Tag Archives: death

Now?

I wish I could take everything I once knew about life and lock it in a closet.  These things:

  • Jeremy and I were each other’s everything and would always be, forever.
  • Our children who we adored knew our marriage and lived inside of that marriage; learning about love and truth and honesty and hard work.
  • We would never be apart, through thick and through thin, better or worse, sickness and health.
  • LOCK IT AWAY!  Before life happens and it’s too late.

It’s too late.  It’s now on me to move forward, this insolent life notwithstanding.  It, and everyone, expects me to move forward.  To get on with my life, stop pitying myself, stop spending so much time by myself.

How do I do that?  How do I make the choice to live again without him?  How can I possibly move in any direction?  I would be moving without him – what the hell?  Why would I want to?  I miss my husband who is gone forever.  I miss every single thing about him.  His smile, his snicker.  The way he walked, how he prayed over our dinner table and in our bed at night.  How he gave me a hard time about nothing and everything.  I miss his eyes, his strong arms and giant hands.  I miss his shoulders to lay on and cry on and rest on.  I miss his words and his voice, but especially his laughter.  I miss being held by him, feeling safe with him, walking side by side, hand in hand, always.  I so desperately want to hold him again, to be held by him.  My heart continues to break, every day.  Every night in my dreams, it breaks.  As long as I’m home, my heart is breaking.  Our house isn’t our home without him.  It’s empty, it’s callous, it’s dark.

What will Christmas be like without him?  The love of my life, my husband of 18 years was always the one working while I took care of Christmas.  The familys’ gifts, food, planning, decorating, cards, business gifts and cards, employees’ gifts and parties, etc.  The best part of all of it was Jeremy was there to enjoy the entire day.  He could just show up and be grateful and proud of me for taking care of it all.  His resting and relaxing and being with us was the best part of all of it.  Now?

What do you know?

Up and down.  Backward and forward.  In and out.  Happy and sad.  Push and pull.  Run and hide.

A couple of weeks ago, my bff and my sister plotted and schemed to get me out of my funk, get my ass out of bed and get on with my life.  It sounds like they were horribly mean and insensitive, but this is my summation, not their words.  It was my mantra the entire week I had their energy and steam to operate on.  I got out of my funk, got my ass out of bed and got on with my life – for 6 whole days.  I crashed on Day 7 and haven’t been able to do a single productive thing since.

“Haven’t been able to” really means I’ve chosen not to.  I feel like crap and know it’s all in my mind.  I’m tired.  I can’t get to sleep at night.  I’ve got random nerve pain throughout my entire body.  My muscles are so sore.  I’ve almost always got a headache.  Anxiety sometimes swallows me whole.  I’m lazy.  I’m overweight.  I’m pretty damn useless right now.

I can’t talk about Jeremy without crying.  Even if it’s just a simple “your dad would love this” moment.  I’ve tried several times to order his headstone; each phone call ushers in tears and and the hollow pain that burns inside with the weight of his memory.  I decided today I would finally take care of that monkey on my back, and I am.  But dammit!, not without death’s sting.  Where, O death, is your sting?  In every freaking room of this house, that’s where.  In every crevice of our lives, every box that’s checked ‘widowed’ instead of ‘married’, every permission slip that forgoes Dad’s name, every picture that is now proof of our past, every decision as a mom without a dad, a wife without a husband, a life without a reason.  

Sounds cryptic, I know.  Unaware or uncaring of Christ’s love and purpose that is my life, ungrateful for obvious blessings through this shitstorm and very unlike my attitude throughout this entire ordeal, I know.   I know, I know, I know.

God forgive me, I know.

Half-Life

Eastern Laramie County is a giant bubble.  Wearing Wranglers, cowboy hats and Carhartts and driving big pickups with deer bangers, every guy around here could be Jeremy.

I was 17 when my dad died suddenly.  For what seemed like forever, I would occasionally see someone in the crowd that caused my stomach to jump into my throat; a shorter, thin, dark haired man with glasses.  It didn’t happen often, but it went on for several years.  Honestly, I thought I would escape that with Jeremy.  I figured I was young, depressed, broken and scarred; losing Dad only added to the brokenness.  Now?  At 40 years old?  I’m a grown up, first of all.  Second, I’m not broken, I’m not depressed, but I guess I’m still scarred.  In less that 24 hours, 3 times I’ve thought I saw Jeremy.  3 times!  I know full well he’s not here.  He will not be working on a tractor in a ditch.  He will not be driving a pickup heading south.  He will not be at our daughter’s halloween party.  So how on earth does my mind even go there?

I had a nightmare last night.  Nightmares aren’t new for me, and from 14 to probably 30 years old they fueled a lot of my depression and anxiety.  I’ve started having them again since Jeremy’s been gone, and I think most of them have involved him.  He didn’t make an appearance last night.  I was fully aware in this horrible dream that he was gone forever.  It involved a friend of mine morphing into a crazed version of the woman who abused me.  I kept trying to hide, but no one could see the real woman.  Everyone thought she was the original friend and continued to give up my hiding spots, pushing me to my knees in front of her.  Since she knew I couldn’t hide from her, she would take coffee breaks with my friends, vacations with my friends – they could only see who they thought was my friend, not the bug-eyed, teeth clenched monster who was capable of causing my entire body to burn with pain just at the sight of her.  I kept struggling to get home to my kids, but whenever I would reach the boundary of this little city we were in, my friends would pop out from behind a wall with this monster in tow.  They laughed when I tried to resist her.  They gathered in crowds to laugh at my pain.  I don’t think they knew I was in pain.  Laughing, laughing, laughing.  It was of carnival horror proportions, complete with a broken mirror, spinning rooms and maniacal laughing.

I wondered today as I cried for my husband if this is what lies in store for me.  The hell that was my mind I have escaped before.  Am I that scarred that I’ve broken again?  I know I need to find a counselor again, but how do I even start that process?  When I used therapy before, both of the therapists just kind of landed in my lap.  It was nothing short of God providing a perfect path toward healing.  This time it’s different.  I know this is grief, but I hesitate to give in to that grief.  Any kind of healthy grieving I’ve done in the past has required the strong chest of my husband, with his strong arms tight around me.  Crying myself to sleep while cradled in his security.  Hearing his strong unwavering heart beat beneath my ear.  Listening to his billowing voice of comfort, telling me we can get through anything together, with Christ.

How do I operate without together?  I have Christ and Christ has me.  In my heart, I know I am nothing without His love.  His eternal love.  But today?  Today, my head is screaming for together.  We had become one, and now I’m just half.

Caitlyn Jenner and My Chemical Dependency

Before you begin, please take a moment to read this entry.  I need to remind you that I am writing about varied topics; controversial subjects in the church is my poison of choice today.

Yep, I’m one of the 17 million people who watched the Diane Sawyer/Bruce Jenner interview and all 8 episodes of “I Am Caitlyn”.  Out of curiosity?  Intrigue?  Boredom?  Nope.BRUCE-CAITLYN-JENNER-SPLIT-618Concerning Bruce Jenner, I’m of the ‘in-between’ generation.  Too young to have my own memories of his Olympic days and too old to know him as a Kardashian.  While I can’t attest to knowing of him through watching the ’76 Olympics (I was a one-year old), I do remember him from the Wheaties box and television commercials (those two might actually be one and the same, as I have no idea if I actually consumed Wheaties in 1977 as a two-year old J).  As a child, I knew Bruce Jenner as “The World’s Greatest Athlete”.

As an adult, I’m aware of his marriage to Kris (Kardashian) Jenner, his role on the TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and his adoration of his children, both real and step.  My knowledge stems solely from binge-watching at my BFF’s.  About once a year I visit her home and we spend a day chilling on the couch – snacking, surfing and selling our souls to the Reality TV gods.  She’s a DVR whiz and we can watch days’ of shows in just hours, all while our children enjoy their own binge-watching and freedom from us, upstairs.  Cuz what respectable mothers would allow their children to watch crap TV?  Certainly not us – we will watch crap in privacy, thank you.  I have seen enough of the show that I recognize him as Former Olympian and Gold Medalist, Former American Hero, Former Husband x2, Former Celebrity and Current Kardashian.  Whatever that means.

To teenage girls, twenty-somethings and even some in their thirties, it means he is relevant.  To my parent’s generation his relevance once was, and his American legacy still is.  The rest of us don’t have any real affection for or familiarity of Bruce Jenner’s life journey, yet the media and our news feeds believe we want to, we need to.  To know his story.  To feel his pain.  To listen to that journey.  To know why this man who had (has) it all needs to get more out of life, to be something different than what he has been – what he was born as.  Different than who was createdI, too, want to be something different than how I was created. 

I have Clinical Depression.  It is likely I was born with this condition as my mother, her mother, my grandma’s mother and even my father dealt with debilitating depression.  In addition to being genetically influenced, I was sexually, physically and mentally abused as a young teen.  In addition to being abused, my father died suddenly when I was 17.  My teenage son went through a difficult time that involved cutting.    My husband was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and we spent 47 days in the hospital while he had round-the-clock chemo treatments.  We were basically separated from our children during this time, as we were an hour and a half away from home.  The first night we came home his mother told us she was diagnosed with Melanoma of the liver – it had spread throughout her entire body, and she passed away 6 weeks later.  We buried her, then moved to Denver for my husband’s bone marrow transplant, again being separated from our son and daughter.  He was sick and hospitalized for weeks at a time, then finally came home on hospice.  We then decided to shut down our successful business that we had run for 8 years, using his disability insurance as income as well as paying latent business debt.  My sister’s family moved far far away to California after living only an hour and a half from us.  A close ‘friend’ of ours (albeit she disappeared when Jeremy got sick) accused us of being lying, cheating assholes; that we have used other people’s money to remodel our home (my brother and sister-in-law put in a new floor for us after tearing out the nasty, old and worn 13 year old carpet ruined by pets, greasy muddy drivers and mechanics and regular ol’ wear and tear while Jeremy was on hospice.  Word got out and I guess she assumed we used our vendors’ money to completely gut our house to ‘fit our lifestyle’).  Most recently, Jeremy passed away in May, so I am now a widowed mom to our 17 and 11 year old kids.

I have plenty of reasons to be depressed, on top of being born with skewed circuitry, low serotonin levels and a small hippocampus (not a college for hippos, but the base of the brain).  However, being clinically depressed with depressive situations does not necessitate suffering.  Being born with jacked up wiring and sluggish neurons does not mean I just accept it as is.  Who wants to live every single day feeling worthless, useless, burdened (and burdening), lost, sad, lonely and out of place?  And even further, who would ever insist that I must – just because I was born that way?  That I shouldn’t be treated and medicated?  Counseled?  Maybe even changed?  Who would suggest that I cope with my mental illness without these things?  That I power through, learn to deal, accept myself because that’s how I was born?

No one.

But Bruce Jenner?  He must power through, learn to play with the cards he’s been dealt, accept himself for who he was born as.  After all, that’s who he was created as.  A human being who identifies as feeling like a woman and having a male body.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s who you are.  Too bad.  Don’t change who God created.  You have no business doing such a thing, you fame-whore.  And at 65 years of age?  Why even bother?  You’ll be dead soon anyway.  You’ve suffered most of your life already, why can’t you just continue?  God doesn’t make mistakes.  If He wanted you to be a woman, obviously you’d have a vagina instead of a penis.  Just like if God wanted me to be sane and stable, able to raise my children and give to my marriage, I would have the proper and intended brain chemistry, giving me the mental and emotional capacity for love, patience and selflessness.  Wait, what?

Here’s the thing – I don’t have the brain chemistry that God intended, I have the brain chemistry that sin has ruined.  Just like you have the male pattern baldness that sin created.  God gave you healthy hair follicles, yet somehow in your early 20s they stopped functioning.  God created us in His image, yet we all know someone plagued by cancer.  Or mental illness.  Or Down Syndrome.  Childhood disease, being born with two genitals, cleft pallet, blindness, SIDS, juvenile diabetes, heart failure.  All of these are a direct result of sin.  Not the choices we make when we know we shouldn’t, but the sin that is in us and part of us.  The sin that separated Adam & Eve from God; making child bearing hard and working the ground even harder.  The sin that has interrupted and attacked our DNA.  We were created in God’s image, but sin has completely altered that creation.  It has permeated every generation and will continue until Christ returns and the New Earth is reinstated.  Nothing is as it was originally intended.  As it was created.

I depend on my counseling, my EMDR therapy, and my man-made medications and I don’t think any one of you would shame me for doing so.  My chemical dependency is what makes me function ‘normally’.  Concerning Caitlyn Jenner I truly believe God loves her just as he loves you (You think she’s fake?  Are you genuine in all circumstances?  She’s disgusting?  So are some of your habits, and at times, your character.  Caitlyn is confused and messed up.  You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.)  He created her.  In His image.  I don’t think He cares if she is male or female.  I don’t believe our souls are male or female.  They are souls.  Spirits which belong to Christ, not vaginas or penises wearing dresses or pants.  This world is so screwed up and painful due to indwelling sin – why are we adding to it by making people believe that God hates them?

He doesn’t, btw.  God. Loves. YOU.

Marriage Slippers

19 years ago I read an article in whatever magazine was sitting in the breakroom.  Jeremy and I were recently engaged, and this article was about the marital bedroom (I doubt it used those words – where am I, 1940?); my interest was piqued.

The author suggested only having things in your bedroom that pertained to your marriage.  No pictures of the kids, no refrigerator drawings, no decor from your college days or bachelor pad.  Beloved stuffed animals from your childhood?  Nope.  Pictures of you and your parents/friends/whoever?  Nada.  Pictures of the two of you with your favorite couple?  Negative.  Only things that specifically pertained to you as a married couple.

For whatever reason, this spoke to me as sound advice and I followed it for over 18 years of marriage (I say “I” because Jeremy had no part in decorating our home).  Our bedroom was our sanctuary.  Kids were not allowed to sleep in our bed, nor were they allowed to enter without invitation.  Even if the door was open, a knock and announcement of entry was required.  It was our favorite room, and we had a bedtime routine that we looked forward to every single day.  We knew that once we entered that room, we were safe to just be us.  Not Mom and Dad, not Employers, not Our Parents’ Children, or Our Siblings’ Siblings.  We were Jeremy and Michelle.  Husband and Wife.  Two Who Are One.

This article also addressed clothes being left on the floor, pantyhose (remember those?) hanging in the shower and clutter in general that accumulates in a bedroom.  How should you, as a loving spouse, react to these messes that will inevitably irritate the holy crap out of you?  Don’t.  Don’t react.  Don’t react?  Do.  Not.  React.

Um, whaaaat?

Q:  How in the hell do I make him pick up after himself deal with his mess?

A:  Pick it up and put it away for him.

Q:  I’m sorry, what??

A:  Yep.  Do it for him.  First, it will remove the irritating mess.  Second, it will be love shown.  Third, you will become a servant.  A servant of Christ.  Do not react.  Do not nag.  Do not beg or barter.  Do not yell.  Be his wife, not his mother telling him to clean his room.  Be who he wants to come home to at night.  Be who he thinks about all day.  Do not react.

Facebook showed me a memory from this day, one year ago.  It’s a picture of our cat Fiona sunbathing.  I noticed something in the picture that I hadn’t noticed before – Jeremy’s jeans wadded up next to his side of the bed.  One year ago, his jeans were wadded up next to his bed because one year ago JEREMY WAS STILL ALIVE.  His mess meant he was still present in this world, present as my husband, present as the kids’ dad, present as his sister’s brother, present as a friend.  He was present.  Here2015-10-13 14.59.27.  With me.  With us.

His bedside is uncharacteristically clean now.  There’s no water glass sweating all over his nightstand.  No piles of clothes.  No dirty dishes or empty beer bottles.  All that’s left are his slippers, reminding me of what once was.  I didn’t react.  I picked up his pile of clothes for the last time, without a peep of nagging.  God, thank you for giving me the gift of that article 19 years ago.  Thank you for acting through me to be a kind and loving wife.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Half a Second Turned Into a Long Day

Total and complete elation!  Complete and total devastation.

In my dreams, there’s a lot of confusion and wonder about where Jeremy is, what he’s doing and who he’s with.  We’re not sure why he’s not with us, but keep a constant search (in the midst of other nightmarey scenarios where I’m trying to protect the kids from aliens, intruders, the government and even wild animals).  Eventually, he shows up.  On a stretcher.  Or in his casket.

Then, the interrogation begins:

  • You do know you left us, right?
  • We had a funeral!  We buried you!  How can you be here?
  • How many times is this going to happen?
  • Why can’t you just stay here?
  • What should we do when your doctors find out?
  • Why are you here???

I’m not recalling any answered questions by Jeremy, in my recurring dreams.  But last night?  Last night was different.

We (you know, the collective of all of us, possibly including you) were outside a large metal building mourning his death.  A Sonic carhop enters the scene.  There were motorcycles, maybe even biker dudes.  Some people were laughing, remembering Jeremy and his Jeremy ways.  Some of us were frozen still.  In shock.  Not talking.  Too sad, too much.

From the back, in struts my husband and Jonathan and Caedmon’s dad.  Cowboy hat, 5 o’clock shadow, bright eyes and his swagger in full glory.  I kinda think he had a stalk of wheat dangling on his lips.  He was wearing Wranglers with a torn pocket and a turquoisey blue tshirt.  His square-toed boots, a worn brown leather belt and all of the confidence in the world were his perfect accessories.

No one even missed a beat.  He came up to me, put his arm around me, and I declared at an oddly normal volume, “We’re ok.  It’s going to be alright”.  Everyone cheered, smiled and dispersed.  Nothing was wrong anymore.  The kids were thrilled, yet none of us acted surprised he showed up.rise and fallThis morning, when I woke up to my blaring alarm, I was totally and completely elated.  Then I was completely and totally devastated.  All within half a second of waking up.

I’m Coming Out

I’ve been writing forever.  I remember deciding in 5th grade that it was my favorite thing EVER.  Somehow, words that can’t make it to my vocal chords are able to appear on paper (well, these days, posts and blogs).  This particular blog has been put on hold for a long time – due to working full time, taking care of my sick husband and now, completely unknown territory as a widowed mother of our two kiddos.  So, I’m coming out.

I’m coming out as that new widow.  A young widow.  An inexperienced widow not sure how to move on into a world without my life partner by my side.  A scared widow terrified of being solely responsible for raising our children, especially our 11 year old daughter.  A widow wanting to keep my husband’s life and legacy alive but unable to embrace his death.

I’m coming out with controversial ideas about God, His Son and our purpose in His Spirit.  Ideas that will surprise some and appall others.  My thoughts on scripture have definitely shifted and grown throughout my marriage, motherhood, relationships and life changes.  Life-altering changes.

I’m coming out as an aspiring writer and speaker.  I have a story to tell and I believe you want to hear it.  My hope is that you will want to share my story, fulfilling my intended purpose.  We all have a story.If-you-wish-to-be__quotes-by-Epictetus-94

I ask for your patience with my outdated website as I work on getting my crap together.  The only other writing I’ve been doing has been regarding our upside-down life these last couple of years which you can find here.  I will work on transferring all of that content to this website, removing irrelevant posts and creating an easy-to-navigate blog experience for you.

You have told me to write, and so I shall. 🙂

fighting through the sorrow

The storm yesterday seemed much too appropriate and ironic to be appreciated. It started a few days ago with the winds blowing from an unfamiliar direction, revealing to us that ‘something’ was coming. Winds from the southeast are always an indication of unsettling atmospheric conditions. The force that traveled through was unstoppable and nerve-racking. The helplessness that accompanies those heavy gales is paralyzing. I watched from the shelter of my home as my new baby tree was being whipped about. I groaned from behind the safety of my window as I saw the awning of our swing being shred to pieces. I reacted with shock and surprise as our pool was lifted off the ground and hurled over the privacy fence. I grimaced as I heard the siding being ripped from the house, exposing it to the ferocious wind and water to come. And come it did…

Once the tears started, cessation was impossible. I haven’t felt this kind of loss since my father died 15 years ago. This sensation of grief is on an entirely different plane.

I was a teenager when my dad died after 8 days in the hospital, waiting for a heart transplant. (He was a diabetic, and by the time he felt enough pain to go the ER, his heart had already deteriorated to 25%. One of the nasty side effects of diabetes is neuropathy, a condition where your nervous system is diseased and does not react to pain. Dad was moved from #14 on the national heart waiting list to #1. He had 2 hearts come into the hospital – the first one too badly damaged from a car accident, the second ended up containing cancer. After 8 days, he lost the battle for his life.) I was very young, and only knew Dad as a ‘weekend visit’ or ‘holiday break’. After we moved from New Mexico to Wyoming, the weekend visits had even come to a halt. Anyway, my point is, I was young and only knew Dad on a fairly superficial level.

Rhonda started out as a ‘mother-in-law’, as she was Jeremy’s second mom. Jeremy had dated their oldest daughter in high school, then the daughter’s best friend in college (yeah, he was a playa’). Boyd and Rhonda introduced him to Christ, and loved him as a son. When Jeremy wanted to propose, Rhonda was the one he called 4 times when he was buying my ring. “What should I get her?” “What will she like?” “Am I spending too much?” “Am I spending enough?”. She was bombarded with questions that day! It took me a while to warm up to her. I felt kind of odd having married her daughter’s ex-boyfriend. I assumed she wouldn’t like me for that reason alone. Of course, over the course of the next few months, I grew to love her. Our son was their first ‘grandchild’, though not by blood. They always opened their hearts and arms to him as though he was. Papa Boyd and Grandma Rhonda were his favorite people to be with. 10 years later, when Papa and Grandma come into church, he leaves Mom and Dad, and even friends, to sit with them.

I used to tell Jeremy that Rhonda was the perfect balance of a mother and mother-in-law. She was caring enough to ask about our lives and want to be part of our lives, yet she never intruded. That was definitely one of the perks to not being her actual children! We had the benefits, but none of the disadvantages.

Right now, it feels very odd and awkward to be on the outside. I don’t want to impose on the family’s time of planning Rhonda’s funeral, yet I don’t want to wait until then to see Papa. I had a voicemail last night telling me when the funeral was and would I please bring a salad or dessert for the reception? I already knew when the funeral was, as we talk to Boyd throughout the day. It felt like a knife in the heart to be expected to bring a food item to the funeral. Not that I can’t make a simple batch of cookies or a nice pasta salad, for crying out loud! But to be on the outside… We are not part of their family. We were a part of Boyd and Rhonda, but not their daughters. We were welcome into their home as family, but only until their daughter and grandkids moved in after a divorce. It’s been different since then. I never wanted to add to the chaos by having us and the kids stop in. It feels strange to be on the outside, especially now. What am I to do with this heartache?

Like our house, my heart has been exposed to the elements. Unexpected sorrow enters in with the pain, the anguish, the agony of having lost such a good friend and a woman whom we loved as a mom and grandma. The forceful winds gust through my soul and shake my sense of comfort. Rhonda was always available to talk to, ask advice of, and share life with. Granted, there was always a line to access such, but that’s only because of who she was and who she represented. She was a picture of Christ, inside and out. With all of her physical persecution, she still continued to work as hard as her body would allow her. She was committed to her husband, her home and her daughters. She put everyone else first, loving others more than herself. She very seldom complained of her ailments, even though she has been plagued with illness and injury for years.

I’m so very grateful and excited for her; for the fact that she is in God’s glory as I write this, and is without pain and suffering and tears. I’m so very broken and lamentable for what we have all lost as a friend, a sister, a mother, a daughter and a wife. The world is a lesser place for having lost such a remarkable human being and an incredible example of God’s love.