Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Grief inches me closer...

The Hubs & his John Deere.

Forgive me if this blog has become burdensome to read. I’ll let you in on a little secret—it has become burdensome to write as well. Yet, I plug on like some driven, wild woman compelled to spill the leaking ooze of her broken heart over whoever stops by. My flimsy and possibly misguided, but well intentioned, hope is that by exposing my open wound I can some how piece together enough of the right words to be of use to others. C.S. Lewis felt that his journal entries written after the death of his wife “might well be of some help to others who were similarly afflicted with the turmoil of thought and feeling which grief forces upon us.” While my writing skill is far below the esteemed author, I do honestly pray my ramblings will find their way to anyone who could benefit from them.
Mr. Lewis hit the nail on the head. Grief can sometimes be a bully who pokes and pushes its way into every thought and emotion I have in a day. It’s grueling trying to keep up and soothe the gash torn in my psyche from such a brute. Just today, I was going along fine. Got up. Got dressed. Made myself some breakfast. Did some office work. Made some phone calls. Things were clicking along pretty good, when all of a sudden I felt Gary’s absence with the force of a two-by-four up side my head. I stumbled to a chair and wept for several minutes. After that, I didn’t get much done. It’s just how it is.
Later in the afternoon I stepped out on our screened in porch. Snow is still piled on the ground, yet I smelled spring, or at least the promise of spring. Immediately, I felt Gary’s presence. He loved spring. Spring meant melting snow. Snow melting meant grass growing. Grass growing meant John Deere! The yellow tractor seat of his John Deere was one of Gary’s happy places. And, just for a brief moment, I felt a sprout of joy.
Hot. Cold. Left. Right. Forward. Backward. Repeat. Grief inches me closer to hell or healing depending on the day, or more accurately the hour.
I have to trust that God knows this; that grief, as prickly as it is, serves a purpose, a means to and end. Even in my discomfort and sorrow, I know, I know that He is there and He is able.

“I remember the days of old. I meditate on all that You have done; I ponder the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for You like                   a parched land…”     ~ Psalm 143:5-6

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Naughty Puppy

It’s been a difficult week. Grieving is exhausting. I had not realized just how physical grief could be. At the end of the day, I sometimes crawl into bed feeling as if I wrestled a big, ugly, mean bear and lost. I actually feel bruised. This otherworldly exhaustion also makes me more susceptible to depression and feelings of despair. Once those murky emotions settle in the spiraling effects of loss and longing aren’t far behind.
Of course it hasn’t helped none that Atticus and I are failing Puppy Class. At our last session, the instructor took us aside and reprimanded both of us—Atticus for being naughty and me for allowing Atticus to be naughty. “Your dog is walking all over you. You need to be tougher. Show him whose boss.”
What I wanted to retort to Ms. Dog Whisperer, had I not been too tired to care, was, “Well, lady, my whole life is walking all over me right now, so why shouldn’t my 30-pound puppy?”
Just to prove my point, the next day my toilet got stopped up and stayed that way for three days. A kitchen cabinet door fell off and it is currently being held in place by two rubber bands. And for good measure, four light bulbs blew within hours of each other and I’ve lost a set of keys. Also, that same naughty puppy ate a whole stick of butter and promptly threw up in the middle of the living room rug. And last, but certainly not least, I discovered my garbage can frozen to the ground. Yep. I’m being walked on, stomped on, and trampled by a whole herd of mad, rabid elephants.
Gary’s death has slowed the rotation of the earth and things are starting to float away or get tangled up together like a gnarled mess of barbed wire.
Fortunately, I had a friend willing to spend several hours on his knees cranking a snake-like thingy through my pipes until the toilet finally agreed to flush again.
Fortunately, I discovered that a garden hoe is a great tool to pry a garbage can from the icy clutches of a snow bank.
Fortunately, I have more butter.
Fortunately, my naughty puppy is also perceptive and instinctively aware that a cold nose, curly tail and big, brown eyes have healing powers.
Fortunately, God is love.
Fortunately, He supplies all we ever need.
Fortunately, sometimes a friend, a puppy and a garden hoe are all we need.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Prepare the Cowgirl...

Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that this blog started out chronicling my health journey, both physical and spiritual. With the help of my pink bike, LuLu, I was going to change the world, at least the tiny parts of the world that overlapped my own universe. I was going to drop weight, ride the pink bike, and learn from the meditations gleaned from riding said bike. LuLu was a gift from the Hubs for my sixtieth birthday. Gary believed in all that I did and always became my biggest encourager and supporter. The man loved me, what can I say?
Here we are almost three years later and my universe has indeed changed, not by me, mind you, but change it has. I’ve lost some weight. I have grown spiritually, kicking and screaming all the way. And, I’ve lost the Hubs. He’s no longer in my corner cheering me on, at least here at this address. However, he is still my biggest encourager and inspiration. His words ring around in my head and heart always. “You can do this, babe” will forever spur me on to what’s next.
So, what is next?
Answer: I don’t know. What I do know is that whatever it is, I want to make him proud—Gary that is. I also know God will be in on it as well. I think my future will still include a pink bike. I still have weight to lose. I still have a long way to go before I unlock the secrets to the universe. And, I’m still trying to get my heart around how to trust God without fear. All of that is going to take a lot of pedaling, folks.
So, here’s the deal: Stay with me. Pedal along beside me. Keep asking the hard questions and I’ll do the same. Get healthy. Humble your heart. Ride down the road with your head up and you’re your eyes open. I’m positive the road will still be bumpy at times and take unimaginable detours. I’m equally positive it’s going to hurt at times. But, there will be glorious days of sunshine and Sonshine as well. Live for those days. Yearn for them.
Yeah, there are six or seven inches of snow out there right now, and currently the temperature is setting on -2 and not budging. But, spring is coming. Get ready. Saddle up. Oil the chains. Adjust the seat. Prepare the Cowgirl. LuLu and I are about to hit the road and you are invited.

Monday, February 3, 2014



When you lose someone you love, your grief begins to be pockmarked with milestones: Your first night alone in the house; Opening his closet door for the first time. The first Sunday sitting alone in church. Oh, the list goes on. Well, this past Friday I faced down another milestone. I went to a movie by myself. This was something Gary and I loved doing together, especially during the winter. Friday was always ‘date night’ as we each took turns getting to choose which movie we’d see. One shoot-em up, macho movie equaled two chick flicks next time around.
So, I decided it was time to do this on my own. I was fine during the movie. I ate my popcorn and enjoyed the film. It was all okay until it ended. When the lights went up, my sorrow burrowed in. Suddenly, all that I longed for and missed slammed into me like a left hook: Gary taking my hand; The feel of his fingers lightly bushing along my back; Huddled together walking out into the cold air; Me getting into the passenger side of the car. Everything between us had been so automatic and natural and now all is gone. Date night is no more.
Milestones. They take you to the murky bottom and then miraculously, they become the stepping-stones that rescue you: The first time you start the snow blower on your own; the first time you hang a shelf without help. The first time you make a complete meal just for you. The first time you sleep the entire night without tears. One step. Two steps. Three steps closer to your new normal.
Milestones. They hurt and heal. They break you and build you up. They devastate you and give you hope. I want to ask God if there couldn’t be a better way, an easier path, a more direct route to this new life I’m embarking on. But I don’t ask. I’ve decided to just accept. I’ve made a commitment to simply trust. When one milestone punches me in the gut, I straighten and wait for the one that will soon come that will pull me up. Both are needed. Only one is appreciated.
God loves me. However, His love doesn’t come with strings or entitlements. His love is the real deal. It’s steel wrapped in velvet. It’s anchored deep into the soul. Storms, heartache, sorrow, grief, loss are no match for it. Bring it on! He says. Be amazed! He shouts. Come! He beckons.
Step. Step. Step…