Saturday, September 10, 2016

Letters to Al

I journal.
A lot.
I have several journals.
This forum is a journal of sorts.
I get a lot of my posts
from my hand written journals.
They are modified,
prayed over to see what
God wants "out there",
and finally posted.
One of my handwritten journals is for prayer.
I bring my praises,
and a myriad of other things
to Almighty God.
One is a general journal
where I process my life,
record memories.
In one, I write poetry.
The fourth is my most personal.
It is letters to Al.

I began the practice of writing to him
shortly after his death.
It was a tangible thing,
a way to "touch" him.
Nearly four years later,
I still write to him occasionally.
These are highly personal letters.
I share them with no one.

Until now.

I have to tell you
that I balked a bit about this.
But I feel strongly led
to share my last two letters,
written recently,
with you, my readers,
word-for-word as they are written.
May God use this post for His glory!

As I left his gravesite that day,
I was a little nervous.
You see,
I have recently been in a season
of spiritual conviction
and heavy grief at the loss of my husband,
my childhood sweetheart,
the father of my children.
I have been missing him deeply.
Missing the familiarity.
Missing someone who experienced
my history with me.
Missing not having to blend two families.
Missing knowing my place,
my position,
in the family.
Missing not having to decide what to keep
and what to sell or give away.
Missing having my home,
my things.
My experience has been
that when these periods of grief ease,
there is a period of increased peace
that is often followed quickly by a big
And with the added spiritual struggles,
I was a little nervous.

Letter two.

I guess I share this to say
to those of you in the midst of grief,
and to those of you
for whom grief is coming,
there is life after the death of a loved one!
It is different!
You are different!
It will never be the same as it was!
You will never be the same as you were!
And that's okay!

May God bring you healing!
May your broken heart
give way to soft memories
and appreciation for the past,
and may He grant you peace
and joy in the here and now!
May you find hope for a future!
Grant it, Lord! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Loving and missing and memories

Today is the anniversary
of my Lanny Love's greatest loss.
Three years ago today
his precious Judy
"...beheld the face of the One
for whom she lived."
Reading his loving Facebook post
and that of his daughter's
made me very sad.
But not for the reason you might think.

You see,
as I read through the comments,
looked at the "likes"
I couldn't help but notice something.
As of this writing,
there are 69 likes
and 13 comments to my Lanny Love's post.
In comparison,
there are 220 likes
and 33 comments on his daughter's.
The difference has little to do
with the number of friends they each have
for many of the comments and likes
on his daughter's post
are mutual friends.
It has more to do with Lanny's
and his daughter's relationship
to Judy,
and now to me.
And that makes me incredibly sad.

I have grieved with and for
my Lanny Love today -
as he did me in January.
I have grieved for Judy's children,
her mother,
her sister,
and her host of friends who miss her,
many of whom are now also my friends.
I have read with joy the loving comments
that tell me so much about this woman I never met.
I want to know her!
For as much as -
no, more than -
his parents influenced who my Lanny Love became
in the 18 years he lived with them,
Judy influenced the man he became
in the 32 years they lived together as man and wife
and the five years they dated before marriage.
Knowing her helps me to know him.

But more than that!
More than my selfish desire to know this woman
he so loves,
more than that
is the fact that he needs to know,
needs to read,
that others remember her still.
As he does.
That others were influenced by her.
As he was.
That others love her still.
As he does.

One of the strange misconceptions
people consistently have about widowhood
is that when a person falls in love,
begins anew with another,
he or she is "over" the death
of his or her spouse,
that the grieving is done,
that the person they "once loved"
has been relegated to the past,
that the widow(er) doesn't want to remember anymore,
and that bringing them up
is inconsiderate of the new spouse.

Nothing is further from the truth!

In widowhood,
you do not stop loving.
The marriage did not end out of choice.
You do not stop missing someone
to whom you committed your love,
your life.
You do not stop!
Any more than you stop loving and missing
a deceased parent.
Or a deceased child,
even if you have another child after their death.
Or a deceased friend,
even when you make new friends.
You do not stop!

In the early days of grief,
people ask "how are you?"
But they want to know only about your daily life.
They are uncomfortable talking about "it".
They are uncomfortable talking about the deceased person.
They are afraid of bringing up memories.
They are afraid of making you sad.
But in those early days,
you crave talking about them!
It is the only way of keeping them with you!
Sharing memories means others remember
and love them,
that they were not a figment of your imagination,
they were real,
your life with them was real.
In many ways,
that craving increases with time.
As distance makes water color
of the memories,
having someone who also remembers
is supremely important!

So, while I grieve with my Lanny Love today,
while I grieve for him,
while I talk with him about Judy,
I did not know her.
I do not remember.
I do not help confirm she was real,
that their life together was real.
Oh, I can ask leading questions
to spur memories,
I can encourage him to tell me about her,
but I cannot share her with him.

So, please,
when someone you love dies,
do not bury them over and over
to their spouse!
Forever, talk about them!
You are not reminding them
of anything they aren't already
thinking about!
Confirm to them that
their beloved was valued!
Confirm to them that his/her life
made a difference!
Love them now,
just as you did then.
Believe me,
even if they have remarried,
that person's widow(er)
them terribly!

And the new spouse?
Well he or she understands.
They know the person they so love
is hurting
and needs to talk about "it"
and "them".
They know that memories are important.
They know that hearing others remember too
brings comfort.

And if you happen to be a new spouse
who doesn't understand,
please know,
please believe -
for this is the truth -
loving their first husband or wife
is not in competition with their love for you!
Rather, it is in addition to it!
And the fact that they cannot stop loving
should give you great security
for it means they cannot stop loving you either!

I have said it before,
I will say it again.
Do! Not! Waste!
Do not waste your emotions on anger!
Do not waste your time with separation!
Cleave to those you love!
Hold them close!
Cherish them every single moment!
Embrace their imperfections!
Love them with your whole being!
You are not guaranteed tomorrow!