March 29, 2020
Everything Under the Sun
A tear slips down both cheeks as I hug Glen’s shirt to me. I smell it, but it’s already been washed and lost his sweet smell. I hug it to me and sigh and say out loud, “Mon Cherie Glen. Oh how I miss you!” I’m not sure how my life has come to this. I tuck the shirt in the box that is slowing filling up. I’ve already filled a garbage bag with Glen’s clothes. Logically I know that he’s not coming back. Yet somehow his clothes in the closet and various places in the house make me think he’s here…I’m not sure what it is but it’s really difficult. God has instructed me to put one item of clothing at a time in a box to get ready to bring to the thrift store. Each evening I take one thing of Glen’s and go through the same motions. Tears. Whispering his name. Heartbreak as if each thing I give away makes me die even more on the inside. I pray over each item of clothing as I put it in the box… “Lord, bless this shirt. Bless the person who wears it and call them to you. Let them know that because a great man wore this that they too are great and can be called your son. Wrap this person up with your love.” I’m trying…yet it is a nightly ritual that I detest.
We are in the second week of the corona virus lock down. I am still counselling people online. I believe the new instructions are to not be face to face with anyone other than those you are living with. I’m so thankful that my son Joshua is still home with me! I do feel bad for him because his spring job at Camp Squeah is not likely to happen. Donovan is still at Camp Squeah doing his internship but as they cannot accept any groups there is no money to pay them. At least Donovan can collect EI. Josh cannot because the only job he had was doing a very few NeurOptimal hook ups for me. He’s finishing his semester online. He pointed out that he’s not had an actual full year of Bible College yet. Last year both boys took the semester off because Glen passed away. This year it’s the corona virus. What next?
I am choosing joy – besides the arduous task of giving Glen’s clothes and stuff away – I am purposefully choosing joy. Yet I live in a state of bittersweet. I am doing really well in many ways. I am functioning. I am working. I go to the barn everyday and take care of my horse. When the weather co-operates and my horse is able (as he’s got severe navicular which means lame) I ride slowly on the dyke. I walk my dog. I cook a little – Josh is doing more cooking than me because I end up doing horse chores when it’s suppertime. I laugh. I exercise. I clean my house and try to keep up with the yard – try being the optimum point here. So I’m doing ok. Yet I’m not doing ok too. I miss Glen more than words can express. For me his passing is like yesterday. I miss his sweet caress. I miss his smile and his blue eyes looking at me with love. I miss him telling me to cover my mouth when I yawn and me rolling my eyes at him because when I don’t cover my mouth he knows full well that I’m not feeling well enough to lift my arm up! I miss him helping me with garbage day, fixing the greenhouse (and yes, the other half of the greenhouse blew apart but my friends Ray and Cassandra were over so Ray and Josh fixed it☺). I miss him cuddling me in the morning. I miss him hugging me many times a day. I miss his “I love you”. I miss his ring tone on my phone and jump with anticipation when I hear it on someone else’s phone. I miss him on my birthday. I miss him every minute of every day and think about him constantly just like I always have but now it’s with a deep, unfulfilled longing. I don’t think I will ever stop longing for my man. From what I hear that is normal for the widow and widower.
I have heard that the second year is harder. It’s not harder. It’s just hard in a different way. I think people around you expect that you’ll be better so you pretend that you are. In many ways you probably are yet it still hurts so much so you’re not. But you are. See the dilemma? I guess it’s the art of living in the bittersweet. In the wake of all that is going on in the world right now it becomes just a bit more bitter than sweet so we have to keep choosing the sweet. The beginning’s of the Apocalypse are here and Glen had the nerve to go on ahead of me and let me live through this without him? He really has some nerve! (Yes, I’m mostly kidding). I am in a considerable amount of Lyme pain with migraines head to toe and very little energy so I just feel that I need Glen…
So with the Corona virus going on as well as other things in this world I do believe that our world is experiencing the birth pains of the end. The weather has been weird for a few years. Things that should look alive aren’t looking alive. Everything has turned online for now. We are headed to a no cash system, which means we will not be able to buy and sell unless we go cashless. This is prophesied 2000 years ago in many parts of the Bible. There are already places of work where the employees have a chip in their hand (the mark of the beast will be on the forehead or the hand). There are wars and rumors of wars. There are famines and a lack of toilet paper…(LOL I had to get that in there). There are earthquakes of epic proportions in different locations. These are signs but it’s not the end yet.
I think the biggest thing for me is the reality of the dream that I had a year before Glen passed away. I know I shared it already but I’m going to share it again. The Dream…
“I was in a lot of pain and was so weak that I couldn’t move. I had to get an important document to someone so Glen went ahead of me to deliver it. That part didn’t hit me until I shared that at Glen’s service. Glen went ahead of me with something of mine and I was left here alone. He went up a massive flight of stairs that I couldn’t see the top of and I was left lying on a dirty mattress on a sidewalk at the foot of those stairs. I was in massive pain and people weren’t paying any attention to me but rather stepping over me and ignoring me. I looked to the right and saw a blood red sky. I looked to the left and saw the same blood red sky and thought it was strange. Then I saw swirling demonic figures coming towards me and I sighed. I was too tired for spiritual warfare but I knew I had Jesus so I said, “Ok Lord, help me.” Before the demonic got to me I was lifted up into the sky untouched and untouchable by them. My pain was instantly gone and I had energy swelling through me. I saw others in the sky. I looked and I saw Glen in the sky and I was SO excited to see him! (The Bible says that the dead in Christ will rise first and then us still on the earth so Glen was a little higher in the sky than I was which I’m only realizing in retrospect). I then saw Jesus rising with us and I was super excited and started fist pumping and yelling, “Praise God! Praise God! It’s happening! We get to go to heaven! Praise God!” And then I woke up. All my pain came rushing back. I tried to go back to sleep but was wide-awake. I was so disappointed!
That dream was very real – I believe that I was in a dream vision. I do believe that Jesus is coming soon. What and when that is I do not know, nor does anyone but Father God know when that time is. God does tell us to be aware of the seasons and be on guard and ready for Him to come and get us. I believe that we will be raptured before the great Tribulation and then God is still giving everyone else a chance to choose Him even yet as He does not want anyone to be lost.
I long for Heaven. I always have longed for Heaven even as a kid. Chronic pain also makes you long for a place where there is no sorrow, no pain, no tears…sounds pretty amazing and well, heavenly! Glen would actually tell me not to talk about Heaven so much because it made it sound like I didn’t want to be with him. Nothing could have been further from the truth as I loved being with him. Glen was my heaven on earth. I stopped talking about it as much for his sake. And then he went there before me. Nothing in this life is fair and I don’t suppose that it is supposed to be. We are told to expect trials and so we do. We are also told that we will not bear anything alone for our God will never leave us nor forsake us. I still long for Heaven. I long to see my Jesus face to face, and I long to see my Glen face to face. I know there’s no marriage in Heaven…it must be even better then because this world is just a shadow of Heaven. I’m ready for Heaven. I’m ready to be caught up in the sky and brought up to that Realm. So ready!
Today as I walked I saw signs of new life. Roses, dogwoods and ornamental cherry blossoms are starting to come out. They bloom with or without a virus going on almost as a poetic irony that states, “I will still live with beauty and joy and proclaim to all the world that I am beautiful!” I take hope with those new blooms. There is a time for grieving, and a time for new life. Now is the time for new life.
January 18, 2020
Last Year at this Time…I Buried the Love of my Life…
I hardly know what to say today. It has been a very good day in many ways until I start to think about this time last year. At this time last year, I was barely able to eat anything. I had lost weight already in caring for Glen and all the stress that caused. I was thin to begin with…and the nine days between Glen passing from this realm to the Heavenly Realm where our home is and the memorial service I lost another eight pounds. My stomach hurt without eating and even a small bite of food made me almost retch with pain. The stomach is very connected to the heart and emotions. In psychology we even call it our second heart because it is where very deep emotions lie. To make it through the day of memorial, exactly a year ago today, I had to see my friend Sharon twice for bio-energetic treatments in the week before the memorial. My friend Iona spent the first night with me and was ready to drop everything in her life to be with me. She came along to the funeral home to make the necessary arrangements along with both Donovan and Joshua and my sweet Dad and Step Mom. Then on day two my cousin Lori arrived from Manitoba to be with me. She came with me to buy the dreaded funeral outfit, she drove me around, she massaged my head, neck and shoulders and along with others held me when I cried – which was most of the time.
The day of the memorial service – I still can’t say that awful word “funeral” for Glen’s Service, it makes me want to throw up – my boys were literally holding me up with one on each side of me for most of the day. My friend Jeremy drove us to the cemetery for the burial…another ugh word…and took some pictures and video putting it together for me. It’s a five-minute snippet of the short burial service and I can’t watch it without weeping even now. God got me through that day. All of it. I clung to Glen’s coffin twice with tears streaming down my face as it hovered over the six-foot hole (or deeper as I will be thrown in on top when I pass away!). I could not let go. Just as I clung to my Glen in the three hours right after he passed away as soon as the paramedics and police let me because I knew that I didn’t want to let go…and the last two months of his life had been too painful for him to cuddle close.
Glen made everyone feel safe – especially me. The second he passed away my safety exploded. When your spouse dies your world explodes and then it’s turned upside down and shaken over and over for good measure. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is the same. My counselling work is the only thing that comes close to being the same yet even that is different without Glen because he was also a counsellor and very much involved in my counselling practice… Glen was wise, smart, empathetic, and excellent at conversation, excellent at everything… I know he had flaws but they were few and far between. Hmmm…He liked bread and sweets too much? What can I say? Glen was amazing and still is amazing in heaven and I can’t wait to see him!
So what’s different a year later? Well, first of all my body and mind has plummeted in the last two months as my body goes through body memories of last year at this time. The stomachaches have returned and though my sleep has been hellish all year, as in even worse than normal, the last nine days I have barely slept at all. So when my dear friends David and Katie and toddler Raphael invited me to go to Mazatlan, Mexico last minute with them I thought that was a dandy idea. My body needs to normalize and realize that it does not have to do what it did last year. This year is different. I need to keep living. I have kept living and I have chosen joy just as God has taught me to do and just as I know Glen would want for me. We flew in yesterday out of snowy and blowy Abbotsford and into balmy Mexico. Today we spent soaking up the sunny kind of vitamin D on the beach. Though we couldn’t swim on the beach we were on it was absolutely stunning and I loved every minute of it. Raphael did amazing and had less itchy craziness with eczema and they have all crashed for the night as I should also do…but my brain is spinning. I am thankful that this year is different and thankful to be here with them. It is beyond weird for me without Glen. Someone recently found out that Glen passed and said, “It must be so hard to grieve someone you love so much and on top of that figure out how to be single again!”
Say what? So it might seem weird but I still think of myself as married even though my logical brain knows he’s gone, my heart is still very attached to Glen. I still feel married. It makes it really weird to be without him because I still love him and I know that he still loves me and that will never change. The love might be different in heaven but it is still love. Yet, she’s right. So my brain has to figure this one out. Single. Glen and I met when I was eighteen. We became friends pretty quick and slowly fell in love and fell in love deeply. Our love grew and grew every day and that was my prayer everyday to God, that He would grow our love for each other stronger and stronger everyday, and that God would be our center always. So in a very real sense 18 is not yet full-grown. Our brains aren’t even fully developed until around age 26. We were married at age 22. We literally grew up together… I barely remember being single. So for me, and probably for many others who have lost their spouse, we need to learn not how to be single “again”, because being single was so long ago – we need to learn how to just simply be single…
Today, I remember last year at this time. For now maybe that is enough. I have learned a lot in the past year and maybe that is learning how to be single without even knowing it. Today, I feel safe with David, Katie and Raphael with God protecting us. I am thankful for the Mexican sun and the sunburn I now am sporting and thankful for the Mexican food I ate, and thankful to just be in a place where I can rest. I’m thankful for a toddler who calls me “Auntie Lo Lo” and who wants to sit on my lap and splash me in the pool. I’m thankful I don’t need to use my new bravery to navigate anywhere because David is doing a dandy job of that. I’m thankful that Katie is such an amazing friend whose empathy knows no bounds. I am thankful for a restful place to heal and figure out life, set new patterns of health and just be. So today, I will declare out loud, was a good day to remember my Glen, a man worthy to be remembered always.
Addendum – Day 5 of Mexico has seen me become very sick with throwing up all night. This is something I have not done for many years with auto-immune caused from Lyme…so as I lie on the couch instead of in the sun I will choose to take this as a good sign. Maybe I’m getting better and getting sick is a sign that I’m getting better? Lord let it be so!
January 9, 2020
I am sitting in my office at my computer. I think I am in a bit of shock. Denial rages through me too. Is Glen really gone? How can this be? I see his pictures hanging on the wall (he would hate that!) and every moment I go past him I murmur his name either out loud or in my head. There is very rarely a moment that I don’t think of my Glen with longing. I smile when I think of him and then I get sad. I look at the chair where he sat when he was sick and I see his sick form there…and I am filled with sadness. I chastise myself for just seeing the sick form of Glen and then bring back pictures of the healthy Glen…the problem is that he wasn’t very healthy in this house.
I have been reading through my blog in bits and pieces and it has of course brought tears, yet it has also brought me some reassurances. The mind is a treasure trove and massively complicated thing. My mind in these past few days, months even, has been playing tricks on me. Did Glen know how much I loved him? Did he know that his leaving would be ridiculously hard on me and those around him? Did he know? I tried so hard to be positive and lived in what I had dubbed “Camp Hope” – was it too positive? Did we not talk enough about the possibility of him actually physically dying? And what about how quick he passed out of my realm and into the Heavenly realm? Was he angry with me for not clueing in and calling the ambulance sooner?
I have found some answers in re-reading my blog posts – thank God! I knew that my mind would be reeling with grief and that I would not remember because that is what brains do. The brain begins to question the obvious things and twist and distort to the negative – which is why Jesus tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…it’s “mindfulness” in today’s terms but God created us and knows what we need. So as my mind questions me into a downward spiral I read what I have documented and know the answers. Before Glen’s passing I read him every word that I wrote for his approval before posting so the answer is obvious. Glen knew how much I loved him (and will always love him). Glen knew how difficult his passing would be on those around him – particularly me and the boys yet not limited to us. I don’t think Glen grasped how important he was to a multitude of people yet I do know that dealing with his own impending physical death the hardest part for him was leaving us. Dying in and of itself was never a fear. So the only questions left to answer are the one’s after his physical death… was he upset with me for not clueing in and prolonging his death even a day? A week?
In comes the logical brain. In comes the Holy Spirit whispering to me. Upset with me for not prolonging his physical death and leaving him in utter agony for longer? Really? Would I be upset if I died so quickly? No! I would thank God for taking me quickly and not allowing me to suffer more than I already had. I am learning to “trust in quietness for I know not the incredible ways of the Lord…the ways of the Lord are just simply too big for me to comprehend” (my paraphrase of Psalm 131). I chose and I choose to trust in this quietness that God knows what He’s doing – even if it seems ridiculously wrong from my point of view and from everyone’s point of view down here on earth. What do we know? Not much to be sure! We see a thread of the tapestry, if that. We can’t possibly see the whole thing. I choose to know that God is using this for His glory even as I struggle through deep grief and others do as well. I am not in charge of others journey’s – only my own. And even my own journey is not my own, it is God’s will. I am only in charge of, in control of, my responses to what happens to me on my journey.
My lessons have been those that have cemented what I knew, but now I know deeper. We can ask God, we can claim healing, we can pray, we can beg and intercede and that is all good and well. It is as things should be because God is walking with us. God is a good Father and as a good Father sometimes He chooses things for us that we don’t think are good. Like cleaning a bathroom – how can that be considered “good”? Maybe it’s a poor example but I hope you are following my wild train of thought. God uses things to teach us. I am His servant, His child, His friend. He is my King. If God wills something I can still beg for something different but in the end His will comes through to fruition. God is not a Genie in a bottle where we get our wishes whether those wishes are good for us or not. Yet God also cries with us in our pain and suffering here on earth. He is not impassive to our emotions and us. He knows we can’t see, just as a child learning to not touch something hot cannot see the consequences. Either we, as His beloved children, touch the stove anyway and learn by doing (which most of us choose to our own detriment) or we trust that what Daddy says is true and don’t do it… Ah human reasoning that is so flawed! Trust. Quiet trust as we sit on our Daddy’s lap is all that is required.
As I trust, as I choose HIS joy even on this day where my mind is tortured with memories of Glen’s death, I also remember all the good things. I remember Glen telling me that I was just as beautiful now or more as on the day we got married. I hear his voice saying, “I love you my Laurel. Always and forever, to eternity and beyond.” I remember that God did blind each one of us to Glen dying that day so that Glen would not be tormented with pain any longer. I remember that Glen is happy now, even though I believe he misses me in a way up there in heaven, I know that he is healthy and content doing God’s will. I know that Glen was called into a deeper intimacy with God and that his physical death means something and has a bigger spiritual impact than I can grasp…I see threads and wish my finite mind could comprehend more. I trust that all is as it should be according to God’s good and perfect will. I trust that Glen’s story is not over and that one day we will be together again continuing our “together” story. I trust that I am to continue down here for awhile…tarry a little longer doing the work that Christ has entrusted to me. I trust that God will continue to give me the strength to accomplish all that He is asking of me. I trust that I can still hear God’s voice and that I am also human so learning to grow closer and closer to God even in my angry moments and questioning “why God?!” I choose to trust God’s tapestry of time that He is putting together is for my good. I now see that many of His Biblical promises are not just for the here and now on earth. Those promises extend to eternity.
Those simple actions of trust allow me to move forward. Today I grieve. Perhaps I will grieve forever as Glen was a man worthy of great grief. Yet in that grief I will also find joy because of my heavenly Father whose ways are greater than mine as I continue to trust. The grief will change as I move forward. The love will ever be there.
Today I am also filled with gratitude even in my tears, knowing that God has placed people in my life who genuinely love me and are there for me. Thank you. I believe you know who you all are. Thank you for standing with me, as I cannot stand alone. Thank you for being God’s army alongside me. Thank you for financially supporting Glen and I when we went to Issels. That trip was not for naught…that trip taught me a lot and gave Glen and I hope and precious time together and that could not have been accomplished without help. My heart is filled, yet hurting. I am walking as half a person, yet God fills the other half, allowing me to walk. The simple miracle is that I am walking… God is good. Always.
December 26, 2019
A Year to Remember…
This has, beyond a doubt, been one of the absolute worst years of my life. At the age of 49 I was asked to say goodbye to the man of my dreams, the love of my life, my soul mate bar none other, my beloved husband Glen. Two nights ago I was looking for his watch to give to my boys. I didn’t find the watch but I found his old journal from when we were in Bible School. The first few pages didn’t talk about me so I skimmed through – who wants to hear about some girl he used to have a casual interest in? Ugh… But I did get to some good stuff…not just about me. About all those important in Glen’s life.
There was much praise and worship of God in Glen’s journal. Glen was in love with Jesus and yearned for more and more of God. His writing was cleaner, more crisp and easier to read (that doesn’t mean it was neat! Just easier to read…lol). Glen was a man who was obviously in love with God who brought his hearts desires to God regularly at the time of this journal. Then there are the parts about Glen’s brother Brian. Brian had a brain aneurism when Glen and I were in our third year of Bible School at Columbia Bible College. Brian came very close to death with an 80% chance of not making it in those precarious first days. They did surgery and Brian survived. Then it was a 50% chance I believe. Throughout each day Glen wrote begging God to save Brian, even saying to take him instead because Brian was married and Dianne was expecting their first child. That put a shock through my system as I read that. Glen was ever sacrificial and took so much for everyone else. He was a man who prayed and petitioned. Glen talked about his great love for his brother Brian and he wondered if Brian knew how much he loved and respected him. Brian is 6 or so years older than Glen. Glen loved hanging with his older brother and even though they didn’t spend a lot of time together nor say “I love you” much, I knew that they meant a lot to each other. Of course Glen never excluded his sister Donna from that love. Donna meant a lot to Glen too and he mentioned his love and appreciation for her too. Glen lived with Donna and Danny and worked for them on their dairy farm as a kid and after graduating grade 12.
When Glen offered his life in exchange for Brian’s I thought about that. Now Glen is gone and Brian’s health was restored – thank you Jesus for restoring Brian’s health! It just still seems so shocking to me that Glen is gone. I guess I have trouble thinking about him gone even though his physical presence being a huge void is ridiculously painful. I know that Glen is just in that other realm that I can’t reach…yet. I know that I must keep sojourning here on earth and I am doing my best to choose life and life abundantly while here. I know that I walk with an air of sadness enveloping me even now…perhaps the rest of my sojourn on earth. Living in two distinct places of emotion – sad, yet experiencing joy and life on earth.
I was moved to tears, smiles, even giggles as I read Glen’s journal late into the night especially as he talked about me. God had to work to put us together. Glen was in love with me even before we started dating. I was scared. A chicken. Afraid of making a mistake with a big life decision. I love how Glen described me – how one day I went running up to him and gave him a big hug and then bounced off to my next destination. He guessed I just needed to see him that day or have him see me. Honestly, I don’t have a clue. I was in the days of learning to go off of sugar because of hypoglycemia (now we know was Lyme induced) but I didn’t do good at that task back then. I ate sugar, ran around, then crashed – regularly. Glen would laugh at me and try to protect me. He described me as gentle most of the time, smart, funny, easy to talk to, comfortable to be around and someone he could spend the rest of his life with. He said he would melt when I would give him one of my smiles and look into his eyes. The truth is that I would get lost in his beautiful gentle blue eyes and smile because I could see the wonderful realms of love for me emanating from them. We would get lost in each other’s eyes gazing at each other. Sorry Wally Unger, but what I remember most about your class right now is Glen and getting lost in the depth of love reflecting back from those beautiful blue eyes. Even before we officially started dating I was his and he was mine. We were madly in love even before we knew we were. Ah….man… if only we could look into each other’s eyes one more time… yet we will one day… oh that day will be amazing beyond description!!
So this year I grieved. I turned 50 less than two months after losing my beloved. I chose to live… So I want to remember the good things that happened this year as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior even with the deep void left in my life.
February brought snow to our Abbotsford home. I learned how to drive the quad and scrape snow with it. Not well – but I did it.
I made a multitude of calls to deal with the estate. That’s still not done. That was with a lot of help from my friend and bookkeeper Kim Pilla. I think we are slowly getting there. They recognize me at the insurance place because of all the things I had to switch into my name. I am thankful for Kim beyond words and all the guidance she has given me. I am thankful for the kind hearts at the insurance place that led me through those legalities as well. Kim and her amazing family also came and shoveled snow a few times, and fixed my greenhouse. They are amazing!
March was a welcome and fortuitous gift of an escape to Vueno, Mexico. That was twelve days where I got some welcome sun, alone time walking on the beach and playing in the water with my boys and alone, watching movies with the boys, reading, and enjoying each other even in the midst of deep grief. Of course we can’t forget the ridiculously expensive golf game out there (a definite blonde moment) yet we did enjoy ourselves. The dolphin adventure still makes me smile. Thank you my friend that gifted us with that!!! It has allowed us to continue walking through the void because of the break it gave us.
April – Donovan went back to work at camp which left just Josh and I at home. Empty and quiet are the words to use here. Weird… Then I went to my good friends Ray and Cassandra’s in Red Deer with another good friend Leanne. We hung out, shopped for nothing, shivered in the cold, looked at tombstones as I struggled to put onto a tiny tombstone all that Glen is…sigh…it can’t be done. We danced to the wii making complete fools of ourselves dancing to the song from Dirty Dancing (I have the video to prove it but it will NEVER get posted! Lol) I then met my boys at Mom and Dad Hildebrandt’s for my niece Alana’s wedding to Levi. That was absolutely wonderful and at the same time almost killed me with the magnitude of emotions that came up as we were at Mom and Dad Hildebrandt’s without Glen and at Alana’s wedding without Glen… Ah, the dialectics of life…
May came and Joshua left for Ireland, Scotland, England and a few countries in between for two weeks with a friend. My positive thinking around that told me that I would get lot’s of writing done, etc… and then I was hit with the reality of an empty house that literally physically smacked me like a brick when I walked in the door alone. All alone. Empty nesting sounded fun when Glen was here. Empty nesting really sucks without Glen… and there’s more to come… So I am learning to do life alone.
In June my friend Sandy and I went to Beachwood. I didn’t pull the trailer then yet. We were just able to hang out, walk on the beach, laugh and cry together as we discussed Glen and life in general. There was also the text from Cassandra that her son Matthew was in a severe car accident. He is now a paraplegic… the tragedies of life can hit us hard and fast. Life as we know it changes in an instant and no one is unaffected. We are thankful that he is still here with us and is a most positive amazing young man.
July and August were a whirlwind where I thought I needed to make the most of my summer but overdid it a tad! I spent a week volunteering at Camp Squeah with my boys – a highlight for sure. It actually became a place where I found a bit of me again even amidst missing my beloved. I went fishing to Donna and Danny’s fishing resort (Besnard Lake Lodge) and learned that flying by myself isn’t the big deal that the years of aging have made it into within my brain. I have learned to pay more attention to the things that I let Glen do…little things like…oh shoot, where did I park my car? Navigating to get to a new place – still not my favorite thing to do – yet I do it. And yes, I caught fish. I am thankful I could go and spend time with family who also leant me clothes to stay warm as the temperature was under 10 degrees!
July 20th would have been our 28th wedding anniversary. I ended up being on Vancouver Island spending time with my brother Jonathon, nephew Connor and their adventure group. I was high in the trees doing a high ropes course and then hiking and spending time on a beautiful beach with new friends. I met a lot of new friends and loved doing that. I also had the pleasure of having Connor stay at my house two weeks out of the summer. I’m thankful that my fifteen-year-old nephew still thinks I’m cool enough to hang with. ☺
In July I also spent our annual camping trip with the Snairs with just Rob, Iona and I in the town of Hope at a friends extra house on the Fraser River. It was lovely to explore together and just hang out chatting about deep stuff.
I also went RVing to Beachwood with Jeremy and Leanne and Ray and Cassandra in August. Ray helped me hook up the trailer and drive, yet I also did drive and pull the trailer even backing it into the camping spot. I’ll have to practice much more before feeling proficient yet I am proud of myself for trying! And doing! The time with friends ended up being over Glen’s birthday where we who loved him could laugh and cry and pray together. It was so needed!
October brought me to Greece from October 18-29th with the Praise 106.5 tour “In the Footsteps of Paul”. I went not knowing anyone – just one person I kind of knew before. I came home with having bonded and becoming friends with everyone in the group. That trip was a massive blessing to me. We laughed and learned and bonded together. We were so tired that we laughed ourselves silly at one point. I will value those new friends forever and am thrilled that we all still want to hang out as much as possible. Love it! Of course I missed Glen – that’s a given – friends just help.
I am very thankful for all the friends who continue to walk this journey of grief and living with me on a regular basis. The standing lunch after church invitation to Rob and Iona’s; the every week supper with David, Katie and Raphael; the standard bred poodle Kabelo who I took care of for David and Katie because Raphael has so many allergies and then they gifted to me for Christmas (with Rapha being an honorary owner ☺! I am thankful for the massages that Katie throws in often to help with the physical pain. The many suppers with Jeremy and Leanne have been uplifting; the phone calls to Cassandra, Glen’s family, the text messages and visits from my step Mom’s family…For all of it, I am thankful. I am conscious of all the friends at church who help me out, for all the people who have come over and helped; for Orlando who has cut my lawn all season; for Rowena consistently being there for me; for Ed who trimmed all the hedges and trees in my yard (I kid you not! Wow!); for my chiropractor who has become a confidante and listened and talked with freedom as I walk through this journey; for Genya who throws in a massage and a hug and an understanding word and smile; for Sandy who calls regularly to talk and make sure I’m ok yet doesn’t treat me with kid gloves; for Bonnie who would hang out and now regularly checks in, for my friends who got my outside light working with the timer and set up the beautiful lights along my driveway…my goodness – I’m sure I’m missing people! God has blessed me beyond words even in the face of incredible difficulty and deep distress. I am thankful for friends who don’t get sick of me saying how very much I miss Glen…so thankful!!
December is here now. It’s the day after the first Christmas without Glen. I am back in Alberta with my boys visiting Glen’s family for Christmas. Glen’s family is very important to me and they are my family. The void is there. The void that Glen going too early has left will always be there. Family that loves us helps. I hosted my family before coming and made a nice turkey dinner. I also was able to attend the Vancouver Cantata Singers Christmas Concert with my friend Sandy and her friends. I sat enraptured with my eyes closed taking in the perfection that I was hearing and being carried away with it to heaven – to Glen and Jesus. I saw Glen singing and heard his voice joining the choir and my eyes leaked more than a few tears. Sigh…I miss him beyond words. I also came away with more new friends as I had a wonderful time meeting Sandy’s friends.
So I was asked the other day – “Is it getting any easier?”
I view that as a difficult question to answer. No, it’s not. I’m walking through life without half of me, yet Jesus is filling that half even as I speak – so yes, He carries me. Grief is hard and grief is life long. I will always miss Glen who is always a part of me yet I am living without that part of me here – like losing a half of my body and doing life without it…so no, it’s not easy. I am still choosing to walk through the rest of my journey with giving Jesus the glory and choosing His joy as my strength. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments in each and every day where my eyes leak tears, or even if I’m smiling that I’m not still thinking about Glen. I hear people’s stories for a living. Life is hard. I hear people’s stories outside of my living. Life is hard. There is the deep grief of losing a loved one such as a spouse or a child that only those of us who go through it fully understand the depth of the sorrow. There are other grief and losses that are completely unnecessary and caused by the division that the great deceiver brings to our world… I experience those grievous losses as well, along with other’s whose Christmas’s are not easy. All we can do is continue to choose joy even as we acknowledge the loss that we bear and the sadness this world brings. Through it all, Jesus came for it all. One day all will be made new and the losses this world has brought us will be recompensed in a big way by the Redeemer who knows how to give His children good gifts.
As we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in the middle of pain and loss I choose to remember the why of this season. Jesus. He brings us all together in our pain, our sorrow and our joy. Because of Him, I am thankful. Come Lord Jesus, come.
It’s Raining Tears as I learn to Walk and not Faint…
October 16, 2019
We just celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend. I can’t say it was especially horrible. Honestly everyday feels like a victory when I make it through to the end. Yet with the end of each day comes the going to bed part. Going to bed has always been a bit of a difficulty for me because I have SO much trouble sleeping so why go to bed? Flawed logic I am aware, yet I dawdle even more now at bedtime than I used to. When Glen was here he would call from bed very patiently, “You planning on coming to bed soon sweetie? I’ve got some kisses for you.”
Of course that got me to bed with a little more speed. But really, what’s the enticement now? Glen isn’t on his side of the bed anymore. He’s in his room in the mansion that God prepared for him. I’m happy for him. I’m just so dang sad for me…
So this Thanksgiving I was teary. I don’t think that anyone else has noticed but I notice. My boys and me spent Thanksgiving not only without Glen but also without any of our extended family. My Dad and Step Mom went back to Manitoba because she’s not doing very well… My brother lives on the Island and is coming in November (when I’m back from my trip to Greece!) so I’ll make a turkey then even though I don’t feel like cooking… Glen’s family is in Alberta and Saskatchewan… so we had a very pleasant Thanksgiving Sunday lunch at our long time friends Rob and Iona Snair. We weren’t the only extras but it was so lovely to be invited and included. I do have so much to be thankful for it’s just hard to see it when I miss my Glen so very much and feel his void so deeply.
There has been a lot going on with many compounding losses in my life and God has had to lead me through to a place where I can still say, “It is well with my soul.” Why is it well? It is well with my soul because I am choosing for it to be well with my soul. I am choosing to believe truth. Truth that God is in control of everything including the good, the bad and the ugly. I am believing the truth that I can trust God even though I don’t understand and I certainly don’t see the big picture. I am believing the truth that Satan continues to try to mess things up and that God does work all things for good according to His purpose, yet that doesn’t mean that we see that good immediately. That good may not be seen until we too are called by God to come home.
The loss of a spouse is one of the more devastating losses to move forward from. (Notice I said move forward, not move on because we do move forward, yet we always grieve the loss because the loss and the love do not ever go away.) With “God is in control” in my mind I also know that He has numbered each of our days.
Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (NLT)
And… Isaiah 57:1-2: “The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from evil to come. For the godly who die will rest in peace.” (NLT)
I know that God has numbered Glen’s days and that I heard what I wanted to hear. I also know, and I don’t say this tritely, that I heard God’s whisper into the deepest part of my spirit, “I’m calling him home child.” I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to write about that. In fact I renounced it because I was so stubbornly hanging onto the miracle that I wanted for Glen – healing on earth. God did give Glen and me exactly what I asked for – healing. Whole and complete healing like we can’t possibly experience here on earth. Healing that only eternity can bring to us mortal souls. And it is in that healing that I rejoice for Glen, and am so bitterly in a state of tears for me, the one left behind. We all long for a miracle, yet we don’t recognize when that miracle actually happens. Glen got a miracle. Did you know that God takes his beloved to spare them from more suffering just as he did for Glen? And I ranted and raged against it begging God for more time, not comprehending that I will get more time eventually – I will get eternity with Glen and Jesus and all my loved one’s eventually. Though that “eventually” seems to last FOREVER here on earth, once we get there, to eternity, we will realize that life before, life on earth, was just the beginning chapter, or even perhaps just the introduction to our lives. (As CS Lewis points out in the last Narnia book). It is then that we go, “Oh!” for all the things we just don’t understand now.
Right now, God is telling me to live part two. And I am. I am choosing joy every day, even when I am not blessed with sleep and wake up in massive pain. Yet joy does not equal happy. I have happy moments, yet I also have sad moments because I don’t ever stop missing Glen.
This quote from the book, Let Me Grieve, But not Forever by Verdell Davis, might sum it up just slightly. When we are looking for the big miracle we miss the small one…
“Then there are those times in life when there is nothing we can do to change the situation, nowhere we can go to get away from the loss, no one who can make things better. The darkness engulfing us makes it impossible to see a way out. All we can do is survive the empty moments as best we can and keep putting one foot in front of the other because we can do that automatically. Whether there will be a tomorrow is inconsequential; indeed, death often seems like a welcome end to the pain of living with the hole in our hearts, or with the guilt, or the shame, or whatever abyss the particular loss opened up. Then we look in vain for a miracle….
Little do we know that the greater miracle in the midst of our grievous storm is when God gives us what we need to simply “walk and not faint.” At first glance this hardly seems like a miracle at all. But then we realize that soaring is out of the question, and there is no more running to be done. The only thing left is the helplessness of a reality that has forever changed the shape of life as se have known it and loved it. Now come the “keep on keeping on” stage, when all we want is to go somewhere so we can coddle the gaping wound we have been left with and trying to survive the unbearable pain. In the darkness of the tunnel, merely “keeping on” becomes a miracle.” Pg 59-60
So perhaps, right now, in this stage of grief that I am in, the miracle is that I am keeping on. I am keeping on in the midst of not only losing my Glen, but also other devastating losses that cause me to rethink my life and what it will look like. Losses that compound the main loss – the loss of Glen.
In the week before Glen passed from here to eternity I was sitting in one chair and him in another in our living room. I honestly don’t remember the conversation that we were having but I know he asked me something and I gave him a short remark that was tinged with anger. I had not done that at all through our marriage and I was as surprised as he was.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “What are you angry about?”
I didn’t know what was in me was going to come out…but it did and I’m glad that it did so that we could grieve him going together.
“I’m watching my husband go to skin and bones in front of my eyes! I’m watching the one I love the most in this entire world die in front of my very eyes and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it!” was my response as I burst into a flood of tears. “Of course I’m angry!”
Glen burst into tears with me and told me to come sit on his lap. I shook my head no and kept crying. “I don’t want to hurt you more than you are hurting already Mon Cherie.”
Glen would hear nothing more about that! “Come!” he ordered gently. “I don’t care if it hurts!”
I needed no more invitation and slid onto his lap – him holding me while he was literally a skeleton and me holding him with both of us sobbing tears of deep heart wrenching anguish.
I am so thankful that we could cry together and spend time together in the last months of his life. I am so thankful that we were able to go to Mexico and Santa Barbara for treatments for him because then we had time to just be us…and it was precious and treasured time that no one, not even the devil, can steal from us.
When we were home, again around a week before he passed, he said to me, “I can’t do this much longer.”
I looked up at him and said, “I know….I know. This too shall pass Mon Cherie.”
He looked at me in complete confusion so I continued.
“We know that either you will be healed here on earth, or you will be healed in heaven. Either way we know that you will be healed.”
He smiled. It brought him hope. What I didn’t say out loud because I wanted to be encouraging to Glen was this. If you are healed here on earth, we will both rejoice. If you are healed in heaven you will be happy, though I think in some different sort of way you will miss me too… if you’re healed in heaven I will be devastated and for the rest of my days I will be tinged with sadness living out my life without you. Trusting that God has this yet grieving my loss …
So what am I learning in this rant that is hopefully understandable to those of you who read this? I am learning that my trust in God is chosen. My trust in God is because He has proven Himself over and over and He knows what He’s doing. My trust in God doesn’t depend on my limited understanding of the situation or situations but rather on my “willingness to believe when all the evidence of the moment asks, “Why should I?””
“We can pour out our screams of unfairness to God until we are empty enough for him to begin to teach us his absolute faithfulness.
We can come to see God, ourselves, and our faith journey with new eyes as we simply hold out our hands and allow him to lead us into a greater awareness of his wisdom.
We can allow him to teach us from the depths what we could never learn in the ecstasy of soaring or the exhilaration of running.
Truly, “to walk and not faint” may not only be the greater miracle, but it may well be our greatest discipler.” (Verdell Davis, pg 62).
So with God carrying me I am learning to walk and not faint. (And if you know me at all you will know that I am more naturally a sprinter through life!) I am learning to trust Him again and again as from day one I chose to say, “I glorify You God and I trust You even though I don’t understand, nor do I like this plan…I trust You. Thank you for walking beside me and allowing me to “walk and not faint.”
Honestly I feel right now like throwing my fist in the air and shouting, “For the KINGDOM!” I’d say that’s a win.
September 11, 2019
Let the Little One’s Lead us…
It’s been awhile since I have written in this portion of my blog. The grief journey…it’s intense. I have lot’s to say but little time to write it! The month of August was very busy and a bit of a blur for me. I launched into the “fast” mode that I know, even though God had told me to rest. I was taking time off from work – wasn’t that rest? Though it was all good stuff that I did, I came out on the other end of August absolutely exhausted. My sprinting pace caught up with me and I am now paying the price – extreme fatigue but back at work. Yup…learning ever so slowly to pace…to say “no”. Man that two letter word is hard for me to use!
What has been prominent on my heart since my time at Camp Squeah is to share about how children have touched my heart so dramatically. I made it my mission to try to engage with as many staff at Camp Squeah as I could. I was there for them and though my personality is smack dab in the middle of “introvert/extrovert” I pushed myself to be brave and try to sit at a different table for every meal so I could converse with and meet each person and their cabin of kids. That lasted until day two…lol. I got to the table with a little eight year old who was self described as “sassy”. Agreed! I loved it as she engaged me in conversation or just sat quietly beside me. (Mostly not quietly though). The other girls in the cabin also talked with me and it was really great. The little sweetie asked me wonderful questions such as, “How old are you?” with a penetrating look. I couldn’t fool her! Her cabin mate joined in the game as I said, “Guess,” feeling a little sassy myself. We finally got to my age and she warmed my heart with, “You don’t look any older than late twenties”. Love it! Then she looked at me and asked if I would join their cabin at every meal. Hmm…How can one say no to that? I felt loved and accepted by the child and her cohorts. I agreed to join them at least once a day for a meal and they were happy with that.
Every time I saw this little group of girls they were excited to see me (and I them!) It is heartwarming to be included, to be “adopted”, to be accepted for really no particular reason except that they like you and you like them.
At one particular meal we were outside having a BBQ. The girls kept eyeing my necklace where Glen’s ring hangs from my neck. They didn’t ask any questions – yet the inquisitive eyes said it all. I held it up and told them. “This was my husband’s wedding ring….” They quietly looked at me as I took a breath and continued, “He passed away in January…” I finished quietly. The one beside me gave me a long empathetic look and then simply leaned over and gave me a big hug. No words. Just a wonderful hug. The one across from me (as it was just the three of us this particular time) gave me the same empathetic look and then quietly asked, “What was he like?”
I smiled. My heart swelled. That was two of the most perfect responses one who is grieving could possibly receive! A hug, and wanting to know all about Glen. An opportunity to talk about my beloved is valued. To share with these wonderful girls who Glen is to me is priceless. Who they need to hold out for in marriage when they get there…someone of intense value who will love them and treat them as the Princess’s that they are… They listened well and asked questions well. It was beautiful and I will always treasure that!
Back at home when I have little one’s over (with their parents), they will inevitably climb onto my lap and gather around me. I’m sure it’s because I love them all so much and they feel it that they come to me. One asked me, “Does DeOrro help?” (with the grief was the conversation as they were asking me questions). “Yes, he sure does,” I responded. And looking at four wonderful children surrounding me I added, “And so do you guys.” They smiled.
Last Sunday after church I dropped in on my wonderful friends who have a toddler. I was really tired and have been fighting a migraine again all week. The toddler struggles with eczema from head to toe so one of the parents (my friends) has to sleep with him for nights and napping in order to keep him from scratching himself to bloody. It’s pretty sad. The toddler is a trooper though. When I walked through the door he was supposed to be napping with his mom. He heard me (oops!) and walked out. He grabbed my hand and led me to his room saying, “Auntie Lolo nap…” I smiled. I could use a nap! So we said, “I love you” to mom and dad and settled in for almost two hours cuddling in a nap. Wonderful! God knew exactly what we both needed and gave his parents a break as well. When this sweet toddler awoke the next morning beside my dear friend he said with his eyes still closed, “I love Auntie Lolo.” He’s a little heart breaker already! ☺
Moral of the story? Be innocent like these wonderful children…Let the little children lead us!
Thursday, August 8, 2019
And God rested…
I have been at Camp Squeah since Sunday at 5pm. When Glen passed away I knew that summer would be difficult so I determined to fill it with things that would give me joy. Camp gives me joy. My boys give me joy. My boys are always at camp so the logical solution for me was to volunteer at least a week at camp. When I talked with Dustin, the summer camp director, I got the regular answer that I was expecting – “We always need volunteers in the kitchen”.
Ugh…No thanks for a few reasons. Right now the kitchen is still a trigger for me. I spent so much time in the kitchen trying to make things Glen could eat and many hours juicing so when I go in the kitchen and try food prep – well – I just don’t want to be there. At all. Also, I have spent decades cooking for family and extended family dropped off at my house so I’m just plain revolting. For now, the least amount of time I spend in the kitchen the better. So I countered with, “How about you allow me to use my gifts instead? I speak, teach and counsel – how about that?”
So, I taught four hours during their staff retreat on anxiety, depression, who we are in Christ and spiritual warfare a tad, and listening/communication skills. The rest of the days I have stayed on as a resource for anyone who needs me. I have been used by the staff here in varying degrees of need of someone to talk to or ask advice from (which I enjoy doing); connecting with the campers a bit (ages 8-9 this week – I forgot how loud that age group is!); and being able to see my boys in action a bit. I even led the staff girls devotional pod at 7:30am yesterday and this morning and enjoyed being there even though I am far from a morning person. And the really good part? Well, there’s a few good parts. One, I don’t have to cook. In fact, I am being absolutely spoiled with different options for food because of my allergies. I even ate tofu. And my own room is handy. When I’m tired I go lie down. When my head hurts really bad I go laser it in front of the mirror (a weird laser trick that helps your cells want to go into place – legitimate chiropractic treatment really!) and then lie down again with a migraine pill. Some of the campers have connected well with me too not even holding it against me that I’m 50! I’m not complaining about time in the pool either. In fact this afternoon I stayed in the pool for a good two hours waiting for the camper group that wanted me to see how well they could swim. It brought me joy. And it made my hands look like prunes for a bit!
While here God has been convicting me about rest. I’m not good at rest but I know that I am in desperate need of rest based on my still exhausted form. I had booked in twenty clients to see in the three days that I was going to be home this August (as I really booked up August with stuff to do). That was just too much alongside horse chores and getting ready to go to Saskatchewan to Glen’s sister and brother in law’s fishing resort along with Glen’s brother and sister in law and all of their families. I’m anticipating that trip to be absolutely amazing and filled with the bittersweet of missing Glen and the boys more than some moments will allow me to bear. It’s been really hard having not only Glen never coming earthly home again, but also having an empty house because the boys are both at camp all summer (Donovan since April). The feeling is akin to everything dear to you being violently ripped from your bosom very suddenly and being left with open bleeding wounds but expected to stand up and get back into the battle with sword swinging and a smile on my face. I’m not sure whose expectations those are but I feel them. Perhaps my own. Only a few have said, “Still not doing well?” I try not to take that to heart! As I’ve mentioned before, grief doesn’t go away with the person. Grief comes in the person’s place and though it changes colors it stays a lifetime in varying degrees moment by moment. That is a normal and natural part of life. But I digress…
Rest. One of my devotionals was the familiar passage that says, “If you know to do something good and don’t do it, that’s sinning.”
Yes, I nod my head silently affirming what that says. In my mind so far it means to reach out, to help when there’s a need, to rarely say no to counselling another person because by the grace of God and with His help perhaps I can be of help. God smiled down at me, graciously and kindly. With love and gentleness He stated the verse to me again. This time He gave me a picture of rest. “If you know to do something good (and that I am telling you to do) and don’t do it,” He said directly to my heart, “You are sinning.”
Bulls eye Lord. Got me. I am really bad at resting. My mind doesn’t rest. My body is restless and jittery. In fact there are many days when it takes will power to sit still in a counselling session and even then I’ve had my observant clients remark on how many times I change position…But at least I’m not shaking my legs rapidly up and down! For me, that’s an accomplishment when the restless leg syndrome hits… So, yeah… really bad at resting.
Then I looked at my overbooked schedule for next week. Twenty clients in three days was five too many. “Cancel it,” the Lord said.
“But!” my heart cried back. “They need me!”
“Oh my child,” He said though not unkindly. “They’re my children. I’ve got them until September. You have just barely lost your beloved and I know the emotional pain that has brought you, on top of the physical pain that has increased since Glen came to my realm. I’ve got them. Now let Me take care of you. Rest.”
That’s pretty hard to argue with. I hope I’m hearing Him correctly on seeing just a few that needed some checks because I don’t want to obey partially. I want to obey fully. My heart is yielded fully and deeply. My body doesn’t always co-operate…
Obedience to rest is perhaps one of the single most difficult things that we who are called to people helping can do. This week and this month, though busy, is one of rest, even in the midst of helping a bit. Feeling useful is something we all need to do. Feeling cared for and rested is a gift. I am praying for each person here with sincerity. I am here if they need me and are able to break away from their duties. In the meantime, I am resting, though imperfectly because I’m not really sure what that means for me yet…maybe, just maybe, I’m learning. By the grace of God go I. What about you?
Sunday July 14, 2019
There is a story in Matthew 12:41-44. Jesus is sitting there in the synagogue watching people. He watched many rich people drop large sums of money into the offering box. Then a poor widow came and only dropped in two small coins. Jesus called His disciples to Him and explains the faith of the widow. He says, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Maybe it’s a jump but I think it relates to faith. This morning I heard the miracle story of a young man diagnosed with stage four cancer. Sounds familiar, says my entire memory. This man and his wife loaded up their newly renovated camper van and headed to Issels, the exact same place that Glen and I went for our healing miracle. They had the same faith as us. They went all in and trusted in God for healing him. The cancer was in his liver, a mass on his lungs…It looked dire but they were still trusting in God to their last penny. So far the story is ours – mine and Glen. The similarities end there, thankfully. The treatment is working for this young man and he is granted more years with his wife and family – and praise God for that! I am super excited for them! The man relating the story continued on saying that this young couple was glorifying God no matter what the end result would be.
I concur. How many times in our story have I reiterated that no matter what we will continue to give God the glory? It just seems harder when you’re on what feels like the losing end of the battle… and I continue to choose faith. Faith that God did what had to be done in order to fulfill His plan. Faith that though I don’t like the seeming “no” answer we got to maintain Glen’s life here on earth, that God is in control and we are continuing to live out our lives according to God’s ultimate purpose, plan and story. Faith that our little thread of the story line will become a part of the greater whole creating that beautiful tapestry, that never ending story of our gracious and loving God. So who has the greater faith? The one’s who gave all and got the answer they wanted or the one’s who gave all and got the “no”? I don’t think that question can be answered in full or even in part. I do believe that perhaps the faith is the same and it is in the continual choosing that it grows.
My mind goes a million miles an hour on many things. One of those things is prayer and faith. I have poured over what I thought was from God and concluded that it was indeed from God – but my interpretation was lacking. When God said, “I will heal Glen fully, trust” (paraphrased from the many conversations from God) I heard what I wanted to – that Glen would be healed here on earth. I do believe that my mind, though knowing that Glen could die, refused to believe that a good God would do that to us. How can a good God take a good man who is doing good things for God here on earth? How can a good God leave a faithful woman who is in partnership with the good man as a widow? If God equals good then the resulting emotion from the actual turn of events doesn’t add up.
So here’s the real scoop. God is a good God. Period. I have reminded myself what I have taught others for years – that God always answers prayer. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no, and sometimes it’s wait. With Glen we got a clear answer. The answer was a resounding, “Yes! I’m healing Glen! I’m bringing him home to fulfill the greater plan!” Though the answer of “yes” feels like an answer of “no” here on earth, the answer is still yes – and no in a way. Either way, Glen is healed. Either way, God is a good and loving God. God is pure love. Radiant love. Shining love. God made a way for us to come home. Yes, I want to go home. No, I don’t want to leave my boys as orphans. Yes, I want to see Glen ASAP. Yet, the Lord tells me there is more for me to do here. Yes, I am exhausted with fighting my body and grief. No, I will not give up the fight. Yes, I still choose faith – and maybe it’s a stronger faith because it is definitely a faith without sight. I didn’t get the answer I want yet I know that God is a good God who is suffering with me. God is not a God who is just standing there watching me suffer. He is all in. How do I now this? Jesus died for me and took everything on himself so that “everything” includes the suffering I now endure living without my beloved. That “everything” included the suffering that Glen went through with his body being wracked with cancer. That “everything” includes those victories the young couple is experiencing. That “everything” includes all that is good and all that is bad. God does not delight in making His children suffer and cry. He is a good Father who gives good gifts.
We are in a world that is filled with evil yet Jesus has overcome the world. We too have overcome the world if we believe. That’s the bottom line. Belief. I believe and I give God glory for healing my man more completely than I even realize. I believe and I give God glory for sustaining our boys and me as we continue to sojourn in a foreign land and wait for God to call us home. We will all be called home at some point and we know not when. In the meantime I believe and continue to do the work that He has prepared before hand for me to do for His glory.
I believe. Our sincerest desire and prayer for all who bear witness to our journey was just this – that no one would walk away from our good and loving God if Glen went home early. Don’t let what you may consider unanswered prayer stop you from believing – even if you’re basing that unbelief on our story. Choose today to believe. God is worth it. This life is brief and hard, yet still filled with joys. We can endure suffering because HE is suffering with us and holding us. Eternity has already begun here on earth. Lord, let your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…
July 2, 2019
A Bit About Grief…
The days are going by without my beloved and each day I miss him tremendously. I walk past the large picture of Glen that my friend took and stare at him. His eyes follow me as I move, but then again, his eyes always did follow me in life so this is not much different. Except he’s actually not here. I find that really weird. His passing to the next realm is still beyond surreal for me. I’m sure that I could convince myself that he’ll be home soon; that he’s just on a really long trip and there’s no wifi (just like when we were dating and I was in Europe)…but it’s not true. The true part is that this is a normal part of grieving. In many ways I do believe that he’s just on a trip that is unbearably long. The other true part of it is that he really went somewhere and he is more alive than we are here…and certainly happier than I am for sure.
I have come to some different conclusions with losing someone this important to me. These conclusions could be right or wrong – honestly I don’t know and right now I don’t care. (Although psychologically speaking…they are the norm…just saying…) The conclusions are getting me through the day. I know grief. I am well acquainted with suffering, loss and grief. I have many losses in my life through people I know dying (friends and family – a rather long list including my Mom who passed away from cancer in 2010); illness most of my life (contracting Lyme disease at age 10 but not knowing what is was until 2015 and then my son getting it from me through pregnancy); and other losses throughout life. There are many losses throughout life. Losing a spouse is hard. Really hard. Our love was pure, strong, radiant. We both rated our marriage at a 9.5/10 at the very least and that was only because we were trying to be modest. As one of my very understanding clients said today, “The deeper the love, the deeper the hurt and the pain.” Agreed.
So one of the conclusions I have come to about grief is that those who are grieving grieve hard. When a person dies, and then another person dies, and then another, the grieving can become more complicated. Each grief triggers the other losses and we grieve another layer of pain.
Those grieving are grieving their past, their present and their future with the loss of spouse or child. It all feels empty and we are not even sure why we need to keep doing the mundane things of life. We certainly don’t care to pay bills, wash dishes or in my case even eat. When I grieve I can hardly get food down because my stomach just really hurts. (Though, just to clarify, I am eating!) Others want to eat all the time for comfort and to numb the pain. There is a loss of discipline in life around food, family, exercise…just because we don’t really care and really, does it matter? I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but the feeling is that it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters – yet it does. One doesn’t care – yet one does care. Deeply.
With grief there is an exhaustion that runs excruciatingly deep. Sleep is extremely difficult to come by. Most of us can’t sleep at least for the first year without the aid of sleep help in some form or another. For me, already struggling with insomnia since I was born and Lyme Disease robbing me of the rest of my ability to sleep – let’s just say that if I didn’t take something (herbal and zzquill or allergy pills or something!) I wouldn’t sleep at all no matter how tired I am.
There is also an increase in pain. Whether one is already dealing with a disease or something wrong or not it magnifies and increases the pain. Every symptom becomes aggravated and excruciating. When my Mom passed into Heaven’s glory I had forty people over three days in a row. When the week ended I collapsed and every fiber in my being was in mass amounts of pain. I was sure I had been hit with a Mac truck. With Glen passing…it’s still that way…except the pain is massively bigger. Unlike other losses, significant losses like losing Glen make the pain linger…longer…
One walks around with a litany of emotions. The dominant emotion is an underlying cacophony of sadness. It doesn’t mean that one doesn’t enjoy life. We still laugh and choose to live. We still have joy. We can still go whale watching (which I did on Saturday to help my friend celebrate her 49th birthday!) and have a blast going fast on a zodiac, totally enjoying every minute of being outside and seeing the magnificence of whales, but it doesn’t mean the sadness is gone. It co-exists and mingles with the joy of life.
Here’s an odd thing that’s happening…crazy or not I really don’t care…I talk to Glen all the time and most of the time I hear him answering me. Whether it is the Holy Spirit speaking for him or him speaking to me directly I do not know. I think it’s a combination. Perhaps it’s just what I think he would say to me because I know him so well. It doesn’t matter. What I have come to believe, through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit on this matter in earnest, is that we are still bonded together as soul mates. The Lord has told me to lay aside what I think I know of heaven but still rely on biblical principles for my beliefs…and in all honesty I think we’re all going to be pleasantly surprised when we get there. I do believe that Glen and I have much more to accomplish together throughout eternity and that we will always be partners – this is just a lull in the partnership – my goodness I miss him! And just to make a note here, I don’t hear my Mom or friends, or aunts, uncles, grandparents respond to me like I “hear” Glen. I am bonded to Glen in a different way. “And the two shall become one…”
I did some premarital counselling tonight and was surprised I didn’t burst into tears while talking about my relationship as an example. The advice I was giving was to make sure you tell your spouse daily how much you love them. I’m a words person – I know, surprising. I told Glen so often throughout the day how much I loved him and he told me back. I didn’t want him to think I was being trite by saying it many times so I told him that too. Often, it was the only thing in my head. I would look at him and think, “God, I love him so much! Thank you…” so I would tell him that.
One more thing coming to mind. “I guess it takes a few years…” I hear people say. Yes. It does. Grieving someone you love, primarily a child or a spouse takes “a few years” and then some. Grieving is a LIFE LONG PROCESS. One does not just “get over it” so don’t ever say that to anyone who is grieving. We will continue to miss the person. Grieving just changes colors as the months and years go by. At first the pit of grief is dark and black. As we sit in it, as sit in the suffering, as we must do if we will ever climb out of that particular pit, we look around for the treasures and gems that we will find. We become stronger and emerge as different somehow. We don’t even know how we have done it but we slowly find the color of the pit of grief changing. It becomes a dark grey, then slowly a dark blue, and continues to lighten. There are still times of intense darkness and blackness and overwhelmingly missing the person as we are thrown into tears. I would trade all of this for having Glen back…all of us in grief would. When in grief we still keep living and choosing life. We “move forward” but we don’t forget and we don’t stop loving that person. Those people. Ever.
Grief is not something we choose. Grief is the result of a fallen world. God didn’t choose this for us either. God allows it because He has a bigger plan than we can even imagine. God calls His people home when He knows it’s their time. Their story is not finished yet. Our story intermingling with their story – those already called home to that realm just beyond our reach – it’s not finished yet. God is still writing it. Perhaps we need to get out of the way and let Him write… I know that God grieves with us because in Jesus’ death He suffered and took on Himself EVERYTHING that we have ever suffered. So we really are not alone, even if it feels that way.
God, keep writing…and come soon Lord Jesus. Come.