Friday, February 15, 2013

I Took a Walk Today

  I took a walk today, all by myself. 

  I saw the litter scattered along the roadside, just like it was on the last walk we had together.

   I could hear her voice begging me to pick up the litter so we could "help the planet."

   Those pieces of trash thrown out carelessly and randomly with no order....just like my missing her.

   "Can we pick up the trash Mommy?"
  Can you pick up these pieces Lord, and fix my broken heart?

     "It will make it look so much nicer."

   It would feel so much better if this pain were gone.

The breeze blew gently in my face....and I breathed deeply, trying to imagine (for the umpteenth time) Karagen lifting her face to the warmth of the Light of heaven, feeling it's fragrant breeze brush her cheeks, and lift her thick, dark hair.  She is smiling...always smiling.  All her tears are gone and I revel in the thought that she doesn't even miss me, the thought makes me happy. 

I talk to the sky. 

"I miss you Karagen, I always will.  I have to tell you, my heart feels a little better today, it doesn't hurt like it did in those first weeks after you died.  It's a relief really.

   Daddy and I talk about you everyday.  We will never forget you.  We both want you to know that you changed us, your life, your illness and your death.  Through it all you made us stronger.  Thank you sweet girl.

 I can hear you telling me not to cry about your pain, because you don't feel it anymore. 

I asked Jesus to give you a hug and kiss for me last night, so if He's giving you extra, that's why.

I took a walk today and remembered.  I smiled, no tears!

Nothing special, just a walk to remember.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

To Be a Hero

    Useless imaginings, that's what my husband said they were.  We had just moved here to Henderson Maryland and were settling in fine.  We met a wonderful, talented woman who had leukemia which required treatment every six months.  I imagined how that diagnosis must have changed her life...and wondered, if that were me would I do half as well as she?  I told my husband, "there is no way I would be able to face such a could anyone?"  He replied. "You would face it fine, God would give you the strength when you needed it."  No, he hadn't heard half of what I  just said.  This woman was a hero in my eyes. Or what about the other lady we met who had severe, crippling Lyme disease.   She bore her frailty with patience.... sweetness and love poured from her life.  To see a hero at work, at play, or on an ordinary day.  The patient faith, the persistent strength. Strength from within where the real battle is fought and won.   She's an over comer, one of the greatest heroes I know. What would I do?

   Have you ever asked yourself, what if that were me?

    In the beginning of Karagen's illness, a friend of the Jonathan's family did a YouTube video addressing the subject of Karagen's cancer.  He entitled it "Compliant Suffering".  He simply could not fathom why God would allow an innocent child to get cancer, and asked that question many times throughout his video.    He spoke of Jonathan and I as being "compliant with God's will."  When I first saw his video I was offended, especially since it wasn't his child who was sick. Yet slowly, the title grew on me in a positive way. I've pondered the title of his video all these months and tried to answer the question he asked so persistently.  How can we be compliant when bad things happen?
    Compliant:  Obeying, obliging, yielding, especially in a submissive way.

   Yes, with that definition, I guess we did have "compliant suffering", I rather liked the sound of that.  Let's take it one step further and change it to "submissive suffering."

   Submissive:  Inclined or ready to submit, unresistingly or humbly obedient.

   Is this to say that we didn't fight her disease as best we could, without putting her through endless torment to get her well?  Yes we fought, with all our strength, to her very last breath, we fought.  However, in regards to our attitude towards God, and what He was allowing, we kept our attitudes submissive.  Such a crucial word in the believers vocabulary and core beliefs.  We believe that our Father God is the Master Molder, we are the clay.  The more pliant and soft (trusting) the clay is, the better vessel it can become under the Master's master molding skills.  Karagen showed that to me.  I never heard her question bitterly why God let her get cancer, cutting short all her hopes and dreams in this life.  She endured her pain and suffering without complaint....she showed submissive suffering.

   Karagen showed us what a hero is.  It is not someone who is super strong and extremely gifted.  A hero is someone who inspires us with their faith and passion in a bigger purpose, even if no one believes it but them.  A hero is someone who faces insurmountable odds with courage and dignity and shows how strong the human spirit can be even in the face of tragedy, an unfair diagnoses or a pointless accident.  A hero is someone whose strength and perseverance inspire us to do better, be better, love more, and see thing clearer.  A Hero's life... put's life into perspective.

   The best hero's are never the ones looking to be  hero's.  They are simply the ones who do the best with what they have, who stay focused and vigilant.  They are the ones who are help.... to be strong... to believe.

   It was Job who faced severe adversity and in the midst of the worst personal carnage in history that said "Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him." (Job 13:15)  It was David who was small, stinky and underestimated that slew a giant, inspiring an entire nation to fight. A faith whose actions inspires us hundreds of years later.  It was Abraham Lincoln who persevered in the face of brutal slaughter, vast starvation and self doubt who finally brought an end to the civil war and freedom to slaves.  It's the woman with leukemia and the woman with crippling Lyme disease, who face personal hardship, seldom complaining, yet they still manage to pour their lives out for others.  It's Karagen, who's life inspired her parents to keep fighting, to see everything...everyone.... differently.  Who to her last breath never railed at God or was angry with Him.  Who fought her cancer and worked hard.  These are  some of the hero's who inspire me.  They change the way I look at the world and circumstances around me.  They change me.

  I am a proud mama to a STRONG HERO!

Someday, maybe I'll be one too.

This is the last photo we took of Karagen.  This was taken the week prior her death.  She was usually in severe  pain, but she never complained.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Up....Down...And In Between

      3 months and 16 days.  That's how long it's been since she died.  Since then we have experienced the ups and down of grief as individuals and as a family.  It is interesting how we grieve together and apart.  The children seem largely unaffected by Karagen's death and in most ways seem glad to have mommy and daddy home.  The child who misses her the most openly is Emmaus, I expected this as they were very close and did everything together.  From bathing and sleeping in the same room to playing dress up and coloring.  Emmaus misses her dearest friend.  Truth is we all miss her in our own way.  Jachin goes ballistic when he sees pictures of her, he squeals and smiles and tries to say her name.  Karagen meant so much to all of us, but our relationship with her was as unique as she was and as each of us are.

      I feel like I am getting a hang of this grieving thing, like I am finally able to breath and think of Karagen without always feeling her crushing loss.  I can still cry over the mere mention of her name, but that's ok.  I still look for her face in their faces.  I still long for her, especially as I watch the other children grow and change, I miss watching her grow and change.  I miss her joining in on the rejoicing of small family events.  Like Vaughn getting glasses, Emmaus and Silas getting excellent report cards, Jachin being potty trained and Gracey's singing.  Oh how she loved our family, each one of us, oh how I miss her.

Here are some things we have learned during these past few months:

Grief is never predictable-A no brainer right?  Yes, but strangely disconcerting.  I can be doing laundry and burst into tears, or at a ladies group and burst into tears, or doing a myriad of things, and burst into tears.

We must be patient with ourselves.   We can't expect to always want to cry when our spouse or loved one is crying or even want to discuss our lost loved one when they do.  Sometimes it takes too much energy and we just want to forget-or at least not think about it for awhile and that's ok.  We must be patient with ourselves and each other on every level.

Depression  I have experienced this since Karagen death, so has Jonathan.  It is normal, even to be expected after such a great loss.  Again, be patient with yourself but also the best thing during depression is to get out, talk about it (even if you have to force yourself)  do a good deed for someone else, anything to get your mind off yourself.  For me I get worse depression before my period while my hormones are all out of whack.

Crazy Sleep Patterns  Sometimes you'll feel exhausted and fall asleep quickly, other times you can't fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count. *smile*  For me lying there allows my thoughts to drift to the most painful moments of Karagen's illness and death.  I literally have to get up and distract myself.  Read a book, get online, whatever, get your mind on better/different things.

Distract Yourself   In the first few weeks after Karagen passed away I watched a movie, the same movie over and over, even napped to it.  It kept my mind from dwelling on the depths of my loss so I could have moments of peace.

Loss of Sex Drive  This is personal but true.  You simply can't expect your body to be happy and ready to go when your heart is aching.  It can be difficult to balance, but the best grief rule of thumb is to be patient with yourself and your spouse.  Give what you can when you can.

Lack of Motivation  You just don't have the energy to do it and you really don't have the energy to care.  It doesn't matter what it is.  I have learned a few tricks that have helped me in this.  A breath of fresh air, playing good music, talking with a friend, writing on my blog, reading a devotional, watching a movie, playing the Wii, drinking more coffee etc.  Anything to get me going, it doesn't always work, but I keep trying.

Healing comes when we keep our hearts open.  It's painful to do but extremely necessary.  Burn wounds have to be left open so they can "weep" and heal.  Death causes that kind of wound to our hearts and they must be left open to ooze and heal.  Oozing is a way to work through the healing process.  It does not always feel good, in fact it hurts mostly.  We have to let ourselves cry, even if it's at the "wrong" moments.

Allow yourself to be happy, but accept yourself when you aren't  There will be moments when you will experience happiness, you will smile at a memory or laugh at a joke.  That's ok!  Other times nothing will get you up and that's ok too.

Let them love you  Let your family members and friends love you.  Let them encourage you and be there for you even if it is humbling or embarrassing.  You need all the love you can get.

Don't Expect Too Much  This one is quite tricky I'll admit.  We cannot expect too much from ourselves, but especially not from other people.  Family members and friends are often at a loss of how to help us, are mired in their own problems and lives and are grieving themselves.  Cut yourself and them a lot of slack, everyone needs it during grief.  Don't expect them to treat you the way you want/wish to be treated and don't expect them to say/do the most appropriate things.  Death leaves us all clumsy and disoriented.

There is so much more to grief but these are a few of the lessons I have learned.  The biggest thing in proper grief management is Patience!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

* Leaning

There once was a conversation overheard between two men.  As they greeted one another, one asked, How are you doing?  The other said, oh, I'm hanging in there.  How are you?  The first replied, I'm leaning.
Go look at a wall, now lean against it.  You could stay there quite awhile just leaning.  Now envision hanging from monkey bars, can't do that quite as long huh?
The point is, we can lean much longer than we can hang, and that's exactly what the Lord wants us to do.  Lean on Him!
"yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us?"
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Trust in Him and lean!
My verse for this year very appropriately is:
 Trust in him at all times;
Psalm 62:8
I trust the One I'm leaning on!