Fathers Day, grief, Life After Loss, Loss, Single Parent, survivors guilt, Vulnerability

Fathers Day after Loss

The start of summertime means pool days, bbqs, family vacation, and Fathers Day. The day we celebrate all those amazing Fathers in our lives. I couldn’t have created a better Father for my children if I sat down and wrote out a list of everything I wanted him to be and somehow manifested him into human form. Literally. Nate was patient, and kind,  and yet, he was consistent and firm. He taught them that life wouldn’t be easy, but provided them with tools to navigate it. He was working hard to shape them into strong, independent little people who love God, and love others. Their Father was busy, but he tucked them into bed every single night with prayers and heart to heart conversations. Every.Single. Night. Not going to lie, I was sometimes jealous. By the time he made it in to me, sometimes hours later, he was ready for bed. I knew Fathers Day was coming, and yet, I chose not to acknowledge it until it was literally crumbling me. I seem to have a way of doing that.

I remember our first Fathers Day together. It was around the time we had just found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. This was not how my life was supposed to look. He wasn’t terrified at all. He had the same calming ways about him that he did until the day he died. I remember going to my first appointment, he came to pick me up and brought me the book “What to expect when your expecting,” professing that he had already read the part talking about what to expect today, and presenting me with our baby’s first outfit, an orange striped Tigger character onesie. I was 19, still very much a child, but I knew in that moment that with this man, the Father of my child, I would be okay. Celebrating your first fathers Day was easy.

Celebrating this first Fathers Day though, is crushing my soul.

What now? Here we are 13 years later. Two children, and me. Alone.

Im tired.

I’m overwhelmed.

I can’t be him, and me.

So what do we do now? How can we celebrate Fathers Day when our hearts are shattered? This is just the first of many, and I know it isn’t going to get easier. I tried to buy Fathers Day cards for the other Fathers in our lives, to celebrate them, and I couldn’t.

I

couldn’t

even.

walk.

down.

the aisle.

I realized days later that wasn’t fair, so I went back. I cried the whole time, ugly cried, publicly. No one bothered me. They just went about picking their own Fathers Day Cards.  I didn’t want to be bothered and yet, it made me feel even more alone. The kids picked out their cards for Grandpas, and uncles, and a few others.

Without a beat, they also picked out several for their own Father.

I guess this means we will celebrate Fathers Day, as we always did. It will just look a little bit different this time.

IMG_3094.jpg

#CharlieMike, Community Service, Faith, grief, Loss, Shaken, Vulnerability

What’s best for three.

About a thousand times, I have heard, “Just do what is best for you and the kids,” Or “you have to do what feels right.” Does that mean what I think is best,  or what you think is best, which definition and whose opinion are we basing this off of? Is it what feels right to me, or to you, and when? Because we all know, I am currently a minute by minute kind of person, I have to be. Sometimes, things are really good, and other times I crumble, and there truly is no rhyme or reason to it.

You begin to second guess yourself when you have a thousand opinions in your ears, a thousand people who think they know what is best. I am grateful for those who truly know me, and who truly knew my husband beyond small glimpses of things. You see, there was a lot people didn’t know about us, about our life, and about my husband. He struggled way more than most of you know, but we kept it within the confines of our 4 walls, and those closest to us, because he truly wanted what was best for us, and that for him was to be a provider, and to be strong, to lead us to Jesus, and to put aside his own struggles for the three of us. He never wanted the attention to be on him, not for a second.

I often wonder what many would have said to him, if they knew how much he struggled on a daily basis, if they knew how much pain he was in daily, if they knew he fought to do basic human things, and yet he was the first to work, and the last to leave every single day. He worked alongside me in the community despite his pain and struggles, he supported the kids whole heartedly at all of their activities, even beauty pageants, he was an amazing pageant Dad! He painted an image, he paved a path, he made his life what he wanted it to be despite struggles. More importantly, despite the opinions of others, Nate did what Nate wanted to do. We were told in 2008, he would never hold a job, that he would never have the mental capacity to complete school, that we needed to accept that he served honorably, and now it was time for him to rest. That wasn’t what was best for him, or us, so we fought it.

Almost 10 years later, Nate had the life he fought for, he graduated from UF and fulfilled his dream of becoming a Gator, he had one of the highest GPA’s in his class, and was excelling in his career. He still was in the same position health wise that he was 10 years earlier, and in retrospect, even worse. If we listened to everyone’s opinions then, where do you think we would be? The move to Florida for Nate to go to school was the best decision we ever made, and the judgement was laid on thick for that one. We literally sold everything we owned to take a chance, for him to make his life what he wanted it to be. In his eyes, this is what he fought in Iraq for, for the freedom to choose, for the freedom to make life what he wanted it to be,  for the freedom to do what is best for three. MM_0175-1.jpg

 

#boymom, grief, Loss, Pregnancy, Shaken, Walmart

That Awkward Moment

The last month of my life has been full of awkward moments, from telling the officer at the hospital about how I stole a piece of candy from the candy shop when I got the call and then eating it right in front of him, to the hours spent staring at each person who came in for hours in my kitchen, and thats just a small list.  There was a time when I had 50 pizzas in my kitchen because any means of communication I once had went out the window the night I lost Nate. The person I was is no longer, and I don’t know how, or when I will ever find her again. Probably the most awkward moment though was running into someone I kind of know at Walmart, 1 week after Nate died, looking like a zombie. I went early in the morning to try to avoid seeing anyone, I looked like I hadn’t slept, because I hadn’t, and I just didn’t want to deal with anyone or anything. I parked, made my way into the store, grabbed what I needed and rushed to self checkout because lets be honest, dealing with a cashier at that point wasn’t what I wanted to do either. The walk there seemed so long, I looked at everyone I passed hoping they weren’t someone I know, and then it happened. There I stood face to face with someone I knew, it wasn’t someone I knew well, in fact, we didn’t hug, and we only exchanged a few words. A few words that probably wouldn’t have happened had she not heard about Nate. She said, “How are  you,” and you know how we subconsciously look to see what people are buying, and you secretly judge the, and then secretly yell at yourself for judging them?  Yeah, That happened. I guess I would have been shocked too. She glanced down into my cart, looked up at me with a face like she saw a ghost, said, “Have a good day,” and walked away really fast, because that isn’t awkward at all. It was that moment when I wanted to play the role of the person you see on TV who just lost her husband, you know, the kind in a lifetime movie, the one who screams in Walmart really loud at the woman, but I didn’t. I just pressed on, and I went to self check out, and I proceeded to pay for my multiple Pregnancy tests, my mentos, and my Diet Coke. Because #boymomlife I’m not pregnant by the way, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. We’ve wanted that for so long, obviously there were bigger plans.

Pregnancy test due date on calendar

Faith, grief, Loss, Truck

I Drive Your Truck

Grief has a really weird way of manifesting in me. There are two things that I have clung to this whole time. Aside from my children, if I only had those two things, I think I would be just fine; your truck, and your Bible. The two things that aside from me and the kids were probably most important to you too. Your bible was, and always has been your foundation, your rock, your refuge from the storm, as it should be. I find so much piece in reading it, and finding places you marked, things that stood out to you, or things that helped you through tough times. I wonder what you were going through when you marked them, but in a way, they are there for me, it’s like you knew and marked things for me to find later. The closer I feel to Jesus, the closer I feel to you.

I guess we wouldn’t be human without some sort of draw to materialistic things, especially in times like these. I really question sometimes if you loved this truck more than you loved me, no I know the truth, but it’s fun to joke about. Well, I love this truck, and right now, I’m obsessing over it. I even said…..wait for it, that I would get rid of the Jeep if that was what I had to do. I know, thats the last thing anyone ever thought they would hear come out of my mouth, well this is the last thing I ever thought would happen too.  I keep saying I put cameras up at the house just to make sure no one messes with it. It may or may not be true. You would be so proud of how awesome I back it in to the driveway. I don’t even run over the grass! 🙂 Pulling in forward, well thats a different story, lets just say I’ll get my exercise parking a mile away so I don’t even have to try.

This truck is a symbol of everything you have worked so hard for. When you came home from Iraq in 2007, we were very uncertain of our future. We thought we had it all figured out, and then came the problems, and the pills, and the doctors telling you that you would never be anything other than what you were in that moment, that you did what you went to do, and now its time to just be. Sorry, you married a stubborn woman who doesn’t exactly take no for an answer, so we asked the tough questions, we pushed the limits, and we overcame, so much, together. You wanted nothing more to continue serving, and though that wasn’t in the cards in the way you imagined, we found ways for you to do it, and you found ways to be successful in all that you did. You always put me and the kids first, and never did things for yourself, so this was a big deal, and even though you annoyed the life out of me that day spending like 748394 hours in negotiations with the dealership, I forgive you.

I’m sorry you only got to love your truck for 6 months, but like everything else, you loved her fiercely, and I will do the same.

Faith, grief, Loss

Some Wounds Never Heal

Because sometimes, there aren’t words for how you feel, but in the crazy, tragic, confusing mess that is my life, there is a song, one that was written specifically for us. Thank you April and Luke for your beautiful rendition of something I treasure so much.
Listen to Some Wounds Never Heal.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_n7eAjctguTLbHGwOcbdDaPDqZNIH6um/view?usp=sharing
1 month ago on my son’s 12th Birthday, I would climb into bed with the love of my life for the very last time. I wish I knew, I would have held on just a little longer before going to sleep that night, I would have kissed you 100 more times. I would give anything, everything for just one more chance. This pain is unbearable.
Faith, grief, Loss, Vulnerability

Vulnerability

vul·ner·a·bil·i·ty
noun
  1. the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

The loss of a spouse does something to you, aside from ripping your heart out over and over multiple times a day, it forces you to be vulnerable. Things I would ordinarily need my husband to do, i’m either forced to figure out, which honestly, is my first choice, or I have to ask for help, and in most cases I would rather rip out my own eyes before asking for help. Im stubborn as mule, and i’m not afraid to admit it. It’s made me who I am. My whole life.

Right now, everything feels HUUUGE to me. Whether its, buying dog food, I had not personally bought dog food in I can’t even tell you how long, because Nate did that, every single time, I am so spoiled that I walk to the container, scoop out the food, and it was never ending. Well, it ended. I didn’t know what kind to buy, and I had a total meltdown. Doesn’t seem big, but it was to me. Then, I had to admit that I was hurting to someone I didn’t know as I cried over dog food. It’s hard! I am

Every Single thing about my life right now is hard. There is not a day that I get up, ready to take on the world feeling like myself. I feel anxious, terrified, sad, physically, and emotionally drained, and every other feeling in existence all at once, I really cannot handle much more than just getting me and my kids through, minute, by minute, sometimes second by second. That said, I felt like in my vulnerability I needed to just get a couple things of my chest today.

  1. I still do not know exactly what happened, so just as you are waiting for answers, so am I, and more importantly my children, so when I know, if you are someone who should know, you will too, if you never know, well then i’m sorry but it probably wasn’t your business to begin with. So while this means continued curiosity for you, this means my children and I have a very uncertain future. There is very little you can do without a death certificate, so mull on that a minute before you ask me again.
  2. No, the VA does not cover THAT, whatever thing it is I may be asking for help with, or when people make scholarships for my children and you want to question it, if you have never worked with the VA, be thankful, but again, don’t speak unless you know, because as mentioned above I have zero answers, and until I have those the VA can’t do a thing for me, and even when they do, it will NOT be a smooth process. They probably won’t even mail it to the right place, you know the one you have lived at for 6 years. Yes, that already happened.  If you have not noticed, my husband’s services were weeks ago, and of course there are costs associated, so you do the math. If you need a class in VA i’d be happy to break it down for you.
  3. No, there are not a million non profits out there who can help me because guess what, while he was wounded, its been made perfectly clear to me that he is “no longer wounded” of course he isn’t, he is dead, so thank you for that friendly reminder of the thing I must not have known prior to calling you. We have never been ones to ask for help, and I remember why now. Someone dropped the ball on us once years ago, and we committed to doing whatever it was we needed to do to make it, because you fall through the cracks so easily. So, that is what I will do, I will find a way for me and my kids.

 

I am going to go snuggle my babies a little longer before we go to church today, but I challenge you, not just with me, but with all people, just think before you speak, you truly never know when the person you are encountering is dealing with really huge things, when something you take for granted has been ripped from their lives.

 

You can’t always see what others are seeing, but this, this is what I saw the first time I walked in the Church of Eleven22, far before my husband was ever there, and this is what I will continue to see.

9 IMG_0014-1

 

 

Faith, grief, Loss

3:11

In the first few days after losing Nate, I didn’t sleep at all, I barely remembered to eat, or shower. I just sat, I didn’t know what to do. I had friends helping me complete the most basic tasks. I simply couldn’t function. I still don’t know how I will ever live without him, but in those first days, I really didn’t know if I could even try. I guess I’ve gotten stronger. By Tuesday of that week I was so exhausted, I thought I’d attempt to rest. I woke up sobbing in the middle of the night, 3:11 to be exact. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I made coffee, I didn’t know what else to do. I crumbled onto my kitchen floor and I cried, and cried, I screamed, I cried some more. Im surprised I didn’t wake anyone else who was staying in the house. The days continued to be a blur, and I continued to try to sleep. Wednesday night I woke again at 3:11, I screamed at Nate, “Why did you do this to me, what do you want me to do, I’m tired, I can’t do this, what would you say to me if you were here, please help me,”  and in a moment of quiet that followed, I felt like I knew exactly what to do, like he told me exactly what to do. I walked to his side table by his bed where I knew he kept his bible, and I pulled one out. It was his Soldiers Bible, presented to him November 2004 by his Mom and Dad upon leaving for basic training, the same one he continued to use through his time in the army, and his deployment to Iraq.  I opened it, and looked down to see Ecclesiastes, I brought my eyes to  3:11, it had to mean something right?!

I sobbed when I read it, Nate was, and is still very much here, and this is what he told me.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

For 3 nights following I awoke between 3:11 and 3:14, and that is when I called out to God, I called out to. Nate, I asked them what I was supposed to do, I looked for answers on big decisions, it was my most clearheaded time in those first days.

I continued to read the verses that followed 3:11

12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

 

Nate, I know you are here, all around me, just not in physical form, I know you have your arms wrapped around me, and I can still come to you with everything just like before. I love you so much and I know these are the words that you would say.

Loss, Uncategorized

Living My Nightmare

It still doesn’t feel real when I say it, “My husband passed away on January 6th,” “We lost my husband 19 days ago,” “My husband passed away.” I have to say it over and over and over, it gets old, all the questions, the looks of sadness, the awkward staring, it feels fake, like a dream, or a nightmare rather that I’ll never wake up from. I am so guilty of using the word Die, Dying, Dead, in my vocabulary all the time, if a friend doesn’t respond to a text, I’d ask them did they die, if I almost fell, I’d say, ” I almost died,” if someone else almost fell, I’d say, “Don’t die.” But using the word now makes me want to throw up, using terms like passed away, put to rest, etc. are easy, sugar coated versions of the truth. He died, he’s dead, he’s not coming back and there is no sugar coating that. Its raw, real life, and it hurts, it makes me want to throw up, or pass out, or both. That first night was the worst, I wanted to stay with him at the hospital forever, and if I knew how long it would take for them to actually take him from the hospital I would have stayed. I imagine eventually they would have to ask me to leave, but if I didn’t leave him it wasn’t real, right?? They gave me his wedding ring, I put it on my right ring finger, I lied on his chest, just like I would in our own bed, I held his hand, ran my fingers through his hair and his beard, I kissed his head. It felt like a sick joke, just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and surprise me in an old school ” Punked” episode. This couldn’t be happening to us, we had already been through so much, we were on the other side. It was all a haze, I stayed as long as I could, and I walked out of the hospital without my husband, and it wasn’t just for a little while, it was forever. It was just like in a movie, you could hear a pin drop in that hallway, everyone stared at me as I passed, and every step I took became more paralyzing, I wasn’t sure I would even make it down that hall. I did though, I walked out of the hospital and into a world of unknowns, a world where the very breath I breathe, my life, my world, was taken from me in an instant. I don’t know if or how ill get through this, but I have to now, for my babies, for Nate.

IMG_1140