Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas 2017 Emotions

I awoke this morning; conflicted emotions twirling about within my soul.

I am happy. I am blessed with these precious humans God has briefly given me charge over.

I am weeping.  I miss their daddy so very much. I mourn for all he has missed these past four years.

I am joy filled at who our children have grown to become; their sincerity, their humor {often inappropriate}, their perseverance. The process of growth always requires stretching and discomfort. It hasn’t been easy shepherding them to this point, and we will face difficulties in the path ahead as well; but when the dust settles on each day and I pause to observe, my heart finds answered prayers sprinkled throughout and deep gratitude.

I am specifically sentimental over the Christmas season this year.

My word for 2017 has been “open”.  I have prayed daily for God to prepare and open my heart for my future. (Think empty nest on the horizon here.) I have tried my hardest to remain grace filled and open minded in my parenting decisions. I have allowed myself to be open to the floodgate of griefs’ emotions as they have washed over me (so much hardness in this process).

And here we are, the three of us, entering the final days of 2017 together.  My heart is thankful. 

These people are such a glorious reflection of their father and my love affair. My three greatest gifts in this life are my personal salvation through Christ Jesus, the honor of being the wife of Tim Streller, and the privilege of being mom to these incredible humans.

Merry Christmas from the Streller Family

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Every Little Thing

Yesterday, I cried for at least a solid one third of my day.

{I think that’s the real reason I don’t cry very often…I’ll leak a tear here or there, I’ll choke up and have to take a moment to regain my composure, but rarely do I ever just allow myself to bawl it out; because once I allow the floodgates to open…I can’t rein it back in.  There is definitely a point of no return.  And yesterday morning, I hit that point.}

Our kids are growing up.  I think that is what triggered this cry-fest.  All the years of us praying for the blessing of parenthood, followed by the years of praying daily over their lives and who they will become, praying fervently for God to mold them into independent, kind, leaders with a closeness to Him and good friendships…only to see it come to fruition. 

And now, we are embarking on an adventure that Tim and I dreamed together, yet I am left here alone to oversee; this launching of them into adulthood.  Their senior years of high school, the college visits and decisions, the family vacations, the navigation of first relationships; it’s a lot for a two parent home to guide.  And here I am.  Solo.  Quite frankly, I’m just winging it most days, trusting God to fill in the gaps of my parenting failures, and begging Him to help me pause to enjoy the blessing that these two are in each moment. 

Answered prayer is what they are.  My hearts cry was for the gift of motherhood.  God heard the petitions of my heart and granted me this blessing.  And with the blessing of being their mother, comes the experiencing of all their milestone life events.  Each one marvelously beautiful and joy filled!  Nothing can take away from that truth.  But likewise, each now has a tinge of sorrow and missing.  I refuse to give it permission to overpower the moments of happiness, but that heart-sting is still there.  

You see, once your spouse (or parent if you are a child) is gone, nothing is ever the same.  No joy experienced is without the shadow of missing.  There is always a longing for the lost one to be experiencing it beside you.  It never really goes away; this yearning for their presence. 

This is the place where joy and sorrow co-mingle.   

WE are the place where happiness and grief collide.

And it is okay.

The tears are okay.  The joy and laughter are okay.  It is ALL a swirl of our reality. 

Every little thing…he is missing from.  It simply is what it is.

So if you see me gazing off into the distance, eyes brimming with tears, breath ragged; know that I am just fine.  I am grateful for the blessings in my life.  I am trying my best to navigate witnessing the fulfillment of so very many shared dreams alone, and trying to soak it all in for the both of us.  Sometimes I get a little lost in the moment, but love always wins and gratitude is always present.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Surprised Missing Role

She had surgery today. 

Our girl. 

It wasn’t massive, only an hour or so under anesthesia, but my heart still felt anxiety.

Tears stung my eyes as I prayed over her last night and this morning.

Will medical events; however minor, ever feel normal again? 

I sat in the waiting room with her boyfriend and my mom, journaled a prayer into the prayer book I keep for her, and thought a lot of you. 

I’ve spent far too many hours in waiting rooms petitioning our God for safety and healing.

Today brings back the flood of memories from being your caregiver for our 19 years of marriage.   

Never a year passed where we weren’t at one specialist or another concerning your health; countless surgeries, dozens and dozens of them. 

We are home now.  She is resting as comfortably as possible.  I am caring for her, changing ice packs, explaining where she is to her as the anesthesia continues to cause confusion.  And a lump forms in my throat. 

I miss being your caregiver.  I didn’t realize until now how much I miss that role.  I miss YOU the most, obviously, but I miss expressing my love to you through tenderly caring for you all those years. 

As I read through all of the pre- and post- surgical instructions last night and organized all of her medications on the bathroom counter, I had so many memories of doing the same for you.  It had become a part of who I am.  Another consequential loss compounded by your departure to heaven.

I am tired.  So very weary lately.  No particular reason.  Life is good.  We continue to engage as a family and laugh daily.  But I would love a week to not get out of bed.  Although I fear if I ever take such luxury, I may never return to living.  So, we press on.  We put our feet on the ground each morning and we do our work, love each other, look for ways to serve others, and keep making the next right choice.

And we try to enjoy the process of figuring out who we are now, without you by our side.  Three and a half years into this “newness” and I’m not sure any of us have fully found ourselves yet.  And that’s okay.  We will get there eventually. 

Our one constant, the solitary that has remained unchanged in your absence is the presence of God.
He is enough.  I trust Him to redefine each of our roles in this life in His perfect timing.

For today, I’m allowing the missing and the sorrow to wrap itself around me for a bit.  Then, tonight, I will fold it up and tuck it away until the next time.  It’s how I do this life now.  And that’s okay too.   

Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Years

The presence of this week’s anniversary is palpable.

A simple date on a calendar that rolls by year after year; yet it evokes such deeply emotional triggers and vivid memories.

There is no ignoring its approach.

And yet the truth is he isn’t physically here anymore.  He isn’t going to be here on the 10th and he isn’t going to be here on the 12th.  So why does the 11th feel so hard?  I can’t answer that, all I know is every fiber of my being aches in anticipation of this Wednesday.  Three years.  Just, wow.    

So we brace.

Emotionally, physically, spiritually…we try to anchor ourselves down into Christ and we ride through the week doing our best and trusting that He will fill in the gaping holes of ourselves as we put on our brave faces and weather yet another milestone.  Tears leak a bit more, voices tremble without warning, thoughts run deep, and memories flood us.  It is part of the journey and we are better for acknowledging the emotions as they come and pushing through them. 

I am prepared with things to do and people to spend my time with.  (Thank you to the friends who have reached out.  Thank you for remembering him.)  But more than just outward preparation, I am spending time following Tim’s example of leaning hard into Christ.  I am choosing to praise God for the years we had.  I am turning my hearts trembling cries into shouts of thanksgiving.  

I am grateful.  Blessed with the life we had together; proud to have been his wife; honored to have shared two decades with him; and joy filled to be rearing our children with his example of bravery, love, and dignity.

Our God is the Forever Faithful One….Even If…

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Miracles

ONCE UPON A TIME...a wife spent most of an eight month period beside her terminally ill husband at their "vacation home" on Mercy Hospital's 4th floor oncology wing. 

Excursions were rare but when able, the two would walk the hospital halls and grounds hand in hand.

The hospital had a nice little gift shop on the first floor that the couple would pass by in route to fresh air and sunshine.  Sometimes, the husband would become too weak on the journey and they would have to pause for rest beside the gift shop window.

A large display of Brighton jewelry was just beyond the glass.  The wife was drawn to a pretty necklace. Something about it made her smile. 

One day the husband felt stronger than normal and asked his bride if she would escort him and his iv pole into the shop to point out the exact necklace she liked so much.

The husband was a great provider for his family and a generous man.  The wife expected to receive the necklace as a gift from him maybe on her birthday or for Christmas.  But as is the case with terminal illness and chemotherapy, the husband's thought processes became cloudy.  The necklace was never mentioned to anyone other than the husband and the gift was never received.

In August of 2013, they wheeled the husband out of Mercy Hospital as he completed his final life extending dose of chemotherapy and returned home to die. 

He passed away in January of 2014.

In December of 2016, the wife sat in her living room flanked on either side by their two precious children, now sixteen and seventeen years old. They presented their mother with her Christmas gifts.  As she opened the first gift, a luxurious throw, a Brighton bag slipped from its folds.

As the mom reached into the bag, the very necklace that had brought smiles to her face during some of the darkest days of her life fell into her hand.  Tears fell from her face as she whispered the story to their children.


The Beginning of Her Life

I think I just finished my first book to read all the way through (other than a Bible Study) in three years.  Maybe I am wrong and just can't remember, which is highly likely.  Regardless, the completion of this book took me several months, but it concluded with this:

"She's been told that it takes ten years to figure out what you're doing.  Ten years.

She takes a breath, smiles.  She's ready to get started.

With the beginning of it. Her life."

In January of 2009 Tim was misdiagnosed with terminal leukemia and our world shook.  What we thought was our future was quickly stripped away.  For three years we lived in limbo waiting for the corrected diagnosis of non-terminal leukemia to require the onset of a lifetime chemotherapy regimen. 

This coming February will mark five years since my life came crashing down around me.  His diagnosis of throat cancer hit us out of nowhere. 

Five years of turmoil and unknown; stress and exhaustion; fear and brokenness.  A walk through horrific treatment, surgeries, and suffering.   A slow dance to death's doorstep and the whirlwind aftermath of such loss.

But over these past eight years, I have had a faithful God gently leading me.  Ninety-six months of complete and utter dependence on Him.  He has captured my tears and planted fresh springs of healing.  He has been my comfort through anguished sleepless nights.  He has been my strength and my shield. 

Yes, there has been tremendous heartache; there has undeniably been immense pain.  But there is beauty in my brokenness.  There is glory in His presence through my journey. 

So while the main character of this book has been told "it takes ten years to figure out what you are doing", I am looking with hope to my new year as I complete year eight of topsy turvy uncertainty.  May my year nine be one where life settles.  I am beyond ready for a season of calmness and joy.  And if that isn't possible, I'll be okay anyway, because my God has proven Himself as faithful and steady.  He is constantly present.  He is enough.