Saturday, February 28, 2009

Prayers Needed

This is Bonnie's sister. She asked me to write to everyone asking for prayers for her sweet baby. She went to the ER this morning and we were there over 4 hours. The ultrasound looked good and there was a good heartbeat. We are praying for the reasons she is having the bleeding. She is supposed to be on bed rest and go in on Monday to see her real doctor. I cannot explain how much we need the prayers right now but I am sure you know. She is the most amazing person I know and it hurts more than anything for her to have to go through anymore stress than she already has. I pray God will place His healing hands on her and her sweet baby. Thank you all so much for the prayers.

In His Love,
Becky

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heaven

Honeymoon in Jamaica 2004

Two posts in one day seems necessary for me at this moment. I think partially because I can't stand posting with a picture to go along with it! Don't pictures speak a thousand words?
Getting the mail today I am so glad to see a couple of cards mixed in with my "paperwork" as I call it. It seems like whenever I open the "paperwork" it makes me re-live that day-January 5th, 2009-all over again. I am having a problem with that anyway. It seems like I go to bed thinking about the events of that day and I wake up around 4am each day doing the same thing. I have to consciously think about something else or pray. Sometimes I think about that morning and it feels like it had to have happened to someone else because it is to horrifying to think that it happened to me. I do remember in my fog of that morning how many people came to support me there in the ER. That was nice.
I feel like I'm rambling today.
I'm not quite through C.S. Lewis' book "A Grief Observed." (I'm not widely recommending this to everyone like "Tear Soup," but it has been really good for me as someone who lost a spouse after a relatively short marriage. We would have celebrated our 5th anniversary at the end of July. Although we dated for eightish years before that.) Anyway, it has really made me think about heaven and God in different ways. I've always heard about how great heaven is, but it must be incredible for Thomas to want to be there and not with Caroline, new baby and I. (Not that he had any choice of course.) I just can't imagine him not being sad being away from us. I would like to think about heaven as a place where time has no holds and so we are all there together already, but I also want to think of Thomas looking in on us so I don't know how that works. In the book I'm reading it says how different it must be in heaven because why would God take away what we already have and give it to us again in heaven. That makes perfect sense, but in my small brain--I want it to be the same, in some ways. I want us to be special to each other (as a husband and wife) and not love everyone equally as I have heard heaven explained to me. I know that must sound selfish, but that's how I feel.
I've said this a lot to my friends and family, but one of the million hard parts about this is how I used to feel like life is short, but now I feel like the next fifty years is an eternity. (I know I'm not even promised tomorrow-obviously-but I can't help but look down the road.) I'm already hit over and over at how commercials, school/education info, movies is aimed at "parents" plural. That's as it should be, of course, in a perfect world. It's just another constant reminder at how different we are now.
This all being said, I was thinking today-listening to the local christian radio station at how blessed I am to have found Christ and that He fills the hole left by Thomas. It still hurts, but I have the hope and faith that carries me through each day. I remember what that "hole" felt like before finding Jesus and it is such an awful place to be.
Thank you, Lord, for this day we, here on Earth, have together and for my children. I can say I am blessed.

What helps?

To make sense to readers, I try to have a "theme" to each post. I have no idea what this "theme" will be. Maybe when I'm finished I'll know and then I'll also know what to title this post.
It helps me so much to put down thoughts here and get such positive feedback from you all(no matter how negative the post!) So many of you have given me encouragement and prayers-I am forever thankful.
One blog comment asked about what has been helpful to me during this awful time. I've thought about it for several days and finally gave up trying to put the thoughts together in my head. I'm just going to try and type it out! Some of the hard things about putting it into words is I don't want anyone to feel they should have done something different or that they haven't done enough etc. Also, I know what helps me, may not be good for another person-but I think we all know the grief thing is definitely a personal voyage and is different for everyone.
Here is a very short list (not in any order) of some of the things that have helped:
  • The multitude of cards (and messages via email, texts, facebook) has been awesome. I would suggest sending a card or message at the beginning and then again around a month or so later. Also realizing that not getting a response does not mean it isn't appreciated--It IS! (I rarely have the energy to respond.)
  • A friend's mom sent a warm, fuzzy blanket to me. I know I have other blankets, but this one is designated just for me and can stay right on my bed or wherever I need it. Several of my students and friends have made uplifting, Christian CDs for me that has helped more recently since I am now able to listen to music a little more. I still have to take it in small doses because of my emotions.
  • Any and all food is helpful. Labeled dishes are nice, (I still have a few unlabeled ones--so please come claim them :-) ) a few friends brought breakfasty type foods and that was great, another few brought paper goods/plastic ware/disposable food storage containers. My friend set up a "care calendar" that coordinates when people can bring meals-it's all through e-mail and the website calendar. (I'm not putting this here to have any of you sign up to bring me food, I just think it's an awesome idea that can really help people.) http://www.carecalendar.org/
  • Several friends (at different times) swept my whole house. Another great organizer friend cleaned out my pantry and refrigerator after a couple of weeks when leftovers had piled up.
  • My friends brought their children to play with Caroline.
  • Don't worry about not knowing what to say--I don't even know what to say! Just say you love the person. Also be willing to listen, it might have to do with the event or not -don't worry about responding at all. Just listen.
  • Finding someone who is/has been in a similar situation. For me, God has led me to others who have lost spouses and it helps in that you don't feel so alone. God is amazing that he brought Tara Newby to me through a friend of a friend etc. Our situation could not be more similar. I've gained so much from getting to know her. Please pray for her, too. She's due in April.
  • Friends have helped so much with areas unfamiliar to me: social security stuff, insurance, banking, taxes, cutting down trees, working a generator, replacing filters in the house (Jacob!) etc. If you or your spouse have some expertise in an area like that, it helps the "griever" to know there's someone to go to with questions or when needing advice filling out paperwork and going to meetings.
  • Kleenex, chapstick and houseshoes are nice.
  • Prayers!
I'm not sure I even want to post this because I am definitely not an authority on how to deal with this. I'm still trying to wade through it all. I also know I am leaving out tons of things that have been done for me that are helpful, but I thought I would keep this list more "general" for everyone. I am so blessed to have a sister and brother-in-law who pretty much moved in with me-- I do not know where I would be without them. My mom has also "moved in" for part of each week and there is nothing like a mom who knows what needs to be done and does it or is a shoulder to cry on.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Challenging days

I am so blessed to have Caroline and sweet baby #2 on the way. I took a picture of one of the ultrasound pictures with my camera phone, so it's not the best quality--but look at that fully formed baby!! Only 12 weeks and I can count his/her toes! Huge blessing!!
And yet, at the same moment I feel so sick inside (and not just from the morning "all day" sickness.) So many people tell me how "well" I am doing under the circumstances. I feel the need to write about that.
I don't know if you can imagine the conflicting feelings of trying to seem "well" for everyone because I know it's hard on others to see me suffer, but at the same time a part of me has died and I am suffering on the inside. Of course, it does spill out at times-sometimes at completely unexpected times and sometimes I know it's building and will come no matter what. A good friend told me that she knows I'm not "well" but I can get out of bed and get dressed and that tells her that I am doing better than some would be at this point.
I understand that, but I also carry a layer of guilt--It feels weird and wrong to be able to go eat at a restaurant or laughing out loud when I am still "grieving" and another layer of guilt because Thomas can't be eating at a restaurant or be laughing with me. (I know, I am sure they have wonderful restaurants in heaven, but you know what I mean.) Leaving a restaurant the other day I saw an acquaintance of mine, but avoided her because I didn't want her to think that I must be all better if I'm able to eat out. (does that make any sense?) I guess I'm just afraid people will stop praying for me and then where will I be?? I am certain the prayers are the only thing getting me through each day.
God must have really wanted me to read this certain book (Tear Soup) because I first got it from my mother-in-law Tracy and then from a friend of a friend who is also a young widow. (By the way, just to pour on some more woe-is-me, I actually had to check a "widow" box on my pre-registration form for my upcoming delivery in August. How absolutely horrible is that?)
Anyway, I have a small stack of "grief" books from so many awesome friends that I've skimmed through but can't seem to have the energy to read cover to cover yet. This book in particular is a beautiful, color picture book called "Tear Soup." When I received it the second time I assumed God wanted me to read it. So I did and it fit me so well that I would now ask all of my friends and family to grab some tissues and head to the nearest book store, find a chair and read it-cover to cover. (It's not long.) It's not a super cheap book and I am a proponent of libraries so I don't want everyone to go out and buy it, but just read it, for my sake and yours and anyone you know who is experiencing a loss. It's worth it.I had such a rough night last night and at first I thought it was the upcoming holiday (today) but quickly realized it was something else that triggered it. As some visitors were leaving in the early evening yesterday I noticed all of the frogs "singing" (it really sounds like a frog symphony, not just normal "ribbits"-it's awesome) from across the road in the pond. The last time I vividly remember that happening was probably in the late fall and Thomas and Caroline and I all sat on the front porch and enjoyed hearing the evening frogs' song.
How many million other moments will be like this for me? On the flip side of that (and also so I don't end this post on such a down note) what amazing plan does God have in mind for us that will help make sense for all the suffering?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Special Days

Caroline and I both had birthdays recently. The Saturday night before the huge ice storm, Becky and Travis surprised me by taking us to Fast Lanes! I truly thought it was going to be just us four bowling, but when we got to our lanes, there were a ton of my friends there. We ate pizza, cake and bowled for hours! It really touched me that they went to so much trouble to make sure I had some fun on my big 3-0 birthday. We really had a blast. At some point the lights went off and "cosmic" bowling began...here's a short video of how Caroline, Lakyn and Sara reacted. (Thanks to "Ro-Ro"-Leigh-for helping Caroline bowl all night!)

video

More importantly, on February 2nd our little sweet pea turned TWO! Can you believe it? With all of the ice storm commotion, we ended up spending her "real" birthday (Groundhog's Day) at Mimi and Papa's house. Papa brought home tons of balloons (that is all Caroline has asked for her birthday.) Mimi and I took Caroline earlier in the day to Chuck E Cheese's. It was her first ever visit and she was a little hesitant at first. She did not care for the dancing/singing characters on stage, but she warmed up quickly to the "rides" and games. Here she is on the slide.

video
Here she is under the slide on the "bus." This made me shudder a little to think of her going off to school in a few years! (I've got enough to worry about right now, I'll worry about that when the time comes!)We threw Caroline a party here at our house this past Saturday night. It was great to be surrounded by family and friends again (with electricity!) It was "Tinkerbell" themed and Caroline squealed when she saw the decorations. We have had to sing the "Happy Birthday" song, oh, about 25 times this weekend. She sings along and it's the cutest thing ever.
One of the many things that I am going to miss about Thomas is his talent for photography (I know a lot of you will miss that!) He was such a natural at any hobby he decided to take up and photography was one of our favorites. He tried to teach me a few things, but I am not a natural like he was. It was such a blessing to have Thomas' brother, Skip, take pictures for me at Caroline's party. Skip was really the inspiration behind Thomas getting into photography in the first place. Here's a few from Caroline's special day. (The bottom picture is of blocks "Bapa" or Thomas' dad made for Caroline with their initials. Thomas and "Bapa" made a whole set of blocks with their initials on them and gave them to Caroline on her first birthday last year.) We had an awesome day at Thomas' school, Har-Ber High, on Friday. I hope most of you were able to see some news coverage of it. Thomas' oldest brother gave a lecture/presentation to each of Thomas' classes that covered biology topics and life lessons. It gave his students a well-rounded view of Thomas and what he stood for and how he lived life to the fullest. The students and faculty have been amazing. The stories, gifts and cards I've received from them has shown me just how much they care for him and the impact he made on their lives.
On Friday, Aunt Jen-Thomas' older sister-gave Thomas' mom, Caroline and I lockets each with special pictures laser-etched in color. Caroline does not want to take it off! At church, Sunday, she kept showing everyone her locket. I had to show her how to hold it without covering the pictures up so people could see it! She also opens mine everytime she sees it and says, "Momma, Dadda, Nine-nuh (She can't say "Caroline" well yet) over and over. Luckily, Jen tells me the lockets are water (or tear)-proof.

Prayer Requests:
  • Doctor's appointment tomorrow for baby #2 **Update: Appointment went great! Everyone at HerHealth has been so wonderful to me and I consider them to be a blessing to me. I have some ultrasound pictures that I will post as soon as I scan them in! Her/His little feet are crossed at the ankle in one of the pictures. So cute!*
  • The paperwork from insurance companies will end quickly. (I never knew how much paperwork is involved-pray for my patience in filling out all that's required of me. It is really starting to get me down.) **Update: What a fast answered prayer! Two of my paperwork "hang-ups" were miraculously cleared up today. Just a few more to go. Thanks so much for the prayers. God cares about these "little" things, too!**
  • Everyone's pregnancies to go smoothly (There are five of us in our bible study who are pregnant-what blessings!)