Sunday Thoughts…

Hi,

Yes, it’s been a bit, I’ve been living my life and trying to heal. I’m moving forward with the grief of my husband’s death still holding one hand, but in the other? The other hand has been multi-purpose. It’s been drying my tears, pushing me towards my new life in Pennsylvania, and steering the methods of whatever it takes to get me there.

I’m currently house-sitting for some dear friends while they’re on vacation and just like last year, I am thoroughly enjoying their deck. Their home is a ranch style, very comfortable and in a safe neighborhood about 30 miles southwest of Boston. I’ve been thinking that being here is like having “training wheels.” I’m almost ready to take the training wheels off and move out on my own. I haven’t lived on my own since June of 2020, and am beyond thankful for the support of my family and friends during these dark times in my life. This summer has been hard on me emotionally, I’ve withdrawn from people after being hurt by someone I trusted, and am finally able to see the sunshine again…

When someone hurts us, we can only control our reaction to what’s been done, not the actions done to us. I realized as soon as the words left this person’s mouth that I would never be the same again. Wanna know what else I’ve come to realize? I realize that because of one sentence, I’m okay with not being who I was. I am very different now, and I actually like me more than I did before. Sure, what was said was hurtful. The words piercing my heart and leaving me feeling like I didn’t matter. This event also showed me that I am not without boundaries, self-respect, and value. Maybe I don’t matter to the person who hurt me, that’s okay. I still matter. To me. To my children and grandchildren. To a few select friends that I still trust. I don’t need more than that. I’ve also learned to pull back on how much I share on social media, to stop and REALLY think about what I’m saying, and to listen to my gut more. To value my personal space and privacy. Silver linings for sure…

The heatwave that has gripped Northern New England broke overnight, and today is just freaking glorious!!! I’m doing what I love by writing, listening to music and making plans to spend time with people I love in the coming days. I’m still sad, overwhelmingly so, and am accepting that sadness is my constant companion these days. I’m also happy. Happy that the sun is shining. Happy that I am able to enjoy the gifts that Mother Nature has granted us today. Happy that I got to see 10 turkeys in the backyard and watch them wander off. It may seem silly to notice such simple things, but just think about all the things that demand our attention on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit on the deck, listen to your favorite music and take in the beauty of your small portion of this world. Appreciation is good for the spirit!

With the day being as lovely as it is, I’m thinking that I may not be leaving my little haven of paradise for the madness of the shopping center down the road. I have two shirts I need to return, and am thinking they can wait for another day. As I sit here and revel in the sunshine, I realize I don’t want to trade the peace and quiet of this deck for the chaos and madness of a big box store. I have everything I need to make it through the day without sacrificing my peace of mind. I’d rather stay here, quietly thinking about my husband and just enjoying the ability to be. We all need to treat ourselves from time to time, no matter what that looks like. I’m staying close to home today, not listening to or giving in to the voices in my head that say I need to “go and do.” I am doing by not going and doing, and that’s that!

It’s been a little more than 6 months since my husband died, though it feels like 60 years. I miss him. So much. I’ve come to realize just how much I miss the touch of another human being. The hugs I always gave and received? Gone. The simple touch of his hand on my lower back? Gone. I’d give almost anything to have him back, and while I know that’s an impossibility, the craving that lives within me for the touch of another is not gone. Nor is it impossible. It’s not the same when someone else hugs me, it can’t be. No one loved me like he did. No one knows me like he did. No one could ever take his place in my life, or in my heart. He was my person. I was his. We were an us. When you become a me after being an us for more than half of your life, the transition is fraught with emotion, growing pains and tears. Time is supposed to help, so whenever time decides to get on board and journey with this broken woman, I’m ready! Until then, I will hug my friends and family, wipe my own tears and move forward with as much purpose as I am able. Living a purpose driven life will give me opportunities to honor the memory of my beloved.

I’m hanging on, and am so grateful that I have the opportunity to share my journey with people through this blog. Life isn’t always harsh, though sometimes it feels that way. This summer has been painful for me, but also enlightening. I have to keep my eyes on the roads ahead, while looking back and figuring out which roads to avoid. The curves and bends can seem scary, especially when they come out of nowhere. Keep looking forward, keep unpacking the unnecessary baggage you carry, and stay the course. Life is to be lived. And savored. Take the bitter and at least try to make it into something sweet, you may be surprised at what happens. Embrace the suck as the Navy Seals say, and turn the suck into success!

Until next time remember to be kind always, smile and believe in yourself!

Things I Wish I Could Say…

To the demons that keep trying to beat me down…

I wish I could say…

I’ve spent more time in the past 30 days giving you space in my head, and heart, than I’d like to admit. I want to reclaim it. The space, not the time. Thank you for understanding.

I wish I could say…

Oh wait, you don’t understand, do you? You don’t know what you said, and that what you’ve said over the past year has been hurtful on so many levels. I didn’t want to believe those thoughts that were spoken out loud. I wanted to believe that because I was hurting then, as I am now, that you couldn’t possibly be who someone said you were. What a fool I’ve been.

I wish I could say…

Sometimes break ups are beyond painful for both parties involved. Somehow I think that you’ll fail to feel pain. Relief and freedom will be your first thoughts, and reactions, to this break-up. I hope that’s true as I never wanted to hurt you. I know what I need to say, and I should have said it long ago. I’ve been absent on purpose. I didn’t want my words to pierce your heart the way yours have pierced mine.

I wish I could say…

I’m done crying over you and am taking back the space in my head, and heart, and re-purposing it. I’m giving it back to the one that makes me feel safe. I will pray for you. Over and over and over again. When I ran back to God, He embraced ALL of me. ALL of my brokenness. ALL of my hurts. ALL of my shame. ALL of my guilt. ALL of my regret. ALL OF ME…

I wish I could say…

When I love, I love hard. I don’t regret loving you, I’m just more cautious now. More guarded. More protective of the pieces of me that you stole and stomped on. More aware that not everyone that says they love me mean it. It’s okay. I’m okay. I hope that you’re okay. It’s a lonely, cruel world, and even more so now that I’ve realized you are not safe for me. I love you, I just have to do it from a distance.

I wish I could say…

Someday, when the sun shines on your face and you turn toward the sun, I hope you can feel my love for you. I will always love you, I just don’t know how to trust you with MY heart anymore. I pray that you find peace in your new life without me, and that you’ll know that I miss you. I’ll miss you always.

I wish I could say…

I believe this isn’t the life we were meant to have, it’s what we’ve got. I would sell my soul back to you if it meant you could give me what I want, but you can’t. I know this now. I accept this. I am no longer as a child, believing you because it’s what I’m supposed do. I don’t believe in you, I don’t know you well enough anymore to display that kind of faith.

I will say…

Remember always to be kind to one another.

Seek joy. Promote Peace. Love fiercely.

Shenandoah National Park Photo by Barb Enos

Self Care, Grief and Judgement…

HI All,

I’m writing this blog while sitting at the kitchen table, 2 days after my first surgery for Cataracts. The results after just 48 hours are beyond amazing! This surgery was my first big step towards caring for myself in a world that feels so very empty. It’s been almost 5 months since my husband died, and 21 months since his catastrophic stroke. 

Before the stroke, my husband spent a month away from home (we lived in SC at the time) visiting his next oldest brother who had had toes amputated because of diabetes. I pushed my husband to drive from SC to New England, not knowing that the last time we would hug each other and casually say goodbye would be the last time. I stayed behind because I had only been working four months at my new job with UPS. A decision I will never regret as the brother he went to visit died 350 days before my husband. My mother-in-love had 6 children and 3 are now gone, all three dying in February. 2018, 2020 and 2021. The pain she must feel when she remembers has to be unimaginable. Her oldest child, and only girl, was the first, she died at the age 67. Next was the 5th born, he was 60. Then my beloved, the youngest, he was 59.

I provide a bit of context just so whoever is reading this knows that the weight and minefields of death are not new to me. I wish I weren’t well versed in grief, no one wants to be. What am I learning to be well versed in? Self-care. It’s so hard to do, and though I’m not afraid to work hard, I don’t want to. I want my husband back. I want our grandchildren to have their Poppy back and our daughters to know that their Daddy is just a phone call away. I want to reach out in the night and feel the warmth of the man who no longer exists, not the weighted blanket that’s folded in thirds and laid out where he should be. I want to hear his voice in my ears, not just in my head. I want to feel HIS arms around me, not just air. I’m sure you get the picture.

Self care has to happen if we are to continue on our healing journey. Self care looks different for each of us, just like grief does. I walked out 16 months advocating for my husband to receive the best possible care after his stroke, sold our home, and moved 3 times to be with him. Covid came. Isolation happened and for 6 months of the 16 months we journeyed, we couldn’t see each other. He never understood why. All he felt was that he was being punished for being alive. The stroke took away his reasoning abilities and he never recovered cognitively. I, on the other hand, would try and soothe his pain through Zoom calls. Or phone calls. He would cry without ceasing, and beg me to come see him. So much angst. I look back over that time and realize I was practicing self-care then, just in a less obvious way. I would walk along the James or Appomattox Rivers when we were in Richmond, VA. I would write. I would talk to the Chaplain from the Richmond VA Hospital. I continue to talk to him from time to time. I even drove to Norfolk to walk on the beach with our dog on the days when loneliness would consume me. I guess I knew somewhere inside of me that if I didn’t fill myself up, I would have nothing left to give my husband. 

Self care looks like selfishness to those that either refuse to see it, or can’t see the value of it. We wake up and shower, we brush our teeth, dress for the day and make many other decisions that seem meaningless. They’re not! To get out of bed after the loss of a beloved child, spouse, friend, parent and anyone that has been loved by you is self care! I truly believe in the “fight” and “flight” aspects of grief, as well as life in general. My “fight” left me when my husband died. I was messy. And broken. I wanted to be invisible. I was also grateful that he didn’t suffer anymore. I battled within my own head as I took my first steps as a widow, toward a life without the physical presence of my mate. I had to. He would want me to. He was my biggest encouragement, he still is in many ways. 

When people learn that I’m grieving, they’re usually sincere in offering condolences. We were married just shy of 39 years when my beloved died. We were as in love the day he died as we were when we said “I do.” I miss him. I always will. In the midst of missing him, I’m learning to grow again. I’m learning that my growth, determination and grief can all co-exist. I’ve also learned that some of the people I know think I’m selfish for not fading into the background of life. That’s not how I’ve lived my life, and I won’t live like that now. My eye surgery feels like I threw open the door that was slammed shut back in February! I threw it open with such force that it came unhinged! I walked right through the opening and am still walking. How does someone see self care as selfishness? Why do others think they are entitled to have an opinion on how I live MY life? Judgement comes in many forms, and I find a lot of judgement to be a waste of time. I have no right to tell anyone what their journey through grief should look like. My place in someone else’s grief is not my place. I have empathy for all of us that have lost someone we loved so much. I recognize the gaping holes left in our hearts. I hear the sobs and moans and cries as we navigate our way without our beloved person beside us. What I don’t do? I don’t carry the weight of someone else’s grief, I share in carrying the weight. I’ll hold someone’s hand and pray for them. I’ll help them. I won’t judge them!

As we walk along the highway called grief, may we all come to know that we can practice self care, that self care is not selfish, and when others judge us, that judgement is without merit. It’s become my purpose to help educate others who are on the outside looking in. People tend to judge that which they don’t understand, I’ve been guilty of it myself. Helping someone understand the depth, breadth, and width of grief gives me purpose. It also gives me hope. My world, just like all of yours, came crashing down with such force that I thought I’d never be the same again. I won’t be. Neither will you. What can we become? We can become a voice and a hand in the dark for one another. We can provide a safe place for someone just starting their grief journey to fall. We can listen. We can pray. We can encourage one another. And we can share. No matter where you are on your journey, I hope you know that you are not alone. I know I’m not alone, and for that I say thank you!

Just Because…

Hi All,

It’s been a bit since I’ve written. I’ve been in a place that makes me exhausted. That place has no one specific name, and if it did, it would be just because.

Just because can be a pre-cursor to so many places we humans can go within our own minds. I’m struggling lately with feeling too much all at once. Just because I’m grieving. Just because I’m very sensitive. Just because I’m me. I’m me without him and that’s a me that I don’t want to be. I have to be. Simple. And not so simple. Just because.

Just because someone thinks other people are not worthy of kindness doesn’t mean they should be easily dismissed. The saying goes “what someone thinks of me is none of my business.” True, just because. Being ousted is not fun for anyone. It hurts and it breeds distrust. Just because.

Just because we can be selfish doesn’t mean we should be. Self-care and selfishness are two entirely different things, though frequently seen as one and the same. Just because.

Just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. Perhaps they know if they say what they really want to, those words will be misinterpreted as weapons. Think before you speak. Wise words we all need to pay attention to, myself included. Just because.

Just because we may think we know better doesn’t mean we do. I’ve been guilty of thinking like this and I wish I could say otherwise. Just because.

Just because someone may not say thank you for a kindness shown, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind. That lack of kindness reflects on you, not the recipient. Be kind. Just because.

Just because someone has different skin than you doesn’t mean they’re less than. Just because someone loves differently than you doesn’t make that love wrong. Just because we’re all human, we should all be accepted. Just because.

I’ve had a hard time lately feeling like I belong. Just because something has been said and I’ve heard words that have slain my heart doesn’t mean I don’t belong. I matter. Just because.

My life is in the midst of great change and difficult decisions. Again. The change is necessary, and can’t be achieved without difficult decisions. I am moving forward and looking ahead to what might be. In looking behind me I see where the roads bend and curve. I learn from the hard lessons and I leave the unnecessary baggage behind. Leaving the heaviness of that baggage behind makes the curves and bends safer. Just because.

The world is a noisy and overwhelming place at times. It can be peaceful. Seek the peacefulness, just because you can. You deserve a life filled with light, love and peace. As do I. Just because.

Be kind, always. Just because…

Jaws…?

Shared below is a recent Facebook post, I hope it can help someone…

Long post…

Yesterday I thought I was having a heart attack while at work. My chest was aching, but that’s been the case for almost 3 years now. When my lower jaw started to hurt, I got scared…

I called 911 from my cell and within minutes, it seems all the emergency services from the town of Dedham descended on the back office of JP licks.

I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I was monitored for hours and had blood drawn every hour to check my heart enzymes. No heart attack. I left the ER with three different diagnosed conditions. PTSD, anxiety and Broken Heart Syndrome (a real medical condition.)

I don’t share this information to seek sympathy, I share it because I am self-aware and know I need help navigating my life right now. There is so much stigma surrounding mental health and if my sharing makes it possible for one person to know that they are not alone, my purpose for this post will be fulfilled.

The PTSD can be traced to a very specific event that happened three years ago and has been chasing me ever since. It’s been exasperated by the death of my beloved. The grief I’m in has no end in sight, but it certainly does have a defined beginning. I’m experiencing nightmares, overwhelming thoughts that bring so much pain and a loneliness so deep that I can’t begin to describe it.

I had reached out to someone I trust on Monday to ask for help in finding resources in Massachusetts, and she was amazing. I have more resource now than I had to start the week and I am going to work hard at helping myself. I have to.

If you’re reading this and something speaks to you, I hope it helps. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t feel embarrassed, I do. I’m a grown woman who has spent much of the past 3 years fighting against injustices and the loss of love. I’ve battled with the Federal government, sold homes, moved 4 times, and upended my life to care for my husband. I would do it again. And again. And again.

If you need help finding your way, it’s okay. I doesn’t make you weak, nor should it make you embarrassed. Be kind to yourself, even when no one else is. Give yourself some grace, a piece of advice I should adopt more for myself.

The mental health system in this country is beyond broken. The professionals that work within said system are overworked and under appreciated. In my experience, I find that they care. A great deal. Not every professional is a good fit for every person, you have to keep trying until you feel comfortable. You can’t force yourself to heal, I tried. I failed.

Thank you for reading this. I’m grieving and I will be for the rest of my life. I find much comfort in prayer, music and writing. As time passes, I’ll find other ways to make the journey less difficult, and hopefully find purpose in becoming a me. I don’t want to be a me, I have no choice…

Revere Beach 5/12/2021. Photo by Barb Enos

I’d like to know…

Hi all,

I’d like to know when I’m going to feel like myself again, but I already know the answer. Never. Never, ever, ever will I be the same person I was just three months ago. Or six. Or twelve. The person I was when I was part of an us is now just a me and I am not looking forward to getting to know her. No at all. I don’t want to but know that I have to. I’ve basically been on auto pilot, going through the motions of daily living, but finding no solace in the life I am now living. I pray that changes, but more than that, I pray I can hold on to myself until the sun shines on my life again.

I’d like to know why the grief process is getting harder instead of getting easier. Why? Haven’t I been through enough over the past three and a half years? I know some of what I am feeling is part regret, part guilt and mostly loneliness. I don’t want to acknowledge the loneliness, but it’s there and it’s real and it hurts. So much. I have been talking with my therapist when I can, reaching out to family members and friends, but the void inside me feels bigger every day, not smaller. I’m adrift in the sea of despair and cannot see the horizon beyond the waves.

My heart is still shattered and I know why. That’s not something I’d like to know, to be honest. I know the why of his death, the why of his stroke, the why of his decline. It seems all of the answers I know are not at all the ones I want to know. I want to know how long it will take to be okay. Will I ever be again? I used to think I would be, but now? Now all I see when I look in the mirror is a broken, aimless and sad woman looking back at me. That same woman that was full of fight for her beloved doesn’t seem to exist within me any longer. I want to feel useful, like I have purpose, and I don’t. I don’t know how to move forward. I’m stuck. Bogged down by the weight of grief, loneliness and a longing for my husband that runs so deep I’m drowning in the quicksand of it all.

Before any of you reading this begin to think I am on the edge of hurting myself, please don’t worry that way. I have been in touch with the people closest to me and they know I’m feeling fragile and scared. I reached out to my husband’s Psychologist from the hospice he was in just this morning and she sent me some resources to check out to help me deal with some of the darkest emotions I have ever experienced. I thought, just three years ago, that losing my oldest daughter to the estrangement she forced on to us was hard… It was. We survived. My husband and I held each other up and learned that we could still be happy. We worked really hard at being happy. That event, and the strength it took to thrive seems a precursor to the magnitude of emotion I’m facing now. My husband can’t hold me, he can’t hug me and he can’t encourage me to find my way through the pain. I’m alone in this, but I’m not. It’s a personal journey, but there has to be a side-car available from time to time to allow someone to accompany me. My family has been beyond wonderful, my close friends seem to know when I’m struggling. Letting others in is so not easy, but if I want to come out on the other side of this with even a small portion of sanity intact, I need to keep letting people see my darkness. I believe I can find the open window, in spite of the door that has been nailed shut. I’m just tired of being sad.

I’d like to know that I’d wake up tomorrow with a lighter heart, I just don’t think think it’ll be that easy. I need to find a way to give myself some grace, I say that very thing to the people I love when they’re hard on themselves. Taking my own advice seems like a good idea. It seems like solid, easy advice. It’s easy to give… Not so easy to incorporate into my own life. At least not right now…

Please, send me positive vibes, pray for me and know that I am so grateful that you care enough to read the ramblings of my broken heart. I never thought it would be like this for me, especially since I know with all that I am that my husband is not suffering any more. I wouldn’t wish the suffering he went through on my worst enemy, I’m just not that cruel. I never dreamed that his suffering coming to an end would be the ultimate breaking point for me. I keep thinking that his suffering has ended and mine has just begun. I want to be happy again, I just don’t know how to be. I want to move forward, but I’m stuck…

Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

They Say… ?

Hey all,

Have you ever thought about who “they” are? And what “they say?”

I think there are many of those “they” people out there, with far too much to “say.” Since my beloved husband died back in February, I’ve heard many “they say” pieces of advice and have been both honored and annoyed at receiving said advice. The best piece of advice has been: They say to wait a year before making any major changes to the course of your life.” It’s sound advice, with its roots embedded deep within other’s experiences, advice I have decided to try and adopt. The worst piece of advice I’ve received since February? The very same. “Wait a year … blah, blah, blah.” A year seems like an impossibly long stretch of time under the best of circumstances, how is possible to wait so long? How is possible to not wait? I literally have no idea who they are, but if they would like to reveal themselves to me, I’m willing to meet them. I might even be willing to listen to what they say!

I looked up they in the Merriam Webster dictionary and the definitions were plentiful.

Definition of they:

1— those ones those people, animals, or things

2—used to refer to people in a general way or to a group of people who are not specified.

3 a—used with a singular indefinite pronoun antecedent.

b—used with a singular antecedent to refer to an unknown or unspecified person.

c—used to refer to a single person whose gender is intentionally not revealed.

d—used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.

So many different definitions for such a small word. And such a small word that can be used to convey many different types of: People. Animals. Things. I think I’ll stick with using they in reference to people right now. They have a lot to say, and they are who I’ve been thinking of for a few days as the ideas for this particular post have come together.

They mean well. At least I hope they do. Because people know I am more vulnerable right now, they have been kind, supportive and concerned. I have a wonderful family full of people that support me. I have friends that hold me up and let me cry. I am trying to look forward to making my way into my somewhat unknown future. I know they’ll help me when I ask for help, and I know they’ll understand when I don’t. This journey of grief is mine, but knowing I have all of them to help me brings me such comfort. As human beings, I believe we’re not created to be alone, and even though my husband is gone, I know I am not always alone. How many people suffer through the loss of a loved one alone? Do they have to because there is no one to hold their hand? I hope they’re not alone because they feel they’re a burden. I’ve been blessed to not feel burdensome for the most part, though that feeling has come over me a few times since my beloved died.

They say we should all love one another and not judge our fellow man. I believe this to be true as well. No one has the right to tell me they think I made the wrong decisions for my husband while he lived. Yet they have. And they do. And my reaction to that type of they say?” I say, walk in my shoes, sleep alone in my marriage bed, cook for one. Wash only your own clothes, knowing that your mate will never produce dirty laundry again. Drive everywhere you go alone. I am my own personal driver, chef, laundress, and bed-mate. It sucks. For me, it truly sucks. For my husband? They say he is in a better place and I agree. Most days…

They say to feel what you feel and not be guilty, especially when you’re going through the grief process. I’ve actually started disliking that phrase “grief process.” Process makes it seem like there may possibly be a solution waiting somewhere down the long and twisted path of grief. There is no solution. As the partner left behind I get angry, then feel guilty, then get angry. All very “normal” reactions during grief. Normal is nothing more than a cycle on the washing machine… I feel what I feel and I try to work through those feelings, and I fail. I also succeed. Grief isn’t a matter of picking your battles, it’s not a trustworthy foe. They say to fight to move forward, but I don’t want to fight. I’m exhausted and the battle with grief is raging on…

I’m going to end here for now and start considering my next entry. I feel something brewing in my heart that is sad. I don’t want to be sad, but I am. It seems to be my constant companion. I would rather have my dog as my constant companion. Since my dog is now my husband’s beloved constant companion, I guess I have to take my sadness for a walk every now and then.

Until next time, be safe. And be kind, always…

Photo by Barb Enos

One Step Forward…

(Don’t ask how many steps I’ve had to take back…)

Hi All,

It’s been a bit since I’ve shared anything, I’ve been spending time with my family and friends. I’ve been trying to walk, not run, through my grief, but in my heart I wish I could avoid it altogether. One step forward, countless steps back. The tears still come. Every day. Several times a day. I’m tired of crying, but can’t seem to make it through a day without tears. It’s been two months today since my husband died, and time keeps marching on.

One step forward is not enough, but it’s all any of us can manage when our lives have been up-ended the way mine has. So many hurting people. I think there are far more hurting people out in the world than there are happy ones, and just the thought of that makes me sad. I WANT to be happy again, but know in the deepest part of my spirit I have to keep taking that one step forward to get there. I have to keep “embracing the suck.” When suck is all you have, you can let it defeat you, define you or refine you. I choose refine, though today that refining got up and walked away at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

There was a birthday party today for my 6 year old granddaughter. She’s a beautiful girl, full of fire and curiosity, and she’s fearless! She is the image of her mom, my youngest daughter, and I love being able to watch her grow and discover. I don’t love the fact that my husband won’t get to see her become a young woman, or graduate from high school, or fall in love. Poppy should be here, and I’m a poor substitute for the man I loved. I sat on the cooler full of kids drinks in front of my daughter’s house and sobbed before the party. Sobbing is exhausting. Grief is exhausting. One step forward is exhausting.

I’m heading back to New England next week, and I honestly don’t want to. I thought I had a plan. Hahahahaha… Plans? Wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans! I’m going to try hard to make peace with living in New England, at least until mid 2022. Plans change, though, and I have to admit that moving away from the bitter cold and snow is very appealing. Leaving my family, not so appealing. I have to be able to stand on my feet and take steps forward. Pray for me, please. I need to be able to find patience in the making of future plans, and all I find right now is chaos, turmoil and sadness.

I really don’t have a lot to say tonight. I had thought about writing all day, and now that I can, the words are taking the steps backwards like I’ve been doing. When the words on my heart begin to elude me, I know better than to try and force them out onto the page. I’m sad. I know it’s okay to be sad. I don’t want to be, I just am. I’m going to take my sad self to bed and pray that tomorrow I’m able to take more than one step forward.

Thanks so much for reading, I wish I could be more encouraging right now. Please stay safe and remember to be kind. Always…

Photo by Barb Enos

The Unexpected…

Hi All,

Today started off like any other day has as of late. I got up at 6:30, wandered on in to the kitchen, made my coffee and emptied the dishwasher. Started laundry. Ate cereal with a banana. Tried to solve a daily word puzzle. Headed upstairs and took a shower. All very routine and almost taken for granted. Almost…

The first unexpected thing happened when I was in the shower. I always listen to The Message on Sirius/XM while in the shower and my phone sits on the little stool by the radiator. I knew someone had texted me when I was in the shower by the loss of volume in the music. It irritated me. Three times it irritated me before I was done. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? To get irritated by something I couldn’t control… When I finally got out of the shower and looked at the phone, it was my work that texted me to tell me there was no work for PVD’s with UPS today. Not a big deal, but the first hiccup of the days plan. After drying my hair and brushing my teeth, I came downstairs and got dressed in comfy sweats and my favorite Jim Brickman hoodie. Warm socks completed my ensemble. Not a fashionista by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. Actually, I never am and I’m so okay with that. The older I get the more I realize that I am exactly who I need to be. For me. For my family. And for my friends. Being more is not necessary.

After getting dressed I talked with one of my friend’s for a while and then wandered into the quiet living room to watch Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2, but didn’t. Another unexpected opportunity presented itself. I switched gears from Vampires, to God. Yes, that God. I watched the movie about Jeremy and Melissa Camp and Jeremy’s song “I Still Believe.” The beginning of the film was easy, but not 30 minutes in, it became very painful to watch. What wasn’t painful? As I watched I began to realize that I have been so stuck inside my own pain that my prayers have become almost remote. Push a button, pray. Blink your eyes, pray. Walk down memory lane, pray. I could feel the pain that both Jeremy and Melissa experienced because of the circumstances of their life, but more than that, I was encouraged by the strength of faith possessed by them. I was reminded in a most personal and powerful way that the struggles and pain I face every day are insurmountable when facing them in the human sense. I am not alone. I know this and I’ve said it many times throughout the past 14+ months. My heartbreak is real, raw and seems to never end. My faith can be weak, scattered and seem not enough, but it is. I am loved.

The movie touched me deep inside, and knowing the story of Jeremy and Melissa Camp going into watching the movie didn’t make it any easier to come to terms with what is happening in my life. Or in the life of my husband. The movie affected me in an unexpected way. The movie brought me introspection. I’ve been thinking since the movie ended about how I can pray differently for my husband. How I can pray in a more meaningful, authentic way. I wish the movie could’ve brought me relief from the never ending streams of tears that seem to seep from my eyes all the time. Today it’s been 48 days since I’ve seen him in person and I think this forced period of isolation is much harder on me than I have been willing to admit. The movie made me see this. No matter how old or young we are, when the person that we love the most is suffering, we suffer, too. I have been trying to “manage” my pain, but it’s been managing me. I have no idea how much longer my husband has here, or if I’ll ever see him again, but I still believe…

I never expected to be where I am at this point in my life. I thought that we would be living in our little 1970’s ranch home in the rural Berkeley county area of SC. I thought we would playing with our grandchildren, having meals as a family unit with their parents. I thought we would be going to church together and raising our hands, and hearts, the the Lord in thanks. I still thank Him, but it doesn’t always make sense to me. I’m human, and selfish, and hurting. I want to hug my husband, I want to see my daughter, I want to have a margarita with my friends. I want… but can’t have. This season of pain and uncertainty has given me pause to examine my life in a very critical and almost too harsh way. Almost being the key word. What’s unexpected about that? The examination has brought me to a place of understanding and surrender. Both extremely difficult things to accept. I understand that my husband had a stroke and that he lived a hard life by choice. I don’t understand the amount of suffering and pain he’s living in right now. I know I never will. So I say welcome, to surrender. I have to surrender him and his pain to a higher power. I have to surrender my heartache and my tears to the God I believe in. I have to believe that the greater plan in all of this will be healing, just not in the sense of earthly healing. I have to believe that there will be unexpected gifts of love, compassion and peace somewhere down the proverbial road. If I lose my belief in what is coming, I may as well just give up. Not. Gonna. Happen.

I am no theologian. I am not, by any means, an expert in prayer, surrender or the ways of God. I do not claim to have any answers, never mind all the answers. What I can tell you… God, as I know Him, loves me. Me. The kid who was abused as a child, the teenager that was defiant, the woman that was treated with disdain and hatred by her own flesh and blood. I am still loved. Me. He loves me. He knows my name and I am worthy of His love. Because God loves me I know I will make it through this and whatever unexpected things happen in the future. As a child I believed the way I was taught, now I believe in the way that has brought me home, much like the Prodigal son in the Bible. I know that there are people out there that believe I am still not a “true” believer, but I don’t worry about all that. My relationship with God is mine, not theirs, and I don’t need their approval. Nor do I need their permission to believe the way I do. God loves me. Me. That has to enough… And it is…

If you need to be prayed for, please reach out to me. We are not meant to do life alone and I would be honored to add you and your prayer needs to my prayer journal. If you don’t believe in God, that’s okay, you still might want to connect with someone in this vast and lonely world. You’re not alone. Whatever unexpected things you’re facing, you are NOT alone…

Still here… And Still Hurting…

Hi All,

I’m still here and still hurting, but am managing to still look towards a brighter day. It takes so much effort that there are days I simply want to give up, but being as determined as I am to be okay again makes giving up impossible.

My beloved husband is still alive, and alone. Again. I haven’t been allowed to see him since November 18th and the days drag on. Imagine if you can; having a brain that doesn’t work the way it should, not being able to use sound reasoning, and being afraid. All of this and more is how my husband lives. He’s well taken care of by the staff at the Hospice Unit he’s in, but mentally he’s tortured by his own brain. The stroke took away his ability to understand things, it took away his reasoning skills and it made him fearful, childlike and distrusting. To know he lies in a bed 24/7 with no one that loves him like his family does nearby breaks my heart. Every single second that makes up every minute that makes every hour that makes every day, I think of him. Every. Damn. Second… And I’m not the only one. He has a large family and friends around the world praying for him, but because of his injured brain, he can’t comprehend this. It’s not living.

I had hoped to be allowed back into the hospice unit by now to at least visit for 2 hours a day as I was before the current Covid surges, but there is no end in sight to this present ban. I’ve begged with his doctors, and the Veteran’s Administration to explain how I am more of threat to him, or the other patients on his unit, than all the staff members that come in and out on a daily basis and the answer is always the same… “It’s a national mandate.” Well, your national mandate is killing all of your patients via loneliness, and it’s cruel. And nonsensical. And don’t even let me get started on people denying the virus or not wearing masks. Public health is a public responsibility and as a public, we’ve failed. Because people don’t care enough about others, I cannot visit my dying husband. My feelings about irresponsibility would make for another post, but suffice it to say that I no longer feel confident I will see my husband alive again. In fact, if he should pass soon, I would be grateful on one hand, shattered on the other. No one should have to be alone because of all the naysayers and irresponsible choices other people make. No one.

I’ve been working for UPS as a seasonal PVD (private vehicle driver) and have 10 days left until I am no longer employed. I took the job as a way to pass time and not sit home alone and all up in my own head. That’s a scary place to be sometimes. The job is physically demanding on this almost 60 year old, but I’m determined to finish. I almost quit when my BFF advised me to stick it out for earnest money on a new home somewhere down the road. She was right. Every box, bag and tube I deliver is another front door closer to my own again. It’s been hard, but I committed to it and I will see it through to the end. Over the past 14+ months since the stroke changed our lives, I have come to realize that nothing is easy, and that easy is overrated. Working hard has its own rewards and I see exactly where I want to go with what I’ve earned. Patience… Something else I’ve been forced to learn that doesn’t come easy. Ever. Someday when I look back on what we’ve been through since that fateful day in October of 2019, I’m sure I’ll see one set of footprints in the sand, and know that God, my family and my friends carried me, and my husband through the most difficult journey ever. Easy, like I said, is overrated.

The beginning of a New Year usually comes with the hope of something “better.” I’m not looking for better, nor do I expect it. I’m looking for the peace that seems to elude each and every one of us from time to time. I know it’s out there, I’ve experienced it, and I am hopeful that I will again. I don’t make resolutions, I believe they set us up for failure. I set goals, and make a map for myself on how to make it from point A to point B to point C. You get the picture. In 2021 I pray I remain as strong as possible for the dark days that lie ahead. I pray I will feel the warm, southern sun shine on me again. I pray that my husband is granted mercy, peace and healing. I know that with those things I am facing more heartache, but joy comes in the morning, right? I know he wants me to be happy, and I am determined to honor him by finding happiness again. One breath, one step, and one day at a time.

In closing I would like to wish whoever reads this a Happy New Year. May you find happiness along the journey of your life and may you share and experience kindness. We all deserve that…

Photo by Barb Enos