Anniversary

An anniversary marks a significant event in life. Most times, we think of anniversaries as celebrations. But what about those anniversaries that aren’t so great? Death and divorce leave a huge imprint on the lives they touch. And these anniversaries are multiplied by every other special event was ever celebrated. We can not avoid the anniversaries, and we do not want to celebrate. We honor the memory while touching the pain they cause as little as possible.

Admittedly, it’s easier not to remember. I’ve been told that I live life as if it’s a circle. I always come back to an event. Some people live life as a straight line and just move away from unpleasant events. Yet, those sad anniversaries are just as important as the happy ones. These anniversaries give us a chance to review the past year, to see what growth we have achieved, to see that we are still living. We are given a chance to reflect on what we currently value, what is really important. While I don’t want to dwell on the rough times, I do think there is value in remembering. I guess I’m looking for whatever good there is to remember. I want to find value, and justify the pain that shoots thru me at odd times.

Too often society defines how we should react. We are told to be strong. Be brave. Don’t look weak. Don’t get mad, get even. And, the expectation is there: Get over it. Move on. The first year in a child’s life is measured first in days, weeks, months and eventually years. Anniversaries are often measured the same way. But, after the first anniversary of a death or divorce, we are supposed to stop noticing the passing of time. After all, its been a year. You should be “over it”, right? I expected that first year of widowhood to be hard. I was surprised how hard the second year was. I wasn’t “fixed”. I still had issues. I didn’t cry as much and the days weren’t as dark, but the scars were still fresh and tender. I was moving forward with life and any admissions of grief were frowned upon by most. I had little patience with my own progress. I often felt guilty about grieving because it showed weakness. I was blessed to have friends that understood, accepted and encouraged me to be honest. Never underestimate the value of a strong shoulder or a firm embrace. These can quite literally save a life.

My faith was all I had left when death destroyed my life. I had my hope. And while hope and faith are good, they don’t remove the pain or the regret. So often in the darkest days, I thought I was letting God down. I wasn’t recovering fast enough. I was too sad. I was angry. I was lost in a world I didn’t understand and I didn’t want to be there. People that had offered support, the people I thought I could depend upon drifted away and moved on with their lives. I had to inch forward into the world around me, careful not to make anyone uncomfortable with my neediness. I had to learn to trust myself and others, again.

As each anniversary comes and goes, I remember what used to be. I wonder what might have been. And, I mourn the losses. And, I remember that I am alive and I have a purpose. I believe that God has a plan for my life even if I don’t understand or (sometimes) agree with it. Each year gives me a chance to measure how very far I have come and what I have accomplished. I’ve learned to celebrate the inches instead of bemoaning the shortage of miles. The anniversaries still hurt. They always will. And, I will continue to celebrate what I can as each year passes.

Small

Featured Five Minute Friday:
Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::

Small
GO

I remember small. When it was time to take my son home from the hospital, I looked at that small baby and cried. What if I wasnt’ a good mom? How would I know what to do? I couldn’t believe that they were letting me go home with him after only 2 days of instruction.

When we got him home, I would sit and watch while he was sleeping. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. He was a month old before I realized that it was ok to do other things while he slept. He wouldn’t just disappear when I turned my back and he would let me know when he needed me again.

I remember the first time he told me I looked “just like Cinderella”. That small little man had already stolen my heart and he really believed I looked like Cinderella. It was just icing on the cake. And then, he started school. And he realized that I might not know “everything”. And that small little boy grew up.

He’s twenty-something now and at 6′ 2″ not at all small. I look forward to the times I get to talk with him. He still calls for advise and asks questions. And, in this mom’s heart, he will always and forever be that small little man who loved me and thought I was beautiful, “just like Cinderella.”
zac

Single. Again.

I’m approaching the eight year mark of being a widow. Almost eight years of being single again. I didn’t plan to be middle-aged and single. But then, I didn’t plan on Terry dying, either. While widowhood stinks, being single isn’t all bad. I answer only to myself. (Sort of, my kids think they have a say!) I can hang out with whomever I want, wherever I want, as long as I want. I don’t have to worry about what I wear to bed at night. No one cares. I can sleep with any or all of the dogs. There’s plenty of room. I don’t have to make awkward small talk with his friends from work nor do I force him to do the same. I’m not required to spend time with the in-laws. It’s now my choice. I can stay up late reading or watching reruns (or both) and not bother anyone.

But there are disadvantages, too. I do answer only to myself. Which means there’s no one to share the burden for decisions that need to be made. It’s all up to me, good or bad. And while I can hang out when, where & with whom I want, I’m still learning how to do that. It’s not the same as being single in my twenties when we seemed to always be part of a group. Many of my friends are married. And even the single ones have built lives around work and kids. It’s much harder to coordinate getting together. Life often gets in the way. I’ve learned to go to some restaurants alone. I always have an e-book or two available in case I’m feeling a bit awkward. I can’t say that I enjoy it, but it beats eating cold cereal in front of the TV or fast-food in the car. My daughter has become my “date” for company functions so that I avoid having to dress up and go alone. She enjoys meeting the young people from my office. And, she saves some poor guy the discomfort of having to deal with assumptions and questions of my office friends.

While I have dated a bit the past few years, the whole dating scene is very scary to me. Things have changed since my last foray into the single world. Sex seems to be an accepted part of dating for most. I had one potential date ask some very personal questions about very personal areas. Call me old-fashioned, but I really didn’t see a need for sharing that level of detail that early in a relationship. And I thought “does the carpet match the curtains” was an intrusive question in the 80’s. It’s only gotten worse. When I discuss dating with my kids, it makes for interesting conversations. While both Zac and Gracie are concerned that I’ll be all alone, they have different views on how to deal with it. My son is constantly encouraging me to get out there and date. My daughter, on the other hand, would rather not think about me dating at all. She’s pretty sure she can fill the void.

I’m okay with the single life. Usually. It’s just that sometimes I miss the intimacy of being in a relationship. Not the intimacy of sex, but of companionship. I miss being able to pick up the phone and call, just because. The comfort of knowing that even on a bad day, someone cares about me. The easy conversations about major events or nothing at all. Last minute dinner and movie outings, quick road trips to no-where in particular, hanging out doing those day-to-day shopping chores. A relationship with no fear of saying too much and upsetting the balance or crossing some imaginary line. I miss that most of all. I miss just being together, part of A couple.

Hey, I’m just a clunky, middle-aged mom. I don’t have a lot to offer when compared with the younger, sleeker, flirtier women out there. Lets just say I’ve got lots of history and “character”. This Single Again tag is probably going to become Single Forever. I just have to remember to enjoy the good parts and enjoy the memories that I’ve made. And, that’s okay.

Dreams

I dreamed about you. You were laughing and having so much fun. The jokes were as bad as ever. The laughter just as loud. It was so normal to be with you again. It was so vivid and real.

And then it was morning. It took me a few minutes to decide what was dreaming and what was reality. I looked around to find you and be assured that you were real. I just wanted to be held and loved.

You weren’t there. I only had your pictures and our memories. Since that night, it’s like losing you all over again. The sorrow has been so vivid and fresh. I can’t seem to move past the memories, past the yearning of my heart. I search for your face in the crowds. I look for you in the empty rooms of our home. I beg the phone to ring so I can hear your voice.

But then, I remember that you’re dead and buried. For almost eight years, I’ve lived without your smile, without your laughter, without you. I won’t find you in the crowds and your voice is forever silent. I’ve learned to laugh again. I’ve learned what it means to live life fully without your love and assurances. But sometimes its just too hard. I miss you.

I dreamed about you.

Excited?

A few weeks ago while rehearsing as part of the praise team at my church, I surveyed the other members and realized I could be the mother of EVERY person on stage. We were singing “young” music and to say that I felt really old and out of place in that moment is an understatement. No one made me feel that way. This was just me. As much as I love music and I love singing, I’m beginning to question my proper place in the music of my church. Actually, I’m questioning my place in a lot of areas.

When I was younger, the fall signaled a fresh and exciting new start. I looked forward to the first day of school with new experiences and new things to learn. As long as my kids were in school, I had the same excitement. I miss that excitement. I miss being excited. About anything.

I’ve had the chance to listen and read about opportunities that friends have and will undertake. Honestly, I envy the direction they have right now. I envy the excitement they feel. I long to be excited about what I’m doing at church or at work or anywhere. I guess I’m having a mid-life crisis of sorts.

I realize that not everything that is important is exciting. And, I can’t base my life on the excitement level. A lot of what is necessary can be humdrum and monotonous and still fulfilling. But, I don’t want to get stuck in the “I’ve always done it” loop either. So, the new school year is my signal to take a step back and review my commitments. This is the time I need to question where my time and efforts should be directed.

What needs to change?
Where does God want me serve?
Do I need to step back from some areas?

I’m waiting for even the tiniest bit of anticipation or excitement about serving to return.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalms 51:12 NLT)

My Daddy

My dad was my biggest fan. He encouraged me even when he didn’t like my choices. Deciding to move 400 miles away to go to college was not what he wanted, but he still encouraged me. Moving to Houston after my graduation from college was not part of his plan, but he was always proud of who I had become. He eventually learned to appreciate Terry even though it meant I was tied to the Houston area a little tighter.

I was the first child. And I spent lots of time with my daddy. He took me to the farm. I got to ride on the lift at the gas station while they changed his pickup oil. He taught me to drive so i could help move farm equipment. He got me my first chihuahua puppy, my first Siamese cat and my first Pekingese puppy. He bought a Chevy Vega Wagon and drove it for a year before I got my license because that was the car I wanted. I learned that he traded cars faster when he was irritated when we traded that Vega for a Mercury Capri. He painted my first trombone case purple.

I got my techie gadget desire from Daddy. He loved CB & Ham radios. I’ve been to many a Hamfest in my life and met many people as a result. We had commercial radios when we started driving. And woe be the child that did not answer our radio when called!!

I was sure my daddy could do anything. He built cradles, carved bowls, loaded ammo, worked on cars among other things. He almost ruined me for other men. He didn’t remember birthdays, but he knew he had one child during harvest, one around Christmas time & one during wheat sowing season.

Today is Daddy’s birthday. The first one without him. I miss him.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

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Shattered, Broken & Damaged

Shattered. Broken. Damaged. All descriptors I have used to describe my life at various times. I’ve been shattered. It’s hard to explain being shattered to someone who has never been there.

One afternoon on the way home from work, I was following a truck that was loaded with Large sheets of glass. The driver hit a bump and one of the sheets bounced out of the truck and hit the pavement in front of me. It shattered instantly and my car and several around me were showered in a rainbow of colors as the shards of glass bounced off of the pavement and back over us. There was no lasting damage to any of the vehicles, but that pane of glass was destroyed. That’s how I felt. Totally destroyed and torn apart. I couldn’t begin to pick up the pieces. The world continued to spin and the people around me kept living their lives. My life lay in sharp, sparkly pieces all around me. I was almost afraid to touch any of those pieces, fearing the cutting pain that comes from brushing against the sharp edges that were so newly exposed.

I knew I had to pick up the pieces around me. There was much pain and many tears as the sharp edges stabbed and cut while trying to reconstruct my life. As time passed, I learned how to carefully pick up the pieces so the pain was not too severe. Scars were forming that offered a tougher exterior that was harder to tear apart and the sharp edges were dulling with time and wear. I assembled a large collection of broken pieces. I stored them away in pretty containers that hid the ugly edges from view. The fragments caught the light and sometimes sparkled and danced for those that cared to look. And in the dark of night, I would often get those pieces out, survey the damage and try once again to fit them together. Trying to match those sharp edges together to form something that was part memory and part dream. Something that didn’t hurt when I touched it.

Over months and years, I suppose, many pieces have been reassembled. There are pieces that still don’t fit. And, there are gaps where some pieces are missing. There are lots of cracks and it’s not always pretty to observe. I still spend time in the darkness trying to figure out where the next piece belongs. You can see the original form is still there. It’s just not quite right.

There are days, when the light shines just right, that all the cracks and gaps emit a beautiful rainbow of color. I’m still broken, but there is beauty to be seen if only for a moment. Its worth the wait for a glimpse of what used to be.