9) MOVING FORWARD
"Annabelle scared me so bad tonight ..... the worst she has ever scared me about anything."
Day 74 - February 16th at 11:23pm
My emotional state takes me from "mountain top" to "valley low" within hours. It drives me crazy. It makes me feel like I am mentally unstable. Because I'm a positive person by nature, this roller coaster of up and down is exhausting. The good (and bad) news is that I don't seem to stay on the mountain or in the valley for an extended amount of time because the tides shift and I begin going in another direction. Last night I felt so encouraged and powerful.... I could take on the world and win. Then just 12 hours later (and 8 of them I was asleep), I had to lay my head down on my desk at work and hold back the tears from falling. I've been at the preschool for 7 years and I can only recall crying in my office once during that time because a parent hurt my feelings. I hate crying .... especially in front of people.... but you just never know when it'll creep up on you. I never really knew the turmoil of grief and the toll it takes on your body. I was looking through my pictures tonight to show a friend my big belly when I was pregnant with Annabelle and as I flipped through them all, my heart stopped as I saw pictures and remembered the things we would never do again as a family. I begin to ask myself, "Did I really live in the moment here?" Or "Would I do it this way if I could do this all over again?" My counselor tells me that grief has a way of making us feel guilty for things when someone we love passes away. I can see that and recognize it in myself. I wonder, "Did I appreciate him enough?" (Insert the words.... love, help, uplift, affirm ... in the sentence above, because I have thought about it all.) I just wish every. Single. Stinking. Day I wasn't living this life. I sometimes feel guilty for not wanting to hear his voice and for not wanting to post pictures of us together..... I feel guilty for wanting to press past this pain! I've never experienced anything like it. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. In my head, I can talk myself off the ledge but sometimes my heart needs extra convincing. I try and refocus on the positives.... like Annabelle snoring beside me and the fact that my bills are paid and that God will take these ashes and make something beautiful, but in the end, I'm still sad. And to just say the word "sad" feels like the understatement of the century. I struggle with finding an adequate word. Crushed might be better. Heartbroken. As you have walked with me through my journey of grief for the last 74 days, I hope you understand that none of us know how we will cope with an insurmountable loss until it happens. I will never again look at how someone deals with grief as the right way or the wrong way. A pastor overseas left Mike a message today on our home answering machine and I had to send him a message to tell him Mike died. It's just so unfair. I wish I could have made the defendant call this pastor for me. Why should I have to be the one to do it?!?!? And yet, I do. So I will lay my head down tonight in anticipation of new mercies that will be waiting when I wake up in the morning. I am so thankful for new mercies.
Day 76 - February 18th at 9:28pm
Well Annabelle has been under the weather today. My throat is sore too, so it's been a lazy day. I took Annie to the doctor and she was negative for strep and flu, so I'm not sure what this is, but it has wiped her out. My least favorite time to be a single parent is when the kids are sick. Well, I hated them being sick when both of us were here too, but I hate it even more so now. We had so many things planned for this weekend and now, we just had to cancel them all. I'm praying that everyone will be feeling up to par tomorrow for church. I covet your prayers....
Day 78 - February 20th at 9:42pm
I can sum up the equivalent of my day by saying that I just ate a whole pack of thin-sliced Carl Budding ham (my fave) before realizing it expired on January 14th. My nose is so stopped up that if it had gone bad, I couldn't tell it. Here's to hoping for the best... :)
I haven't grief posted in a few days.... it's been a challenge sorting through my thoughts with not feeling well myself and Annabelle running a fever since Saturday morning. Since we have been "home-bound," I took this opportunity to work on some of my school assignments that I hadn't yet completed so that I will be on track to graduate in May. I pulled up a previous unit's assignment, so I could edit it and it was dated December 6, 2016. When I saw that date, it was like my spirit was arrested. I stared at the Word document, trying to remember when I had actually submitted the assignment. I guess I submitted it when I was in class that day, unaware that I was living in the last few hours in which I would be a wife. I had seen the date on the death certificate before, so it wasn't my first time, but it sure felt like it. I quickly edited it and moved on before I got so sidetracked that I couldn't complete the task before me. There's something about these college classes that keeps bringing up all kinds of memories. Tonight, I had to submit a threaded discussion on the sacraments and although I hadn't thought about it in a long time, my mind flashed back to my wedding day. Mike and I partook in communion and I can remember it as plain as day. Tracy (my sister) was singing "I Can't Live a Day Without You" and I'll never forget the words that Bro Harry said to us. As I held the bread in my hand, he told me "Jesus was obedient unto death on a cross. Love Mike with that same obedience." He turned to Mike and said "Jesus loved his bride so much that he was willing to lay down his very life for her. Love Ashley with that same kind of love." I never, to this very day, ever regretted being obedient to my husband. You know why? Because he loved me like Christ loved the church. I am proud to be a strong woman. I like knowing how to shoot a gun well and I like the feeling of knowing I am competent at doing things men typically do, but there's a part inside of me that revels in the fact that my husband provided for me. I love that he considered my thoughts about things. That he valued my opinion. But there were times that I knew if God lead him in a different direction than what I wanted, he would go, and I would follow because it was what God asked of me. I feel like I'm in that same boat now. "Obedience is better than sacrifice..." but obedience can be so hard! But without obedience, we will be lead astray by our own desire to be in control. Is God leading you to do something outside of your comfort zone? Are you struggling to be obedient to God's call? I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted 4 invitations to speak at 4 different churches over the coming months. I must trust that when the time comes, God will have given me the words to speak to encourage His church. I told the Lord if He opened the doors, I would walk through them and I intend to be obedient. Let me encourage you to do the same.
Day 79 - February 21st at 10:24pm
Annabelle scared me so bad tonight ..... the worst she has ever scared me about anything. Most of you know that she has been sick since Friday evening and today, her fever has still not broken. After dinner, I gave her ibuprofen and she came to lay down in bed and begins to sleep. A little while later, she wakes up with a wild look on her face, which I immediately think means she needs to throw up. I say "Anna, what's wrong?!?" She says "I just had a really bad feeling." I say, "What?" But she cannot answer me. She places her hand on her head and begins to scream the most awful blood curdling scream I've ever heard in my life. Eli begins to pray aloud and pleads the blood of Jesus over his sister. I try to calm her down and she continues to hold her head and then her stomach and thrashes around, all while looking at me, terrified and screaming, but not saying any words as to what is wrong. I have no idea what is going on. I tell Abi to go and get some water and to look for Tylenol. (It's too soon to give her ibuprofen again). I then take her head in my hands and begin to pray aloud over her while pleading the blood of Jesus over her head and body. Then, she snaps out of it and is ok again. I've never experienced anything like that but it scared me so, so bad. When I asked her about it later, she couldn't explain what happened to her. But I pray it never happens again. Scared me too death.
11 weeks ----- I'm just ready to feel normal again. There's no quick and easy fix because the Lord knows if there was, I'd be jumping on it. I haven't really had to fight fear in the sense of being alone at home, but I have as it relates to my children. When Annabelle had that night terror, or whatever it was tonight, I already diagnosed her with a brain tumor out of fear that something was terribly wrong with her. Eli had silent lunch at school last week for not completing his Science homework and I fear that in my grieving state I will miss enforcing the things he needs to do.... simply because I can't even think to ask him about it. Abi is growing up so fast and I fear that she has been forced to.... Losing your dad before your eyes will do that to you. Do you remember how impressionable your young teen years were? I do and I fear that me doing this alone will be inadequate in ensuring that she is protected against the awful things this world will try and tell her she needs to feel complete. I fear that I can't be the parent that my children need me to be because I work, while knowing that I need to work to provide for their physical needs. There's no easy answers no matter how you look at it. If I quit my job today to focus on my immediate concerns of home and family then I can't get a mortgage on a new house once I sell this one. I am constantly weighing things out in my mind to see which way I should go. I just want to tell my brain to STOPPPP!!!! I don't feel like the strong person that everyone tells me I am tonight..... I feel like a scared little girl who wishes she could climb up in her daddy's lap and rest her head on his shoulder. Why does everything have to be so hard????? Sometimes I think I've already done the hard stuff. The doctor telling me he couldn't save Mike? That was horribly hard. The funeral? That was hard. Anna being in the hospital? Yes, that was hard. But every day there's a new hard thing to tackle. I'm sick of hard stuff! I don't know if my experience with grief is a traditional one or if mine is different because of the tragic circumstances, but either way, somedays grief just totally kicks my rear. I want to pull the covers over my head and never come out, but in 5 minutes, I'll feel different and glad that I could muster up enough courage to come out. So if you could pray for me? I would really appreciate it. I just don't know what to do to make it all better.....
Day 82 - February 23rd at 8:15am
Annabelle has been officially fever free for 24 hours! Yay! She's been sick since Friday evening so it's about time! :). Thank you for all of your prayers. Yesterday was a rough day. I thank the Lord for putting specific people in my path to encourage me and to give me hugs! (Never underestimate the power of a true, heartfelt hug!!!) As you know, I've struggled with the fear of not being enough for my children. Both Anna and Abi, at times have sought council from other people besides me and it made me a little sad. Annabelle has been more forthcoming about things she experienced in the wreck with her teacher and classmates than she has me. She even asked her teacher the question, "Did my daddy hurt before he died since he didn't die as soon as the wreck happened?" I want my kids to come to me with those concerns. I guess I felt like they haven't came to me because I was doing poorly and they didn't want to put more on me.... or maybe I'm unintentionally shutting them out? I'm not sure... but I spoke with a pastor friend yesterday and he told me to change my thinking. The Lord has placed specific people in the paths of my children, just like he has me. These are people I trust wholeheartedly and instead of being sad, I should realize that God has strategically placed them in their lives for such a time as this. The Lord called to my remembrance the joy that I have felt over the last 7 years when I have been able to help a child or a parent at the preschool..... whether it be through prayer or by encouragement. So instead of being sad, I choose to become grateful for my little army who has come alongside to help through these times. I'm not sure why I've always placed a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, but I have. Even yesterday, I read the reviews that my professor gave me on a few assignments that I had to turn in from the classes I was finishing up when Mike died. Now, I got a B on the assignments but when I read the critiques I was a little sad because I know I could have done better. I made an A in the class, but still, I like doing my very best and I know in my heart, I just wanted to be done, so I likely just did enough to get by. If there has ever been a time to temporarily kick my perfectionist ways to the curb, it's now! Geez! I feel like I'm constantly learning and growing and changing. So what if I made a B when I was capable of an A..... its over and done and I can mark if off the list and move on. I feel like I will have to change my thinking on a lot of things..... especially as I begin to clear out my house and get it ready to list. I've been in "Dave Ramsey" mode for so long that I think I will be challenged to toss things when in the past, I would have sold it for $10 on One Mans Junk to save for an upcoming trip. I realize that I won't have that option now unless I want to continue dragging this process out. The goal is to be done! Maybe I'll make me a shirt to wear to remind myself of the real goals that I need to think about and not the tiny ones that happen along the way. I'm asking God to help me. I don't want to get hung up on the little things that prevent me from obtaining the big things! Maybe we all need to be reminded to keep our eyes on the BIG PICTURE. Don't make mountains out of molehills and don't sweat the small stuff. Let's keep our eyes on the prize and make this a great day in Jesus Name!