Friday, April 30, 2010

Dream, Think, Cry. Repeat.

The last couple of weeks have been very difficult.

My grief weighs me down.

I cry every day.

Missing Michael is everything. It's a part of everything I do.

I dream of him almost every night. So many dreams that I can't remember them all. But they are the only way I get to spend time with him now, so I welcome them. They don't really make sense, but I don't care.

He's there.

He's healthy.

He loves me.

I can feel him.

Talk to him.

See him smile.

Hear his voice.

But dreams don't last, and I wake up in our bed alone and face another day without him.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what the Bible says awaits us in Heaven, and what Michael may be experiencing there now. I wonder how long it will be until we are reunited. How many more weeks, months, years, decades until this awful separation is over? I know that even if the Lord delays His return and I live another fifty years that it's really nothing compared to the eternity to come - an eternity in which we may not spend every moment together, but one in which our reunion is always for certain. I will never again have to worry for his safety or worry about his health, nor he for me.

I contemplate what Jesus said in Matthew 22:30:

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
they will be like the angels in heaven.

And that makes me a bit sad because there's nothing I'd like more than to resume my life in eternity as Michael's wife. But, I'm sure that Heaven will not disappoint me because of that, or anything else for that matter. I cannot make it what I want it to be. If I were able to, it wouldn't be Heaven.

I extrapolate (with a little help from Randy Alcorn) from Revelation 6:9-11 that if the martyrs in Heaven are "fully conscious, rational, and aware of each other, God, and the situation on Earth" that Michael is too. While I believe he is well and living in peace, I am certain that he remembers his loved ones and misses us as much we miss him. The other night on Facebook, Michael's teenaged, Christian niece posted that she was missing him right after I'd had a good hard cry over him. I responded to her post, letting her know about my crying episode, and she wrote the following to me:

so did i.i watched the video aunt cathy made from the funeral about his music.
sometimes i just listen to that or one of his albums just to hear his voice again.and even though it makes me cry and makes me sad, i think to myslef that its better then not hearing him at all.
it's funny that i keep thinking he's gonna be there this summer, or christmas, or just to visit, or that he'll sign us into disneyland....
but i know that he's here.watching over us all.and even though we cant see him it doesnt mean he wont be there.and no matter how much we miss him, he misses us just as much if not more.
and i know for a fact that he misses you the most.
i'm always here to talk. or if you ever want to hear a story about him for when you werent with us.
i'm just a phone call away.
I was amazed at her ability to echo my own thoughts and comfort me. She's only 14 or 15 years old, but she gets it. Out of all Michael's nieces and nephews, she was the one who would call him in the last weeks of his life just to tell him that she loved him. She's a neat girl.

I leave you with this, because it sums up my life these days:

Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
C. S. Lewis

Monday, April 26, 2010


That's what my friend Shelly calls her town. You and I know it as Orlando, and I just returned home after spending a few days there with Shelly and her family. While I can't say I was anywhere near as smitten with Orlando as I was with Houston, I definitely did not have a boring time thanks to Shelly's wonderful hospitality.

I wanted to go see Shelly because she had known Michael forever, and she had also become a widow in her forties. I figured we'd have lots to talk about, and we did. Shelly has a way with words, and although we had not met each other but once before Michael's passing, she reached out to me during his illness and was a wonderful source of encouragement to us both. I felt drawn to her kindness, and thus made plans to visit her shortly after he passed.

I'm still processing all the emotions my visit with her brought up - things I would never have expected to surface as a result of spending time with friends of Michael's. Mostly longings for him to be present with us, and for things to have been different in the past sixteen years so that we would have had more shared experiences with friends and family in that time. It's surprising to me how painful those squandered years/opportunities are now, but my grief seems to have many tendrils extended back to years gone by, the present day, and to some extent my uncertain future.

Besides that, my time with Shelly was a real blessing. She is an incredible hostess, a fabulous cook, a good listener, full of loving wisdom, and now I know why she was such a dear friend of Michael's.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I have dreamed of Michael twice in the last week.

The first dream was heartbreaking and I woke up crying. He was healthy and all I wanted to do was to feel his skin, his hair, his face. I kept saying Let me do this so that I can remember what you feel like. Michael didn't understand why I was saying that, so I explained that I knew that he was going to get cancer and die. Then he cried and the dream was over.

It was so real. I could really feel him.

Two nights ago the dream was not a tear jerker. I don't think I realized at first that he was even in the dream. He just sort of seeped into it or something. Dreams are weird. My dreams are weird anyway. We had stumbled upon a little place to eat, and we were having breakfast with another couple. I have no idea who they were. I was cutting up a pancake into little, eensy, weensy bites. Michael was sitting next to me, but I don't think I looked over at him even once. I was engrossed with cutting up the pancake. See, I told you my dreams are weird.

Weirder still is the dream I just woke up from in which I was a host on the Today show. We were having to do some really ridiculous stuff in Halloween costumes, but it was my birthday. My birthday is three days before Christmas so how that all goes together I don't know. I remember thinking Is this really my job? This is stupid. I can't believe I have to do this. When the show was over, I was walking down some street in New York City with Meredith Viera and I was telling her about Jesus. Oh, my...

Monday, April 19, 2010


Sundays are the hardest day of the week for me. It's the day on which Michael went home to Heaven and I am not past the point of counting each one. Yesterday marked six weeks. I was so heavy with my grief yesterday that I didn't get dressed until the afternoon. But once I did, I took Buffy for a walk and decided to attend church that evening. So, the day ended better than it began.

One last observation - PMS makes grief worse and that's really unfair. I'm just saying...

Friday, April 16, 2010

No Two Griefs Alike

This week's theme at Grief Share was The Uniqueness of Grief. The video last night was really moving because they interviewed people who had lost a loved one to suicide, murder, an accident, or negligence. The amount of pain and heartache in this world is incredible. I know it's not healthy for me to diminish my own grief, but when I hear about situations like that I know that there are much worse things. There are things for which there are no acceptable answers or justice. We see it on the news every day, but we rarely see the aftermath of those who suffer in the wake of such tragedies.

I have been heavy hearted since then, and I had stupid, weird, upsetting dreams last night. When Michael wasn't here with me in the past, if I had a bad dream I would call him and we'd talk until I felt better. Now there is no number I can call to reach him. That's not to say that I don't talk to him, but the conversation is terribly one sided. How I miss the sound of his voice.

Speaking of his voice and phones, it was a sad day recently when his cell phone was deactivated. If you knew my husband, then you knew how attached he was to his cell phone - especially that iPhone. He had so many apps. And being the social butterfly he was, that phone rang all day long. I asked for it to be deactivated because I didn't want to pay for it when I didn't really need it anymore, but it made me sad to do so. That's one of the few things I've dealt with of his. I am not ready to go through his clothing or all the boxes in the garage. Not at all.

Anyway, earlier today I was completing my "daily exercise" in my Grief Share workbook. At the conclusion of the exercise there was a section that encouraged the reader to remember that grief is unique and that the length and time one grieves is dependent on several factors:

  • the type of relationship you had with the one you lost - my husband
  • how close you were - he was my everything, second only to Jesus
  • the manner of death of your loved one - prolonged illness
  • how strong a support system you have - I have a wonderful family and friends
  • how well you deal with trials and conflicts - I try to see things from an eternal perspective
  • the number and intensity of past losses and whether you've healed from them - my grandparents, and a former coworker and college classmate who committed suicide
  • your relationship with the Lord - this makes all the difference for me as I believe he works all things together for good
These factors do impact my grief. Michael was my husband and my best friend. He was always just a phone call away when we couldn't be together. His illness made me think about his mortality months and months ago. I cried hard over what I was losing many times before he went to Heaven, oftentimes with him. I began thinking about my future without him many weeks before he passed. So, my grief did not begin on March 7th. Even though I was holding onto hope for his complete healing, I knew that it was likely he would succumb to his disease. It happens all the time. Cancer is pure evil. The only thing that gives me hope for the moment and for tomorrow is knowing that God is good all the time. My situation, my pain, my loneliness, my loss, my every thought are known to Him. I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future and He is worthy of my trust.

Nevertheless, the house is too quiet in the evenings, the bed is too big, and there's too much time between now and when I'll see Michael again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

High Anxiety

Of all the aspects of grief I've experienced so far - sorrow, disbelief, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, forgetfulness, and loneliness - anxiety is by far the most bothersome of them all.

I can be feeling fine, meaning that I'm not consumed with thoughts about Michael, but my body will signal otherwise. My heart starts pounding and my extremities get achy. My doctor has given me a couple of different prescriptions to try, but I usually only take them after the anxiety has become unbearable because I don't like the side effects.

I talked to my doctor and my counselor about my anxiety earlier this week, and my doctor recommended that I incorporate some yoga into my routine to help me practice good breathing. She said that a lot of the symptoms of anxiety are due to shallow breathing. I have some yoga DVDs here at the house, and I think I will start using them if only for the relaxation portion at the conclusion of the DVD where you focus on releasing tension in your body and breathing deeply.

I've also noticed that too much visual and auditory stimulation bring on my anxiety, so I'm going to have to avoid some things for now. Last weekend, a crowded store seemed to be a trigger. Last night, I attended the taping of a television show with my mom, and that was also stressful. But, just getting up and getting out the door in the morning for an appointment can also bring it on, and those are things I have to do. Anxiety really stinks. I don't want it to have a hold on me.

Lord Jesus, please bless me with an anxiety-free afternoon and evening.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Heart Houston

I'm back. I spent a few days visiting friends in Houston last week and thus no blog updates. It was a great trip and I have become very fond of Houston. Texas gets a bad rap here in California, but I like it. Houston has a lot of cultural attractions, unique shops and restaurants, and it's so green. I'm smitten with it.

I knew I wanted to make this trip shortly before Michael passed away. My dear friend, Kristina, lives there with her husband, and I knew that they would take good care of me. We had such a great visit. So much to talk about and so many shared opinions about faith and other things. It's a blessing to be with kindred spirits and just be oneself. I think we talked from the time we got up in the morning until we went to bed each night. That's the way it is when you only get to visit once in a great while.

We had some good laughs. Scott (Kristina's husband) is a good storyteller, and he nearly made me hysterical with laughter as he told me a funny anecdote from a trip of theirs to Eastern Europe a few years ago. Oh, my word! It still cracks me up just thinking about it. Another funny moment was when Kristina took me to see the Rothko Chapel and The Menil Collection. I just don't get stuff like that and the obsurdity of it makes me giggle. I have been to the Louvre, the Orsay, the Prado, and the Reina Sofia, and I guess I'm spoiled after seeing art of that caliber. I'm sorry, but tell me this is not outrageous:

That gave me a fit of the giggles! If you like that and consider it to be art, we are just not on the same page.

Traveling there and back was a little stressful. Of course I had traveled on my own before, but in the last few years I had become accustomed to traveling with Michael. He was such a seasoned traveler that I just followed his lead. I miss that, and I missed sitting next to him instead of strangers. Both of the in-flight movies there and back were about the death of the husband character (Young Victoria and Hachi). Sheesh! What are the chances of that? I mostly read a book instead. Who wants to cry in front of strangers?

Anyway, it was a good trip and I'm so glad I got out of my comfort zone here at home and made the effort to go.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Crying List

Each morning I receive an email from Grief Share. Today's really went straight to the heart.

Identify Your Losses
Day 10

One reason grief disrupts so many aspects of your life is because your loss is not one isolated loss. You will miss so many qualities and facets of the person you lost that each will become an opportunity to experience grief.

The range of things you need to grieve for may surprise you. Identify your losses and be prepared to grieve for each one.

Use the list below as a starting point.
• your companion
• your lover
• your encourager
• your "entertainer"
• your source of delight
• the one who shares your private jokes
• your breadwinner
• the one who knows you so well
• your housekeeper
• the shoulder on which you cry
• your cook
• the arms that embrace and comfort you
• your mechanic
• the one who always cheers you
• your friend
• your pride and joy

Your list will go on and on. Say your losses out loud to God; speak until you run out of words to say. He knows your deepest needs, and He alone can provide. Do not skip this step.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

O God, I have lost so much. Who will fill these gaping holes within me? You, Lord—yes, You. Amen
Lots of tears upon reading this.

Missing Michael.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I attended my first Grief Share meeting last Thursday night. I had hoped to join one of the groups in process at my church, but two of them were inconvenient for me, and the third seemed to be led by a somewhat flakey and not obviously (to me anyway) compassionate individual whom I spoke with by phone. Part of my grief experience is that I feel more vulnerable than usual, and I didn't feel like that group leader was someone I could trust after my, albeit brief, interaction with her. Her busyness made me feel insignificant. Oh, well. I found another group at a little church in my neighborhood instead. The group leader seems to be a man of integrity and compassion. There were just a few other people at the meeting last Thursday night, and none of them has a loss like mine, but I felt welcome and I will continue to go.

Grief Share is a thirteen week program from a Christian perspective. Some of the well-known individuals involved in creating the Grief Share program are Anne Graham Lotz, Dr. Jack Hayford, Barbara Johnson, Ravi Zacharias, and Zig Ziglar. After watching a DVD about the week's topic, there's a discussion time, and I was given a workbook with daily readings and reflections for me to complete.

I joined the group as they were starting the sixth session and the topic was Why?. I have to admit that that hasn't been a big question for me, although I can totally understand why it would be for most people experiencing a loss - especially an unexpected one.

I guess, for me, I already understood that we're all going to die and none of us is guaranteed a long life. We all know that, but I think we sometimes exempt ourselves and our loved ones from that reality. I guess I could get nit picky with God about certain things, but even if I did there wouldn't be answers this side of Heaven that would be truly satisfactory - because whatever God's purposes might have been, surely there could have been another less painful way to accomplish them. Right? At least my limited ability to understand such things would suggest that. But God's ways are not my ways, and I'm okay with that. I've had some really good teaching in the last couple of years about His nature, and so I do understand that He is good all the time. Whatever has happened will be worked together for good because that's what God does.

I guess I've already come to a place of acceptance about Michael's passing in that I'm not really questioning it. That's not to say that it feels the least bit comfortable to me because it really doesn't. The void in my life since Michael's passing is huge. My dreams seem to be unattainable without him here. I miss him terribly. You have no idea. But I've been articulating my battered hopes and dreams to the Lord in prayer. I've brought Him a big list of what I'd like to be blessed with in the future. I've even added more requests to the list than I had before Michael got sick. Really big, outrageous requests for blessings in my life that you'd probably think I was crazy to expect would ever happen. I'll share them at some point, but not today. Right now, those desires are just between me and Him, and I know I can trust Him with my heart and my dreams because:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Psalm 34:19

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28