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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

It’s a procedure on airplanes that attendants review each time passengers board the aircraft:  In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first and then assist those around you.   The idea is that if you take care of yourself first, you will be better able to help others.

When I became a widow, this concept was reiterated, but in a new way.  I need to take care of myself in order to be the best person I can be for my sons and the others in my life that I love and care about.  This means I need to allow myself time to go out with friends, take a trip or retreat, or sit in the quiet of my own company and do something I enjoy.

I've always been a giver, but giving to myself has been a very foreign and difficult concept for me. I garner a lot of self worth from doing for others. However, I am learning that to heal from this gaping wound of grief , I need to pacify my own needs more than just occasionally. I need to put my own oxygen mask on first. 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Let Go

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
        -Joseph Campbell

This quote popped up on my iGoogle page today.  It took my breath away!  Was Mr. Campbell writing to me?

Letting go of the life Steve and I had planned together? Being hopeful for the life that is waiting for me alone?  I cannot fathom it.  Letting go of dreams is one thing, but letting go of what we had planned, how we saw our future growing old together…our sons working and self-sufficient…their marriages…grandchildren…that sailboat Steve wanted to live on…our dream trip to Antarctica.  It all went away with him…or did it?

My future is now changed.  The dreams that I had are gone.  Dare I dream new dreams and hope for a future where joy will return to my life?  It feels like a failure to let those plans and dreams wither, to know they will never come true with Steve, and when I look hopefully to the future it feels a bit like a betrayal.  How could I ever be happy another way?  

I know that I must look forward.  Being stuck in the past isn't healthy.  But sometimes my history, OUR history smacks me in the face, and causes me to stop, reflect, and question my motives for my future.  Why am I doing this?  Is this what I want or am I trying to recreate something that will never be?

I want to be happy and feel complete and content in a future I did not expect.  But this life I am living feels so foreign.  I never imagined I would be here, in this place, without Steve.  For many long months, it was more of a nightmare than a reality.

But as the nightmare fades and I inch back into reality, I face a present with no clear direction or goals.  What's next?  The future looks scary and lonely. 

So, how do I dream again?  How to I begin my new, different, and solo future? Lao Tsu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

It's time to take a step.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It’s the Little Things

At this point in my grief, it is the little, seemingly meaningless things that get me.

Today it was a box of sugar-free popsicles.  

Steve loved to eat popsicles.  They were a sweet treat he could eat without breaking training.  So, on any given night he would eat 5-6 of them and scatter their papers and sticks everywhere he happened to squat for the evening.

I was trying to clear out the freezer…and way in the back, there they were.  Steve's popsicles.  There were just a few left…the box was squashed and covered with ice.  I shoved them back.  I couldn't let them go.

How could something so small make me fall to pieces?
A meaningless thing.
Frozen water.
Come. On.
But it was his. 
And eventually it will be another thing that disappears that was part of him.
That belonged to him.
I have been dragging my feet.
I have not been very aggressive in getting rid of these little, meaningless things in my house that were Steve's.
I just can't. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


"It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone."   ~~Rose Kennedy~~

My scars.
They are there, even if you don't see them.
I hide them well most of the time.
But when I'm alone
I take off the bandages
And cry.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Memory Loss

Grief has caused many changes in my life.  One of the most disconcerting has been my loss of memory.  I used to be so sharp and could remember even the most superfluous information.  Now, I can’t even remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

It is embarrassing to tell people that if they want me to remember something they will either have to email or text it to me.  Now, I have sticky notes all over with “stuff” I need to remember.  How could my mind have gone to mush so quickly?

All my grief books assure me that this memory loss is normal and temporary.  The books go on to say that I am not losing my mind, even though sometimes I may feel like I’ve misplaced it.  Yet, those facts bring little comfort when I run into someone who obviously knows me by name and I have a complete conversation with them and walk away going….”Who was THAT?”

I have to often remind myself that grief is hard work and regaining my former self will take lots of time.  My memory will return eventually.  But until it does, if I don’t recognize you…or forget things you tell me…or don’t show up when I’m supposed to…or forget your birthday, please forgive me.  I’m not firing on all my pistons. 


Sunday, June 12, 2011

To Dream

I have not dreamed of Steve since his death.  I find this disconcerting, as I am a vivid, Technicolor dreamer.  My mother, who is also a widow, dreamed of my late father only once.  He came to her, held her for a long time, told her that she would be okay and then quietly slipped away.  She said that dream gave her peace and a desire to move forward with her life.

I want Steve to come to me in my dreams and tell me that I will be all right.  I need the comfort of his words.  I need his validation that I need to go on with my life.  I am so stuck.  I’ve got one foot in the past and one in the present.  I keep looking back and that keeps me from looking forward.

So, God, help me to dream.  Help me to dream of Steve.

“Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.”
            ~William Blake


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Writing About Grief

Light griefs can speak, great ones cannot. Seneca

Nothing can prepare you for the death of your husband, and now, almost a year after his passing, I am still shocked that he is gone. Grief has thrown me into emotional turmoil, but you may be surprised that I have not sought professional help. I have tried counseling before for other issues and did not find it helpful. For other people, therapy may be exactly what you need, but for me…no. I have great respect for counselors and therapists; in fact, my best friend is a counselor. I am just unable talk about my grief with someone who has not traveled down this dark road. I want counseling to provide solutions. There is no “solution” to death.

I am wise enough to know that holding all these consuming feeling churning inside me is not healthy. I have found that writing on this blog is an effective way to cope with my feelings. It is helping me sort out and identify what is happening to me and relieves me of the need to carry it around in my head every minute of every day.

While most of my posts have focused on my pain and difficulties, as time passes, I hope to be able to write about stories from my life with Steve: tender moments, funny incidents, favorite jokes, or anecdotes that keep his memory alive even though he is gone. Many people believe, in error, that it is kinder to never speak of the dead. This is all the more reason for me to celebrate in writing about his life.

Some have questioned why I have made my feelings so public. That answer is simple. God never lets a hurt go unused. I hope that my ramblings will help another who is traveling down this path of grief.

I hope that if you have a friend, co-worker, or loved one that might be helped by what I am writing, that you will share this site with them.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Trust You

Melissa Greene's song, "To Trust You" so eloquently expresses what I feel today. God's ways are not my ways. I don't understand the WHYS. However, I still trust you, Lord, even when You don't make sense to me.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust You!
How I've proved You o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust You more.


Did you hear me crying out to You,
Did you hear me I did all I knew to do
I prayed had faith but You still took him away from me

I can choose to ask why. I can choose to be angry.
I can wrestle when life is not what I thought it would be
I can wish that all the pain would simply go away
And at the same time I can choose Lord to trust You

Do you see me I can’t do this on my own
Are you near me just let me know I’m not alone
I prayed had faith that you would answer me so differently

To trust Your ways are not my ways
To know there’s purpose in this pain
To trust that you will bring my joy again
But I’m still asking why...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


“Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, 
but not our hearts.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven

I've been gone for a week on a lovely vacation with friends.  It was good to get away, but it was also good to come home. So good…to be home.  

My home has been my refuge...a place to let down my mask of normalcy, to hide in the quiet, to be separated from everything.  Each day I have come home from work, put on my pajamas and spent the rest of the evening in my room.  I have even been eating my meals in my room.  I never go to the family room to watch television with my boys.  I never sit out on my beautiful deck.  I haven't even opened my pool for the season.  On days that I don't have work or other responsibilities, I don't even get out of my pajamas.

While my home is my haven, it has also become my prison.  I'm not quite sure how to break free...or if I even want to.   I'm pretty sure this isn't normal, but it has become normal for me. I find the world outside my front door too loud...too bright...too alive.  I feel blinded by other people's jouve de vivre, their undamaged happiness, and their nice, neat forward-moving lives. I keep forgetting that their world didn't necessarily halt because mine did. 

And so, at home, I stay…where it is dark, and quiet, and other people's contented lives don't intrude on my loneliness.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Love is a DECISION

I went with girlfriends last night to hear one of our favorite beach bands play. Since I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, I talked a few friends into taking me back to my condo early. While walking to our car, we witnessed a couple fighting. No, blows weren’t passed; in fact they were on opposite sides of the parking lot having their fight over their cell phones. Apparently, she didn’t give a rip about anyone but herself (his point of view) and he was a control freak (her point of view). There was much discussion back and forth and the words weren’t very nice, so I’ll gloss over that. However, what struck me about that fight was how stupid it was.

Did that couple realize how LUCKY they were to have each other? I wanted to scream at both of them…what if one of you DIED tonight on the way home…would that fight have been worth it? I see too many couples take their relationships for granted. They forget why they fell in love. They forget the dreams they made. They forget their commitments. It becomes all about personal happiness, rather than what is BEST for the both of them.

Love is a decision, not a feeling or an emotion. It’s a decision you make every day of your life. Even when your spouse doesn’t take out the trash…or spends too much time on the golf course…or when  your new haircut or outfit goes unnoticed…or when they make horrible decisions that make your world crumble…you can still DECIDE to love. It’s what you promised on that altar before God and man…for better or worse. And when you DECIDE not to love, you’re the biggest loser of all and a liar to boot.

Take it from a widow that wishes every day that she had her husband at home to leave the toilet seat up, or scatter popsicle sticks and papers all around the couch, or smoke his stinky cigars in the house, or forget even the most important details. All those things that drive you CRAZY about your spouse are what you will miss the most when they are gone.

So, DECIDE to love your spouse. DECIDE!