Posted in Ben, Joy

How has it been six years?

Six years. Seventy-two months. Over two thousand days and 52 thousand hours. Those are the numbers that mark the passage of time since you left us. As I sit down to do the math, it strikes me that our children had you in their lives for a shorter time than you’ve been absent. This summer I realized that I’ve been a single mom for longer than I had you as a partner in parenting.

Unfairness and Loss

My list of losses continues to grow with each passing day. The unfairness of all that we have lost and missed out on since you have been gone:
• Our children have missed out on growing up with you as their dad on earth.
• For six years, they have had to navigate life’s challenges with only me by their side.
• We have missed you at every milestone like first days of school and losing first teeth.
• Our son doesn’t get to have your guidance on becoming a man, understanding how to treat ladies, and growing in bravery and strength.
• Our daughters have missed out on having their dad teach them about healthy relationships with men.
• Father/son campouts and life conversations—are voids left by your absence (and trust me… Josh would rather have those conversations with you then me any day).
• Our girls won’t experience the joy of a father/daughter dance or having you walk them down the aisle.

A Painful Journey & Lessons Learned

Last night I read a post from six years ago. I pleaded for prayers on your behalf after that last seizure believing you would be heading home the next morning. And the following day brought a reality I never imagined—returning home alone, telling our kids you were gone, and planning your funeral instead of your homecoming. I had no idea what the future would hold in that moment. And when I look back on how much we lost that day and in the six years since, I could really get lost in how unfair life has been to us.

And yet amidst the sorrow and unfairness, these years have been full of learning for us. Lessons that have been hard-won, forged in the fires of repeated, unexpected losses. And while our life together did not end up being full of sunshine and roses, I know that it’s in those challenging moments that I have gained this wisdom:
• Life is fleeting and unpredictable.
• Grief and loss are unavoidable.
• Sadness comes when we least expect it.
• Despite the hardships, life is worth living.
• Every day is a chance to try again.
• Small victories are worth fighting for.
• Forgiveness is always worth it (for us and for others).
• Love is important, even when it seems undeserved (especially when it is undeserved).
• And nothing is more important than showing our kids that every moment counts.

Embracing Life’s Imperfections

There is no denying it. Life is not fair. Today we should be celebrating another day with you, but we are not.

Instead, we are faced with the same choice we have had every day for the last 6 years. The choice of whether to live life as fully as you did when you were with us. Embracing the pain and the joy and living authentically every single day.

We have the choice to keep living. The choice to get up every day and make it count. The choice to live life to the fullest and pray that it brings us one day closer to you… but not too soon.

Six years have come and gone. Seventy-two months and so very many days. Not one has passed where you have not been remembered. I hope you know that the ache of your absence will never really fade, but we are fighting every day to find purpose in the here and now. We are moving ahead; we are celebrating the all too short life you lived. And we are living.

Life really is not fair, but it will not keep us from making every moment count. For you and because of you!

We love you, we mean it!

Trish & the kids

Posted in Joy

Busyness and Rest… time for the heart work…

Do you know what I have not had since becoming a widow? A quiet house all to myself for an extended amount of time. I absolutely love my kids and every minute that I get to spend with them. But after a year of homeschooling and being together for almost every single minute, the silence in my house right now is truly deafening!

I woke up on my own today and realized that there was no one arguing, asking for electronics, or even destroying the kitchen looking for what they could eat. So, I just laid there wondering if I would survive 7 whole days of this quiet.

The reality is that while I do not get a lot of me time these days, I tend to find ways to fill up all that I get with tasks that keep me busy. I fill my time with activities that keep me from thinking too much… and that keep me from being sad about the things that I have lost. One of the ways I fill the empty space is to travel as often as possible… so that I can’t sit still and wallow in my losses.

In some ways busyness can be a gift. It helps us get a lot done and keeps us from sitting too long in sadness and self-pity. The flipside however is that busyness keeps us from doing the critical work of learning and growing in the ways that we should! By not thinking about my losses, I can pretend they do not exist.

My to do list for this week is a mile long. Work on the house, decluttering of kids’ things, two different training programs for helping others with loss and grief, and doctors’ appointments I have been putting off for months. But this morning while I sat in an online training I was stopped in my tracks.

I was reminded of all the heart work I have been putting off and pretending I did not need to do. The work of healing from lost friendships and relationships that I have yet to accomplish.
Sometimes the stillness is the gift. The quiet is the treat. The empty space is not actually in need of filling, but instead a reminder that we need to spend more time emptying.

Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Do you spend a lot of time staying busy? Running from one thing to another to not think too much?

I have found that not thinking too much lends itself to my not growing as much either. And not growing for me means not moving forward. The stillness today reminded me of all the losses that I have had that have yet to be processed. All the relationships that I have yet to take time to complete in my heart. The time that I need to spend praying and seeking after God’s direction for my life… not my own.

So, this week amid the to do list, I am carving out time for the heart work. The work of healing, processing, and taking active steps to move forward. Because if we are not taking time to self-evaluate, then chances are we are not growing either!

Posted in Joy

17 years have come and gone…

It’s been 17 years since I walked down that cement path to the gazebo where we wed… 17 years since we said I do and promised to love each other forever… 17 years since we decided to become one in front of all our family and friends.

But it has been 5 ½ years since I was able to hold your hand, hug you, kiss you, and have you tell me you loved me back.  Some days it feels like yesterday and others another lifetime completely. 

I have learned a lot about how we process grief and loss this year.  I have learned a lot about who I am in light of grief and loss.  And I am continuing to learn how marriage to you has shaped me into who I am now.

Some days I don’t recognize the me that was married to you anymore… I’ve changed and grown so much since I lost you.  But I believe for the most part you would be proud of the me that I have become.

I’m braver.  I speak up for myself and share what I am thinking with others.  You would never have believed that people think I am opinionated and have a strong personality.  The me that has survived grief and loss stands up for what she believes in, embraces what she wants, and expects big things from others.

I love bigger.  I’m more vulnerable.  And I am also so much more insecure than ever before.  I attribute that to having been married to you.  You loved the chase and made sure I knew I was wanted every single day from the moment I met you.  I can hear you proudly telling everyone we met that you were a “stalker success story.” You always ran after the things you wanted with your whole heart!  Marriage, school, children, and work.

This year I have been bold.  I have conquered fears and stepped out in faith to do so many new things.  Friends have encouraged me to finish my children’s book, my book about life with you, and to embrace new ministry opportunities.  I have jumped up to chase after things I think will help grow me as a person, a mom, & a friend. And I am making so much progress on moving forward!

I have not improved on overanalyzing, but hey we can’t all be perfect 😉 I can almost hear you laughing about that and telling me that I should have been a lawyer.

Loving you and losing you has truly reshaped me.  I am so thankful that when I face struggles and storms like I have had the last few weeks that I can look back and remember how you faced everything head on and with all your might.  It gives me the strength to keep going and know that what God has ahead of us is bigger than anything we could ever imagine. 

I miss you every day… but this year I have slowly realized that while I miss my best friend, I am more sad that our kids do not get to see how you lived and loved with everything you had in you.  I am so thankful for your family who has embraced us and let our kids have a glimpse into what life with you would have been like if you were still here.

Thank you for teaching me to love big.  Thank you for teaching me to reach for the stars.  And thank you for reminding me every day what miracles our children are.  You would be incredibly proud of them too! 

I am thankful for the way you always encouraged me to chase my dreams and never got tired of reinforcing what I should have already known in my heart.  I never doubted for a single moment that you loved me with your whole heart and for that I’m truly grateful.

I know how blessed I am to have struck gold with you.  You showed me a true picture of what the everlasting love of our Father looks like and you were truly such a gift to have as mine.  We weren’t perfect, but we were perfectly imperfect together.  

Sending hugs to you and our sweet baby in heaven today. Happy 17th Anniversary! Love you, Mean it!

Posted in Joy

I’m cheering you on!

“I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” -attributed to Helen Keller.

A few weeks ago, I liked a post by my sister about the joy of marriage on social media.  A few minutes later she messaged me a sweet message praying that it didn’t hurt for me to read it.

The reality is that hearing about new babies, weddings, happy marriages, perfect homes, healed relationships, and new jobs always makes me rejoice.  I am always going to cheer for the prayers that are answered.  I will cheer louder than anyone when I hear that your dreams are coming true.  I pray daily for dreams to come true in the lives of everyone I know! 

But at night when I climb into bed alone and reflect on the news of the day, there is always a twinge of sadness for all my dreams that did not come true.  An ache for what was lost.  Nine years has not made the ache of no more babies any easier.  Five years has not made the loss of Ben go away either.

I cried to friends a few weeks ago about not wanting my heart to hurt about these things anymore.  I told them I longed to be able to let the losses go and only rejoice in the good for others.  And they reminded me it is okay to be sad about the loss of those dreams.  Because they were BIG dreams.

I have spent a lot of time praying about that the last few weeks, and God has put people in my path who needed to be reminded that it is okay to grieve the losses if we don’t get stuck there.  But the reality is, this has always been so much easier for me to recognize in others.

For some reason when it comes to my own losses, I always feel like I should push through.  That enough time has passed that it should not hurt anymore. Like the secondary losses should not still cause pain 5 years later or even 9. 

A few weeks ago as I laid in bed reflecting on this, I realized that while I want the pain to lessen (and it has) I do not want it to go away completely.  To no longer feel a twinge of sadness that I didn’t get to have a 50+ year marriage like my grandparents, or a 25th wedding anniversary to the first man that I loved, would make it seem like those losses didn’t matter!  And they do.  Without the pain of loss, we wouldn’t get to know the beauty of good things.

There is room for both pain and joy in the same breath.  There is room to be happy for one who is getting a baby while sad that your own dreams seem to be sitting silently by waiting for an answer.  Friend, I get it.  I may not have the same dream or desires as you, but I know what it is like to feel that your day will never come, that other people seem to be getting every good gift you thought would be yours…

But I believe that beautiful things are coming. That God will restore the years that the locust has eaten. And that the beauty to come is like nothing we could have ever imagined. I’m believing it for you, and I’m believing it for me. I’m cheering you on and praying that every dream you wish will come true!



Posted in Joy

Big dreamer…

I’m a big dreamer… on the sleepless nights when I wake and lie there wondering about the future… I think about all the dreams I have and all the things I can see to come..

I love telling others about my dreams… my goals… where I see things going. I get so excited sometimes it overwhelms them… they don’t see what I see and they have a hard time believing it to be true.

I used to think it was my job to make them understand my dreams and accept them as reality… but I’m learning that it’s not. Not everyone can dream… not everyone can share or understand my dreams. And that’s okay. God gave them to me. A vision of the life to come and what it entails…

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4‬:‭14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Sometimes I don’t get what I’m dreaming for and that’s okay too. I still believe there is value in being able to dream. Value in being able to see beauty come from ashes. Because I have to believe there is always more to life then what we have right now. And those dreams keep getting bigger! Like gold refined.

So I’m going to keep dreaming dreams no matter how many times they change and get rewritten cause others can’t see them the same way… because I still believe what is coming is better than anything I have seen before… what about you?