Sunday, November 26, 2023

Silent November

What can I say that I haven't already said?
So they passed quietly,
        these days of November ~ ~ ~
            but certainly not unnoticed.
November 3, Judy's birthday.
    The eleventh one since her death,
        the eighth since she came into my life.
November 5, final hospice day.
    The twelfth one since the call came,
        there was nothing more to be done.
November 8, Al's birthday.
    The eleventh one since his death,
        the 52nd since he and I became us.
            On FB, I copied a post from a previous year ~ ~ ~
                because what could I say that I haven't already said?
November 14, my mom's birthday.
    Her 87th,
        the 42nd since her death.

Thirty days of thanks.
    How long have I been doing that formally?
        Longer than I can remember.
It's not that these days passed unnoticed.
    It's not that I am not filled with gratitude.
But what can I say that I haven't said before?
Somehow, words would not come this year.
    Somehow the feels, the emotions would not be expressed,
        the thoughts were a jumble of.....
            a jumble.
And so the days passed quietly,
covered in crunching leaves,
    softly falling snow,
        becoming memories of 
            that year I couldn't pay written tribute. 


Monday, October 23, 2023

The best part of any relationship...

Remarriage from widowhood.
What a confusing decision!
What a sometimes all-consuming process.
What an important, life-altering choice!
Do I risk loving again?
Do I accept being alone and, like Paul,
learn to be content in my circumstances?
Just like grief, though similarities exist,
each journey is different in the decision to date and remarry.
Each person makes the decision that is,
in their experience and with their knowledge,
best for them.
Once the decision is made,
the resulting journey may again have similarities,
but each journey is, once again, different!
The emotions are different!
The experiences are different!
The personalities are different!

If you are in that process,
my heart reaches out to you!
I have a fellow widow friend
who had a wonderful marriage,
fun, happy, and loving.
In some ways, her journey through grief and dating
is similar to mine.
She kissed a few frogs,
a couple of them poisonous.
After more than a decade,
she has decided that 
she is happy to remain single
unless God drops Prince Charming into her lap
and writes on the wall that "this is the one!" with His finger.
It is the right choice for her.
I have other friends who,
for reasons unknown to me because they are fabulous women and men,
want to find their chapter two mate and can't even find a date.
They do the right things,
but no nibbles.
They wonder if they aren't young enough 
    or pretty/handsome enough
        or thin/buff enough
            or smart enough 
                or...whatever enough.
That's not it!
They are all those things and infinitely more.
They wonder if God has forgotten them,
why He gives a mate -
or if not a mate, contentment as a single -
to others and not to them.
There is no answer to those questions outside of God
who usually keeps them to Himself.

Still others desire to remarry,
meet the man or woman
that God intends for them quickly
while some spend long years seeking before they find God's intended.
Some have happy, easy chapter two marriages
while others find remarriage filled with difficulty.
Most who remarry seem to fall in between.
I myself find myself in the first category of marriages.
My marriage is delightful, love-filled, and easy. 
Though I walked a bumpy path getting there,
once I stopped trying to do things at my speed and in my way,
God moved quickly and amazingly.
I love my life!
Why am I so blessed while others,
likely much more deserving than I,
are still so lonely?

Honestly, I find myself having to be careful.
I am so happy and content that 
I want everyone I know to have the same experience.
I plot "fix-ups".
I internally object when someone decides to stay single.
I pray for my widowed friends to find great love.
I have to be careful.
God's plan for my life
is not necessarily the plan for theirs
outside of His desire for them to lean on Him,
    trust Him,
        walk in obedient submission to Him.

I found this to be true when my friend posted the following meme.

I didn't "like" it and I didn't comment on it
because I didn't like it
and anything I could have said about it wouldn't have been helpful.
Because my experience has been different from hers.
And I can't understand the depth of her pain.
My frogs mostly didn't give me warts -
at least none that Compound W didn't remove -
hers did.
Now, several months later,
though it still makes me very sad for her
and for those who agreed with her,
I am glad that, for once,
I didn't challenge her post.
My sadness for her may be legit -
but it could very well be misplaced in God's plan for her life!
For me, the best part of my Lanny Love's and my relationship
is NOW!
Every single day, we love one another more,
cherish one another more deeply,
are more grateful to God for giving us one another.
For me, tomorrow will only be more of the same joy
until God calls one or both of us Home.
My perspective is vastly different from hers!
I know other widows who had frog paths
and who, like me, found Mr. Right and are happy and content.
But that is not everyone's experience.
It isn't my friend's.
I pray she gets my outcome someday!
I pray that someone absolutely, stunningly wonderful
comes along and sweeps her off her feet!
God has made her so amazing
it seems a shame to not give her to someone!
But that is not my decision to make
either in the pursuing or the answering.
Meanwhile, I praise God for my Lanny Love,
for our marriage!
I am so glad I waited for the man described below,
a meme also posted by my friend.

I know!!!
I am very blessed to have been gifted so well!
And I am infinitely grateful!!!


Friday, October 6, 2023

The coffee smelled like Al this morning...

No, Al did not smell like coffee,
nonetheless, the coffee this morning 
smelled like my Al.
He was a coffee connoisseur
and a coffee snob.
He loved Colombian coffee
and in particular MJB brand.
It was the only coffee in our home.
My Lanny Love and I also love coffee,
especially Colombian.
Though we are not exclusive to it
and we primarily use whole beans,
I still love MJB which, unfortunately, is not available in whole beans.
This morning I opened a new can
and it immediately took me back to that long ago kitchen.
It smelled like Al.
I have missed him heavily lately.
It has become normal,
missing him more as I remember the last effort to save that fall -
despite being told it would not save, only possibly extend and
hopefully provide comfort, still, I clung to hope... -
and the closer we come to the holidays...
and then the month of his death. 
This morning, the smell of a fresh can of MJB was overwhelming.....
Place me like a seal over your heart, 
like a seal on your arm. 
For love is as strong as death, 
its jealousy as enduring as the grave. 
Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.
                ~~ Song of Songs 8:6-7

Monday, September 25, 2023

Choosing emotions

I used to thrive on it.
Or at least I adjusted to it quickly.
Not any more.
It probably began in my heart as a child.
That longing for constancy, resistance to change.
But it didn't become a front and center thing
until after Al's diagnosis and death (ADD).
Now I hate it!
Most of the time even when it's something I want,
I need time to adjust.
For example, I knew very quickly
I wanted to marry Lanny,
but if he had asked at the point I knew -
or even at the point he knew a little later -
I would have panicked and probably answered in the negative,
even though I knew he was the one.
I needed time.
And so did he.
And we thankfully gave that to each other.
But when it is something I am choosing out of need or necessity
rather than desire -
or not choosing at all but having thrust upon me...
oy vey!!!!!
Now, I've always known this
but recently, I've been reminded that
my reactions and, 
    to some degree, 
        even my emotions
            surrounding change
are my choice! 
Don't get me wrong!
There is that initial reflex influx of emotion,
those immediate "feelings" that come
with anything that happens in our lives.
We can't control those
anymore than we can control
becoming out of breath 
from a long run or climbing several flights of stairs.
Or can we?
I exercise regularly.
I have a family history of health issues
that make exercise and staying fit a big advantage.
But to be honest,
I don't exercise as regularly or fervently
in the summer.
It's HOT where I live
and I do not glisten,
I SWEAT!!!!!
I'm not talking a little underarm perspiration and brow moisture,
I'm talking rivulets running down my entire body and limbs,
dripping hair and clothing.
Nice picture, I know.
Despite the fact that I pack a water bladder,
in triple digit temps and dry conditions,
it is easy to become dangerously dehydrated.
I'm not a morning runner so 
before the heat is not a consistently viable option for me.
I just won't do it in the long-term and I know this.
Therefore, in the spring and early summer,
I can do my five miles and still breath and talk.
In the fall, I cannot.
It's training.
And training or not, 
    and the subsequent benefits or consequences,
        is my choice.
I am coming to realize,
okay, I've known this for a LOOOOOOONG time,
that emotions are the same.
I have to train to keep them under control.
I have a friend who used to say,
"Feelings aren't right or wrong, they just are"
and I used to embrace that.
But sometimes our "feelings",
the emotions surrounding events,
and a plethora of other "feelings",
do have a measure of "right" or "wrong".
This is where training comes in.
It is finally beginning to cool down a bit here.
I will begin retraining for my five mile a day run this week.
I don't like the training period,
but it is necessary and,
in the long run,
so very beneficial to every aspect of my life.
Time to start retraining some emotions...

Sunday, September 3, 2023

September 3

Ten years.
An entire decade.
So long...
    So fast...
I didn't know Judy.
Non-the-less, I grieve on this day
for I know and love the one 
who knows and loves her.
That is one of the things about
marrying a widowed individual;
you inherit grief days.
Ten is harder somehow.
I've talked about this before.
My Lanny Love has had a hard week.
Today has been a teary day.
Today he lunched with his daughter.
They both wanted to include me
but I declined.
This is an intimate day.
One where memories are shared
along with tears of laughter and sadness.
It is a time for those who know and love her
to remember without hesitation or explanation.
It is a time to finish each other's stories;
a time to begin the laughter 
as soon as the first word is spoken.
It is not that I haven't heard the stories.
My Lanny Love and I share extensively
about his Judy and my Al.
They likely didn't talk about events I haven't heard about
and if they did, I would enjoy hearing those stories too.
But my tears are for them,
their tears are for her.
It is different.
Today is for them.
This day of intimacy needed time together
just for those who know her, love her, miss her.
This evening, in the quiet of the day,
my Lanny Love and I will very likely share
a time of reflection.
He will very likely cry for his lost love.
I will cry for him.
Ten years.
An entire decade.
So long...
    So fast... 
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
                                            ~~ Bill Gaither ~~

Saturday, August 19, 2023

The answer is "no"

I "wondered" in my last blog entry.
And the answer to my "wonder" I think is no!
I was reflecting on the realization that
the loss of my Al no longer causes me excrutiating pain
as it has for so many tears.
I love him, I miss him, I feel sad sometimes,
but that physical and emotional pain
that could take me to my knees in sobbing tears,
that anguish that could wipe me out for days at a time,
that hurt that dulled color and dimmed light,
that seems to be gone for the most part.
And I've continued to wonder that
over the last couple weeks.

I think the answer is no,
it would not likely be so.
I think I would still somewhat regularly 
experience that debilitating pain
had my Lanny Love and I not found one another.

Recently, my Lanny Love and I watched a movie
where much of the plot was very similar to
his and his Judy's experience through cancer and death.
My heart hurt for him as we watched.
After the movie, we readied for bed,
and though the door is always open for conversation,
he didn't talk about it.
But he did seek comfort in music,
and in God's gift to him in me,
and in a few tears.
There was much tenderness that evening,
both given and received.
And he felt better. 
I understood completely for
the roles have been reversed!

I thought about those types of moments
for some of my single, widowed friends
and our conversations about them.
I thought about those moments of my own
before and after my Lanny Love.
And the answer is no,
I would not likely be at this place of healing
were I still single.
I think the pain would still be acute
without our remarriage -
                                for both of us.
I think that incident,
and others like them,
would have had the ability to disable for a time.
Time itself does pass and
the bereaved learn to live again.
God is there to be the "husband".
But God does not physically hold us in His arms.
He does not verbally whisper words of love and comfort in our ears.
He does not fill the empty side of the bed with warmth and flesh.
You see, God created us for physically present relationship.
In the very beginning
He saw that man needed a mate:

“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper who is right for him.”
                            Genesis 2:18 NCV
Before the fall, 
He walked in the garden each evening with Adam 
and still, He knew Adam needed a mate.
How much more so once His physical presence
could no longer walk in harmony with man!

Now I do realize that
God does not choose to bless everyone
with a "chapter two" spouse.
For some, being single is their calling
and they are content with God as their spouse;
for some, being single is their cross to bear.
I don't pretend to understand how or why
God chooses which way each person walks after widowhood. 

I do understand this:
God does know!
He has chosen each path for each person
for their eternal benefit and His glory!


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

It doesn't hurt any more...

It startled me, the realization.
When did it stop, I wondered.
I thought back and I think the last time it was truly painful
    was more than 15 months ago
        when I met our great-grandson for the first time.
Due to the death of my friend's husband,
    seeing her pain,
        walking that similar path with her,
            the wound has been salty lately,
but it hasn't left me in a personal puddle of tears and pain
    as it has in the past when even simple acquaintances
        lost their husbands.

I wonder if it would be so
    were I not so joyously remarried.
I'll never know for sure.
I just know that it did for a long time after remarriage
    and now it doesn't.
A post from a dear fellow remarried-widow friend (Rachel Moore)
on this, the 11th anniversary of her widowhood,
made me think about it.
And then this afternoon I heard "our" song and
    it didn't make me stop in my tracks to listen,
        sing along,
And I wondered when it stopped.

There is still a wistfulness,
    a missing the familiarity
        that comes from having basically grown up together,
            raising children and welcoming grandchildren together,
                being married to one another for nearly 37 years;
but that hurt,
    that gut-wrenching pain,
        that regular longing for what was,
            what might have been,
that painful ache in my heart at certain memories and events,
    that's gone it seems.
It may come again,
    likely will,
        but the regular occurrences,
            the normalcy of pain,
that has stopped.
I anticipate that future occurrences will be short and manageable.

In nine days, it will be exactly ten and a half years
    since he died
        and that realization does not bring pain,
            just that wistfulness.....
I love him still.
    I miss him still.
That has not changed
    and will not change.
But the pain is gone -
    as I was told it someday would be.
In its place are joyous memories
    and gratitude for our life together.
In its place is a joy-filled life and love
    and gratitude for God's grace and mercy and healing touch.
As my friend said, 
    it is "disheartening and encouraging at the same time." 


Wednesday, July 12, 2023


She was my lifeline.
She wasn't the only one,
    but she is the one upon whom 
        I have been most dependent in the long term,
            during all ten-and-a-half years of my widowhood,
                even in remarriage.
I had asked her "before" to be sure
    I didn't become a hermit,
        to ensure that I learn to live alone,
            not merely exist until God called me home. 
She did her job magnificently!
She prayed.
She called.
She texted.
She came by.
She invited me out for lunch -
    and periodically said something along the lines of,
        "I know you don't feel like it, come anyway."
Sometimes she brought lunch to me
    if I was being particularly obstinate
        or simply so sad I could not move.
She cried with me and for me.
She listened when it was hard to hear what I was saying.
She never, ever judged how I felt,
    the words I spoke,
        how I behaved.
She never said she missed the old Gina -
    though I am sure she did.
She embraced her when the new Gina began to emerge,
        my heart began to open,
            and wept with me when it got broken,
                but she never said "I told you so."
She listened as I reasoned,
    "I don't need to love, it's easier not to, I just want companionship."
She helped me talk it through.
And when I broke his heart,
    because, as it turns out, I did need to love,
        she didn't criticize or shame or say "I told you so."
She sat quietly with me in the stillness of those months
    when I simply waited and listened for God
        rather than to my own loneliness.
She laughed with me at the funny dates
    and clicked her tongue at the pigs.
She positively beamed when Mr. Miracle
    walked right into my life and swept me off my feet.
And she did say "I told you so! I told you he would come!"
She stayed when others didn't, couldn't
    because walking with someone through grief is very, very hard work!
She helped me carry a burden that was so heavy
    it would have been impossible to carry alone
        and she never, ever once complained
            or asked me to carry it on my own
                or wondered out loud
                    how much longer the burden would weigh so stinkin' much.
She just helped me carry it. 
She was truly a Proverbs 17:17 friend:
A friend loves at all times,
and a [sister] is born for adversity. 

It is a debt I hoped never to have to repay
    but last week, it came due.
May Chris and God find me faithful!


Monday, May 29, 2023

Thank you!

The missing is profound recently.
As I sit at my Al's gravesite today,
I can hear in the distance
the names and ranks of the men and women
who gave their lives in service to the United States of America.

I think of my own grief and loss and longing
and I think of those other widows and widower.
     the sons and daughters,
          the mothers and fathers,
               the brothers and sisters
who sit at a gravesite today
     profoundly missing
and I am deeply grateful!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion...

I have done some things the last couple days
that are completely out of character for me.
My dreams the last several nights have been...
I am not sleeping well tonight.
I should be, I'm tired.
I didn't sleep at all that other night 11 years ago.
It was just about this time,
a bit earlier by the time this is posted,
just after midnight that we heard those words:
"Mr. Garrett, you do have cancer."
We were in the ER and the doctor was very matter-of-fact.
He came in, said those words
and that we would be staying for a while
and walked out.
It took about two minutes.
We had gone to the hospital at around 4pm.
It took them eight hours to give us the diagnosis.
Sixteen days later we went home
with a one to three months prognosis.
He lived eight months and three days.
Yesterday and this day are almost sacred to me.
I almost feel the need to whisper the date,
May 25/26, D-day.
And every year I feel the weight of those words,
the diagnosis of cancer.
And every year I think of the privilege of serving him,
walking him home over those next short months.

Every year I also feel the grace.
I feel the grace from my Lanny Love
when I talk about my Al more,
    say his name more often,
        say the wrong name occasionally as I did at least once this week.
He loves me through the "memory" days.
I feel the grace of God
who looks beyond my actions,
    my thoughts,
        my feelings,
and loves and accepts me in my imperfections and failings.
I was privileged to walk my Al home.
I am privileged to make a home with my Lanny Love. 
I am blessed beyond measure to love and serve
a merciful, graceful, forgiving God!
Last evening, on the 25th, we returned from a road trip
with one of our daughters and her family
to a bucket-list destination for my Lanny Love.
It was a fabulous time.
Still, I fought tears several times
and found myself to be more sensitive than normal -
and that's saying something.
Six years ago on this day,
my Lanny Love and I were on my first back-packing trip,
where I fell in love with the sport.
And where I thought of my Al
and wept for him in a mountain pool. 

Most years, I am here and visit the cemetery
at some point in my day -
and I laugh with my husband and children and grandchildren and friends.
Every year is different
but every year is a life adventure.
Life goes on.
And in grief, we must move forward into life
or, ourselves die, at least emotionally and mentally, in the grief.
Truly, grief has no end.
It changes, but it is with you, 
ebbing and flowing all the years of your life.
That is because love has no end either
and as long as one loves what is gone,
one grieves it.
But that is not the end of the story.
I think of a quote from one of my favorite movies, "Steel Magnolias":
"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." 
~~ Dolly Parton as Truvy after Shelby's funeral ~~

I think of my Jesus - life through death.
My Al is more alive today than he ever was here.

I think of my life,
living not simply existing.
Loving in the here and now,
not only in the past.
Experiencing joy and laughter,
sorrow and tears.
Life through grief.
I am very blessed!