Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Time {Updated}

I find myself thinking about what we were doing this time last year. Sometimes a memory will be jogged by a receipt I come across, an old email, or a calendar entry. I did remember that our IVF was last March, and I looked back at my old blog to see exactly when all that took place because it had become nothing but a blur. Turns out that the three-day transfer took place on March 6th last year - almost exactly one year prior to the date of Michael's passing. What a difference a year makes.

When I think about this time last year, I remember that I was sorely disappointed that the IVF didn't work. But, I also remember beginning to reconcile the possibility that we may not be able to have children. We still had a lot of hope for our FET and some ideas of what we might do if that didn't work, but I was coming to terms with a life that might not turn out the way we planned. I know Michael was thinking the same thing because he told me we'd have a good life no matter what and we'd travel the world together. I think I gave him a raised eyebrow in response, but I did have the thought that somehow life would be okay if we weren't able to have kids so long as we were doing life together.

That really was a healthy response to a situation that I only had limited control over, and it spoke volumes about how happy just being with Michael made me.

So, this time last year he had that nasty cough and was going to see the pulmonologist, but other than that we were blissfully ignorant of what we'd learn in mid-May. We celebrated Easter with my family, started a daily walking routine, had a garage sale, and planted tomatoes for a summer harvest. Everyday was a good one just because we were able to share it.

Presently, I'm really struggling with the loneliness. I've been lonely for Michael before when we were separated by choice or because of his travel schedule, but he always came back. Our times apart were always short-lived. I truly believe that we'll be reunited one day and have all of eternity, but what about all the time between now and then? Time seems like an obstacle that needs to be overcome at best, or an enemy to be defeated at worst. And people say things like:

It just takes time.

It's going to take some time.

Give it time.

Time heals all wounds.

Time! Time! Time! On the one hand I didn't have enough, and on the other hand I it seems I have too much.


After writing this earlier today, I searched the Bible for references to time. Of course I came across Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

I have to admit that my response to these familiar verses was something like yada, yada, yada. They just didn't resonate with me at the time. But I went to church tonight, and Pastor Bayless was preaching about three seasons (times) of life we might find ourselves in. I don't think it was a coincidence that he was preaching on that subject. In fact, he said he planned to preach on something else, but felt led to change his message last night. The verses in Ecclesiastes were the first ones he referred to, and that made me smile. But as he continued preaching, he used 1 Peter 1:3-9:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

And 1 Peter 5:6-11:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Using those verses he spoke about a season (a time) of trials, and using what I've bolded above he emphasized that these trials do not last but for "a while" or "a little while". Like spring turns to summer, and summer turns to fall, and so forth. Intellectually, I knew that. We all know that. But it was so good to be reminded.

I struggled with this post today because I wanted to end it with some hope - for my sake and for yours - but I was stuck. I was already planning to go to church tonight, and then Pastor Bayless posted on Facebook that he was going to be preaching about three seasons of life, and I knew I had to hear what he was going to say. I'm so glad I went.

In a while a new season of life will begin for me. That's a promise I can count on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Money Talks

Within a day or two of Michael's passing, I was on the phone to his employer's accountant inquiring as to how I needed to go about collecting the pre-retirement death benefit. We had some paperwork that showed that benefit was going to be five-figures, and while it wasn't a whole lot of money, it was a nice sum and it would allow me to pay off Michael's remaining debts with half of it, and put the rest in savings. I was comfortable with that idea.

But today, after driving all the way up to Encino and talking with someone who works for the plan administrator, I came to learn that it is unlikely that I will ever see that five-figure amount. Turns out the plan has been underfunded and hit hard by the lousy market, so the best they can offer me is fifty percent of the amount I thought I'd be getting, minus twenty percent they have to withhold for taxes. After that, I will receive less than $30 per month from now on. That'll pay for all of a pedicure...

Unbelievable! I've already told you how Michael's employer never acknowledged his passing. Well now we know he's not managing his employees pension fund very well either. I feel badly for anyone who's thinking they are going to get much of anything out of it in the future. I always knew Michael's employer was cheap, but this is repugnant!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I had my first session with a counselor yesterday. She's a Christian marriage and family therapist, but she has a lot of experience with counseling people through grief, too.

She asked me to tell her my story and I think I covered a lot of ground. She listened well and I think she was able to get a strong sense of our journey as a couple. One thing that she said really illuminated my understanding of Michael's relationship with and his feelings toward his ex-girlfriend, and that was that she said it was "codependent". I think I knew that to some degree, but I had shied away from that word since knowing someone long ago who had overused it. Teresa, you know just who I'm talking about. ;)

My counselor also said that is true of how some of the members of Michael's family are relating to the ex-girlfriend. In light of that, she said at some point I will have to express how their inclusion of this woman makes me feel, and that it will be reasonable for me to let them know that I will not attend family gatherings if she is invited and/or present. That was incredibly affirming for me, and I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my chest.

I do not look forward to having to have that conversation with my mother-in-law, but I will do so when the time is right. I will be able to do so knowing that it's healthy for me. I should not have to suck it up and endure her presence. She may have been a significant person in Michael's life and she may have developed friendships with his family members, but she was not his wife. I was.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Journaling Exercise

One of the books I'm reading now is Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse, by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries. It's written from both a clinical and pastoral perspective. I appreciate that balanced approach. As I've come to be a committed Christian, I filter most everything through my spiritual understanding. It's hard to separate it from the rest of my life now.

So, I've come to the fourth chapter where the authors advise me to take charge of my grief with a number of suggestions. One of the first is journaling. I used to journal in a blank book when I was younger. I'm glad that I did that because I was able to find those journals recently and reread a lot of the early history I had with Michael. Once when I was fed up with him (before we were in a committed relationship), I attempted to burn them. For whatever reason they didn't catch fire, and I still have them. I will treasure them from now on.

Anyway, I've been blogging for more than four years, and I consider this to be my journal. So, I'm going to complete this journaling activity here instead of writing it down.

Begin journaling about your deceased spouse by responding to the following questions:

What do I miss most about my spouse?
There is not just one thing! I miss his incredible warmth and openness. He was so easy-going and approachable. He had an incredible smile that just took my breath away. He was the life of the party and I loved to hear him laugh. I could go on and on. He was just such a wonderful man.

What do I wish I had asked or said to my spouse?
I think we were able to express everything that we wanted to and needed to prior to his passing. In the last two or three months leading up to his death, Michael had worked though a lot of issues regarding his past and his spirituality. That led to a lot of good conversations, and I do believe I said everything I needed to then.

What do I wish I had done or not done?
One thing I've considered is how might things have been different when we first met if I'd held on to my convictions instead of throwing caution to the wind and acting on my feelings for him. I do believe we were meant to be together, and so I wonder if I'd been stronger about what I needed from him if he would have figured some things out sooner that took him years and years to instead.

What do I wish my spouse had said or not said?
Michael said everything I needed him to say. Like I said, he processed so many things in the last couple months of his life. He made me and my friends and our family members aware of his regrets and how he would have married me years and years ago if he'd only known then what he knew now. As much as I hated to see him wrestle with regret, I was pleased that he had come to a point in life where he finally knew what was really important to him.

What do I wish my spouse had done or not done?
I just wish he'd gone to the doctor when that cough first starting in October 2008. If he had been diagnosed sooner perhaps he would have responded to treatment better and we would have had more time together. All speculation, of course.

What did I value most about our relationship?
It was so easy to be together. We rarely disagreed or argued about anything. We simply enjoyed being together.

What was hurtful or angering about our relationship?
The guilt he carried for so long about breaking up with his ex-girlfriend. The way he let her have a place in his family above us. The way he let his sister-in-law shun me and say mean-spirited things about me.

What special memories do I have of my spouse and what memories will I keep alive?
That's a tough question for me to answer. Right now I have so many memories and they are all precious to me. I guess I'll know better how to answer that as time goes by.

What will I take with me as part of my spouse and our relationship to cherish?
This is another tough one! I will definitely take with me his joie de vie. Michael loved life. As for our relationship, I think I will always cherish how friendship was the foundation for our great love. He truly was my best friend.

What living situation is difficult to deal with now without my spouse?
Living alone and being single again are both difficult things for me. I really felt like I was freer to be myself in the context of marriage than I'd ever been on my own. That has been taken from me now.

If you've read thus far, thanks for taking the time to do so. I just want to incorporate these grief activities into my blog so I'll have a place to reflect on them later.

Back to the Future

Last night, I spent a couple of hours going through Michael's email inbox. It appeared to me that in the two years he'd had the laptop, that he'd never deleted ninety percent of the emails he received. This shouldn't have surprised me. We've already established that he was a pack rat, or as his good friend has said, a "collector".

I kept the more personal emails between us, or between him and friends. The ones between us were usually short and loving. If we were both intently working on our laptops, he would often stop what he was doing and write a sweet little email to me so that I'd receive it right away. He did the same thing with his iPhone, texting me sweetness throughout the day. There were also some really thoughtful, concerned, encouraging emails from friends after they learned that Michael had cancer. I kept those, too.

And, several of the emails I kept had photo attachments to them. I will be going through and making sure each one gets saved into a photo file on Michael's computer. I don't want to lose anything like that.

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. I felt very unsettled. One minute I was calling Teresa and making plans to visit her for the weekend, and the next I was backing out. I wanted to escape. I wanted to be home. I wanted to flee. I wanted to crawl into bed. It was very confusing. Thankfully, as the day progressed, I settled down a bit. Wrote some thank you notes, did some reading, and so on. My housekeeper and her mom were also here for several hours and I think it helped to have other people in the house. I just ensconced myself in the patio room while they did their thing. Pastor Ray called, and we had a good talk. He's such a good guy. And then my parents came up and made dinner for me. That was nice. I was tired enough by the time they left to go to bed, but I got caught up in Michael's emails and stayed up until midnight with that little project.

I think because of that, I had a dream about Michael last night. We were a couple years back in time and he was healthy, but we had foreknowledge of what was to come with his illness. We were scrambling to get some doctor to order a CT scan for him so that we could catch the cancer earlier and hopefully defeat it. I woke up before the dream ended and thankfully it didn't make me sad. But I have often thought, and just discussed with Michael's sister, how different things might have been if it had been caught earlier. We talked about how his original urologist didn't correlate anything between Michael's varicocele and other potential problems. How he didn't do anything to figure out why Michael had an elevated PSA all these years, other than the prostate biopsies that always came back normal. Being that RCC is a urological cancer, all these things are interconnected somehow, but no one (meaning no doctor) was doing anything other than the routine about it. Just goes to show how little experience most doctors have with kidney cancer. I don't blame Dr. S, the original urologist, he's just human and obviously wasn't focused on the right thing when we needed him to be. Who knew?

As for today, I am having my first visit with my new counselor. When I made my appointment earlier in the week, I didn't really think it was all that necessary. I guess I was still riding along on all the activity and company I'd had in the two weeks since Michael passed. But after the stuff I had to work through yesterday, I'm ready to sit down and talk.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pursuing Peace

Since Michael's passing, I've learned that not only am I sad and lonely, but I now have all sorts of loose ends to tie up - mostly regarding financial things like disability payments and the death benefit from his pension plans. Of course nothing like that is ever easy. In fact, it's rather frustrating at times.

I'm also having to deal with my hurt feelings regarding Michael's family and their ongoing relationship with an ex-girlfriend of Michael's. It's a long story that I might blog about more someday, but I will tell you that this woman (who despises me) was welcomed by my in-laws to both the mass and memorial service. Her presence was hurtful to me, and I thought it really inappropriate as well. Anyway, I can foresee that she will be invited to family gatherings once again now that Michael is gone, and that's really concerning me. I just don't think I'll be able to handle that.

I guess because I like to have things figured out and resolved, these issues nag at me. Truthfully, the ex-girlfriend issue nags at me more than the financial issues do because it's a heart thing.

So last night, at that point in the evening when I miss him the most, I was really bogged down with all this stuff. My heart was heavy with sadness, loneliness, frustration, and anger.

I've been ending my days with time in the Word, so I picked up my Bible intending to read Psalm 37. But on my way there, I came across Psalm 34. I had highlighted some of the verses in that Psalm previously and they caught my eye. I took the time to read the entire thing, and the commentary about it. I have a Life Application Bible. All that means is that there is commentary on almost every verse in the Bible. It's useful for understanding scripture, and since it's a Life Application Bible, the commentary is geared towards how one can apply the scriptural truths to one's life. But, I digress...

I read it out loud. Buffy listened intently - she loves the Psalms. ;)

And it was all good, but a couple of things really resonated with me.

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him. (Verse 8)

Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it. (Verse 14)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. (Verse 18)

As I considered that Psalm, and continued to read Psalm 37, my heavy heart grew lighter and I felt encouraged instead of discouraged about my circumstances. That's the thing about the Word of God. It's not just words on a page. There's power in it if you are in Him, and it can soothe your soul like nothing else. I remember a few years back to a time in my life where I was a believer, but I did not spend time in the Word. The result was that I was easily overwhelmed by my troubles, and I wasn't having much impact in my life for Christ. As the body needs food for nourishment, the soul needs to be nourished by God's Word.

At this point, I was really drowsy, but I wanted a sneak peak at a new book I had received earlier in the day. I know one of my blogging friends recommended it, but I can't remember who right now. Anyway, the book is simply called Heaven and the author is Randy Alcorn. I ordered it because since Michael's passing I find comfort in knowing that he's in Heaven with the Lord and that I will see him again. That belief has driven me to want to understand all I can about the place where my husband is. There are a lot of books written about the afterlife, but I'm only interested in reading those that are aligned with what's in the Bible and that's what this book is all about. I just read the introduction and the first chapter last night, but I'm excited to keep reading and gain new insights about Heaven. It's my final destination, too.

All that to say that shifting my focus from the things that stress me out to the truth of God's Word went a long way towards calming me and preparing me for a restful night's sleep. God is good!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oranges & Onions

Last night my sweet neighbor Jan left a bag of oranges on my front porch. I took a look at them and thought they would be good for juicing this morning.

But I can't bring myself to juice them right now. Michael loved fresh squeezed orange juice. We would go to the farmers market nearly every weekend so he could buy a bag of oranges for juicing. He would only buy oranges from one vendor there, and he got to know the sales ladies by name. He made friends wherever he went. Then each morning while I was getting ready for work, he would prepare me a delicious hot breakfast and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. I really miss sharing breakfast with him. It was such a sweet way to start the day.

In my grief, I'm finding it hard to enjoy food, and I think a lot of that has to do with how much we enjoyed food together. Michael did most of the cooking because he was a picky eater, but we also enjoyed cooking new recipes together, and we had quite a few favorite restaurants we liked. He introduced a lot of new foods to me, especially Filipino dishes that I'd never even heard of before.

We both hated onions. That made cooking and eating together easy. If an order came out with onions because we'd forgotten to tell the server "no onions", Michael would carefully pick them out of the dish for us before we began to eat. I loved that he would do that. Last night I went out to get some tacos, and I specifically asked that they not put the pico de gallo on them. But, they didn't listen to me, and I was too tired to ask them to fix my order. So, I picked off what I could, but a few onions got by me. I'm still tasting them this morning. Blech!

There. I started with oranges and then segued to onions. That's sort of symbolic of my life right now. Sigh...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Case of the Missing Condolences

Okay, I had a really hard time coming up with a title for this one. I don't know what compelled me to do a Nancy Drew, but bear with me.

Michael was a very successful professional musician. By "successful" I do not mean that he made a lot of money, because he didn't. What I mean is that he was given a lot of opportunities locally and internationally to play music. That's all he ever wanted to do.

The job by which I think he most defined his success was playing guitar for a well-known entertainer who shall remain nameless here. Michael played in that band for about fifteen years, traveling the world with them, and he was very well-liked by his boss.

When Michael was diagnosed, his boss seemed genuinely concerned and tried to help put us in touch with some doctors he knew. After what would be Michael's final performance with the band last June, his boss flew us home on his private jet so that Michael didn't have to endure the rigors of a commercial flight. We really appreciated that.

After that, we didn't hear from his boss much. Sometimes he would have his people call us and inquire how Michael was doing. Shortly before Michael discontinued treatment, we received a call from his boss and I had to take the call because Michael was showering. I would describe the intention of that call as purely information gathering, and I didn't really pick up on much compassion or concern for either of us. I did my best to answer his questions about Michael's condition (not that it was any of his business!), and I remember telling his boss that I knew Michael would enjoy talking to him, and I suggested that he call back later in the week.

We never heard from him again.

He did not attend the memorial service for Michael, even though he lives close enough to have done so, and he was not on the road at the time.

He did not dedicate the show the weekend after Michael's passing to Michael, or make any mention of his passing to his fans. Michael was a fan favorite. He had a high profile in the band.

He has not sent a card or flowers. However, I received a lovely card from his sister. I didn't even know he had a sister. She signed her name, and then she put "So-and-So's sister" in parentheses so I'd know who she was.

It's just so weird to me. I have heard from dozens of people who hadn't seen Michael in years, but heard of his passing. I've got a stack of sympathy cards you wouldn't believe. My home looks like a floral shop because so many bouquets have been delivered here. But his boss could not be bothered to send condolences in any way, shape, or form. I wish I knew why.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Beautiful Thing to Consider

I awoke too early this morning. It was just after six o'clock, and not even Buffy was stirring from her slumber just yet. Yet I awoke to the sounds of the birds chirping outside my window, and the aching in my back (it's time to rotate the mattress). I also felt a bit anxious upon awakening. I tried to settle back down and continue sleeping, but it just wasn't happening. So, I got up and fed the dog, checked my email, and then determined to crawl back in bed for a while and watch television.

Because I was feeling anxious, I wanted to watch something that would soothe my soul and that's kind of an oxymoron. Isn't it? In fact, there's a lyric in a James Taylor song that goes Can't get me no Light from a tv screen. Amen to that! But being Sunday morning, I had some "religious programming" to choose from. I know, you're probably thinking of the cringe-worthy stereotypical television evangelist, but actually there are a lot of excellent preachers with television ministries, my own pastor included. This morning I came across one of my favorites - David Jeremiah - and he was speaking about children and Heaven. I decided to watch because of what I'm going through right now, I want to know everything the Bible says about Heaven.

He got to a point where he was talking about what happens to babies lost to miscarriage and abortion, and he showed scripturally that they are with the Lord. He asserted that children are from the moment of conception, and since I agree with that I was able to have an ah ha! moment. In Heaven, right now, Michael and our four lost embryos/babies are together. It was such a powerful and beautiful thing to consider that I was moved to tears, and it gave me great comfort.

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." ~ Matthew 19:13-14.

What a beautiful way to be blessed first thing this morning when I was feeling anxious and aware that today marks two weeks since Michael's passing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just Checking In

I've spent the last two nights here on my own, and I've done really well. I hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying so! The first night I was a little restless and I found that my sleeping medication just didn't do the trick. My doctor had given me something else for anxiety and I took that about halfway through the night and slept well from then on. Last night was even easier. I stayed up so late working on a little project that I had no trouble getting to sleep.

My little project is converting my old blog into a book using Blurb. Eventually I want to remove the blog, but I wanted to have it as a keepsake of our marriage - our journey. I'm just getting started with it, and I'm excited to see how it will turn out.

I've been spending time with friends and family, but I'm also enjoying some time to myself. The last couple of months were so demanding that I didn't really have any time for that, and as an introvert I need some quiet time to recharge. I'm trying to finish the latest Diana Gabaldon book and catch up on the shows I've got on the DVR - both are a good distraction. And I listen to worship music - there's so much good music to comfort me. I'm hooked on Sara Groves' When the Saints right now. Consider these lyrics - they just speak to me:

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I've seen and know
It's more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I cannot let it go

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it's all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind
it often overwhelms me
but when I think of all who've gone before and lived the faithful life
their courage compells me
And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharohs court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man's side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
and when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them

Like I said, those lyrics just move me and I find myself playing that song over and over again. My pain is not unique. Many have suffered and experience great losses. I am in good company, and when the saints go marching in I want to be one of them.

Emotionally, I'm finding that my grief is eased by knowing that Michael is safe and sound with the Lord. When I am sad or troubled, I remind myself of that. I imagine him healthy, happy, purposeful, and playing the guitar in some incredible heavenly worship session. He is well and I will see him again.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, the apostle Paul writes:

And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don't want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus. ~ The Message

That's good stuff. I would be inconsolable if Michael had rejected Christ, but he didn't and so my grief is lessened. I still wouldn't wish my circumstances on anyone else, but I have a hope and a promise in Him and that's good enough for me right now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Taking Some Time Off

Today I was given the huge blessing of having the remainder of the school year off. My doctor agreed that I have had enough stress and strain over the last year or so, and that I will benefit from having time off to heal. She prescribed a medical leave of absence for me, and my school district is accommodating me. I am so relieved and thankful.

I just know that I have nothing left to give my students at this point. I don't have the energy or the patience. They deserve the best and I am not in a position to give it to them. I'm confident that their present substitute teacher will finish the year with them and provide them a good education.

In the months to come, I will have to live through my grief - whatever that may be like. I hope to travel a little bit and see some good friends, take a daily walk with my dog, spend time with the Lord in prayer and in study, get to church at least once a week, and attend a grief group. I have a few other ideas, but I'm trying to take it one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself. However, it's my nature to plan and prepare. I don't think I'll be sitting around twiddling my thumbs, but if that's what I need to do then I'll do it.

Changing the subject a bit, my mom and I stopped by Michael's niche today because they installed a vase on the exterior of it. Our contact at the cemetery said he would be having some fresh flowers put in it before our visit. I really liked how that turned out, and then my mom made arrangements for it to have fresh flowers every week for the next three months. I don't know how often I'll feel the need to stop by Michael's niche, because I know he's not there, but I think it's a nice way to honor his memory right now.

Lastly, Teresa left for home this morning. I'm spending my first afternoon on my own, and I think I may be up for being home on my own tonight, too. My sister has offered to spend the night, but I don't think I'll need her to. I'm enjoying the quiet, and I've got Buffy here for company. Please pray for me to be at peace here at home on my own tonight and from here on out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thank You

Posted on my old blog earlier:

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been so loving and supportive during this difficult season. Michael passed from this life to the next knowing he was loved by so many. What more could any of us ask for, right?

Today's memorial service was befitting Michael's spirit in so many ways. From the group of musicians who shared their talents to honor his memory, to the hundreds of friends and family members who attended and offered their condolences. When I began to plan Michael's memorial service, it was my intention that we honor him for who he was - and he was so wonderful - and give glory to God for what he had done in Michael's life. Because if Michael hadn't asked Jesus into his heart, we wouldn't have been able to celebrate much of anything today. It just would have been a sad occasion for a nice guy who died too young.

We're all going to leave this earth one day. Some of us will learn that we have a terminal illness like Michael did, and we'll have time to reevaluate our lives and perhaps choose to embrace the gift of life that Christ offers us. Others will die unexpectedly without the time to contemplate the pages of the Bible and the claims of Christ. But one way or the other, we are all going to have to stand on the choice we made or didn't make in this lifetime. So, I'll advise you as I advised my dear husband on a late summer day last year when we first came to understand how aggressive his cancer was - don't leave this world without Jesus. I praise God he listened to me for in doing so he not only assured his salvation, but he also gave me the gift of comfort and peace I could only have in knowing he believed.

This blog began as my marriage did. It was a new season of life full of hopes and dreams for a long, happy marriage and lots of babies. I know that God will still make all things new, but I'm going to need a new space for my blogging to continue in a more private way. I have already invited most of my blogging friends to join me at my new site, but if you would like to be invited, please email me. I will consider each request carefully. And know that if I don't give you the link, it's not personal. I just need a space where I can be honest about being a young widow and living through this season of grief.

With love to you all,

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Niche

This morning, Michael’s urn was installed in his niche. I added one of my favorite photos of him on our wedding day, and a model guitar. The poem on the urn reads, “Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Today’s event (for lack of a better word) was attended by a small group of family, with the exception of Teresa and a dear friend of Michael’s who will be unable to attend Wednesday’s memorial service. He and Michael played in the PA road band for many, many years and were like brothers. I knew it was important for this friend to be a part of something so that he could have some closure.

After we installed the items in the niche, Pastor Ray said a few words and led us in prayer. The ambience in the mausoleum was just beautiful with the running water of the water feature, and the sunshine streaming in through the glass ceiling. It will be a peaceful place for friends and family to visit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One Week

It’s been a week since…

It’s so hard to finish that sentence.

Last Sunday night there was a sort of relief and peace that I assume comes after a long battle like that. The weeks leading up to that day were full of visitors, and Michael was becoming more and more physically dependent on me. It was exhausting. So when he slipped away, I was able to release some of the tension I’d been holding. I cried. I took an Ambien. I went to sleep.

The last time he’d been coherent was Friday. During a visit from his mother’s priest, Michael had referred to me as “my good wife”. His last words to me were “I love you”. He was so sweet and loving all along.

I have been surrounded by friends and family all week. My dear friend Teresa came down from San Francisco on Monday, and she will be here with me for several more days. She and my family have been hard at work cleaning and organizing. They cleaned out the patio room and redecorated it for me. It’s no longer an overflow for the garage, but a second living and dining space. I absolutely love it.

Monday night I was either overcome with grief or food poisoning. After being at the funeral home for a couple of hours my stomach was in knots. The rest of the night was just awful, and I had to call my doctor for help. I told her I thought I must be sick with grief, and I asked her if that’s normal. She said it was, and she prescribed some things for my upset stomach and my nerves. It was an awful night.

Friday Michael’s family had a funeral mass for him. I was not involved in the planning of that at all. It was nicely done and I know it meant a lot to Michael’s mother. However, when I arrived it was obvious that Michael’s ex-girlfriend had been more involved in the preparations than I, and I was angry and hurt about that. She sat with his family, while I was directed to sit with my mine on the other side of the aisle. That made me cry, but one of Michael’s sisters, whom I have a good relationship with, came over and sat with me. There are a lot of things I could write here to express my hurt and anger about that situation, but I’m trying not to let bitterness get a hold in my heart.

Teresa and I have been busy preparing for the memorial service on Wednesday. We have filled up frames with favorite pictures and made a collage on a poster board. My sister made a lovely program for the service. It’s going to be a beautiful celebration of Michael’s life and the legacy of love, friendship, and music he’s left.

Tomorrow his ashes will be interred. I chose to have his urn placed in a glass-front niche. I’m putting a favorite photograph and a model guitar in the niche with the urn. I like that I can personalize it like that.

Emotionally, I’m finding that grief is like waves in that it ebbs and flows, and some waves are bigger and more powerful than others. I’ve never felt anything like this before. It’s a void. For the last sixteen years or so, Michael was always just a phone call away. Once I moved up here in 1997, he lived just two miles away. He was always so close and that was comforting to me even when we weren’t seeing each other.

It’s going to take some time to adjust to his absence in my daily life, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get used to really. He was such a big part of me. Such a big, big part of me.