Monday, November 11, 2013

A New Name

As I sat on my dock today, reflecting on my past and wondering where my life will go from here, a man suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He really was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. He had dark hair and black eyes that seemed to stare right through me.  Startled, I fell back almost falling into the lake, but this man, who seemed so gentle, just touched my hand and pulled me forward, saving me from a very cold and wet morning.

It was as if he knew what I had been thinking because he said to me, "What if I could erase your past and give you a clean slate? You could start your life all over again."

"Impossible." I said. "Sure, I have day dreamed about it a few times, but it's impossible."

"Is it?" He said.

He had such a smooth and gentle voice. His words sounded like the waves of the ocean when he spoke. So calming and soothing.  I had never heard a voice like that before. It almost made me forget where I was and what we were even talking about. I just wanted him to say something else so I could hear that voice again.

"I know the life you've had, all the things you've been through, and I'm here to help you." He said.

Oh, that voice, I could listen to him talk all day!

"I can change your life, erase your past, and give you a new future. I can erase the divorce from your childhood sweetheart that left you BROKENHEARTED." He said.

And then I thought I saw sparkle in his eye, as he smiled and threw back his head, and said "Oh, and remember how you thought you were going to be rescued from being a single mom by that guy you met at church? That didn't turn out too well, did it?" It almost seemed as if he were trying to keep from laughing, as he said "that left you a TWO TIME LOSER."

I no longer thought he was beautiful, gentle or soothing. I was a little ticked off and started to walk back to the house.

"Wait," He said. He seemed to magically erase the ridicule from his eyes. He was back to being tender and his voice now softened as he said, "Please, I'm just trying to help you by getting you to think about your past."

He said, "I felt so bad for you all those years you worked to raise your five children alone, and how it broke your heart to leave them at home when they were sick. I know how it hurt you when your teenagers lashed out from their pain and left their faith for a while." And when he said those words, "left their faith for a while" I thought I saw that sparkle in his eye again. 

He continued, "and then, after finally finding your Knight, someone who loved you, to see him die of pancreatic cancer. I'm sorry that left you with a new name of WIDOW." He said, as he looked down at the ground and shook his head.

A new name, a new name... where have I heard that phrase before. I just couldn't seem to pull it out of my head. Must be that widows fog everyone talks about. "You seem like a nice enough man," I told him, "and I have dreamed of a do-over now and again, but where does God fit into this new life? He has been with me through all of these trials you talked about and has lifted me up when I felt like I was drowning. So, what about Him?" I asked.

I heard this handsome, smooth talkers' voice go up a couple octaves as he blurted out "God? Where was God when your husband left you with five children? Where was God when you married again? Why didn't he tell you not to do it? Where was God when your teenagers turned away? Where was God when your husband died? It seems that God has left you with many names that you did not ask for, divorcee', two time loser, heartbroken, single mom, widow." 

I have to admit, I felt pretty dejected hearing all those names this man had given me, but in the back of my mind I kept hearing that phrase "A NEW NAME," knowing I had heard it somewhere before. 

I decided I'd ask him a few questions, like for starters, "Exactly how are you going to do this? Give me a new life, I mean?" "I have a lot of power in this world." he said. Okay, I thought, just for kicks, I'll keep up the conversation. "So," I said, "what do I have to do?" "Well," he said, "the first thing you have to do is serve me." "Serve you?" I said. Sorry, Mr. Smooth Talker, I don't serve man." "Excuse me," he retorted, "but I think you are mistaken. Aren't you the one who wants to please everyone, make everyone happy? Don't you want everyone to like you?" \

"Okay, I guess you've got me there." I said. I could tell he was full of himself then, But I decided to ask him one more question, "Tell me, if I let you fix my life now, what about my ETERNAL life, will I lose it?"

He looked me straight in my eyes and said "Oh, you will not surely die."

Yikes! I know where I've heard that before!

"Humm, I said, "Is that an apple you're holding in your hand?" At that he smiled big, showing all his pearly white teeth; and as he walked away, I thought I heard him mumble something like,  "I'll see you later Eve."

Then my widows fog lifted and I remembered, I am getting a new name!

"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."
Revelation 2:17

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Letting Go of Things

It can be difficult to let go of the "things" that give us a feeling of connection to our loved one.  I can look at some of the things that belonged to my husband and be taken back in time to a place of good health, of laughter, and of great times we shared together.
I've had a boat tied up to my dock for the past 18 months since my husband's death that is one of those special "things." I look at it and I can remember all the evenings we enjoyed on the lake together and the special times we spent with our family and friends. I can see the grand kids sitting on his lap driving the boat. It holds special, loving memories.
I don't take the boat out by myself. I don't mind driving it, but my docking skills leave a lot to be desired! I'm afraid I'll take out the side of the boat when I try to bring it in. 

So I've been considering selling it, but each time I think about it, I have all these memories that I guess I'm somehow afraid I will lose. I think about how we shopped for the boat together and all the boat shows we went to, and how excited we were when we actually did find just the right boat at a boat show. My husband was so excited to buy the boat that we bought it three months before we moved into our house and set the delivery date for the day we were moving in. I keep thinking to myself, how could I sell something he loved so much? So what should I do? Keep a boat I don't use? 
My husband wasn't a sentimental person when it came to "things." I guess that is why it wasn't hard for me to give away his clothes. I knew  he would want someone else to have them. 
I started thinking about some of the conversations we had about finances before he passed away and knowing how frugal he was, I could just hear his voice in my ear saying, "It's time to sell the boat." I knew I wasn't keeping it for him. He isn't here. He is in Heaven in a perfect place where he wants for nothing. I'm not keeping him happy by keeping his boat. He has eternal joy and happiness.  It was just a way for me to feel a link to him and to something that made him happy once. But he doesn't need it anymore.
And neither do I. So that was it!  I made the decision and I knew it was right. It was time for someone else to enjoy that boat with their family driving their grand kids around on their lap.
The boat is gone now. The new buyer just picked it up today.

I still have all my wonderful memories that I have stored up in my heart and letting go of the boat did nothing to change them. I am confident that I did the right thing and it feels good to take another step forward.

For where your treasure is
there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21
My treasure is in the Lord and my heavenly home where all my family that have gone before me will be waiting for me when I get there.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

If I was in Heaven and you were here

Would you wish you had told me you loved me more,
or wonder what you're living for?
Would the thought of me make your heart groan?
Would you hate to go to bed alone?
Would you miss me when the mourning dove sings?
Would you cry when you give away my things?
Would your body be tired but unable to sleep?
Would you think you saw me in the street?
Would you miss holding my hand when you're gray?
Would you ask God why I went away?
Would you think of me when you sit on the beach?
Would the memories leave you unable to speak?
Would you try to remember what I looked like?
Would you sleep with my picture by your side?
Would you tell people that you're doing fine
and wonder if you're out of your mind?
Would you see people laughing and think how can it be?
How can they laugh and be happy and free?
Would you smell the orange blossoms in the spring
and remember it's one of my favorite things?
If I was in Heaven and you were here
would you ask God please, to send you there?
Well, I'm not in heaven, and you're not here
but someday I will meet you there.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The New Identity of Widowhood

I have many identities
 daughter, mother, grandmother, friend.
But who am I really? And what do I like?
One day shortly after my husband passed away, I realized my food situation was dire. Like Old Mother Hubbard who went to the cupboard, I found it to be bare.
I decided it was time for a trip to the grocery store. As I walked up and down the aisles of the store I could not find anything I liked to eat. I bought milk and eggs and came home.
After a couple of days I couldn't think of any other way to fix the eggs. I made them fried, scrambled, boiled, and in egg salad. So back to the store I went, and back up and down the isles I searched for something to eat.
What did I like anyway? As I told myself to "get a grip," and, "it's only food, for heaven's sake, find something!" I just couldn't do it. I thought back to what Paul and I ate for dinner. Okay, now I'm getting somewhere. We ate chicken. Then I thought "Do I really like chicken, or did he like chicken?"  I didn't know, but I didn't want any.
So I went back to the dairy department, bought  more milk and eggs and went home.
The next morning as I sat eating those eggs I began to think of the time in my life before I met Paul. What did I like to eat back then? What kind of things did I like to do? Paul and I did everything together. It was hard to even remember me before him.
Then I remembered. When I first met Paul he used to take me out for fresh fish every Friday because 'I LIKED FISH.' For years I didn't cook fish at home because he didn't like the smell of cooking fish.
I went back to the store and bought fish.  I made pan fried fish and I made salmon patties and I enjoyed them. (I did have to spray the house with air freshener.)
Did eating fish make up for the loss of my husband? Never! But it was the beginning of discovering a little more about myself. 
Psalm 139:23,24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How Long Will Grief Last?

The 100,000 dollar question. "How long will I grieve?"

About a month after my husband died I went to my first support group with my neighbor. We went around the room and everyone gave their name and how and when their loved one died.  When my turn came I could not speak. All I could do was cry. My neighbor told my story.

I don't believe I will ever forget a widow who was there who stated that her husband died two years ago and that the second year of grief was harder than the first.

I thought to myself, "I am never going to make it."

I made a decision then to read every book I could find on grief, take classes, go to support groups, whatever I had to do to get through this as fast as possible. But what I found out is that grief has its' own agenda. And as much as you tell yourself, "I'm okay now. I'm healing. I'm finding my "new normal." Grief will over take you when you least expect it. You may be walking down the isle of a grocery store, or driving down the road in your car, and it sweeps over you like a wave from the ocean.

Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." God cares for the brokenhearted and will lift us up in our time of need and in time, our mourning will be replaced with peace and joy. Grief is not something any of us want to experience, but since we don't have a choice, we might as well embrace the lessons we can learn along the way. Maybe we will become a little wiser and  we can use the experience we have been through to help someone else in their time of need.

And how long will this take? As long as it takes....