Saturday, January 31, 2009

Storm 2009

I did not take this picture, but found it to be representative of what we saw over the last few days. This was in our area hit by the storm. I borrowed this from http://nwabehindthelens.com/2009/01/28/readers-ice-photos/ taken by Blair Cartwright.

This whole month has been a storm for us. So why not go ahead and throw an awful ice storm into the mix? Our power went out Tuesday afternoon (Jan 27th.) My awesome sister and brother-in-law drove us literally from friend's house to friend's house to find heat from generators, gas fireplaces and finally real power on Thursday night. I finally gave up on getting power at my own house in Fayetteville and drove an hour away yesterday to be with stable power and heat at my parents house. Not to mention lots of love and yummy food that is here.
Thomas would have enjoyed the adventure and figuring out what we needed to do. He was such a problem-solver. I realized going through this week how different our lives are now that he is not here. I relied on him to protect and take care of us. I kept thinking, "What would Thomas want us to do?" while figuring out where to go each day. I am so thankful I have such good friends and family to step in and make those decisions and help us. I think it was just hard coming to terms with relying on others forever to help us when we need anything done.
What a rough week. I am exhausted mentally and physically for a myriad of reasons, but Caroline has kept such an upbeat attitude it has helped me so much. I have heard our power came on today, but I want to make sure it is on for good before heading back.
A few side notes: thanks for the offers to help with tree clean up, but my friend Jacob and brother-in-law Travis have taken care of most the limbs. I will reassess when I get back to the house and call in for reinforcements if it looks like we need it.
Prayer warriors (fellow bloggers, family and friends): Thank you for your continued messages of encouragement. I am reading each and every one and I appreciate them more than you can know.
Prayer requests:
  • A very special friend's (not sure if she wants her name here) father's health has taken a turn for the worse. Pray for the family, his health and her safety as she travels to be with him tonight.
  • Praise for baby Hayden born January 23 (before the ice storm!) She's adorable.
  • Caroline's 2nd birthday is Monday, so that may be a hard day and I would appreciate a special prayer for that day.
  • Pray for the families who have lost loved ones from this storm and that all power is restored for everyone quickly. It was 40 degrees in my house during the warmest part of the day when we checked it the other day. I could see my breath while standing in my kitchen. I have heard some people are staying at their homes without heat and I cannot imagine this with the lows being in the teens.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today

video
This was video was taken around a month or so ago. Thought you might want to hear her sweet voice.
I have so many emotions running through me today. God gave us an absolutely beautiful day. 70 degrees and sunny. My mom and I took Caroline to the park this afternoon. I knew it would be good for all of us to get outside the house for an hour or so. Caroline had the best time swinging, climbing and sliding. I was so happy to see her be happy and at the same time I am so sad. One of my favorite authors-thanks to Aunt B, is Karen Kingsbury. She describes some of her characters at hard times in their lives as (and I'm paraphrasing) "smiling, but it doesn't meet their eyes." That's how I felt while watching Caroline be so happy on the swings. I'm smiling for her sake so she thinks I am having fun too, but inside I feel so awful that her daddy isn't there swinging her like he loved to do. This just isn't fair. We should all three be going to Tim's pizza tonight and watching Caroline dip her crackers in ranch dressing.
As I write that I remember how often in the past I have said that life isn't fair. I always knew it wasn't, this isn't supposed to be heaven. But, wow, do I really know it now. God also reminds me that everyone's days are numbered already and that Thomas was not meant to be here past January 5th, and this was the plan He had for me. I can't say that it makes it easier knowing that, but it is the truth. But I am still sad. Please don't think I am spiraling into a depression, I know that I cannot do that. I will have God's strength to be strong for Caroline and the new baby, for me and for Thomas.

We have had a ladies bible study going for around four years on Thursday nights that meets in homes. It has been such a blessing. Ladies from all denominations or some who are still looking for church homes attend. Tonight we being Beth Moore's "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman." Please pray that we all grow and learn from this study. I know that it will be good for me.

Video below from my phone just after Thomas took our Christmas pictures. This is also the place where we had our wedding reception 4 and 1/2 years ago.
video

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God's Working

Thomas in Mud Cave 2007 (It has not been "photoshopped")

(I think it helps me to write, and after a day like today, I think I should write. We will see if I feel this is "postable" material. First I want to thank all of the prayer warriors who have left comments-many came from Angie's "Bring the Rain" blog. It is so encouraging to read the comments and messages all of you have left me.)

I keep remembering more things that I don't want to forget. (Does that make sense?)
  • Thomas polished his shoes several times a week, being pregnant the smell got on my nerves, but I never told him that.
  • He always ironed his clothes himself in the morning before work. I never took for granted the work he did around the house.
  • The Saturday before the accident I was feeling particularly "icky" about food. He fed Caroline and himself and then asked what sounded good to me. I told him guacamole and he promptly went in the kitchen at 8:00pm and made me guacamole-yes from scratch.
  • He was really getting into cooking and my mom got him an awesome Furi brand knife last year. I bought him a Furi knife sharpener for Christmas and he LOVED IT. Seriously, our friends got tired of hearing about how cool the sharpener is.
  • We all went together to a Ladyback Razorback basketball game on Dec. 31st with some friends. He loved asking Caroline about "Boss Hog" so that she would tell how the mascot would stick his tongue out and she would say "away!" to him.
  • Thomas always carried Caroline into church from the car. She got to where she didn't even want me to do it.
  • When Caroline would take her money down to the front during the children's offering at church, he would always wait at the end of our row to make sure she knew where to go back to sit with us. She gave us high fives. (Thanks, Erin for reminding me of this.)
  • Caroline loved to watch him juggle. She asks me and Mimi to juggle and we can't, it makes me sad.
  • She loved it when he would play Row, Row, Row Your Boat on his guitar.
  • He read all the time. Magazines: Sailing, Discover, National Geographic. Books: He was just finishing a collection of Isaac Asimov stories. He loved science fiction (not so much the fantasy, more the hard science fiction.)
  • He would take pictures with his phone for reminders--birthday gift ideas and books at Barnes and Noble that he wanted to look for at the library for free.
I will add to this list. Maybe now I can get some sleep. Thank you for the continued prayers, I can feel them. God has been showing that he is taking care of me. Doesn't make it any easier, but a little more bearable.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coping

Caroline's first beach vacation at St. George Island, Florida 2007

I am having the hardest time coming up with titles for these entries. How do you put a word or phrase on what we are going through?
I also just realized my last blog entry was my 100th one. "Woo" for me.
I wish I could thank each one of you personally for each card and message being sent my way (through the blog and Facebook,) but I just honestly do not have the energy yet. Just know that each one helps me so much. The prayers are continually getting me through each day. People want to ask how I am doing and I can tell you that I am alive, eating some, sleeping some, kissing Caroline and trying to get all of the paperwork finished. I had no idea at the amount of paperwork and meetings that have to be done all while you are trying to grieve.
I read my sweet friend Tara's blog entry and I have to say I am also one who would rather not "deal" with hard things and push them aside as much as possible. I am dealing with this new reality in very small doses at a time and I am hopeful I will eventually be able to come to terms with this. It will be a long road. One of the most frustrating things is my lack of energy, especially in regards to Caroline. Of course, anyone in her first trimester understands that, but in addition to the stress it makes it so hard I can hardly walk for lack of energy.
Caroline has enjoyed having "Mimi" here this week and loves playing with Lakyn and Canaan. Caroline is always a joy and can always bring a smile to my face without fail.
Each day I have been hearing from Thomas' students and the impact he had on their lives. It is amazing. I enjoy reading about them so much.
When I'm having one of my many "down" moments I keep thinking about how Thomas and I never took each other, or anything for that matter, for granted. God put on my heart to write Thomas a note to him last Sunday night before he had to go back for teacher inservice. I couldn't find paper and almost gave up until I saw some junk mail from the Sierra Club (I'll need to thank them some day for sending that paper!) I wrote how thankful I was that he worked so hard so that I could stay home with Caroline and that I loved him. I put it with his keys in our laundry room. After the horrible Monday, I thought about that note, but was nervous to ask about it-what if he threw it out or it fell to the ground without him seeing it? I mentioned it to Travis and Jacob and they said they remembered seeing it in his car! Jacob went back to the car and rescued it for me. The accident happened so close to our house that I know without a doubt the love I have for him was on his mind when he went to heaven. I take so much solace in that. Thank you, God.
Please tell everyone you love them everyday. We are not promised tomorrow. In fact, we are told that life will bring us trouble in the bible. It will happen. Just as that is a promise, so is the promise in the bible that we are saved and will all meet again in heaven.The first day at our new church building (Mt. Comfort) a little over a year ago.

I also want to say how much our church, Mt. Comfort Church of Christ (formerly North Street Church of Christ) has helped myself and family through these difficult weeks. I knew we had something special there, but it is beyond my limited vocabulary to describe the love and compassion they have shown us. Every where I turn there is someone from church bringing meals, calling, visiting to help with paperwork or praying. I love them all so much and I know I will be leaning on them for years to come. I also have heard from so many others how impressed they have been with our church and I am so happy our friends and family can see what Thomas, Caroline and I have had at our church all along. (We began going there in college.)
That is all for now. Just know that I appreciate each and every prayer and comment/message you send my way. Love you all, Bonnie

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Terrible Tragedy


I really am at a loss for words. Such conflicting emotions. I am so sad and tired, yet so amazed at the outpouring of love and prayers from friends and people I do not even know from around the world. I haven't said the words out loud and having to type them is almost as bad. Thomas went to heaven Monday, January 5th 2009. I really cannot believe I am writing this, but I have so much to say and I believe it will be of value to Caroline and new baby in years to come. At this point, I am only able to say a few things that I feel I have to write and then I will fill in more details and stories in days, weeks and years to come.
We went to church Sunday January 4th, ate lunch with family and friends, spent the evening watching Planet Earth and playing with Caroline, eating ice cream for dessert, and went to sleep, Thomas woke up to go to school early on Monday morning. He kissed me goodbye, I was still in bed, but awake. He got in the car after getting my love note (for lack of a better description!--see next post,) buckled his seat belt and two minutes later he hit an icy patch on a bridge and went to heaven. I got a call around an hour after the accident telling me to come to the hospital. Another hour later they gave me the news.
First and foremost, I have a peace that Thomas (my devoted, precious husband) is in heaven and he has been able to see the love and events that have been happening this week. God is good. I can still say that and believe in it with all of my being even after the tragedy.
Secondly, I would not be able to type this, get out of bed, play with Caroline or anything for that matter if it was not for the prayers being lifted up by everyone constantly. Please continue to do so for as long as you possibly can.
Just to clear the air a little more...Thomas and I are pregnant. We had not told anyone (except for my sister Becky, and I wasn't supposed to!) because it was so early in our pregnancy. We had planned on sharing the news by having Caroline wear a "big sister" t-shirt to her 2nd birthday party coming up in a few weeks. While at the hospital Monday morning I told the doctors who came to give me an update that I was pregnant because I was desperate for them to do all that they could to save him (I know that they were, but like I said I was desperate.) Apparently others heard me and somehow our special announcement ended up on the TV news for all to hear (I am okay with this now, it allowed more people to pray more specifically, but it did take away the joy of being able to announce it to our friends and family.) A few other things they got wrong in the report-Caroline is 23 months old and I am on a year leave from working at Harp Elementary and most importantly Thomas was using his seatbelt.
I know those of you close to me have heard me talk about this so much--you can skip this paragraph!
We are faithful seatbelt wearers and when the policeman came to talk to me at the hospital that morning that wasn't even a question in my mind, about his use of a seatbelt, so I did not even think to ask him about it. (The policeman did not share with me any details, he was just giving condolences.) I did not find out until the next day from a friend that the television news stations had all reported the false information about the seatbelt not being used. It was like a knife to my heart. My friends went to the car, saw the seat belt still buckled in and where the firemen had cut it off of him. My sister's co-worker's husband was the fireman on the scene who was one of the men who cut off the seatbelt. I say all of this because I know in the past when I heard (which I will never do again) of an accident where a seatbelt was not being used, I might get mad at that person or feel that they should have known better, etc. This can be a lesson for everyone to not believe everything they hear in the media.
I especially did not want Caroline, new baby or any of the thousands of students to think of their Dad, teacher, friend as being irresponsible or reckless. I am coming to a peace about this so please do not think I have any ill feelings toward the police department! They work tirelessly for our safety and I appreciate them all very much. The policeman who visited me that morning had very kind words for me and I could tell he was very broken up about the situation.
I know KNWA and the Morning News ran new stories with the correct information and I am so, so, so, grateful. Please let me know who else you have read or saw that corrected the information so that I can thank them. *I have since heard that all of the stations and newspapers have reported the correct information.*
The thought of trying to come up with words to thank my friends and family for being with me through this is daunting. One day I will have the words. Right now all I can say is simply "THANK YOU!" The constant company, food, calls, texts, and e-mails I treasure. I also appreciate all the help with the house and the "technical" aspects of all that is going on. I may never even know all of the things that were done for us.
I know this sounds silly, but I am also thankful for Facebook, I don't know what I would be doing without it. I read each and every posting that is sent to me or to his "In Memory of Mr. Culp" page set up by his students. Try the link: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/group.php?gid=48331982233&ref=ts
I love the stories and memories posted there.
His precious students (and faculty): I love you and I know you are hurting so much, too. Let's get through this together to make Mr. Culp proud. You can ask our friends about this, but he never quit talking about you guys. Seriously, all the time. He loves you so.
Please keep in touch, In Christ-Bonnie