Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Three Years Later...

After three years it's still difficult for me to think of myself as single. I guess that just means I don't feel different than I did when I was married. He's just not here anymore.

I still wear my wedding ring, and I hate to tick that single box when filling out forms at the doctor's office, so I usually leave it blank.  Of course there are some offices that still have the dreaded "widow"  box and that's not getting a tick from me either.

You may think I'm in denial, that I haven't accepted my husband's death, but believe me, I know he's gone. One thing I know for sure is that I will never see him again in this life. I saw him suffer for months, and I was there when he passed.  Yes, he is gone.

Believe me, the last three years have been a struggle, and through God's grace alone, I have survived.

I will never forget those early months of experiencing all my "FIRSTS." My first doctors appointment alone (he always drove me), my first trip to the grocery store, the first Christmas, his birthday. Those were days of stress, pain in my chest, and sometimes uncontrollable sobbing.

Other things I struggled through were:

Seeing older couples holding hands. I couldn't help but ask God why I didn't get to be that couple.

Being alone at night. The nights were long and sleepless.

Trying to figure out what to make myself for dinner! Sound crazy to you? After spending my life cooking for kids or a husband, it was hard to figure out what I liked. It also seemed like a waste of time to cook for one person. So,  I lost a little weight. 

Getting yard work done. I didn't know the first thing about negotiating with landscapers, but I soon learned.

Making all the financial decisions myself. Who was I going to blame if I lost money? 

Getting the car repaired. I called my sons many times to ask questions and make sure a repairman wasn't trying to scam me.

Having medical procedures. I hate being asked "Do you have a driver?" or "Is anyone with you today?"

Going for a walk alone. It took me a year to be able to go for a walk alone.

I think the toughest part was losing my best friend. I miss the little things; just riding in the car with him, or sitting out on the patio laughing and listening to his twisted sense of humor. 

I'm learning to live without him. I'm learning to just be me. I guess maybe that's what it is to be single. Just being myself.

Thank you God,
That the memory of Paul's death 
and his suffering 
have dimmed
pain is no longer
my constant companion.

"But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..."
Phil 3:13-14

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In the Twinkling of an Eye

About four years ago if anyone asked me about my life I would have told them I felt very blessed. I had a great husband, lived in a beautiful home, had no money worries, my kids all seemed to be pretty much settled with their spouses, and I had 20 beautiful grandchildren. What else could any person ask for from this life?

Then in 2011 my husband started having stomach trouble and we found out it was pancreatic cancer.  He went in the hospital in early November, 2011 to have Whipple surgery (removal of all or part of the pancreas) and when they opened him up the doctor saw that his liver had some suspicious spots so he did a biopsy and found the cancer had already metastasized to his liver. He didn't have the Whipple surgery. They closed his incision and told us he had three to six months to live.

I have friends who didn't have any time to say goodbye to their husbands because of an accident or a sudden heart attack and their only wish is that they could have said goodbye.  I had four and a half months to say goodbye but it just wasn't enough. It went by so quickly and the days were filled with medical urgency and no emotional fulfillment, only the pain of watching him slowly die.

Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with 'ashes.” 

Our lives can be changed in the twinkling of an eye and if our blessings are counted purely upon the people we love, the money we have in our pocket, and the home we live in, it can all be gone in the twinkling of an eye, then where will our blessing be?

Of this one thing I am sure: For every ending there is a new beginning around the corner. When one door in our life is closed, another one is opened. It may not be what you expected, but God has something waiting for you.

When my step dad passed away a few months ago, I came to live with my mother who has Alzheimer's disease. I have never considered myself a "caregiver." My mother was always the "caregiver" of the family. If someone was sick she was the one who would volunteer to take care of them. I never considered myself a caregiver, but God did.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
 Ecclesiastes 3:1  

I was reluctant to leave the home my husband and I bought together and I thought I could never give it up because it was such a part of him, but I found after I left that it is a relief not to go outside and see the empty dock where his boat was once tied up. It's a relief not to see that grapefruit tree that he jokingly said "I'll never live long enough to see fruit on this tree," and it has had fruit every since he's been gone.  I never knew it was a burden to live there, but God did. I didn't know I would feel better to leave, but God did.  

Our lives may change in the twinkling of an eye, and it may feel that all we have left is ashes, but God can take our ashes and make something beautiful.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." 
Lamentations 3:22-24