Monday, March 15, 2010

Time for Reflection

I'm reflecting less these days. I don't like that but I know what it is. It's one part intentional busyness, and the other part pain avoidance. I keep moving, trying not to dwell on things for which I have no answers. At first, I went to that rock wall a hundred times a day asking my questions. It was a relentless search for understanding, and I continually banged at those hard, immoveable, unyielding walls. And when I hurt my head, over and over again, with banging at something that was never going to give way, I started going in different directions.

Less, "Why, God?". But more, "What, God?". What do we do with Joey now? What do we do with all this heartbreak? What place does someone who's gone have in our lives? What do we do with his precious things? What do we do with the fragile memories? What can we do to honor his memory? What is important enough to invest in now? What do we do with our broken lives?

Coming up with these answers is like digging in fallow ground. Unlike banging on the rock wall, there are answers to these questions. But it does require hard work to unearth them, and to unearth the right ones. So we are digging, digging, and slowly piecing the answers together, bit by bit. There is no manual. We have to figure it out prayerfully and purposefully. Sometimes through trial and error. What works for one doesn't always work for the others. What works today doesn't necessarily work tomorrow. But I pray we eventually end up with something that all of us can support.

We are learning how to have a relationship with Joey's spirit which is alive and well in Heaven. We stay connected with Joey through memories, dreams and the artifacts of his life. Sunday morning worship always connects me with him as I imagine him doing the same thing we are doing, but in Paradise and at the throne of God. Taking care of his car, "Gunther", is another way of connecting. This one turns out to be an expensive proposition as his VW Vanagon is over 20 year old and, like me, it deteriorates with each new day. This blog and his facebook page help to preserve some of the memories, and so I will keep it going. Memories are difficult because they are fading as time goes on, and thus we have to intentionally remind each other to remember this story or that bit--constant mental archiving to last us till we see him again. Anniversary dates will continue to be a source of anxiety for a long time because they are such big reminders of our loss. I just accept that there will never be the "perfect" way to honor the big days--the day of his birth and the day of his death-- adequately.

The quest to find a way to honor his memory is ongoing. We have still not found a clear cut living memorial, though we have tried several on to see if they fit--causes related to epilepsy, sudden death, trees, music, a Compassion child who shares his name or birthday, Operation Smile...and others. That one is still fluid--we are in search of the right cause, one that sustains our passion. I envy those mothers like Karen Gerstenberger who have created a foundation to their child's memory. With every quilt, her beautiful daughter Katie's memory is honored. But since that is not our story, we continue to trust that in time some just-right-thing will stand out. I would love to know how others do this.

As for finding what is worthy of my time and money investment, that too is a matter of trial and error. For me now, teaching Sunday School rings the bell. I have never been the slightest bit interested in teaching children at church. I could barely get my own in the doors on time, and this harried mother couldn't wait to sit down and be a spectator in the pews. But now I want to have a part in helping every little child I know be prepared for both the moral choices and the suffering and heartbreak that inevitably lie ahead in their lives.

I am so grateful that Joey had that foundation as a child. It didn't make him perfect, but it did help to make him wonderful. And at his final breath, I do believe that his relationship with God, and God's great mercy for those who trust Him, was the most important factor in determining his eternal destiny. So Sunday School, with all its time-sucking preparation and it's creative challenges (cuz it's a sin to bore a child in Jesus' name), and the post-church fatigue from having engaged 25 busy little minds with busy fingers and wiggly bodies, seems very much worth the investment...

...and I don't have to reflect much to see the truth in that.

Is 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Little Miss Namesake

My precious friend, Melissa, with her granddaughter Josie.
They have a mutual admiration society.

Melissa is Joey's second Mama. Her son, Kevin, is Josie's daddy, and Joey's best friend-- since they were babies themselves! She was named Josephine in honor of our son, and it always gives us a thrill to see pictures of her Royal Pinkness. She may be one of the cutest babies in the history of the world!

Here she is getting to know her Unkie JJ from her own special book about him.

We love you, Josie. You are our sunshine girl.

We love and miss you, Melissa and Kevin and Molly.

Thinking of you always...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

One Year Old

A few days ago, my blog reached it's one year anniversary. As I debate continuing with it, I am reflecting over the past year and can see that the blog has been a big help to me. I think repeatedly pouring out my grief has given vent to some of my worst pain, and just writing down thoughts and feelings has been therapy. Meeting others who also grieve--my kindred spirits--has eased my isolation and given me a special kind of comfort in community. And I am grateful for my readers who have faithfully encouraged me over and over again. It's been a true place of healing for me--my own little hospital room.

My blog started as a coping mechanism, mainly because I could hardly think or function. I would literally just sit my days away, staring into space, really just in shock, trying to absorb the truth of our loss. But now my blog is a daily habit that gets me going, and it's a soft way to start my day -- I don't do stress well at all anymore. I can't rush and hurry like I once did, I can't have a big to do list in front of me. I now simply ease my way quietly into each day.

Each morning I sit in the same spot in the corner of my couch near the fireplace ("my sacred spot") with my computer on my lap, and gather myself together for the day. It's quiet, and near the window, and I can see out, and see the weather and absorb the natural light. I wrap myself in cozy blankets. I glance at my email and then I read the daily devotional from Greg Laurie that comes in my email each day. Greg is a gifted pastor who lost his son about the same time we did, so he's a voice I have felt I could trust. His short and succinct devotional has kept me connected to God in my darkest days. It's been an anchor for my soul.

After that, about 7:30 am, I turn to my blog. When I'm up to it, perhaps once a week, I listen to the music on my blog page. It is a mixture of comfort and grief triggers, so I tend to be careful about when I listen and will spare myself unless I am alone, and have the time and strength to dip into all that longing and sorrow. If I listen, I cry, but on those days I feel better afterwards--emptied of my accumulated heartache.

Every day I check my blog roll to see if any of my grieving friends have posted, because their posts invariably strengthen me in some way--if only to help me feel not so all alone. I send little prayers up to God for them as I read. I care about their pain as much as if I had met them in person, and have had their tears on my shoulders. I am still not able to read anything lengthy or to even pray long prayers, so the short snippets of others' blog posts are just the right size. As I read, I send heartfelt "arrow" prayers to God, with the hope that He hears and will answer in His time and way.

I have yielded control a thousand times in the past year, and asked Him to do what only He can do --for me, my family, my friends, and my fellow grievers. I give God more leeway than I used to because now I know most things are out of my control.(How did I miss that truth before?) This planet and the human story are on their own trajectory, and only God can save the day. And He will. It is getting easier and easier to let go and turn things over to Him.

This blog represents many prayers, many tears and immeasurable loss. It's also been a very effective release for all of that. It's helped me to steady my rocking boat a bit. A side benefit has been that it's also forced me to focus on the here and now and the blessings in my life. When I first started blogging, I could hardly do that. I had to discipline myself to post anything beside pictures of Joey. I couldn't take my eyes off of him for a second. It was as if he was on life support and it was my job to monitor the machines to keep him alive. I couldn't leave his side. Now I feel he is safely inside--I carry him with me now. I always, always wish he were here, but now I know I will see him again.

So, on the one year mark, I am grateful for all that this blog has meant to me. It's a precious record of my long, difficult journey, interspliced with God's tender mercies. I'm just waiting to see what happens next.

Job 30:16 "And now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have seized me.

Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

Monday, March 01, 2010

US Hockey Team Rocks!


of Amazing Athletes!

We are now ready for the final playoff between Canada and the U.S.

Proudly wearing their colors and supporting our guys.

Hockey is Chase's game. He's spent the past seven years and several thousands of his parents dollars perfecting his skills. He would like nothing better in life than to play in the pros. The game even pulls his attention away from the hot wings.

Drew, our resident facepainting artist, imitates baby Marek during a break in the action. Unfortunately, our little good luck charm wasn't enough to bring us the victory this time. So, sooo close though. When the U.S. got their second goal we all screamed so loudly, little Marek burst into tears.

Here, Mama Steph comforts him while keeping an eye on the exciting last few minutes of the game. Marek's proudly sporting his colors too!

We're proud of the U.S. effort and can only say, "What a team and what a game!"