On Grief and This Damn Virus

Since my husband’s death in late 2018, I have been dealing with grief.  I did other times with other losses prior to his death, but his is the one that has affected me the most.  So, I know something about grief and trying to put the pieces back together.

I have been thinking of all of the changes in our lives due to this damn corona virus.  There have been so many changes and they may continue for a while.  I am realizing that there is a lot that we need to grieve and then be able to move forward.

Merriam-Webster defines grief as:

  • 1adeep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement 
  • 1ba cause of such suffering — life’s joys and griefs
  • 2a: trouble and annoyance

These definitions are appropriate and part of what we are dealing with right now.

I think that social distancing is very important to slow and hopefully stop the spread of this virus which seems to be spreading more and more each day.  It is something that many of us can do in order to help those on the front lines become equipped to deal with it and all of the illnesses that people have.

Still, it is hard since we are so used to always being on the go, being with our friends and family, and not having to think twice of when we come and go.  I think it is important to deal with this grief and the fact that our life is just not the same now.  I also think that we can do that and then move on and make the best of our situations.  At least, I am praying for that to be the case.

My heart aches and breaks for those who are losing loved ones because of this virus. It saddens me that they can’t be with them at the hospital to say goodbye, or be at the funeral home to make plans, or have a funeral or memorial since it isn’t safe.  As hard as all of that was for me, I am fortunate that I had that chance.

I am thinking of the high school seniors who cannot see their classmates, friends and teachers and enjoy the times of being the big men and women on campus.  I am heartbroken for college students who had to pack up their dorms, go back home, and do online classes.  They should be able to enjoy life away and go to a lecture hall full of other students.

I am thinking of the middle school and high school students who don’t have the chance to see their friends in the hallway between classes, or at lunch, or at the many activities that they enjoy — sports, the arts, music, and clubs.

I am thinking of the elementary school student who doesn’t understand why they cannot go to school and see their friends and their teachers. They want to be there to read something and to color and sit on the floor at story time.

I am also thinking of all of the nurses and doctors and other medical staff who are on the front lines of this.  They are why we have to be home.  They are why our lives have been upended.  They have to be able to treat those who need the help without worrying that they don’t have enough beds or supplies to do so.

I am thinking of all of those out of work right now and struggling to pay their bills.  My hope is that they can find something in the meantime or get help from others.  Food is being provided at various agencies and many companies are waiving bills and shut offs for now.  So that is good.

I am thinking of those who are still having to work in other industries and not sure if it is safe or not.  Thanks to them for continuing to keep what we need going.  We appreciate you and your sacrifices.

I am thinking of the teachers, principals, school boards, and other educators working frantically to have at-home school options for students.  They are working hard to ensure that all kids have what they need to keep learning.  It has been a challenge and is taking time but is important.

I am thinking of our leaders and officials working with the medical professionals to try and do the best by us.  Granted there are problems, but they are trying.  After all, this is unprecedented, never-before-seen stuff.

I am thinking of our elderly at home or in nursing homes or assisted living when visiting is not permitted.  Perhaps we can do it through a window, or with regular phone calls, or with letters.  We should check with each facility or those at home and our doctors to see what to do.

My prayer is that we can all try to deal with the changes in our lives and then figure out what we can do to help.  We are in this together and are dependent on one another now like never before.  May we be considerate of others, help as needed and as we can, and may we still try to find some fun and happiness, despite no much negative.

If we can sew, let’s do that.  If we can provide some food or money to a local food bank, let’s do that.  If we can call our friends and check in on our loved ones, let’s do that.  If we can gather our families together online, let’s do that.  If we can buy just enough for what we need without hoarding, let’s do that.

May we work on this together, although we are apart.  May we help one another.  And, may we always, always love.

Grocery Shopping in the Pandemic Era

Hi and Happy Sunday!  At least I hope it is a good one. This morning, I went to the grocery store.   It was Aldi and it went better than I had expected.  Before going, I didn’t know what to expect in this era of the worldwide pandemic and everyone trying to avoid one another. I told the employees thank you for being there and working so we have the food and items that we need.

I found most of what I wanted and that was a great thing.  However, many shelves were empty of Kleenex, wipes, and cleaners.  They had some but not a lot of toilet paper.  Canned vegetables and bottles of water had limits on how many you could buy — four for the veggies and two sets of 24 bottles for the water.  And bread and some other items were limited.

The store wasn’t crowded and I have to say that was a relief.  I had a hard time deciding to shop and where to shop but ultimately decided to go to this our normal store.  People stayed a good distance from one another and were polite.  I wore my regular winter gloves while I was there. Not sure if they did anything, but it helped not directly touching things.

In addition to food, I found some work gloves that include latex.  I haven’t been able to find the other kind of gloves and wanted to have something.  My city may be shutting down soon so I wanted to be sure that I have what we will need for a while longer.  (Images are from Power Point clip art.)

My shopping took about as long as it took me to clean everything when I got back home.  Before taking stuff out of the trunk of my car, I wiped all items that I had purchased with disinfecting wipes, including the shopping bags, which were recyclable. I left my shoes in the garage that I wore to the store, wiped several parts of the car, and then went inside, and put the gloves in the washing machine.

I then washed my hands and went back outside.  I then brought the food, drinks, and waters inside, washed my hands again, and put them away.  Right after that I took a hot shower.  When finished and dressed, I put all of the clothes in the washing machine on hot.  And washed my hands again.

It was a tough decision this morning to go to the store, but I knew I needed to now before things get worse and I don’t want to leave the house.  In addition, I have ordered a few items that we need for home projects, a DVD of a favorite show that Kirk and I enjoyed, and some items for our growing boy.

Those will be delivered soon and will also be wiped down. Boxes will be left outside and we will be washing hands after touching them as we do with everything that is coming in to the house.  We are wiping down surfaces and doing our best to have a clean house.  I just hope it’s enough.

You see, I have mild asthma and a lot of allergies.  I have had my share of upper respiratory infections and bronchitis over the years.  For months, my son and I have been using OTC allergy medications which help us stay healthy during the high pollen season and cold and flu season. Also, I have an inhaler that I use as needed and nose spray.  I hope and pray that these habits will help us through this.

So much is unknown and being speculated about. We are listening to the numbers, paying attention to the scientists, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. We are also listening to the White House Task Force, Governors, and other elected officials. We are taking it all seriously.  Still, I cannot watch too much or I get overwhelmed with worry and fear.

We normally eat take out and food from drive-thrus and enjoy going to restaurants.  We aren’t doing that now and probably won’t for quite a while. More than a week ago, we got takeout from a restaurant run by family friends. This is one of the few places that I feel comfortable doing that but, that too is on hold for now.

It is amazing the number of people all over the world who are staying at home to try and stop the spread — or at least slow it down until more can be learned about it and until the hospitals can catch up and have all of the supplies that they need.  I am glad to see that we are, for the most part, in this together.

Also amazing are all of the brave and wonderful people who are working outside of their homes so that life can continue on in some form or another.

Here a few of the people who I want to say thanks to (I hope I included everyone) —

  • Nurses, doctors, researchers, EMTs, paramedics, the national guard, our military and civilian forces, first responders, firefighters, X-ray technicians, police officers, janitors, volunteers, bank tellers, journalists, reporters,
  • School superintendents and school boards, principals, teachers, assistants, pastors, counselors, truck drivers, mechanics, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, cooks, servers, clerks at stores, those in transportation and travel,
  • Retail store employees, those who stock the shelves, librarians, civic leaders, plant workers, farmers, mail carriers, utility workers, those advising on how to use technology to communicate with each other,
  • Drivers delivering food and needed supplies, small business owners, financial advisers, accountants, parents, children, families, friends, and our government leaders who are trying to do the best for us.

There Is Comfort In The Normal

There is comfort in the normal, at least for me.  I am talking about a normal routine of the days with knowing what is coming and what is expected. Of having things scheduled that are fun and items to look forward to.  And, life returning to normal.  We aren’t quite there but every day leads us closer to a happy new normal.

It has been a lot to adjust to.  We are doing our best, failing at some things, having success in other things, and continuing to move forward.  Two in our family instead of three is just one of many factors that we are dealing with.

Although it has been 1 year and 4 months since my husband passed away, it seems like yesterday in some ways.  I still want to talk with him and see him again.  I still want to hear his voice, his laugh, and something about his day.  I still want him here and probably always will.  And, I still don’t understand why this happened to him, to us, and to all who loved him.

Some people may think that I should be past it more than I am.  But, when you wake up every single morning knowing you won’t see your life partner again, it is hard.  Many days I am fine and remember him fondly and with happiness.  Yet there are other days when all I can think about is everything that he will miss and not be a part of.

As Vanessa Bryant stated during her eulogy for her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna, there are things that she will never get to see her child do or experience as well as her husband.  I can totally relate to that.  It saddens me to think that Kirk isn’t here to see his son graduate from high school, or get married, or have kids.  He doesn’t get to see his nieces and nephews and their children grow up.

He isn’t here for Ian to talk to as he goes through all of the changes of becoming a teenager.  He isn’t here to comfort him when he is hurt or upset.  He isn’t here to help him laugh in the way that only he could.  He isn’t here for a challenging homework assignment.  He isn’t here for family vacations or family game night or to see a new movie.

He isn’t here for the latest Lego build, latest story or idea.  And, in a few months, he will not be here for Ian’s chorus concert.  Yet, I know he is always with Ian and with me, just in a very different way.  And, he certainly is part of the reason that our son is such a great young man.

At times this causes me a lot of pain and anguish and tears.  But, I still have to continue on, live life, be there to enjoy times with our family and friends, and show up for Ian and other loved ones.  I try to remember that I am strengthened by a man who loved me for 20 years until death parted us.  What a blessing that is.

On a good day, I can focus on the fact that I am still here for all of these things.  I am here to be Ian’s champion, confidant, mother, and to love him with all that I have and am.  I know that he loves his dad and can carry their bond and relationship throughout his life. He also misses his dad but does grab life every day and makes the most of it.  I am learning so much from him.

Since emotions have been all over the place a lot lately, the times that life is normal are comforting and special.  I am talking about waking up, getting ready for school, making breakfast for Ian, talking with him on the drive to school each morning, then coming home for my routine before starting work in the home office.

I am enjoying my cups of coffee or tea with cream, my oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, watching a recorded show or the morning news show. I then have some time to think, pray, and read a passage from my book of inspiration in dealing with grief. And sometimes a walk before all of that starts or an afternoon walk.

I then am working and staying busy. Then when Ian comes home from school, we talk about his day, he tells me something that happened or an idea that he has, he has a snack, and then we talk about homework.  He has a short break and then gets to work.  I try to help him as much as I can.  My blessing is that I can work at home and be in the same room with him while he is doing that.

Normal also is reading a book from the library, going to church and then lunch with my parents, watching a movie or TV show, seeing friends and laughing over a meal, attending a baby shower or birthday party, having time with family, going to a store to buy what we need and occasionally the special treat, and exercising.

Since Kirk’s death, there are a lot of days when I haven’t felt like myself, or things haven’t been normal.  I am dealing with so much that we did together and that has taken time to adjust.  Each day, I have something that I am trying to accomplish. There have been days when all I could do was get dressed and get Ian to school.

I have realized that I took for granted some things that Kirk did for me and for our family.  He helped in so many ways that I would sometimes fuss about.  Now I think, why did I waste that time with him instead of appreciate it?  I suppose that is normal, but I don’t like that I did what I did.

Today, I am thankful for:

  • The gorgeous sunrise I enjoyed on the way to the grocery store on Monday morning (It is the photo at the top of this blog)
  • Sun peaking through the fog this morning
  • Our upcoming spring break with a business trip and opportunity to see some friends and family
  • Some days at home where we can work on projects
  • An interesting library book
  • My son, my parents, in-laws, friends, and family who have our backs and love us unconditionally.  We love them the same
  • My prayer group friends
  • Having more days when I don’t feel sad or lost, but instead happy and hopeful for Ian and for me as we press on

May God bless you and help you whether your life is normal or not.

Grief In The Night

A week ago, I had a really rough night.  I had been sick with an upper respiratory infection, been sad, and been dealing with a lot.  So, my grief seemed to get the better of me for a little while.  This blog is about that experience.

I shared it with some loved ones prior to posting it.  One of them said that guilt is not of God.  That is true and so very important to remember.  However, when the guilt comes to you in the middle of the night, you tend to believe it, at least for a little while.

When I am sick, I often feel sad or bad.  I suppose I get the blues at those times.  So on this recent Sunday night, I was up until about 12:30 a.m. with a coughing fit that just wouldn’t stop.  I made some hot tea, got a mouthful of cough drops and then started thinking of my late husband and everything that happened the day that he died.

Parts of that entire morning are still there in vivid clarity. I remember him falling out of the bed face down, I remember trying to turn him over and figure out how to help him. I remember calling 911.  While I was still talking, two police officers came in to the house, turned him over and started CPR.

Soon after they arrived, several firefighters arrived to help, then the paramedics from the ambulance service.  They all worked on my love while I talked with the officers about what happened.  As they worked, our son was still asleep upstairs – having no idea what was going on.

I then called my parents to see if they could come over and help.  I was not sure that I could drive us to the hospital.  Before they got there, Kirk was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  I had no idea at that time that I would not see him alive again.

I prayed for him to be okay, grabbed his wallet, and my purse, etc.  Then woke up Ian and said we all had to go to the hospital since his dad was taken there.  We then went to the emergency department where I told his name to the person at the desk and presented his insurance card.

We were then led into a side room, not a room where they were working on him.  I should have known something was very wrong with that but I was still in shock at this point and hopeful.  Then a doctor and nurse came in and told us what you hear in movies or TV that changes lives forever.  “We did all we could but we couldn’t revive him.  He has passed away.”

We were all crushed and stunned to hear this news.  I then went to see him and touched his cold hand.  I looked at the man who was my love and had been so full of life.  I cried, I inwardly screamed, and I was in total and complete shock.  It was so hard to see him like that, but part of me knew that he was no longer in pain and was in a better place.  Still, I wanted him to come back to us.

I came back and forth twice to continue to check on Ian since I was worried about how he was doing.  I asked for Kirk’s wedding ring and the nurse took it off his hand and gave it to me.  I feel guilty that I didn’t stay with Kirk longer.  I felt like I deserted him since I didn’t sit vigil with him until the funeral home and donor services came to get him.

I still have some guilt since I put our son before him, although he was my spouse and first love.  But, now I realize that he would have wanted me to comfort our son and be with him.  He would have understood why I had to do what I did.  After all, he loved our child as much as I do.

Thinking back on it, I think he might have been gone as soon as he hit the floor at home.  An autopsy was done that said he had an enlarged heart along with a few other issues.  So, he apparently had a heart attack when he fell.  I have no concept of the length of time that he was on the floor before I called and reacted.  I just hope and pray that if I took too long, that wasn’t part of why he didn’t make it.

So there is guilt about that as well.  And, during that recent middle of the night when I was already not feeling well, it reared its ugly head.  I still feel I should have done more, reacted sooner, called earlier, whatever.  But would that have actually made a difference?

I don’t know, but it is something that I continue to think about.  And, I continue to ask my love to forgive me for failing him since that is what it feels like I did.  I hope that I can one day forgive myself and realize that I truly did all that I could.  That it was, in fact, his time to go, despite what I wanted.

I do know that 10 or more people worked on him between who came to our house, in the ambulance and the staff at the hospital.  They all tried to revive him but had no luck that would actually stick.  And that is heartbreaking.

We had plans; we had just talked about some changes in our life the day before he passed away.  He was excited about them and looking forward to what came next.  I am not sure he had any idea of what was coming.  He didn’t feel well but we thought it was a cold and allergy issues that we all were dealing with.  We thought there was time the next day to take him to the doctor.

So this year on that Sunday night, after crying and thinking about everything from that awful day, I was finally able to settle down and rest.  The next day continued as a normal school day.  It was still hard and full of emotions, but I made it though.  I was able to see the good in our lives and move forward.

I have talked with other people who have also lost loved ones.  A few of them also feel some guilt about wishing more could have been done or an opportunity was missed, or that it was bad timing.  That seems to be part of the grief process of the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventual acceptance.

Friends and family regularly ask me how I am doing.  Some days, I am able to say pretty well.  But other days, I am broken and sad and not sure what to do with myself.  So, I cry, I pray, and I think about a lovely memory with Kirk.  I try to remember that he is not in pain, that he wouldn’t have liked living as any less than the man that he was.  It is comforting to know that he is in Heaven waiting to see us again.  That is my comfort in this journey that continues to ebb and flow.

I am still a work in progress and probably will be for a long time to come.  It helps me to write about my feelings and to share them.  And, crying also helps.  It also helps to talk about Kirk, to see his picture, to laugh at a memory or a story that he told us, to laugh at jokes he told, and to tell Ian what a wonderful man his dad was.

Ian is growing into someone who Kirk would be very proud of.  He has so much of his dad in him.  That is a blessing and something I treasure. Still I wish his dad was actually here to see it.  I continue to be reminded of all of the things that he is missing and that is a challenge.

If you too are grieving, may you find support, may you have healing, and may you find your way.  May you know that some days will hurt like hell.   May you know that some days will be full of regret and guilt but that some will have hope and joy.

May we live in honor or those who are no longer with us.  May we make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.  May we be thankful for another day.  May we have healing on our path of grief.  And may God continue to bless us.

On The First Amendment and Restrictive Resolutions

As a journalism major in college, I learned a lot about the 1st Amendment and its importance.  I don’t have to like or agree with everything that is reported, discussed, aired, etc.  However, it must be protected and not be restricted.

So, I am very disappointed that the Tennessee State Legislature is trying to pass a House Joint Resolution calling some news media outlets fake news and condemning them for “denigrating our citizens.”  It is HJR 779 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee after going to the Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Subcommittee.

This goes against the 1st Amendment.  It is not right to single out certain media outlets that people don’t like or don’t agree with.  If that starts, eventually every publication will have to go away since one side calls certain networks or publications bad, corrupt, or slanted against their cause/people.  And, the other side does the same with different publications. And that just shouldn’t happen.

Our founders knew the importance of a Free Press.  The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In other words, the press is supposed to be free from government interference. Does this apply to the Tennessee State Legislature as it does to Congress and the Federal Government?  I think that it does, but I am not a Constitutional expert or attorney.  That possibly is what the subcommittees will look into.

Even if this resolution is adopted (or passes, I am not sure which), I will not be told how or what to think about the media and media outlets. I will decide that for myself.  I will continue to watch and read the media outlets that I decide to watch and read.  We all have to determine what we listen to, read, watch, and follow.  No one should be telling us that, especially not the Legislature, the Governor, or the Congress, or the President.

We may not like what they are writing or airing but they have a right to do so.  If we don’t like it, we should change the channel, stop reading the article, or write a Letter To The Editor.  I think this resolution is an overreaction.  We also tend to overreact and fan the flames of discord, and call the other side awful things – cult like, the deep state, etc.

I read and watch both of the publications listed in HJR 779 as fake news – CNN and The Washington Post.  I also watch/read/listen to: PBS News, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Associated Press, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Time Magazine, The New York Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, The Oak Ridger, The Knoxville News Sentinel, Oak Ridge Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Louisville Courier-Journal, The Asheville Times,The Tennessean, and others.

I don’t watch or read them all of the time but do regularly tune in and I do buy newspapers.  The newspaper industry has changed so much in recent years and fewer people are supporting it. I continue to do my part so local news and other print options continue to be available.  (Images are from Power Point Clip Art)

I know people who regularly watch news channels and shows that I totally disagree with.  But, is it my right to tell them to stop watching it?  No.  And, is it their right to tell me to stop watching what I choose?  Again, no.

I am passionate about this since my first job out of college was as a general assignment reporter for a small, twice-weekly county paper.  I covered county government, county agencies, county courts, county commission, county school board, as well as the fire department, police department, sheriff’s department, and ambulance service.

It was fascinating to learn how things work at the local level.  It is something that in my opinion needs to continue.  We need to know what is going on in our local communities that affect our children, our families, our health, our schools, our business opportunities, the taxes that we owe, and so much more.

There are so many platforms now that anyone can write, post, talk, etc.  This does concern me if those writers, bloggers, or pundits have certain agendas. There are ways to verify the facts of an article.  Also just because you don’t like an article or a slant, that doesn’t mean it’s fake news.

Perhaps it is slanted news, or extreme opinion in some cases. Or they are actually printing the truth that you don’t acknowledge or agree with. In journalism school, we learned to verify facts, that opinions had no place in a news article, and to take our time without rushing to judgement. So much has changed since then.

I remember the days when Walter Cronkite ended his newscast with “And that’s the way it is” after briefing the audience on the news of the day.  Occasionally he or someone else on the show would air an opinion piece.

Now, there are different bots and sites on Facebook, Twitter, and numerous web sites that post fake news and try to pass it off as real news.  These often are re-posted or retweeted without any regard for the truth or who is behind the writing.  I keep my guard up for these sites.

And, I may not like what a publication reports or prints, but since we have the 1st Amendment, they must be allowed to air it or print it.  I just don’t have to watch it or read it, since I too have a 1st Amendment right.

A lot could and probably should be improved in the media today.  I for one get sick and tired of the extreme opinions from both sides that are regularly on in the evening.  Both have their own slant.  I think it is up to us as informed citizens to view both ends of the spectrum to see where the other side is coming from.  And to see the difference in how the same stories are told.

The read more about HJR 779, please click on http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HJR0779.  The resolution itself can then be read by clicking on HJR 779 by Van Huss on the left column of the screen or clicking on http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/111/Bill/HJR0779.pdf.

Thoughts On Trials That I Covered And The Impeachment

My first job after college was at a small twice weekly paper.  My beat was the police department, sheriff’s department, fire department, ambulance service, courthouse, county offices, trials, and county commission.  It was a great way to learn about local government and how things work.

I covered a murder trial with the death penalty and several other cases during my time there.  And, I would regularly visit judges to understand what was being discussed and to see the behind the scenes of them.   It was often off the record and a great way to understand items that I didn’t.  I trusted them and they trusted me.  What a concept!

What has been happening during the entire impeachment process is so very different than what I remember.  I am not an attorney but a journalist who has covered trials in a county courthouse.  So, a lot of differences are expected but I wanted to share some things that I remember from those days.  (Both images are from Power Point clip art.)

First of all, people are usually indicted for a crime when the entire grand jury has a vote of 2/3 or 3/4 depending on that jury’s rules.  Also, when people are charged with a crime, they generally take it seriously, try to arrange bail if that is offered and affordable, and don’t mock the officers who are there to arrest them or serve them with a subpoena.  And most importantly, if they don’t take it seriously and respect those doing their jobs, there are consequences.

Next, jury members are instructed to be impartial and are often excused if they aren’t, they are to listen to the facts, take notes, and pay attention.  They cannot talk to other jurors or get up from the jury box during testimony or opening or closing arguments.  And, the judge is constantly keeping his or her eye on them.  Nor are they allowed to read a book, work on a craft, or leave the room for an interview during the trial.  They also cannot look at articles or broadcasts about their assigned case during its deliberation.

Next, the testimony can take days and everyone has to be there for the entire time – the witnesses (only when they are called), the accused, the lawyers, the judge, the jury, court reporters, bailiffs, and others who work at the courthouse.  The judge is respected and a particular decorum is expected at all times.

The one and only job of a juror during a trial is the case — paying attention, listening to all items allowed in the courtroom, listening very carefully to the judge’s instructions prior to deliberation, and then going into a room to discuss it and finally vote on guilt or innocence.  Sometimes they will ask questions of the judge to clarify a law or something they heard during the deliberation.

In all my time covering trials and court cases, I never saw the accused working hand in hand with the judge and jury.  That just doesn’t happen in the real world.  When you are tried, you have an attorney who works to defend your case, that attorney is in regular contact with the prosecution, and motions are filed and sometimes proof is excluded while other times it is included.  You also don’t tell the jury how to vote or the judge how to do his/her job.

For the cases I covered, the attorneys for the separate sides would often have lunch together or talk between breaks.  They were friends and colleagues and did not treat each other as the enemy.  They were there doing their jobs and knew the line between what they argued in the courtroom and what went on outside of that courtroom.

For the impeachment of our current president, I am quite disappointed that the entire process has been partisan.  The charges of impeachment were approved on party lines.  The vote to have no witnesses was on party lines, and I imagine the final vote will be as well.  And worst of all, one side made up their minds before the trial even started to convict and the other side made up their minds to acquit.

That to me is just so wrong, but I am also seeing it much closer to home with people that I know.  That too is troubling to me.  We no longer want to wait for the entire case to unfold or to hear all of the information.  We judge on whether we already like the person or not and if we are in agreement with them or not.  We often jump to conclusions and then no amount of reason or fact can change our minds.  When we do that, we have one side that says someone can do no wrong and the other side who says someone can do no right.

I just wish that the two extremes could learn to work together again.  In the days of President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neil (as I have mentioned in previous blogs), they would argue and defend their sides but they weren’t hateful about it.  They didn’t call each other morons, incompetent, or the enemy.

They knew that a steady debate was to be expected and welcomed it.  Yet they were also friends or at least were acquaintances.  People such as Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John McCain were on opposite sides of most issues, but they would try to work together for the good of the country.

I also want to remind all of us that being on the opposite side of an issue doesn’t make someone the enemy.  And, it shouldn’t be causing divisions in families or with friends.  Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree?  I know that there are some issues that may be too big for that and cannot be overcome.  But I am tired of this attitude that every single issue is extreme one way or the other.

I am also tired of hearing our elected officials slam each other all of the time and call each other stupid, our enemy, etc.  I don’t like having to explain every day to my son that that is not an okay way to treat other people.  Instead, we are to respect others and their opinions.  We don’t have to agree with them or even like what they stand for.  But we do have to remember they are entitled to what they think and so are we.

I hope and pray that we can find a way to heal our country, to actually listen to each other’s differences, and to stop calling each other our enemy.  I hope and pray that we can take the time to learn about the other side of an argument.  I hope and pray that we can do better for my son and his generation.  I also hope and pray that we can do better for ourselves.

Things I Miss And Think About

Since the loss of my spouse in late 2018, there are things about him and our life together that I miss.  Some of them have come back up after hearing about several deaths this week — including the helicopter crash on Sunday when 9 people were killed — as well as the mother of a family friend.

Last night we watched a very short part of an interview with the widower of one of the women on board that helicopter.  Her name was Christina Mauser and his is Matt Mauser.  He was interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN about having to give the news to his three kids that their mother wasn’t coming home.

Anderson mentioned that he was 10 years old when his father died.  He said he never will forget when his mother came in and told him that he had died.  Mr. Mauser then shared about how hard it was to tell his kids.  And that they were still calling for their mother.

Anderson Cooper also mentioned that his mother said that with grief you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And, that there is no timeline to grief.  That is so true since the pain of any loss lasts for quite a while.  Actually, I would say that it never goes away, but that you just figure out ways of dealing with it as best you can

As Ian and I briefly watched this, we both had tears come into our eyes.  We hugged each other and I mentioned that you can imagine how they must be feeling since that happened to you.  He nodded his head as I was still hugging him.  We then wiped the tears and changed to a favorite show and started to laugh. That helped us.

Mr. Mauser said it was the little things that he missed the most.  I can so relate to that and that hit me since that is what I also feel.  After years with a spouse or partner, their sudden loss is shocking, jarring, and surreal.  The first few days I didn’t know what to do with myself and often couldn’t form the words to answer a question.

This morning I heard on the news that Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa, is having a hard time talking without crying.  I have to say that I totally understand.  The loss of a spouse so suddenly pains you in ways you never expected, much less also losing one of your children.  My heart goes out to her and the rest of her family.

I don’t think I will ever forget receiving the news that my husband had died.  When we arrived at the hospital, we were taken to a side room of the emergency department.  I should have known something was wrong since they didn’t take us to see him.  Then after a few minutes, a doctor and a nurse came into the room and told us that they had done all they could but couldn’t bring him back.

What the?!  We were all shocked.  I then went to see my love.  He looked like he was sleeping but he wasn’t.  I touched his hand and it was cold.  It was always warm when I held it.  So that was a shock and made me realize that he was in fact gone, no matter how much I was screaming inside that he can’t be gone.

I then went back to check on Ian and my parents who were with us.  My mind was on our son and how he was taking the news.  I was with him for a little bit and then went back to see my love one more time.  I was with him for a while, asked for his wedding band, and spent more time with him and looked at him.  And I touched his arm and hand.

I didn’t stay long.  We then left the hospital to go have breakfast since it was early morning.  I tried to eat but didn’t have much success.  And, I felt guilty and still do at times for not spending more time with my love.  At the time, all I could think about was our son.  I felt bad that I was placing him before my spouse.  And yet, I felt I had to since our son needed me, as I needed him.

There are a lot of things about my love that I remember, think about, and miss.  I wanted decades more with him and am sad that we didn’t get them.  Some of them are:

  • I still remember what he was wearing on the day that I met him at my church.  That church is where we got married and where we held his memorial service.
  • I miss his deep voice and laugh.
  • I miss the smell of his cologne after he got dressed and ready to go.
  • I miss the shows that we watched together and talked about.  To this day, I still can’t watch one of them.
  • I miss the smell of coffee that he prepared each night in the coffee maker.  He had a routine of that.
  • I miss how he was usually the life of the party and loved to make people laugh.
  • I miss his silly jokes.
  • I miss our Saturday morning talks in bed when our son would then join us.  These included lots of laughs and sometimes breakfast in bed.
  • I miss the hours he spent on a project.  Once he started, he would not stop until finished.  So, I would often help him, if I could.
  • I miss his mastery of numbers and taking care of our finances so well.  I am doing my best and trying to remember what he and my dad taught me.
  • I edited his dissertation and that was an amazing thing to be a part of.
  • I miss how great he was with the students that he worked with.  He put them at ease and helped them know they could do well with testings.
  • I miss our trips together and the fun adventures we had, first as a couple, and then a family of three.

Trying to adjust to this loss is still something we are dealing with.  We are doing better than we had been but still struggle at times.  I feel for all of these families and many others who lose loved ones each day.  I feel for the grief that they are dealing with and the pain that they are in.

My prayer is that we can appreciate each other, tell our loved ones that we do love them, and be there for one another during both the sad and happy times.  Also, I pray that we can support those who are in pain from a loss, that we can be there for them, and that we can love them.

Morning by morning, new mercies I see

“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!…” — Great Is Thy Faithfulness hymn

This hymn came to mind this morning when I saw this gorgeous sky.  I just love those words, that each morning, there will be new mercies.  It is a definitely a comfort to me as we are starting our second year of grieving the loss of my husband.

And, the words that continue, “all I have needed, thy hand hath provided.”  These are true.  As hard as it’s been and as mad as I have sometimes been, what we have needed has been there.  People have helped us and we have been okay.  And, frankly, that has felt like a miracle at times.

I still don’t understand the why of this, I find myself with many questions and anger at times, and I realize that I may never the get answers that I want.  But God is still faithful and is still a comfort.  Truly, the mix of good and bad is being felt and helped, but without all of the answers.

I also read this week an amazing post about grief and how the waves change over time but keep coming.  I have found this to be true.  I am not stopped or gutted each day like I was at the beginning.  That is good since life has a tendency to move on, despite what we may be feeling like.

Now it hits me at random times.  Like yesterday, I was very sad after taking my son to school.  I came home to try and work but found I couldn’t.  So I took time with my breakfast, watched some TV, and ended up taking a 2 hour nap.  I then woke up, read, and later had lunch prior to having my son come home from school.

I later helped him with his homework, we had a good dinner, and I fell asleep on the couch.  Clearly I was tired and needed the extra rest.  I prayed a bit for comfort and thought of my loved one who is gone.  And, I cried a little as well.

Then this morning, I felt better and then was blessed with this amazing sunrise.  So, mercy was truly there for me.  What an amazing feeling that is.  And as crazy as it sounds, it felt like a message from my loved one that he is okay.  And, a result, we are also okay.  Cue the tears, right?!

We continue to struggle at times since we never know what a new morning will bring.  But we are trying to settle back into our routine.  Right now, we are both a bit tired.  Ian’s school starts really early so that means early wake up times.  As a result, we are supposed to have early bedtimes, but those don’t always happen.

My prayer is that we may have continued mercy, that we be blessed with many more new mornings, and that we continue to appreciate all of the times that we had with my husband.  He was an amazing blessing in our lives and all who knew and loved him.  He continues to be missed, loved, and fondly remembered.

Prayers for you as well.  If you are grieving, may you have comfort.  If you are sick, may you be healed.  If you are sad, may you find a reason to smile.  If you are struggling, may you find the help that you need.

May we continue to be there for one another.  May we live with kindness and grace.  And, may we always, always love.

Happy New Year, I Think…

Happy New Year — I think…It is now 2020!  Can you believe that we are already one week into the new year?  I sure can’t since time is going so quickly.

It seems we just had time off for Christmas and now we are back to the routine of school and work again.  Thankfully, we had a good break with time for family, friends, some fun, and time to rest and regroup.

I want to say Happy New Year.  But I am not sure how happy it is for us or for many others.  My son and I continue to try to adjust to life without my husband/his dad.  We do still miss Kirk and always will.  We are able to talk about him now with some laughter and not just tears.  So that is really good.  Blessings in the smallest things feel like victories.

In addition, people we know are suffering with illnesses, deaths of loved ones, invasive treatments, chronic health issues, and so much more.  The pain is there and real and often hard to live with.  Each day can be a challenge and a battle.  Each day people may feel like giving up.

And, we have a serious conflict in the Middle East putting our military men and women at risk and other people as well, multiple earthquakes in Puerto Rico that suffered greatly from Hurricane Maria, airline crashes, and the fires across much of Australia.  So there are big and bad things to contend with and a lot of pain.

With all of this bad in the world and happening around us, it is easy to get caught up in it and be overwhelmed with sadness and pain and worry.  I must admit that I have some of that and imagine that many of us do.  My prayer is that despite all of the bad, we can remember that there is still good in the world.

People want to help each other — with meals, prayer groups, sitting with loved ones, traveling to fight fires or give support in other ways, and making booties or pouches for animals in harms way.  Also, babies are being born, people are being cured or at least finding ways to manage their illnesses, and comfort is being given.

Despite so much bad and evilness in the world, there is still good.  For that I am truly thankful.  “In spite of everything, I still feel that people are really good at heart,” said Anne Frank.  If she can believe that, I think there is hope for the rest of us.  After all, she endured terrible things that I cannot even imagine.

Another prayer is that we can come together to help one another, not just in times of crisis but at all times.  Also, that we remember that people we disagree with are not the enemy but just think differently than we do.  I hope and pray that we can once again learn from each other and be willing to listen, rather than jumping to conclusions or pre-judging one another.

As the new header photo shows, the light and the dark are often together.  This photo is that entire image.  And, the photo at the top of this blog is from Power Point clip art.

Often life is full of the good and the bad.  Some days it is easy to dwell on the dark or the bad, instead of remembering the light or the good.  I pray that we can remember the positive things in our lives.

I pray that we don’t get so mired down in the negative that we cannot see any positives.  I pray that when we are sad or mad, that we can feel that way and then know that it is okay to feel better.  Maybe not always good but often the combination of good and bad is realistic for the situations that we are sometimes in.

May God bless you and yours.  May we be there for each other.  May we listen to each other.  May we bear one another’s burdens.  May we not belittle the suffering of others but instead be supportive.  May we ask for help when we need it and know that doesn’t make us weak.  May we not judge others.  May we show compassion for others.  And, may we always, always love.

Last Monday of the Decade

Hi and Happy last Monday of the decade.  It is amazing to think that in a few days we will be starting a new year.  And a new decade.  2019 is almost finished and it is time for 2020 — almost.

It is odd that my love never saw this year that is almost finished.  It was a hard one for us with all of the firsts that we lived through after his death.  The fact he wasn’t here for any of 2019 is still hard to swallow, but we are trying.

2020 will have some major milestones for several family members, will be the year that Ian becomes a teenager (wow!), and will include more healing for us and many seconds.  Our life seems to be with Kirk and without Kirk. I am not sure how long that segmenting lasts but we are still in it.

I plan to write more in January and the rest of 2020.  Many months this year, I just couldn’t.  But as time has gone on, I have found it comforting and easier to share my feelings, my hurts, and those things that I am thankful for.  And, since this is just the second writing this month, I realize that I need to do more.

Over the Christmas week, I found a lot of quotes that I plan to write about in January.  I am inspired by these and thought it might be fun to share a few of my ideas about the meanings.  Ideas from you are also welcome.

A few quotes that come to mind as we celebrate this next to last day of this year and this decade:

  • “Don’t pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love,” — Dumbledore says to Harry in the last book of that great series
  • “Raise a glass to freedom something they can never take away.” — from Hamilton
  • “Security is a mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
  • “It’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get up.” — Vince Lombardi
  • “You are never to old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis
  • “It’s never to late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot”
  • “Life is about change, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s beautiful, but most of the time it’s both.” — Kristen Kreuk

May you have a great end of the year and a wonderful beginning of the new year. Blessings to you and yours.