...I enjoy blogging. I enjoy reading other's blogs. This can be good and bad. It can be bad, because you never know if what you read is real (I have a TRUE story about that - including a dog, a real girl and a fake baby . . . but, that's a story for another day!) So, I have learned to read and be "guarded" as I do. I do try not to get too emotionally invested in what I read, sometimes it works, sometimes not. This enjoyment of reading has been helpful for me over the past 2+ months. I have found that I am not alone. I'm not the only person who lost their best friend. My kids aren't the only ones who have lost a Daddy. The grandbabies aren't the only ones who have lost a Papa. We are not alone on this "journey". God is with us, as are countless other women. Women who, like me, became "widows" way before our time. Women who I know well. My dear friend Sandi started this journey in 2010. My sweet cousin, Melodie began this journey last February. These two "girls" who I've always loved and looked up to. Two friends who I ached for when I learned of their losses. Two "sisters" who I now walk this journey with. Even in the midst of this unsettling chapter of life, God grants the gift of friendship and companionship. A companionship none of us would have chosen if we'd been given the choice, yet a "unique" sisterhood that we are now a part of.
One blog that I read fairly "early on" was by a lady who said that one night, she was surprised to find that she had gone the entire day without thinking of her loss. What?! I CANNOT imagine THAT. Maybe it comes with time. Maybe it doesn't. I don't know. I know that right now, I still WANT to think about it. Not just the loss, but the life. I KNOW that Rick is the first thought on my mind when I wake up in the morning. He is the last thought as I fall asleep. He sneaks into my dreams, and he is "there" with me throughout the day. Sometimes it's comforting, sometimes unsettling. Comforting when I'm trying to decide what to wear to work tomorrow and I can almost hear how he'd respond, and I know which outfit he'd like, and which he wouldn't! Unsettling when I'm pulling in the driveway, and I flash back to pulling in with Pastor & Bobbi's vehicle and a police car parked "askew" in the driveway. Comforting when I'm getting ready for work and Rick is smiling back at me from a picture frame placed on the shelf near the mirror. Unsettling when I imagine how Nick & Ashley felt as they received the news of their dad's accident. Comforting when I "see" Rick in something that the kids do or say. . . and on and on. I'm sure this is all part of the "process". This "process" called grief.
I am thankful to say that though I cannot imagine going an entire day without thinking of Rick, I can say that the "unsettling" moments I mentioned above (and so many others) don't come as often. And when they come, the "PANIC" feeling (you know, your heart racing, your hands shaking, feeling like you just want to throw up), that feeling doesn't HIT as hard. It doesn't last as long. The PEACE of the Lord overcomes sooner than it did (or I just "let" it overcome me sooner!) The moments that come more often are loving memories. Memories of good times, lots of laughter, love that was NEVER doubted, plans that were planned and dreams that were dreamed. Sadness comes, yes, sadness that some of those plans & dreams never came to fruition (we ALWAYS wanted to go to Alaska). Sadness for all the things Rick will never share with us. But, when those thoughts come, I remember WHERE he is today. I remember that no matter how WONDERFUL things are here on earth, all of that pales in comparison to Heaven! No matter how much Rick LOVED to hunt! No matter how much he LOVED his PACKERS! No matter how much he LOVED US! No matter how much he wanted to go to Alaska, HEAVEN OUTSHINES IT ALL! And that fact, my friends, is what sustains me day by day. That promise of HEAVEN. That promise of an ETERNAL reunion. That promise that God's ways are not my ways. That promise that He DOES work all things together for good (though I can't see the good right now). That promise that if GOD is for us who (what) can be against us.
The group CASTING CROWNS has a song "If We've Ever Needed You". The chorus repeats:
If we've ever needed You,
Lord, it's now, Lord, it's now
We are desperate for your hand
We're reaching out, we're reaching out.
That is a perfect description of my every day. REACHING OUT! If I've EVER needed You, Lord, it's NOW, Lord, It's NOW. And He is there. As I reach out, He reaches down. He scoops me up - over and over and over. Many times a day. Sometimes I forget to reach. It's then that the "panic" comes in. Finally I remember to "reach" and He calms the storm. And He doesn't get impatient with me because He has to "reach" over and over and over each day. He is always there, ready to scoop. Ready to hold. Ready to comfort. Providing songs, and verses, and devotionals, and blogs, and messages from friends . . . Always there.
One of my devos today (Jesus Calling) read in part:
"I am with you and for you. . . Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your VERY PRESENT HELPER, am omnipotent (having UNLIMITED power)."
What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling."
Such awesome verses. Such good reminders. God is ALWAYS there, we just need to keep "reaching out".
Last year, on (literally) the "spur of the moment", we took a trip to Alabama to Rick's brother & sister-in-law's "Lake House" over Easter break (and we only had Friday & Monday off of school). We drove straight through the night, and spent a whirlwind 2 days with them before heading home - pulling Rick's brother's boat! I will be FOREVER thankful that my usually organized, OCD self just "went with it" and we did this. It was our last trip as a family and we had an AWESOME time! The girls several times commented that it should become our "tradition", to go to Alabama for Easter. So, when I realized that we actually have SIX days off of school for Easter this year, the "dream" became more of a reality. And, today, it became even more of a reality. We found UNBELIEVABLE deals on airline tickets (hardly more than we would be spending to drive after considering the cost of gas, and food and hotels), and I BOOKED THE tickets! Another "first". Another "big decision" made on my own (well, not my "own" the girls had input, but you know, without Rick). Another step towards healing. Something to look forward to (because though we still have NO SNOW, I'm sure winter is going to hit us SOMETIME!). So we will look forward to March 31. We WILL be sad that Rick can't go with us. We will know that Rick would be happy for us. We will spend 8+ days with Rick's brother & sister-in-law & niece. We will remember last year. We will make new memories this year. God will be with us - we will keep on "reaching out" and He will keep on reaching and "scooping". We will lean on Him to be our refuge and strength!