Friday, October 31, 2014

So many deaths or so many gifts?

The last few weeks have been filled with grief.  A dear friend of ours that I have known for over 37 years, passed away unexpectedly. He was a man in some ways a lot like my husband, an avid outdoors man, a hard worker, dedicated to the church, and "keeper of stuff."   Unlike Bill,  he was father to 5, grandfather to many, even a great-grandfather to a few!   Two of his grandsons were in James and Laura's wedding. He and his dear wife made the trip all the way across the country to go to the wedding. At the wedding,  one grandson met Laura's sister and last year they were married. Another trip across the country!  The other grandson works with us in our business.
His funeral was one week ago. This was the first funeral I attended since Amy died. It was hard. Very hard. Especially when one of the songs, sung by some of his children and grands,  was "Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone."      Amy's Song.   I could hardly keep my sobs silent. 
He was a Marine, and like my daddy proud of it. They did the military salute at the end and with each gunshot I wondered if the next military funeral I would attend would be my Daddy's funeral.

Last evening I went to the first viewing I have been to since Amy died.  Bill and Emily have been to many viewings in the last 18 months. I did briefly attend one held in our church for a dear elderly lady who loved Amy so much. She was such a jewel, that I had to show my respect to her family.   But I just could not make myself go to a funeral home to a viewing. Last night I did.
Our neighbor, a few houses down the road, has been battling with cancer for about 4 years. A few weeks ago we became aware that she was home to stay as nothing more could be done. Just waiting. I would drive by her house and my heart would break as I knew what the family was going through. To my shame I never got to know her very well. But her sister is the mom of the two young men that were in James and Laura's wedding.  So much grief in this one dear family in such a short time. I felt the need to reach out and tell them how much I cared, but I did not. I only cried. 

To be able to be with someone as they live their final hours of life on this earth is a blessing, but also leaves memories that will never stop from hurting. Because those hours are the final hours of this life as we know it. Those hours are our final memories of our loved one.
All the memories of Amy's last few days, the plans for her funeral, the funeral itself, have been replaying in my mind. The worst part was giving in to the devil whispering in my ear that I never did enough for Amy. Those final hours I could have read to her more, I could have held her more, I could have held her longer once her life was gone, I could have looked at her longer one last time before that lid was shut on the casket. 
I could have.....I could have.........goes on and on and it is only the strength of God that gets me through each of my days. It is only  by His strength that I tell myself...... I did do enough!

It is only His strength that has carried this dear family through the last few weeks and only His strength that will get them through the days ahead. 

As Bill and I were coming home from somewhere a few days ago and pulling into the driveway, I was overwhelmed with the sadness of not having our dog come to greet us anymore. I said out loud to him, "Why has God taken so much away from us?"
My dear wise husband replied, "Why has God given us so many gifts?"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eighteen Months

It's been eighteen months.  How my life has changed in a year and a half!
As I mentioned before, I have been doing a Bible study with Emily over the last few months. On September 29th I was finishing up the next to last day of the study and this was the first question: "Subtract 18 months from the present date and write your calculation here: _____.  Between then and now, what kinds of things have come your way? "  
I looked it up and it was March 29th, 2013.  It was Amy's first full day home from the large hospital where she had spent a month.  Home health had come in and I was overwhelmed, but we were all so happy to be home. It was a good day, I wrote in my journal. I still didn't realize that she was so very sick. I had no idea that in a little over a week she would be gone. 
I answered the question with these words:  "My whole life has changed. Amy died and so much of me died with her. Will was just born and so much of life lies ahead of me."

Bill and I got "the call" around 4 a.m. Laura was in labor and at the hospital. I tried to go back to sleep, but knew I would just lay there and fret so I got up and started getting ready to go. Bill soon joined me. I don't know if he was concerned about me driving in the dark by myself over the mountain, or if he truly wanted to be there also. He is the strong silent type and even after 37 years of marriage, I still can't always read him. We sat for about two hours in the waiting room, trying to ignore the infomercials blasting on the tv that we couldn't turn off, dozing off and on, before James came out and told us that William David was here. They kept the name a secret, so I was moved to tears that they chose to name him after his grandpa. We were able to see him for a few minutes and hold him.  I couldn't hold back the tears. I was so relieved that he was ok, that Laura was ok and that all seemed well.
According to the clock on the wall, he wasn't even two hours old yet!

In the days that followed I somehow thought that little Will would change me, make my grief subside. But it intensified instead. His first night home, Laura asked me to put a little gown on him. As I was pulling his arm through, holding on to his little hand, I was hit in the gut with grief. This is how I dressed Amy for 31 years. I held on to each of her hands as I guided them through her sleeves. More tears. 
A day or so later, I was holding Will and I touched his nose with the tip of my finger and kissed him. Again, just as I had with Amy thousands of times. More sadness and tears.  
I caught myself calling him "Munchkin," Amy's pet name. But this time no tears. He is such a little munchkin!

I hauled the fall decorations down from the attic.  I have not decorated for any special holiday for the last 18 months. It was very difficult to see the special decorations that I put in Amy's room. Also the wooden pumpkins that she made one year in school and  the little Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim that I've put out for the last 25 years or so!  I got up the courage to replace the butterfly welcome flag that has flown on the lamppost since Amy died with one of pumpkins and fall leaves. I visited the cemetery and talked to Amy as I cleaned off the spring flowering butterfly vine from Tess's wedding and replaced it with a fall one of brightly colored leaves.  I told her about Will and how much I missed her. I've said before that it isn't fair that she isn't here to be an aunt.  But I realized that it isn't what Amy is missing, but what I am missing by seeing her face as she reacts to her nephew. It is my pain, not hers. I will keep Amy's memory alive to my grandchildren so they can know what a special person she was and still is, living in our hearts.

Yesterday, I went with Tess to her dr.s appointment. She is 14 weeks along and hasn't been sick much at all. What a blessing that has been for her as she has continued to work full time. I heard the  baby's heartbeat and it sounds strong. We went shopping for maternity clothes and birthday shopping as her daddy and  her husband's birthdays are only a day apart. We had such a great day. As I thanked her I told her that it will take some of the pain away from today. And it has.

A few days ago, I walked down from seeing Will and snapped this picture of our tree.
Fall is my favorite season, winter will be here soon, but I am enjoying the life God has given me right now.

The last verse of Thessalonians is: 
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
Grace. God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
God's Riches.