Friday, January 27, 2012

How long does this last?

Tonight I looked at a picture of my mother and my Sarah and it hurt.  Deeply hurt.  I honestly thought I had moved past some of the pain, but I am now realizing that grief is a cycle.  A process of ups and downs.  A Ferris wheel of highs and lows.  Just when you think you are doing better, when you are able to go through your entire day without crying, it hits.  The grief.  The pain.  The sadness.  The tears.

 I wonder how long it will take for me to work through this process.  Then I wonder, if I finally feel that I have worked through it will that mean that I don't think of my mother that often?  Will I go about my daily life without remembering her?  Will I become so far removed from her and her death that it will feel like it happened in another lifetime?  If I live to be 63, then I will have had my mother for exactly half of my life.  I will have lived half of my life with her and half of my life without her.  That seems odd to me, to be able to live half of my life without my mother.  That doesn't make sense to me and as I have said so many times before, it just doesn't seem fair. 

Today I read some of book three of Journeying Through Grief, and I found this poem written by C.S Lewis when he lost his wife. I think it speaks to exactly how I am feeling lately. 

No one knows
the tears still inside me.

People think it's all past.
They think I'm all better.

Every once in a while
I think, I hope, I pray
that things will be better too.

But then I remember.
And the pain floods back,
and the bottom falls out,
and I fall and I fall.

And I know once again
that things aren't all better.
My loved one is gone,
and I cry alone.

How much longer, God?
How long does this last?

That my friends, is my question tonight.  How long does this last?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Afternoon in the Country

We spent Saturday afternoon in the country.  The weather was a bit overcast and cloudy but we still enjoyed getting out of the house.

The kids took turns riding one of the donkeys.

Our girl showed off her gate opening skills.  I knew our boy could do this but I had not seen our girl open and close the gates with such confidence before.  This is a bonus for me because now I do not have to get out of the truck to "get the gates," as long as one of our kids is with us.  I know this is something their daddy has been aiming for for sometime now. 

She likes to "ride the gate" to the corner post. 

We found a down tree trunk that was fun for balance practice.

And good for jumping.

And good for sitting.

Then we stopped at this old Volkswagen bug that has been in the woods for years.  It was once used as a deer stand and often used for target practice. 

I found it enchanting!

Does that make me weird?

I encouraged the kids to climb atop with me and big daddy took our picture.

How's that for a little family togetherness?  : )

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gorgeous Blue Waved Wall

Parking Lot Love

Yes, I did allow my child to roll around in a parking lot.  It was fun.  Here are a few pictures.

Radiant Last Memories

Today is a hard one for me.  I have wanted to write about the last full weekend we spent with my mother before her death for sometime now.  It was a weekend that was truly euphoric and felt absolute heavenly.  I have thought of it often and am awestruck at the feeling that I had that entire weekend.  It is not a feeling that I can explain.  I can try to get close with many adjectives but I know I really won't even scratch the surface.  I have wondered if God gave us this last gift.  Now after reading Raising Cole, I am certain that He did and it seems He does this often.  Marc Pittman writes about his last full day with his son.  He writes about how his son "glowed" that day.  How they spent the entire day together.  Doing simple things. But how close they felt and how happy. 

I can tell a similar story.  It was back in July and my mother and step-father wanted to give our boy a weekend at a deer camp of a family member as his birthday present.  Instead of buying him toys they wanted to take us all to the camp to just have fun.  Saturday morning we loaded up and drove the long drive to a place near Palestine, Texas.  Along the way we stopped and ate lunch, we laughed lots and played jokes on each other.  It was a long drive to east Texas but when we arrived at the camp the mood became one of total peace. 

We drove the dirt road into the camp to the camp house that was sitting a few yards from a serene little slew.  We got out of the truck walked around and took in the beauty of the place we would spend the next two days.  Looking straight up the trees made a lovely canopy that shaded the cabin.  Looking ahead there were miles and miles of woods, dirt trails for riding ATVs or just walking.  Birds were singing and squirrels were scampering. 

We took the road leading back to the barn where we found several four wheelers, razors and rangers.  Our boy and his daddy climbed onto one of the four-wheelers.  Our girl and my step-father strapped into the razor and my mother and I jumped on the ranger.  We spent the next few hours driving, racing and kicking up dirt all over the property.  We would ride a little and then stop and talk.  Then we would ride a little more.  I rode the entire time with just my mother.  I can only explain this time as an out of body experience.  Even as it was happening, I remember thinking just how happy I was.  That truly this ranked in my top five of life experiences.  My husband and children with my mother and step-father just having the time of our lives.  The laughter that day was incredible.  The experience felt radiant.  It felt heavenly.  Everything about it glowed.  We were all so happy! 

At times, I felt like we were in a movie and that lively, happy music should have been playing in the background as our scene from the day played out.  I had never had this experience before nor have I experienced anything like it since.  I must say I am glad that I have not.  I do feel that God was present that day and that he orchestrated our every move.  I do believe He gave us this last joyful time together. 

We saw my mother a few times after this.  My husband's last memory is of us at her house.  We were in her kitchen eating a snack.  She was feeding her grand kids, something she loved to do.  I remember this too but the most vivid blessed memory for me was this weekend at the camp.  The time that I felt tingly with happiness.  From my head to my toes I felt warm with absolute joy.  I can think of it now and the tingling comes back, fresh on my mind, fresh in my heart. 

I have wondered about this weekend often since my mother's death.  I am comforted every time I think of it yet, I am troubled too, because the tingly feeling is so intense it is almost as if I should have known.  I should have known it was too good.  It was not earthly.  It was a heavenly feeling because it was a heavenly gift.  It was a gift my Lord was giving because very soon He would take away.  There is a time for every season and very soon the season of death and grief would be upon me.   But, before I began walking through this fire, through this season, I was racing through the most lovely acres in east Texas my momma by my side laughing her head off. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raising Cole

Dear friends,
I want to say thank you.  Thank you for reading my raw, crazy, unedited thoughts of  this journey of life and grief that I have been traveling since September.  Thank you for reading, and then commenting, praying, and messaging me with your encouraging words.  I never meant to share my thoughts for everyone to read but I did want to feel better.  I did want to get some of it out so that I didn't become completely loony.  Grief is as difficult a thing as I have ever encountered and I don't know the first thing about how to travel this road but writing has been helpful.

On New Years Day, we were at our cousins' house celebrating the new year when I noticed a book under their Christmas tree that looked interesting.  It was called Raising Cole.  It had a picture of a University of Texas football player on the front and I was drawn to it.  Truly, like a moth to a flame I moved toward it then bent down and picked it up.  I don't know why.  I grew up in Texas so I like football as much as the next girl, but I'm not inclined to read a book about that subject.  As I looked closer though I read the subtitle Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy.  That was all it took for my sad soul to desire flipping the pages.  Well, upon the first few words I discovered that this was not a book about just football but rather a book about a father's love for his sons, one of which was killed too soon in a car accident.  Hmmm, connection for me. 

As I continued to read a small piece of text pierced my soul.  It read,

"Cole and I still talk all the time, no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing.  Sometimes I'm crouched in the mud at Fellowship Cemetery, my cheek leaning on his headstone.  Sometimes I'm pacing the shoulder on Highway 79 just north of Franklin, Texas, tracing the last few hundred feet where the tires of his pickup truck flattened the grass as they drifted off the road. "

I think it was at this point I yelled to my husband.  I got goosebumps and felt the presence of God as I thought of this unbelievable connection.  The author's son was killed on the same highway very near the location where my mother was killed.  Wow!  Now,  I was crying and did not want to put the book down.  I was absolutely sucked in, but was only able to read a bit more before we left for lunch.  I was impressed by the way the author, Marc Pittman, the father of Cole wrote so easily about his son's death and his experience with grief.  I loved that he shared how he felt and the things that he had to do after his son's death.  I appreciated and could relate to the raw real life stuff that goes along with death.  How he reacted when he heard the news.  How several of his friends knew of the accident before him.  I must admit I was very angry for a while that numerous people knew of my mother's death before I did.  She died at approximately 6 p.m.  but I didn't find out until around 8:30 that night that there had been an accident and it wasn't until nearly 10 p.m. that her death was confirmed to me.  I still feel cheated when I think about it.  I don't know why.  It didn't matter when I found out, just that I did but something about others knowing before me made me mad as hell.  It didn't seem fair that someone else could grieve for her before I could.  It was comforting for me to read that Marc had gone through his entire day before finding out from dear friends that his son had been killed.  I wondered if he felt angry as well.  Maybe I am the only one. 

Marc shared how it was seeing his son in a coffin and preparing to speak at his funeral. He spent the entire night before the funeral on a blanket at the funeral home curled up next to his son's coffin writing and talking to his son.  I think it was the way that he wrote so matter of factly about these things that opened the door to my own heart to let out the toxic grief that was consuming me.  After reading these first few chapters I knew two things.  One, I must buy and finish reading this book.  And, two, I must write some.  If even for me to remember, for me to process, for me to heal. 

I don't think to look at me you would have known.  I don't even think the three other people living with me would have known but there was a battle raging inside me.  The toxic grief was slowly taking over.  This battle raged between my heart and my head.  My heart that loves my Jesus so much and was feeling comforted each day by Him and my head that just throbbed with the thoughts that my mother was gone.  The battle was intense and I needed a release.  So, I  started writing and you started reading.  I started healing and you started sharing.  The more I have shared the harder you have prayed.  Some of you have even traveled this road yourself.  Some of you are on this road with me right now.  You know it's hard too.  You know each new day brings new challenges.  You know life is forever changed and you wonder what will make you cry that you never gave a second thought to before. 

My mother was brassy and bold.  I think she had a filter but she didn't use it very often.  I loved and hated this.  I loved that I never had to guess at what she was thinking.  I never had to guess how she felt about someone.  I hated that I never knew when she would share just how she was feeling.  Often it was at the most inappropriate time and embarrassment laid thick on me like morning dew on the grass.  My husband and I were talking about my mother the other day and we both agreed that we'd give anything to experience one of those embarrassing moments again.  To have her share an inappropriate story that she thought was hilarious and to hear her laugh.  I used to hate when she did this, now I'd love to feel like I want to crawl under a table because she did it again.   

I do want to wrap up today's post by saying that as hard as this is I have felt God all along the way.  From the moment we found out about my mother's death God's presence was upon me.  He made me feel strong and powerful.  He gave me a rush of adrenaline.  He was upon me.  He has continued to be faithful and walks with me daily.  I honestly think I would not be able to walk daily if it were not for Him.  That is the good news.  That is the blessing that is our Lord.  Marc Pittman knew that too and writes about a similar feeling.  An energy that allowed him to continue on.  I know God lead me to the book Raising Cole.  I know he wanted me to read about another believer's grief to know that I was normal, not loony and I was going to be okay. 

So, yesterday I bought Raising Cole.  I read the entire book in one day.  It fed my soul.

For any interested person the book is Raising Cole: Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy: A Father's Story by Marc Pittman

Our Boy

One of the wonderful things about being a Christian is the knowledge that
God has a plan for our lives.  ~Warren Wiersbe

Friday, January 13, 2012


Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. 
Honor one another above yourselves. 
Romans 12:9-10

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Wall Art in the Family Room

These two little prints started a wall art project today that took most of  the afternoon.

I printed them long ago and have even had them framed for quite some time now but couldn't decide where to hang them.  I wanted them to be some place easily accessible to all family members because my goal was for us to actually catch each other doing fabulous things and then pat each other on the back a bit.  Well, yesterday I received a nice e-mail from our boy's teacher about his improvement in reading.  This was a sweet victory for us as growing him into an independent reader has taken a great amount of  effort.  After reading the e-mail I wanted to show how proud we were of him and desired to make a great big deal out of it.  I remembered these prints and decided today was the day to dedicate one to our boy and one to our girl.  Today was the day to find a place of honor to showcase their great achievements.  This set into motion the wall transformation! 

Behold, the fairly blank wall in our family room.  It already had one of my favorite pieces of art I snagged at a garage sale for $5.00.  The candy in old apothecary jars was just too nifty.  The other piece was a drawing of "the little engine that could".  In college my favorite professor read us this book and shared that many times as an adult she had given the book to other adult ladies when they were experiencing a particular trial.  I just thought that was so encouraging so when I saw this piece, also at a garage sale, I bought it too!

I knew I wanted to add the "You are fabulous" prints but I needed some other items to fill in the spaces.  I dug around in the garage, under beds and in closets to find the various frames, photos and art that did the trick.  I didn't buy anything just moved some old stuff around.  I even added a picture of my mother that brings back such fond memories. : )

There it is.  Our new wall art.  If you look to the right you will see that I kinda have a thing for collage arrangements.  Something about the randomness mixed with a plan that speaks to me.  I think that's how my mind works.  I randomly play out my plan. 

I hung the "fabulous" prints low enough that the kids can grab a marker and write their own message to each other.  I do hope that they will search for the fabulousness in each other.  Hopefully, they won't have to look too far but will come to appreciate the great gift they are to each other.  I hope they can learn to genuinely encourage each other and that that skill will go with them out into the world. I hope they will look for the good in others and be an encouragement to all they meet. 

Now, I do have one more of these prints framed.  I am looking for a perfect spot for it.  I do believe my husband needs one of these because he is pretty fabulous too!