Tag Archives: grief

18 years, 4 months, 3 days

I don’t normally remember until at least midday.  I can be sitting in front of my computer all day, writing checks, invoicing customers and generating receivables and payables.  All of these things include seeing the date many, many times.  Because we got married at Christmas time, we celebrated our anniversary on Valentine’s Day weekend.  Both of us were guilty of not remembering, and neither of us cared.  There were even times when we realized our anniversary had passed, and instantly called the other as soon as we recognized our faux pas.  Oops.

Today was different.  I recognized the upcoming date a few days into December.  I’ve been waiting for it to come; and for it to pass.  I held my tears, kept busy and felt like I had eaten a giant stone all day.  You know that feeling, when you’re not hungry or thirsty but know you should eat?  Drink water?  Fill your already full gut?

Today would have been 19 years.  Once upon a time, it felt like such an accomplishment and a massive blessing.  Now, it feels like we didn’t even have a chance.  What’s 18 years, 4 months and 3 days in the scope of forever?  How is it possible I don’t have forever with the man who gave of himself daily?  Forever didn’t last very long.

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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?

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.

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.