A Jumble of Emotions

On this Maundy Thursday, I am a jumble of emotions. I found a photo that sums that up quite well. I posted that photo from Pieces of Soul on Facebook that said:

“Please know that I am trying the best I can to push myself through the pain, the fatigue, the fog, the insomnia, the guilt, the judgement, and particularly through the fear.” That sums it up quite well along with some funny times and some lovely memories.

The pain continues to come in waves and makes for some hard days. This week I have been working more on paperwork and calls of things that have to be resolved by me, a surviving spouse.  It is hard since these are things that Kirk and I did together and planned for our long-term future. It is hard to continue to realize that is not to be.

Thankfully I am sleeping better than I had been and that is helping with fatigue.  Still I seem to need more sleep that I used to and am still tired in the mornings. I am dreaming more now so the sleep is better and for that I am thankful. I am also dealing with emotional fatigue and the weight of this loss. Some days I can handle that and other days I can’t.

The fog of my brain seems to be lifting and that is good and bad. I am moving out of the shock and having to confront this loss head-on. That is very painful but part of the grieving process. The first week, I could barely answer someone when they asked me a question. I would just stare blankly at people. Now, I can answer, sometimes with crying and sometimes not. So, this is improving.

I still sometimes have insomnia but it isn’t as frequent now.  That is good since I don’t function well without a good night’s sleep.  I still usually wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Sometimes I can easily go back to sleep and other times it is difficult. So, I will then think of all kinds of things — a fun memory, how sad I am, our loss, and so much more.

Guilt is starting to fester for me now and I don’t like it. I continue to wish that I could have done more for him that morning in November. I feel bad that I didn’t call 911 sooner, and wonder if I could have changed something, would he still be here?  I know that a lot of professionals tried to revive him and couldn’t, so I need to have peace with what I did do. Still, the guilt is there.

Judgement is not something I have been feeling yet, other than of myself and what signs I should have seen in him that we could have looked into. Still, I know that he is in a much better place and is no longer having any issues. He is at peace and is in a place of real and unconditional love and grace. And that is a comfort for me.

As far as fear, that is a very real feeling that I am trying to keep under control. Still, many days my fears and worries come up. I worry that something will happen to me and I worry that something will happen to our son. I so want to see him grow into a man, to graduate from high school, to have an amazing life and family of his own. I just hate that his dad won’t be here for those milestones.

It is interesting after a sudden death, the mind plays tricks on you that your fate will be the same. I hope and pray that will not be the case for us, but who knows. In addition, I worry that I cannot handle all of this on my own. I had a team-mate and life partner to go through it all and now he is gone. I am trying and continue to do so, but know I am lacking in so many ways. I just have to make peace with what I can do and try each day to do something.

Along with all of this, our son and I continue to talk, share memories of his dad, laugh about them, laugh about new things, and enjoy being together. The fact that we have each other is such a blessing. And, we have family and friends who have helped us so very much with prayers, with being there, with lunches out, with movies, with chatting, with gifts, and with support. Despite our pain, we are blessed.

Tonight we will be at church for our Maundy Thursday service where we will celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper. On the night he was betrayed, he broke break and shared it with his disciples. They then drank wine together.

At our service, we will partake of the bread and wine together. We will talk about Holy Week and the terrible things that Jesus suffered before his death and resurrection. We will be reminded that he didn’t want this fate but took it on anyway. Talk about love.

On Friday, we will listen to his last words on the cross, and then imagine his death and burial. The church will get dark and everyone will leave quietly and reflect on Good Friday.  And, on Sunday, we will celebrate his triumph.  We have a sunrise service at a local marina that I enjoy attending. The beauty of nature with the beauty of Easter is an amazing blessing.

This year, my love is in Heaven to celebrate this Easter morning miracle. I cry happy tears just thinking about it. And, I expect tears to flow over the next few days. I look forward to singing the amazing songs and remember the importance of them all. I know I will be emotional for this first Easter without Kirk, so I am trying to prepare. Still, I will cry as I need to.

Each Easter, we dressed up and took plenty of pictures. I am so very thankful that we did. This weekend with family and friends, we will take more photos.  And, I expect to have lovely memories with them, have some laughs with loved ones, enjoy those moments together, and live life to the fullest.

May those of you also grieving this Holy Week have hope for brighter days. May you have peace along with the pain. May you know the promise of Easter and life everlasting.  And, may you have love along with the loss.

The Blessing of The Dash

Clouds_POD_8-15-14During the holiday season, several of my loved ones have lost those who are very dear to them.  Five of my friends have had family members or friends pass away.  And a few famous people who meant a lot to me have also died.  So this holiday time is very bittersweet.

I have been sad and it has had me thinking about the dash.  In all of our lives there is a date we are born, then the dash, and the year that we die. None of us knows when that second date will be, but we can make the most of our dash.

We can make the most of our life, enjoy the time with our friends and family, try new things, and take risks.  And, we can be blessings to one another, spend time with those we love, tell them that we love them, and live our lives to the fullest.  We can exercise, eat those foods we enjoy, walk in the rain, sing to a favorite song, hug each other, and so much more.

As my friend Gordon D. used to say, never be a grave hugger.  I learned this in my early twenties and it has stuck with me all of these years. His point was to never leave something unsaid, and to be sure to resolve arguments and problems as much as you possibly can.  He didn’t want his friends to have regrets when someone they love passes away.

I try to live this way and make the most of my time with friends and family.  But, I cannot do everything and sometimes have to say no.  And, I am not the best at keeping in touch with people or finishing every task.  For example, I have finished writing the Christmas cards but still have to buy stamps and mail them.  Tomorrow, we will do that.

May we find a way to enjoy our dash and have a great life.  May we help those we love to also have a great life.  May we love, forgive, and actually be involved in life.  We are not spectators after all, but active participants.

May we not wish our lives away or wish we could go back.  May we savor each moment and keep going.  May we help those grieving and realize they need time and lots of love.  There is no right way to grieve or no right time frame.  May we be there for one another.

Quotes about making the most of our life:

  • “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~ Charles Richards
  • “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.” ~ Wayne Dyer
  • “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” ~ Braveheart
  • “You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
  • “The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years.” ~ Edward J. Stieglitz

To those dealing with grief, may you be comforted and have fond memories.  And, may we remember to be there as needed and to always love.

Life is Short and So Precious

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I found out that a high school classmate had passed away.  She had been sick with melanoma.  It came as a complete shock to many of us.  We knew she had been sick but not how serious it was.  J was loved by so many and will be missed.

I wasn’t very close to her but remember her fondly.  She was kind to everyone, always had a smile on her face, and had some dear friends who she has kept in regular contact with since elementary school.   One of my best friends was close to her and part of that special circle.

My thoughts and prayers are with J’s family.  She is survived by her husband, children, mother, sister, and many friends.  Some who have known her since elementary school and others from more recent years.  J is now a lovely soul in Heaven who will be missed.

As my friend so eloquently said regarding J’s death, when you have someone on your mind and in your heart, they are there for a reason, take the time right at that moment to reach out to them and let them know you are thinking of them. You just simply do not know when the time will come that you are not able to do that anymore.  I totally agree.

Life truly is precious and so very short.  We don’t know how long we have or how long we have to let someone know we love them.  Twenty-five years ago, my paramedic friend Gordon D. advised me to never be a grave hugger, meaning always tell someone you love them when you can and have no regrets.

I have tried to live my life this way but do sometimes forget to do so.  And, then surprising news like this brings back the importance of it.  I am going to work to make this a priority again.

Cheers to you J!  It was an honor to know you.  You are loved and missed.  Rest in Peace.

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Making The Most Of The Dash

DSC_0337Hi and Happy Monday!  This was a tough yet wonderful weekend.  We celebrated the life of my precious grandmother who passed away last Wednesday.  Dear family and friends gathered to celebrate this fine woman who I was honored to call Grandma.

The memorial service was a great celebration of her life and her faith.  My father and my brother both gave amazing remarks and remembrances about her, and the pastor who  I have known for most of my life and performed my wedding gave a very nice sermon.   And we sang a few of Grams’ favorite hymns.  We cried and laughed.

My Aunt and Dad found an amazing book called “The Dash” that was used in Dad’s remarks.  It was written by Linda Ellis.  It is truly touching and I cry each time I read it.   Here are the words to “The Dash”…

“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.  He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFor that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.  What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?”

DSC06130Isn’t that lovely?  It is perfect for remembering those dear to us and also has some great things to think about.

My grandmother made the most of her dash and taught us how to do the same.  She loved her family, friends, gardening, good food and wine, reading, and the beach.  She was deeply loved by her family and friends.

She had a lot of life in the dash from January 11, 1921 — March 26, 2014.  May we make the most of our dash as well!