Posted in Ben, Grief, 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 Grief, Joy

Look Back and Then Move Forward…

New Year, Old Pain?

The new year always starts with a flood of emotions for me. Looking back at what was and forward to what may be is both encouraging and overwhelming.  Especially when we enter into a new year knowing that some of the past won’t be coming with us.

2022 was a long, hard, but fruitful year for me. I learned to let go of things I was holding on to too tightly.  And I ended the year anticipating the good that will come from living eyes wide open for Jesus.

But as we enter a week full of birthdays (four of them in 3 days), it is hard for me not to reflect on all we have lost.  This is the 6th new year we have walked into without Ben here with us.   And even though we are happy, growing and moving forward, we cannot help but remember what is missing. 

Grief, loss, and life, in general, are not linear. There is an ebb and flow that goes along with just being human. We have our good days and our bad. We have the days when we can see how far we have come, and all that God is doing in us. And then we have days where we are wracked with reminders of everything we just can’t seem to get right.

One of the many things loss has taught me is that sometimes the good and bad walk hand and hand for a while.  And sometimes we must give into the tears and let it all out. The thing I have to remember is I don’t want to stay in that place… the distraught, overwhelmed, and struggling place of no hope. So, I shed the tears, I pull my kids close, and get up to walk forward.

For the last 7 or 8 years, I have started every new year planning to get out and run.  I start the year off slow—a half mile, a mile, then two. If I’m dedicated enough, I will work my way up to 5-6 by the end of the month.  But in the beginning, I must take it slow.  And sometimes my run isn’t much more than a crawl as I ease my way back in. 

I have found that during seasons of heavy grief, at times the most I can do is crawl forward.  And just like when I start back out running, every step is heavy and burdensome.  But the pain of each step when I am running is a reminder of the progress I am making. And I no longer let the pain convince me to sit still. 

New Year, New Goals… 

The last few years I have tried to set a purposeful life goal for myself: intention, hope, joy. But this year I struggled with what I want to see in my life in the year ahead. And in the wee hours of this morning it came to me. This year I want to keep moving forward.  It’s that simple.  I want to keep moving, keep living, keep growing. That is it. And if I am honest, I am praying that God will lead us to thrive. So if you too have struggled with a hard season and knowing what to embrace in the year ahead… I encourage you to join me in just choosing to move forward… (even if moving forward looks like a crawl right now).  Move forward, into the unknown, fully expectant of all that God has for us there.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Grief, Joy

There is something about feeling empowered that’s a tad attractive!

Have you ever been so angry at yourself for your shortcomings that you could not get over yourself enough to overcome the problem you were faced with until you hit a breaking point?  I have found myself frequently in that place over the last few years. 

All summer my son was asking to go for a ride in Ben’s car.  At the start of August my girls had a day camp for a week. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for some time with my sweet boy.  Not surprisingly, the battery was dead, as I frequently forget to drive it so it doesn’t die. 

Since it is a reoccurring problem, I own a portable jumper box. I like to be able to take care of this problem without having to rely on others!  Of course I had locked the jumper box in the trunk of the car.  Getting it out was impossible, so I decided to be a big girl and jump it with my Suburban.  I opened the hood and had no idea where to put those black and red things without a visible battery. So I slammed the hood shut in a huff.    

I was angry at myself for so many reasons.  But most of all I was frustrated that even after five years, I still get upset about handling things I do not think should be my problem! 

Reaching That Breaking Point

I literally thought about the car in self-pity for about two weeks. I refused to ask for help and got angry at myself for not having what I needed to fix it on my own.  Because while I try to be independent and self-sufficient, there are times when grief overwhelms. I did not plan to live this life. And I did not want to carry this weight alone.

Then one Sunday a friend attempted to jump it with my Suburban for me and told me I needed to just replace the battery (AGAIN). Still annoyed, I said I would get around to it. 

That Tuesday night when I pulled into pick up the kids from class, my Suburban died in the parking lot.  Despite several attempts, I could not get it to start.  A nice gentlemen offered to jump it for me. And the next day a friend sent their husband to jump it again so I could take it to get replaced.

Y’all there is just something powerful about when I reach a breaking point and my frustration turns to stubbornness.  While waiting for my friend’s husband to jump the Suburban again, I went into the garage and tore that dead battery out of the Corvette to take with me.  I drove to Walmart and made them exchange it (while leaving the Suburban running). Then the kids and I drove to AutoZone where I insisted on watching the worker change the Suburban battery. I wanted to know exactly how everything works.

After that, the kids and I drove home. I hooked up the battery in the Vette; and spent an hour patting myself on the back for accomplishing something I should not have had to do.

Is Empowerment Wrong?

I have always thought of the word empowerment as being synonymous with being a control freak.  And while I have always loved being in control, I have tried desperately to avoid having that label put on me by others.  But my views of a lot of things have changed since losing Ben. They have especially changed since having to take on learning things that I still have no desire to know.

And in the last few months since that empowering day, I have heard countless people recount tales of friends (especially widows and single parents) who have had to embrace challenges to overcome something they never wanted to do.  And the sense of accomplishment felt by the overcomer in each of those situations is something to behold!

His Power is Perfect in Weakness…

2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I would like to say that I learned a lesson from that experience and embrace every challenge as it comes. But I would be lying.  I spent the last week looking at our Christmas tree on the top shelf of the garage before finally psyching myself up enough to acknowledge that as long as everyone stood clear I could probably get it down on my own 😉.  Don’t worry, I did not get a big head from that achievement. This afternoon I replaced the door handle I knocked off when something went flying off a garage shelf.  And, of course, I need to jump that dead Vette battery again.  Nothing like balance to remind me I’m still human.  😉

Do you ever have those moments when you feel empowered and need to be reminded that you can do hard things?  What was your shining moment?  Feel free to share in the comments!    

Posted in Ben, Grief, Joy

Five Years… Gone All Too Fast

It’s been five years… five years since I fell asleep on the chair next to your bed and woke up to doctors and nurses running into the room.  It’s five years that have gone by all too fast, and so incredibly slow at the same time.  I was not prepared then… and as much as I brace myself for the emotions that will come running on this day… I don’t think I am ever fully prepared for that either.

I can still remember waking up to doctors running in asking me if you had had a seizure and sending me into the hall.  I remember feeling so alone as I listened to them for what seemed like hours before going to the waiting room to call your family. How upset I was about getting locked out of your hallway for literal hours.  I remember sitting alone there listening to worship music. And waiting for the doctors to come get me; crying all the tears I had before family arrived. 

And I recall feeling hopeful before the doctors explained our options and the decisions we needed to make.  And I have never forgotten how as I agonized over how we would make decisions for your care that you literally took your last breath.  You always knew how to make decisions easier for me.  And as hard as it was to say goodbye, I have always been thankful that that was one decision you and God took out of my hands.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about you, share stories about you or just plain remember you.  Despite what some people in my life may believe, it isn’t just the pictures on the walls or talking to your family and friends that reminds me. I remember when I climb into bed alone, look into our kids eyes, or hear them say things that you would have laughed hysterically at.  All those things remind me, even at the most inopportune times.

Reality is that you have officially been gone for longer than K had you in her life. And in a few short months, the same can be said for the twins too.  They have heard so many stories and seen so many pictures, but comment all the time that they wish you were here to see this or that.  And K tells me often that she can’t wait to get to know you when she gets to heaven. It is just one more reminder that this is not the way we pictured our lives going when we fought to bring these three babies into the world.

And yet, I have not forgotten all the things I learned from you about embracing the hard and facing storms head on.  I try every day to live the way you would have, by attempting to thrive in the midst of hard times.  You are the one who taught me that death and cancer can not win if we do not let it.  You taught me that we have to live every moment to the fullest.  And you taught me the importance of surrounding myself with people who love us.  But most of all you taught me to trust God in all things, even if we do not understand. 

I think you would be thrilled to know that the kids and I have visited 45 states together. And in the past year we have been to 4 new countries.  I know you would be excited to know that we are homeschooling again. We have plans for lots of time on the road, and with family!  And I have no doubt you would be incredibly proud of how brilliant each of our kids are. Each one of them has your passion for learning new things. 

I remember early in the grieving process being told that time heals all wounds.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  I do believe that time softens the blow and lessens the scars of past heartbreak, but I do not believe that time heals them.  Because while we are happy, whole, living; you are still missed every single day! And you are never forgotten.

I hope that today and every day you know that we love you to heaven and back again!  And I am thankful for a heavenly Father who holds us (and you) in His hands. I believe you are rejoicing over each tiny victory we have in our lives!  And today and every day, I am thankful for every moment that we had you!

“Love you, mean it!”