Today…

Hey All,

Today I feel like I can finally write something from a positive place in my heart. Life is hard, we all know that. Life may be harder right now because of COVID-19, but I find that I am learning how to appreciate the slowing down that is being experienced in some ways. I am more appreciative of the people on the front lines of the pandemic. The health care workers that cannot stay home, the grocery store workers that have to risk exposure every time they clock in, the essential personnel that have been trying to keep us all safe and healthy. So many people deserve recognition… Civil servants, police officers, fire fighters, EMT’s. The people behind the scenes that we all need, but rarely acknowledge. Thank you, from the bottom of this transplanted Virginian’s heart, thank you.

I had a therapy session today with my favorite therapist, via phone as always, and it helps to have someone to talk to during these trying times. I am not afraid of contracting the virus, I do fear that the self isolation will grab me by the hand and walk me towards a depression that will be long, dark and most unwelcome. After all the life altering events of the past 2.5 years, walking into a depression seems inevitable, even possible. Not gonna happen to this girl!!! I have been given so many tools to help me cope with any situation over these past months, and I fully intend to utilize them. Feeling sad? Cry, then blow your nose, wash your face and go for a walk. Feeling angry? Scream at the top of your lungs, then take a deep breath and release the anger on the exhale. Feeling alone? Call your best friend, call your mom, call someone and be sure to laugh. Laughter is still the best medicine, it brings a simple joy that is missing in these trying times. Feeling confused? Shut off the TV, stop looking at your phone and pick up a book. Watch an old movie. Listen to your favorite music. We are responsible for our reactions to what is going on around us, and those reactions can be positive. We all have the desire to feel good within us, and we have to tap into those feelings and be resolved to not be defeated by events, people and the world around us. Yes, we will sink from time to time, but bouncing back and becoming stronger can happen if we decide to let it.

People need to know they matter. People are not disposable and love should never be used as weapon, one against another. Sadly, we human beings use love as a weapon every day and we probably don’t realize how often this happens. Think about it, and be honest with yourself. Did you stop talking to someone because the words they said hurt your feelings? I’ve been guilty of this very thing myself and in some ways I still live this. I no longer speak to someone I once loved more than life itself. I know that I never will again as long as she makes it so. This particular person has demanded that I never speak to her and she is having that demand met. It’s a classic situation of being careful of what you ask for because you just might get it. I find that I can no longer fathom speaking to this person, and were the opportunity to present itself to speak to her, I would politely decline. People need to know they matter, and like I stated, we are not disposable. I am not disposable. In defense of this woman, she is not either. I have not disposed of her, but I will never be able to let my guard down again and rebuilding this particular relationship is not possible. Nor is it wanted or necessary. The foundations of the past have been destroyed and the time and determination it would take to rebuild don’t exist any longer. On either side of the fence of life. Closing the door on something is much different than tossing someone out like the scum at the bottom of a trash can, I’ve closed the door. And when I finally closed the door, a window opened. Wide. I am enjoying my life because of the gentle breezes that come through said window, and while I will always miss what could have been, I am moving forward.

Today the sun shines here in central Virginia, but I do see grey clouds on the horizon. Just like life, the grey days come and go. The sun will shine again and we will once again learn to appreciate that which we take for granted. I could continually lament about the condition my husband is in, but I choose to focus on the strides he has made over these past five months. He has had 7 surgeries in the past five months, 2 major, and one just this past Monday. A major one. He did well, and it was terrifying to know he had to have a surgical procedure done with a weakened heart, and that he would be under anesthesia for hours. I was allowed to be in the hospital both Monday and Tuesday, but not since. Grey days are upon me, but not just me, millions of people around the country are forbidden to see their loved ones. Thankfully we live in a time of teleconferencing, Skype, Duo, Face-time, etc… so I can see my beloved. Not all of us are as lucky. Remember that. People need to know they matter, so remind those that you love and care for in any way you can that they matter to you. It’s up to each one of us to help chase away the grey that life brings, not just to us, but to others.

Today I feel as if I could write forever, I feel like the words inside my head just keep coming. And they keep coming. I guess it would be safe to say that I am feeling my feelings up close and personal, and those feelings are mostly positive and good. I have much to be thankful for. I’m part of a family that accepts me and my quirkiness without condition and I have survived being broken, shattered and shamed. I have picked myself up more than once to keep going and am blessed beyond measure. My cup runneth over! I have a husband I love and that is my very best friend. I have a daughter, two sons-in-love, four grandchildren, and a dog that mean the world to me. I have friends that know my deepest, darkest secrets and love me anyway. My circle is small, that’s okay. My circle is at it should be: full of trust, love and compassion. I am very aware of all that I have lost, but I am also very aware of all that I have and thank God every day that I breathe, laugh, cry and love. The older I get the more I realize just how much we unintentionally hurt ourselves and those around us. Because of this realization, I strive to not hurt people intentionally, but I know I still do. I am sorry that this happens, but I am also thankful that I am able to forgive myself. I am big on forgiveness, and I know that granting forgiveness is intrinsically tied into the fiber of who I am. Being able to forgive others is so much easier than forgiving oneself, but forgiving ourselves is just as important.

Today I hope to smile a lot, cry a little, and love without condition. Self isolation sucks, that’s for sure, but it’s not all bad. Maybe it helps bring that which is most important into focus. Tell someone you’re thinking of them. Mail a card to an old friend just because you can. Say I love you to your kids. Hug your spouse and remind them what it is you love about them. Find a way to convey a message of happiness and love, the world isn’t all bad. I plan on watching a little Outlander, cooking something yummy and maybe taking some of my own advice and mailing a card to an old friend…

Be well, stay safe, and smile!!!

Photo by Barb Enos

And it Happens, Just Like That…

Hi All,

And it happens, just like that. What happens, you ask? Life. As you know, my life has been a challenge for a long time, and most days I can reasonably roll with the gut punches, and I was gut punched yesterday. Thankfully I was somewhat expecting the punch, so it didn’t take me by surprise. It still knocked the wind out of my sails so to speak, but I’ll be okay. Yesterday word came to me via the Veteran’s Administration I would no longer be allowed to visit my husband while he’s there, and while it sucks, it’s not about me. I miss him, and he misses me, but this change is for all the patients safety, and I’m okay with that. The COVID-19 pandemic has become personal to me, and I am not going to fight against not seeing my husband since I know the VA is just trying to do what they think is best. I support the decision, I just don’t like it. And it happens, just like that.

And it happens, just like that. Your life seems to be gaining traction in the right direction and something comes along to upend everything you’ve worked for, dreamed of, and had within your grasp. Moving to Virginia was never part of our plan, but it happened, just like that. We had lived in Eastern Virginia in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and we enjoyed our time here. Heck, my favorite place on earth is the Shenandoah Valley, right here in Western Virginia. I plan on taking a day trip out that way soon since I am self isolating, what better way to spend a day than with my camera, my car and the Blue Ridge Mountains? Just because life happens and it doesn’t happen like you thought it would, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. I think the ability to make lemonade becomes second nature as we age, and if it doesn’t, keep trying. Lemonade is sweeter when you make it yourself, even if you’re not quite ready to make it.

And it happens, just like that. You begin to believe that you’re making strides towards personal peace and acceptance, and someone decides to that they are okay with hurting you even when you beg them not to. Let it go… It’s on the person that does the hurting, not you. If you made yourself and your reasons clear, if you’ve begged, pleaded, screamed, cried and all other manner of trying to get your point across and the other person still hurts you intentionally, forgive them. That forgiveness is for YOU, because hanging on to hurt and bitterness only hurts you, not them. As Elsa says, let it go, let it go, and let the storm rage on… you know the song. I’m never going back, the past is in the past. Leave it there.

And it happens, just like that. You begin to accept that you can’t keep trying to make someone love you. Sooner or later you realize that the person(s) you are trying to connect with simply don’t want you, or need you, or even want themselves. Keep your face pointed towards the sun, even in the harshest rain storms, because the sun will shine upon your face again. The loss of love is not the end, though it sure does feel like that when it happens. When someone deliberately throws you away, you hurt. Let yourself hurt. For a while. Don’t let the hurt consume you forever, it’s not healthy nor is it worth it. The person(s) whom hurt you, they’re the ones that will reap what they have sown, and even if you never see what happens to them, you can live each day knowing you did the next right thing.

And it happens, just like that. You reach the end of your blog entry and say good day to your readers. I am humbled each time I think about making a difference in just one person’s life by sharing my heart. And my experiences. I ache to get back to the me that felt like I was able to encourage people to get through the trials of estrangement. I want to feel like I am writing again from a place of light, but am not quite there. Be patient with me as I work to repair and clean up the shards of my heart; after so many shattering events it’s almost impossible to pick up the pieces. Until next time, stay well, social distance as much as possible and turn towards the sun if you are able.

Photo by u5609u6dc7 u5f90 on Pexels.com

Spring is upon us…

Hello again,

Now that I am about 90% settled into my new place, I am hoping that I am inspired to write more frequently. Being settled is just a small part of my new life here in Central Virginia, but small and settled is so much better than the chaos, turmoil and uncertainties I have faced over these past five months. So. Much. Better.

Today it has been three weeks since we lost a beloved family member and my heart is sore. It aches for my sister-in-love, her girls, and the entire extended family. We miss you, dear one, we always will. Just today your baby brother said he wasn’t the same without you. None of us are. Even when the miles separate people physically, the heart connection is ever present. It should be this way… Memories are the gifts you left us. It shouldn’t be this way… You should be here, loving your wife, hugging your daughters and making people smile with your quick wit. Life is a little less bright without you here, but we are beyond grateful that we had the chance to love you, that we have the laughter and joy to remember you by. We will never forget…

Everyday I drive about 15 miles to the Richmond Veterans Medical Center, and for the past two weeks I have been watching Spring make its’ way into the greater Richmond area. There is a section of Hwy. 10 that I drive every day and it reveals a gorgeous and tangible reminder that life not only continues on, it blossoms, grows and keeps reaching for the sun. I’ve been watching the trees go from bare, to bud, to white, flower filled branches. Now the flowering branches are turning a luscious green, and it appears to be snowing when the breeze blows. I love knowing that the Earth is waking up again, it reminds me that nothing is impossible. Even when I feel defeated by circumstance, all I have to do is go for a drive on Hwy. 10 or 288, or just look out the window of my husband’s hospital room to know that the promise of renewal is within reach. Heck, just watching my husband work so hard at his recovery is more encouragement than I deserve. He is a champion, he’s my champion. He is the epitome of spring. He’s been cold, dormant and withered; now he is standing (with assistance, but standing,) he is regaining memory and he is reaching towards the sunlight. I am reminded every day that renewal is possible, even if the season of our individual winters last much longer than the winters of the calendar.

I’ve been told countless times by so many that I am strong, and though I don’t feel it, all I have to do is look back to October of 2019 to see my own strength. My strength is not my own to claim, it belongs to so many. It belongs to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It belongs to the love between my husband and me. It belongs to our younger daughter and her family. It belongs to my best friends, to the friends I’ve made here in Virginia. It belongs to the staff at the VA who have held me while I’ve cried, to the therapists that encourage us and to the Chaplain that prays with us. So many people have helped make me strong and without them I wouldn’t be able to find my way. I am so grateful to the paternal Gma to our oldest grandson. She is a strong and wonderful woman who has not only let me cry, rage and rant about the unfairness of everything, but she has fostered my beloved pup since NOv. 2, 2019. Her love and devotion inspire me. To all of the people that have held my hands, driven moving trucks, carried boxes, unpacked boxes and made sacrifices in large and small ways, thank you. Thank you so much.

Spring is a promise of growth, a time for refreshing, and an opportunity to reflect on the darkness of the winter, all the while seeking the light and warmth of the sun. I have lived in such a dark and dank place these past five months, though if I am to be totally honest it’s been more like 2 years. We were shunned by our oldest daughter almost two years ago, though that pain pales in comparison to the events of the past five months. I truly thought I would never hurt more than I did when she threw us away, but I have. I still hurt from time to time over her and her disregard for her parents, but I really don’t have all that much time for that hurt anymore. I pray for her peace of mind every day, that’s all I can do. I don’t seek, expect or even want reconciliation. Reconciliation would require trust and trust is not possible anymore. I am focused on the fact that the Spring of 2020 will bring growth and restoration for my husband’s brain and body, the rest of what I think about will have to wait for now. Spring this year is full of the goodness of God, and of love, therefore I will not open myself up to something that I know will hurt me. I am learning, as always, to protect my heart from that which I know will hurt it. Like spring plantings, I will plant the tenderness of my heart in the richness of the soil of love. Life is too short to plant your heart among the weeds and thorns that want to strangle and hurt you.

Tomorrow I will again drive east towards Richmond and take notice of the growth of the trees lining both sides of the road. There will be less white and more green, and I will be reminded by that green to keep reaching towards the sun, and the heavens, for my own renewal and growth. May you find moments in your own day to welcome the warmth of the spring sun into your own heart, and may you know that spring is a time to shake off the cold, the grey, and the heaviness of your own winter.

Until next time…

Photo by Louis on Pexels.com

Circles…

A group of people with shared professions, interests, or acquaintances. (as defined by Oxford Press)

Do you ever think about the roles that circles play in our everyday lives? Do you ever just sit in the sun and ponder your “circle?” I am not so gently reminded as of late as to just what my circles mean to me and how they influence the forward motion of the paths that are laid out in front of me. I hope I can make sense out of the words bouncing around in my head today, as I am hurting and feeling the width of my circles growing smaller.

I believe as we age that our circles of friends, family and influence grow smaller and smaller as time goes on. In the shrinking of circles we find acceptance, we find happiness, we find peace ,and if we’re lucky, we find love. Unfortunately we also find betrayal, strife and pain that is so deep it becomes impossible to comprehend. The impossibility of such pain is very much on my mind today and I am not only reminded that my circles are getting smaller, they’re getting less welcoming to intrusion. That lies on me, and it’s a decision I fully accept responsibility for.

Circles are round. They have no ending, no beginning, and they’re symbolic in so many ways. Wedding rings, eye color, portholes, etc… Why does a rock thrown in the water leave rings rippling outward of the splash? Why is a tree’s age determined by the amount the rings in its trunk? Why are bubbles round? When I think of the ripples left by a rock tossed in a pond, I think of the trials my family has faced, especially in the past 2.5 years. My husband and I are the rocks thrown in the water, our children, grandchildren, extended family and friends are the outlying ripples. I started things off by throwing a large rock in the water when I left my husband in October 2017. A huge splash with so many ripples. Next came our reunion, after just seven weeks of separation. More ripples were created, as we came to realize just how much we had to lose. In May of 2018 my husband and I were tossed out like a trash bag full of bricks, the splash being so loud and so large that the vast extended family was affected as well. March of 2019 brought a boulder sized splash, and the ripples haven’t stopped. October of 2019 brought the largest splash of all and the ripples caused by the event of my husband’s catastrophic stroke still grow in scope. We sold our home after 15 months of owning it, we battled craniotomy, pneumonia, a move to another state, and we had to begin to rewrite our fairy tale. The circle that is our life is evolving, as are we.

We lost a beloved family member just 11 days ago, and the ripples from the loss will continue to be felt for quite some time to come. The circle of our family has been getting smaller, whether by choice or not, and we are learning to move ahead. Just last night my own personal circle became smaller, though not by my choice. I do choose, however, to not try and enlarge said circle at this time. For me to do so would mean opening myself up to trusting people again, and that trust has been demolished. I find that trust means many things, and that within the circle of my own life, it means everything. I’ve come to recognize that people who I thought I could trust will betray me, hence making it easy to make my circle smaller. Making the circle smaller hurts deeply, but once the crushing pain begins to subside, I am still able to hold my head high and look forward towards MY best future. Looking back does nothing but make you spin in circles of craziness, and I opt out of that. I leave the crazy for someone else to live with, and wait for the next rock to be thrown in the water…

Spinning in circles can cause dizziness, dizziness can cause confusion, and confusion can cause misunderstanding. The circles of confusion had had their circumference clearly defined and coloring outside the circle’s edge has caused ripples of mistrust, hurt and loneliness. Within my heart lived a sense of belonging to a circle that presented itself as safe, but that safeness was false. I’ve closed the door on what happened to make me mistrust, and my intention is to never open it again. I’ve been gravely wounded, as have many others, by someone throwing rocks that they threw without forethought or care for what type of ripples would be left behind. The circles of my life continue to change, as do I, and I know that at the end of the day, my circle is as it should be… smaller, well defined and fiercely protected.

There is a small part of me that wishes I didn’t feel so much. I get tired of feeling so much and so deeply, but would it better to not feel? I don’t think it would be, though at times I’m not so sure. The things I’ve learned over these past 2.5 years have changed me to my core, and the lessons have been hard. Extremely so. Yesterday’s lesson cost me more than people, it cost me another chunk of my heart. The reward? I learned that trying to be heard only matters to the person that is speaking, not the one on the other end of the line. I rise up in spite of such hurt, I become a ripple in the water where the rock was tossed and I tighten up my circle. Protect your circle, keep your rocks close and when you need to, toss them into the water and let the ripples remind you of your circles…

From the North…

Hey all,

I’m writing today from the Northeast, and trying to come to grips with loss, heartbreak and rage. I’m currently in New Hampshire, I came home to New England to say goodbye to my husband’s beloved brother who died on the 25th of February. He was such a kind and loving man, and the world is a sadder place without him in it. He left behind his wife of 37 years, 2 beautiful daughters, and so many family members and friends that will never be the same. He had a wicked sense of humor, a lightning fast wit and a heart as big as big can get. He will be missed more than most and forever remembered as a person that loved deeply and lived life with joy.

In the aftermath of such a devastating loss, I am left again to witness not only the depth of sorrow that losing someone can cause, but the absolute carelessness of others. I am appalled that there are people who can put their selfishness and self serving ways ahead of the rest of their family. I’ve always said that family drama arrives uninvited at weddings and funerals, and the uninvited is about to knock on the door that should remain closed. Why would you want to show up where you are not welcome? Why is okay to wreak havoc on those who are already so heartbroken that your presence would compound the brokeness? Why? Only someone so selfish and narcissistic would make an event such as a death about themselves, not having regard for the pain and anguish of others.

I feel an almost uncontrollable sense of rage when I envision what “could” happen because one person decides that their twisted sense of self is more important than that of others. In a world filled with so much angst and hurt and chaos, why not just leave well enough alone? Why insist on inserting yourself into that which doesn’t concern you? Why ask to be left alone and then inject yourself into the lives of those you walked away from? My emotions make me think of the adage “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” The situation we are in right now as a family is a perfect example of that adage. We, as a family unit, didn’t ask for this. You did. Without your parents, you wouldn’t be a part of the family you think it’s okay to shun. Without your parents, you wouldn’t be a part of this family in the first place. Without your parents, you wouldn’t exist. In denying your parents existence, you deny your lineage.  As your parents we have learned to let you go, so stop trying to cling on to that to which you don’t belong. Yes, I hurt, and I am sure that that is exactly what you want me to do, but I don’t hurt for myself. I hurt for the grandchildren denied love, I hurt for the grandmother that you deny by denying your parents, I hurt for the larger family that you were once a part of that you found so easy to throw away. You are not welcome here by your own design, is that so hard to understand?

There was a time I had the wherewithal to forgive you. That time is no longer. You can’t forgive that which doesn’t exist, therefore we move forward, beyond the forgiveness. You no longer have a place in your family of origin, by your choice, so we have no reason to focus on forgiveness. To have been accused by you of such heinous and horrible things stings me no more. I have said all along these past two years that the burden of proof lies on the accuser, so prove it. Prove that I hurt you, and since you can’t, we move on. As you age, I pray that you will come to know the depth of pain you have caused, but more than that, that you care about the pain you’ve caused. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I believe that you will not care and that you will never even think about caring. When a person lives with the amount of selfishness and self-centeredness that you do, there is literally no hope that you will ever find any type of compassion in your ice cold heart.

In closing what has become a letter to you, and I know you know who you are, I want you to know that I pray for your husband and son every day. I pray for their safety. I pray that they be safe from your illnesses and that somewhere they find peace of mind. They deserve to be treated with love and kindness, and those are attributes that you are incapable of giving…20190612_1217032011319798756635633.jpg

 

I’m Still Here…

Hey all,

I’m still here in Richmond with my beloved and continue to pray for healing and progress. Progress has come to a halt this week as he has a terrible infection that has affected his good hand and he can’t grasp anything with it. The infection is a pus filled sack on the first knuckle of his right hand and is slowly creeping up his arm. He had to have the hospital ID cut off his wrist today as the swelling is pretty significant. No one seems to know what happened, and with the brain injury he’s dealing with, he can’t really shed any light on what has happened. He’s in terrible pain and it breaks my heart to see him so. With everything else going on, he really doesn’t need this…

Today there was a “gun rally” in Richmond and I stayed as far away from downtown as possible. The media spin on what Virginia is doing is pretty inaccurate as far as the truth of the legislation is written, but no one seems to know how to hold a civil conversation about any type of hot button issue anymore. I am not a gun person, but I honestly have no issue with anyone going through the proper channels to own one of their own. Criminals are always going to find a way to break the law no matter what, and the idea that Gov. Northam is trying to take away anyone’s legally owned guns is spin. Fox News says one thing, MSNBC another, CNN still another… Enough already!!! Common sense gun laws? How about just common sense? Be kind, stop the hate, love your neighbor, and stop all the crap. America really is morally corrupt, be the change this country so desperately needs. Enough about politics.

I’m still here in the same place my heart has lived over the past three months, and I am still broken. The loss of my husband as he was is ever present and I miss hugging him. I miss holding his hand, I miss him driving. I miss the man who I’ve spent my life loving, but I love the man that is. He has the sweetest nature (when he’s not in pain,) he loves me still and we will get through this with each other and our village. I am physically alone here in my room at the Richmond Fisher house, but I am never truly alone. I am loved by my family, my friends, my husband and by my Father. I lean not on my own understanding, because I don’t understand any of this. How is it that the man I love is here, but not? How is it that I can still smile, even with a shattered heart? How is it that I am not bat shit crazy by now? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I don’t have to know the answers. I have learned over these past three months to take one step at a time. It’s not one day for me, it’s one step. One step is as much as I can handle and one step at a time gets me through the days as well as one day at a time. It’s all the same at the end of the day… I have become more patient in many ways, though I’ve also learned that I have little patience when it comes to things that make no sense. I don’t waste time on that which drags me down, I can’t. I don’t have the mental fortitude for frivolity and bullshit, they serve no purpose. At all.

I’m still here in terms of seeking joy, though I am not as able to find it in every day as I was before my husband’s hospitalization. I look for joy in spite of my pain, it’s a deliberate action. If I fall off the path of seeking joy, I hurt myself more than my life and its trials do. I refuse to give in, and I will not give up. I want to give up at least a hundred times a day, but I will not. I deserve better. I am better. I need to have something good in my life and I am responsible for my joy. No one else is. I flat out refuse to give up. I have been beaten down, rejected, accused of horrible things, tossed out like the most disgusting trash, yet I refuse to give up. Just because other people may treat me like I am less than, it doesn’t make it true. I am a daughter, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a friend, a neighbor and a woman that still loves with a bruised and battered heart. Those who would seek to malign me would do well to remember that how they treat me (or don’t treat me) is nothing but a reflection of how they feel about themselves. I am not defined by any one other than myself, and my heavenly Father, and because I know this, I am still here.

I’m still here to hopefully encourage even just one person somewhere in this great big world that they matter. I don’t have any answers as to how to make this world a more kind place, I just believe in being the change I wish I could see. I believe in asking if someone needs help. I believe in holding the hand of the person sitting next to me if they need a friend. I believe we are meant to love one another, even when it’s not easy. I believe love means forgiving those that hurt us most. Love doesn’t hurt people, people do that out of pain and hate and anger. Love forgives. I forgive. I move forward against the storms of the past three months and I turn my face to the sun, seeking warmth. I’m still here… and I will be here again tomorrow. Be well, friends. And be the change you want to see, because in that change you will find joy.

selective focus photo of gerbera flower
Photo by Manuel Alvarez on Pexels.com

Getting Vertical…

Hey World,

So, I’ve started this blog post without a title and hope to come across it somewhere as I type out my heart’s musings. Today was a decent day, the weather here in Richmond, VA was sunny, cool and a bit breezy. I love when the sun shines in the wintertime, it always feels so good to face the sun, close my eyes, and lift my face towards the warmth it gives. I love soaking in the vitamin D. Winter is my least favorite season, I always get more melancholy and these days, melancholy is not what I need to invite into my life. I have enough on board already.

As I’ve written before, I try to not get religious when I write, so if this post seems too religious for you, please forgive me. I have been to three different church services in the 13 days we’ve been in Richmond, and all three have been quite different. The first was on Christmas Eve, the day after we arrived here. There were easily 600 people in the auditorium, every single one of them a stranger. I cried through the entire service as the pastor spoke about “something missing.” For me that something was, and is, my husband. He was lying in a hospital bed across the city, he was my something missing on Christmas Eve. I still raised my hands in worship, because I was moved to do so. Without my faith, I would become a shell of who I am, and having been that shell just a year ago, I don’t want to go back there. Not ever. The second service I went to was the first Sunday we were in Richmond and I went to the hospital chapel. That service was very different for me as I had never been to a chapel service in a hospital. The chaplain focused on the word “yet.” YET in this storm will we believe? YET in this trial will we hide? YET in this time of our life, we will still trust? My answer to these questions is yes, but that yes is not said with ease, confidence or assurance in self. I have lost so much of myself these past nine weeks since the event that has altered so many lives. Today I went to a church on the northside of Richmond and it was a beautiful blend of traditional and contemporary worship styles, and the congregation is a beautifully diverse group of believers. The pastor is from India, is a Princeton educated man and so humble. He spoke about the blessings we are afforded when we come to Christ with an open heart and mind. He spoke about loving all people, being inclusive as a nation and living peacefully. I cried again when the people in front of me prayed for my beloved husband and again on my way back to the hospital as I thought about how thankful I am that someone invited me to attend. In a city where I know not a single soul, I felt welcomed, safe and filled with the Spirit. It was just what I needed. I felt hopeful, and at this point in my life, hope keeps playing hide and seek with me. I will be seeking hope again next week at this same church and listening for the voice that gives me that hope.

We never know what lurks around the corners of our lives and when things happen that have a catastrophic effect, we usually have no idea how to react to said events. My husband’s stroke has changed our lives, and the lives of so many people, right down into the DNA of who we all are. And were. I miss my husband, yet he is still alive. How can I miss him? How can I not is more the question. We were living the life we had long looked forward to, and now that life is gone. We were simply happy in our little house in South Carolina, we had our beloved grandchildren close by, our daughter and son-in-love, friends and a community that we loved. So much has changed, and so many more changes are ahead. I hear you should never ask God “how much more can I take?” and I believe that wholeheartedly. In just two years we have as a couple endured a separation, a reunion, months of therapy both together and individually. We have lost a daughter and grandchildren. We sold a home and relocated to be closer to our youngest daughter and her family. We bought a home that I actually loved, but I know that’s because we left the spirits of hate and discontent behind us when we sold our home in NC. We were so happy in our new home in SC. I found a job I loved while Steve quit his job and dabbled in the retired life. He was going to go back to work not a week after his stroke and we were both looking forward to making plans for our 40th anniversary (2022.) Now we look forward to completely different things, as he can’t remember the plans we had started for going to Alaska, Ireland and England. Not all at the same time, but we were making plans nonetheless. Now my plans are to find an apartment I can afford, feel safe in, and that isn’t too far from the VA Hospital here in Richmond. MY plans. My husband isn’t able to process the information that so many of us take for granted anymore. I am beyond grateful that he is still alive, but he is not the same. He can’t help me make plans, he can’t process the thoughts it takes to make plans and he can’t enjoy the joys those plans would’ve brought. He may be able to some day, and I pray for that healing every day, but reality is what it is and today, at this moment, he is just not able.

I ache for the life I had just 3 months ago and I want it back more than I want to move forward alone. Moving forward alone is not what I want to do, but it is what I will do. I have many people supporting me, so many people I can call and cry with, or rage with, or just talk, but at the end of the day I go to bed alone, and I wake up tomorrow, still alone. I remind myself over and over and over again that I am never really alone; God is with me. Even when I can’t feel Him, hear Him or see Him, He is there. Without this assurance I would be so much more of a basket case than I am currently. I know that the Lord is watching over me, that He is with my husband and that He is with all of those I love. I miss my family so much, and not being near our daughter and her family is beyond painful. I miss my friends. I miss hanging out at our favorite Mexican restaurant and eating esquites, drinking a margarita and just enjoying each other’s company. I want to watch my youngest grandson run to his Poppy with abandon, not hesitate because Poppy is “different.” We have all lost so much. Our daughter has lost her Daddy, the strongest and most loving Dad she could have asked for. I have lost my husband as he was. My protector, provider, and lover. I want to hug my husband again, and feel him hug me back. I haven’t hugged him fully since October 5th, 2019, and I may never be able to feel him hug me like that again. My mother-in-love has lost her baby boy, but I am ever thankful that he did spend a month with her right before this happened. Time is lost, love is forever different and life holds little joy right now.

I pray that someday, and someday very soon, I regain my positivity and my strength to keep moving forward. I know that there is a reason for this, but I can’t see it through my pain. I don’t really try to. Getting vertical each day is about as much a task as I can handle and I find myself battling with my mind on days where I am determined to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for myself is not going to help in the long run, but damn… I’ve run more marathons in the past 9 weeks than the most experienced runner I know. As I learn more about the human brain and what it can do, I am encouraged. Getting vertical happens because of that encouragement and because I still breathe. Some days that’s all we get… I’ll take it. Tomorrow brings joy as the grands and their parents will be in Richmond, so I’m going to work hard to be fully present in the joy and not dwell on the fact that they have to go home to SC. Some is better than none and I will take a few hours with them over zero.

In closing, I hope that my rambling hasn’t gone on too long. I am trying to “shine brightly” as the name of my blog states, but the clouds are dense and heavy right now…

sea dawn nature sky
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