Monday, March 31, 2014

He has a plan...

“Bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon.  What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too.” ~ C.S. Lewis- A Grief Observed

Me & The Hubs in a special place
Yes, I know of late, I have quoted from Mr. Lewis quite a bit. I have found such comfort in his book chronicling his grief over his beloved Joy. I have now read a few books on grief but his is the one I keep returning to. The above quote gave me much peace at heart. When Gary died was I suppose to suddenly feel un-married? I didn’t know if people saw me that way now or not, but the emotions certainly did not recognize this new status. Gary’s death changed nothing in my commitment to him, our past, our present, or our future. Yes, our future. We have one. Our relationship continues. As with the Holy Spirit, Gary now lives within me. He inhabits my heart, my mind and counsels my actions. No, I’m not saying Gary is on equal terms with God himself. Put those ruffled feathers back where they belong, people. What I mean is that he is forever with me. I still feel married to him. I still wear the rings he gave me back in 1971 when we made our vows. I now wear his ring on a chain around my neck. I am bereaved and truly feel as Mr. Lewis that this sorrow is now just another phase of married love. This feeling may stay with me until I draw my own last breath or one day, who knows, I may wake and find I have shed my skin and that God has replaced my tattered heart with a new one.  But for now Gary is mine and I am his. Our past fuels our future.
I say all of that to say this: Do Not. I repeat. Do Not. Ever. come to me with this silly grin on your face and tell me you have a ‘nice man’ for me to meet. It doesn’t work that way. I don’t know how it works, but that isn’t it. Don’t ever assume I do not feel married. Do we understand each other?
Is it possible that I may ever consider entering into another marriage? I suppose if pigs can find a way to fly that is a possibility. God does the impossible and improbable. But it will have to be all His doing. He will have to literally sit on me and slap me around to get my attention on that one.
But for now, I have entered a stage of my marriage that is still teaching me, stretching me and revealing God’s face a sliver at a time. It is well with my soul.
Yesterday at church a young engaged couple asked me to do their pre-marital counseling with them. How honored I am to be asked. They said they thought I might know a thing or two about marriage. Bless them. I think I do.
Wherever you find yourself scoot over and allow God t0 sit next to you. He has a plan. Trust me on this one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pray for me...


We all know how painful it is working on our taxes. Most of you probably have been more organized and diligent than I have and have already sent yours off and have already gotten your return. Bravo! The rest of you are slackers like me. We tend to put it off until we can no longer ignore the fact that we will go to jail if we don’t buckle down and finally do this.  I would rather pedal LuLu, the pink bike, in -30 degree weather in my bathing suit than sit down with bank statements and ledgers and figure out where last year’s money went. It’s gone! Who cares?
Figuring out taxes is yet another dagger to my already tattered heart. Gary always did our taxes. I chimed in a little bit but I was more than happy to let him take the lead in this. Cluelessness is underrated. But the sad fact is, I hate numbers. If there is such a thing as being a math dyslectic then I am the poster child. Gary knew this early on in our relationship. He is the only reason I passed Fundamentals of Math our sophomore year of college. He did everything short of actually taking the pencil out of my hand and doing my homework for me. So, when he sat me down a few months before his death and walked me through how to do this, he knew what he was asking of me would be short of a grade B miracle if I could actually pull it off.
What Gary didn’t realize at the time and what I was not prepared for was that each and every entry in our bank statement was a chronicle of our last year together. Such as:
January 22, 2013- Kwik Trip (gas)- $46.50- We were on our way to Mayo.
February 18- $11.30- Gary surprised me with a sweet necklace made from a tile from a Scrabble game (the last piece of jewelry he ever gave me).
March 22-McDonalds- $3.20- We were sitting in a Rochester McDonalds. Gary was drinking coffee. I was drinking tea. Gary had just had a PET scan at Mayo that later that day would confirm that there were eight cancerous tumors in his liver.
May 24- Mayo Cafeteria- $5.20- Bagels after Gary’s blood tests.
And, so forth and so on…
It’s all there. Every precious excruciating moment of 2013. And to add insult to injury, I’m being taxed for it.
The bank statement entries also show how The Hubs lovingly prepared for what would eventually come. Life insurance payments. Investments, savings, etc., He did all he could to prepare me for this long, long rainy day. How he loved me.
So, Uncle Sam will just have to wait. I’m filing an extension. I can only get through so much at one sitting. But the government will get its due. The Hubs has seen to it. Of course, it goes without saying that 2014 is going to be one ugly, bookkeeping year.
Pray for me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Toddlers and Ten-year-olds...


As I write this I sit on the couch downstairs. Upstairs my twin granddaughters are napping. It’s my day with them. It started with serious ‘mommy play’. The girls began parenting all of their one thousand and forty dolls. Dressing and undressing. Feeding and putting them to bed. Followed by taking them to imaginary school. This is where it got tricky. Miraculously, the ‘mommies’ turned into schoolteachers and the doll babies got sat in rows all up and down the stairs ready for their instruction. A math teacher, a spelling teacher and something called a lunch teacher began their noble work. I personally had never heard of a lunch teacher, but this special school had one. I think I would have been very good at that position.
Then it was on to coloring with Crayons the size of large trees and Play Dough-ing. Play Dough waffles. Play Dough cookies. Play Dough rocks and Play Dough lettuce. Which after awhile made us all hungry for a tea party. As only a good grandma can, I packed a basket full of ‘goodies and tea’ and we trekked to the basement. As I coaxed my old knees under a table the height of a Smurf, I reminded the girls how a true lady drinks tea—pinkies out. Both little girls looked like they were suffering from polio as they struggled to bring their little cups to their lips with pinkie fingers in the proper position. Then it was off to old McDonalds as they call it, for cheeseburgers and a romp in the playland.
Our family life has gone on. Oh, we still miss our Papa Gary. He is still mentioned around the dinner table and in all goodnight prayers. It’s still Papa’s chair, Papa iPad, and Papa’s tractor. Heaven and what Papa is doing up there right this minute is a popular topic. And, out of the blue, it never fails that at least one little person asks per visit, if I’m happy. It seems these little ones are gifted to see behind smiles and want to know how the heart is really doing.
I honestly do not think I’d be able to face the days if I did not have tiny dimpled hands to hold. If I did not receive on a regular basis warm kisses and squishy hugs. If I could not tickle a belly of a child or snuggle in beside them in a warm bed, I don’t know what would have happened to me when my world went dark. My grandchildren are saving me one Eskimo kiss at a time. They are coaxing me back with their purity and innocence. Their plea for MeMe to come play is slowly putting my heart back together.
I am at the mercy of toddlers and ten-year-olds. Thank God for this lovely grace.

“Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked.  Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant."    
                                                                                       ~ Genesis 33:5

Monday, March 10, 2014


September 28, 2013


Hi. I’m back. Been missing again haven’t I? Wouldn’t you think that the death of a spouse would just about fill up your quota card of bad things that can happen to you? I mean I don’t expect smooth sailing from here on out. I know I’m still vulnerable to germs, poison ivy and bad hair days, but shouldn’t the big stuff be done with me? I lost my husband. Life should just leave me alone now, right?
Well, that’s not how it works. A couple of weeks ago my mother had a heart attack. A mild heart attack they tell us. Since I live twelve hours away, my sweet brother and sister-in-law stood watch and cared for Mom through this latest hurdle. Nonetheless, I had to go see for myself that mild wasn’t code for something more sinister. I found Mom tired but pretty amazing for what she had just been through. The experience left me shaken though. No, I don’t expect my mother to live forever. She has lived a noble life. However, I still need her especially now.
What’s next? Should I shake my fist at God and yell, “Bring it on!” Or, should I fall to my knees and beg for mercy?
Here’s the deal. I think I have been shown mercy—countless times. Some I recognize. Other times I’ve flitted through my day unaware. Yes, tragedy and trauma have intruded themselves upon me like ugly troll twins hell-bent on dragging me under the bridge. But they haven’t been able to, drag me under the bridge I mean. That is mercy.
The morning Gary died I didn’t know if I would make it through the day and what had to come next. But I did. That is mercy.
There was a funeral to get through. And we did. That is mercy.
Gary died in our bed. Could I ever sleep there again? The answer was ‘yes.’ That is mercy.
My husband missed our forty-third wedding anniversary by fourteen days. Would I survive that day without him? I did. That is mercy.
This past Sunday it was six month since I last kissed my husband. We’ve never been apart this long… ever. Would Monday bring any comfort? It did. That is mercy.
Today the sky was crystal blue and the sun started melting the snow. That is mercy.
God so loved the world that He gave…
That is mercy.