12.23.2011

Merry Christmas

I am missing you bad today babe. I laughed histerically when I randomly remembered your crazy thrust dance you did in your boxer shorts and your 'seduction' face you use to make...and right after the laugh came incredible heartache. I could see you so clearly in my head, you felt so close for a second. It's been happening a lot lately....it struck me that it's been 2 years since I've celebrated a Christmas with you - that cannot be right and it's sickening to think about. I had gotten to the point where my memories didn't hurt and I could smile thinking about you. But not today.

Your beautiful niece turned 1 today. I wish you could have met her, she is a miracle and absolute sweetness, but I know you've been watching over her this year. I can't wait to hug her for you in a few days.

Realizing that tomorrow we'll have two gaping holes in our Christmas left by you and my brother is horrifying. I don't understand why it happened this way. All I can say is that unlike last year, I am relived to begin a new year. I am relived to get out of 2011, the most life-changing year of my life. I'm ready to just face something new, something other than constant grief and tears. I'm ready to find joy.

I love you baby, forever and always. I miss you more than anything.
Merry Christmas, my love.

12.18.2011

mosaic

I have been at a stand-still lately. Unable to form words, unable to express the evolution of my heart the last few weeks. I miss you so very much, and the freshness of it sometimes is enough to take my breath away. The moments get further apart, and the feeling of being blessed takes over, but you are always there as a reminder of how great a loss I've had. 


The other day, I started cleaning out the scrapbook area in the basement. It was the only section of the house that hasn't been unpacked yet. I uncovered so many things in those boxes: pictures, written letters, things the kids made for you, special things I had written down to remember. I was reading Faith's mini-album I made her for her 3rd birthday, and she told me she wanted to grow up to play ball like her daddy and that her favorite thing to do was wrestle with you. The most painful were the letters that you had written to the kids for their birthdays. I actually didn't remember you writing one for Caleb (I remember bugging you about it, but I didn't know you finished it) so when I found it in his envelope, it was like someone had punched be in the throat. Baby, for all that I have suffered and lost, I grieve so much more for our children. I could give you up if it meant our children could have their daddy back. You were such a wonderful daddy and the wound was ripped open new the other day going through it all.


After going through all that, I ached to find more of your things, read more of your things. I wanted to feel close to you and spend time with you and my memories of you. So, I went back through the box I keep next to my bed, full of letters and keepsakes over the course of our relationship. All the letters I wrote for you for different milestone anniversaries - I had finally opened them a few months back - and they twist the dagger in my heart as I realize I will never get to speak those words to you or read the letters to you. Then, I read the letter I wrote for you to read if I died before you. I've read it a few times (and I say very few, because it is too much most of the time) and have debated sharing it. Today, I am able.

Hello my love,
If you are opening this letter, it means that my life has passed before yours. I have always said that I would rather die before you so that I wouldn't have to live a day without you. Even though it's too late now if you are opening this, I know now that I would rather suffer without you than to make you suffer. I never want to cause you pain. I am so sorry if this is causing pain and suffering, but please know that it will be okay.
I have tears welling up right now while I am writing this just thinking about all of our memories. Words cannot express the joy and love you have shown me. I have never in my life found anyone who can make me smile that way you do, who can heal my wounds as quickly as you, and who can fill me up the way you do. I know that even if I lived to be a thousand, I would never find that again. Baby, I love you with all that I am, and no one can break what we share.
I want you to know that my life was such a blessing. God has blessed me with so much. Even if there was something that I didn't get to do, I know that it won't matter anymore. Now I can look down from Heaven and be satisfied knowing that you are moving on and being happy, and doing all the things you dreamed of. More than anything, I want you to be happy. No matter when I die, no matter how old, that is my wish for you. As hard as it is to say, I want you to be able to move on. Don't forget about me. but know that as long as you are happy, let your heart and God lead you.
Promise me one thing - let God take over in everything. If we have children, don't let a day go by without them knowing that I love them, and that God is the only one who can change their lives. If not, tell yourself that. I need to make sure that this is not the last time I get to see you.
I don't want to leave anything unsaid or unfinished, and I am sorry if I have. There is nothing more that I can think of to tell you other than that I love you. You are the love of my life. You are my one and only. Nothing is more important to me than that. Thank you for filling my life full of love and laughter and giving me so much to remember.
This is my chance to say good-bye. My prayer is that you will only remember the good things. I know that I'm not perfect and that I've had my moments of regret, but you far surpass any obstacle I could face. God gave you to me when I needed you the most, and He has let me keep you in my life as my husband. You are my greatest gift and my biggest treasure. You are my angel. I only hope that I have left with you half as many wonderful memories as you have given me. I know God has an awesome plan for you, so reach for the stars. When you get there, I will be waiting just beyond.
I will see you in Heaven, my love. I can't wait to see you. I miss you already. I love you with all that I am.
Love always and forever and ever and ever and ever,
Your Vee
A few things came to my mind when I read this. The first is how young I sound (20 is young, though). The second is how little I knew about loss and death when I wrote it. If I had to write it now, I might be more practical, and tell you how it might hurt to breathe and it's okay to curl up into a ball if you need to. Or I might write about how to take a break when taking care of 3 kids on your own becomes too overwhelming, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Or I would tell you to take things at your own pace and not worry about others and the way they grieve, everyone is different. Or I would tell you that there would never be anything more painful in your life than losing our love, but if you could survive that, you could survive anything. Or maybe I wouldn't change it because at the end of the day, the only thing there really is to say is that I love you and I want to see you again. 


But every time I read it, I tried to hear your voice in it. I remember wishing you would write me a letter like this just in case. I would have BEGGED you to if I had known, just to have something to hold on to. So I pretend you wrote this to me. Truthfully, I CAN hear you in most of it, I know you would say the same things. I know you want me to be happy, I have felt you telling me that a lot lately. I tell the kids every day how much you love them - they will never doubt that. And I have felt even to a greater degree after your death, how much you love me. Such an ironic experience to appreciate love and life in a way you could never possibly before and no longer have it to appreciate. 


I guess I just want you to know that I love you, and I am holding on to the pieces left behind. Like a mosaic masterpiece, all these little pieces that on their own are just useless, broken pieces of glass....but when all the broken pieces are put together can create something meaningful and beautiful. Slowly, I am putting something together piece by piece. I don't even know what it is yet, they still just seem like useless broken pieces of my heart, but I put them side by side and try to fill in the empty spaces left behind with love and memories, family and friends, and trust that a masterpiece is being created. It is not what I intended to do with my heart, and the pieces will never come together in the same way again, but I see now that it can still be beautiful and meaningful. 


Thank you for teaching my about life and love. I miss you every single day and I WILL see you again. I love you always and forever.

12.04.2011

Happy Birthday Bro


Just wanted to take the time to wish my brother Brian a Happy Birthday today - he would have been 27 today. The sting of his short life is still painful - almost 5 months and I've yet to really process the fact that he's gone. It became all too real for me when I finally got to see his grave today. It's beautiful and my mom and other family members have taken such good care of it and had it all decorated for his birthday


But, I just couldn't believe my brother was there. How is he under the earth? It's not right, he should still be here. I just can't make sense of it all. We drove out to Brighton to celebrate my other brother Matt's birthday (their birthdays are a day apart) - and I prayed the entire drive that he'd be able to enjoy the day and find some peace. We took him out to lunch, and it was good to be with family. Something about being all together that feels right. 

Sometimes, I have a hard time digesting all the crap that's happened in the last year. Some days I can be strong, some days I fall apart, some days I think about other things. Today, I just really miss Brian and his vibrancy, and watching him with his son, and play with my kids, and tell stupid jokes, and hang out.

Happy Birthday Brian! We miss you every day, we're really struggling to put the pieces of our family back together - we need you here! Hope you're enjoying a grand celebration today - can't wait to celebrate with you again someday.

I love you, bro.




11.29.2011

Holidays

Holidays.

Anyone who has lost someone close knows that dread that comes along with holidays. In fact, I remember prior to Jeremy's death how grateful I was to have never lost someone so significant to me to put a damper on my holidays, I always had so much to be thankful for. Oh, how much can change in a year.

I didn't get to write about Thanksgiving this year. It was Carter's first Thanksgiving, the first in our new home, the first year hosting, my first time attempting to cook a turkey....and the first without my brother.  As I was preparing the night before, frantically cleaning the house and baking cookies, butter tarts, and apple pie in Jer's honor, I felt his presence. I felt how proud he was of me for keeping it together (and for making his favorite Canadian food). The day of though, I noticed that the absence I felt stronger was my brother's. Perhaps because it was my parents and other brother who came for Thanksgiving that made the hole feel so deep. And perhaps it's because I deal with Jer's death every day and have become used to the fact that he's not around. But just like the reality of Jer's death took awhile to really settle in, I just can't believe I'll never see my brother smile again or play with my kids. I'll never hear "I love you sis" or hear his sweet voice call me on my birthday like he did every year. I'll never eat his famous chili again or play cards with him or ride roller coasters with him every Memorial weekend at King's Island. I really miss my brother.

The next day, I mustered up the energy and desire to decorate the house for Christmas. I used to jump up and down for the day when I could decorate the house with my little family. Even though it usually consisted of Jeremy tinkering with his itunes playlist to choose just the right Christmas music, which took him literally hours, while I hung up everything til he was done and ready to hold up a child to put the star on the tree - it was one of my favorite times. I think the only real pull for me to do it this year was because I have a new, beautiful house to decorate and two kids begging me to put 'toys' on the tree...it's hard to not get into the spirit for them. And truthfully, it felt good. I remember last year only putting the tree up for the kids and having Sarah help me so I didn't come unglued. I almost did. And it was completely meaningless for me, I was drowning in sorrow. This year, as I carefully unwrapped all the individual glass ornaments, I replayed our life together told through those pieces.
Jer's moose ornament.
The reindeer one he picked out when I worked at Pottery Barn.
Our first Christmas ornaments.
The fabric red heart with our picture inside.
The cluster of ornaments we got as a wedding gift from a friend my mom worked with, including a little bride and groom and a mailbox that is hand-painted with "The Kings" on the side.
And all the priceless ornaments the children have made.

I used to be picky about the tree, not wanting it to look 'tacky' with multi-colored lights and ornaments that were falling apart but I feel so differently now. I opened our new Christmas tree that was given to us by the radio station last year, complete with built-in LED colored lights, and it made the kids soooo happy! This tree represents our family: it tells our story of messiness, color, and memories. It's priceless. My whole life is up on the tree this year.

I felt like the old me for awhile as I got so excited to get a few new decorations for the house. I even created my own centerpiece with all the vases I've gotten over the last year:


The warm presence of Christmas is back in our lives. I'm trying not think about the fact that my brothers birthday is this weekend or the fact that there will now be two giant holes at Christmas time this year and how hard that is going to be. I'm trying to focus on something bigger. Something hopeful. I read this today in my daily emails this morning:

"One thing about being in grief is that your sorrow is certain, and your loss is so real you literally taste it to the depth of your being. You have to have a certainty that is bigger than the certainty of your sorrow."
I have to. I just have to.








Baby, I hope you feel how desperately you are missed and the void that can never be replaced. There is just no sense to be made of your death. All I can do is carry on with the certainty of something bigger and knowing that someday, when I see you again, everything will fall back into place. You are my compass. I will stand for our children, who are growing like weeds and still talk about you every. single. day. I won't have it any other way. We love you so deeply, you are forever woven in our hearts and souls. Please wrap us in your love and protection as this holiday season approaches for us and the feeling of your absence will magnify. And please, give my brother a giant hug from me and tell him how much I miss him.


I miss you too, baby. Deeper than I know how to express.
I love you forever and always.

11.26.2011

Can I say this?

 

I carry your bible around in my purse. I love to open it and look at the old newspaper clipping of your grandfather and his 13 siblings that you used as a bookmark, or the piece of scrap paper that had a worship set scribbled on it - there is something about your handwriting that pulls at my heart.

Last Sunday, I found this. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 boxed and highlighted, with a note you wrote beside it. My heart always skips a beat when I see your handwriting, so I stopped immediately. Then I realized this is the very verse we used for your funeral, for the programs, and I believe the verse you used to write with your autograph at singing gigs. I sat and stared at it through tears, reading it over and over and over. 

I think you could have lived a very long life and still never quite felt like you fulfilled this verse. Maybe that's the point and any real Christian knows that we're always striving. And maybe I've had times where I doubted this in you (and myself) when you were here. But babe......oh, babe....what an amazing thing grace is. Look at what's become of your life and your legacy! Look at the lives that have been forever changed, forever benefited from your story and your love. You CAN say this and sometimes the image of you in Heaven makes me smile so big for you, cause I know you've found your peace. It's always a painful smile, though, as I selfishly wish you were still here. I'm humbled to watch how God has allowed grace to use an imperfect man to create beauty and life. Neither of us could have ever believed it the magnitude of it, but I am so proud of you. 

I guess it gives me hope. So many times in the last year, I've beaten myself up about how horribly I was handling everything, how much I was still hurting, the horrible thoughts and desires that would run through my head. But I recognize that God can use brokenness, doubt, even darkness to shine light. As long as I keep my eyes ahead, I have seen the true testament of what can become of life served for God. I'm trying, baby. I really am. 

Just know that I love you more than I can ever tell you and I miss you every single day. I don't know what to write here anymore sometimes, but my heart has gone through a roller coaster. But every single day, I'm thankful I got you - even for such a short time. I would never trade it. You did good, baby. You fought the good fight. You finished the race. I can't wait to meet you at the finish line.

I love you always.

11.19.2011

legacy



I can honestly say that I've never known anyone outside of fame that has been honored and remembered as much as Jeremy. My husband. The man I got to stand beside for 8 short years. I knew he was a great man, but I could have never understood the depths of the work he did and continues to do for God's kingdom. His life is still blessing.

Last night, The Jeremy King Memorial Dinner took place. A formal dinner comprised of limited seating, a catered meal, silent auctions, and touching entertainment by One Time Blind, the evening was absolutely amazing. The decorations were unbelievable and just right to honor Jeremy, all the way down to the fishing pole exhibits and fresh cut wood centerpieces with burlap flowers. Some of Jer's closest friends stood up to share stories about him, and made us laugh and cry. To top off the evening, Rochester College (where Jer was employed and also where Jer and I met and attended school) presented each of our children with scholarships should they choose to attend there. I was completely speechless. Just when I think no more could possibly be done, I am floored to see God's love pouring in for our family.

I think the one year mark left me at a very strange place. The dust has settled. People have gone back to life. A part of me started to feel very lonely in my grief - and left me dealing with this pain face to face on a daily basis all alone. People don't come around as often - and that's ok, but like almost anything, if you think about something often enough for long enough, you start to go crazy. I felt like I was going crazy, quite literally....maybe I made Jer up, maybe it was a dream, maybe it's been longer than a year, maybe it's really only been a week, the list goes on. But then an event like this takes place and reminds me that I am not alone. Jeremy is remembered by so many, loved by so many, grieved by so many. He is not forgotten, nor is the legacy he's left on this earth.

It was a wonderful evening. It was a heartbreaking evening. It was a devastating evening. It was a hopeful evening. The hardest part for me was hearing individually each of Jer's closest friends attest to the way that Jer loved me and our babies, and the way that he talked about us...I knew it in theory, but there's something about hearing it from someone else that completely ripped my heart out but filled my soul at the same time. I truly did not deserve that guy.

It's so humbling to stand in the place where my husband has left. I feel his love and protection in the way that he's surrounded me with the most incredible people on the planet, he's allowed this writing outlet for people to walk this journey with me, and has continued to shine through the beautiful faces of our children. I know there is so much going on in the world, so many people in need of prayer, time, and money....and to know that people will still use that time to bless my family just moves me to tears. I can only pray to leave half the legacy that my husband has left.


Baby, I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of the man that you became, I'm proud of the people you chose to surround yourself with, I'm proud of the community you've created and participated in. I'm mostly proud to be yours. 


I miss you every single day and that will never change. Sometimes it's still suffocating - like yesterday while I was cleaning and found your sweater in the coat closet...it smelled like you and tears hit me so fast I could barely stand up straight. I haven't smelled that smell in awhile, and it instantly brought me back, then brought me to my knees. Sometimes, though, missing you doesn't always sting anymore. Thankfully, I can think about you and smile. I can tell funny stories about you and laugh. I can remember you with pride in my heart instead of jealousy (most of the time). 


I will carry you with me everywhere I go. I can't get over what an incredible man I married.
I love you always and forever babe.



11.11.2011

one year

I remember thinking often, Where will I be at the one year mark? What will I say? What will I write?

One year has finally past since Jeremy died, and truthfully, I still don't know the answer. I really thought the anniversary would just be another day, not more or less painful than any other day since I live this grief thing daily. But as the weeks approached the date, all I wanted to do was get it over with. I thought 'If I can just get this dreadful day over with, then maybe I can breathe again.'

I remember where I was at 6 months - I was suffocating. For weeks up to that mark, I felt this anxiety so deep and heavy my heart wouldn't settle down. And then the day came, and the sky didn't fall and I was still alive - and utterly shocked. I came to recognize that the anticipation was worse than the actual day. So I figured the same would be true for this week. Only, I've been ok lately. As much as I hate to say that, everything has been ok. My kids are happy and healthy, my friends are amazing, and I've made it to a place where I can think about Jeremy without constantly breaking down into tears. As strange as it sounds, I hated feeling alright....grief is familiar, and people looking in connect my grief with my love for Jer...if I am ok, I must be 'moving on' right? But that's not it at all...I've just finally come to accept the fact that this is my reality and I can either live it and make myself miserable or live it in a way that honors my husband and what I know he would want for me and our children.

But then November 9th came and knocked me to the ground. I woke up feeling like someone was standing on my chest, had horrible back pain and dread throughout my entire body. I woke up weepy, which I haven't been in so long because I've built up so many walls. Yeah, I've been okay but damn it, I miss Jer. I miss my life with him. All I wanted to do was sleep - which is a rare luxury for me. A few wonderful people took the kids for me so I could do that. I barely moved most of the morning. I just stared off into space, eyes full of tears, aimlessly trying to figure out where I was and what I was doing - which is a state I'm familiar with from those first few weeks/months of grief. Basically November 9th sucked.

There was something very special that happened that brought me back to a place of peace. I received an incredible email....


Veronica
I know you don't know me and quite honestly I really don't know you - although it feels like I do as I saw you about this time last year at the Belpre Youth Rally (Awaken Event) just shortly after you'd walked through some of the hardest days of your life.  I think I sent you a note shortly after that just telling you how horribly sorry I was and that so many of us were committed to praying and that has continued through this year.  Your blog has made your heart and the heart of the one you lost so evident to so many of us and we are all better because of it.  
Several months ago I made a note on my calendar to remember this day and do something that I felt might possibly honor the life of Jeremy.  I know it won't make today hurt one ounce less.  I am so aware there is no "fix."  I just know that sometimes in the middle of so much of this, you are afraid that as time passes people will "forget" who he was or how kind he was or how amazing a husband or daddy, or just how stinking good a man he was.  I wanted in my own little corner of the world, in my own little way to be able to remind you that today we'll take time to honor his life.  
So...I am certain you don't remember, but at the Awaken Event, Called and Compelled Ministries was asked to be the beneficiary for the Sunday MorningContribution - where you all were leading worship.  We had the coffee shop in the lobby attempting to raise funds for a ministry which helps the poor and forgotten in the country of Honduras.  
Over the past 48 hours or so people who love and support the ministry have raised enough money to build a house today.  It is what I hope will be the first of annual builds on this day.  We have searched out - in a culture that doesn't encourage or regularly produce men who are good husbands and daddy's - thanks to God, we have found a family that we believe has a man who is attempting to do the best with what he's got to provide and lead his family well, but he needs a little help. 
In one of the roughest neighborhoods in this city, the house they're living in is falling down around them and so we're going in today to build them a home.  To celebrate this man who is wanting to be God's man.  He will receive a picture of Jeremy and one of your family (with your permission of course) and we will tell him the story of a man who loved his God, his wife, and his family and lived that out well - in the hopes that it will serve as an inspiration for this man to do the same.  
The family has 5 kiddo's all sleeping in a one room house in one bed - the wife just got a microfinance loan for a tortilla oven so she is making some money to feed her family by making and selling tortillas in her community.  We will send you some pictures of the build later today.  
We just wanted to do something to let you know that Jeremy's life and your story are worth remembering.  So while we pound every single nail today, we'll be praying for you and your family and we will be thanking God for Jeremy's life that is touching people even in other countries at this point.  
I pray that the heart behind this is conveyed.  Purely and simply we think Jeremy's life was an inspiration.  Thank you for telling your story so that others might know the kind of man that he was and might be inspired to follow in his footsteps.  
Today we build the first "Kings Quarters" house - the first of many I pray.  
Please know that people all over this world are lifting you to the Father today.  
On behalf of all of us at Called and Compelled...may God's hand hold you so tightly today Vee.  

Love and blessings, 
Jen and the other Called and Compelled folk :)


I sat and sobbed on the stairs, completely speechless. I know that I will never find justice in Jeremy's death, no matter how much good is done.....but how could I not be absolutely humbled and grateful for the life of my incredible husband?! Here I sit drowning in grief, in a beautiful home, with beautiful children - safe, comfortable, clothed, and fed - consumed and unaware of the tragedies on the other side of the world that Jer's life is bringing light and hope to. I felt such deep sorrow and honor at the same time.

In the evening, I attended our Wednesday church service, which was dedicated in memory of Jeremy and all those who have died in our congregation over the last year. I couldn't keep it together.

Do you feel the confusion of my day? The incongruity of events and the emotions I've gone through - there is such dissonance between my random mental state and my understanding of it. It was quite the roller coaster....as most of my life over the last year has been.

My conclusion is this: death sucks and hurts like hell. There is still such a void where Jer belongs, but I will say that grief is not all-consuming all the time anymore: I can smile without forcing it. I can be thankful for my blessings. I can recognize hurts greater than my own. I can appreciate the life my husband gave and led, while still feeling his protection over me - these are big steps for me. I haven't always been this way.

I'd like to say I came away with something monumental after surviving a year of living without the love of my life. I'd love to say something inspirational, something that will encourage or bring hope for others. Someday I will, I feel it brewing - but not today. Instead, I will borrow someone else's words that I'm holding on to today:


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."  -Lao Tzu


I love you babe.
With all that I am and all that I know and all that I have, I love you. There is no way to adequately describe my disbelief that I've lived an entire year without you. It can't be possible. The only explanation I can come up with is that the love we shared is still strong and evident, and has kept me going. You have somehow kept me going. 
Most days, I don't feel like I'm any better off than I was a year ago. But there are those few days here and there where you show me hope. You show me light, in the faces of our beautiful children and in the hearts of those around me.
I know I still have a long way to go. This journey will never end. I will miss you every single day until the day I see you again. Until then...I'll just have to wait.
I miss you.
I love you always.

11.08.2011

see

I don't know what to say or write. My heart is heavy. Another widow blogger expressed what I'm feeling so well. "The procession of time and the procession of the heart truly do not move at the same pace." This is so true.


I'm stuck. But I leave here the lyrics that have been on my heart today.


I miss you baby.
I love you always.


Right now all I can taste are bitter tears
And right now all I can see are clouds of sorrow
From the other side of all this pain
Is that you I hear?
Laughing loud and calling out to me?

Saying see, it's everything you said that it would be
And even better than you would believe
And I'm counting down the days until you're here with me
And finally you'll see

But right now all I can say is, "Lord, how long?"
Before You come and take away this aching
This night of weeping seems to have no end
But when the morning light breaks through
We'll open up our eyes and we will see

It's everything He said that it would be
And even better than we would believe
And He's counting down the days till He says, "Come with me"
And finally

He'll wipe every tear from our eyes
And make everything new
Just like He promised

Wait and see
Just wait and see
Wait and see

And I'm counting down the days until I see
It's everything He said that it would be
And even better than we would believe
And I'm counting down the days till He says, "Come with me"
And finally
We'll see

Wait and see
O taste and see that the Lord is good
The Lord is good
The Lord is good
O taste and see that the Lord is good
The Lord is good

-SEE, Steven Curtis Chapman

11.07.2011

ordinary moments

November 6:


I remember a few very specific moments or flashes from this day last year: Sitting in the break room at the gym, texting you with my new phone and being thrilled that I got reception with it. Pulling up to Max and Erma's to get us a table while you parked the car. A nice dinner with our sweet little family and watching your sexy smile all night. Going to Target to pick up Lady Antebellum's new Christmas CD. Sitting at the kitchen table while you texted me that 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' made you miss your mom. 


Simple, ordinary moments. And some of my most prized memories. 


I am holding on to every single moment I can. I had too few of them.


I miss you babe. I can't believe this is still happening.
I love you always and forever.

11.06.2011

surrender

Words have failed me lately.


I have so much going on in my head and my heart, yet I haven't been able to write anything or put any of it into words. I don't know how to describe this strange place I've found myself in.


I've found myself battling time. I still wish I could rewind the clock - just to see you, kiss you, hug you again, even just once. But sometimes I wish now I could fast forward the clock - fast forward to a place that doesn't hurt as much, past the plague of 'one year', past the loneliness and despair to a place where I can smile without pain and find contentment with the blessings I've still got in my life. I see those moments in passing, but if I'm going to be stuck here I have to believe there is a place where I can settle in with those kinds of moments some day. It's the sitting here in the now that's driving me crazy, unsure of where I'm going.


November 5. This evening last year we went out to dinner with Jodie, Gary, Chris, and Vicki at Rochester Mills and then headed over to pick up our brand new phones, and you finally got your iphone. I remember what shirt you were wearing. I remember you getting home and taking this pic with the kids:



That's you. You were here once. It seems hard to believe sometimes. And yet, a year feels sickening to say. If I let myself sit in the moment, if feels like yesterday. But an entire lifetime has passed since then. I know I'm a different person and I've come a long way in the last 12 months...most of it forced, things I didn't want to face, experiences I didn't want to have without you, strength I didn't want to find. But I survived it anyway. I grew anyway. I endured anyway. I thrived anyway. I didn't ask for these things, I resisted every moment and yet here I am, still standing and probably stronger than before.

What's weird is that I had convinced my mind that this week would be alright. The anniversary of your death would be ok because I've been ok. I don't know why, but I just want to get past it. But my body knew....I've been sooo tired and unmotivated. I haven't wanted to be social. I've been eating terribly and not caring, reverting to how I was a year ago. No matter how I much I had convinced myself that this would all be ok, my body does not believe my brain. It has anticipated this week.

So, I'm surrendering. Trying to stay low-key, taking time to talk to you and remember. Talking to the kids about you a ton. Just wrapping myself in you and how much we love you.

I miss you babe. No matter where I go or what I do, I've come to terms with the fact that I will always miss you.
I love you always and forever.



10.28.2011

just get through today

We flew into Louisiana today. You always loved to fly. So do I, though I rarely get to. I was thinking that the last time I flew was in January on our way to Gulf Coast Getaway.


It was 2 months after you died.
I was 8 months pregnant.


All I remember was being on the plane and praying for it to crash. Maybe everyone could survive but me. Or I would find an eject button on my seat....I couldn't see past anything besides being with you. And I remember being so disappointed when we landed safely. 


Now, I can thankfully say I'm in a better place. I'm past that. I don't want to leave my children to become orphans - I know you would never want that either. I can't say that the future doesn't still scare the hell outta me, but I can say that today, I'm ok. If I can just get through today, I'll be ok.


We landed safely. I laughed a lot today with friends. I got through today. I think I'll be ok.


I miss you baby. 
I love you with all that I am.



10.26.2011

you were JUST here




I don't know how to explain this place I feel like I'm in. This place of disconnect, like I made up this whole chapter of my life in my head. I'm getting so used to this day to day as my new normal, that I sometimes feel like you were just a dream...

But then this evening I go downstairs to put stuff in the kids 'keeper' bins, and I come across these notes from you - I can't remember now the exact reason you wrote them, I think it was just a random day you wanted to do something sweet. But I saw your handwriting and you rushed back to reality for me - so quickly that it made me shake and cry uncontrollably, which I hadn't done in awhile. I realized....you were JUST here. 

I miss you babe. Thank you for the love you poured onto us.
I love you always and forever.



10.24.2011

show me

You could plant me like a tree beside a river
You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild
And I would blossom like a flower in the desert
But for now just let me cry

You could raise me like a banner in a battle
Put victory like a fire behind my shining eyes
And I would drift like falling snow over the embers
But for now just let me lie

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die

Set me like a star before the morning
Like a song that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I'll illuminate the path You've laid before me
But for now just let me be

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die
Oh, not before You show me how to die

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me


-Show me, Audrey Assad

10.22.2011

zed

What an honor it is to have been your wife.






Last night was the tribute concert for you at Great Lakes. It was a great turn out and it always means sooo much to me to see how many lives you've affected and how many people still care. All the guys did a great job singing, my heart was broken and filled at the same time. 


I've been doing ok, for the most part. The anxiety about these next couple weeks comes and goes, but yesterday you were everywhere. I laughed when I crossed into Canada without any issues whatsoever and the second I rolled up my window I heard you clear as day say "I love my country." And I giggled - I always agreed with you at the border.


Once we got to your sisters and the kids were playing with some toys, they were listening to one particular toy sing the ABC's....all the way to "zed" - and Faith, looking confused says "what is zed?!" You would have said that it's what the letter Z is actually called, but I told her it was something crazy Canadians say. And the next morning, Faith was very curious as to whether or not you learned the alphabet with 'zed' when you were a kid....and they were just cracking up. It just really made me miss our silly banter and all the weird things you do in Canada :)


We took a walk around the mall yesterday, the same mall with the jewelry store where you bought my engagement ring. I told the kids about it, they love hearing stories about the different places you used to be....and that's one of my favorites. 


So many of my memories live here in this place, therefore, pieces of my heart are all over this town. I realized that it's not just your past anymore or the place where you lived and made memories. It's mine now too. It will always be a part of who I am and a part of my past, and hopefully always a part of my future and the future of our children. 

It goes without saying, but I miss you. Terribly.
I love you always and forever.

10.20.2011

the big stuff





What I have found is that many day to day moments become so anticlimactic without someone to share them with. And most of them are moments with our beautiful, brilliant, hilarious children - and I have no one who understands just how magnificent they are in those little moments.


Like when Carter learns something new. Of course he does and will continue to, but I want to pick up my phone and text you about it, cause you'll find it just as exciting.


Or when Caleb started riding his bike without training wheels and I had to hold back tears that you were missing it! That should have been a father/son moment....instead I frantically searched for people who might be excited about such a milestone to share it with.


Or when Faith got her first loose tooth tonight. I could see the excitement in her eyes - a mark of a growing girl. I wanted to jump up and down for her, and she can't wait to tell everyone at school tomorrow. Such a silly moment that had me giddy for her and falling apart on the inside cause I just wanted to turn around and see your face there. "Look, babe! Our baby girl is getting so big - she's got a loose tooth!" I say in my head. "No way, not my little princess....that's amazing!" you say back. All while our little blonde haired blue eyed angel smiles from ear to ear with pride. And when we laid in bed together later, we'd talk about how unbelievable it is that our little girl is growing so fast.


These are the moments families are made of. And no matter how much we talk about you or draw you in our family pictures or incorporate you into our lives, you're still missing the big stuff. The itty-bitty, insignificant to anyone else but us, big stuff.


I miss you babe. Every day.
I love you always.

10.19.2011

turning point


I think I've come to a fork in the road.

As the one year anniversary of your death approaches and hovers over my head, I feel so much anxiety, disbelief, and sorrow for just having to survive it. Not necessarily the day, but the entire idea of you being gone a whole year. I also cannot believe that I'm still standing. An entire year, are you sure? On this day last year, we were making applesauce together as a family. The last real pictures I took of you were one year ago today. It suddenly feels like a lifetime ago.

On the flip side, I've noticed a turning point in my grief. I pointed it out to Sarah the other day, I've felt like I'm finally at a place where I can look outside myself. Not all the time, it comes and goes, but it's there. A few people I know are suffering lately: my parents who are still very heavily grieving my brother, a friend who is going through a dissolving marriage, another friend whose mother is in the hospital - they have all been heavy on my heart. And for the first time since Jer died, I really felt the truth: things could be much worse. 6 months ago, no one had seen a greater tragedy than me and my children. And even if I prayed for others, I still felt such injustice for my own situation. I still feel the injustice sometimes, but I'm coming to terms with it. We live in a fallen world, God said the load we bear would be heavy. And even in my darkest moments lately, I'm able to see a few things: I have loved and been loved, I have seen what love can do. I have been given many incredible blessings in my life including three beautiful children and wonderful friendships. I found this as my Facebook status last year: 

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

I don't know that I will ever stop desiring you, babe. Ever. But what I know is that happiness is a decision and I have very consciously decided to hold onto my unhappiness. It's safe there. And you're there. I don't want to let go of my grief and lose the grip I have on you. But every time I grab pieces of gratefulness, or dip my toes into thankfulness, I realize you're still there. Just in a different form. 

Sometimes I have no idea what I'm talking about. Okay, most of the time. This grief journey has proven anything but predictable. Today, I feel thankful for what God has shown me out of the ashes. Tomorrow, I may be covered in soot. I just want to remember that no matter what I do or where I go, I know you'll be there no matter what. 

I'm still holding on to my promise. I'm gonna make you proud someday baby.

I miss you.
I love you always and forever.


10.13.2011

Hurt

I have this constant struggle inside my head. One voice is telling me that I don't want to keep doing this alone, that I eventually would like to have someone by my side, who cares about me. The other voice is telling me I'll never be ready, I don't ever want to let you go and change the things I've build with you and because of you. 


What it boils down to is that you hurt me, in the worst way possible. You loved me fiercely and still, my heart was crushed, stomped on, and dragged through the mud. Neither one of us did anything and my world still came crashing down.  You still left. And I'm terrified of being hurt again.


How can I ever let anyone in my heart knowing that I can lose them just like that? I can't bear this hurt again and I think it'd be easier to just live in the shadow of the wound I'm still nursing. 


I don't have any answers. I know how much this hurts, but I also know that I would do it all again just to know you and love you and be the woman who gets your heart.


I miss you babe. 
I love you always and forever.

10.12.2011

still here

Hi baby,
I'm still here. Still hurting. Only it's not as sharp anymore, it's just a numbness that has taken me over. Maybe it's to protect me from what's coming up, I don't know. But I'm thankful the sharpness is gone for now. I'm ready for things to change. I'm finally taking better care of myself physically (16 pounds down, in fact) and it really is helping me emotionally. It's just giving me more energy to face each day.


I promised you that I would make you proud, and I feel like I haven't been doing that lately. I want to change that. I want to live a life that reflects the love you gave to me and who it created in me: someone who knows love and can pass it on. To our children. In my friendships. To my family. And maybe, someday, to someone else. I don't know much, but I know feeling sorry for myself is getting me nowhere.


I am going to make you proud babe. I promise.
I miss you.
I love you always.

10.09.2011

proud daddy

Caleb riding with no training wheels!



I know you're a proud daddy today.

Spent the weekend at camp, since we we had to be up there to sing. The kids loved being able to sleep in the cabin one night. They both remember coming last year - this exact day last year, actually. Only we came to sing with you, I got to stand next to you and sing. Faith remembered that you wiped your sweat with your shirt after you played basketball with Jon - how on earth does she remember details like that?!? 

Our little baby is 8 months old today - how can that be? He's got 5 teeth he's working on, poor kid. But he's sweet as candy, and loves loves loves to play with your ring on my necklace. It's always the first thing he reaches for, and if I say 'DA' he looks for it. I don't know why but it's very special to me. I just like to pretend he knows, somehow, and has a strong connection to you.

I miss you baby. I wish you were here, more than anything.
I love you always and forever.


10.06.2011

a shift

I've noticed a shift. It wasn't over night, rather subtle. I first noticed it on the drive to Canada a few weeks ago and it happened when I was at your memorial stone yesterday. I've found myself now talking to God more instead of you. At first, it made me angry and upset cause I felt like you were drifting away from me. But I realize that's a natural progression of things, and that's eventually where I'm supposed to be right? Talking to God? We didn't speak for awhile unless I was screaming at Him or pleading for Him to bring you back. And when you didn't, I just talked to you instead. But I feel you guiding me where I'm supposed to be, speaking to the right audience. And maybe I'll never stop talking to you but I'm starting to allow God to show me bits and pieces of what a future might look like, or at least of me accepting that I still have a future.


I never used to be a pessimist. I don't mean to whine all the time, but it's honestly how I feel and I can't shake it. I want to be positive, I want to plan a future somehow, I want to see good, I want to take a deep breath again someday without heaviness in my heart. 


Help me find peace, love. I don't know how to find it on my own.


I miss you.
I love you always and forever.

random

Sorry it took us so long to come back to your memorial to visit. I pass by all the time and want to stop by but we just haven't. I can see your name on the stone from the road, and it sends my heart to my throat every time. I can't believe I'm reading your name. That's you. You're dead. How can that be? But it was good to be there with you. I want to bring things to you, but don't know where to put them or if they'll last or get ruined.


I spent a lot of time today picturing you in this house. Which spot would you pick to sit and watch TV? How high would you stand in the hallway? What would you look like sitting at the desk, washing the dishes, folding laundry?


I miss your laugh today. I can still hear it in my head, but I feel like it's fading.


Carter was such a happy baby today, so so sweet. We did good, baby. I wish you could see him and how handsome he is. You would just be smitten, I know it.


I got so mad today when I was thinking about an event and couldn't remember if you were there or not. I wasn't sure if it happened before or after you died. I felt so embarrassed that it's starting to feel that way, it's frustrating!


Watched the Notebook tonight. Why? I have no idea. I hadn't seen it since it was in theaters and didn't remember the ending. It smacked me so suddenly, I wanted to throw the TV outside and cuss and kick and scream. Stupid movie. Stupid old people in love who get to die together. Stupid sappy crap. My 3 year old tantrum came out. It's just not fair.


Just random bits and pieces that basically all add up to me missing you terribly. 


I love you with all that I am.

10.05.2011

you should be here


Today was an absolutely beautiful weather day. The perfect fall day to go to the Cider Mill. Any other time, I would be jumping up and down, literally begging you to take me, but this year I did it out of obligation to carry on our tradition and cause I promised the kids I would take them. Oh yea, and I had a coupon for a dozen free donuts.

As soon as we got there, I went instantly back to every year we've gone, looking at the bench we sat at to eat our donuts last year, the spot the kids sat to take their picture two years ago, the stairs where I took a grumpy picture of Faith cause she didn't want to have her photo taken when she was 2. This was literally right at the top of my list of favorite family things to do and I felt you missing today so much stronger than before. You should be here picking out fudge with the kids, petting the goats and chasing Caleb down the trail and walking the kids along the river. You should be here making yummy noises while eating the fresh donuts and complaining about the ridiculous price of a tiny cider slush that you are required to get for me. You should be here pushing the stroller, letting Carter taste donuts for the first time (which he LOVED by the way - no shocker there, he's your kid) and tickling him and smothering him with kisses. 

You should be here.

The kids remembered too. When we turned the corner to get in line to buy donuts, Faith and Caleb said 'remember when Daddy took us to the Cider Mill when I was 3? Remember when Daddy said the goats were really stinky? Remember when we got to watch the donuts being made with Daddy?' I pray every single day that their memories of you never fade.

I miss you baby, in a way I can't put to words. You should be here, damn it.
I love you with all that I am.


10.04.2011

less than a decade

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I will have only known you in my twenties. We started dating shortly after I turned 20 and got married shortly before I turned 21. You died when I was 28. That's it - less than a decade. The best and worst decade of my entire life. And it's pain and experience will bleed onto every other decade I live.


I want to find happiness in the decades to come. If I'm gonna be stuck here, I want it to mean something. I want to be loved. I want to feel meaning in my life again. I want the kids to thrive and rise against the odds. I want there to be more than this...


I'm having a hard time with the fact that one year is approaching. It's not the day itself, but the idea of it all is suffocating me. I'm back to crying every day, finding myself pacing for no reason, forgetting things, get lost in thought. I'm realizing how much healing I still have to do, how scared I am for the future, and how much I still just hurt like hell.


I miss you baby. 
I love you always and forever.

9.30.2011

I love you

I just....love you. More today than yesterday and I know it will never end. I just need you to know tonight how much I appreciate you loving me and giving me what so many people only dream of - unconditional love. I'm so honored to be yours. I'll always be yours.


I hate every day of living without you. But I know I would do it over and over again just to have you for eight short years. I wouldn't trade them for anything. 


I miss you baby.
I love you always and forever.


4:34

My mom used to tell me that whenever she saw 7:28 on the clock, she'd make a wish. 7/28 is her birthday, and she thought it was lucky and I started noticing the time when I saw it on the clock too.


Now, though, I always seem to notice the time at 4:34. I don't know why it became so significant to me, but that's what time I sent you the last text before you died. I only know that because you sent a text at the same time to Mark. Only, I never heard back from you. And now, I see that time on the clock constantly and my heart skips a beat. I always wonder....did you get that text from me? Did you read it? And right when all this was going through my head today I looked at the clock only to see it again. 4:34.


The unknown is a horrible place to be. And I think it may haunt me forever. And even when it subsides and I don't think about it as much, every time I see that time on my clock, it will take me there no matter what. 


I miss you baby. If you didn't read my text, it just said "Love you!" I re-read a few times a week on my phone.
I love you always and forever.




9.28.2011

surrender

"The only thing worse than the shock and disbelief that your husband is dead is the lack of shock and disbelief that your husband is dead." -Dear Audrey


A fellow widow and blogger wrote this awhile ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. This is where I am right now. I had a rough couple of weeks and when I think about how fast the next month is going to go before I hit 'the one year anniversary,' it makes me sick. But mostly, this is getting more livable. I'm getting used to being in this empty house at night. Maybe 'used to' isn't even the right term - more like, I expect it.


Today, an ambulance drove past us on the road so Faith started asking questions about you. I've told her the story: the guys called the ambulance when they found you but you were already dead. She wanted to know why. But as I was in the middle of explaining, the ease of conversation about it started to make me feel ill. I'd almost forgotten for a second that it was a real event. Yes, you're dead. Yes, that nightmare really took place. And I sat there talking about it like it was a story in some book we read. 


Today that moment, that evening, that awful awful night seems like eons ago. It's supposed to be a good thing that this is less shocking and that I'm supposedly getting closer to healing, but it bothers me. It bothers me that I'm getting used to this. I'm getting used to just living day-by-day, not really sure where life is going to take me, still feeling like I have no purpose or future other than just surviving so my kids can have a life. 


You feel so far away today, baby. I'm glad the kids can still recall events so crystal clear about you, it pulls you back closer and reminds me that you were here just a short time ago. Gosh, I miss you.


Maybe what I think is surviving is really me just surrendering to what life has become for me. I'll do it for as long as I need to so that I can get to you some day.


I miss you more than words. 
I love you always and forever.

9.27.2011

Carter the ham




The other day while I was playing with Carter in bed, it suddenly dawned on me that I am never going to actually see you with him. I don't why these little details about widowhood creep up on me like that. Of course I knew it, but the reality of it smacked me in that moment. I love telling Faith and Caleb about the way you looked at them when they were born, how captivated you were with them, how much you loved them....I'll never get to share those kinds of stories with Carter. All I get to tell him is that you were so excited to meet him.

Vicki and I were talking about how unbelievable it still seems that I was pregnant when you died and how we all questioned God's purpose in timing. I'm not nearly as bitter and angry as I used to be, but I definitely still have those questions floating in my head: Why would God take you now? But what we both recognized is that Carter saved me. In some very egotistical ways, being pregnant allowed my tragedy to break through a lot of people's hearts and wallets and my family was lifted because of it. But more importantly, I think Carter kept me going because I had no other choice. Babies don't allow you to be selfish. Carter saved his brother and sister. I can't just curl up in fetal position in bed all day, no matter how much I want to, because his little life depends on me getting up and moving forward. He saved me and our family. Perhaps God used the opportunity to bring him knowing that I would lose everything and therefore he would becoming everything. 

It's still heartbreaking knowing that this time last year, I was falling asleep to your hand on my belly, feeling for this little guy to kick. He's such a ham, babe. He's a happy baby and completely spoiled. He loves his momma and has started to now say 'da' when he grabs my necklace (which is about 100x a day). He's clapping and blowing raspberries but still lazy as ever when it comes to rolling around or moving. He has three teeth coming in at the same time, which makes for an unhappy baby, but he is generally a very happy boy who growing like a weed.

I never thought I'd get to a place where I'd utter these words, but thank you for giving him to me. I know this was not in either of our plans, but nothing ever seems to be right?

I miss you baby. I wish you see the look on your son's face when I throw him in the air. That's the way I imagine him looking at his daddy.

I love you always and forever.


9.26.2011

goodnight

It used to be that I couldn't sleep unless I wrote to you and told you about my day. I need it to do it for both of us. Now, every once in awhile, I fall asleep before I get to. And for the first time, I'm ok with it. I'm trying to soak it up and be okay with it.


Please forgive me. I'm so tired of not sleeping for the last 10 months, that I think my body is trying to catch up. Thanks for letting me have some peace about it though.


Know that I still love you more than anything in the world. I still mourn you every night and talk to you, but sometimes I just don't have the energy to type it all out. Tonight, I just wanted to tell you that I miss you terribly and my heart can't find the right way to adequately express it.


I miss you.
I love you.

9.23.2011

wait for me

I've decided that if time indeed does not exist in Heaven and maybe there's no distance between us, then maybe you can't feel my ache for you here. I need you to know it. I need you to watch over us.


I need you to be waiting for me when I get there.


I imagine that outside of my understanding, maybe both is possible. I told Sarah that I fantasize getting to Heaven and standing at the pearly gates, and making a run for it, towards you. I will knock anyone over who's standing in my way, people who get there before me will just have to wait. I give a head nod to God and tell him to hit it and with a 'you got it' nod back, He plays my slow-mo music while we run along side a beach towards one another slowly and dramatically. Sarah said she'll play defense for me and block anyone who tries to get in my path. It will be cheesy and perfect until I finally touch you and then the moment is just ours. I see the look on your face and feel your familiar arms around me and know that I'm home.


These are the daydreams that keep me going a lot of days. It just sucks that I'm so young and will likely have to wait a long time before I get to see you again. Hopefully I won't be old and wrinkly in Heaven. And I hope you're exactly the way I remember you.


I miss you baby. I'm so lonely tonight without you.
I love you always and forever.

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