Day 47: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

English: Mustard seeds by David Turner Februar...
Mustard seeds by David Turner February 23, 2005

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.
      The Bible
      Matthew 17:20 

Almost every ounce of you is screaming I can’t do this. You can do this. You can make it through this, and if you trust in your faith, you can come out the other side a whole person. Find that piece of you–the piece that thinks you just might make it through. Once you have it in your grasp, don’t let go. 

A little faith in God, and some determination from you, and that little tiny seed can grow. Even a seed knows its path. First, all seeds must take root; building a foundation to support the rest of its journey. Once the root system has developed enough, the plant starts making its way to the surface. Eventually, it will burst though the soil and face the world around it. Let God grow within you; let Him nourish your soul.

It is easy to pull away from your faith when your world is upside down and inside out. Just keep in mind, with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Take that teeny seed and nourish it through your faith. Lean into your faith instead of away from it. If you do, blessings will abound.

Terrible Things

When terrible things happen, we search for answers and someone to blame. We want to know why this happened to us. Suppose we found an answer, would it matter? Would it change the suffering–the hole left in our hearts?

Sometimes there is no reason–its nobody’s fault. Sometimes bad stuff happens to us because it does. So, what can we do? We can find a way to turn tragedy into triumph. Allow this to shape your life. There are many things that can happen after the death of a loved one. If you allow it to shape you–if you use the skills you learn as you grieve–you will discover new passions and be amazed by your capabilities.

Instead of crawling into a hole, shout to the world that you are here. If we crawl in that hole, or if we are consumed with revenge, then our loved one remains a memory–their death remembered as a tragedy. If we honor our loved one with success and passion, then they live on through our actions–nonsense becomes a blessing. There is no better gift.

Day 36: 365 Days of Motivation for Widows

‘The future comes one day at a time.’    –Dean Acheson

What a blessing and a curse. When everything comes up roses, we want to slow down and make it last forever. We want to soak it in—hold on to every scent, sound, and touch. Yet, because life is one day at a time, it isn’t possible. One day, those wonderful days give way to challenges and heartache. Heartaches so deep it brings us to our knees, begging for mercy.

Sometimes those changes are rapid and without warning. Other times we slowly suffer day after day, with no relief in sight. Whichever way trouble finds us, we wish we could move past it as quickly as possible. We pray to God for changes—often we offer up promises of change and growth if only we could have one more chance.

The happy days always seem to move much faster than those days of woe. No matter the illusion of time, it remains steady. There is some comfort in knowing there is equality in the world—even when we wish differently, our lives move one day at a time. That’s the curse of time.

While there is comfort in consistency, losing a spouse makes every day a series of haunting memories. In the beginning, the thought of passing days only brings pain. We need those days to give us time—we need time to understand our situation. As painful as it is, we must live in it and process it in order to start moving in the right direction towards healing.

There are ways to dance around the pain, but you will never feel whole again.  Your past and all the pain will build and build until it smothers you. You will never be the person God intended you to be, nor will you ever live the life your spouse would have wanted for you. Tragedy is unjust, allowing your life to end because living hurts, is yet another tragedy—a tragedy that could be prevented.

In order to make it through this absolutely miserable time, and remain a whole person, we have to go day by day. Even when it hurts—we have to get up in the morning and make it through the day as best we know how. With work, time, and perseverance, we move forward. We create a different life, one we know how to succeed in—a life to be proud of.  That’s the blessing of time.

 

Where ever you are in your journey, be grateful that time goes on—one day at a time.

Who’s in Charge?

As soon as I realized I Randy was gone, I wanted to know: who do I blame? I was stunned, hurt, and angry. One minute I was shaking my head and sobbing; this couldn’t be my life. This isn’t how my life was supposed to go. The next, searching for answers and blame.

In my case, I knew a driver, presumably drunk, had crossed the line and struck Randy’s car head on. I knew the other driver was in worse condition and life-flighted first. At first they told me that Randy was unconscious, but it turned out that was not true. That was the police and EMT’s way of protecting me. That didn’t protect me because life-flight team told me the truth. That’s all enough to make a person angry. I would like to sit here and sound noble, tell you that I understood why they sent the other driver first. Tell you that I appreciated the effort to protect me. The truth is, I was mad. Logically, I understood the worst patient goes first and the ethics that go with all that, but in my heart I had trouble coming to terms with someone being saved after they just killed my husband. Intellectually I knew their actions were well-intentioned and absolutely towards helping me. In my heart and my head, I had to reprocess those feelings and come to terms with the fact Randy quite possibly knew he was alone, that the other driver was saved, and that he was going to die. I chose not to know the extent of his injuries, but I have a lot of common sense and put pieces together to create my own picture of what happened. I knew in my heart (and head) that he probably would not have lived either way. Most likely, his chest was compressed and he bled out into his chest when they extricated him. That would have happened either way they did it. All of that information was neither here nor there, I was angry furious and frustrated with everyone involved. 

I eventually came to terms with reality of why things were the way they were on scene. I worked through knowing the truth: he was conscious. I really understood he was probably going to die either way and that living might have been worse for him to tolerate, because of the extent of his probable injuries. Those were hard words to think, harder to say. My focus switched, I focused on being mad at God.

How can a loving God do this to someone? Why would a loving God do this to a couple who had been to their breaking point and back again, happier than ever and then rip their lives to shreds? Does a loving God do that? Only as punishment. God would only do that if someone had to be punished. What could I have done to warrant that punishment? I went to church, we had just been baptized together. I chose to believe that I didn’t deserve that, that my kids didn’t deserve that. My God wouldn’t do that. That only left one person to be mad at–the drunk driver.

I decided that sometimes terrible things happen to wonderful people and if anyone was responsible it was the man who was drinking and driving. How could anyone else be to blame? It was hard to be mad at the drunk driver. Hard because he was still recovering himself. He had two broken legs, blood on his brain, and a few other injuries. He spent months in a rehab facility. I think it was partly to avoid the charges his family knew were waiting for him and partly because he had some rather severe injuries and lasting effects from the accident including amnesia. So, I blamed myself. 

I know it seems strange to blame myself. I had nothing to do with the accident or rescue efforts. I blamed myself because I felt like I had wasted all of my time with him. I had finally discovered what an amazing man he was, or perhaps he had finally grown up and revealed himself, and then he was gone. He finally was the father I always wanted him to be. We had the relationship I always felt we were meant to have. We had the family I had dreamed of. He had the job he had dreamed of and we were starting to live the life we had worked so hard to make for ourselves. How stupid I was for wasting that time! All those months, and even years, wishing he was someone else or that he would do this or be like that. Stupid, stupid me. It was rather easy to forgive everyone else, but it took a very long time to forgive myself.

I finally cut myself a break. The fact is, life is a process of growth. It comes with its own set of growing pains, failures and successes. You can’t have success without failure. No one gets it right the very first time. It’s a process. You fall down and you get up. Eventually, if you are doing it right, you stand up enough times to reach your destination. We met our destination.  There was nothing to be mad at. It took work, but I understood.

We took an unusual path and we did the best we could. It was bumpy, but those bumps made us grow up. I came to the understanding that God is all-knowing. His plans often not understood. I know now that God knew Randy’s life was going to be short. He brought us together early, He tested our wills, and He let us grow up together. He forced us to grow into each other instead of growing apart. We did exactly what we were supposed to: we fell in love. We stuck together through the puppy love, solved our problems that could have ended us, and fell in love. His death wasn’t my fault. His death wasn’t a punishment. We didn’t do anything wrong. We were rewarded with our time together. Our love was the reward, his death was just our goodbye. Everyone has to say goodbye. God let us fill our time here, together. That’s an almighty and loving God.

So, never doubt someone is in charge. It may not be easy this way. It may leave a lot of questions and uncertainty, but there is a plan. Trust in the path, live the journey.

Tears of Men

Life is a series of moments. Moments shape our lives. Some moments more than others. Randy’s death unleashed moment after moment after defining moment. As hard as death is, there is a certain inevitable grace and beauty that comes in the process of healing.

If you would have told me that in those first days or months after Randy’s death, I never would have believed you.  It’s hard, unbearable at times, to walk the path of a widow, or to walk through any storm. Moments created in grief, uplifted my soul and carried me through to a time when I could stand on my own to feet.

Some of those moments are unexpected. When I arrived at the funeral home for Randy’s visitation, I was broken. The anticipation of walking through those doors was torture. The thought of seeing him and the final goodbyes were more than I could comprehend. Every step closer to the doors made the tears fall faster. By the time I arrived at the casket, I was almost inconsolable. Then something happened that I had never imagined.

By 4:00pm, the scheduled time for the viewing to begin, the room was full. Not only was the chapel full, but  I was getting reports from people in the line that it was wound down the hall, back up the other side, through the other chapel, outside to the steps, through the parking lot, and down the sidewalk for more than a block. The chapel was full of flowers. In fact, the flowers, gifts, and statues also overflowed our chapel into the next.  A response I could never have expected. I heard the wait time to see me was about an hour and a half.

Person after person entered that room, made their way patiently to the front of the chapel to greet me. Each one played a special role in his life, my life, or a family members life. The longer I stood there and the more people I met seemed to push my tears further and further away. It wasn’t that I was happy or even relieved. I was astonished. I felt loved. I felt supported. And more than anything, I was completely amazed at the number of people who wanted to be a part of this day.

I stood at the front of that room, without moving, and greeted people for close to five hours! I could look down the line of people and see the constant wiping of tears and dabbing of noses. The room filled with the muffled sound of soft conversations and quiet sniffling. I looked up to greet the next person, and instead I saw an empty space. I saw a church friend partially bent over, holding onto a chair. He was sobbing. The rest of the room fell rather silent. People were trying to act as if they weren’t watching, but they couldn’t help it. His chest heaving and tears streaming from his eyes, he fell to his knees. Randy’s dad leaned on one knee to console him. Together they stood. I watched, speechless. Tears silently fell down my cheek. The pair gradually made it to me. Our friend could barely speak through his tears. I hugged him as he wept. I wanted to help him. I rubbed his shoulder and softly said, “You don’t have to say anything; I know its hard. I’m just glad you are here.”

He was the first person to just weep. He was the first man I had ever seen cry like that. He was the first of many men I saw weep just as deeply that evening. And with each one, I cried. I didn’t cry because I felt their grief, although I did feel it. I cried because it touched me. It touched me in a way that nothing else could have. The honesty shared through the tears of men was beautiful. That instant, that moment in time, shaped my healing process. It carved my path. I believe God was showing me what I needed to see to move forward with life.

We get caught up in ‘me, myself, and I’. Where I want to work. How much money I want to make. How big my house is. My car is better than your car. My husband works harder. My kids are smarter. What you can do for me. It’s all garbage and all of that garbage, in time, fades away.

Sometimes, we forget about other people. We forget that maybe money, houses, and cars aren’t the real blessings in life. We forget that we all set out to do the best we can, and some of us might need help learning how to achieve it. Everyone’s husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, friends, and children mean just as much to them as yours do to you–even when they aren’t perfect. Maybe, we should focus on what I can do for you and not what you can do for me. That is where the blessing is.

None of us will be here forever. And, as life with Randy showed me, some of us are gone way too soon. The things people remembered about Randy wasn’t our pitiful house, or the fact we did things backwards by getting pregnant and then married. They remembered he was young, smart, and dedicated. He was a good father and worked hard to support his young, ever-growing family. He loved Jesus, his family, sleep, hunting, and sports (in that order). He followed the rules and expected others to do the same. He helped and protected people and animals alike. He was a friend to everyone and an enemy of none.

Seeing tears of men shaped my life.

I walked into that building feeling broken and defeated. I left that building knowing that life is important and amazing. I went home knowing that everyone’s life is connected and affects others on a scale impossible to fathom. That night proved to me that life really is about something bigger than me. The instant our friend fell to his knees, helped me put away the ‘why is this happening to me?’ question and start asking, ‘why should it have happened to someone else? Why do I think someone else should suffer instead of me?’ Had I not experienced that night, those little moments, I’m not sure I would have healed, ever. That instant made me realize how much of an impact I have on others, especially my children.

I think about that night fairly often. I’m not stuck in that moment, but it still means so much to me. Sometimes, when life is pulling me down and I’m not sure how I am going to climb back out, that night comes back to me. It reminds me what really matters in life.