Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Good-bye

Michael and T - October 2009

Earlier this month, I learned that Michael's dear friend, and the best man in our wedding, had lost his wife to a brain tumor. Michael had rented their guesthouse for thirteen years, and they were like family to him. He watched their two daughters grow up in those years, and the October before he went Home, he had played the guitar for their oldest daughter's wedding ceremony.

After Michael passed on, I sold T one of his guitars. But after that, I really didn't hear from T or his wife, J. Life goes on, and some people just don't go on with you. I never really knew them all that well, but felt a connection to them because of the love Michael had for them, and vice versa.

Yesterday, I went with my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and Michael's oldest brother to a memorial gathering in J's honor. It was a beautiful get-together really befitting the gracious and lovely person J was. When I saw T, he gave me a big hug, and he asked me why this had to happen to both of us. I told him that I do not know why, and that life isn't fair. It really isn't. Someday I'll see why things happened the way they did, but for now it doesn't make sense why Michael isn't here. And for T and his family, it doesn't make sense, or seem fair, that J is no longer with them. It just hurts.

Since learning of J's passing, I have thought of them and their daughters every day. It breaks my heart to think of the grief T and his girls are having to endure in these first few weeks without their beloved J. That early grief is so heavy that it feels like it will crush you. When you wake up in the morning, you realize that you didn't have a bad dream overnight. No, this is your life now, and your beloved is not there with you anymore.  You have to get used to that awful reality every day. It takes a while.

If I could tell T a few things to help him through the next few months, I'd tell him these things:

Find a grief group, or a counselor so that you can process your grief with others. It is good to talk it out.

Get away and visit good friends and family in other parts of the country or in another part of the world. Let them take care of you for a few days. Let them listen to you. Let them distract you.

Read about grief. The more you understand about the grief process, the better you will be able understand why you're feeling and acting the way you are.

Be careful what you expose yourself to. Read, watch, and listen to things with positive messages. You are so vulnerable in your grief. Why add to your pain with negative or painful messages? Seek out things that are life affirming and optimistic.

Resist the temptation to start dating right away. Many widowers tend to rush into a new relationship. But oftentimes, those relationships are destined to fail because there are grief issues that take time to get through.

Get involved in something. Maybe there's a project you've put on hold while you cared for your beloved. Get back to it. Do something productive as soon as you feel you are able to. My "project" was getting pregnant. It was a positive focus for me. Once I succeeded (thank you, Lord!), Michaela became my new purpose in life. My "project" was unique, but I think that some kind of goal or work is a good thing.

And, the best advice I can give anyone who is grieving is to draw near to God. He promises that when we do, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). I really doubted that promise when I first lost Michael, but I ran to the Lord anyway and He showed up. Get to church. Read your Bible. Pray. Bring your broken heart to Him, and ask Him to help you minute-by-minute and day-by-day. He will. If He did it for me, He will do it for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Michaela @ Sixteen Months

{I started this post last weekend thinking I was going to be able to post it on time. Alas, this crazy busy week has gotten away from me. I still need to take an updated photo of my darling girl, too. But that's not going to happen tonight [Thursday] as she's already in dreamland.}

Well, there goes another month of Michaela's babyhood. Woosh! It's going by much too quickly.

In spite of the fact that I wish time would slow down just a bit so that I could enjoy my baby girl as a baby for a while longer, it's all good. She is healthy. She is smart. She is beautiful. She is an amazing baby in so many ways.

I know she's still growing, but her rate of growth has really slowed down. At our last pediatrician appointment she measured at 31 inches tall, and 21 pounds. This makes finding clothes to fit a little challenging. Height-wise, she wears 18 months clothing. She needs that for the length of her torso in particular. But because she's a light-weight, she really needs 12 months or 12-18 months clothing. We spent some time and money this summer picking up good deals on clothing for the cooler months to come. Now I'm worried that she won't be able to wear them. In fact, I won't be surprised if her shorts from this summer fit her again next summer because most of them are a bit big on her still. Oh, well. That's what I get for being proactive.

Michaela "talks" all day long. She has much to say! I like how she gestures when she's talking. That's the Italian in her, I guess. Lots of shoulder shrugging, pointing, and throwing her hands up. She cracks me up. Her vocabulary grows every day. She mimics me all the time, too.

Now that I've returned to work, there are tears when it's time for me to leave her in the morning. I'm told that they are brief episodes. When I get home from work, she dismisses whoever is caring for her (Grandma, Grammy and Papa, or Auntie) with a "Bye!" and either the wave of her hand or a blown kiss. We are still trying to get our routine down as it's just been about three weeks since I had to report back. Sleep is an issue once again. She doesn't want to sleep in her crib because she wants to be in the same room with me. So, she has been falling asleep on the sofa with me, and then I relocate her when I'm ready to go to bed. After that, it's a good night's rest for us both.

I just realized this evening that she has two new molars on the bottom. That might explain the runny nose she's had for nearly a week. In any case, she now has a total of twelve teeth. She's pretty good about letting me brush her teeth. She thinks the toothpaste we use for her is tasty, so she likes to suck on the toothbrush.

Michaela is spending most of Thursdays with my sister this school year. She starts the morning off with Grammy and Papa, but then they take her to a local church where my sister is involved with the Community Bible Study group there. While Auntie is participating in the bible study, Michaela is in the childrens' group learning all about Jesus. Auntie has been excited about taking Michaela to this ever since she was born.  I wish I could be there with them, too. After bible study, Michaela goes home with Auntie and spends the afternoon with her. I'm glad they get to have that time together. My sister is a fun auntie.

Sixteen months is a busy and fun age!

Here she is! Having a great time in her little pool at Grammy and Papa's house on a very hot day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School {2012}

I have such mixed feelings about this time of year.

There is the desire for a return to some sort of schedule, but there's also dread of that schedule including an alarm that goes off at five o'clock in the morning five days a week. That is just not a good time for me! It's still dark!!!

There's anticipation about teaching a new grade level and trying new things, but there's also the feeling of being overwhelmed by so much that's new. A lot of what's new are things that I've found over the summer that I want to try with my students. So it's really my own ambitious plans that are overwhelming me.

There's the excitement about having a new (to me) classroom and making it my own, but there's also the insane amount of work it takes to make it happen (and there just aren't enough hours or days remaining before it has to be done!). My classroom had a lot of things left behind in it, and I spent at least eight hours just cleaning it out. Now it's time to make it pretty.

There's the knowing that teaching is something I'm really good at, but there's also the concern that administrators and parents won't be satisfied with my best. Seems like a lot of people really hate teachers these days. I think used-car salesmen and IRS agents are more popular. Sheesh!

There's the gratitude I have because I have a job, but there's also the guilt and sadness I have that it takes me away from my baby girl. We are so blessed to have her grandparents and my sister providing daycare for her, but my heart has always been to be a stay-at-home-mother. So, there's just that sadness that life didn't work out that way for us.


I'm sure in just a couple of weeks we'll be into our routine and cruising along. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but we'll be managing. It won't be easy, but it is doable. One of my coping strategies is to mark off each day on our home calendar, and keep track of the next long weekend or time off that's coming up. I think we have about ten weeks until a long weekend, and then another couple weeks after that a full week off - both in November. Thinking about it in chunks like that helps me push on to the next time I can loosen up about our demanding schedule.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13