Saturday, January 28, 2023

4:59 P.M.

An entire decade!
How is that even possible???
Is it even real?
Was that life a figment of my imagination?
Are you???
 
No.
That life was real!
You were real!
You are real!
You are simply different now.
You are no longer here with me physically.
But, oh my, you are still very real!
 
Ten years ago I held you and listened.
I counted the heartbeats.
I counted the breaths.
Then the silence.
It was the worst
and the most precious moment of my life!
 
Walking you Home was hard!!!
I mean it was hard!!!
Seeing your suffering,
watching you disintegrate...
There was a measure of relief in that silence.
But oh my goodness, the agony that washed over me!
Blinding, suffocating, crushing in its intensity!!!
 
Unexpected!
 
I knew I would grieve!
But you lingered far longer,
months longer,
than anticipated.
And that last month you were in agony.
We had stopped praying for another day
and started praying that the angels would come quickly.
 
I anticipated relief for you.
I anticipated grief.
I did not anticipate the tidal wave that hit in those moments of initial silence.
And it was only the beginning.
It hurt like that, and worse,
for a long, long, long time!
I didn't think I would survive!
I didn't think I could survive!
I was sure several times that I was actually dying.
But I wasn't.
And I did survive.
And now, it's ten years later.
Ten years.
 
This month has been hard.
This tenth year has been hard.
I have grieved you with great pain again.
You have been very near.
And so very, very far away.
I've had to pay attention this month.
I've had to think about not using your name...
I'm not sure I haven't......
That hasn't happened in several years.
 
Everything was harder this year.
Your birthday was harder.
My birthday was harder.
Father's Day and Mother's Day were harder.
Christmas was harder.
Our wedding anniversary was harder.
Our "going steady-aversary" was harder.
Grayson was born and I wept in joy -
    and deep sorrow at your absence.
Everything was marked with significance
and a big, bold, bright red
 
10!!! 
It was harder.
Everything was harder.
 
Some years are like that.
 
I miss you!
Our daughters miss you!
We've talked about you a lot this year!
All three of us have missed you more this year!
 
But what a celebration you are enjoying!!!
And I wouldn't take that away from you!!!
Not for all the relief in the world!!!
 
 

 
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, 
and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. 
All these things are gone forever.
                                ~~ Revelation 21:4

  

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Almost there...

I sometimes wonder
if I spend too much time
thinking about things.
 
Things from the past.
Things from today.
Things I hope for tomorrow.
The things that make my life unique.
Things in general.
The things of widowhood and remarriage...
That's the real one.
Things of widowhood and remarriage.
 
But, really, that is, after all, my life.
I am a remarried widow
married to a remarried widower.
And our lives consist of the four of us.
In all things.
Our very existence as a couple
is because we are widowed.
Our very existence as a couple
is because we so enjoyed being married
that we came to realize
a life outside of marriage was not 
how we wanted to spend the rest of our lives.
And because we so enjoyed being married
we think of them often.
And it was absolutely the right thing for us
because we so enjoy being married to each other!
 
We are both in our tenth year of widowhood,
Lanny's tenth year is just getting going good,
mine is morphing into the eleventh in less than two weeks.
For me, this tenth year has been one of the more difficult.
 
This year, my Al has been extra near in my thoughts,
an almost constant presence again,
right beside my Lanny Love.
In the third and fourth years
both my Lanny Love and I had a problem.
A month into my third year,
we began dating,
and just before the start of my fourth,
we married.
Can I be honest?
During those years, he sometimes called me Judy
and I sometimes called him Al.
After all, we had spoken loving, romantic words
using only those names for several decades.
I have had to be careful of that again this year.
Because my Al is never far away.
And because I still love him and would,
but for death,
still be his.
And he, hers.
 
As I approach the tenth anniversary I have struggled.
The last year brought a lot of change
and I don't care for change,
it upsets my apple cart and 
the little buggers scatter everywhere!
While I never loved major change,
it didn't rock my boat so much before.
But with widowhood came an aversion to it.
And to talking on the phone.
Who knows...........
Added to the tenth year,
and the significance we attach to anniversaries in tens,
well, it's been a difficult year.

But I'm almost there.
Life has mostly settled again.
I am beginning at last to feel at home
in our new house.
And the tenth year is almost done.
The memories that come with each day now
as "the" day draws nearer,
will soon be fulfilled
and another year will start.

Each year is different
and I find myself wondering
what the eleventh will hold...
 
This is what I know.
Life is good!!!
I have been and continue to be blessed
in the life God has given me!
I have the privilege of loving a wonderful man who died.
I have the privilege of loving a wonderful man who lived.
Life is good!!!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
                ~~ Psalm 16:11 ~~
 

Monday, January 9, 2023

A teabag

I hated that stinking teabag!!!
He left it on the counter.
    Every. 
                Single. 
                            Time.
Not just on the counter,
    Right. 
                Above. 
                            The trash compactor!
All he had to do was step on the foot release
and drop the teabag in the trash.
But no. 
He left it on the counter.
 
How I longed for that teabag 
in the early days of widowhood!!!
I determined in my heart that
should I ever be blessed to love and be loved again,
I would focus less on the teabag
and more on the man!
And, for the most part, I do.

I don't remember the last time my Al and I made love.
In the days of singleness,
I wished I could.
I determined then that,
should I ever be blessed to love and be loved again,
I would take note of love-making -
and other lovely relational things.
Every time.
And I do.
My Lanny Love thinks it's an oddity
that I remember "the last time".
It's one of many oddities... 
 
Isn't that humanity in a nutshell?
Don't we spend an inordinate amount of time
focusing on the teabags
and a pitifully minuscule amount of time
focusing on the love-making 
and other lovely relational things?
Not just in marriage and remarriage,
in all relationships!
Our society seems to have embraced
being offended, dissatisfied, unhappy.
We almost look with suspicion upon those who are different.
 
I am an emotion-based person.
As such, I sometimes (often)
have a hard time differentiating
between "real" and "feel".
I was annoyingly reminded of that self-fact
during a recent conversation with one of our daughters.
But as with all annoyances,
I am trying to learn and grow from the reminder. 
And choosing again
to focus on the lovely relational aspects
instead of the teabag. 
 
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 
Fix your thoughts on what is 
true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. 
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
                                        ~~ Philippians 4:8 NLT
 

Monday, January 2, 2023

Fascinated

I am a woman.
Wholly.
There is very little about me 
that might be considered traditionally masculine traits.
I am mostly emotion based.
Sometimes that's fun.
Sometimes not so much.
I am passionate.
Sometimes that's fun.
Sometimes not so much.
I can be very adult -
and very childlike.
I came into life with baggage.
You'll just have to trust me on that.
My baggage grew through the years.
 
I am a complicated woman.
Yes, you may feel sorry for my Lanny Love.
Have I mentioned that he is a saint?
Well he is!
 
One of the complications is that
I struggle with situational/emotional/seasonal/chemical depression.
As the years have gone by
I have learned tools to help me when I am in an "episode"
so the fall-out is less.
Thank You, Daddy God!!!
 
There is no rhyme or reason to when the depression hits.
Oh, there are triggers for the blues,
but other than the seasonal,
there is no particular pattern or warning,
it just hits.
Sometimes it is very sudden.
That tends to be chemical or sunshine related.
Sometimes it is more gradual.
That tends to be emotional.
Situational can go either way depending on where I am in the others.
 
Sometimes it is short lived,
more "blues" than depression.
Other times it is longer,
weeks or months.
 
Just before Covid hit,
I began the decline.
I recognized it.
I began the process of coping and getting safely through.
It turned out to be a long one.
I am just really beginning to come out of it.
 
This episode has had all the factors.
It started out as chemical.
That often kicks off the emotional response.
Covid hit and we were stuck indoors
so situational and sunshine became a factor.
 
The hard thing about depression is that
once one type begins to include the others,
it compounds and worsens.
It becomes a cycle that is hard to break.
Think of the merry-go-rounds we rode as kids,
spinning faster and faster,
tummy getting sicker and sicker,
but jumping off is scary and dangerous.
You do jump, but right back on you go.
Jump, back on, jump, back on, jump, back on...
Until eventually, the thing stops spinning altogether,
your tummy settles,
and you step off and go joyfully on to the swings.
Depression, for me, like the merry-go-round,
speeds up more quickly than it winds down.

The merry-go-round is winding down.
The past year has been less depression
and more blues - flat, dull, colorless.
But color is returning!
 
One of my childlike aspects is
the ability to be fascinated by absolutely nothing.
I can still find wonder in clouds
    and birds floating on wind currents
        and Christmas lights
            and a pretty butterfly
                and a unique leaf
and so on and so on and so on. 
This ability is one of the things I lose
during a depressive state.
And I always miss it.
And I always try to manufacture it.
But until God sees me through the episode,
it can't be manufactured.
 
I have been thinking about that recently.
The ability is not yet fully back,
but it's getting there.
The other night,
I found myself fascinated by something quite ordinary -
and extremely unordinary!
Oh the rejoicing!!!
 
I don't do New Year resolutions.
They tend to push me into at least the blues
and sometimes into depression
when I fail.
And, you know, we almost always fail at those don't we?!
I tried goals for a couple years.
That worked a little better,
but not much.
 
Then the word of the year became a thing.
While I realize that it is in reality
another way to make a resolution or set a goal,
somehow it is different.
For me it is more focus than resolution or goal.
It's not something to accomplish,
a thing or place to reach,
it is simply a word,
a concept on which to ponder.
Something to watch for in one's life.
Since words are my "thing"
it works for me.
 
So this year, my word is "fascinated".
I want to practice noticing when I am fascinated.
Sometimes I will talk about it.
Sometimes I will just enjoy it.
But I want to practice noticing it every time! 

Today, I noticed the wind.
We get a lot of wind,
and truthfully, I dislike it.
It can be a trigger for me.
But today as I was sitting at our dining table
looking out at the dog and our "mountain" back yard,
    I noticed the wind.
        I noticed how the natural flora danced and waved.
            I noticed how the fluffy, white clouds scuttled across the blue, blue sky. 
                I noticed how the the naked trees bent and swayed, but did not break.
                    I noticed how the dog's coat ruffled in the breeze.
                        I noticed how the birds dipped and rose with the currents.
It made me want to run out there and experience it!
So I did!
    And I noticed how it lifted my hair,
        how it ruffled my shirt,
            how it chilled my skin,
                how it pushed against me and with me as I turned.
Fascinating!
 
 
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
                    ~~ Romans 5:8 ~~

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Why?


I get asked that fairly often.
"Why do you talk about Al in front of Lanny?"
Why do you write about him?
Isn't that embarrassing for Lanny?
Doesn't it make him uncomfortable?"

"No," I say, "He talks about Judy too.
They are gone, but we haven't forgotten them.
They are no longer physically part of our lives,
but they will always be part of our lives emotionally."

"But it makes others uncomfortable!"
I sometimes hear.

"I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable"
is my normal reply.

But that's not the whole of it.
I didn't realize that until this week
when a couple exterior events revealed it quite suddenly.
It's not the whole of the "why".

Here's the rest.

I do it in writing,
especially here where most of my readers are widowed,
for others as well as myself.
I do it for you.

This blog started about 10 months into my widowhood.
I needed to blog.
I had used Caring Bridge during Al's illness
and continued to use it for several years
following his death
because his sickness gave way to mine -
heart sickness.
(A book of those journal entries is in the works.)
Eventually, I wanted -needed -
a place to begin to live again
not only to grieve.
 
And so I began to "muse" here.
I talked about the challenges
and successes of my journey as a widow.
    I talked about discovering who I was.
        I talked about learning to do things
        someone else had always done.
            I talked about dating.
                I talked about life.
                My life.
And I talked about Al.
 
Because, despite wanting a place of life,
I was, in fact, still grieving. 
And, though it is different now,
softer, more gentle, more manageable,
I still am.
And so is my Lanny Love.
And I think it's important that others,
especially those going into remarriage,
know that.
 
I wish I had realized remarriage
would not change my love for my Al.
It would have made things a little easier
during the dating process.
And, to be honest,
I'd have saved myself - and some others -
a lot of heartache.

Thankfully, by the time I remarried
I did know that.
But many do not
and it often causes problems in their marriages
and in their own emotional and mental well-being.
And so I talk and write.
Because I still love my Al.
And because others need to know.
The widowed need to know.
Those who know the widowed need to know.

People die,
love does not,
not even in remarriage,
not even in joyous new love. 
 
I am a normal woman!
There are times that I really and truly wish
I was my Lanny Love's "only"
and he was mine.
Because sometimes it is uncomfortable
being loved in addition to.
And sometimes it is uncomfortable
loving two men.
And that's okay.
It's part of this life that is remarriage after widowhood.


Thursday, December 22, 2022

T-minus Three Days...

Christmas is almost here!
The excitement,
    The wrapping,
        The Christmas trees,
            The special once-a-year food treats,
The empty chair........
 
Even in joyous remarriage,
the empty chair looms large!
It always makes me think of the Big Texan,
a tourist attraction restaurant in Amarillo, Tx,
"Home of the 72 oz. steak"
and a HUGE rocking chair!
 
The empty chair is always there,
but there are days when it is larger
and from Thanksgiving to Christmas
seems to be one of those times universally!
 
I am blessed to love and be loved by
a man who understands the empty chair all too well.
That doesn't sound right
but you know what I mean...
We talk about it,
that empty chair and
about the beloveds whose presence is missing.
We both have other empty chairs,
but none so large as the two created by 
my Al and his Judy.
 
At this time of year,
and those other times when, for you -
and for your children -
the chair grows huge,
it is easy to focus on what we've lost.
Some years more than others.
 
But, oh my, how much we have for which to be grateful!!!
For those of us who have remarried,
even for those of you in remarriages that struggle,
We have MUCH for which to be thankful!
Warm arms,
    Hearing the words "I love you!"
        Someone to gift,
            Someone for whom you can prepare special treats,
A new filled chair!
What a joyous, blessed gift we have been given!!!

A sweet friend, a fellow remarried widow,
posted this on her blog recently.
How profound!!! 

The gift I have been given in my Lanny Love
surpasses any gift I have ever received other than salvation!
And the gift of him
reminds me of that only greater gift.
Before my Lanny Love there was only
Loneliness - aching, longing, constant loneliness
Melancholy bordering on, and often crossing into, depression
A sense of empty, incompleteness
Unrest - emotionally and literally
A sense of lostness
Emptiness

God was there, absolutely.
But His Word is clear:

It is not good for the man to be alone, 
so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.
                                            ~~ Genesis 2:18 ~~
And so, our good and gracious God
saw fit to bring my Lanny Love and I together,
and we are as perfectly suited to one another
as two imperfect people can be!
And now there is
Serving God together
 Mutual great love
Mutual deep respect
Mutual absolute admiration
A sense of belonging
Companionship
Completeness
Happiness
Content
Rest
Redemption
Restoration

These are the things we focus on,
my Lanny Love and I.
We are aware of the empty chairs.
We acknowledge and talk about them.
We talk about the memories.
We miss them.
We love them.
But we no longer live in yesterday.
We live in today.

I don't understand why
God chose provide these things
for the two of us
and not for others.
I just know that, for us,
remarriage has been offered,
            accepted,
                        and a great, great blessing!
And, yes, I think it does make those empty chairs
easier to face because they are shared.

So, for those of you who are remarried
and struggling with the empty chair this season,
I would encourage you to face them,
look at them squarely,
remember what you've lost,
and then look at what you have.
Praise God for His provision
of additional love.
 
For those of you still single,
whether you are single because you choose to be
or are seeking a mate,
there are great days ahead of you!
There are gifts just waiting for you to open your hands -
my hands -
and receive them.

My daughter and I were talking about this today.
I would also encourage you to open the conversation
to your children.
They miss their daddy, their momma
just as we miss our spouses.
Listen, understand, accept their feelings
of loss and loneliness -
and maybe even, just for a second, resentment
that there is a new chair,
one that may feel like,
even thought it isn't,
a replacement.
 
And, something I had never thought about,
be aware that they not only miss the person 
who is not in the empty chair,
they miss the person who is still there -
but isn't.
We are different after the loss of a spouse.
I am different.
My Lanny Love is different.
And about the time we began to be familiar again,
things change and we again become different 
as two merge into one.
 
We are different with our new spouses in remarriage
than we were with our children's mom or dad who is gone.
It looks different,
    it sounds different,
        it feels strange and awkward -
            especially if your children were not there for the courtship.
And, no matter how much they love us,
no matter how much they love our new spouses,
it feels uncomfortable and "off".

May your Christmas be joyous!
May we remember the Christ-child,
He who came that we may receive His great gift
of love and eternal redemption and restoration!

Merry Christmas!

Today, One Who saves from the punishment of sin 
has been born in the city of David. 
He is Christ the Lord.
                                        ~~ Luke 2:11 ~~