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....

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.


The Better Baker said...

Oh how wonderful and heart-stirring to know you received that timely email that had to minister to you in incredible ways. I can't say anything that can make your pain lessen, but please know that others care and lift your family to the Throne, and we know His grace is sufficient. Keep looking ahead. Jer will live forever in your hearts. Thanks for sharing your life and heart with so many of us.

Ferree Bowman Hardy said...

wow. takes my breath away!

megan said...


white collar | green soul said...

I have been thinking a lot about you leading up to November 9th. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.
- agata

Anonymous said...

i have never posted before, but have been reading your blog since your husband died. i can see how far you have come in your journey and am just amazed. i have a confession, as an atheist, i do see the "good" (if there can be any good from such a tragedy) that sharing jeremy's story has brought to your community and beyond just from reading jen's email to you. that is truly a beautiful thing. i'm pulling for you, your children and your future. my husband and i have been married for almost 21 years, have two kids and i can't imagine life without him. you and your children are in my thoughts often. i'm pulling for you and look forward to continued courageous, brighter days for you.


Joanne Stone said...

Hi Veronica,

I came to your blog through the Erynn Rooney blog. She lived down the street from me in So California. I have followed your blog from day one and have not commented previously. Today, however, is different. Today I want to tell you how proud I am of you for having gone through such a terrible year with grace and dignity. I don't know how you do it. But, I will say that you are a fabulous writer and should really think about publishing a book for others who find themselves in your situation.

I am not a religious person but I respect your faith and realize that it has been a big part of helping you through your loss. Your children are beautiful and appear to be well loved. It is apparent to me that you are a good person; a good mother; a good friend. Remember, you would not have married such a good man if you were not as good as he. So. . . keep on keepin' on and know that there are people who do not know you personally who hold you and your family in their hearts (myself included). I will continue to read about your journey, marveling at the way you navigate the roadway of life. Stay strong and move forward. You are doing a great job!

With love and hugs,

Anonymous said...

every word, every inch of this post is beautiful. thank you for writing and sharing this with all of us. painful and beautiful...just like grief...

Vicki said...

I'm so encouraged, Vee. I love you. What beauty can come from the most painful of ashes. XOXO

Sarah-Life is what you make it said...

I don't think I've ever prayed so much in one day, on wednesday. i hope you felt my prayers (and lots of others too) lifting you up.

I pray that this year brings healing and much more happiness.

Anonymous said...

So incredible...You, your husband and everyone who has done wonderful things in his honor.

Always in my thoughts and Prayers,
Monica C

Anonymous said...

Veronica I've been thinking of you this week and the one year mark approached and passed. Just wanted to let you know that there is an entire world out there praying for you.

I also hope you can let Jen (the woman who wrote you that email) that her sentence " in a culture that doesn't encourage or regularly produce men who are good husbands and daddy's" is not only wrong, offensive, but out right despicable. I love what they have done to remember and honor Jeremy but I really hope they don't do it from the perspective that another culture or community is deficient and not "producing" good men, husbands, and daddys. Sad...that there are people who can say they do what they do in the name of God...but from such an awful place.



Glenda said...

Thinking of you and the kiddos.

Peace & strength

Kim said...

I know I say it every time I visit, but I'm always praying for you.

Jo Julia said...

thinking of you- in hope and love.

Desi said...

What an amazing thing from Jen. It just shows you how much your husband really touched people. And you ARE saying something inspirational, that brings hope to others. You so are. You are doing wonderfully. I know it is well past the one year mark now, and I'm so glad that it wasn't so overwhelmingly difficult as you anticipated. I'm glad you found some strength and comfort this day, especially from that letter. Stay strong!


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