Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it's in the air

Dear Brian,

Today you would have been 38. You didn't see 37 on this earth. Are there birthdays in heaven? Since you are no longer in your body, I have assumed there are not. I have often wondered what age you are in heaven. How will I recognize you? Will I be old and gray and you will be forever 36? Do you even see other heavenly souls as they appeared on earth at all or is there an entirely different realm of recognition that we on earth cannot comprehend because we are limited to the senses we use in this earthly body? Do you gain an omniscience in heaven? Can you see us on earth?

If so, then you would know the struggles I have been having lately.

I do not love this time of year. It isn't fair to the boyz for me to have this demeanor right now. This is a fun time for them. They love Halloween and I squelch their excitement becoming Scrooge-like regarding all the stimulation, candy and costumes. Some of my apathy may be warranted - additional candy in the boyz' sugar-filled world and the agonizing costume decision-making process, yet I remember my own enthusiasm as a child for particular events and occasions. Pure unadulterated excitement. The boyz have that excitement but I get so involved in my own struggles regarding this time of year I am not only missing it, I am discouraging it.

This time of year reminds me so much of you and I get very wrapped up in thoughts of you - thoughts that cause me much confusion. Fall was YOUR time. You loved the cooler weather. You loved the crisp air and the preparations for the winter nesting season ahead. You cleaned and organized the garage. You prepared the cars with a good coat of wax for the winter. This is football season and you would sometimes veg out on that couch for hours watching your favorite teams. This is hockey season and you personified hockey for me. You loved Halloween - dressing up, taking the boyz trick or treating, carving pumpkins and eating pumpkin seeds. We did carve pumpkins this year again. The boyz love it, too. This year they even helped with removing the insides of the pumpkin. However, I did not save a single pumpkin seed. As each one was tossed, I thought of you and how you would squeeze through all the pumpkin guts to extract the seeds. I was ever so thankful to have less mess as none of us desired to ingest a nicely roasted pumpkin seed later. I know you would have sighed and shook your head at that, but I am REALLY okay with that.

Additionally, this time of year reminds me of all the struggles of 2 years ago when life took the more certain steps towards your death. When I took the first steps to call hospice as you took a sudden turn for the worse. When you ended up in the hospital again with another surgery. When Gavin ended up in the hospital just a few hours after you were released. I get overwhelmed sometimes at the thoughts of what my life was like, of what our boyz witnessed, of the constant turmoil we lived in the midst of and I simply break down. I don't understand it because I am going about life just fine now and in the midst of that turmoil, we had peace and joy and we loved life. However, remembering it all, it is almost as if I actually FEEL the chaos and trauma that we SHOULD have felt at the time. I guess at the time, God's spirit took control to help us not only survive, but ENJOY the time. Today, God's spirit is with me in THIS present time but I am overcome with emotion at what we lived through.

Also, today is your birthday.

I get sad.
I get angry.
I get bitter.
Mostly, though, I get confused.

Confused because I have all these thoughts and emotions regarding you right now. I know the boyz do to. Confused because life is going really well for all of us. Confused because you are flooding my mind with the past despite that someone else is filling my present. I think it is fair to say that confused can best describe what anyone would feel mourning a past that will never be while they are falling in love with someone else wondering what the future holds for them.

Confused because I can't seem to let myself just let go and enjoy life and the good things that are in it. I find something wrong with every situation. If I can't find something wrong with the situation or with someone else, I find something wrong with myself. I'm not spending enough time with the boyz. I'm helping them too much with their homework. I'm not helping them enough with their school work. I have them in too many activities. I don't have them in enough activities. I have too much to do around the house that I never get to. I need to do more projects around the house. That takes time away from the boyz. I need to work out more. I need to work out less because it takes too much time. Things with my guy are going swimmingly. Things with my guy are going TOO swimmingly for how long we have known each other so something must be wrong. You get the idea.

I continue to sabotage my own happiness. It is as if I have become so guarded in my life and what I have endured that I cannot just allow good things to enter my life for fear of losing that good thing. If I stay guarded and wait for the shoe to drop, when it does, I will be ready. I will stay strong and I will overcome.

Because that is what has defined me for so long - I cope, I overcome, I keep my faith, I move on. It is difficult to change my thought pattern to accepting blessings as things that may STAY. Changing to such a way of thinking opens me up to vulnerability. Living like that means I am no longer afraid of losing.

I see it in every one of us - me, Gavin and Grant.

I see that Grant has changed. He is living for the blessing of today assuming it will still be here tomorrow. And he is happy. Happier than I have seen him in years. It is a beautiful thing to witness.

Gavin is guarded. He is cautious. He finds wrongs in every right. Maybe it is his age and that he is also afraid of accepting the blessings of today for fear they will be gone tomorrow. Gavin is me.

I know what you wanted for me and for the boyz. We talked about it several times. My prayer right now is that we can all move forward with receiving the good times, the good people, the good blessings that are bestowed upon us with the same assumption that they will continue to be here tomorrow that the rest of the world lives by.

I pray this "difficult" time of year and your birthday can transform into the milestone marking the time that Angie and the boyz began living assuming the present can evolve into a beautiful and blessed future.



  1. Angie,
    I can't say for sure since I've never been in your shoes, but it certainly sounds like all you're feeling are perfectly normal things to be feeling. It all makes perfect sense to me, someone who is looking on from the outside. I think it goes without saying that Brian will always be a huge part of you and he will always be on your mind & in your heart, no matter how great the present is. It makes sense. He was your husband. He was the Daddy in your home. He was your heart & soul. And to add a level of intimacy that most couples never experience, you nursed him through cancer for 12 years. You were so deeply involved in everything that made up who he was that you probably lost a little of yourself in him.

    On some really TINY level, I get how you're feeling. (I repeat it's on a very very tiny level.) I was a preschool teacher for five years and I loved every single minute of it. I still get goosebumps & giggles just thinking about it. It was my 2nd home, my love, my heart. But this past summer my husband & I decided that it was time for me to get a job with a salary. You know, a grown up job with benefits & everything. (ha ha) We'd always hoped I would be able to get my foot in the door with our kids' school district. In mid August, I got a phone call for an interview at a campus where I'd work with "alternative education" kids. Can you say POLAR OPPOSITE of my previous job? I went to the job with my heels dug in & a distinct plan to say 'no thanks'. To be honest, I went to the interview because my husband wanted me to. He needs help paying our bills & this job would do that. I didn't WANT the job. I wanted to stay at my previous job. I LOVED that job. But I went anyway and was basically begged to accept the job & start ASAP. I said yes. And then I came home & bawled my eyes out. And then did it again on the first day I went in to work. It took me a month or more for me to finally realize that it's OK for me to enjoy the new job. That doesn't mean I didn't like the old one. I can compartmentalize the 2 & love them both, for a million different reasons. I still miss my old job like crazy & would love to go back to it one day (ya know, like after we win the lottery!) but until then, I'm OK. I *do* enjoy the new job and the people I work with, but it's taken me a while to be able to accept that & know that it's alright.

    See? It's a VERY TINY level of understanding of how you're feeling, but do you see the similarities?

  2. Angie, I pray that you can realize the blessings that are around you. Because, like God, whether you accept them or not they will continue to be present always. They aren't going anywhere and there isn't any danger in losing them. Just take your time and welcome the blessings at your own pace. And remember, those blessings aren't coming because of anything you've done to deserve them. They're coming because God loves you and is holding you. They are yours for the taking whenever you're ready.

    Hang tough, girl.

  3. I cannot fathom what you are feeling and going through. But I do know who is holding you in His loving and powerful hands. May each year and day you find more peace and rest in the sovereignty of God.

    God bless you and your sweet family.

  4. Angie, I have no idea what it's like to be in your shoes but I do know that if I was ever faced with what you have faced, that I would be able to survive and continue to live with as much Grace as you have. Grief is such an odd thing, and I guess the only thing that is "normal" about grief, is that NOTHING is normal.
    I read this quote in our church bulletin addition on Sunday and it has really stuck with me and thought maybe it would be appropriate for how you're feeling right now too.

    "The past is gone and can never be retrieved. Instead of looking back through the rearview mirror of life, we must fix our gaze instead upon "the new thing" God is about to do."

    Continued prayers as you travel through this journey.

  5. Sorry, that should read "I do know that if I ever have to face what you have, I HOPE that I would be able to..........."

  6. There are so many good things in this post, mixed in with your sadness and confusion--I have faith that in the end the goodness will carry the day--even though your path is difficult and winding.

  7. Angie, your insight and reflection on your growth just amazes me, inspires me.

    I hope you see how much you've grown / are growing.

    I know that when I'm having a growth spurt, I rarely recognize it. It's exhausting. And confusing.

    I see it in you.

    You're beautiful.

  8. what a beautiful letter to brian! sending you love and hugs in this time of confusion. i am so darn proud of you!

  9. Well crap, I didn't think it posted my comment this morning, so I sent it to you on FB. And now I see that it's here after all. Sorry about the redundancy.

  10. Angie,
    It is part of loosing a spouse that on an anniversary or birthday or anything special in the life you spent together that you will have emotions welling up. Confusion is just a symptom of the healing that God is giving you at every moment of your life. You are moving forward into new territory. It is just like the first day of kindergarten where everything overwhelms you. The second day is not as confusing and each day the new patterns set in. You remember the past, but the beauty of God's new unfolding day will get you ready for tomorrow.
    God bless you and the boyz. The memories with Brian will never fade. The new memories you are making will add to the fullness of your life.

    Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

  11. Angie,
    I have tears in my eyes reading your post, that was ME 10 years ago, the. exact. same. feelings. I too was falling in love again yet so very confused with myself and no one else, maybe that is just how God works in these times. I had a hard time accepting the so very good things God blessed me with, your post takes me right back there and I can feel it with such intensity. It will get easier as the years go by and you will accept God's goodness for you and your children. I call it my former life and my now life, 2 totally different lives. I am so thankful you are doing well and living your life!!! I totally GET your emotions now and will continue to pray for you and your family!!! Paige pgrit@colliervillepet.com

  12. I think, It is just like the first day of kindergarten where everything overwhelms you.

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