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.