Monthly Archives: June 2015

Surviving when Life kicks you in the buttocks…

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I know that my title is strange, but my husband always used the term buttocks, so it seemed fitting.  And really, that’s what it has felt like for the past four years.  Like life kicked us in the buttocks.

Like really hard… 

You’ve heard of sucker punches?

Well if there’s a sucker punch for the behind, that’s what it has felt like for quite some time.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I have to tell you a little more about my husband first.  Then maybe the title will make just a little more sense to you and you won’t think that I’m weird or inappropriate.  Or maybe you will; it could go either way.

 He was my best friend.

Someone I could talk to and share my heart with.

He was literally my only guy friend at the time

that didn’t try to push for something more than friendship.

I felt safe with him.

He knew my heart and he got me.

I never imagined that one day that he would become my husband.

But he did. 

It was like a fairy tale.

We never dated.

We never kissed.

                              He was my very best friend and one day he asked me to become his wife.

And I did.

One practice kiss before the ceremony, and a few hours later he was mine.

I was his.

And it was beautiful.

We shared our life and the children came and glued us together. Jobs came and went and a few gray hairs popped up here and there but his beautiful smile still melted my heart, and I seemed to melt his…

He encouraged me, he pointed me to Christ, he loved me, he believed in me; and we were happy.

Happier than I’d ever been before….

Life was good.

We were good.

The kids were getting older, and we grew even closer…

We dreamed together of our future…

A house in the country…

A huge front porch where we would watch our future grandchildren play

as we sipped sweet tea in our matching rocking chairs…

And then he got sick…

A stomach ache…

Which turned out to be colon cancer…

And I got scared.

And he told me to trust God.

So we prayed.

And we believed.

And he died.

For fifteen years, eight months, twenty-nine days,

two hours and fifty-two minutes I was his wife and he was my beloved.

I thought that in the end, our story would be our testimony of God’s goodness.

Instead; it is my testimony of his goodness and faithfulness.

It’s been almost two years since my husband passed away.

Two years.

Two years without hearing his voice, or feeling his arms around me.

Two years without his advice or encouragement.

Two years of being alone without my best friend.

If you’re married; close your eyes right now and imagine that for a few minutes…

Really think of how that would feel.

It’s not a good feeling, I can assure you…

I’m not sure how I’ve survived aside from the grace of God.

You see, He (God) was front and center in our relationship. He was the entire basis of what we were as a couple. He sustained us through a two year battle with cancer that ultimately took my husband home to be with the Lord.

Our five children were part of the equation that got me out of bed each day…

The other part of equation was that still quiet voice that spoke to my heart in the depths of my grief.

People kept telling me that I was strong…

That I was “amazing…”

I felt anything but those things.

I wasn’t strong at all.

I wanted to scream and cry and just disappear from my life.

I wanted to hide from the pain of living without my husband.

How was I supposed to live without the love of my life and my best friend in the whole world?

I’ll be honest… I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to live without him.

It just hurt too much.

The pain was unlike any pain I’d felt in my entire life and I was no stranger to pain.

It was hard.

There were lots of tears during that first year…

And I’ll be honest when I say that I wasn’t always up to wiping their tears when I felt empty and broken inside, myself. But I pushed myself, encouraged their hearts and often cried along with them.

I remember one day while I was cooking, I just broke down in the kitchen… The pain was just too great to bear… This was not supposed to be how things turned out. He should have been walking through the door soon and greeting me in the kitchen with a kiss hello as he did every day since we’d been married. I broke down into tears and slid to the floor… I was no longer the person watching an emotional scene on television; somehow I had become that person…

Because surely this was a movie and not my life…

It couldn’t be…

This couldn’t be real.

And yet there I was, in a crumpled mess on the floor in my kitchen living out every melodramatic crying scene I’d ever watched on tv. Except this was real. There were no commercial breaks or actors involved.

This was my life.

And I was falling apart.

I couldn’t hide my tears anymore and

I couldn’t pretend to be brave any longer…

It wasn’t very long when I felt several sets of arms encircling me… “It’s ok Mommy…. We’re going to see him again.” “Don’t be sad Mamma,” another voice said. “We love you Mom,” yet another much deeper voice urged. “We can get through this together Mamma,” my little one added. I opened my eyes and saw that my children had encircled me… They were repeating all of the things that I’d been telling them. They had listened and they were now encouraging me. They all sat around me on the kitchen floor and we all began to weep. It had been about six months since we’d lost him and the pain was still very fresh.

It was then that I made my decision to live.

I was still here and God obviously had something for me to do.

I had to make that decision to live. I had to decide what kind of life I wanted to live. Was I going to be bitter and angry or live in a constant state of depression? I didn’t want to do either. My children had already lost their father, I didn’t want them to lose me as well.

It hasn’t been easy, but God has been faithful. He has surrounded me with friends who have supported me and my parents who have been there for us as well. He has provided for us financially and emotionally. He is the reason that I get out of bed each day.

I have to be honest.

I wouldn’t have chosen this life.

I still miss my husband. He was and is still the love of my life. But I know that I can survive without him because I know who God is. He has given me the strength to go back to school and work on attaining my Master’s Degree in Counseling. He has given me the wisdom to love these five kiddo’s through their own grief while working my way through mine.

I’m a widow.

It’s still an ugly word to me.

I don’t like it at all.

But I’m also an overcomer. (Thank you Ms. Mandisa) I’m a child of God. I’m a mother. A student. I’m a teacher. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I am so much more than the word widow allows for… I was his wife and now I’m not.  But I’m also so much more now.  I am a person who knows that people die and bad things happen.  I am a person who knows that life isn’t always fair and that you don’t always get that happy ending that you see in the movies.  But I’m also the person that knows that even though all of that is true that it does not take away from who God is, or what he is capable of…  He is still good, and true and real and merciful.  Because of what I have experienced in losing my husband I am a person who loves harder, feels more, believes more and trusts in God more.

I have survived because I refuse to let my husband’s death be in vain.

God had a purpose in it.

He has a purpose in all that he does.

He has a purpose for me and my children

and his death has birthed some things in us that we didn’t realize existed prior to his death.

How do you survive tragedy?

One day at a time.

Moment by moment…

Each moment; hanging onto God for dear life.

Because no matter what it looks like, he’s always in control. As my husband told me when he was diagnosed with cancer, “Baby, this didn’t catch God by surprise.” “It’s not like he was up in Heaven saying, ‘Oops! Robert has cancer! What am I gonna do?’” “The bottom line babe; is that He knows everything and he doesn’t make mistakes. I trust him. You have to trust him too.”

I don’t think he could have imagined how much I would think back on that conversation.  It has sustained me through some very difficult times.

Whatever it is that you’re dealing with;

good, bad, or ugly;

it hasn’t caught God by surprise.

The reality is that we put God in a box and look at him through our own failings and shortcomings.

Today, almost two years later, I can smile without crying…

Look at his pictures without crying….

And almost begin to dream again.

It’s still not the life I wanted or planned for, but I’m trusting that God knows what he’s doing… Life may have taken me by surprise, but I’m happy to know that God isn’t IMG_6357surprised by any of it.  So while Life may have kicked us both in the buttocks, I’d like to think I’m kicking back now, and that God is here with me, guiding my foot. 🙂

Be blessed friends…

God doesn’t need my help and other general realities…

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It’s been almost two years… Can you believe that?  Two years that my husband has been gone, and yet it still seems so new to me.  It seems like last month, not almost two years ago.  Time has passed, and the seasons have changed (as much as they can in Texas) and yet, here I find myself still grieving.  It’s changed, morphed if you will, into something different, but it’s grief none the less.  It’s a realization that  unlike what some of my friends may have thought, I have no interest in pursuing a relationship with someone simply because I should be over my husband by now.  Believe it or not, I am still very much in love with Robert.  I don’t know if that means we had an amazing love for each other or if I’m just obsessed.  I don’t think I am.  I think I was just loved very well by him, and while I am lonely at times, it is not simply for some random guy, but for my husband.

Tonight, as I tucked my twelve-year-old daughter in, (yes, I still tuck her in per her request) she began to cry, saying that she missed Daddy.  (I’ll be honest, I was worn out from working with little sleep and then going to a school planning meeting after work and I just wanted to goto bed)  My initial thought was, couldn’t you have missed him earlier?  I know.  Mother of the year award here.  I’m just being real with you.  I’m tired.  I’m just honestly kind of exhausted.  Grieving is draining.  I’ve dealt with some other emotional issues this past week as well that I won’t go into, but it brought up a great deal of pain.

So, she was missing Daddy, and her brown eyes were just brimming with tears, her nose was red, and she began to sniffle.  I knelt down and hugged her.  I told her that I missed him too.  That he was such a good Dad, that it was impossible not to miss him.

Bear started to cry…

Then I started to cry…

Then we all cried…

I felt an arm go around me and saw that Bobby D. had come into the room to console us and he had tears in his eyes.  Thankfully little boy was already asleep in the other room…

And so the four of us cried.  And then we cried some more.

And then Bear said she needed some tissue because she “had snot,”

and Bobby D. got her some tissue, and yes, we cried some more…

I talked to them all, I recited scripture, and I prayed over each of us.  I thanked the Lord for our time with him and I asked him to strengthen us…  To be the Father to my children that I couldn’t possibly be…

It’s hard y’all.

The hardest part of Robert’s cancer was seeing him in pain.  I could deal with anything but that.  When I saw him shed tears for the first time in our fifteen years of marriage, something inside me broke.  I prayed for God to heal him and take me as if God was in the business of making deals…  I could be strong, I could fight cancer and death and anything at all; but Lord; to see my husband in pain killed me.

I think that has been the hardest thing to see with my children.

Much like with Robert, I can’t take their pain away.  

There is no magic wand that will magically make everything better.  They are well-adjusted for the most part, and they are surrounded by their friends who walked with them during Robert’s cancer and subsequent passing, but there are those moments like tonight that come unexpectedly every so often like an unwelcome guest in your home.

I’m trying so hard to be a good mother to them. To find ways to say yes, to nurture them, to love them, to encourage them and to be their biggest cheerleader.

But I won’t lie and say it’s easy.

It’s hard.

Especially when there are days when I’m just wishing Jesus would come back already and take us all home.  There are days that I don’t want to get out of bed.  Days when I wake up not remembering that he’s gone.  Days when I’m asleep and dreaming of him and awaken only to be reminded of the cruel truth.  Days when I’m just plain exhausted.

But….

There are also the days when we laugh so hard we cry.  Days when I really get how blessed we truly are and how things could be much worse…  Days when a friend reminds me of what fun is…  Days when I remember how life used to be before cancer…  It’s not all bad.  It’s not all good.  It just is…

This is our life.

I was reminded tonight as I prayed for my sweet kiddo’s that I can’t possibly do this alone.

I’m a single mom who is in graduate school, leads a home school support group, leads my daughter’s bible/girls group, teaches classes in my home, teaches classes in my home school co-op, sells various things for extra income including jewelry and also has a part-time job to boot.  Oh, and I home school my children.

And yet, while I said that I can’t do it alone, that’s exactly what I’ve been attempting to do. Because I’m self-sufficient and I’m able. (at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself)

Except that I’m not.
At.  All.

I serve a mighty God, who is more able than I will ever be on any given day to raise my children. I serve a God who can take care of all of my needs. I serve a God who knows exactly what my children and I need at any given moment.

So why do I act like I have to have all of the answers?

(Because I don’t; and I don’t have to…)

A few days before my husband passed away, he sat us all down and talked to us about what could possibly happen to him, and he gave us some instructions on what to do in the event that he should pass away.

He said, “I want you to remember that no matter what happens, that God loves you.  I don’t want you to be angry with him, because he knows what’s best, and we have to trust him. He can heal me, but he may choose not to, and if he doesn’t that’s ok. I trust him, and I need you to trust him as well.  We may never understand what he’s doing on this side of heaven, but he has a perfect plan for all of us.  He’s going to take care of you and Mamma.  Y’all need to stick together and stay close to God, and remember that he’s in control, no matter what it may look like.”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.

It was the worst and best day. It was the worst, because I never wanted to think of living without him. It was the best because I fell in love with him just a little more… He had such faith. He was the one. My one. My person. And he was telling me to let him go and trust God.

He knew me like no one had ever known me in my life, and because he knew me, he made me promise to keep homeschooling the children.

(It was his idea originally; I thought he had gone crazy)

He also made me promise to finish my Master’s Degree that I had just started.

(because he knew I’d want to quit; which I did about ten times last semester)

Like I said; he knew me well.

I guess if I want you to take anything away from this, it’s that it’s still hard at times. I loved my husband. I really liked my husband. We talked everyday, about everything. We shared everything. We finished each other’s sentences. We were one; and I’m still trying to figure out how to live with a piece of myself missing. It’s as if someone came and tore a limb from my body. Of course, there are bandages in place, and the bleeding has stopped, but the arm is still missing. It’s healing slowly, but much like an amputee, I’m having to learn still, how to live and function without that limb.
The passage of time couldn’t possibly make the arm grow back, though it’s not as gory and messy as before. It’s still missing. And there are the pains associated with that limb no longer being there.

That’s the best analogy that I can think of to express how it feels to lose a husband.

My kiddo’s miss him quite a bit of course. Bear was two when he became ill and four when he died. At six, as she grows, she now realizes just what she’s missing in not having her Dad here. Little boy, who is nine has a hard time not having his Dad around and gets very emotional when he sees his friends with their Dads. Big girl, well, I honestly worry about her a lot, because she’s much like her Dad and holds it all inside. She has cried four times in two years. Bobby D. has his moments and wishes he could talk to his Dad about “guy stuff” and sports, as he’s quite the sports fanatic now. My oldest son, just has a sad look in his eyes when we mention Robert… I know he feels like he missed out on a lot because he didn’t live with us when Robert became ill.

We’re all trying… Trying to make a life without him.  I’m still trying to figure it all out.  We had an argument once and I remember telling him that I didn’t “need him” but that I wanted him.  I can survive without my husband; I just don’t want to.  He was kind of awesome really.  He was annoying too, lest I give the impression that he was perfect.  (He wasn’t)

He was just perfect for me.  He said the same about me. 🙂  

That’s the update….

I’m doing too much, on my own, when I need to rely on God.

That’s about the gist of it.

There’s no grand theme here, except that you know as I do

that God can do things way better than we can.

So if you’re struggling with letting go and letting God handle whatever it is in your life, I think we both know that we both, all of us really, have to let it go and rely on God.

If you’re still doubtful, google the Grand Canyon.

Can you do that?

Didn’t think so.

I told you so, he can do it better.

He sooooo doesn’t need our help.

Be blessed friends.  

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