When remembering kicks you in the gut and makes you want to scream… But that sounds negative, so how about this; Remembering; even when it’s difficult there is good to be found…

This came up in my time hop today…  

Soooo..IMG_1169

Looks like my hubby’s cancer has returned.         We don’t know the details. We have an appointment Thursday with his doctor.                                        (She has his results from his pet scan)

I’m not sure how I feel.

I’m trusting God.
He’s trusting God.
Because he’s trustworthy….
He’s faithful, he’s good; He is our Father.

No.  Matter.  What.

We need lots of prayers.
Our kids need them…
This is when it gets real y’all.
That whole walking with Christ thing.

Put up or shut up faith.
He’s my Father. I trust him.
Trusting him with my beloved’s life.

Praying for 40 more years with my best friend;  but I’ll take whatever he gives me…Thanks for praying…

He was gone three months later…    

Fast forward almost four years later…

I remember this….
I remember feeling just heartbroken over it…
IMG_0475I remember asking Robert how I would survive without him…
I remember him looking at me and telling me that I would be okay…
I remember not believing him…

I remember telling him that I was angry with him because he had promised me that he would never leave me and yet he was…

He smiled at me and said, “You know I can’t help leaving woman; it’s not my decision.”  I remember him gently wiping the tears from my eyes, even as he lay in his hospital bed that now resided in our bedroom, as the quiet hum of his oxygen tank silently mocked me…

This just couldn’t be happening to him; to me; to us…                                                                                 But sadly, it was… 

It will be four years in August since he died.

Four years of living each day without him…
Four years without the love of my life and best friend.
The person who believed in me when no one else did.

The person who God used to pick up the broken pieces of my life and turn it into something more amazingly beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

If I’d had it my way, I would have remained single and childless.
My life would not resemble anything near what it does today.
Because even in the pain and loss,
there is immense joy and happiness.

God did that.
I didn’t know.
I had no plans to love him.
To be a mom.
To be a wife.
But God knew.

So though my heart still aches for him;
I’m thankful to God for the opportunity that he gave me to love him.

To be loved by him.
To grow through him.
To understand and experience what love really is and means…

I remember how I felt on our wedding day…
How nervous I was.
My shaking hands and his sweaty palms…

I remember how he accepted this single mom and her 8 month old son with no reservations at all…20140215-163211.jpg  I remember how happy he was when he found out a year later that we were pregnant with our first child together; little Robert…  How thrilled he was with each addition to our family…

I remember being embarrassed when he would introduce me to others as his “Beautiful wife Gretchen,” because though I didn’t feel beautiful, he seemed to think I was….

I remember so many things…

But perhaps the thing I remember most is how much he loved Jesus.  And because of that,  he knew how to love me.

I remember…

I’ll always remember…  

How will people remember you?  

I pray that you’re living a life that is full of amazing memories.

In the end, that’s really all you leave behind for those that love you…
Leave some good ones friend…
Some really, really, good ones…

Be blessed.

P.S. If this has spoken to your heart, please share with those that you know and love.

It was the way he loved her…

It wasn't that he was perfect.
Or that he did everything right. Because he wasn't and he didn't.
He was just a man.

But he was her man.

It was the way that he cared for her that made her heart flutter.
The "just because" phone calls and texts while he was at work and she was at home buried up to her knees in diapers and quarreling children.

It was the way he still looked at her even though time had blessed her with a few more wrinkles around her brown eyes, and the baby weight had refused to leave her as the years and pregnancies progressed.

It was the way he called her "girl," even though she was far from a girl now… He made her blush like a school girl, still; after all the years they'd been together.

It wasn't just one thing about him…
It was everything about him.

The way he smiled at her and kissed her each morning before he left for work and in the evenings when he came home from work.

It was his heart, and the way he helped little gray haired women with their groceries at the grocery store.
It was the way he read the Bible to their children each night and prayed over them before they went to sleep.

It was the essence of who he was that she loved so much.

Oh, he'd never become the successful engineer that he'd hoped to become; God had had other plans for him. He'd admitted that he felt like a failure at times. If he'd only known how wrong he'd been…

He was gone now.
He'd died.
Unfairly, it seemed, in her eyes…
Cancer.
Still such an ugly word to her.
It had stolen so much from her…
It had stolen the love of her life.

It had spit in her face and called her a widow. It had renamed her as a single mom. It had left her children fatherless…

She still hated the word.
She hated the illness that had torn her heart from her chest and handed it to her to bury.

But; it couldn't touch her memories.

So many wonderful, amazing memories… No, he'd never been the perfect man; but it had been the perfect love …

And for her, for now; it was enough.

Be blessed friends,
Gretchen

Thinking out loud aka Random thoughts from a widow…

I share alot.
Rob always thought I shared a bit too much.
He may have been right in his assumption, I process things by discussing them. img_1789
Since I no longer have my husband to talk to and hash things out, I have a few close friends who have the honor of hearing all of my “stuff…”
Like all the time.
Lol. (Thanks friends)

None the less, I still share here because, well, I’m me…
It’s kind of what I do.

So here are a few things on my mind…
While I am still grieving, I am not drowning or wallowing in my grief.

I have a wonderful life.
I’m extremely blessed.
But the fact of the matter is, I will likely never stop missing my husband.
He was my best friend and the love of my life.
I’m sure this will cause problems in future relationships, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I will probably always talk about him or post about him on significant days, but I’m not pining for him.
I know where he is.
He was a strong believer who loved God immensely.

But lest you feel sorry for me, know that I’m ok.
I just still miss him and love him.
I don’t know what the Lord is going to do with me, but I trust him.
I don’t know if I’ll remain single or end up married again and honestly, I’m not worried about it.  I’ve always been okay being on my own.
I was before Robert and though I miss him, I’m not going to die being single.

I’ve been single for three years.
I’m waiting on the right man if there is such a thing; and no not a perfect man or a replicated Robert, but someone who loves Jesus and likes Star Wars and the Avengers and hopefully likes to read.

(I know, I’m deep like that)

Life is short.
I plan on living whatever time the Lord allows in the best way possible.
So my plan is to be thankful.
Thankful for my family.
My children.
My mother who is still alive and sows into me still.
My friends who love me and support me.
My Dad Jimmy who blesses the socks off of me.
My oldest sons who drive me crazy and make me laugh so hard until I cry.
My littles, who still enjoy the little things and make me smile daily.
My ten year old who challenges me daily and warms my heart in the very next moment.
The sweet and tender memories I have of my husband.
Our fights, our laughter, our tears and our joys.

All of it.
Everything.

Folks, my life changed in a most horrible way so many years ago. It started with a mysterious stomach ache and led us to live in hospitals and deal with teaching our children an ugly lesson about the word cancer.

Things change so quickly and often without warning.

Because of it, today, I am a different person.
I’m just not the same and that’s okay as well.

The difference in the old me and the me of today, is that I truly realize that it’s not each day that is a gift; it’s each moment.

Seize each moment.
Each boring, mundane, exciting, tumultuous and crazy moment this life offers up to you. Take a picture of it in your mind.
Breathe it in and breathe it out.
Thank God for it, because the moments don’t last forever.

Even the hard stuff. That passes as well, thankfully.

Above all, Remember that He’s always there with you.
Through everything. Every. Thing. Always.
He said he would never leave us nor forsake us, and God is the only one who has never lied to me as far as I know.

Ok.
I’m done now.
You read a lot.
You deserve a treat.
Go grab some coffee or chocolate and then throw some glitter in the air.
It makes everything better!

I don’t want to get over him…

imageI’ve come to realize over the past few weeks, that I don’t want to get over my husband.

While I realize that my statement may alarm my family and friends, stick with me for a minute.

You see, I was of the mind that the only way I would ever get over my husband was by meeting someone new. A new relationship would allow me to get over him, and enable me to move on with my life.

Recently, I’ve come to a new understanding.

I loved my husband. We were best friends. He was everything to me. I still love my husband despite the fact that he’s been gone for three years. I never entered into our marriage with the idea that I wouldn’t love him for the rest of my life.

I understand that he’s gone, I know that he died and that he’s not coming back, but does that magically mean that I’m supposed to tell my heart to stop feeling?

His absence from my life has no bearing on the way that I feel about him.

I don’t want to get over my husband because what we had was real.

We were friends. We respected each other. We loved each other. We genuinely cared for one another. He protected my very fragile heart and provided a safe place for me to rest in his arms.

We were passionate and silly…                    We laughed until we cried. We argued and fussed and made up and cuddled and talked about a future that involved our grandchildren… We dreamed together, and in the end, we mourned that we would not be allowed to finish this life together.

I’m not holding onto the past; I’m simply saying that it’s ok for me to still love my husband and not be interested in dating or starting a new relationship. Yes I’m human, and I get lonely from time to time.

However, to be honest, I’m lonely for Robert.  I’m lonely for my husband.

I miss his deep voice, and the way he called me “girl,” as if he failed to see the gray wisps of hair that had begun to pop up in my head… I miss the way he would complain about giving me foot rubs, but would massage my feet anyway.

I miss a thousand things about my husband.

The way he would get up in the middle of the night and say, “You need to come to be woman, you know I can’t sleep without you.” (I’ve always been a night owl.)  I miss his laughter that always made me smile and laugh and his amazingly beautiful smile that lit up his entire face and reminded me of how much I loved him. We truly enjoyed each other.

I miss my man. He was such a good guy. So yeah, I don’t want to get over him.  I just want to live my life in a way that would make him proud.

I hear him telling me I can do this, as he so often told me when I doubted myself. I imagine his smile when our children say or do something funny…  I hear him telling me to stay close to God and to continue seeking Him.  Until his death, I hadn’t realized how much I learned from my husband. How much my broken heart healed in loving him.

Lest you be dismayed, if God brought someone in my life, I would listen to Him and give someone a chance. But to be real with you, my priority is and will always be raising my children. They come first and I would be okay in choosing to live a life alone.

I have had the kind of love that people write about. The kind of love that movies depict and people dream of…. It was ordained by God and blessed by Him.

Why would I want to ever get over a love like that?  I don’t. And you know what? That’s ok.

Be blessed friends…  IMG_0296

 

I hate my life, which is a weird title, and hate is a strong word, so how about “I’m generally unsatisfied with my current life status…” (Is that better?) 


This looks weird. I know… 

But it’s how I’ve been feeling lately. As if I’m walking through life with my eyes closed… Afraid to look at what’s happening around me, paralyzed and unable to really participate in my own life. 

The truth is, I know I’m very blessed. Like really really blessed. But there are moments when it all just seems like too much. Its not just being a single mom, it’s all of it. All of life.  More succinctly, all of life without Robert. 

It’s been almost three years since my husband died and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. I feel like I’m walking in the dark without him. I’m playing at life without really being a part of my own life. 

I feel like I’m almost sleepwalking through life. 

I’ll be honest with you… I don’t like my life…  I realize that sounds bad.  Let me clarify… I don’t like my life without Robert. It just doesn’t seem right with him not here. 

He was my best friend. He was my person.  He was the person that I shared everything with. Every thought, every emotion, every pain and every joy. 

I miss that. A lot. 

I envy people who are married… I envy those whose husbands come home at the end of the day… 

I miss my five o’clock kisses in the kitchen. His deep voice asking me about my day. His texts to say that he loved me just because. I miss us laughing together and our long deep conversations.  I miss our long talks after church discussing the sermon of the day. 

I miss him. 

My best friend, my husband, my heart, my boy, my man…

My everything rolled up into one person. 

I don’t like my life without him at all. I’m just being transparent here.  I wish I could magically change the past and make the last five years disappear. However, I know I can’t do that. 

So here’s what I’ve decided to do… 

While I don’t like my life without Robert, I’m going to trust that God knows what He’s doing despite my feelings.  

I’m going to create a life that I love.  

I’m going to raise my kids and enjoy them. I’m going to dance in my kitchen and laugh at myself…  

I’m going to go on long walks and stay up late on the weekends and camp out in my backyard with my kids…  I’m going to have the life with my children that Robert and I talked about for so many years. 

I don’t like my life… But I’m going to learn how to love it anyway. 

I know that’s what my husband would want me to do.  I know that’s what God wants me to do. 

I know that’s what I need to do. 

So excuse my weird picture…  And my ramblings. Here’s to walking through life with opened eyes… Here’s to creating a life that you love even if you don’t like your circumstances… We can do this… God says we can, and he like; knows stuff.   

I double dog dare you to love your life.  😘😉

Be blessed… 

What does love look like? 

20140215-163211.jpg

It’s February, and sometime right after Christmas little hearts and red heart shaped boxes full of chocolates and goodies started popping up everywhere. It’s close to Valentine’s Day and restaurants everywhere will be chock full of lovers set out to celebrate their love soon.

I suppose that’s what made me start thinking about it.

What is love really? Is it demonstrated by cards and letters and gifts proudly passed through the hands of those who declare their love? Or is it something more?

I think we’d all agree it’s definitely more.

When my husband lay on his death bed weakened and unable to communicate with me, I sat by his bedside and prayed…  I wiped the sweat from his brow and read him scriptures that I knew brought him comfort.

His body, once strong and healthy, was left weakened and frail. He was never a small man by any means of the word, but he had lost so much weight that he didn’t resemble the strong muscular army private I had married.

I was losing him. Each day, I lost a little more and my heart broke just a little more with each passing moment…

In those private moments that no one else saw, I discovered after almost 16 years of marriage what love was.

I was washing his body in the bathtub as he sat on a shower chair when he could no longer stand, him apologizing to me, and me telling him I’d punch him in the face if he apologized again. Because, “This is what we do hon, we take care of each other. You’d do it for me. Now stop apologizing.”

You see, he felt bad that I had to help him. He was a proud man. He didn’t like asking for help. The thing is, I wanted to be the one who was there for him.

I loved him, and while he was no longer healthy and had little to offer me (his words not mine) and things were really really hard; I promised him when we were married that I would be there for him always. I was going to keep my word to my beloved.

In the weeks to follow Robert lost the ability to talk. I didn’t think I could mourn losing him before he died, but there it was. My heart was slowly crumbling and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the heartache of losing my very best friend in the whole world.

One day in particular when he was bedridden, there was a mix up with the  nurse who was supposed to come and bathe him. I was aggravated at the nurse, and I was worn out from little to no sleep. I had taken to sleeping on an air mattress at the end of his hospital bed so that I could be close to him if he needed me.

I asked him if it was okay if I bathed him, knowing how he must feel at not being able to do anything for himself. He nodded with what little strength he had.  I gathered my supplies, a bowl of warm water, soap, a wash cloth and towel, and I began to gently wipe his broken body.

In that moment, as tears streamed down my face, I felt the Lord very clearly say to my heart, “This Gretchen. This is what love is. You have loved him well.” I don’t know why God chose that moment to explain to me what love was, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Love is not always something that is shiny or glittery or easy. Sometimes it’s hard and ugly…. I could have walked away from my husband. People do it all the time when there are situations that are too hard to face. I chose to walk closer to him.

Watching my husband die was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do… (And I’ve experienced some hard things in my life) However, I know that despite the difficulty of seeing my husband in immense pain, he knew that I loved him. He knew that I was hurting as well, but I never allowed that to interefere with my care for him.

I’ll be honest. There were times when I wanted to run away, hide from cancer and the world and everything. But the thing is, I wanted to take him with me.  Leaving without him was never an option.

Love is ultimately a choice.

We choose who we love, how we love and if we love each other well. Selfishness is the opposite of love. Loving a person means that you put them before yourself or your own feelings and hopefully they do the same for you.

In my marriage that was the case. We were never this perfect couple who did everything right, but we worked through our issues and chose to allow our difficulties to strengthen our marriage.

It’s been almost three years since my husband passed away. There’s not a day that I don’t think about him… The blessing of that is that I’m not filled with regret.

I served him well, we loved each other well, and I am honored to have cared for him until he took his last breath. While it was difficult, I chose to focus on him and not myself. My needs could wait, because he needed me. I have no regrets aside from wanting more time with him.

Because we chose to love to God first, we were able to love each other.  I am thankful and honored that God allowed me to love him and be loved by him. Choosing to love my husband was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Love is a choice.  Choose well.

Dance with me…

IMG_4447

We used to dance in the kitchen.

Me and the kids…

Me and Rob…

I’d always try to get him to slow dance and he would; for about a minute; and then break out in his Kappa Kappa Psi (his college fraternity) moves, circling around me as I glared at him and laughed.

That’s back when we used to laugh a lot. 

We still laughed after cancer; but it wasn’t as free or pure.                                                                 It was laughter with the reality that maybe we didn’t have as much time to laugh together as we’d once hoped.

Fast forward four years…

The dancing had stopped.

The laughter was stilted.

And then something just seemed to happen and the golden joy of laughter returned.                             The dancing began again.                                                                                                             Hope came home and unpacked it’s bags;                                                                                 laughter soon followed, apologizing for being gone for so long.

We didn’t realize how much we’d missed them until they’d returned.

The smiles became genuine again…

The laughter returned, deep and loud….

Music began to play and the insatiable desire to move to the melodies overcame us.

Joy overtook us…

Like a faint memory of a life long gone, we began to remember…

To remember the good things…                                                                                                     The pure things…                                                                                                                         The things that used to make us happy.

We’d always love him.                                                                                                                       We’d always miss him.                                                                                                                     We’d never get over him…                                                                                                               He was too good to ever forget.

But we could breathe again.                                                                                                             And smile.                                                                                                                                       And laugh.                                                                                                                                     And yes, dance...

Be blessed friends… 🙂

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