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.