Friday, February 26, 2016

A Daughter's Pain {as featured on A Widow's Might}

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, ~Psalm 103:17

{By far, the HARDEST part of losing my husband has been walking beside my children as they navigate their own grief.  This article is a personal excerpt out of a prayer journal I keep for my daughter.  My son has a similar entry in his.}

A nine year old girl should never have to sit across the breakfast table from her hero and hear he is dying.

She shouldn’t have to experience the shock of hearing months later that the doctors had it wrong and her Daddy’s rare form of leukemia wouldn’t take him, but would change the lives of her family members forever.  Only to hear at the age of eleven that he is battling another new cancer.

A fifth grade girl should not spend her Spring Break moving her parents into an apartment 425 miles away their from home, then returning home with her sixth grade brother to be cared for by extended family.

She shouldn’t have to endure the next two years separated from her parents more than she is with them due to out of state cancer treatments and lengthy hospital stays.

She never should have her eyes see the horrors of a strong man shrinking away in a cancer riddled body.

She shouldn’t have to hold this man’s hand as he lay in a coma experiencing a series of strokes and seizures.

She shouldn’t have to sweetly “shush” his agonizing moans.

No thirteen year old daughter should ever have to stand over the hospice bed of the greatest love of her young life while he takes his final breath.

She should not have to choose a dress to wear for her father’s funeral.

And no fourteen year old young lady should have to spread her Daddy’s ashes at their favorite annual vacation spot.
macie and tim2

Today, as deeply as my heart is shattered and breaking for my own loss as well as the tremendous loss my children are experiencing, I stand in awe of my daughter.

She is not like other fifteen year old girls.  She has witnessed too much heartache and unspeakable sorrow.  She has matured beyond childhood in many ways, and yet is still just a girl who deeply loves and desperately needs her Dad.

As she ventures forward in this life, learning, growing, navigating complex relationships; my prayer is…

*that her loss both strengthens and softens her. 
*that the horrors her eyes have witnessed somehow bring a deeper acceptance of and compassion for others.
*that the love affair between her Daddy and me built enough memories in her young mind for her to know what a strong marriage centered on the foundation of Christ is like.  Not that we were perfect, but that even through our imperfections, God made us perfect for each other.  I pray she finds the one who God is already molding to be hers and that she is sensitive to the work He is doing to prepare her for him. 
*that she continues to lean hard into God.  Praying earnestly and listening intently as He guides her through the final years of adolescence into adulthood.

Her healing process will continue until she draws her own final breath.  She has many firsts without her Dad yet to experience, many tears yet to cry, and many frustrations yet to overcome.

She lost too much far too soon.  She has walked a difficult path for years and is finally emerging into the light of living life fully again.  In many ways, she reminds me of a butterfly.  She has had to spend a great deal of time immersed in darkness, and it has made her who she is.  The layers of a happy, loving childhood; intense trauma and sorrow; fierce love and loyalty, they intricately interlace to form beautiful wings that will help her fly.

And fly, she will.  She loves deeper.  She dreams bolder.  She sees the value and goodness in a person quickly.  There is a strength that radiates from her soul that can only come from Christ.

I am honored to be her Momma and proud to watch God working in her life.

Father God, You promise to be a Father to orphans.  Your steadfast love and righteousness are gifts for generations of those who fear You.  I lift the children of each widow who reads this to Your throne right now.  Lord, guide them in your ways, comfort them as only You can, and transform their pain into something beautiful that brings glory to You.  Amen. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Intercessory Prayer Warrior

On particularly difficult days, especially those hard ones involving parenting solo, I like to think of Tim petitioning with me on behalf of our children. He, face down before the very throne of our Most High God, while I kneel here on earth; our prayers mingling together as they approach God's ear.
The Bible is clear, Tim did not become an angel and we will not be married in heaven. But he is still the Daddy to our children; his love for us did not diminish when he left this earth. In fact, I believe his love for us has multiplied to a level our human brains cannot comprehend; love so pure and true.
I take comfort in knowing that we have Tim as a prayer warrior interceding for us and praying in unison with me. 
Me at his burial place

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Year Two in Review and Year Three Ahead

Photo Courtesy of Trish Scott
Sweetberry Photography

Most days I step boldly forward in this life and find secure footing as the kids and I navigate our way into a new kind of beautiful life.

Most days.

But some days…

Some days, I take that step and find nothing but air beneath my feet.  I free fall.  Spinning wildly, gasping for air, and wondering what will break my fall.

While the bad days are farther apart now, they still arrive ferociously and unexpectedly, leaving me faced flat on the ground, a bit dazed, and quietly whimpering the name “Jesus”.

Medical memories flood me, nestling in the forefront as if set to constant replay on the big screen of my mind. 

His battle.

The days away from our children turning too quickly into weeks and then months; we blink and it has been two years consumed with medical treatments.  The IV’s, tests, scans, exams that violate, radiation masks, chemotherapy ports, too many surgeries to count; they are horrors that can never be erased from my existence. 

His constant suffering plagues my thoughts.

My continual juggling of roles.  I remember with pride the honor of fulfilling my wedding vows to this man, “to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health”.  The privilege of being a mother to his children.  The two separate responsibilities are so tightly interwoven, existing out of the deepest love for my family.

It’s all there.  The guilt over being away from my children coupled with the joy of serving my husband by rarely leaving his side in the battle.  The traumatic memories of medical horrors I can find no words to describe and the comfort of the love we shared that somehow only deepened through the journey.

I remember someone telling me that missing him would be harder than walking beside him as he awaited death.  I thought they were crazy.  I needed them to be crazy.  The pain of anticipating his death was excruciating.  Having to ensure I was the first one in the door from school carpool so I could protect a child from being the one to find their Daddy’s unresponsive body somewhere in our home was exhausting.  Holding my own breath to listen for his staggered breathing throughout each night would cause heart palpitations.  I am experiencing them even as I type this.

Then, he died.

And someone dared tell me year one would be hard but year two would be hell on earth.  I needed them to be a liar.  I couldn’t fathom pain more intense than each “first” ticking off the calendar.  I thought “well, maybe for them, but we have been living with the stress of death for a few years, so we are probably further along in our grief journey than most.”

I’m not here to say that losing a loved one to a terminal illness is harder than receiving a state trooper knock on the door with notification they have passed away.  This isn’t a competition!  It is all hard.  It is all painful.  It all downright stinks.  All I know is what I have experienced.  And yes, while we were able to say goodbye, I also witnessed suffering that I wish I could somehow un-see.  I simply thought we were “more advanced grievers” in our home.

I was wrong.

Year two was H A R D.  It was MESSY and painful.  It compounded grief in ways that I could never have foreseen.  There was anger.  There were hurt feelings between friends.  Abandonment, betrayal, loss of self-all tumbled upon us triggering new levels of grief in each of us.  His loss was the undercurrent of every encounter we had; whether the other person realized it or not.

We have emerged into the beginning of year three without him; having passed the two year anniversary of his passing one month ago today.  It is still hard, but we have found new footing and it seems to be solidly holding us. 

Here is hoping that the healing is sinking deeper within each of us with the dawn of each new day. 

They say “this year will be a turning point for us”.  The missing never ceases, but the coping with loss becomes more stable.  I pray they are correct.  I need stability.  Our children need to string good days together in a consistent pattern of success.  I believe Tim is praying on our behalf at the very throne of God; praying for Him to use all of this, our good days and our bad, for His glory. 

Lord, thank You for never once leaving our side.  YOU ARE GOOD.  Remind us to remain focused on your goodness and rain down your healing into every crevice of our  brokeness.  Amen.