Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I've been back from youth camp for several days and am still processing the days at Camp Eagle. It was definitely the most heart-breaking week since Rob's death. I had no idea how much collateral loss I would endure. Plunging head first into a deep dark pit, it's going to take some time with Jesus in order to recognize the blessings of the week. And there were...many!  I will share as I slowly let go of great pain. This may be my biggest test of choosing joy in the midst of loss and grief.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

 You were the best dad on the planet!
Every time I look into our children's eyes, I see you.
Thank you, Rob, for leaving me with such a wonderful gift.
We miss you!

I've been strong all week as I've prepared for camp. I even told the youth staff that I was excited to serve once again. But tonight, after a very difficult day, I'm making circles around a deep pit.  Where did all my bravery go?  I was so willing to carry Rob to camp, but why can't I trust God to carry me?
Maybe I'm just dealing with more recognized loss. Both Rob and I loved leading and camp was no exception. We would laugh at how our personalities and strengths blended so perfectly that we ran like a well-oiled machine. We loved watching our students see marriage at its best. 
The memories of last year have jolted me. I just don't know if I can relive the memories of how sick he was during last year's camp. Will more grief pour as I step off the bus?  Will everything remind me of my Rob?  Can I really do this solo after over a decade of being a team?  More questions.. fewer answers. 
All I know is tonight I'm terrified and I'm hanging on for dear life.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Look who's two!
Happy Birthday, little man.
Gigi adores you!
 Time to party!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Jilly Bean!
I can't get enough of you...
Ready to celebrate you, my sweet one!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rob was not much of a shopper.
Last minute Christmas and birthday shopping looked more like another of his beloved sporting fast could he race through the mall, finishing in record time?  Honestly, we both knew I was better suited for the task of gathering  gifts.
But as Rob's last days approached, he wanted to leave his children with something very meaningful and personal. With the help of a graphic artist, he designed this print. 

We placed them in floating frames, uncluttered, kind of like their dad and needless to say, each child was deeply moved by his gift. 
He hoped that on the lonely days, they would be reminded that their dad thought they could do anything in which they set their mind.  He believed they would be kind and gentle and that they would run a good race all the way to the finish line. 
I hope on their first Father's Day without the physical presence of their wonderful dad, they'll remember and believe he is still cheering them on.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rob had a bucket list. It was short and simple, nothing too complicated. 

Witness his oldest son's wedding
Relive childhood memories of Wyoming
Travel to Merry Ol' England
Attend Spring Training
Have a front row seat at each of his grandchildren's sporting events
Take each grandbaby to see Mickey Mouse
That was his; mine, although much more extensive and with the omission of inning after inning of baseball, shared some of the same adventures.
Early on in Rob's illness, hope of earthly healing and time running out, I adopted the beautiful lyrics written by Todd and Angie Smith and Christa Wells as my anthem for survival and my motivation for fulfilling some of his wishlist.
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One 
Who's chosen me to carry you

God works in beautiful ways!  Selah's song, I Will Carry You, and an elderly volunteer who I met in the very last minutes of Rob's stay at M.D. Anderson reinforced God's assignment for me to "carry" my beloved Rob to places only dreamed.    The frail widow told me with great conviction that I would carry Rob in my heart as I began to live again. Live and praise the One...He promised healing along the way.
 My daughter's family and I took on the list this past spring, starting with a day trip to Disneyland.  
"Baba" in front of the iconic Matterhorn
We carried Baba, Sam's name for her granddaddy, throughout the park, waiting in long lines and tackling as many rides as a 9 month old and an overly excited "Queen Elsa" could handle!

"Jilly Bean" waits for the parade with Baba
Queen Elsa leads the way

Baba sees  Cinderella's Castle with his little princesses

A fun day had by all
Was Rob smiling from above? We hope so! We laughed...and cried, stuffed ourselves with Mickey cookies and fairy tales...Oh and Mickey?
Mickey and Minnie say "hello" to the family
Yes, Baba's grandgirls got to see Mickey and his Minnie. Mission accomplished!
We brought the boys home "ears" so they can match their granddaddy on the next leg of the journey.

Choosing joy and praising my way through the list.

"A grand adventure is about to begin." - Winnie the Pooh


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Six months have passed and I still have no idea how to do this thing called grief.   The professionals advise leaning into the pain, giving significance to this great loss, sharing the hard journey, but to whom?  I want to keep Rob's life in front of the world, but when do I pack him up and keep him to myself? The audience dwindles as it should. Life goes on for those who have been badly bruised by his loss, but how am I to live when a huge part of me died on that early December morning? Those who have lost a spouse get it;  those who have not, don't. I don't fault them and sincerely hope they never have to understand such loss. 
I loathe being pitied or the center of attention. I just want Rob's life to be celebrated. Maybe, if I keep him alive in our thoughts, the blow of death won't crush the spirit so fiercely?  I hate not hearing his name; how does someone live and give so well for six decades suddenly fail to exist? On the other hand, I worry that I worship his absence more than my God who is always present.  So many questions!  
I've noticed that after a while, those who have lost a spouse rarely speak freely about their mates.  I don't get it; it actually frightens me. Will I grow silent?
Will I put "Rob" in a box and place him on a shelf? Perhaps, they surrendered when the interest grew cold.  I want to scream, "You don't have to. I want to hear! I don't care how long it has been, they are still alive in you." They are, aren't they?
I have no answers to tie this post with an obligatory neat bow. All I know is half a year has passed and I'm still wandering in the maze.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

“For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.” 
― C.S. LewisA Grief Observed