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Since Father's Day, I've struggled with pulling myself back up out of the grief funk. We had a wonderful vacation with my family and our close friends but sometimes it seems like the higher you're flying, the more distance there is to fall.

Day 195 - June 15th at 6:54pm

To say I'm dreading Father's Day would be an understatement. I debated on staying at the beach an extra day, just to avoid church on Sunday, but that's impossible since Abi is leaving for camp. I still have my father so it feels unfair that I have mine but my kids don't have theirs. I'm not sure what to do. Do we go to church? Do we go to the grave? Does that make it better or worse? Do we pretend like Father's Day isn't a thing? Do we sink our celebration into my dad, Mike's dad and my brother/brother in laws? I'm just not sure.... this is another "first" we must endure, but the truth is that I'm not sure what the right answer is. My counselor says that we shouldn't avoid those times that cause us pain, but rather allow ourselves to walk through it and experience the pain it causes us so we can move past it, but the longer I go through this grief journey, the easier it is to avoid the tough stuff because you just get tired of hurting. You just get tired of being sad. You just get tired of crying. Before going through this, I would have recognized the pain a church member might go through on Mother's Day or Fathers Day, but the thoughts of skipping church to avoid the difficult emotions of the day would be out of the question in my mind.... until now. And if we do skip, does it just leave the bridge that must be crossed for another year? It's not really me that I'm grieving for, but for my kids. It breaks my heart to see them so utterly heartbroken and sad. Haven't they suffered enough? Would sitting through a service where we honor and remember our dads just feel like pouring salt into an open wound? Or will it feel like a healing balm which aids in our restoration? And honestly..... I don't know. I just don't know.

Day 197 - June 17th at 7:51am

The beach has been our home for the last week, but we will go home today, after a quick stop in Charleston for pralines. (I'm trying to maintain my girlish figure lol) I remember leaving last year, posting about the changes that we might see in our family before returning in a year. In my mind, our family was going to grow my 1 because my nephew was going to be born in July.... that was the change I expected. Babies are always a good kind of change. But traditionally, I look at change like most of us do, with dread. This year, the Lord continued to show me grace as we dealt with change. We stayed in a new house. The Lord knew last year that staying in the same house again this year would have been too difficult, so He sat it up a year in advance. He allowed a new family to come for half of the week who had a son Eli's age. This was a huge blessing for Eli, who misses Mike the most in situations like this, where they would have spent a lot of time together fishing and playing in the ocean and pool. We usually go to Charleston on our way down, but we decided to do it differently this year so we wouldn't be tempted to eat at Bubba Gump, (where we've eaten the last 2-3 years) but thought it might be best to stop by on the way home so it feels different. I find that we can follow a tradition at 80% but there needs to be enough of a change that it feels like a noticeable difference. That seems to get us by without feeling the sadness of following a tradition without Mike. Me and the kids are having to learn how to do things for ourselves that Mike would have typically done.... like loading bike racks on the van and hauling our luggage down the steps to pack it up for the trip home. My dad gifted me with my very own bungee cords because I realized how handy they were and I need them. Usually, at this point, it would help my "going home" sadness by thinking about where we would be going next, which is usually West Jefferson over the 4th, but I just know that will be another "first" to endure. But we can't just avoid living our lives for fear of the pain that might come with it. Life is too short to be miserable. So we just press through. We have truly had a wonderful week, despite it all. Just as the Lord has shown me favor in so many ways, He has also done that for my kids in their own ways. From them catching fish, winning fishing tournaments, and Anna getting her very own private "learn how to swim like a mermaid" lesson for free, to me laughing so hard at us playing catch phrase that I thought I would literally pee my pants..... the Lord has been good to us this week. Everything went much better than I expected. Yes, there were a few bumps in the road, but all in all, it was so wonderful being surrounded by those who we love and those who return that love to us. I can't help but wonder what this trip will be like next year..... who will be with us? Or who might not? But this one thing I know.... Psalm 139:7-10 "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me." It's all going to be ok. ❤. Until next year Kiawah.....

Day 197 - June 17th at 11:30pm

Tomorrow will be a tough day, so I want to take a minute to honor my dad tonight. He is the true example of a what a dad/PawPaw should be. In the last week alone, he has put a towing package on my van, drove 45 minutes to my house at 7am to help me figure out issues with my bike rack while loading for vacation, he has supported my mom in the passing of her brother in law, took the kids on bike rides, fixed me 2 perfect "Over medium" eggs every morning on vacation, made some phenomenal smoothies, came down to the beach to sit under the umbrella and chat (even with his jeans on, since he doesn't wear shorts), and maybe even slipped me a little spending money. He helped the kids during the fishing tournament and heartily agreed to a pirates adventure boat ride although he might have preferred a nap. But my dad is one of a kind. He loves the Lord and calls me just to make sure I'm ok. And he has an open door policy when it comes to grandkids having sleepovers. So Happy Fathers Day to an amazing dad. I'm so blessed that God gave me you! Love you so much!!!!! Ashley

Day 198 - June 18th at 8:38am

I could have never asked for a more caring, genuine, loving, Godly father for my children. Fathers Day isn't the same without the kids busting at the seams to give him their homemade presents and cards. I miss him so much. But I know he has to be enjoying Father's Day with our Heavenly Father. If it's possible, please spend time with your dad today. I know my kids would give anything for one more day with theirs. Happy Fathers Day in heaven Mike!

Day 199 - June 19th at 5:43am

Father's Day, for me, was filled with about a million highs and a million lows. The emotional stress of the day was overwhelming. It's 5am currently on the day following Father's Day and I've been awake since 4am because my mind won't stop. I went from being sad, to grateful, to being mad, to being thankful, to being proud... all in a matter of a few hours. As you can recall, I struggled with what to do and how we should spend our day. For the week leading up to Father's Day, the thoughts of visiting Mike at his grave would bring me to instant tears. My mom said she would take care of putting new flowers on his grave and a balloon. This brought comfort to me but made me feel like a loser at the same time, because I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But when I found out Abi had to be at the church to leave for camp by 10:45, I realized the Lord was shaping the day for me and all I really needed to do was "walk" and He would guide me. I woke up crying and couldn't seem to get myself together. I quickly began receiving texts and messages from close friends and friends that I have never even met, encouraging me with scriptures and words. We left the house, headed to Maiden and as we were driving, Abi bursts out crying.... like the sobbing kind of crying, and I realize that she asked my mom to send her a picture of his grave. The injustice that my 13 year old is posting a tribute to how much she misses her dad on Instagram to a stupid drunk driver makes me so insanely mad. It feels so unfair. I feel guilty for having my dad when my kids don't have theirs. I made sure Abi still wanted to go to camp, and she assures me she does, so I get her dropped off and then comes Eli. A friend had an extra ticket to see DanTDM (YouTube star) and invited Eli to attend at the last minute. Eli was over the moon excited. So I got him dropped off and then made it to church, where Annabelle was with MawMaw and PawPaw. It was the first time I've been able to attend church with Dad on Father's Day in too many years to count. For the first time, it hit me that the Father's Day message could technically apply to me too since Mike's gone. We had lunch, gave Dad his gifts, I played with my nephew for a few hours, had supper and then it was time to pick up Eli. I hadn't really considered that our meeting spot was a quarter of a mile from Mike's grave, but it was. So after I got Eli, the three of us drove to his grave. As we pulled up, there sat 2 doves, which flew away as I got too close, but what a comforting sight. A storm was coming but Annabelle said, "Can we get out and see it for a minute?" Come to find out, although I thought I had taken them by to see his headstone, evidently I hadn't. Eli and Anna walked around and touched it, and Anna wanted to know if the extra guy in the boat that is inscribed on his tombstone was Jake. :) (Jake is a close friend of ours) It began to rain, so we got in the car and headed home. Eli chatted about how awesome his day was and then I got a text from someone at camp who began to tell me how Abi had spoken to the girls in the cabin and ministered to them by sharing her experience of losing her dad. It made me proud and broke my heart at the same time. I wish I could take away their pain. I wish I could understand "why." I wish they didn't have to grow up so fast because of someone's bad choices, and as much as I wish and hope and pray, the outcome will still be the same. So, although I'm super glad the day is behind me, the truth is that the Lord showed me once again that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He showed me that all I have to do is "walk" and He will take care of the rest. The favor that I have experienced since Mike's passing has also been bestowed upon my children as I see supernatural ways in which they have been blessed. The support system that we have been given is huge and I thank you guys for your role in helping us learn to live again without Mike. Much love to you all..... ❤️ Ashley

Day 201 - June 21st at 8:24am

Sometimes it just makes me so stinking mad that Mike is gone. I don't know if wives really understand the magnitude of what our husbands do for us.... things we just take for granted because it's not up to us to think about it. Like taking off the trash and changing light bulbs and filters. Hauling heavy stuff around, like loaded totes with kitchen supplies. Like mowing the grass and weedeating. Here's a little fun fact for you.... Did you know that weedeating makes you sweat like a race horse!?!? And you get filthy? Like crazy filthy!?! And if you get too close to rocks they pelt you in the legs like little stinging bees?!? (Note to self - wear thicker and longer pants next time instead of these yoga pants) Oh and did you know it makes your arms feel like spaghetti noodles when you're through and if you don't wear something over your eyes the stuff will fly into your eyes?!?!? Yeah. Me too. Now. Yeah - now I do. I used to get so aggravated when Mike would mow the yard but not weedeat. Now I know why he hated it! It's terrible! It just feels like there should be someone to blame! Like why didn't Mike just teach me how to do this stuff!?! Why didn't he fix the stupid tire on the lawn mower that goes flat in between mows? And why didn't he teach me how to use the mower and why didn't he teach me how to cut these ceiling tiles so I can replace the stained ones in the basement? And why did he leave me here to figure all this out without him?!? It's so unfair! Most days I think I've come so far and I could become "Wonder Woman" but tonight I'm sitting on the couch crying my eyes out because I have to figure this stuff out on my own. (Well.... me and YouTube). Since Sunday I've been a wreck. I tried to go to a funeral yesterday and couldn't. I had my dress on, even drove to the church, but couldn't make myself turn into the parking lot. I was just crying too hard. Its like I find myself wanting to just do it ALL by myself. I don't need nobody. Don't want nobody's help..... like my little independent preschoolers, and then I end up crying BECAUSE I have to do it all myself. I even got stuck in a car wash today..... that was a first. For like 15 minutes! Until this alarm went off and the owner came in and rescued me and my soapy van. It's just so frustrating sometimes. But I know that I have to be able to do these things for myself. I can't just expect people to drop what they are doing to come "rescue me." The adventures in widowhood continue..... some good and some bad, but at least I feel a little better now since I poured my heart out and can go tackle something else for a while. Thanks for listening to me whine..... I just need a hug.


Homegirl replaced all of these ceiling tiles tonight in her basement! #boom #girlpower #iboughtmyownblade #dirtyjob #laddersrock

Day 209 - June 29th at 4:11pm

Since Father's Day, I've struggled with pulling myself back up out of the grief funk. We had a wonderful vacation with my family and our close friends but sometimes it seems like the higher you're flying, the more distance there is to fall. No, it's not a constant 24/7 grief, like I had in the beginning, but more concentrated pockets that you have to work through as you go about your day. I find myself looking for "quick fix" ways to make myself perk back up..... like buying a new dress, eating lunch wherever I want (even if I'm eating there alone), listening to praise and worship music, just trying to figure out ways to get a temporary reprieve from the pain of grief. I ate lunch at a place yesterday I hadn't eaten at since Mike died. I guess we expect the memories to flood on "big days" like Father's Day and Christmas, but you don't always think about the first time you go eat at a restaurant you both enjoyed, alone. Or the first time you try on an outfi,t but don't have him here to ask, "What do you think about my new dress?" For the first time this week, the reality hit me that if for some reason Mike came back, it would be hard to adjust to life with him here again. And that makes me sad. Up until now, I would have given anything for him to be here, and I probably would have told you I'd give anything to have one more day with him, but if I knew the horrible pain the kids and I would have to experience once again to just have one more day, I don't think I could do it. I have always worried that eventually people would forget Mike, because that's just what happens, right? In time, people just forget. It's easier that way. But I didn't ever consider that the day would come when in living my life, I would progress beyond a desire for him to return. I know this might sound odd to you, because it seems odd to me, since we both know him returning isn't an option. But choosing to live without him requires a certain detachment.... I posted an article yesterday and in it, the author said, "widows do not move on... they move forward." Somedays moving at all is hard. Making the decision to move forward is also hard. I find myself looking around and seeing people in their happy relationships and thinking about the challenges that will present itself when I tackle another relationship. I wonder if they will really know the real me, or will it just be the broken pieces of whatever this is I'm building? I've never been so up and down emotionally before. I've never needed to be reminded that I'm pretty. Or important. Or special. I've never felt like I literally needed the physical touch of a hug before .... although I've always been a hugger. I've never needed confirmation that I'm doing the right things or making the right choices. But for whatever reason, I do need those now. Grief changes you. Sometimes it makes me sad because I miss the carefree living of days before December 6th. I miss not having to second guess every action. Every decision. Every thought. Someone liked an old post of mine from 3 months ago and I happened to read it. At the time I wrote it, I really felt like I was strong, but I now know I was really so weak. When I read it this time, it made me cry because I know how I feel now, which is different from how I felt then. I can't help but wonder, and hope, that when I read this post again in 3 months, I'll realize how much more I've moved forward. It reminds me of the ocean and how even though you're standing in the same place, before long, you realize the waves have moved you down the shore. I just have to trust that God's got me. And even though I don't feel like I'm moving, I have to trust that He's taking me to where I'm supposed to be. I have to know that He's working on me. He's helping me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. ❤️

Day 212 - July 1st at 12:41pm

Confession: I ate a cold slice of Oscar Meyer Bologna straight from the fridge as a midnight snack the other night. I confess that I love to eat bologna at night, but the thought hit me that Mike wasn't too crazy about that habit of mine. 😂 what odd habit do you enjoy but your spouse isn't too crazy about? Make me smile..... #bologna #toenails #oysters ❤️


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