4) UN-HAPPY NEW YEAR
Navigating a new year of change...
Day 22 - December 27th at 8:39am
3 weeks. It's been 3 weeks since Mike went to live with Jesus. Time just keeps ticking on. It stops for no one. I'm feeling more "empowered" now that my Christmas decor is down. My mom, dad and sister came yesterday and helped me tackle it. We got some handy dandy bins to store stuff in, which I think will make it better and easier in the long run. I get to do one of my favorite yearly traditions today.... I get to go to Rock Barn with my mom and sisters. Mike would usually have this gift under the tree for me but this year a sweet friend bought it for me to enjoy with my BFF's in his stead. I've been so overwhelmed with just how much people want to show me they care. It means so much to me. I feel like Mike's story has touched so many people's heart that it just propels them to want to do something. I'm thankful for that. Over the next year there will be so much to tackle but I'm going to do my best to "hand out forks" as a friend reminded me so I don't have to do it alone. I'm just not good at that. I will work on it though. I promise.:) Much love to you all. Hope you all have a great day.
Annabelle is sick. I just want to scream "REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?" I got a text while I was at Rock Barn that said "Anna just threw up." Looks like a stomach bug, but she's also running a low grade fever. Couldn't we at least get a "no sickness pass" for at least 2 months after you bury your husband!?!?!?!?!??!!! The thing about stomach bugs is that the sick person typically shares, unknowingly, with the rest of the family. In the past, Mike and I would share in the care of our sick babies, but now it's all up to me. Mike didn't usually catch these things but I always do and I don't just throw up once, I throw up like a bajillion million times. Sigh. Once again I'm asking for your prayers.
Day 23 - December 28th at 11:03am
Now I have 2 down for the count. Eli and Anna are both feeling ill. On top of dealing with the loss of Mike, the kids are having to adjust to not being able to be at all the places they want to be because when one family member is down, we're all down. Abi had basketball practice this morning but naturally, I can't take her because Anna and Eli are both sick and there's no one who lives close enough to us that I could say, "Hey! Would you mind swinging by to get Abi?" She wasn't going to make it anyways, originally, because we were supposed to be out of town today but all that has changed too, due to the stomach bug. Last night the kids were invited to a birthday party but with Annie being sick, I was able to drop Abi off but couldn't pick her up, but thankfully, someone was willing to drive wayyyy out of their way to bring her home so she could go. You just never realize how much a "single parent" has to do in order to orchestrate the workings of 3 active kids. It's a lot! I just finished "The Magnolia Story" by Chip and Joanna Gaines. It's sooo good! Read it if you can. Pray for us today!
Day 24 - December 29th at 12:33pm
Annie still was no better this morning, so although she persisted greatly, I trumped her and took her to the doctor. The doctor feels that she is on the verge of dehydration so if she cannot keep liquids down by this evening, we may be talking about fluids and an overnight hospital stay. The doctor, on a whim, said "Let's test her for strep too," and sure enough, she was positive for strep. So, at least now we know what we are fighting! Strep and stomach bug. She gave her some nausea medicine with strict orders of what to do and how often to do it for the rest of the day. I'm trusting the Lord that she will be feeling better real soon! Eli is feeling much better already. Thanks for your prayers and concern..... Ashley
Day 25 - December 30th at 9:24am
Day "I have no clue" - when it rains, it pours. Annabelle became even more ill yesterday evening and was in so much pain, that I literally wondered if she had appendicitis. I called the doctor and they wanted me to bring her to the hospital to begin IV fluids. Evidently the pain was coming from the combination of strep and dehydration. Eli began to freak out and I had to talk him off the ledge by saying, "This isn't like what happened with Daddy." I explained that this was the best thing for her, so she can get better. It also helped that they encouraged Anna because she was so scared. So far she's been stuck 5 times. (She was so dehydrated that they couldn't find a vein) The last stick was the worst because she is so over all this and the doctor had told her she wouldn't be stuck anymore. (This was before we found out the girl lost her blood somehow....) but she is being a trooper! She just ate some breakfast and we are hoping it stays in and digests. She is perkier than she was last night so that's a blessing. I just asked her if she needed anything and she said, "I just wanna get outta here." Haha. She's complimented every nurse on their "pink hair" or "pretty earrings" etc. :) It's just feeling like life is pretty unfair right now, but I count it an honor to be here with my sweet Anna to get her feeling better and I'm thankful for the confirmation that I made the right choice to bring her to the hospital. We hope to be going home later on this afternoon. Thanks for your prayers.
I think that since we're out of the hospital I've finally allowed myself to feel the emotions associated with having a child in the hospital. I've never had to do this by myself before.... never had to make the sole call about whether taking her or not was the right thing. Never had to see the sheer terror in her eyes as I held her down so they could stick a needle in her arm, all while saying "You're strong! You're a big girl. You can do this!" Going through this alone feels like a betrayal. When I decided to bring children into this world, which was what I desired since I was a child myself, I signed up for it under the assurance that Mike and I would do it together. I don't know that I ever really thought about a "Plan B." We just talked about everything together. We were always better together than when we were apart. I just wish he were here so we could talk about stuff..... I mean even if I knew I was doing this alone, if I could at least talk to him about all the decisions to be made, I would at least have the assurance that I was doing ok. Even times at church when we would be taking up an offering, we would both say the amount we wanted to give and usually we would say the same amount. This whole life seems so unfair. That's the best word I can think of to describe it. Unfair. I never considered who would walk my girls down the aisle when they got married or who would be Eli's best man if Mike wasn't here. I never thought about memorizing which tire on the lawn mower he had to pump up each time he mowed or how much he had in his retirement accounts. There was no Plan B. I'm just feeling super down tonight. Super tired. Super sad. I don't want Anna to feel better at MawMaw and PawPaw's than she does at our house and yet, she begged me to not take her home. I don't want people to feel sorry for me and yet, if I was looking at me from the outside, I would feel so sorry for me too. People tell me all the time that I'm so strong and I really feel like Humpty Dumpty..... a bunch of broken pieces. I long for and dread the day when I wake up and don't think about Mike. In my life, when I think about all that God has brought me through, I can see where I am now and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that His will was done in my life. I have to admit that I've thought He made a mistake this time. Although reassurances come at me from every angle I can see how people can turn against God in times like this, but that will NOT be me. I remember sitting in Gaston Memorial Hospital on Oct 29th, 2002 and the doctor had just told me I had miscarried our first baby and Mike told me, "Ashley, we will not be mad at God." And although I wanted to be, it's like the light switch went off and I said, "Ok." I feel that way now too. He would not want that. I will not be mad at God. I have to trust that God will take these Humpty Dumpty pieces and do like he did in 2002 because on Oct 28th, 2003, I delivered a beautiful red-headed baby girl. God gave me beauty for ashes. I have to trust that He will once again prove why He is God, and I am not.....
Day 27 - New Years Eve at 9:27am
It's New Years Eve ---- a night when many people will drink alcohol in celebration of the New Year. 27 days ago, my husband was killed by a drunk driver. If you plan to drink tonight, please, I beg you, have a designated driver. Call a cab. Get an uber ride. But whatever you do, please don't drink and drive. The thing about alcohol is that it impairs you from making good choices, so you must make a wise choice before you drink. (That feels odd to even say it like that since I've never purchased alcohol in my life and I never think it's wise to drink, but nonetheless if you plan to drink you must plan out how you will get home.... safely.) And if you're out somewhere and you have the opportunity to save a life by offering to drive someone home or by paying for a cab ride, please do it. I wish someone had taken an active role in ensuring Zachariah Carl did not get behind the wheel of a 5000 pound vehicle on December 6th. And although my heart will scab over, the scars will forever remain and Zachariah Carl will live the rest of his life knowing that his poor choice cost my children their father, cost me my husband, cost my in-laws a son/brother and cost our congregation a pastor. Our choices don't only affect us, they affect a lot more people than that. So if you plan to drink tonight, or any other night for that matter, please, please do not drink and drive. Thank you.
Day 28 - New Years Day 11:31pm
I started typing this message.... Today has been a difficult day for me. I want to go to bed and stay there forever. I go back to work tomorrow. Maybe it'll be good for me. Right now I'm dreading it. Maybe returning to some type of normalcy will be positive step in the right direction. I sure hope so. I feel so overwhelmed...... kinda like what it would be like to assemble a car engine from scratch. I've got all the parts to do it but no clue how to assemble it...... And then the Lord sent me a friend who helped me by sharing in my grief. Now I can lay down in peace. Goodnight all. ❤️
Day 29 - January 2, 2017 at 7:41am
I woke up this morning with the reminder that God was preparing me for the future, although I did not know it at the time. Last summer, our church did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. I'm following his plan now as I seek stability for mine and the kids future. If we had not gone through the class, I wouldn't know about keeping $1000 in emergency savings or the goal to keep 3-6 months living expenses in savings. Knowing these facts takes the stress off of me because I don't have to think about it, I just have to do it. Also, back in the Fall I found out I was only 6 classes away from my Bachelors Degree. I took 4 of those classes this past Fall and one class that I took was called "Methods of Counseling." Not only did this class allow me to see the value of counseling, but I also had to read a book called "The Grief Recovery Handbook." As I have been wading through my own grief, I could easily identify with the normality of the emotions I have been experiencing. During these classes, I had to do something called "threaded discussions" where you post about the required readings. I think these discussions allowed me the freedom to express myself, which has contributed to my ability to post about losing Mike and how that affects me and the kids. These details, however small, have made a huge impact on me for the last 29 days. But now, I covet your prayers as I seek to figure out if I should just finish out those 2 classes that are supposed to start in Jan so I can graduate in May, or if that would be the dumbest thing ever... and truthfully, I don't know the answer, so help me pray for wisdom. I know that I will finish it, I just want God's will in the timing aspect. I still don't feel like I'm functioning on 100%. Some of my widowed friends said that part may take a while to fully return. And because Mike passed away the week of my finals, I was granted a time extension to complete those two classes, which I still need to complete before I move forward. There are still so many decisions to be made, options to weigh out, and consequences to consider about everything. If there is one "lesson learned" through this whole ordeal, it would be that life insurance is invaluable during a time like this. If you have not secured proper life insurance for yourself or your spouse, please move it to the top of your "to-do" list for 2017 FAST and pray you never need to use it. We always think we have ample time to do those things and Mike moving to heaven is a constant reminder that sometimes, tomorrow never comes. Now, on the flip side, people have been so very kind to me, knowing the circumstances, so I feel like one of the sparrows that God has promised to provide for, and He has, but I have felt quite foolish that although we were working on securing a policy for Mike, we never pulled the trigger. One night during Financial Peace, we listened to the segment on insurance and began getting quotes. I wish I could be one of the people who was on his video saying, "We went through FPU and secured life insurance and in December my husband passed away." Instead I'm out here encouraging you to make sure that you have it because I know it would have been a huge blessing for me, in the midst of tragedy. But I can also see how God has supplied my needs. My love language is "Acts of Service." Opening the mailbox and seeing that people have sacrificed and given me a gift makes my love tank super feel, so I feel like people love me and care. If we had secured a policy, I could have felt guilty every time someone blessed me. I've always been a "glass half full kinda girl," so I do try to find good in everything, even the bad stuff. So here goes nothing.... time to get ready to head into work. I thank God for helping me find my keys that have been missing for 2 weeks! I randomly found them in a bag that I had sat aside for my sister yesterday, so I praise God for that. I hope you all have a blessed day.
Day 30 - January 3rd at 3:35pm
It's been 4 weeks.... the roughest 4 weeks of my life, no doubt. As I sit in the pick up line, the reality hits me that I'm beginning to operate under a "new normal." Sometimes I just miss Mike so bad. If I think about it too much right now, I'll be crying when the kids get in here. People still continue to pour out their condolences, which I appreciate so much. I wish I could comfort those around me who desperately need to be assured of God's perfect will and that it was completed in Mike's life. Sometimes I still don't think this is all real.... and it's been 4 weeks. I have even found myself needing to ask him questions regarding things he was working on that I can't seem to locate. I miss his friendship and companionship. I miss his presence. I finished "Day 2" at work today and managed to complete a little more than yesterday. I hope it will get better each day. I am trying to pull a "blog" together to organize my thoughts so it will be easy for everyone who wants to know how we are doing. I think we all have our moments and yet we also manage to laugh when we think of funny things and happy memories. My little counselor lady wants us to set aside time each day for grief. She says it will help us to gain more control of our emotions. I guess writing gives me a chance to process my emotions, but today my emotions say, "Blah." In 5 minutes they could be totally different! Ugh. But they tell me this is normal.... it would be so much easier if I could just pull out a "to do" list when someone said "If I can ever do anything...." and say "since you insist." :) instead I say, "I wish there was something..." knowing inside there's a million things but they can't help me with those. So I suppose I'll count down the hours until bedtime because I know His mercies will be new when I wake up and maybe I will have worked my way through this funk. Ugh....