knowing that there is a hill ahead of me, a rise to make
And rise I will
I will rise above the sadness, the loneliness, the storms of life
Then, I will dip back into them again
I choose to ride the waves!
To experience every high, and every low
To gather and glean all the learning and growing that I can in each moment
Do not deprive me of this
If you don’t want to ride your waves, that’s your choice
- but try to find growth and life on the mountain tops!
- try to keep your breath, and your heart pumping up there
I don’t judge you
I just know for me I can’t live on the mountain top
And if you can’t handle me on the waves?
Have a good life without me -
I will have a good one with me!
In these 5 + years since Rick died,
I have talked to many widows and widowers
We all have our unique “worst times” of the day and night
For me, my worst day time is between 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
The whole evening is lonesome
But those 3 hours
I guess because that was always when I was finishing up my day and getting ready for Rick to be home
Oh I know that many say, “After 5+ years you ought to be used to it by now!”
After 35 years of looking forward to him coming in the door between 4 - 7 p.m.?
5 years and a few months is not enough time to stop the thoughts and emotions tied into those hours
Especially now that I am living alone
The worst night time is between 1 a.m. - 4 a.m.
Going to sleep isn’t all that difficult, most nights
Staying asleep, that’s a different story
I have woken up around 1 a.m. for as long as I can remember -
- either to check on one of the kids when they were growing up
- or to check on Rick after his health turned and we were doing home dialysis
- and if insomnia is going to hit me, it will be somewhere in those hours
- even as a kid myself, my wake up time was around 4 a.m. because of chores that needed done before school
But in all the years of being married to Rick,
Whenever I would wake up in those hours, those were the sweetest times with him
He would wake up and sleepily ask if I was ok
Then he would stretch out his arms and tell me to come lay back down
He would take his other arm, and wrap it over me -
Then holding me in this soft and gentle bear hug
I would lay my face against his hairy chest
Feel his beard on the top of my head
And without fail,
He would give me a forehead kiss and say,
“Do you know I love you?”
Then he would begin to breathe that deep sleep breathing
Sometimes I would go back to sleep
Often, I would lay there for a long time, just feeling him holding me
Smelling deeply of him
Listening to his breathing
And I would thank God for allowing me to be his wife
So now, even after 5+ years, my mind and heart still wake me up in those hours
Only now, I wake up to emptiness and aloneness
Every widow or widower has their own times that are the worst
These are mine
Bittersweet moments frozen in my memories
Gentle smiles and soft tears
It’s my life
A year ago I was in Kentucky
Begging for someone to remain in my life
Wanting to be loved, and accepted, just for who I was, just as I was
Supported and encouraged to grow and to be better, stronger
It was a mistake
The worst mistake of my life
When I went to Kentucky, I honestly thought I was doing what was best for everyone
- including me
Rick had died a year before
The kids and grandkids seemed to be doing good - at least a LOT better than I was!
Their lives were moving forward
My life was in shambles and pieces
And I had no knowledge of how to pick all of it up and make something out of it
I was lost
Going to Kentucky was intended as a time of giving the kids and grandkids a break from my grief and tears,
As well as a time of something new and different to me
A time of helping a friend who was in a difficult position as well
The intentions were for about 6 weeks
Life got in the way
And those 6 weeks turned into 3 1/2 years
Years without seeing my children or grandchildren
Years of losing one family member after another, and no way to get back to Texas for the funerals
Years of struggling to keep it all together
So many times I almost called my children to come rescue me
But I was raised, and had raised our kids with Rick, that once “you make your bed, you lie in it”
You rescue yourself
3 years, 7 months and 18 days ... and I rescued myself
I cried torrents of tears from Paris KY to Lebanon TN
By the time I reached my confidant, I was exhausted and empty
An early supper
And an early bedtime
A hot shower the next morning and that sweet drive to Texas
Renewed faith building with every mile closer to my beloved Texas
Crossing into Texas was the greatest blessing of those 3+ years
I knew that it would be difficult to come back
And to try and pick up the pieces of a broken life
It has been all that I thought it would be
Laughter, and tears
Good times, and stressful moments
And a LOT of hours for me to reflect, to think, to pray
To dig deep into my heart and mind
And trying to keep myself breathing in the present
The greatest mistake of my life was in going to Kentucky
It will be a regret that I will carry to the grave with me
I am thankful for the people that I met along the way, one in particular
Bill has been the one constant in my life these last years
Whether I was there in KY, or back here in TX -
He has been my confidant, my friend
I will forever treasure that man!
I find myself gravitating to movies, shows, and stories about people who made grave mistakes and have come back from those mistakes
I pray every day to take another step away from my mistakes
Reminding myself that God has forgiven me, and that I am not greater than Him - so I confess forgiveness to myself
Many years ago, God showed something to Rick and I about forgiveness.
It’s a lot like getting grungy with working, you know when you are sweaty, stinky, grimy and just plain dirty
You come in, strip off, and step into a shower
Oh how good that water feels, and how sweet the soap and shampoo feels
You lather up and then just relax, letting the water wash it all away, take it down the drain
You don’t argue with the soap and water
You don’t fight against it
You don’t try and hold onto the grime because you aren’t worthy of being clean
How many times do we do just that with God and His gracious forgiveness?
We hold onto our mistakes, our failures, our sin -
Fighting against His grace and forgiveness
Because we aren’t worthy to be clean.
Just let it go
Easier said than done I am finding out
The ghosts of those 3+ years haunt me ... no! Torment me!
I think of all that I missed with my children and grandchildren
I think of all that I missed with my sister now gone
I think of not being here with family when other family died
I think of all the advice, wisdom, and counsel, I received telling me to not go, to not stay ... and how I dismissed all of those words
God, forgive me of my sin!
God, forgive me of my grave mistakes!
And help me to forgive myself
May others forgive me in time.
I do not have all the answers to my life yet
But I know God is working in me, and perhaps even thru me at times
Life is hard -
And it’s more harder when you’re stupid
I was stupid
I pray to never fall stupid again.
Years of counting the hours before Rick gets home is a habit proving hard to break
after 5 1/2 yrs of him not coming home
and after less than a month of me living alone
My mind still thinks in terms of 5 p.m. being the “cut off” time to do anything
That it is time to put things away for the day
Look forward with expectation to an evening of conversation
yet for me, it’s not
at this point in my life I have no “time”
days follow the nights
nights follow the days
the only difference is whether I can see outside when I look out the window or not
Until I get a job to work away from the house, there really is no time
I wonder if there will be a job for me
There are limitations to how much I can work - due to the widow benefits
There are limitations from my body as to what I can do
No longer am I able to kneel, or squat
- a knee that is pretty much blown just doesn’t work that way
No longer can I lift 50 pounds or more, and certainly not repeatedly
- a shoulder and hand that doesn’t cooperate in those terms any longer rules over the desires
I do not see well enough at night to do much driving after dark , blasted astigmatisms
- in case of an emergency I can and will drive even after dark
I haven’t been in the work force much in my life
- being Rick’s wife, the mother of his children, the keeper of his home ... that was my career and I loved every minute of it!
- working with him thru the years in his jobs, doing all I could to support and encourage him, even to going with him helping him
- worked for a short time (without pay) as the ‘unofficial’ office manager in KY
- worked for the Census, really sad that that job is only every 10 years!
Oh I know what I can do
What I would bring to the table of a job
I know my value and my worth
But in the eyes of employment
I am not a “hire-able” candidate
Not one who is highly sought after
59 years old, and only able to work part-time
And with limitations
I understand that few companies (if any) will want to invest time and money into training me -
- because they look at the bottom dollar: what will be the return on their investment
- if they hire and train someone who is under 30 years old, no matter their limitations, or experience - they have the potential of getting 30 years of work from them as a return
- if they hire and train me, well ... they know at the best they are looking at maybe 10-15 years return.
I have started the search for something to do from the apartment - online perhaps
- the scams over-run everything!
- I know there are legit work at home jobs, especially with Covid-19 this year. But trying to wade thru the searches and find one is proving a headache of monstrous proportions!
- I’m to giving up though! Too stubborn for that!
But until something comes along that requires a clock
There just is no time for me
It’s weird actually.
I sit here and wonder how long it will take to re-wire my brain with these thoughts and realizations
Rick, I always tried to appreciate the time you gave me in the evenings -
- our conversations before supper
- our conversations after, while we cleaned up the kitchen, or sat in the porch swing, or perhaps while we walked
- the times we discussed TV shows we were watching
- or had a lively talk over a movie we just saw
- but never have I appreciated all those times with you as much as I do now
- and just so you know ... I miss you
Nights are tuff when I can’t sleep much
When I lay there, can’t get comfortable enough to go to sleep
But not uncomfortable enough to get up
When the thoughts won’t stop no matter how much I say, “Enough!”
And when the tears fall unbidden, making my pillow soaked
I am beginning to think that the years of sadness,
The last few weeks of sickness
Combined with all the changes of the last 10 years of my life
Have finally caught up to my mind and emotions
And depression looms, fighting for a hold on me
This battle started on this past Saturday,
And it has felt like I was in a tailspin ever since then,
With no way to control it
No way to stop it
Overwhelmed last evening with loneliness and feelings of isolation
A realization that I have no one to talk to who will listen without judgment or criticism
Which only serves to make me more vulnerable and weaker
I feel like I am on super-overload right about now
In every area of my life
Just more than I can physically, or mentally, handle
I’ve never felt such a shut down of my heart, my mind, and even my body, as I have felt the last 3 days
I know that my ONLY Hope in all of this is for God to have absolute control -
As Psalm 131 says, “It is too much for me!”
For all of my adult life I had 3 g0-to’s:
My Momma ... she is gone now
My Rick ... he is gone, too
And my sister, Bettie Sue ... who is also gone
I think perhaps it is not right or wrong, maybe just “normal” to be so very sad in missing them all at once
Selfishly I suppose, I miss having a go-to person that I know I could call up at any time day or night -
Or several times a day
Someone to enjoy a cup of coffee with, even just over the phone
Conversation about anything ... everything ... and nothing at all
Just a presence in my day
A moment in time that seems to stand still and lets me catch my breath
I realized this morning that in all those years of traveling around with Rick,
In all the moves we made,
No matter what -
He was my roots
He was also my wings
He gave me stability to know where I belonged
And he gave me freedom & support to do whatever I wanted to
Now, it is like I have neither roots nor wings
How do I get those again?
This time different, because they aren’t to be with him
How do I put down roots?
Where do I put down roots?
How do I find my wings?
I read this meme sometime over the weekend,
It was one of those that you FEEL:
See this dark time as cocoon time, darling
Your new wings are emerging
Every butterfly is made by this fight
Even surviving and holding on
And finding a reason to meet the dawn
Your continued breathing is a holy part of this fight
The dark will turn to dawn eventually -
It has no other choice.
~ SC Lourie ~
God, I want so much to believe these words,
That this darkness, this isolation, this aloneness
Is simply my cocoon time
May I hold to these words and hope?
God, I ask You for creativity,
And for clarity
To make this life for me
One moment at a time
One step at a time
God, I really need You in this
Take my hand, and teach me Your ways
Do not leave me alone, without You
Humbly I ask,
In Jesus’ Name
Thank you for understanding these words
As well as all I cannot yet say
Bless Your Holy Name!
Jehovah Uzzi - The Lord my Strength
Life has changed on me so many times since I was born in 1961.
I grew up under daddy and momma - long story in that, to be told another time.
When I was 10 I fell in love with a boy, and decided I wanted to be his wife, and the momma to his kids.
9 years later, he agreed to that.
We were married just shy of 35 years.
Not a perfect life, but perfect enough for me.
I was loved with a passion, and cherished every day.
The only comparison was the passion that I loved him with, and the deepness of my cherishing him.
We absolutely spoiled each other rotten!
And of course, as we lived and loved, our lives changed often.
From having kids, to moving, to job changes and church changes.
Family and friends were born, and they died
Or perhaps just moved on and away from us
But always we had the unique ability to hold to one another in those changes,
and rather than the stresses of change driving a wedge between us,
those stresses only served to draw us closer to each other.
Then, our bodies decided to turn against us
High blood pressure and diabetes for Rick
Cancer for me
Then kidney disease with Rick
Every thing that came against us, we met head on, together
We adapted to the different diets and routines
We took the medications and did the whole doctor "thang"
My life was spared
Rick's was not
Many questions remain in my heart over all that, and believe me, one of these days?
- I am going to ask for an answer!
But until that time comes, I find myself in the midst of a life alone
Not sure of where I am supposed to be
Nor what I am supposed to be doing
Every day seems to bring more questions, and fewer answers
I love words, always have
Not just to read them, nor to write them
But to dig deep into the meaning of them
I was reading about grief a while back, and the life after loss
2 Words were used in describing what life is like now
"Repurposed" and "Reimagined"
So, I dug
And this is what I found:
- adapt for a different purpose
- to have a new purpose
- typically done with items considered to be junk, garbage, or obsolete
- the use of a tool being re-channeled into being another tool
Then carrying the digging just a little deeper:
- aim, idea, dream
- goal, aspire, design
- the reason for which something exists
- to rethink
- to reinterpret
- to recreate
- to imagine again
- to form a new concept of
- to think again and change
- to remake an earlier version which approaches from a fresh or new viewpoint
And to take it that one step deeper -
- to believe
- to conceive
- to comprehend thru the intellect something not perceived thru the senses
And the last one:
- this is Latin for "again and again and again"
When considering life after loss and reading these dug definitions for these words -
All I could say was "WOW! WOW! WOW!"
The life I lived before Rick is never coming back to me
and I cannot go to it again, either.
Nor is the life that I lived with Rick coming back
and even when it is my time to go to him?
It will not be the same as it was.
So, what I am faced with is a repurposed and reimagined life
Changes the perception of my reality
I've made so many mistakes these 5 years since Rick has been gone
Easy to do when there has been no manual for navigating these waters
It's hard sometimes to look back on these 5 years and see so clearly now what I should have done,
and what I should not have done
But I'm learning to forgive myself every day
- how can I not?
- I am not greater than God, and He has forgiven me.
I hope to make less mistakes as I go thru the rest of this life
I think that's why I find myself praying so much these days
God knows what's ahead of me, He's already been there
So, Lord, take my hand and lead me on!
I'm choosing to look at this as an adventure now -
- one that will end with Rick opening his arms to me, taking me to himself and saying those words I long to hear:
"You done good, girl!"
I sat here in the quiet apartment last evening,
and wrote these words:
"Trying to work things out in my head about living alone ...
It's all so weird, God
So very weird
Not sure I'm doing it right
But not sure I'm doing it wrong, either.
I miss people
Seeing someone else
Talking to someone else
Being in someone's way
Someone being in my way
I miss laughter
I miss the bad days almost as much as the good ones
I miss wondering what someone else wants to watch -
- and not liking their choice, lol
I miss hearing someone chew their food -
- and it annoying me
I miss being an annoyance to someone else, too
I hear the noises of my neighbor,
and I hear his times of silence as well.
I wonder if I am listening to my movie too loudly
but then, I think maybe if I am, he would knock on the door and ask me to turn it down -
- at least it would be a moment of people interaction, right?
I enjoy moments of being alone
but I am a people person
This living alone is a different time of my life
And I realize that having been so very sick since moving in here hasn't helped one bit
Isolation is a terrible thing
It messes with your mental state
and causes all kinds of emotional distress
It physically hurts not to have people interaction
Touch deprivation is a real thing
I think this is the worst of Covid-19.
I believe there is coming a better day -
one where I feel like getting outside
To sit on the porch
To take a walk along this back road
Hopefully there will be a time of meeting people
but at least being out in nature once again
I know that this has taught me a valuable lesson -
how important a phone conversation can be!
God, help me find YOUR way for me in this living alone
and help me continue to heal and recover from being sick."
With the Census 2020 being over and done now, I am starting the arduous task of looking for work.
I really enjoyed the Census work.
Driving the back roads and searching those addresses out.
Meeting the interesting people along the way.
Being right there to catch the perfect shot of the day on my camera.
I will miss all of those moments greatly.
And yes, I would do it all over again!
Having been out of the work force for so long, and at 59 years old - there is not a great demand for my particular set of skills. A company weighs their amount of time and training into someone with how much time and work they will get on a return.
I get that. I understand the thoughts.
I also know my value and my worth.
I would like to work 3 days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Make enough money to pay my rent here, cover my fuel cost back and forth to work, and possibly pay for having high-speed Internet here at the apartment.
I know that I need to get "more well" and "stronger" before going to work, but I think now is the time to look for work, to make applications.
I have thought about working from here.
The saddest part to those thoughts?
The scams that are so prevalent and play on the people who live alone, or are needing to work from home.
So, let the challenge begin again!
I have watched more movies in these last 2 weeks than I have in the 5 years since Rick has been gone.
Those last 4 months of his life, we watched movies a LOT because he really did not feel like doing anything else. Movies that we had seen a dozen times are more, but we enjoyed them just the same.
These last 2 weeks have brought a lot of those memories back to my heart.
I have caught myself smiling with the memory of a certain line from a movie that Rick loved and would say many times after watching it. "Spit it out!" (from the movie Crossfire Trail)
And I have found myself dozing off in relative peace and comfort with a movie playing. With that old familiar feeling of being safe and protected. Then waking half expecting to see Rick's smiling eyes upon me. Taking a deep breath when all I can find is his picture.
Making a list of movies now that I would like to see, will be checking with the kids to see if they have any of them.
I do not have TV service, and do not expect to have it. That is an expense that I simply cannot afford at this time. I would prefer to have high-speed Internet here than to have TV service.
This has become my morning prayer:
God, this day is Yours
It is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!
It yawns and stretches before me -
A day yet untouched
Moment by moment to be lived, to be felt, to be experienced
Secrets that lie around the bends of the day
Treasures waiting to be discovered
God, breathe on me - Your life
Open my heart that I may know
Open my ears that I may hear
And open my eyes that I may see
God, I don't want to miss a thing!
Thank you for loving me
I want to spend my time today loving You back!
In Jesus' Name
Blessed be Your Name O God!
Migdal Oz: Strong Tower, my Stronghold
In the weeks since writing last, I have moved into my very first place.
I grew up in Daddy and Momma's home, then married Rick.
Rick and I had our first place ... and so many others that I have lost count thru the years. He was a self-proclaimed "gypsy" and did not want moss to grow under his feet.
But I have never lived alone.
I've been looking and praying and thinking for over 5 years about a place for me.
Ever since Rick died, and I lost the house (along with 99% of our stuff) I have stayed with kids and family and friends.
Looking around on Facebook Marketplace one day in September, I found this cute little apartment at Possum Kingdom Lake. Contacted the lady who had listed it, and she said that her very good tenant was having to move due to a job change of location. She made an appointment with me to come look at it the next day. I did, and fell in love. I know Rick would have loved it, too! So, I paid my deposit and waited while the tenant was moving.
Then, with my granddaughter's help, we cleaned this place, and moved my things here.
It came furnished with a futon, a table & 4 chairs, frig, stove, microwave, a night table, and a chest.
I was blessed with a wardrobe, also found on Facebook - which started out more than I could afford, but I watched it carefully for several days and she came down on the price. When Kyla and I drove to Mineral Wells to pick it up, the lady gave it to me.
I was blessed to find a couple of tables to use as a desk and a coffee bar. Covered each with an old quilt and they look like they "fit" here.
I haven't felt like putting my wall things up yet, but hopefully that will be happening soon. I have some really good pictures to enjoy seeing up.
My plants are thriving and growing, thinking they must like their new home, too.
There are 2 things I would like to have -
1. a recliner. I am thankful to have a bed to stretch out in, but I also miss having a recliner for when my back can't find that comfort anywhere else.
2. a small table with a couple of chairs to put on the porch. What a blessed place to have a cup of coffee while reading my Bible.
I read an article a while back about how a salmon swimming upstream fights against the channel and becomes exhausted. Rather than give up and be swept out to sea, the salmon will find a rock larger than it. Fans the sands behind the rock, making a type of nesting place, and then becomes still and quiet. Resting and gaining strength for another leg of its journey upstream. Often the salmon will do this multiple times before reaching the destination.
Little by little this "apartment" is becoming our "Rock of Rest".
Working with the Census 2020 kept me hopping the month of September.
Long drives on back country roads, searching out addresses, meeting people, asking questions.
99% of the people I met were very accommodating and patient - even if they were frustrated with having been asked the same questions multiple times.
Driving those back country roads gave me some of the most wonderful photo opportunities! And the resolve that just because the Census comes to an end, doesn't mean that the back roads do! Take the back roads! Stop and catch that sunrise, take the sunset! Look closely at what lies around us - there are secrets to the day just waiting to be discovered!!!
September also brought my grandson's basic training with the Marine's to a close with his graduation. Due to all the Covid-19 restrictions, we were not able to attend his graduation, but we watched via the Internet.
I am so very proud of him.
And yes, I worry about him - but I also know that he is in God's hands, just as all the kids and grandkids are. Every morning I pray Psalm 91 over each one. Trusting that God is greater than anything in this life. I believe that God will have HIS way, HIS will, and in HIS time. I also believe that no matter what happens? God is still God, and He is still good. I do not understand all of life, I have far too many questions to think I have all the answers. But I know God knows. And I trust Him.
After all the precautions taken this year - the gallons of germ-x, the soap and water washing to the point of painful, the masks that hinder breathing and conversations as well as making us to feel almost like a non-person, the not going places, events cancelled, self-quarantining, and the list goes on ... I got Covid-19.
Today is day 10 since the onset of symptoms, and day 4 without fever or fever reducing medication. So according to the CDC and my doctor - I am now considered "safe" to be around again.
I will say that this has been the worst I have ever been sick in my 59 years of life.
I have had the flu maybe 3-5 times in my life, my fair share of colds and tummy bugs, allergies out the waa-zoo and all the typical childhood illnesses - both as a child, and often again when my children brought it home from school. I endured having cancer and major cancer surgery. I've broken bones. I've had surgeries.
NOTHING prepared me for having Covid-19.
The body aches - clothes were not comfortable, there was no sweet spot to find sitting, standing, or laying. Every joint aching, the skin so sensitive to touch that I couldn't stand to even brush my hair, or touch my own face. The shower feeling like needles being hammered into your body.
The headache - imagine the worst headache ever, multiply it however many times your imagination says ... you aren't close!
- nothing could touch the headache. Eyes hurting so bad from the pain that you can't read, can't stand to watch TV or look at the phone. Even closing the eyes did not bring relief from the pain. So hours sitting and letting the tears flow freely.
The fever that would come up in the evening and rage all night long, tormenting whatever sleep there might be, breaking with a 10 gallons of sweat sometime in the morning ... only to repeat every evening for a week. Leaving you feeling dehydrated.
Nausea so severe that it was physically painful. My tummy became sore to the touch because of the nausea. I never did throw-up, just had the excruciating nausea. Sprite was the only thing I could tolerate on my tummy for days - and then, only a sip now or then.
Diarrhea that makes a tummy bug seem like child's play. Cramping to the point you can't stand up straight, you can't walk, you can't sit or lay. Burning guts like you have swallowed lumps of fire. You rock back and forth wondering if you will survive this onslaught.
Loss of appetite - due to the nausea mainly.
Stuffy nose and the worst drainage into the back of the throat - a thick white cottony mess.
Thankfully, I did not have the breathing problems that others have endured. My doctor did call something in for me just in case - but warned me not to take it unless absolutely necessary.
I was told yesterday (Day 9) - "Well, guess you believe it's real now!" And all but told that basically I deserved this because I didn't believe from day one. Really? NO ONE deserves this!!! And I have NEVER ONCE said that Covid-19 was not real. What I said, just for the record, was that the media was feeding the frenzy of fear - and I refused to be sucked into it. I would do, and did do, will also continue to do, my part in helping to not spread the fear nor the disease.
I do not enjoy wearing the masks. I do not believe they work as well as what some have said (especially now do I not believe). But wear them I will when appropriate, when required.
I will continue to wash my hands with soap and water, as well as use germ-x. Which just for the record, I've done for years.
I will even continue to practice a form of social distancing. Something else we have done during times of flu outbreaks. If sick, stay home. It's not easy, but really, it's not hard either. Be smart! Use common sense!
However, I will not live in fear of this illness, or any other.
I'm tired of being held hostage to the media and to the fear mongers.
I'm tired of being told I can't go somewhere that is good for the body, mind and soul ... while other events and locations that are toxic remain open and thriving.
I am better today on day 10 ... not good.
I realize that it will take a while yet (no one knows for sure how long) to feel "normal" again.
The brain fog is reminding me of the widow fog I survived after Rick died. I got thru that, I will conquer this, too.
I tire very easily, to the point of exhaustion. And if I ever sit down and find a sweet spot of comfort, I am ASLEEP for several hours. But that's ok - Momma always said the body and mind are healing when sleeping.
I am going to survive Covid-19 if only to spite the media!
I look at the date of my last post, June 5, 2020, and it's mind-blowing to me that that much time has past. Today is August 28, 2020. Where has this summer gone?
I will try to make this post not so much a "book" of the summer. LOL But there have been some changes and things taking place. So, yeah, this will be my catch-up post.
June 7, 2020, my oldest grandson, Elijah, went to Dallas then on to San Diego CA for quarantine under the Marine Corps. He is one of the newest recruits. After 2 weeks of quarantine where we could still talk with him once a day, hear his voice and know that all was well - he has been in Basic Training for the last 9 weeks or so. His momma and sister have gotten a few letters from him, he is adjusting to this new life he has chosen. He said it is hard and challenging, but he feels good about his decision. Grannee is both proud of him for his service to our country, and scared to death! I have been trusting God all of his life, so I will continue - but he sure knows how to put me on my face and knees before God! ;) I love that boy!!!
His graduation is set for September 18, 2020. Due to Covid-19 we will not be able to attend. The question remains whether or not he will be able to come home for leave before going to his next station. We hope so! It won't be for a long visit, but oh how sweet the hugs will be ... IF!
June 10, 2020, I was called by the 2020 Census for my phone interview. Not long after that I received my instructions for getting my fingerprints done and the background check run. When all of that cleared, I had 4 days of training - one day was in class, the rest was online due to Covid-19.
I have been an enumerator now for about 3 or 4 weeks. It has been interesting! I have met some really cool people. So far, everyone that I have had the privilege of interviewing has been cooperative, kind, patient and understanding. We have had some laughs, and connected on varying and unique levels. I have seen places in this part of Texas that I never even knew existed - and some? I don't think anyone knows they exist! lol Miles upon miles of open land, or ranches.
I am thankful for this opportunity to serve our country, meet the people, and do my part.
I look forward to the remainder of this time with the Census, sad that it is all to end on or before September 30, 2020.
A lot of this time driving between cases has made me think much of Rick. How he loved to take off and drive the back roads. HE would have been the perfect enumerator!
It has also been like a treasure hunt, not only to find the correct address and someone to talk to - but to find interesting things to take pictures of!
My next grandson took his driving test, and passed. So another legal driver on the roads! My oldest granddaughter also took her test and passed! And my youngest granddaughter has her permit, and should have her license before the end of the year!
Grannee prays more and more every day! ;)
They are all growing up so fast! Elijah in Basic Training with the Marines, Brooke is a Senior this year, Shell is working with livestock commissions and cattle ranches, as well as helping his momma in a horse business, Kyla is a freshman this year.
It is a joy to my heart to see the progress they are making in life. Growing up with traditional values of what it means to be an American, a Texan, and a human being. Something that is lacking too much in our world today.
The Lord has blessed me with a truck!!! Thru some trading between Joshua, Shell and a friend, Travis - I now have The Black Pearl. And yes, she is white! lol A 2006 Ford F150 with an FX4 package on it. I named her "The Black Pearl" thinking of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Me being me, I wanted to know more details about that ship, and if there ever had been one in real life. During my searching, I found that a true black pearl is very rare, but it symbolizes "HOPE for a wounded heart"!!! So, yeah, God was in this! Perfect truck, perfect name. She has been taken excellent care of, drives and rides very well, and has been perfect for going between the kids and grandkids. Besides - she is a TRUCK!!! ;)
And since Rick was a true blue Ford guy? He would be pleased ;)
On the trip to Sulphur Springs in June, Mandy and I went to garage sales. It had been years since we have done that! So much fun with her. And we found some good deals, to boot!
We also were blessed with a Sunday afternoon drive to Kaufman, and got to see Michael. My other son. It had been about 25 years since we had seen him. Oh the laughter, the hugs, the tears, the talking all at once! His precious baby, Moo-moo, my newest granddaughter. Oh what a wonderful day that was!!! We have promised one another that it will never be too long between visits again! It just cannot be!!!
I was also blessed at supper with 3 other SSHS girls. One of which I had not seen in 40 years!!! Oh what a wonderful supper that was!!!
Took a day trip with Mandy to Tyler for a biopsy on her thyroid. All clear - thank the Lord above!!! On the way back to her house, we stopped at a nursery and I spent too much money! lol But oh what a great time we had there!
When I left Sulphur Springs after that trip, Brooke came to Joshua's with me for the rest of that week. Mandy came out over the weekend, with MeMe, to pick her up. It was a good week and weekend! MeMe and I had some good conversations while the kids and grandkids were outside, and then off to the lake.
July brought some changes online for me. 4 years ago I was asked to help create, work on, and maintain 3 websites for businesses in Kentucky. One of which I transferred over to new owners while still in Kentucky. The other 2 I have been working on less and less, as the owner has hired someone to take it from here. While these websites were my babies, I have known for several months now that it is time to cut those apron strings and let them go. Still bittersweet. I am mostly out of them now, still have one more step to remove myself completely - and that day is coming. At this point, I believe it will come with a great relief. It is time for me to move forward from that period of my life, and this will help me do just that.
July 20, 2020, Kyla and I took a day trip to Abilene. The Storybook Capital of the World. We had 3 iced coffee's LOL - lunch that was in an old bakery, the old wooden creaky floors and all. Then we had supper at Olive Garden. We toured the statues around Abilene, went to the pet store, stopped at the mall (twice!), shopped for school clothes, and had a gajillion laughs!!!
The month ended with me going back to Sulphur Springs and seeing my new doctor. Dr. Coker. She was amazing! She actually listened to me! Labs all came back good, except for slightly elevated cholesterol and triglycerides - but not elevated enough to warrant medication. She wants me to work on it with diet and exercise. Which I have been doing. I have stumbled a few times since July 29, but hopefully I have stayed upright more!
I also had an MRI done on my left knee. I remember hearing the "pop" - it was in September of last year, when I was in Kentucky. One morning I went out to get in the Expedition, and just as I stepped up into the truck, as my left leg was pushing off the ground to lift me up into the truck - I heard what sounded like a gun shot. It hurt so badly that I thought maybe I had been shot, I immediately put my hand behind my knee, pulled it away looking for blood. There was none. But ever since then, that knee has not been right. I talked to Dr. Coker about it, and she ordered an MRI. Radiologist said there is a small tear in the knee, severe osteoarthritis (bone on bone) and a "rare fluid inside the ACL". Waiting to see the orthopedic specialist to see what he says and recommends. I have been babying that knee for almost a year now. But at the same time, I haven't stopped walking, or working. Hoping there is no surgery required.
While in Sulphur Springs, Mandy and I made the drive up to the Cotton Patch restaurant in Greenville one day to have lunch with 2 of my cousins. The stories were flowing, and it got mighty deep in there! lol We laughed, and it was hard for me to leave - it's been tough during Covid-19 to not see everyone.
The next day Mandy, Brooke and I went back road driving for several hours. How sweet and precious was that time, and the memories I hold close to my heart.
Before leaving Mandy this last time in July, we went to Canton TX - to the World Famous Canton Trade Days. That was a blast of a day, even if it was hotter than blazes! lol
I have become an "official" Texan yet again! Got my Texas driver's license. I don't think it has ever looked so good, or felt so right in my hands. I am proud and thankful to be a Texan - no matter where my license is, but oh how sweet it is now!
God has become more real and personal to me in these last almost 3 months now than I ever thought was possible.
I will be sharing more of my experiences in the days to come. I hope you will read those as well.
Learning and seeing a lot of new things and changes in my heart, my mind, my outlook, and my life.
Also, leaving Joshua's again in the morning going to Sulphur Springs. Next week has me in a doctor's office at least once every day - except Thursday, so far. My insurance is waiving all doctor and specialist co-pay's until at least the end of September, so what better time to get checked out from head to toe - inside and out. Literally!
- Monday is a hearing exam and a foot exam
- Tuesday the girls are getting squished in my mammogram
- Wednesday has me meeting with the orthopedic specialist to find out his results of the MRI
- Friday has me being screened for skin cancer
I will be meeting with a nutrionist October 7.
- that is a BIG change in my life.
- I am on a quest for getting rid of this excess weight, toning and being in the best shape I can be in for 59 years old. And for anyone who may be struggling with their weight, if I can do it - you can too! Be encouraged. No, it's not easy, but it is so well worth it! After losing 40 pounds so far, I can already tell the difference in the way I am sleeping at night, in my breathing when I walk longer distances, and most of all - the difference in my mind, heart and emotions about food. I will be writing more about this later this weekend, and in the coming weeks.
But for now, I think this is long enough ... lol - and it's time to start packing once again.
I have sinned against God and fallen short of His glory.
And in the process I have hurt others in my life.
I am sorry.
Because I can do nothing to change the past,
with many a river of bitter tears and mountains of regret -
I have repented of my sin, and called on God
Asking for His forgiveness,
And receiving it moment by moment, day by day.
I have also asked forgiveness from those I have in any way offended,
If by chance I missed You - please forgive me for that, too.
Because of God’s Amazing Grace and Unending Love,
Because of God’s Hands of Mercy -
I have been forgiven,
And now will walk as one forgiven.
The Bible tells me that I am a new creation in Christ, old things are passed away, behold all things have become new!
I am going to live that to the best of my ability, with the Grace of God to help me.
I know there are those, and will always be those, who do not want to see me forgiven.
They would prefer I walk with a beaten down heart,
A spirit of contrition that is obvious - such as in sackcloth and ashes, or wailing for forgiveness
I will no longer do that.
No longer will I explain or defend my life - past, present, or future.
I am who I am.
Good, bad, or indifferent.
It has all worked together to make me who I am today.
Everything is either a blessing, or a lesson.
I do not ask for explanation or self-defending from anyone else in my life,
So therefore I will no longer be giving it from mine.
If someone has a heart to pray with me, or pray for me, about a particular “issue” in my life -
Then, yes, it will be an honor to talk with them, and be honest.
But for those who are hell-bent on making me live in misery for past mistakes?
Well, I’m not going to play your games any longer.
Everyone has to make their own choices and decisions - and answer for them.
We all make mistakes.
In some way, large or small, every one of us have screwed up!
And if you haven’t yet?
Mark my word - YOU WILL.
It is to the honor of my God to walk in the victory of forgiveness
It is with gratitude that I humbly accept His Grace, His Mercy, His Love
Just because someone else cannot accept that I have been forgiven, does not make me unforgivable.
I am not living my life to please any person.
My heart’s desire is to live in peace as much as it depends on me -
But when that “depends on me” reaches the level of condemnation and judgment?
No. Just No.
Anyone doesn’t like the way I live my life?
Then they need to pray about it, and pray for me -
- that I may listen to the voice of God speaking thru His Word, and know the paths to take.
But while they are praying?
Pray for themselves not to be so judgmental and assuming!!!
Not wanting to cross any literary or sharing lines here -
but this article is so "spot on" that I must share it. I must keep it!
AFTER A HUSBAND'S DEATH, DREAMS MUST BE REINVENTED.
by Christine Thiele February 6, 2011
One of the hardest struggles I’ve found about widowhood
is that the life you had before pretty much dies with your spouse.
Well, at least mine did.
The hopes, dreams and plans that we made as a couple were buried with my husband.
Every morsel of my being was changed because he is no longer here for me to love or be loved by him.
At first, his vacancy left the obvious holes;
no more him, no more seeing, smelling, holding, or sharing with him.
As time passed, more holes appeared:
no one to help with the kids,
no one to help with the house
and no one to talk to in the intimate way I could talk to him.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely alone.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt the weight of loneliness like this.
Then comes my life, my hopes, and my dreams.
In the years prior to his illness, we were coming into a solid comfort zone in life.
We were happy with our jobs, our family life, and our marriage.
We were married for a good chunk of time and had been together for nearly 14 years.
We knew each other and miraculously were still happy with the each other.
We appreciated who we had become.
We were looking forward to a family becoming one member larger
and the joys that come with raising our two boys.
So, he dies.
I’m still here.
I am left to walk the earth without him and to carry on the plan.
Carry on the plan…
carry on the plan…
carry on the plan?
It took me several years to realize that I could not carry on our plan alone.
I think it’s taken me several more to come to grips with the fact that I need to create new plans.
I need to dream and hope without him.
I don’t like this.
And have only gone this direction kicking and screaming for my old dreams, my old hopes, my old life.
My future has been a very difficult thing for me to let go by the wayside.
I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do all this again.
I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do this alone.
I don’t think it’s fair that I am left with my hopes and dreams shattered in pieces on the floor.
Well, I also know that life is not fair.
Life is a gift and a struggle.
Life is not to be taken for granted or spent without meaning.
All these factors propel me into my new future.
All these factors give me strength to dream new dreams
and hope new hopes
and reshape my life into something I can live with
and hopefully thrive in day after day.
The problem is that the struggle is hard…
some months are just too much for me to handle.
These times leave me wondering why?
Why try again?
Why move on?
Why reinvent, re-imagine when so many of these days,
I only end up exhausted and overwhelmed?
The only answer I can ever come up with is…
drum roll please…
there is no other way for me.
I yearn for joy,
I yearn to be someone my boys will look up to each day,
I yearn to love and be loved.
Every day that I remember this,
I build strength for another day.
Every overwhelming moment at a time
that I remember how much faith my husband had in me to carry on without him,
I feel honored.
Every time I feel that warmth of his love flow through me,
that moment when I know I didn’t give up,
I become revived a bit more.
I am revived and strengthened for another moment.
I am revived and even given courage to take on my new dreams,
my new hopes,
no matter how much struggling lies before me.
I will dream a bit and hope a bit.
Every day I will try a bit more.
With each passing day,
I will realize that I have begun the new dreams,
the new hopes,
the new life that carries his love within me.
This new life may exist without him holding my hand,
but it will never exist without him holding my heart.
It will be a fusion of old and new.
It will be a mix of what we wanted and what I am capable of doing without him.
I imagine every day
that I have courage to be
and to live brings me one day closer to me,
--Thank you Christine for sharing this. It is so much my heart and my life now. God bless you and yours. Sisters in a bond that we never wanted.
5 years now.
5 years since I have seen into Rick's eyes
5 years since I have felt his touch
5 years April 23, 2015 when Rick drew his final breath
Here upon this earth
5 years April 25, 2015 when I saw his face for the last
5 years April 26, 2015 when we gathered
As family and friends to celebrate a life well lived
5 years April 27, 2015 when everyone returned to their homes
Their lives moving forward
Their hearts stepping into healing
5 years that I have been a widow
Time amazes me
How can it be so slow, while going so fast?
We were constant companions and partners in life
He was my Sweetheart
I was his Beloved
We seldom spent more than an 8 hour work day away from one another
And the last few years of his life, after the kids were grown, we worked together
Miles and hours spent in each others' company
We were so much more than husband and wife
We were best friends at the core of our relationship
And everything else grew out of that
We truly were in a "fellow-ship" with one another
Then, life fell apart
Dreams were left undone
My heart was left broken,
My life was shattered on the floor
Not sure of anything any more
More questions than answers
God seemed an eternity away from my heart
Abandoned I was
Lonely & scared
What choice did I have
Strong I had to be
It's been a tough 5 years for me
I've made choices and decisions based on what I assumed was the best for me,
for my children and my grandchildren
And life fell apart yet again
Just when I thought I was getting my feet under me
Just when I thought life might actually work out
Just when I thought I had purpose, a reason to get up in the mornings
Life jerked it all away
Left me crumpled in a corner yet again
What could I do but cry out to God
God who was always there
God who was wiping away my tears
God who wept with me
God who held me even while I struggled against His embrace
Crying out to Him
I found His heart of Amazing Grace
I felt His hands of mercy covering me
I heard His voice singing over me,
Quieting me with His love.
Now held by Him
No judgment from His heart
No condemnation from His voice
Only Love & Grace
Holding me in His warm embrace
Never again will I need to stand alone
For the God of angel armies is always by my side
Unending Love is now my Strength
Often still this warrior is a child
And when fear assails
I simply Trust in Jesus
Knowing He knows me
He is God, I don't have to be
God has brought me home to Him
Giving me roots yet again in His Word
Setting me up on angel's wings
Guarded and protected
Guided moment by moment
Day by day
Still stumbling and faltering
But I don't have to do this alone any longer
God holds my hand
The tears still come
But Jesus wept, too.
Where will life take me from here?
Only Heaven knows
I'm ok with that
Please don’t walk away from me when life hits and your heart is broken. I know sometimes you hurt so bad you want to blame me. I understand how hard it is for you to keep your heart committed to me, when you feel I have disappeared in the midst of your pain. I have been broken for you to have the strength to live. I am here--and I am working things out for you even when it seems as if nothing has changed. I have my hand on you and extended to you at all times. No one can hold you as close as I can. So don’t run, my love--unless it is into my arms of mercy.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23:6 (NLT)
This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit HisPrincess.com for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.
I think if ever there was a song that is the absolute echo of my heart, the tears that make rivulets on my face, the cries from the very depths of my soul - this could be it:
Being a widow is more than missing your spouse's presence.
It is quite literally adjusting to a total new life, an alternate life.
It is growing around a permanent amputation, one where there is no prosthetic.
Being a widow is going to bed night after night, 1798 times for me as of last night and the loneliness still doesn't feel normal. Neither does crying yourself to sleep, just aching to be held. It used to be seeing a bed brought a smile, and comfort. No longer. Seeing a bed is a vivid reminder of silence, emptiness, loss of connection.
Being a widow is not feeling at "home" no matter where you are, or who you are with. Because your person is missing.
Being a widow is knowing all your hopes and dreams that you shared as a couple are now crumbled into a pile of ashes. So begins the process of searching for new dreams that are yours alone.
Being a widow is having every small victory including a new shade of grief that you can't share it with the one who propelled you onto this path.
Being a widow is second guessing everything you thought you knew about yourself. You find you are no longer the same person, and when others tell you this - you can't explain it, because you don't understand it.
Being a widow is learning what you like, instead of what we like. What you want to watch, instead of what we enjoy watching.
Being a widow is feeling excitement over this new person you are becoming, and yet knowing heartbreak because of the only reason you are this new person.
Being a widow is being a stranger in your own life. It is unnerving to watch yourself going thru the motions of what was your life, and yet feeling detached and not a part of it. Having your previous life feel like a vapor mist that is gone, and it leaves you often wondering if it happened at all.
Being a widow is the irony of knowing that if just that one person were here to hold you and support you, you could make it thru this grieving process. And that thought leaves you twisted and confused.
Being a widow is missing the one person who was your memory keeper, the one who would laugh at your stupid jokes, the one who just got your irrational fears. To anyone else? You have to explain, and they don't understand even then, so you keep it all to yourself. And keeping it to yourself makes the loneliness grow by leaps and bounds.
Being a widow is struggling with your own identity. This person you were with your spouse? You aren't that one anymore. So, who am I? If I am not going to do the things we planned, what do I do? What is my purpose if the joy of investing into my marriage is taken away? Who is my closest companion when my other half isn't here?
Being a widow is a restless feeling because I have lost my home, my identity, my partner, my lover, my best friend, my travel companion, my security, my LIFE. And because I am drifting away with an unknown destination.
Being a widow is living in a constant state of missing the most intimate relationship - with no hand to hold, no body next to you, no partner to share the good or the bad or simply the indifferent.
Being a widow is feeling sad when you are happy and laughing. The guilt while you are living. It is looking back while moving forward.
It is being hungry, but nothing sounds good.
It is every event turning bittersweet.
So, yes, being a widow is more, so much more, than simply missing their presence.
It is becoming this new person, with a new life - you want to, but you don't want it, either.
Being a widow is fighting every emotion a person can feel - at the very same moment, and trying to function in life at the same time.
Being a widow is nerve-wracking.
Being a widow is vulnerability.
Being a widow is strength.
Being a widow is darkness and light all mixed up together.
Being a widow is ... LIFE changing.
I have had several people tell me in these last 3 years especially, that I need to stop sharing the dark moments of this widow's walk.
That no one wants to read about the long lonely nights, or the days where grief gut punches.
That no one needs all that.
That people need & want only the uplifting words, and pretty pictures, or funny memes.
All the other "stuff" is too negative.
(Yes, some of these that have said this, are widows/widowers themselves.)
Since there is no manual that I have been able to locate on this life as a widow, and thinking perhaps others know better - I have tried to steer clear of sharing about the long and lonely nights, the tears that I cry, the battles I fight (sometimes winning, sometimes ... well, not winning).
Lately I have been weighing everything I share and post against their words.
However, I have been questioning all of this the last few days.
Rick asked me to always be brutally honest, even if I wasn't comfortable in doing so.
So, by not doing what I promised to him, am I betraying his trust in me?
The struggle has been real and intense this week.
Yet, what do I receive just 2 days ago, early in the morning?
2 messages from 2 different people miles and miles apart -
Thanking me for sharing a post from 2018 about the dark moments, the long & lonely nights, the tears cried, the battles fought whether lost or won, this life of being a widow and wading thru the grief!
Telling me how much that one post from February 2018 meant to them.
How it gave words to their own hearts and thoughts.
How it even explained to their own minds what this process is all about.
How it blessed them, comforting them that they are not alone!
Rick was right.
(Just don't tell him! lol)
I know he is smiling today.
At least for that post, and the other ones before I allowed words of a few to taint my writings to many.
Life is real.
I am hurting & healing at the same time.
So no longer will I hide the bad with only the good.
That's not living, that's not sharing.
And most important?
That's not what I promised my dying husband that I would do.
Just remember: When the heart and life stop going up and down, we are dead.
My renewed commitment to writing:
I bow my head, and my heart, to be who I am - - for YOU, God of angel armies - - in all of this.
Be it good or bad ... or even just indifferent.
God of angel armies, You are always by my side.
You go before me, opening up the ways, opening doors that no one can close, closing the doors that I don’t even need to know are there!
You go before me, and You beckon me to follow You, trust You.
You stand beside me.
Your hand gently guiding and firmly encouraging me to move forward.
You are always having my back.
Guarding me, protecting me - not only from falling, but from anyone coming up against me.
Thank You God.
I love You. Oh how I love You!
I like sleeping with Graizie.
She is my Russ cow.
Some might think it silly, but she is a touchstone to Rick.
I was remembering when he got her for me.
We were at Promised Land dairy in Brenham TX.
We stopped at the gift shop/office.
I wanted to go in, he said we didn’t have time - he was just going to get the invoice signed and we had to get on the road.
Hurt my feelings, but ok.
So I sat in the truck and waited ... and waited.
Thinking that it would not have taken me this long to just take a quick look around while he got the paper signed.
Yes, I was pouting.
It had been a difficult trip, and I was tired & grumpy.
He opened the truck door, holding something behind his back.
Smiled at me, and tenderly handed her to me.
I squealed, and he smiled big.
After that, she went with me every trip on the truck.
Or every adventure we had.
Graizie was a constant companion.
She’s been in every home, and most ever car - since about 2001.
I didn’t take her to KY with me, and I missed her every day, every night.
She IS my touchstone with Rick.
Even while he was alive, I would always give her a kiss on the head when I went by her.
Holding her tenderly and lovingly.
No one else has ever been allowed to play with her, not the kids nor the grandkids.
And everyone knew why.
Even more so now.
Sleeping with her the last few nights has brought me great comfort and strength, also a calmness and peace.
Silly perhaps, but one thing I have learned about grief - little if anything makes sense to us, let alone to those around us!
We must do what brings us peace and any small measure of lasting comfort.
She sits near me now, and she really seems more than a stuffed animal -
I know it would be silly to anyone else ... but to me?
This is a good thing.
Thank you, Rick, for getting her for me.
Thank you, Rick, for not letting me go into the gift shop that day so very long ago.
Thank You, God - just for understanding how weird I am. ;)
How many times have I cried out "Jesus, hold me now" since leaving Kentucky in November 2019?
I have lost count.
Jesus, Hold Me Now
Living on my own, thinking for myself
Castles in the sand, temporary wealth
Now the walls are falling down
Now the storms are closing in
And here I am again
Jesus, hold me now
I need to feel You in this place
To know You're by my side
And hear Your voice tonight
Jesus, hold me now
I long for Your embrace
I'm beat and broken down
I can't find my way out
Jesus, hold me now
Curse this morning sun, drags me into one more day
Of reaping what I've sown, living with my shame
Welcome to my world, and the life that I have made
One day you're a prince, and the next day you're a slave
Jesus, hold me now
I need to feel You in this place
To know You're by my side
And hear Your voice tonight
Jesus, hold me now
I long for Your embrace
I'm beat and broken down
I can't find my way out
Jesus, hold me now
Lord, I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
I don't know what else to pray
Broken at Your feet I lay
The life I've torn apart
Jesus, hold me now
I need to feel You in this place
To know You're by my side
And hear Your voice tonight
Jesus, hold me now
I long for Your embrace
I'm beat and broken down
I can't find my way out
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
~ ~ Casting Crowns ~ ~
I had no idea that it has been just a little over a month since I have written here. Wow. Time seems to go faster every year ... no, every day!
And now that the time has changed - Spring Forward - the mornings just disappear! I wake up, have coffee, read the Word, get dressed, and poof! The morning is gone! It's afternoon now. I shake my head and wonder if my body & mind will adjust to this. Oh I know it does every change of time ... but I'm older now - so will it adjust as quickly or as easily? Whew! This is only the 2nd day of this change, but good gravy!
This past month was a most difficult one for me. On every level.
February 9 brought Captain Jack down.
Still not sure what is wrong with him.
But, he's not road-worthy, I know that much.
As long as the O/D light is off, indicative that the overdrive is working, he runs like a champ.
However, as soon as the O/D light starts flashing, the power just simply goes away. Takes me down to around 40 mph. Then the engine will rev, almost like it is in neutral, finally shifting and then if the light goes out, we are back to running like it should.
I am overwhelmed with all of this.
I am doing my best to stay strong and wait patiently.
But, I feel like I am getting weaker, not stronger.
I am so very tired of being stranded, yet again.
I was stranded like this for over 2 yrs in KY - because my car then would not run, it needed just a few little things done to it.
Things that I was promised would be taken care of by friends ... things that were never taken care of.
The car ended up literally rotting down in the yard.
And I was left to blame for allowing it to happen, that I had not driven it like I should have to keep it running. ? ? ?
This after being told to NOT drive it until all the little things were fixed.
Oh - whatever!
But the way that played out makes me feel that not-so-old-familiar frustration and discouragement.
Now, everyone tells me what to check for, to take it to a mechanic, or what to do myself.
When I tell them that I have checked what I can, and I have had it coded twice, with a transmission shop telling me it "I don't think it is the transmission, but even if it is, we need to get the engine running properly first." ? ? ?
Then I am instructed to "suck it up, pay the money and get the darn thing fixed!"
What NO ONE seems to get?
I DO NOT have the money!
If I had the money?
It would have already been fixed, or replaced!
Now, don't misunderstand me, I am not asking for this truck to be looked at for nothing.
I have already paid over $200 to have it diagnosed, which led to 2 completely different "estimates" & diagnosis.
One involving the transmission and the other involving the engine.
With estimates running from $1500 to $5000.
I only gave $6950 for the truck in the first place! So spending the higher end of those estimates does not make good sense. It's more like throwing good money after bad. :(
At the most what I would hope for is that a mechanic that I could trust (is there one?), would look at it, give me an honest diagnosis, and tell me truthfully - is it worth fixing?
And if yes, that he would allow me to pay him out on the work needed done to get me back on the road.
The other thing that I am told to do is: "Turn it over to God. Trust Him."
Ok. Good sound advice.
I know that all of this is in HIS hands, not mine.
But I also believe that God does not expect us to just sit on our empty hands and wait for Him to swoop in and rescue us.
God helps us as we help ourselves. Or so I have been taught since a toddling child.
I just don't know what to do ...
nor how to do it ...
and certainly don't know how to pay for it.
It's hard not to be consumed with the thoughts that if Rick were here, HE would know exactly what to do!
Not only was he a good mechanic, but he knew mechanics that could be trusted.
And guaranteed, if a vehicle gave him much to deal with? That vehicle was not long a part of our "family".
Rick was insistent that I have a running vehicle, no matter where we lived, nor what our life was like at the time. Even when we were on the truck together, my truck sat there, waiting and ready for me to get home to it. Sigh.
So, the not-so-fun merry-go-round continues, threatening at any moment to throw me completely off.
This past month hasn't just been about the truck, although that is enough!
My children and grandchildren have been sick - flu and/or upper respiratory viral infection. As well as part of them have had a stomach "thing" that just seems to hang on no matter what they do, or don't, eat/drink. Sigh.
Add to that, someone in trouble with the law because of inattentiveness to details ... and others with having dental work done - including wisdom teeth cut out.
Oh, and I have been told that since the kids are grown, I shouldn't concern myself with them and their choices. Nor should I allow them being sick/hurt to take away from my peace of mind - after all, they are adults, and for the grandkids? Well, they have parents to attend to them!
? ? ?
The ones who have said those words to me DO NOT KNOW ME! And they don't know the reality of life.
Yes, the kids are grown and must answer for their own mistakes. But that doesn't mean that I don't care, or that I no longer worry.
Yes, the grandkids belong to their parents for the raising. But again, that doesn't mean I don't care, or don't worry. Just because I am not the one directly responsible for their well being doesn't mean I am not called upon for wisdom, counsel, and advice!
Oh, and I would have it NO OTHER WAY!
I love my kids and grandkids.
Even when life hits hard, or they make mistakes.
I realize that the ones who said these words to me are perhaps trying to encourage me, but all I could (and continue to) think - REALLY? ? ?
I have not, nor will I ever, wash my hands of my children and grandchildren.
I have not, nor will I ever, cease to be Momma & Grannee!
And as if all of this were not enough ...
I have been struggling with not feeling well, an earache that just will not go away and stay away, and a migraine from HELL - one that lasted well over 72 hours, one that greatly tempted me to go to the ER.
I know that part of it all is the stress and frustration with everything going on in my life, and around me.
And part of it is this time of year in Texas. 21* at night and 81* in the afternoon. Quite the change for this old body to accept and do well with. This part of it will level out soon. Easter is April 12 this year, no more freezes after that. :)
The allergies will probably get worse before they get better - simply because things are just now beginning to show the new growth and blooms.
I know I shall be ok - it will just take a little while to allow my body to once again adapt to these Texas spring times and effects.
So, seeing February leave was NOT a bad thing this year. Hoping and praying that March will be BETTER.
Recently I have been struggling with those who at one time, either before Rick died or since, were a daily part of my life. Either phone calls, visits, text messages, or chat messages thru Facebook - and who now for whatever reason, aren't. Or aren't as much as they were at a different time.
I have questioned if I did or said something wrong.
Or perhaps it was just life getting in the way of living and being friends.
I know that some have found a companion, which has been bittersweet for me. Sweetness in that I am overjoyed for my friends who have found love, a companion, even a 2nd chapter after loss. But also makes me heart weary of feeling so much like the "in-between" girl, only & always. Sigh. Out of respect for their new relationship I step away with dignity and grace. I would never interfere or in any way come between them, yet I do miss my friend.
I've cried a river of tears over a few that are no longer a "walk-with-me-thru-this-friend".
Some, have not been so hard to let them walk away.
I've prayed much, dug deep into my own heart.
Always over thinking things - such am I.
And then I see this meme on Facebook a few days ago.
Whoever said that Facebook has nothing good, or that God cannot use it - well, they didn't know what they were talking about!
"Don't worry about people God has removed from your life. He heard conversations you didn't. Saw things you couldn't. And made moves you wouldn't."
Has there ever been such a complete and overwhelming peace flood a soul as it did mine that morning?
I think not!
It's so much easier to just breathe and Trust in Jesus now.
ALL of me is all His.
Living and breathing deeply with a grateful thankful heart now.
I am beginning to feel great excitement and anticipation for the changes in my life.
Not sure yet. Lol - that's part of the excitement and anticipation.
But for the first time in a LONG time, a very long time, I actually feel alive.
Not just existing from day to night back to day again.
I will always love Rick and forever grieve for him, missing him like crazy.
Not a day without the highs and lows of grief and being a widow will I ever have, but that's ok now.
I also will have the struggles of being a PTSD Survivor. It's not just a one-time Survivor. It's a every day, every situation, Survivor!
But life goes on, it moves forward ... and so do I.
It's taken a lot of tears, much kicking and screaming, many words written & cursed & prayed, to get me to this point. But here I am. And I find that I am proud of ME. No, I'm not proud of every choice and decision I have made these last 5 years with my time, my money, or my life - but I am proud of ME now. Thankful that God in His Amazing Grace kept His hand of mercy covering me, protecting me, and drawing me back into His arms of love and comfort. He never once turned away from me, nor left me to be alone. But He did make sure I survived it all. And here I am now.
There are times that these memes can say it better than me:
Seems I find myself wondering a lot these days.
Wondering what my life is supposed to be?
Wondering just where I am to call "home"?
Wondering if there is a 2nd chapter to my love story?
Wondering what I am supposed to do?
I don't think wondering is a bad thing.
I know for me it has already helped me figure out some of what I don't want to be or do, where I don't want to call "home", and if there is a 2nd chapter of love what I would really like for that to be like.
It's also helping me to figure out what I can live with, and what I don't want to live without.
I am rediscovering the joy of research, reading and writing, and finding ways to join the picture taking with it all.
I'm also savoring each moment more, deeper. Taking time to make time.
When insomnia comes against me now, I let it work FOR me not against me. It simply provides me with extra time to research and to write. That's not a bad thing! :)
I am treasuring each time with my kids and grandkids. Knowing that their lives are busy, yet they carve out some moments here and there just for Momma & Grannee. The hugs and forehead kisses are amazing & sweet. The conversations range from being light with laughter to soul-searching and serious.
Yesterday I was so ready for spring time, wanting to get out and about to take adventures and pictures, then to write about where I've been, what I've seen.
And today, because the forecast is for a winter weather storm with inches of snow? I am excited and can't hardly wait for the skies to turn blue and dark with the approaching storm. Hoping against all that I wake up in the wee hours of the morning to a white ground and snow falling.
I guess what is really happening is growth and healing are coming along side the grieving and hurting. And it is all working to make me stronger & better than I have ever been.
The bad moments of grief & anxiety will surely still come. Perhaps even a bad day, or nights that are horrible-rotten-just no good. But I no longer fear those times. Because they come ... and they go. They are not allowed to stay. Nor am I allowed to set up camp there. Life goes on ... and I go with it.
I love you, Rick. Always and forever. I hope you are proud of me now. I hope from this point on you always will be. I love you, and I miss you like crazy!
Ok. Deep breath. :)
This is the more difficult post for me to write.
It's not easy to be such an open book.
But it needs shared.
So HOW did we get PTSD?
We experienced a shocking, scary and dangerous event. That event could have been the death of a loved one, war, tornado, fire, child abuse, sexual assault, life threatening illness or injury, surgery that was complicated or long.
Everyone experiences these with a wide range of reactions. Most recover naturally & more quickly. With few if any complications or lingering effects. However, if we continue to experience the reactions there is a possibility that we have PTSD and/or anxiety disorder.
PTSD can strike anyone at any age, no matter the traumatic event.
*Please remember not to self-diagnosis. Yes! Educate yourself. If you suspect PTSD? See your doctor. Discuss your concerns with him. Visit a counselor who specializes in PTSD. Get a medical diagnosis before this consumes you! YOU ARE LOVED!
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
1. Flashbacks to the event. *One of mine was every time I tried to lay down in the bed, the flashback was to being on the stretcher into the surgery room. Or seeing Rick laying on the stretcher at the back of the hearse that came to take him away.
2. Nightmares that somehow involve pieces of the event. *For me, this was (and continues to be, but not as often) a dream of being in total darkness. Feeling immense pressure on my body, as though tied down. Hearing an urgency in the voices around me. Knowing my son was calling to me as though he were hurting and I could not get to him.
3. Frightening and/or fearful thoughts. *Feeling like I was waiting for "the other shoe to drop". Knowing something bad was going to happen, waiting for it.
4. Intense drive to stay away from the places & people that remind you of that event. *I still never want to go to Houston, TX again. Nor do I even want to get close! It took me 4 years before I could step inside the funeral home where Rick was.
5. Strong guilt (as in survivor guilt), or depression. *Why did I survive uterine cancer and he died from kidney disease? Why did I survive cancer when so many others did not? How did I have my hand on his chest and not feel him leave that morning? Why did I turn my eyes away for those 3 seconds?
6. Losing interest in things that you previously enjoyed. *Reading. I used to devour books. For 7 years now, I have struggled to focus and finish a book.
7. Trouble remembering details of your life, except for that event. *It's like living in a fog, a thick pea-soup type fog.
8. Being easily startled. *I have always been jumpy. Rick used to love it, cause I would be so focused on what I was doing that he could sneak upon me, say something and I would scream. Lol. This is not that. I have found myself literally jumping at every noise, no matter how small or great.
9. Feeling constantly tense or on edge. *Listening intently to hear anything, or everything. Or when cross words are spoken between those I am with. I think that is still the worst. Takes everything out of me to control the emotions at that point.
10. Difficulty sleeping, insomnia. *For me, the best sleep has been when I can hear others talking, or when the TV is on. I sleep 2-4 hours, then wake up. Often finding myself awake around 2 a.m. and not going back to sleep until night time.
11. Angry out bursts because you can't find the one point of blame. *No one has heard my outbursts. I've kept those to myself. But oh. Yes.
12. Extreme quietness. *I have hours that I don't say a word to anyone. Not mad. Just do not feel like talking. More times than not, or so it seems to me, I would rather just be quiet - because my tolerance for bullshit is so low these days.
13. Distress at anniversary dates. *I never have to think about the day, nor the hour. I don't have to look at a clock or calendar. I just know the day, and the hour. I can tell you how long it has been since my surgery, and how long it has been since Rick died. I don't try ... it's just there. There is a "countdown clock" that lives in my head.
14. Showing affection too much, or not enough. *I tend to be the "too much" kind of person. Skin hunger. Fear of more loss. Loneliness. Emptiness. As well as a type of grounding myself.
15. Excessive irritability. *I find the irritability the worst when I am really tired. When my mind and my body are on overload.
16. Extreme difficulty in concentrating. *It is difficult for me to concentrate to read, or to watch a movie. I do good at watching a 30 minute or hour long show. But still struggling with a movie.
17. Beginning or increase in physical ailments: high blood pressure, rapid breathing, muscle tensions, nausea, bowel changes, body aches, allergies, headaches, vision changes. *This is what took me to see Dr. Pierce in the first place. It was as a result of the tests and all his questions that PTSD was diagnosed.
Remember, PTSD lasts longer than a few days, or even a few weeks. We are talking months and years here.
Also, PTSD can fade away, lie dormant within us, and then a trigger can make it rise again.
What are those triggers?
They are different for everyone who has PTSD.
A smell that is associated with that event. A noise. A news article. A conversation about the event. A reference to that event in any medium. A song. There are literally thousands of triggers. That's why it is so important that you find Yours.
What are mine?
*Seeing MD Anderson mentioned anywhere - in the news, on Facebook, etc...
*Hearing "The Yellow Rose of Texas" - that was just one of the many songs that Rick would wrap his arms around me and sing.
*Smelling Black Suede cologne (Avon product).
*I was in Barnes & Noble not long ago, and it was all I could do to stand upright, to not collapse on the floor in a crying heap. I was walking down an aisle, looked up to the top shelf and there was Rick's Bible cover. It was the EXACT one that he had last. Same color, same size, same wording on the front. I stood there, forcing myself to breath in and breath out. Then, I took a picture of it. Just so that I could force myself to look at it again when I got to the house and tell myself all those positive words.
*Smelling a cherry cigar.
*For a while, hearing the word "cancer" was a massive trigger.
*Standing in the room where Rick died.
*I was in Walmart one day and walked past the aisle that has all the feminine products. I stopped. I couldn't breathe. I instantly felt dizzy. Since I had had uterine cancer, and the surgery was a radical hysterectomy, I no longer needed those items - however, they were a reminder to me of what had happened.
What makes you a Survivor of PTSD?
1. You have an optimistic yet realistic outlook.
*I know what happened. I know when it happened. And I know that I survived both. Not sure why yet. But I believe there is a purpose for my life yet. Being optimistic doesn't mean seeing life thru rose-colored glasses. It does mean that even on bad days, or in the darkest of moments, you know "this too shall pass". Good always follows bad. Always.
2. You face your fears.
*The greatest fear of my 58 years has been the thought of losing my husband. That happened. April 23, 2015. I faced it. I survived it. What else is there to really be afraid of? Death is a part of life. A real sucky part!
3. You have an inner moral compass.
*I know right from wrong. I have always had a code that I lived by. And as Woodrow says in Lonesome Dove: "I can't tolerate rude behavior." So, I refuse to be rude myself - to others, or to myself.
4. You are a spiritual person.
*I don't consider myself religious. Rick always said, "Religion is man reaching up to God. Relationship is God reaching down to man." I do have a relationship with God. I can't imagine navigating these waters of grief and PTSD without that Anchor. But I am also a very spiritual woman. As an empathetic I can be no less.
5. You have social support.
*I didn't have support after my cancer surgery. It was a difficult time in our lives with Rick, so all the focus was on him and me being his 24/7 caregiver. I was told repeatedly by others that they did not believe I had had cancer. When questioned as to why they believed that, each time their answer was: "Because you didn't have to have any treatments." Well, according to the path report and the oncologist? It was caught early, which was a blessing considering it was the most aggressive form and he said I had at the most 6 months to live! But I guess what does an oncologist know, right?
*I did have social support after Rick died. Because I sought it out online in widow/widower support groups. Having been told time after time that "it is high time that you let him go and move on with your life" (and this started at month 2!), or "it's your fault he is dead! You didn't love him enough! You didn't give him proper care!" I did not seek out support face to face, nor from any of those near me.
6. You have role models.
*This was a difficult one for me. Thankfully, one of my dearest friends was a couple of years ahead of me on this road. And SHE called me. She walked me thru that first year, the thoughts, the emotions. She held me when I cried. She was there when I reached out, but thankfully, she didn't wait for me to reach out - she did a LOT of reaching in to me.
*The role model I chose for the uterine cancer was my momma. She had had uterine cancer in 1996. She faced it bravely, even with the treatments. Her's was the less aggressive kind. But she never complained. She endured. And I was determined to face it head on. I would have cancer, but no way in hell was cancer going to have ME!
7. You are more physically fit.
*I wasn't very fit when cancer hit me, we had been on the truck (long-haul) for a couple of years. So I was probably in the worst shape of my life. Then as I became full time caregiver to Rick, any taking care of me beyond the absolute necessity of just surviving, went on the back burner - the way, way, way back burner.
*After Rick died, in the first 2 years I lost about 150 pounds. I wouldn't recommend the widow-diet to anyone, just saying. Then in the next 2 years I gained about 50 pounds back. But just before Thanksgiving 2019 I made ME a promise - to lose the weight and KEEP it off. I want to be the best I can be for ME @ 59 years old.
8. You find a way to accept what cannot be changed.
*What else can you do? Louis L'Amour said in one of his books (I can't remember which one right now): "If you fight against the desert, you will surely die. If you learn to live with it, you will!" I read that years & years before all this happened, but it made an impression on me, and I have taken that and made it a mantra of sorts for my life.
*The song "Let It Be" by the Beatles. That song plays in my head and in my heart all the time. A lot of the time it is playing on my phone, too! :) There is so much truth and wisdom in the lyrics of the song. And the music, it is peaceful and calming. I love it!
9. You look for meaning and opportunities.
*My website has taken on new meaning to me. If no one ever reads it, it is my therapy. Hopefully someone will read it and be helped - that was Rick's desire, and my prayer to honor him.
*I'm still looking for something to do with my life. Still feel much like a fish out of water no matter where I am. But, I keep going - moment by moment, breath by breath.
10.You keep mentally sharp.
*I have a game on my phone that I use daily. Wood Block Puzzle. It is a bit like Tetris. I try to get the highest score, and there is always a game running. Lol. I may not play but 5 minutes at a time. But it is my go-to for focus and concentration exercising.
11. And as Rick would say: "Honey, you are too damn stubborn to give up or quit!" Lol
*He was right. LOL Just don't let him hear me admit it!
It's not easy to be so open about my trials and struggles with PTSD.
I haven't arrived anywhere. I am still on the journey - and I accept that it will be a lifelong journey.
Will I ever fully recover? Perhaps.
But even if I don't - God is still God. And He is still good.
I don't have all the answers - for my cancer survival, for being a widow, for living this life.
But I know it's ok to have questions without answers.
And really cool when an answer finds me!
One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is when dealing with a medical "condition", you neither take the word of the doctor as absolute, nor do you entirely self-diagnosis/medicate.
When it comes to matters of health it should be a combined effort, a joining of mind and hands if you will, to provide the clearest diagnosis, and the best care possible, for yourself or your loved ones.
If you read the paper on the wall of your doctor, it will say "Practicing Physician". That means your doctor, or mine, is NOT God. Their word is NOT definitive. I have experienced this "practicing" time after time. And honestly? Any doctor worth their salt will absolutely agree.
Now, before I go any farther, don't misunderstand me. I thank God for our doctors & nurses, as well as the researchers. I simply don't leave everything to them. God also gave me a mind to think with, and the abilities to research articles and papers written. After all ... this is MY body, not the doctors. Right?
Also, when you have received a diagnosis, after much research, testings, talking with your doctor and listening ... do NOT take the word of someone in your family or friend's circle, or someone on a social media site, who says, "I don't believe you have that! I won't ever believe it! You don't need to follow those instructions." Best one I've heard yet? "I know you didn't really have cancer, cause God didn't tell ME that you did! You just wanted the attention."
Hmmmm...what do they REALLY know about your body? Where were they during all the tests, the questions and answers, the meetings with doctors? Everyone has an opinion and most of the time? Those don't need to be shown or expressed, unless asked!
Now, having said all that, lol, I will explain why I said it all. I have not talked much about this. But it's time to, as Rick has said often enough, "get out of your comfort zone, honey. Someone else might need to hear this."
7 years ago after having major cancer surgery, I was diagnosed with PTSD. At the time, I was under the impression that only our military could get PTSD. Or maybe someone who had been a victim of a vicious crime? Or perhaps a severe natural disaster. I had no idea that a "common" girl from East Texas could have it because of cancer and the surgery. My impression was wrong.
My oncologist told me that because of the severity of the cancer, and how close I came to dying because of the cancer itself, as well as the fact that I bled out during surgery (had to receive 11 units of blood) - he wanted me to be aware of PTSD and what to expect. Saying that it would make it easier when it started manifesting itself to me, and he believed it would because he had seen it too many times in other patients as well. It didn't take long. I am so thankful that he did prepare me, because it was scary as hell! And if I had not known anything about it? OMW! So, yes! I will forever be grateful to Dr. Michael Frumovitz at MD Anderson hospital in Houston TX for being blunt, honest and real with me.
4 1/2 years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD again. Different situation. Different doctor. A doctor who knew not one thing about the original diagnosis. A doctor who diagnosed me only after talking with me, and running the tests. "Margaret, you have PTSD & Complicated Grief. You will be ok. We will find a way to get you thru this. You are a strong woman. You got this!" As I sat in Dr. Pierce's office with tears running down my cheeks, and shaking like a leaf.
Thru my own reading and research, as well as the info given to me by the doctors, I want to share with you what I have learned.
1. PTSD seldom disappears completely. It often lies dormant until something* causes it to rise up within.
2. PTSD demands that we learn a more effective way of coping with it, and with those triggers that cause it flare up time and time again.
3. You may have PTSD - but PTSD does NOT have to have YOU!
So, how do we cope more effectively?
1. Educate yourself. Knowledge is powerful. But you must do more than simply "know". You must use wisdom and "do" what you "know".
2. Do not skip exercise. No matter how bad you feel. No matter the weather. No matter what! Get up! Move! If all you can do is lay in bed, then move your arms, move your legs. If all you can do is sit in a chair - move your arms, move your legs, do some neck rolls. Something! Move!
3. Find a distraction. This could be a funny TV show, like "I Love Lucy" or "Friends" or whatever you find funny. You need to laugh! It could be an interesting old movie, think John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart, or Humphrey Bogart. Read a book, even if it is a comic book like "Calvin & Hobbes". Play a mind game on your computer or phone, think Tetris type games. Listen to calming music - the blues/jazz, Celtic, Big Band era, Southern Gospel, Old Country, Old time Rock-n-Roll.
4. Consult an expert regularly. Don't miss a doctor's appointment. Talk with a chaplain, or a pastor. Visit a counselor. Gary Roe is a great online counselor, who will chat and email. There are others, too.
5. Find a confidante. Preferably someone who has walked your path before you. Someone you trust with your darkest thoughts. This one can be difficult if you don't already have someone. Be careful opening your mind and heart to someone you don't really know. Test these waters with much care.
6. Spend time with family and with friends. These people knew you before PTSD knew you. This is a time in your life that you need to USE their knowledge of you, USE the love they have for you. Do not isolate yourself!
7. Increase your body awareness. Know your triggers. Know what the beginning of a PTSD flare up feels like. For me? My heart begins to race. My thoughts are swirling like a tornado in my head. My hands become sweaty, or severely cold all of a sudden and for no good reason. I get a sudden urge to either cry, or just start running like the wind.
When you realize what the beginning of a PTSD flare up feels like, what can you do to alleviate it? To make it calm the hell down?
1. Remind yourself that YOU GOT THIS! You can do it! You can take control.
2. Take a deep breath thru your nose, hold it to the count of 3, let it out slowly thru your mouth. This forces oxygen thru your body, and it calms your breathing as well as your heart rate. Often I have found doing this several times will stop the flare up completely. I choose to focus on my breathing and the trigger loses its power over me.
3. Stop any negative thoughts & replace them with positive and rational ones. I keep a folder in my photo album on both my phone and my computer of positive encouraging memes. When the negative thoughts begin to scream at me, I open my photo gallery and I go to the folder marked "Fight like a girl" or "Life Wisdom". And I read them over and over and over again. Then I think about them, and let them take hold of my mind and heart.
4. Use positive reinforcing statements. "You got this!" "You can do this!" "I have PTSD but it does NOT have me!" "I am strong enough to handle it!" I also use Bible verses about trusting in God. Psalm 31 is one of my favorites.
5. Divert your attention. Again - read, watch TV, play a game, go for a walk, talk to someone. Find something to draw your attention away from PTSD and this particular flare up BEFORE a flare up! Have it ready. Install the game on your phone or computer. Keep the book handy. Have someone on speed-dial. Or keep their name at the top of your Messenger list.
In my next blog post I will discuss HOW we came to have PTSD. As well as what the symptoms are.
Until then ... YOU GOT THIS!
So why "Scattered Feathers" ? ? ?
You can read it here