Written on Day 77 ... July 9, 2015
11 weeks ago at this moment ... literally in the blink of an eye ... Rick looked at me, I laid my hand on his chest, and he was gone. GONE. No drama. No trauma. Just gone.
And in that one moment, in that blink of an eye, in that last beat of his heart - I went from being a wife to being a widow.
Just as surely as his body changed from one filled with pain and misery to one glorified and with the Lord - my life changed. Just as sure as he went from this life into life eternal - my life changed. He is in a better place - I know this.
But I also know that sure does not feel or seem like I am in a better place!!!
I miss EVERYTHING about him.
I realize that most people do not want to hear these words, over and over again.
But I realize also that I LIVE these words over and over and over again.
I see Rick that last morning. I hear his voice that last time. I look into his eyes that last moment.
I see Mandy and I lifting him, putting him on the floor, her kneeling over her daddy, the tears on her face as she gave him CPR. I hear the 911 dispatcher trying to direct her and calm me at the same time. I hear the desperation in her voice as she begged her daddy to breath, to open his eyes, to speak, to live and not die. I feel the panic rise in me as I called Joshua and said those words no momma ever wants to say - Your daddy is gone. I hear my voice in panic telling Rick's dad and mom to get down here cause I think Rick has just died. I see the ambulance lights, hear the siren, and the EMT's as they come in the house and find their way to the bedroom. I hear their voices and see them as they work over my husband, the love of my life. I feel the hand of the sheriff's deputy as he asks me to step out of the room. I remember just knowing deep inside that Rick, my husband, my sweetheart, was gone. And I see Rick when they brought me back to the bedroom to tell me that there was no response whatsoever. I hear my automated voice when they ask me if I wanted them to take him to the hospital - "Is there anything left to my husband? Will he ever be better than this?" And I hear that word - NO. I see the shake of the EMT's head. I feel the pressure of the deputy's hand on my elbow, his arm around me. Then, I remember saying the words I never thought I would ever have to say -- "Let him go. Leave him alone. He is gone." I see the love of my life lying there on the floor, bagged, covered with a sheet. I touch him one more time. I call his name.
And the sheriff's deputy leads me out of the room, into the arms of my daughter. The tears flow. I find myself trying to be momma even now. Loving my daughter. Talking to my son over the phone - loving him. Holding my grandchildren. Comforting Rick's parents. Feeling so surreal.
Yes, I LIVE these words ... these memories ... over and over and over again. Every morning at 6:50 a.m. - the memories begin ... and the movie seems to play. I wonder will it ever not be so crystal clear.
Life is a struggle at best these days.
I love our kids and our grandkids. Were it not for them -- O God, thank you for our children and our grandchildren. Thank you God for their love and their attention to me. Thank you for all their laughter, their help, their memories. And yes, thank you even for their tears. I am so thankful that they loved their daddy and p-paw. That they were all on good terms with him. And I am very thankful to not have to walk this valley totally alone.
I keep reminding myself that I am not the only one grieving for Rick. His dad and mom are. His sister is. His kids and his grandkids are. His family and his friends - they all are.
But no matter who you are, grief is a lonely road. There are just some stretches of this journey, some mountains and valleys, that you must traverse alone. Just you and God. We all grieve differently, and separately. I don't think there is really a right or wrong way to grieve. The body and the mind have to deal with it.
There are moments that we share our grief, and our love for Rick. But then there are those times that we seem to hide it all away.
I wonder why I do that? Because others seem to be doing ok - and I do not want to make someone else sad when they seem like they are not? Is it because I feel so weak, even tho others tell me how strong I am? Is it because if I talk about Rick being gone he becomes gone, not just away? If I don't talk about him being gone forever, does that mean that he is only away and will be home again to me? Do I sound as crazy to others as I do to myself???
It's hard to know what to say to someone who has lost so much. Who cries so easily - cause honestly, most people do not know how to handle the tears.
Well, nothing makes the pain easier to bear. Nothing makes the sorrow less. Nothing makes the tears not burn so hot on the cheeks. So, if nothing makes it easier, or less, or better - what can you say? What can you do?
Just be there. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Arms to encircle and give a hug or two. A listening ear - yes, even to the story of death over and over and over again. Share a memory. Make me smile. Make me laugh out loud.
I am finding it hard to do the simple things - those things that I took for granted for so long ... because Rick was here with me.
--Cooking. What do I cook? I have cooked for Rick for 35 years. How do I cook and not think about what he wants, or what he likes? How do I make something and no one here to taste test it for me?
--Going out to eat. To only sit alone? What do I order? Rick ordered for me for 35 years, what am I supposed to order? What do I even want? Rick knew me so well that often he didn't even ask what I wanted, just ordered and it was right.
--Sleeping. How do I go to bed alone? After 34 years, 7 months and 17 days of laying next to my husband? I thank God for a comfortable recliner!!! Sigh.
--Getting dressed. What do I wear? For 35 years, every morning I would ask Rick what he would like to see me wear, and then I would ask him how I looked after I got dressed. It wasn't something that I had to do - it was what I wanted to do. To please him. To honor him. And he would always tell me that I looked "hot" or "sexy" or "cute" or "fine to me" (with a smile and a wink) ... he would say how that a certain color made my eyes shine ... or that I looked like "one hot momma" ... He always had something to say - sweet and precious. So now - what difference does it make what I wear?
I am spending a LOT of time in prayer now. And God is blessing that time. He is using the devotional in my heart and in my life. And I am getting to know Him even better as I read thru the Psalms and find the comfort of His Word over me.
I don't know what God has planned for me - but I know He has a plan. Jeremiah 29:11
So, I pray ... and I trust Him.
--as I go thru things. Finding my way forward thru the tears and the smiles.
--as I wait to find out if I will be allowed to keep the Honda Element, or if I will have to surrender it.
--as I wonder what will I drive if I have to surrender the Element.
--as I wait to hear from Social Security about SSI and/or early widow benefits.
--as I wonder where I am supposed to be ... and what I am supposed to be doing.
--as I hope and pray that the RV sells. Not only do I really need the money, I really don't need the RV!
I Corinthians 13 ...
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
if I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is LOVE.
Written Day 71 ... July 3, 2015
I miss you Rick - even our arguments, I miss you. Even the bad times - I miss you.
Rick, I love you so much, and I miss you like crazy. I hope you know this. I hope you understand just how much you meant to me all those years. I hope you know that you were not a burden to me - even on the bad days. A bad day with you was so much better than a good day without you!!! I miss you so much!!! You were worth every moment of our life together!
I miss your love. I miss your touches. I miss being hugged, and hugging you. I miss your kisses, and kissing you. I miss your smell, the feel of your hair in my fingers. I miss reaching up and touching your face - just loving you with everything that is in me.
I am not angry. I haven't been angry in these 71 days. Not angry with God - He has been my Strength, my Comfort, my Hope, my Peace. Not angry with Rick - I don't understand all the things that Rick ever said or did, or even the things he refused to do. I have been told that it is "ok to be angry". I know this. Yet, I wonder if it is "ok" to not be angry?
One question I have asked myself, asked God, and even asked others -- Will me being angry bring Rick back? Will me being angry change one thing of our past together?
I think I am just too tired and weary in this grief and with the sorrow to be angry.
The last 3 years of Rick's life was hard on both of us. When good health fades away, and you begin to deal with illnesses, diagnoses, diseases, pains that have horrible names, learning how to live in spite of it all - it's a hard time.
We had our good times and our bad times. We tried to be honest - even brutally honest, even to the point that I was told we were sharing too much. But you know, Rick and I never wanted to be anything but real Christians. In season and out of season Christians. We live a real life, with a real God. Why sugar coat life??? God is a real God - He is with us, loving us, on the good days ... and with us, loving us, on the bad days.
There is an old gospel song - "Through it All" - that became our song. It is our testimony. It is the witness of our life. And even more - it is my song, my prayer ... Now.
I cry. A lot on some days. And some days, I don't cry until the night time. Always the tears are just below the surface. Doesn't take much to make the memories and the love roll down my cheeks. It doesn't take much for the scared, little girl in me to cry out, either!
My kids have been absolutely awesome to me in these 71 days. Loving me. Holding me. Crying with me. Making me laugh. They listen to me. They share with me. They are there for me. And I appreciate every heart beat of life with them. Life has become more precious to me - just the absolute realization that it can be over in one heartbeat, one moment of time.
Seeing the life of our grandkids, and hearing their laughter, has been such a joy and great comfort to me. Their tender kisses, and sweet hugs. They walk by me and touch me lightly. More kisses and hugs than I have ever gotten from them - and I have always gotten a lot! So very, very, very thankful for our grandkids.
Rick -- you done good!
And still, I wonder what God wants to do with me now. I wonder what His plans are for my future. Holding onto Jeremiah 29:11
And I find myself wondering more and more - who am I???
I spent a lifetime in love with my husband. I fell in love with him when I was 10 years old. Yes, 10 years old. I knew my mind and my heart then ... God put Rick in my heart. I set my cap for him - and God granted the desires of my heart. To be his wife. To be his friend. To be the mother of his children, and the keeper of his home.
Rick loved me with complete abandonment. It was easy to circle my wagon around him. To let him make the choices of where and what we ate, what we watched, when we went to bed, and when we got up. To let him decide where we went that day, and what we were doing. Even to where we lived and worked. He helped in the home - not just with physical working to help me, but by his input on what I was doing, ideas for decorating, being my taste-tester when I cooked. We shared books - from telling one another what we were reading, to discussing a book, to even reading out loud to one another. I deferred to him (willingly and joyfully) as to what to wear that day, how to fix my hair, what color to do my nails in. We talked over every dollar that we ever spent.
And now ... without my love, without him as a guiding force in my life ... who am I? What do I like to eat? What do I want to drink? What do I like to do? What do I enjoy watching?
Rick and I had a very unique relationship - which just for the record - came into question by others more often than not. But it was OURS. OUR marriage. OUR life. OUR friendship. OURS.
So no wonder I feel so very lost ... and lonely.
God knows all this. I believe He even understands. Which is why HE holds me moment by moment.
I know that it will take a long time - if ever - for me to figure out the answers to all these questions.
I am still praying about what to do with this website and blog.
Do I continue it? Do I just close it down?
Do I just let it stand as it is ... ending it now with Rick?
Or do I journey on ... alone?
This blog and website have been a source of therapy to me, to write all these things down, the good and the bad, as well as the indifferent.
I pray for wisdom and for direction in this.
And if God leads me to continue this - I pray that it will be an encouragement and a help to someone else. I know that not one of us lives unto ourselves.
I pray to always lift Jesus up - and that He will draw others unto Himself.
I hope if you read this, or if you watch my life, that you will know just how real I am.
I love the Lord with all my heart. And I miss my husband so much!
I am too tired, too weary, to play games.
I don't want to wallow in the grief and sorrow - but I cannot pretend that all is good, either.
I read the Psalms and I hear David as he rejoices in the good and I hear his cries of anguish over the bad times. David was called the "apple of His eye". Wow.
If you read this - or think of me - I ask, hoping, that you will pray for me.
Psalm 68:5-6a ... A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.
Psalm 68:19 ... Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
I have not written here in a "few" days. It's hard to write sometimes. Other times, the words won't stop. But since June 5th I have been out at my son's house, and there is little to no Internet there. So, I spend a few minutes now to catch up ...
...Mandy and the kids spent the first week of their summer break at Joshua and Dessie's. We laughed. We cried. We talked about Rick and the life we had lived for all these years. We talked and wondered about our life to come without Rick, without daddy, without p-paw. We ate good. We cleaned out the RV and cleaned it up - got it ready to sell. We went thru pictures, and clothes, and books, and just stuff. Stuff that Rick and I had gathered in thru our life together. Some even I wondered why we had kept and carried with us.
...Mandy and the kids left on Saturday, the 13th, going back to Sulphur Springs. I stayed with Joshua and Dessie. The next few days were spent trying to get me settled in, and get the things that they wanted from the RV put away.
...Dessie and I went to Mineral Wells the next week and I paid on my computer. We looked around some in Mineral Wells, and found our way back to Graham. It was a good day with my daughter in love. When we got back to Graham, we stopped at the Aaron's, and we asked about a lift chair for me. They have one, it will be about $80 a month. I told her that I had to wait to see if SSI or the early widow benefits were going to be awarded before I could do anything. Just as we were turning to leave, Dessie asked if they had a returned recliner that was a lower price. The lady said that she did have one - and took us in the back hall to show it to us. An oversized recliner - not a lift chair. But it is an electric recliner! I didn't even know they made such a thing! The reason I was going for a lift chair is because my legs do not have the strength to put the recliner feet down once I get it up. But with this one - just a push of a button and the foot would go up - or down!!! I asked how much it was - she said, "$79.99". A month? i asked. No - a one time, walk out the door, price. SOLD!!! Dessie and I came back to the house, got in her pickup and went back to Aaron's. The recliner was loaded and brought home. Joshua helped unload it ... and it was plugged in. First awesome night of sleep I have had in months!!!
...I have been sleeping in the recliner now for about 3 weeks - and it is absolutely AMAZING the difference in my legs! The swelling has gone down - not only in my feet and ankles, but in my legs as well. They still ache at bedtime some nights - but even then, not like they were doing. They still cramp sometimes, but the cramps don't seem to last as long. They don't tire as quickly as they were either. I am still taking my medications as well - but I am excited about going back to the doctor and having him see the difference!!!
...I got to thinking about my legs and all - and realized that I had had very few hours with my feet up off the floor since this year started. With Rick having been so sick, in and out of the hospitals, a major surgery, a bout with his heart, all that I needed to do at the house alone ... no wonder my legs and feet have given me such pain and misery!
And I have found out in these 3 weeks that the best days and nights are those that I spend time in and out of the recliner. If I can stay in the recliner with my feet up at night for 6+ hours, and spend a couple of hours during the day with my feet up - so much better!
...I have started on the pillows. Taking Rick's shirts and making pillows. The first one I made for Shell on his birthday. I learned some things on that one! Then, I have made Kyla one, Dessie one, and one for me. I took the shirt that Rick wore most often to preach in and made mine. It has been such a comfort to me at night, and just to walk by it and see it thru the day. I still have others to make - one for Joshua, one for Mandy, one for Elijah and one for Brooklyn. And I will make one for Mary Lou and one for Tina. I thought it would be hard to use his shirts that way - cause there is that part of me that says when he gets back, he will need and want his shirts. I thought it would be hard to see his shirts used for pillows - a vivid reminder that he is never coming home again to me. But it is easy to use the shirts for making the pillows - feels like I am actually doing something constructive and productive, even with the tears. And to see his shirts as pillows is a great comfort to me - feels like he is with me more and more. Not to mention the way it feels to cuddle up to one!
...We went to a bronc riding for Shell on this past Sunday. It was his first time to ride the junior bronc, and it was a qualifying trial for the Vegas show in December. He made a good ride - but he was bucked off before the buzzer. It was a good day with the kids and grandkids, hot and sweaty, but good.
...When Rick died, I went to the florist and bought an ivy - had it delivered to the funeral home, and it was at the memorial service. It was a beautiful ivy. I chose an ivy instead of flowers because Rick loved house plants, ivy in particular. I have been misting it almost daily, watering it weekly, and it is HUGE!!! To me it is a reminder that Rick still lives - if only in our memories and in my heart.
God is teaching me more and more about Him. I am using the devotional that I bought a week after Rick died - "Jesus Calling". I used the same devotional the first year after I was diagnosed with cancer, and God taught me so much about Him, and about life, about living. He teaches me more and more.
The other morning I was especially tired and weary. Just did not want to be Rick's widow any longer. I opened the devotional and I read the first paragraph for the day -- "Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life." Oh my! God is so "spot-on"!!! I needed that more than I could even explain. Wow. Just Wow.
I think the numbness is gradually wearing off. The shock is subsiding some. I have come to appreciate my mind and my body - as well as God's infinite wisdom and grace. He allowed me to be numb and in shock - until I could begin to deal with Rick's death. It was so easy to think of Rick as just being at work, or off on the truck. That he would indeed call home, or get home once again. And then, came the day last week that the full realization that never again will I see him on this earth met me in the dark of the morning. The tears came, but with the tears came a peace that passes all understanding. I will see him again, when I have run my race and Jesus calls me home. Rick will be standing there, and after the "Welcome Home Child" from God our Father, the hugs from my Sweet Jesus, I will turn - and there will be my Sweetheart, healthy and whole. He will take me in his arms, he will hug me, he will kiss me on the forehead, and he will say "I love you. You did good girl." I will have the rest of eternity with my Sweetheart - but it will be different than here. So the "never again" remains. And I cry. I mourn. I grieve. For the "never again's".
I love my Sweetheart. I miss him like crazy. There is not one thing that I do not miss - even the arguments and the bad days. I miss Rick! Because I loved him, and I love him still. And because he loved me. I am such a blessed woman! To have been loved so completely and so absolutely - even on my bad days, even during the worst arguments. I was loved. I miss being loved.
Life goes on ... no matter what. Life goes on.
God is good ... all the time. And all the time ... God is good.
Psalm 27 ...
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, Lord, will I seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me Your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
86 days now ...
I have been out at Joshua's for the last 6 weeks. And I have little to no cell phone service, and only spotty at best Internet service. So, yes, I am behind ...
I did write some blog posts while I was out there, and I will be posting them here now -
Thank you all for reading these words, for your thoughts and your prayers. I could not have made it these 86 days without God and YOU. Thank you.
There are times that it is hard to breathe - the grief is so heavy and so very hard. God keeps saying that He, the God of angel armies, is always by my side. I have to hold onto that promise. I breathe in and I breathe out. One moment at a time.
I am learning that grief is not something that you get over. Grief is a product of love. The greater you love someone, the greater the grief. But Rick -- you were worth every moment of life we shared together ... and you are even worth these tears and broken heart. I love you Rick. I miss you so much!!!
I have loved Rick always ... and I will love him forever. Therefore, I will not "get over" him. EVER.
But grief is not a place to stop and stay in the sorrow either. It is a journey. A journey of tears. A journey of memories. A journey of laughter. A journey of LIFE.
So, I move on - forward. But not without Rick. For Rick will always and forever be in my memories, and in my heart. To me - he is just away, waiting on a woman. And I have full assurance that I will be going to him one day. Trusting in Jesus.
And as I move on - forward - I will cry ... buckets of tears. I will laugh - until I cannot breathe. I will love my children and my grandchildren - with a passion. I will breathe in and breathe out. One moment at a time.
Today, I am working on this website and these blogs. I will also be going thru some notes and cards from Rick to me, and from me to him. I have letters from friends and family. Just going thru some memory box stuff.
Mandy and Brooklyn helped me go thru a bunch last night - and we laughed, we cried, we remembered. And we moved thru it all - feeling Rick's smile on us.
I also have an appointment at 3:20 p.m. today in Greenville, with a Social Security doctor. This is supposed to be a determination for widow benefits. I am praying for God's favor in all of this.
I don't know what I am going to do ... or where I am going to be. People want to know - "what now?" ... well, I would like to know - "what now?" Sigh. But until I find out what Social Security is going to do - SSI and/or widow benefits - I am waiting and wondering. Trusting in God.
So why "Scattered Feathers" ? ? ?
You can read it here