Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

The year is coming to a close.  My late husband, Steve, was always big on us making goals for the new year.  He didn't believe in resolutions.  He liked firm measurable goals with a deadline.  I always choked out a few, but my heart was never in it.  He was the visionary.  I really liked that about him, but I could never be that forward thinking.

Now, I am the solo captain of my ship.  I can't depend on Steve to light the way for our future.  I have to make those decisions.  And I'll be honest, I don't want to make them.

However, I've given some thought to some goals, big and small...well, mostly small, and this is what I would like to accomplish this year:

  1. Every day spend 15 minutes de-cluttering my house.  (Yes, I believe I am just one box load of junk away from an episode of hoarders.)
  2. Do some sort of vigorous exercise three times a week.
  3. Sell my house in Tuscaloosa and purchase a town home for myself with the proceeds.
  4. Continue my ballroom dancing lessons and continue to try to find a partner (just a dance partner...please don't read more into this!)
  5. Take one exotic trip before the end of the year.

Five goals. That's about all I can handle.  But it's enough.  I hope Steve Would be proud of me.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May 2012 bring blessings to you all.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weak Heart - Strong God

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks.  In addition to the stress of the holidays and the travel and gift buying, I've had some things come up completely unrelated that were shockingly unanticipated.

One step forward, two steps back.
Go ahead...kick a girl when she's down.
Merry Christmas to me.

I've been emotional, mad, a tad bitter, and now resigned to the fact that God knows a lot better than I do.

I've held this matter on my heart and laid it in God's hands.  This whole widow deal has taught me that I am in control of nothing.

Maybe that's a good thing.
I'd probably mess it up anyway.

Today someone remarked, "You are the strongest person I know."  I gave them a weak smile and thanked them for the compliment as my insides rang with "IF YOU ONLY KNEW WHAT A JIGGLING MASS OF JELLO I AM, YOU WOULD PITY ME RATHER THAN BE PROUD OF ME."

I am NOT strong.
I have a very strong God.
Thank goodness.


Monday, December 26, 2011

If the Mountain was Smooth...

I survived Christmas.

Okay...perhaps survived is a little dramatic.  However, I would be lying if I told you it was a breeze.  This is my second Christmas without my husband.  I thought it would be easier.  I was wrong.

At our church on Christmas Eve, we have family Lord's Supper.  Since two of my boys were at work, it was just son number three and me.  While large extended families went to the front to receive the cup and the bread, my family numbered only two.

Just us two.  My heart broke and the tears flowed.

The deacons administering the cup and bread knew the meaning of my emotions.  A large hand clasped around me and my little family was prayed for...lovingly, sincerely.

Christmas day services were equally emotional.  I thought I had shed all my tears the night before.  I was wrong.  But again, loving arms embraced me...and an invitation to Christmas brunch made the day brighter.

I was recently listening to a pastor on television and he shared the wisdom of an older woman in his church:  "If the mountain was smooth, you couldn't climb it."

God never promised us a smooth mountain.  He knew that an easy journey to the peak wouldn't bring out the best in us, especially me.

And so, I still climb this craggy mountain called widowhood...through every season.  Even though the going gets hard, I've got an expert climbing guide.  He knows the way.  I just need to be smart enough to follow Him.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silence at Christmas

I haven't posted in a while.  Holidays always put my life in a whirlwind, and this year is no exception.

In 1995, I buried my father on Dec. 24th.  Christmas has never been the same for me, much to the angst of my children and husband.

Last year was my first Christmas without Steve.  It was a blur...only a few months after his death.  I took my sons and went away for a tropical respite.  It was what we be be be together.

This year, work schedules, commitments, and finances make a trip away an impossibility.  I've had to face this holiday head-on.

The tree...a live one as family tradition dictates...was purchased just after Thanksgiving.  However, it stayed on the porch for almost two weeks.  I finally got it up a week ago, but it remained naked (or as we say in the South "neeked") until two days ago.

My youngest son helped me put on all the ornaments.  My ornaments are not classically beautiful, but each is a memory.  It was like walking through a visual timeline of my life.

My late husband's ornaments were saved and put on a small secondary tree.  It has a place of honor...right by the nativity scene.  I have a rolled up note with Steve's gift...a tradition I started last year.  I take the money I would have spent on a gift for him and do for another in need.  He would have liked that.  He was that kind of man.

All my friends received gifts made by my hands...a first for me.  Making them made me feel useful...creative...and each gift was made with love.

The major gift buying for my family is done...I'm down to the stocking stuffers.  I only need a few more things to make everything complete.

It would be remiss of me if I said that I have "survived" getting ready for Christmas.  It has been tough...there have been tears...there have been low periods.  However,  there has been light in this season for me.


Because I took my eyes off of me and turned them toward others.  In giving to others, I fully embraced the true meaning of Christmas.  Jesus would want His birthday celebrated that way.

So forgive my silence these past few weeks as I focused on others.  Know that in doing so, I have worked toward healing me.

Christmas blessings to you all!



Saturday, December 3, 2011

The World is NOT Flat

In our not so distant past, people thought the world was flat.  Sailors believed that when you came to the "end" of the horizon you would simply fall off the earth.  This seems silly to us now because the space program has provided amazing pictures showing us the whole picture of this big round ball we call home.

Things unseen are always scary.  We fear what we can not see.

At the Strait of Gibraltar the Spaniards erected an enormous marker at the narrowest point as a warning to all sailors.  The marker had three Latin words engraved on its surface:  Ne plus ultra.

Ne plus ultra.  "No more beyond."  

For almost a year and a half, I've lived my life like the ancient mariners.  I have feared what I could not see.  I was afraid to move beyond my horizons because I thought I would fall off the edge.  I have believed there was no more life for me beyond the one I had with my late husband.  

In 1400 and 92 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered the Americas, those myths about the world being flat were shattered.  Even Spain, who erected the Gibraltar marker,  acknowledged its mistake by marking their coins with the slogan Plus ultra.  "More beyond."

There is MORE BEYOND for me.  God already has a perfect plan for me.  No, I can't see that plan, but I trust that the hands of the Master are at work making it unfold for me in His time.

Thank you, Lord, for MORE BEYOND.


Saturday, November 26, 2011


I've lived a few of them.

My parents created a wonderland of security and comfort through their mutual love for each other and for my sister and me.  While I didn't appreciate it then, as I look back with adult eyes, I marvel at what a perfect childhood I had.  My parents gave me firm roots.  They had a bit of trouble with the wings part, but as a parent, I now appreciate that.

My childhood was my first fairytale life and while my childhood ended, I still, even today, reap the benefits of that life.

My marriage was my next fairytale

Steve and I had a storybook meeting...a blind date that would have never happened had we not been snowed in. the deep south.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Our life followed the true fairytale course...courtship, engagement, marriage, children, career success, etc.  There were "trolls" under some of our life's bridges, a wicked witch with a poison apple and few other dragons to slay to make our marriage work.  With a little bit of fairy dust and a lot of work, we endured.

This fairytale ended with Steve's death.  

Is there another fairytale for my life?  Is God's finger still writing?
I find myself looking so longingly at the pages of my ended story, that I don't think I would see a new story even if the book fell open before me. 
It's hard to move forward when you keep looking back.

I want a new fairytale.
Oh, Lord, what do you have planned for me? 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rising after a Fall

What titles describe me?  Mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, teacher, widow...

So many titles....but I focus on the one:  WIDOW.

While being a widow will always be a part of my life's story...does it define me?  
Is that all I am?
Why, no!

So why do I make that title so important?
Would it diminish my love for Steve to choose to view myself as ME rather than me the WIDOW?

Steve's death certainly caused me to fall,
but I am rising.

How does the world define me now?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Losing my husband shattered me. 
My heart was battered.
My spirit hopelessly broken.

Over the last 15 months God has slowly put the broken pieces of my life back together.  I do believe this would have been a more efficient process if I had put Him completely in charge...but sometimes I forget the job of God is filled.

It's all about TRUST.  I begin to heal when I trusted God...His reasons for taking Steve...His promise to never leave me or forsake me...His plan for my life and future.

I've been listening to a Contemporary Christian band named Fireflight.  Their song, "Unbreakable," really speaks to me and mirrors my feelings on my journey toward wholeness. 

I am ready to be UNBREAKABLE.


Sometimes it's hard to just keep going
But faith is moving without knowing
Can I trust what I can't see?
To reach my destiny
I want to take control but I know better 

God, I want to dream again
Take me where I've never been
I want to go there
This time I'm not scared
Now I am unbreakable, it's unmistakable
No one can touch me
Nothing can stop me

Forget the fear it's just a crutch
That tries to hold you back
And turn your dreams to dust
All you need to do is just trust

Sunday, October 30, 2011

This much I know is true…

Becoming a widow has changed my perspective in life, but my core values and beliefs have changed very little.  Below are some truths that are steadfast with me.  These are just "stream of consciousness" and are not in any organized order.  Some are serious...others are whimsical...but each expresses my heart.  Enjoy!

  • Choosing to smile will make you feel better.
  • Words hurt worse than sticks and stones.
  • Cherry Limeade from Sonic cures depression.
  • Ninety-eight percent of the things you worry about never happen.  The things that devastate you are ones you never imagined happening.
  • Failure only happens when you quit.
  • Forgiveness doesn't let someone off the gets their hooks out of you.
  • Being authentic is liberating...and takes a lot less effort and money than trying to be someone you're not.
  • Socks do disappear in the dryer.
  • People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
  • Friends are the family you get to choose.
  • Being a whiner doesn't solve your troubles, but it does make people want to avoid you.
  • You can judge a person's character by how they treat someone who can't do anything for them.
  • You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  • A person who has nothing to hide, hides nothing.
  • Mistakes are proof that you are trying.
  • Be kinder than necessary.  You never know what private battles a person is fighting.
  • Any statement followed by the word "but" is a lie.
  • It's okay to say NO.
  • When life knocks you to your knees, it's probably a good time to pray.
  • You can't do everything, but you can do something.  Choose to do something everyday that helps someone.
  • We are all guilty of underestimating the worth of people we love.
  • People who take joy in hurting others have massive self-worth issues.
  • Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
  • Coffee is liquid sunrise.
  • Never settle.  Never.
  • Talking about isn't as important as praying about it.
  • It's important to listen to the whispers of your heart.
  • Your life is about a good as you decide it's going to be.
  • Never quit learning.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
  • Love IS the answer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Live and Move

A year ago I was so consumed with grief that every movement was painful.  However, I knew that if I ever stopped moving that I would never get up.  So, I got through each day minute by minute.  
Then hour by hour.
Then day by day.

Sure, I was only going through the motions...but at least I was in motion. I was alive and functioning at a minimal level, but it kept me moving.  And moving helped me relearn how to live.

Then one day, I woke up and I had a buzz of energy.
Shock. How could this be?
Guilt set in.
I must be breaking all the rules of widowhood.

But the buzz of energy remained
And after a while, I admitted to myself
That it felt deliciously good.

And so through this year I have slowly eased back into life.
No, it's not the same life.
My husband's absence is always evident
And I miss him dreadfully.
But every moment of my day
Is not clouded by the patina of grief
nor is the undertow of pain so overwhelming.

Little by little
I'm loosing my hold on a past I cannot keep
And getting on with the life I have.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Okay, I'll admit it.  I've become addicted to Pinterest.  

If you're not familiar with this site, Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. It lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people and get inspiration and great ideas from them.

I've become quite enamored with "upcycled" things...taking things you would throw away or buy at a thrift store or garage sale and turn them into something useful or beautiful.  You know what they say, one person's trash is another person's treasure...

I like the whole UPCYCLING idea.  

Cast away to keep sake.

Trash to treasure.

Useless to useful.

God is the Master upcycler.
He can take this damaged life of mine and breathe something wonderful into it.
I don't know God's timing, but I do know His intent:

"For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." ~~ Isaiah 43:19~~

I'm ready for my UPCYCLE, Lord.
I'm trusting in Your will and schedule.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who shares your umbrella?

This past week during my fall break vacation to the beach we had a miserably rainy day.  The fog rolled in over the ocean and the low spots quickly filled with water.  There would be no beach bathing for us this day.

Not to be outdone by this storm, my friend and I ventured out to shop.  The problem was, we only had one umbrella, which we were determined to share. We giggled the whole way, each of us holding the umbrella in the middle.  Dashing from our car to the stores and stepping over (and sometimes through) the puddles, we made a good day of it together.

We came back to our condo a wet mess, but full of packages and bags.  The day was a success and I was glad that we didn't avoid the storm by staying inside.

That's how it's supposed to be, I thought. None of us are meant to walk through the rain alone. 

For too long, I tried to walk through the storm of my grief alone.  I was determined to carry the umbrella solo.  I don't know if I was too proud to ask for help, afraid my grief would scare people away, or simply didn't know what I needed.  How stupid of me to waste those months.

Jesus calls us to that middle place. He asks us to take hold of that handle. "Love one another," he says. One another--that's two people under the umbrella, giving and receiving and carrying the load together.

I have some friends that are going through some pretty bad storms in their lives right now.  It's time for me to hold out the umbrella and help share their load.

No storm lasts forever.  Eventually the skies will clear and we'll share the joy after the rain.  Maybe a rainbow will appear or we'll jump in a puddle or two.  And we'll be glad that we shared the umbrella together.


Monday, October 10, 2011


I love the Rascal Flatts song "Stand."  It's been my grief battle hymn since Steve died.  I've spent time on my knees, I wanted to give up, I've bent til I thought I would break...but when push came to shove, I've done alright.

A little bit of heaven floated down on me Saturday.  
I felt JOY...real joy.  
The joy of doing something good and for a good reason.  
The joy of accomplishment, camaraderie, of belonging.  

I danced again. 
I smiled again.

And the song was right...

"Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place"

The pieces are slowing coming back together, Steve.
And I'm not just standing...
I'm dancing...
And I don't plan to hang up my dancing shoes.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

God Wink

Saturday is a watershed night for me.  After 6 months of practice...costume and shoe purchases, eyelash extensions and a fake tan...I will perform on stage in our local Rotary Club's "Dancing With Our Stars" fund raiser for children's literacy.  

I was stunned to be asked to be a "star."  I have no ballroom dancing experience and I don't have a "high profile" in our community.  However, one of the organizers is a friend and she thought this challenge was just what I needed to get "the light back in my eyes."

I was blessed to be paired with a pro who was a patient, kind, and gentle teacher.  I was anxious about being touched, and he graciously waited until I was ready.  After several months without touching he finally said, "You know...eventually, we DO have to touch...close your eyes and dance."  And did I dance!  

We are dancing the samba and while every step isn't perfect, we really have a good time out there shaking our stuff.  I hope we do well Saturday, but even if we come in dead last, this has been a winning experience for me.

I've fallen in love with ballroom dancing.  I began taking a ballroom dancing continuing education class last night through the local university to expand and fine tune my skills.   It was a little awkward because I didn't have a partner and I felt that sinking sensation of being alone in a couples world again.  Then they played the first song to teach us the waltz, "With You I'm Born Again" by  Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright.

That song was sung at my wedding.
And it felt like Steve was saying..."Go for it baby!"
It was a God wink for sure.

I'm going for it, Steve.
I hope I make you proud.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Meltdown Monday

It was a meltdown Monday.
Tears.  Frustration.  Pain.  Longing.

Too many responsibilities on my plate.
Too many spinning plates.
Unexpected snags...
Unforeseen expenses...
Situations needing mending...

Shouldering life alone is not for the weak of heart.

When does this get easier?

Maybe tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From Point A to Point B

The drawing? It’s about the journey from Point A to Point B.

The top?  It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s a straight line.  When life is good and the living is easy, moving from point A to B can be a direct path.  Usually, there are no messy roadblocks…pits that you can fall into…or mountains to climb.  Just a gentle cruise from where you are now to where you want to be.

The bottom?  It’s my life right now…two steps forward and three steps back.  There isn’t a clear path, but I’m beginning to see a process to this madness called my life.  Right now I’m trying to figure out the BEST way to get from Point A to Point B.  I know there are people reading this who will think the grief process should be like the top one.  They’ll wonder why I’m not through..I’ve had plenty of time to wander around the bottom one.  Certainly the top one would be quicker, but would it be better?  Do I really have to rush through all this without the time to process things? 

Quite frankly, grief isn’t linear. 
There isn’t a one-path-fits-all way through it. 
Grief is messy and lengthy and hard. 

I’m taking the long way because that is what fits my needs.
And it’s okay if you don’t get it.
I do.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Broken Places

I would be a liar if I told you that I don't have broken places in my life and heart.  While grief is the greatest among them, it is not alone.  I don't think anyone goes through life without having circumstances or people leave cracks in our spirit.

I've been through three major life-changing tragedies in my life.  All three involved the death of someone or something.  I wouldn't wish these events on any person.  

Each one shattered me...and yet, somehow, I have survived each one.
During the lowest points, I didn't want to live, but I did.
These circumstances caused me to lose my health, my hope, and my heart, but I found each one again.

I truly do believe
I have grown strong
In my broken places.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Day

I woke up this morning thinking of you.  It’s game day.  GAME DAY!  I’m sure we’d be in Tuscaloosa for the game if we had tickets.  It’s a big game today, and you would already be up and have your game day clothes on and be ready to watch the Tide roll. 

Alabama football was a passion we shared.  We had so much fun when we were students…sitting up in the student section with our red Alabama hats with our past game tickets stuffed in the hatbands.  You’d always need a new shaker because every game you would chew the handle down on the one you had.  We’d be dressed in the official fraternal game day dress.  You:  khakis, white button down shirt, Alabama tie, and blue blazer.  Me:  Sunday dress, hose, and high heels.  And we’d have those hats on! When we were in school, it was the glory days for Alabama.  Coach Bryant was king of the hill and Alabama was a powerhouse.  In our four years at Alabama, we only lost five games total and won two back-to-back national championships.  We lived and breathed for the Tide. Gosh…those were good days.

While I still love our team, the games aren’t as fun without you.  I’ve only been back to Tuscaloosa once since you died…and I sparingly watch the games on television.  It just hurts too much to cheer alone.

But I’m going to cheer today. 
I’ll say a big Roll Tide for you. 
I’ll sing Rammer Jammer for you if we win. 
And I will remember all the great game days we had with a smile.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This Hole in My Heart

Yes, I still have a hole in my heart.  I know many think that I should have healed from my loss and started with my new beginning.  Believe me, I've tried.  I've stuffed a lot of things into that hole trying to fill it up.  Nothing fits quite right...and nothings ever fills it.

I've begun to think that the hole will be there forever.  Even when the tears have lessened... and the pain is not so raw...I think the hole will remain.  You see, Steve carved a place into my very soul.  Years of love and togetherness made his place secure.  And now that he is gone, there is nothing that can fill the void of his absence.

I've decided that it is my job to find something positive to do with that hole.  I think turning it into a wellspring of goodness is a start.  I have much to give and God willing, a lot of years left to give it.

What's in my well?
Willingness to listen
Openness to others
Bringing out the best in others

All these things I can do.  Steve would be proud to have the place he carved in my soul filled with good things.  I think it would make me proud, too, for it would be finding a way to let God's light shine from a place of darkness.

And darkness has no place in the light of Christ.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9-11

Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001.  I was at school, teaching as usual, when another teacher came to my room and said there had been a plane accident in New York.  Later, office staff came around and apprised us of what really happened and we were told to not share the news with the children. 

I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  My students knew something was wrong.  I assured them that I was fine and continued on with a regular routine.  When parents began checking their children out of school in great numbers, my own worry was mirrored in the faces of my students. 

At the end of the school day, no one stayed and worked late.  We all rushed home to our families… to hug our spouses…our children.  Our eyes were glued to the horror on the television screen.  Later that evening, our church opened and we were filled to capacity.  As we prayed for the families of those lost and those missing, we were reminded that this could be us.  We set a course of action to help.

The whole nation turned out to help.
People put aside their politics, personalities, and preferences.
In all my years, I have never seen such unity.
We became ONE people.
It was our finest moment as a country.

We all face our own personal 9-11s. 
The day our world stops turning.
Mine was 7-5-10.
And while the horror of that day still haunts,
I cannot forget the unity of my friends, family, and community in my time of loss.

So many kindnesses extended on behalf of my family.
Funeral planning.
My friends bathed me, did my hair and make up…dressed me.
They slept with me for a week so when I woke up in terror, they were there to soothe me.
There were flowers, cards, and memorial donations.
I could go on and on…

During MY 9-11, I saw the people I love at their finest.
For this I will always be grateful and


Saturday, September 10, 2011


I realized today that I’ve been avoiding taking pictures.  In the past I was a total shutterbug…always the one behind the lens, capturing all the moments of life.  It’s almost as if I’m not there, because I’m missing from all the photos. 

After taking the photos I took great pride using my digital art skills manipulating the photos and creating desktops and scrapbook pages.  I have an entire external hard drive full of them.  And the frames full of those photos...too many to mention.

But I don’t take photos any more.  I don’t do digital art.  I don’t frame things.
My view through the lens is incomplete.
Steve is missing.
And I can’t imagine a photo without him.


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Scent of a Man

I’m not a grandparent yet, but I do have a granddog.  Her name is Ginger and she is my eldest son’s best friend.  She loves that boy of mine…it’s a Where the Red Fern Grows kind of love.  When he is gone, she misses him so much that she drags anything with his smell on it…hat, shirts, socks, shoes, pants …to where she perches on the couch.  She lays there with all his things around her…soaking in his smell.  It seems to make her less lonely for him.

In the first months after Steve died, I was much like Ginger.  I would go into his closet and nuzzle in his coats and jackets.  They still had his wonderful smell.  I would hug them and cry into them.  And like Ginger, it made me a little less lonely for Steve.

But 14 months have passed and Steve’s smell is gone
And I don’t have that to make me
A little less lonely.

It is my great fear that as time goes on
I won’t even remember his smell.

And knowing that might happen
Makes me ache for him.

I ache for him.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lonely in a Crowd

The loneliness of widowhood is beginning to slowly seep into the hollows of my heart.  It is a disheartening and distressing realization.

I’ve always been a loner.  I, weirdly enough, enjoy my own company. 
But I know it isn’t healthy or wise to cloister myself in my home.
However, that is where I feel the least alone.

You see, I’m lonely in a crowd.  
I live in a world built for couples,
But I’m the unaccompanied single
The one who sticks out like a sore thumb.
It’s a tentative place to be.
It’s a place I’ve begun to avoid.

I had several invitations over the Labor Day weekend
A party.  A football get-together.  A cookout.
Each I declined, or, in very bad taste, just didn’t show up.
I just couldn’t muster the strength to plaster on my smile
And be with a crowd of happy people.

My friends and family were so sweet to include me,
And I am a total twit for staying home
and feeling  sorry for myself
and sleeping away my long weekend.

How do I push through this?
How do I learn to be okay as a single in a crowd?
How do I find group activities that don’t make me feel
Like a square peg in a round hole?
I’m not finding those answers easily.

But this I know…


But that is what I am.


Monday, September 5, 2011

"I am sorry for your loss."

I am always in a quandary when people say this to me.  
How do I respond?  

Do I say, "Thank you"?
I am certainly NOT thankful for my loss.

It's easier when someone you don't know or don't know well says the customer service representative at the power company or someone at the county clerk's office.  

But when someone I know well....or knew my Steve well says it...
I want to scream....

You're sorry?
You have no idea.
I'm sorry my husband is gone.
I'm sorry I go to bed every night alone.
I'm sorry I'm a single in a couple's world.
I'm sorry I'm alone.
I'm sorry I have to handle all this, sale of property, legal and taxes...on TOP of my grief.
I'm sorry my sons don't have a father.
I'm sorry that people have cut me and my boys out of their lives because Steve is gone.

But I don't say any of that.
I usually say, "Thank you," and scuttle away quickly.

I know that it is hard to know what to say to a grieving person.  
What you need to know is that the grieving person doesn't know what to say back, either.

I reconnected recently on Facebook with a friend from my childhood.  When she realized that I had been widowed from reading my posts, she sent me a private message.  

"I have no words...I can not comprehend your loss...know that you are loved and lifted in my prayers."
This was the perfect thing to say.  
She admitted that she didn't know what to say.
She admitted that she could not empathize with my loss.
She bolstered me with her love and prayers.

She WAS sorry for my loss, but she didn't minimize it with those words.
Thank you, friend.  
You said the perfect thing.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grief X 2

Those of us who have lost loved ones belong to fraternity of grief that we never wanted to join.  Each of us walk our own path of pain that no other person can understand.  While others can sympathize and provide help and support, they can not diminish the weight of grief. 

I have a long time friend and colleague who lost her beloved husband in July, exactly one year after I lost mine.  Her husband fought a long, valiant fight with cancer.   

This weekend, her youngest son was brutally attacked and lays in the NICU in a coma.  While we have prayed fervently for his healing, the doctors have given a very grim prognosis.  My friend and her oldest son have made the painful decision to move him into a private room for end of life care.

My community is reeling from this horror.  On a personal level, I am broken.  I watched this young man grow from a toddler into a man  I was his teacher in fourth grade.  He had just recently graduated from law school and was preparing to take the bar exam.  

His life was just beginning...
And now, it is at its end.

How does my friend cope with the loss of her husband and son in less than two months?

While I understand grief, I can not fathom the intensity of this much loss in such a short period of time.

I ask for your prayers for this family.  
Prayers for their comfort and strength.  
Prayers to find light in this darkness.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving on?

Moving on.
People keep asking me if I'm "moving on."

Moving where?

I'm still here
In the same spot
With vastly different circumstances.

It's hard to move when you have one foot in the past
and the other afraid to step in the future.

I'm stuck.

How do I get unstuck and move on?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mother: My Steel Magnolia

I love the movie Steel Magnolias.  The women are Southern, strong, and sassy.  

There is a scene in this movie that so reminds me of my mother.  The family has made the painful decision to let Shelby go.  The machines are turned off.  Shelby's father and husband say their goodbyes and leave, unable to be there when she dies.  However, her mother, M'Lynn, stays until the very end.

She was the only one.
She stayed by her daughter's side the whole time
Until her last breath was drawn.

Sitting in the waiting room are the men, shell shocked and full of indecision. M'Lynn, weary with physical and emotional exhaustion from the ordeal, walks in and pans the room. With the strength and clarity that only a steel magnolia could muster, M'Lynn remembers all the details that must be done and puts the men to work. 

The right clothes.
The right funeral home.

And then she is off...
To find the closest thing to her daughter she can find.
Her daughter's son.

My mother was there for me like that.  
Though she didn't lose her son, she loved Steve like a son.
And like the steel magnolia she is, 
She remembered all the details that had to be done and did them.

And she cared for my sons
Because they were the closest thing to Steve she could find.
And she cares for them still.

I am blessed.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strong for Too Long

I've been tearful quite a bit in the last few weeks.  It has really bothered me and I talked to a friend about whether or not I may have depression.

Goodness knows, I have every reason to be depressed.
But I don't feel depressed
Despite the fact that I cry a lot
And I'm tired all the time 
And want to sleep away every uncommitted moment I have.

Then I found the quote above...

I've spent the last year tackling the biggest hurtles of my life while grieving the loss of the great love of my life.  It has taken every ounce of strength I possess to do this.

What I have realized is that I am

I am weary of being strong.
I am weary of being in charge.
I am weary of carrying the pain of grief.

No wonder I am prone to tears.
No wonder I am tired.
No wonder I want to sleep all the time.

I've been strong for too long.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Need to Forgive

"Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other." ~Lewis B. Smedes~

Today our Sunday School lesson was on forgiveness.  I'm a pretty forgiving person.  I have realized the futility of holding grudges.  In the recovery classes I teach, I tell my ladies that forgiveness doesn't let the one who hurt you off the hook; it just gets their hooks out of you.  

As the lesson went on and I began to truly examine my heart, I realized there were a few people in my life that I've allowed to hurt me over and over.  Actually, their actions are not overt...their hurt is caused by the act of omission.  

Abandonment.  It is hard to come to terms with being avoided...forgotten...
Especially by people who say they love you.
Especially when you are drowning in grief.

But I need to forgive.  
I will forgive.


Friday, August 12, 2011


I never realized how broad my husband's shoulders were until he was gone.  He cradled my head in the crook of his shoulder and I would nuzzle in comfort in the hollows of his neck.  I felt safe there...harbored from all the hazards of life.  He carried all the real weight in our marriage.  While I felt so helpful doing this and that, too late have I realized how trivial were the things I did compared to what he did.  

Now, I shoulder life alone.  
No comforting hollows to make me feel safe.
No help with the heavy load of life.

How am I going to do this without him?


Thursday, August 11, 2011


I dropped my basket yesterday.

My youngest son had a tooth ache that gave him a chipmunk cheek.  He was five hours away at school.  His roommate called me to let me know.  When I finally talked to my son he admitted that the tooth had hurt for a while, but he didn't say anything because he didn't want anyone to work on him but his daddy.  

My baby had been hurting for months because his daddy had been the only dentist he had ever had.

His pain broke my heart.

His grief broke my heart.

It was a heartbreaking day.

The doctor that bought my husband's practice graciously worked on my son for several hours today and got him out of pain and formulated a treatment plan to handle this problem.  I am fortunate that he treats us like family.  

But my heart is still broken that my son misses his father so much.

You never get over losing your daddy.

I know from experience.


Monday, August 8, 2011


A soulmate is someone who will make you be the most "you" that you can possibly be.

I grew up in a wonderful home with loving, supportive parents.  It was just my sister and brothers.  Needless to say, my father was VERY protective.  He never let us drive out of our city...or pump our own gas...or not know exactly where we were at all times.  When I left on a date, Daddy would hand me a dime (yes, I'm showing my age) for me to call if I needed him.

I did not marry a man like my father.  My father was husband was spontaneous.  My father always had a husband planned as he went.  My father husband spent.  About the only things they had in common were their drive, their work ethic, and their love for me.

My husband, Steve, gave me my wings.  He nudged me out of my comfort zone...challenged my ideas...and made me look at things from different perspectives.  All the daring and wonderful things I have done in my life have been because my husband either encouraged me or shoved me into them.  He required that I be independent...and I can never remember him telling me "no" to anything I wanted to try.  

Though I couldn't see it when he died, now, a year later, I can see that Steve prepared me to live without him.  He made me make decisions, believe in what I wanted, and chart a course of direction for my life.  

He helped me be me...
And I like who I am...
That's what a soulmate does.


Saturday, August 6, 2011


This quote struck a chord in me.  The truth of those words was an epiphany. My life’s hurts and hard times HAVE made me wiser.

Life is funny...first comes the test and then the lesson follows.  Too often, I've failed the test, but those are the times that I have learned the most.  It's hard to believe I am wiser for it, but I am.

While I would never wish the pain I have endured over the last year on anyone, I would say that the journey through my grief has made me a better person...stronger...more thankful...more open.  I have learned lessons along this path that only this pain could bring.

As a parent, I have tried to shield my sons from pain and hardship.  While this maternal instinct is grounded in love, I don't think I've always done my sons a favor in harboring them from all the storms in life.  They truly needed some good doses of falling and failing to help them learn how to get up, dust off, and move forward with the wisdom of what NOT to do the next time. 

And they needed to do this themselves...without my intervention.  Another lesson learned after the test.


Monday, August 1, 2011


I have found that nothing in my life has made me feel more vulnerable than becoming a widow.  The learning curve on this new life is steep and there are lots of landmines along the way.  While this grief journey has brought out the very best in me, it has also accentuated the very worst.  I am skittish and insecure.  I think that is part of the whole widow deal.

But what if I could learn to embrace my vulnerabilities and imperfections so that I could engage in this new life thrust upon me from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do I cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that I need to recognize that I am enough just the way I am?  How to I convince myself that I am worthy and capable of love, belonging, and joy?

I don't know if you are familiar with TED Talks.  If you have some time, you need to peruse the TED site.  The speakers are amazing and from all walks of life.  However, each has something unique and powerful to share.

I love this poignant, funny talk talk by Brene Brown. She studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. She shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. 

I enjoyed Brene's talk so's lengthy, but powerful and worth your time.  I hope you'll watch.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not the End of My Story

I know that the death of my husband did not end the story of my life, but it did end many, many chapters of it.  For a year, I've closed the book of my life and remained in stasis.  It's time to open the book again and move forward.

I don't know what direction I am going to take from here, but I know that  changes have to be made.  For those of you that know me, change is NOT my friend.

These are some things I am contemplating:

  • returning to grad school and getting my doctorate
  • moving out of this big house an into a town home
  • taking a photography class
  • taking more ballroom dancing classes 
  • taking my freelance writing seriously and submit articles on a regular basis
  • taking yoga again
  • volunteering as a tutor at the Children's Home

With school starting on Monday, I've picked a rotten time to do something new, but I'm going to pick one and go with it.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

perfection is being beautifully imperfect

This little video so wonderfully expresses what I miss about my Steve.  Truly, those imperfections are what I miss so much.  I knew every scar on his body.  How ugly his feet were.  The incessant way we would push all my buttons so I would blow up and we could make up.  His forgetfulness.  Him being a morning being a night person.

There are dozens more.

Oh, how I miss them.

How I miss Steve.

More every day.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

To my son, Paul

Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.  ~David Thomas

When my husband died, my eldest son, Paul, gave up his graduate studies and a wonderful job as a graduate assistant to move home and take care of me.  I did not ask him to do this.  He just knew I needed him.

This decision was costly for my son.  He left behind his support system of friends, a job he loved, and graduate credits that wouldn’t transfer.  Coming home as an adult is difficult in the best of circumstances.  I can’t imagine what a nightmare it has been for him to live in a house of grief.

But he came.

And he stayed.

He is here still.

How do you thank someone for that kind of sacrifice?

Paul has been my great support and held me up when I could not stand.  He has been a problem solver and has taken care of countless details and decisions.  He has become the man of this house. 

I am blessed to be his mother.

His father would be so proud of him.

So, thank you, Paul, for helping me pick up the pieces of our shattered life and gently put them back together again.  Thank you for being strong when I wasn’t.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally and sacrificially.  Thank you….for being YOU.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Answers to WHY

 I have now entered my 2nd year of widowhood.  I never thought I would survive the first year, but somehow I did. I don't say that with pride, but sheer astonishment.  I really can't believe I am still living and breathing. 

In the book, "The Prayer of Jabez," by Bruce Wilkinson, he poses a question: "If the God of heaven loves you infinitely and wants you in His presence every moment, and if He knows that heaven is a much better place for you, then why on earth has He left you here?"

That is a good question.

Why DID God leave me here?

Steve was far more intelligent and giving than I. He was a better parent. His gifts and talents helped people far and near. He loved life and was working so hard training for the Iron Man. He was valuable to our community, our church, and his friends.  His dental team and patients needed him, his Sunday School class needed him, hurting people on the mission field needed him, our sons needed his wisdom, calm, and encouragement, and heaven knows I needed him like the air I breathe!

God should have taken me instead.

But He didn't. Why?

It's taken me a year to begin to distill an answer to that WHY.  I believe God has left me here because my mission for Him here is not complete.

I've said it before; God never lets a hurt go unused.  I am convinced that the hurts in my life will provide me the vehicle for completing my mission: to reach people for God. Through this blog, I touch people I've never met.  I counsel the grieving and encourage them. I have a heightened sense of empathy for the hurting and am drawn to meet their needs.

As I step out of my “grief cave”, put myself out in the world, and open the eyes of my heart, I know that God will send me providential encounters with people with whom He wants me to meet and minister.

Do I have the complete WHY answer?  No.  I'm just going to have to walk daily by faith and know that, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Steve's Angelversary

This is the last picture I have of Steve.  He competed in a triathlon in Mississippi and took fourth place.  Seven days later he was gone.  Steve’s angelversary is coming up next week…July 5th to be exact.  It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for a year.  My life has changed so much over the last 12 months.  While there has been great pain, frustrations, sadness, and loneliness, God has blessed me over and over.  It has been liberating to lay my life at His feet and live totally by faith.

Yesterday, I sold Steve’s practice.  It was a bittersweet day.  It was a blessing to sell it, as my deadline to do so was less than a week away.  And, the man who purchased it is exactly who the Team and I prayed for all these long months.  He will keep Steve’s legacy alive and continue to provide Steve’s patients with kindness and skilled care.  But it was sad, too, as it was the end of a dream.  Steve and I put so much of our life into that practice.  It was a shining pinnacle of his hard work, wisdom, and skill.  Selling the practice was a bit like selling Steve.  I don’t expect others to understand this feeling, but it is there, nonetheless.

I will be taking a sabbatical, as it were, for a couple of weeks, to regroup, rest, and reflect.  I’m going to try to go without electronics, including my phone and computer.  I plan to enjoy my family and listen for God’s still, small voice pointing me in my new direction.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Twenty-Seven on the 27th

Today is my eldest son's 27th birthday.  Twenty-seven on the 27th.  The coincidences of the numbers is obvious.  The 27 numerology is like a God Wink.  (Thank you, Jennifer for sharing this book with me:  When God Winks at You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence  by Squire Rushnell.)  I felt like Steve was telling my son, "I love you all the time."

The last time my son was with this father while he was still conscious was on his 26th birthday.  I don't think that is lost on him and it has been a somewhat difficult birthday for him.  He goes tomorrow to have the family crest tattooed over his heart.  This is his tribute to his father...and my birthday gift to him.

I have too often discounted my sons' grief.  I've been so consumed with my own that I have failed to meet their needs during this difficult time.  I hope one day they will forgive me for not doing my best for them.  Now that I am coming out of the fog of numbness, I will vow to do better for them...and they deserve it.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Lend a Help to a Widow

Despite having two widowed grandmothers growing up and my own mother a widow at a young age, I never understood the plight of a widow until I became one last year. How could I? With my husband’s sudden death after four years of dating and a great 29-year marriage, everything changed in an instant and my life went into a tail spin. So much was happening, and I had no idea what to do.

I had to handle a funeral and burial with no money.  (Thanks, Mom, for helping me.)  Eighty percent of our family income disappeared and I had three sons in college. I had to tackle insurance, estate things, debts, and for the first time in my life, handle finances and the paying of bills. I had to find a buyer for my husband's practice on a very firm time-line.  My boys' college garden home sustained major damage in a devastating tornado. I had unwanted attention from some men that should have known better and date requests via Facebook that absolutely floored me. I did the best I could to take care of things on my own, but it was definitely a struggle and I was doing things that I previously would’ve considered unimaginable.

I couldn’t believe what had happened. I thought, “What on earth am I going to do?” That sounded so weak, but I felt weak. Constant comments containing, “You've been so strong,” resonated but I didn’t feel strong at all. Life has a way of hitting you in the head like a sledgehammer without first having posted a warning sign, and we are brought to our knees by events beyond our control.

I have learned so much through all of the deaths in my family, especially that of my husband, and I see life through a whole new lens. We are here today and gone tomorrow – life is quite ephemeral. When we leave the earth, our survivors often are left saying, “What on earth happened?” We have difficulty grasping the concept of death. Yet when we understand and accept the precarious nature of humanity, we feel differently about the gift of life itself. It becomes more precious and we appreciate those we love on a deeper level.

Losing a spouse is earth-shattering and life changing. There are close to 11.5 million widows in America alone and another 800,000 are added annually, yet there is little dialog regarding widowhood and few places to seek help. What’s wrong with this picture?

It takes very little to make a widow feel happy and loved. Sometimes, a simple smile or a hug is just what the doctor ordered. Widows have needs and it’s wonderful when someone observes them and offers assistance without being asked because frankly, most widows have difficulty asking for help. An invitation to lunch or movie , sending a card, a sweet email or phone call – those are small things that are sure to be appreciated.

If a widow owns a house, you can pretty much bet that she has things that need to be repaired. In the Bible, there are references to helping and looking out for widows which punctuates the fact that widows do, in fact, need assistance. Part of the problem is that many widows are able-bodied and don’t appear to need help, but let me reiterate – Widows of all ages need some type of help.

Widowhood is devastating and it turns a married woman’s life upside down. As we engage in our busy lives, perhaps we can pause for a moment to consider the vast number of widows in our world and take time to lend a helping hand. It’s the right, godly thing to do.