Wednesday, March 31, 2010


After my husband passed, a counselor from Hospice had met with the children a few times and we had gone to some activity nights at Hospice. One of my fondest memories were when they gave each of my children a Penny Bear.

Those little bears just sit upstairs now with other forgotten about stuffed animals, but for a time in my children's life they had great importance and meaning. The bears came with a small story book that told of a little boys loss. The story shared how the little Penny Bear was there in place of the loved one. According to the organization's website, "Some people feel that finding a penny means they will have good luck, or that by making a wish and tossing a penny into a fountain or wishing well, their special wish will come true. Others read the words on the penny and think about how important the words “In God We Trust” are in their lives."

For anyone with small children who are grieving... I just want to share that these bears are on my top 10 list of favorite things!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Six years ago today....

A rushed morning to be at the hospital early for a routine procedure. My husband was having the base of his esophagus stretched. I had rescheduled my appointments for the day. One appointment was not too far from the hospital and was with some construction workers who would actually be working at 7am when my husband's procedure was scheduled to begin. Once he was being put under and I was no longer allowed in the room, I ran down the road to meet my appointment. It was quick, I just needed to drop off a few things and fix a phone.

I was back to the hospital in less than twenty minutes.

As I walked down the hall I saw the doctor standing at the end, near the waiting area. I found that odd - certainly he was not done already. He caught my eye and waited for me to get closer, *** I don't know what he said. It is such a blur. Just that he stated that my husband had cancer***.

It doesn't work that way on TV. They tell you it's a possibility.... they need to run tests.... they don't tell you that you have it. Just like that without any tests being run. I questioned it. He retorted by telling me they were sending samples out to be tested, but if it came back negative - he would send them back until they got it right.

The next thing I remember is standing next to his bed. He was still groggy. The doctor came in and tried to explain to he and I what was going on. He showed us photos. I don't know what the photos are supposed to look like - but I guess the black mass was bad? They wanted to run all kinds of tests. I could tell I was going to be there a long time.

It's my oldest son's birthday. I had promised him Tim-Bits. I didn't want to let him down. I hadn't had time to run before we had come to the hospital. I called my mother-in-law to ask her to do it. My father-in-law (who had lost his first wife to cancer) answered the phone. I explained the situation. There was sorrow in his voice. Too much pity and sorrow. I broke down. I cried. Then I went to find my husband who was laying in his hospital bed in the hallway. I climbed up on the bed with him. I wanted to lay down and be close to him. But the hallway felt too strange for that. He was drinking barium... preparing for a scan.

My in-laws showed up. There we all stood in the hall. What is there to say? Chris had something to say, he looked at his mom with her eyes red from crying and told her, "Don't be sad Mom!". Our Branch President (the leader of our church) showed up just as he was heading in for his test. We asked if we could have just a minute in the room alone (the five of us). My father-in-law and our Branch President gave Chris a priesthood blessing. I felt such overwhelming peace.

The last detail I remember of that day was telling my friend Sue. She called when we were driving home. I told her the news. She cried.

Monday, March 29, 2010


A week ago my oldest son had the opportunity to meet Dallin H. Oaks. For those of you who do not know who he is, Dallin H. Oaks is an apostle of the Lord. Elder Oaks was in the Dallas area speaking about the mantle of one's calling and that he never feels worthy of the calling of an Apostle. So he called Christopher up to help him demonstrate- having him stand on a stool so all could see him. Elder Oaks then took off his suit coat and had Christopher try it on. Naturally, it was too big on him, and using that analogy, he said one has to grow into his calling.

I was of course not there, but am blessed to have this photo. I love this photo for a couple reasons. 1. How cool it is to see your son standing with a smile next to an apostle of the Lord. 2. Hope.

Elder Oaks was raised by a widow. He was the oldest of three children and was seven (two years younger than Christopher) when his father died. He had to learn to work early and hard. He was raised by a widowed mother who used her faith and his parents’ temple marriage to make his departed father a daily presence in his life.

I want to be like Dallin H. Oaks' mother. I want to be able to raise children worthy of being an apostle of the Lord.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It took me a few years to be able to sing certain hymns in church without crying... Somedays I still do. This is one of my 'new found' favorites. I feel these words when I sing them....

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

(Hymns, Be Still, My Soul, no. 124)

Saturday, March 27, 2010


As I working away at work one day this past week, I received a phone call from my youngest's teacher. She began to tell me this long travelogue about how she was reading the children a book that she had never read herself prior to reading it in class to the students. She was very apologetic about this and continued by explaining that she had seen the movie and it was such a sweet story, etc. etc.

As she was telling me this whole story, my mind could not fathom where she was going with all of this. Then she explained. In the movie they quickly touched on the fact that the little boy's mother dies. But, in the book, it went into great depth regarding his feelings about this.

The teacher stated that while she was reading, she continually would glance up at my son to ensure he was OK. He seemed to be, so she kept reading. She called to let me know this had happened in class today and to offer to stop reading the book if I felt that was necessary.

I assured her that she was fine, and that there should be no reason to stop reading the book - but that I would check-in with my youngest that evening to see how he was doing.

I have never been one to shy away from any type of media that addresses death... I actually embrace it. I think it is healing for the kids to be able to read or watch how another child handles the same trial they have been given. Isn't there something about feeling validated? That is a piece of why I write this blog... for all the widows out there who go through some of the same insanity... so they can be validated. Kids need that too. And books and movies are a great source. They also allow for us to engage in some seriously healing conversations.

Friday, March 26, 2010


After having friends watch over my youngest for two years as caring teachers, I was more than a little nervous to see how he would do on his own now. I counseled with the school about my concerns and requested that careful consideration be given to who would be chosen as his teacher. I knew that it would make all the difference in how he would do. A male teacher was chosen. One who was soft spoken and kind.

Kyle did so well. When I went in for Parent Teacher Conferences in the fall, I was so pleased to find that there had not been any issues. Kyle had never not followed directions, or not completed an assignment he was asked to. He was kind and well behaved. I was thrilled, although prayerful and concerned that he was not all the way there, yet. He was just on a good path. But, to have made it a couple months in and YET to have an incident where Kyle refused to participate or engage was good news.

About a month later I was at work when I received the following phone call: "Hello, this is Mr. X, the school counselor." *** "Yes, Mr. X, how are you? What can I do for you?" *** "Well, I was hoping you might be able to offer us some advice. Kyle is in the lunch room and won't leave". At this point my mind is asking all kinds of questions, like... Did he eat? Is he still hungry?... The counselor continued, "His class left an hour ago, but we can't seem to get him to leave". I really didn't know what to say, as I could not understand the cause of this behavior. I simply offered, "Do you need me to come there" *** "If you could, that would be great". *** "I will be right there".

I drove to the school confused... not understanding what was going on. When I arrived his teacher and the counselor were at the door waiting for me. As I walked in, they explained that he had gotten in trouble from the lunch lady and was asked to sit at a desk in the corner for the remaining time of lunch. He put his head down and had been sitting there for an hour and a half. He refused to speak to or look at anyone. He had missed recess and library. He just wouldn't leave.

I walked into the lunch room feeling a bit intimidated as the teacher and counselor both watch anxiously, wondering what it was going to take to get him to leave. I walked over to him, pulled the chair out that he was sitting in, took his hand and told him it was time to leave the lunchroom. With a solemn face, he stood up and walked out with me. I asked the counselor if I could borrow his room to have a few words with Kyle. He quickly agreed. When we walked in and I shut the door, Kyle broke down in tears and I just sat there holding him. He sobbed.... letting out all the frustration from the day. I just held him.

When he was done, I asked what happened. He explained that he told a joke at the lunch table (alright, think back to third grade and repeat what I say "I"... "P"... get the idea?) It was a joke that had been told by many... for many generations... but the kid he told it to, didn't like it... and told on him. The lunch lady had yelled at him and sent him to the desk in the corner.

He didn't feel like he should have been yelled at and ostracized that way. He was embarrassed... and as he had in the last couple years, when things were too much for him to deal with, he curled up in a ball and shut the world out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I have repeatedly commented that my oldest child struggled. Don't get me wrong though, he was not the only one. They all had their ways.

My youngest was in kindergarten when his father passed. He made it through that year, and we were fortunate enough in first grade for him to have a friend as a teacher. This was fortunate as she didn't require as much parental involvement as another teacher may have. One of his ways of 'coping' was shutting down. No doubt there were times that his poor little brain just couldn't process any more. So, to ask him to sit and learn - when all his brain wanted to do was process the fact that his daddy is gone, was just too much some days.

When the teacher would ask the class to come sit on the carpet... sometimes he would just want to stay at his desk, in his own little world. My friend didn't worry about this, she would simply pick him up and bring him where he needed to be. This worked (of course sometimes he objected and she might have been seen carrying a flailing child who, much like a two year old being taken out of a toy store, would grab a hold of the door frame attempting to inhibit her ability to take him away).

In second grade, he again had a friend for a teacher. She was such a loving and kind women. In fact I have given you a sneak peek at what a wonderful woman she is.. remember this and this? Well, I don't think it is a coincidence that teaching Kyle ended up being her last year before she retired.

When life got too tough for Kyle he would just sit in his locker... "Mrs. R, Kyle is in his locker". "I know... he'll come out when he is ready". Or should he be asked to write something and the task seemed too daunting... he would simply go under his desk and cry. "How about you tell me what you want it to say, and I will write it for you."

She was soo good to him. She allowed him the space he needed to heal... to cry... to check out of life a little without a harsh reaction. Such a contrast to the reaction my oldest son was receiving.

I don't know that I thanked them enough. Both of my friends, for the service they offered as patient loving teachers to my child.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The year Chris was sick, he attended Parent Teach Conferences in the fall with me. We were naturally worried about the kids... their father was very ill, and not getting better. The kids seemed to be doing OK at home - but we were concerned about what kinds of behavior may be manifesting itself at school.

We had appointments with each of the children's teachers. Two of the three children's teachers were conscious of our situation and sensitive to our concerns. They answered our concerns with direct, open and honest answers. We were happy to find that the children seem to be doing alright.

As we arrived at the classroom to meet with the last child's teacher we were hoping to find similar news. When we inquired with the teacher as to how his behavior was, she expressed that she found his behavior bothersome. I took a deep breath, preparing myself to learn perhaps, something of how my child was feeling. We asked her to explain. She stated my child made noises. What kind of noises? Like, sound effects. To everything the child does, there are sound effects. Loud, where it bothers others. No, none of the other children seem to notice. Does he interrupt the class? No, it is usually during free time, but it is annoying.

This poor child is dealing with his father dieing. And you are concerned that he is still able to use his imagination, as many his age do, to escape to a world of their own... and it's annoying YOU? He is not interrupting any other children or class time... just annoying YOU?

Well then, we are done here. Sounds like he is doing perfectly fine, and no, we will not say one word to him about it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have commented before that Chris' presence is something I have felt often in the last five years. I will sadly admit that I don't visit his gravestone very often. Don't get me wrong, it is not as if I never go there - but the frequency might be something like half a dozen times a year. And, given that I live in a very cold area - I will go months without going there. To be honest, often when I go there it is hard not to think about the day he was buried. I don't care for that memory.

Last year I went and picked out a bunch of flowers I love... no, not flowers he loved... He is not the one that has to look at them, I DO! :) So, I got flowers I loved. Of course, I don't have much of a green thumb, so I didn't give much thought to what would grow there... And Gerber Daisies were not the best choice - as once the exiting flower died, they never bloomed again. Anyhow, I thought maybe I would get myself in a better habit of visiting often. I suppose I did go there more often... just not as often as I told myself I would.

The snow has finally melted this year and it is starting to feel a little bit like spring. So, I called my girlfriend who I have not seen in way too long and asked if she wanted to go for a walk. We didn't have a particular destination in mind when we left... just used the time to talk and catch up on life. We ended up walking further than normal and ended up at the cemetery. I pulled all the dead stuff around his grave, said a quick hello and we were off.

As I left, I started to say goodbye, as did my friend. But we both stopped, then said, "no need to say goodbye.. you are coming with us aren't you". Because we know, that he does... And as we continued our walk home and my girlfriend (who happens to be the opposite of me - I have NO grace and trip over a piece of grass... she never trips) tripped... on flat ground... with nothing seemingly in the way. I started laughing and said, "It was Chris. He thinks he's funny."

Monday, March 22, 2010


As I have mentioned before, I have had a relationship (in my book) with three different guys since Chris passed. Only one of those guys did not have children. Nor did he have much experience with children.

My kids loved him though and he was pretty great with them. Although, I don't think he ever took a 'Babysitters Course' and that combined with a few experiences and his lack of past experience.. made him questionable when it came to leaving the children in his care. :) At least at first. He had a lot to learn.

One particular experience happened one summer afternoon. I was inside working on some things on my computer and he walked in the house and said he smelled gasoline. I knew my oldest was outside playing with a friend so I instantly panicked. I asked my friend if he would go see what the boys were doing. He agreed and went to check. He saw my son in the garage and asked him why it smelled like gasoline. My son explained that they had hit the can of gasoline and it accidentally spilled. My friend accepted the story and returned inside. When he walked into the room I was in, I looked up and asked if everything was OK. He said yes, and then casually proceeded to tell me what my son said was the cause for the odor. I stopped typing, looked up at him and froze. You believed him? You took his word for it? You didn't snoop around to find the real story or at least identify the location of the spill? I quickly hopped up and ran outside. Upon exiting the back door I saw four to five feet high flames in my back yard. I grabbed the hose... started screaming at my son... something along the lines of "what were you thinking?" In a panic, my son was responding that he "didn't mean for it to be this big". The chaos continued for another minute or so... the two of us screaming at each other, before I was able to put the flames out.

By this time my friend had come out to see what all the screaming was. I looked at him and said, "And that is why you never believe teenage boys".

He was learning... life was not so simple when you were dating a widow with three children. A widow, I might add, that was losing control!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


“Through our trials can come great strength” and “The Lord will never give you more than you can handle” are comforting thoughts when you are faced with a trial… but in the thick of it…. Where can you turn for peace? One of my favorite hymns addresses that very question:
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
There have been so many times in my life when I have found myself feeling so deeply the words portrayed in this hymn. In those moments, just as deeply, I have found the answer:
He, only One.
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end

Saturday, March 20, 2010


After four months I was feeling very frustrated. Although my job was going well, I saw no reason for me to be sacrificing this time away from my family. I earnestly prayed to my Heavenly Father. I needed to feel reassured that I was doing the right thing. My answer came as no answer I have ever received before. I felt my Heavenly Father’s love so strongly and so clearly. I knew that he loved me and that as I continued to counsel with him in all things, He would direct my path. I knew He had a plan that was greater than what I could understand. And overwhelmingly, I felt his great love for me.

Not long after, my husband had gone in for a routine physical and through some follow-up work he was diagnosed with cancer. It became very clear that the extra income provided by my working would soon be needed as we prepared for expensive treatments, many tanks of gas to and from the hospital and for a loss of income as my husband took a leave of absence from his work. So many times I have looked back on that time and have been so grateful I was able to take that leap of faith. Had I delayed the Lord may not have been able to bless me with a job that provided me the level of income I was able to bring in and the extreme flexibility.

Our Heavenly Father knows and loves us. If we open ourselves and our lives he will direct our paths for good. And when our aching grows or when we need to turn for peace our Heavenly Father is there.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Alma 37: 37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

I have come through my life to find peace and direction and wisdom in that scripture. I have come to know and trust that my life will be on a path of joy as long as I counsel with my Heavenly Father in all things. He will direct my path for good.

My life was one of ideal from what others on the outside could see. I was happily married. I had three children and was blessed with the ability to be a stay at home mom. We needed a slight supplement to our income and I had been blessed to build a business that I worked only 20 hours a month at that provided an ample income to meet our needs.

Life was good. We were happy. Both my husband and I were serving in callings at church and we found great fulfillment in our lives. But, I have come to understand that I often feel at peace and feel firm in where I am in life when the Lord asks me to change it. I was driving in the car one day after being out running errands. I received a strong impression that I needed to quit my part-time business. This was nothing I had ever considered before, and I didn’t see any logic to it. I counseled with my husband about this. We were both confused as to why that would be, as this business was very rewarding financially compared to the time commitment that it required. We were not sure how things would work financially, but moved forward with faith and I spent the next two months dissolving my business. The next two months I spent in prayer letting my Heavenly Father know that I trusted in Him and that I would take whatever course he directed for me.

One day I picked up the newspaper and saw an ad for a full-time position at a local company. The spirit strongly testified to me that I needed to apply for the position. I submitted my resume even though I did not feel as though I was qualified for the position. To my surprise I received a phone call and was asked to come in for an interview. My interview went very well and before I knew it I was filling out paperwork to start working full-time. I began to panic and to question my decision. How could the Lord be asking me to go to work full-time? Haven’t the prophets encouraged us to be at home? I continued forward despite my confusion, as I knew that Lord had directed my path and had put me here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Working full-time and caring for the kids keeps me running. There are not usually enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I need to. So luxuries, such as a clean house and a home cooked meal do not happen every day. But, I wish they did. At the end of the day when I look around and see the cluttered house and the dirty dishes from the grilled cheese I quickly made for dinner, I miss the days that I was home to clean the house and cook meals. The angels that reach out, on occassion, just to pull you up when you feel like you are sinking, truly feel as though they are sent from heaven. On more than one occassion while I was at work friends from my church (TB, KR & LS) have come over and cleaned my house and brought me a meal. Do you know how wonderful it is to come home on a day that ends with Parent Teacher Conference to a home cooked meal and a clean house? TB, KR, & LS have been fabulous in their small acts of service to me. These tasks that my life does not allow me the time to get done in a timely fashion have brought relief and joy to my life. I still love to sit in my living room and see the painted walls, and to sit in a CLEAN living room, with a full stomach from a delicious casserole and best brownies ever... that is just a gift!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Although I can say I was not hesitant to jump into the world of dating, the children did not necessarily feel the same way. There were not any open rebellions to the first person I started dating... but as things go, that fizzled and I met someone new. I dated that person for a short time and then there was someone new. I suppose the kids felt this was too much. They didn't understand why I didn't just stick with the first guy and marry him.

My oldest, as with most things, had the hardest time with this. On one occasion when Guy #3 was visiting he decided to show him just how he felt about his entrance into my life. He proceeded to go out in the garage, find a can of spray paint and spray paint Guy #1's name all over the place.

How do you react to that?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


We can't go through life as silos and think we will enjoy it. We need to be engaged and involved with others, and with helping to carry the burdens that others are carrying. There was a time in my life that my time and availability were such I would seek out opportunities to help others. I enjoyed being engaged in this type of work. In more recent years, however, my resources of time and energy have been more drained and I have not been as 'busy' in the work of caring for others.

When life gets difficult, it remains important to serve others, as sometimes that can be the one escape you have from your own problems, as you help someone else with theirs. A difficult transition for me was to realize that I really needed others' help and to even, on occasion, ask for it.

I am grateful for those angels that were on an errand. There are many examples of times that I have had the help I needed, just when I needed it. Today, I will tell you of one.

When I first moved in to my house I had painted the walls 'Bonjour Beige'. It is a color that has followed me from house to house. Through the course of my first year in the house I made a few changes to the curtains, etc in the living room and as a result the walls needed to be touched up. Much to my dismay the company had slightly altered the color of paint and I did not have enough left over to paint the areas that needed it. I was left with splotchy looking walls. The area that was painted this color was a good sized area - and therefore was not something on a typical weekend I would have time to tear the room apart, paint it, and put it back together. So, I put the project on hold for a three day weekend.

Of course, three day weekends are few and far between and my list to accomplish on those weekends was LONG.... So, the paint job waited, and waited, and waited. Until one day a friend was over visiting and she inquired as to what I was doing with the walls. I explained my situation and she quickly offered to come over and paint it for me. I reluctantly agreed (feeling badly that she would take on such a large chore). KR brought TB and LS with her and in half a day had the walls painted - uniform. They had the rooms put back together before I arrived home from work.

The errand of angels... do they recognize the stress relief it is for me when they reach out in such significant ways?

Monday, March 15, 2010


When I moved into this house I had the option to make some changes. The kids were getting older, and our new location put me 10 minutes further away from the lady who had been taking the kids before school. It also put me 10 minutes closer to work – so I really wasn’t too excited to cart the kids across town and extend what should be a shorter commute. I thought about it and figured the kids were getting older and perhaps it was very possible that if they were ready to go when I left for work, they would be able to catch the bus, which came just five minutes after I left for work.

The first day of school I took the kids and got them settled in their classrooms. The second day of school we were to pilot the new program. We were up and ready and the kids were all set to go. I left reminding them that they needed to be out front in five minutes. They assured me there would be no problem.

I kept my cell close to me for the first half an hour I was at work in case things did not go as expected and they missed the bus. No calls came – so I presumed all was well. At noon I decided to go home for lunch and catch up on some housework. As I was washing some dishes I saw a reflection in the mirror above the sink that appeared to be a child running across my back yard. It struck me as odd, as all the kids in the neighborhood should be in school. Any who were too young to be in school were too young to be all the way down at my house running around. I curiously turned and went to look around in the back yard to see if I did in fact see a child. I slid open the doors and walked out onto the back porch. I looked around and didn’t see anything. I turned to go back inside when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. I stopped and turned. I couldn’t believe what I saw… It was my daughter!

In a panicked voice she began to recount a story of how they let school out early that day. I was stunned. She is the RESPONSIBLE one. No. No, they did not let school out early… why are you here? Then out of the bushes came my son. “She wouldn’t let me call you. I wanted to call you but she was afraid we would get in trouble and so she took the phone from me.” So we thought if we skipped school today, that would be BETTER?

I ordered the children to the car and signed them in for their last couple hours…

Yeah… I still don’t have it together.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I have done my fair share of dating the last five years. I jumped in with two feet and have managed to have a few relationships. Each guy I dated was very different than the other - and I guess after a while of it, I decided I preferred to be curled up under a blanket watching a good movie than to be 'out'. So, I have now become quite the movie buff. Of course I am terrible with actor's names and I never remember the names of the movies... but nonetheless... I have seen a lot of movies in the last year.

I have been quite content in my world of not dating. It is comfortable here...

Not too long ago a friend from work determined that she needed to fix me up with someone. Actually, there were two friends working on this. I quickly tried to explain that I just don't date. I prefer movies to men. But, they convinced him that he should contact me and he did. Apologetically, I quickly informed him that perhaps my girlfriends did not understand... I don't date. He was very agreeable to that. No dating. But, that did not stop him from checking in via e-mail occasionally, through which we have developed a shallow friendship. I have come to appreciate his quick wit and quiet flirtations.

My girlfriends had tried to bait me with the concept that he is very handy and could help me out with a few things around the house. I was not too comfortable with this, despite my LONG list of things that need attention. However, as I walked out my front door one day to find the door was falling off the hinges... AGAIN, despite my numerous attempts to fix it and to have it fixed... I thought, why not, let's see if he can figure out why it keeps doing this.

He readily agreed to help me out and we set a day for him to come over and fix the door. He brought his son to help him and they easily took the door and were off with a promise to return shortly. I was not prepared for what happened next. When they returned with the door, I looked out the window to view him walking up my driveway. He quickly glanced around the house exterior as he was walking towards the front door. I knew that look. That is the look that with a brief glance makes a list of ten things that should be taken care of... but contrary to what that list would do to me... shows a look of ease. That is a look I have not seen in years. It made me smile.

He quickly hung the door and was off. And there I stood. Intrigued. By more than just the fact that the door continued to work... but by him. By his act of service that showed no need for attention or accolades. He was so simple with it - seeking nothing.

As the evening progressed I became haunted with the memory of the look and the manner with which he carried himself during this task. It became crystal clear to me that although I have dated in the past, I have never dated anyone that was like my husband. Yes, it has been five years... and being 'ready' to date has never been an issue... but being ready to date this is a whole other issue. That is something I don't know if I could date for it brings the memories back... memories of a good life and a husband who watched over everything for me... I don't know if I could date that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Sometimes I look at things that happen and think “That never would have happened if I was still at home with the kids”. I don’t want to have The Grass is Greener Syndrome, but sometimes I watch the chaos and wonder how we made it here… In my mind we are law abiding citizens who try to be kind to others and keep our home well kept. In reality… that is not always what is happening. For example:

I called home the other day to discover the police were at my house. YES, I said the police. It appears that my daughter decided to go in her club house with our miniature schnauzer. I suppose I should clarify that the club house is nothing more than a tree. Don’t get me wrong… there is NO structure in the tree, this is just a regular old tree with branches, etc. She likes to go sit in there to get away from the world… and so she thought it would be even better if she could take her four-legged friend with her.

They enjoyed some quiet time together in the tree, and then she attempted to get out of the tree. On her way down (carrying the dog) she slipped. She was able to catch herself without a problem – but in order to do that she had to let go of the dog. The neighbor was watching as the dog seemingly was ‘thrown’ out of the tree. My daughter’s side of the story states that the dog fell a mere two feet down to the snow bank below… and since dogs are related to wolfs, this really was not an issue.

The neighbor felt otherwise and remembered back to the previous week when he saw the children putting the cat on the roof (or my kids say they were getting the cat off the roof), he felt he had seen enough cruelty and called the police to report “cruelty to animals”.

Would I have lost this much control if I wasn’t playing mom and dad all at once?

Lesson Manual: How to Be a Widow
4. Accept the fact early on that you aren't going to be as effective playing mom and dad as you were when you were just playing mom. Things will happen.

Friday, March 12, 2010


What will my children remember me as?

I wonder that often and also wonder if I am ensuring the future of America's Psychologists with the parenting I am doing.

I wonder if my children will remember me laughing. I laugh a lot. Most psychologists would probably say too much. But, I laugh. When faced with the option to laugh or cry... I will usually laugh. But will the children remember me laughing or will they remember the times that the patience was gone?

Will they remember me curled up in my bed from the days that just weren't good days, or will they remember us going hiking?

Will they remember the times I came home to a broken window or light and my only response was shaking my head or will they remember the times I was exhausted and I would yell at them for hardly anything?

Will they remember that I tried to read scriptures every night with them or will they remember the nights I forgot?

Will they look back at the times we drove by their father's grave - and I would tell them all to wave to their father as good times or that I was losing my mind?

Will they remember me as someone who was different when their dad was here than I was when he was gone? And will that different be good or bad?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


When I go to the gym and lift weights, I pick a particular weight and start my reps. Often 10 reps is pretty easy. I then start my second set and it is more difficult, but again I am able to do it. By the third set my muscles are tired and it is almost too difficult to finish the last rep.

I feel like that often with my patience. As I start the day I am usually doing alright... but as the weights of the day and the number of times I am faced with a trial tied to widowhood increase, my ability to be patient is exhausted just like my muscles when lifting weights.

The concept, I am sure, is that as this happens, my patience increases, just as my muscles grow when I lift weights...

But some days I wonder if I am increasing in patience enough... because I don't know if I have the patience life demands for me to be a good mother. As I feel pulled a hundred different directions, am I able to focus on the most important responsibility of the day and work effectively?

Not yet... but I suppose I am better than I was a year ago. (For instance... as I write this and the kids are running around despite the dozen petitions for them to go to bed... I haven't raised my voice yet - of course the kids would probably not agree with that statement)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


If widowhood does something for you, it helps you see clearly every weakness you have. I can no longer allow my husband to stand strong in the areas I was weak in – I must stand there as well. I must stand in the wide open realization that I am not good at what I am doing.

In his book How To Succeed With People, Stephen R. Covey says, “Patience accepts the reality of life that in all things there is a process, a step one, step two, step three process that cannot be ignored or bypassed.”

The very act of healing requires patience. The process was and is so up and down. There are good days and on those good days you wish that you were there. That you have made it. That you are done! But, the next day you may wake up and find it is a bad day. You aren’t done yet. There is still more pain to feel. Sometimes I just want to say, ENOUGH. No more pain, no more bad days.

I have learned patience in this process. I have seen there is a step one and then two. I can not ignore it or bypass it. I must embrace it. On the days that are my good days… I look for ways to enrich my life so I can thrive. On bad days I allow myself to feel the emotions. To honor them. To know that today is just a day that I can crawl into bed and feel miserable for whatever amount of time is possible. I don’t ignore it and try to press forward. I feel it, and press forward. It is a step and I can not skip it.

Lesson Manual: How to Be a Widow
3. Be patient with the development of patience. It will come. Have faith in your own unseen potential.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


We still celebrate my husband’s birthday. We treat it just like he was here and use the opportunity to celebrate him.

A couple years ago we were returning from my son’s visit with his psychologist and we stopped at a shop that had become a favorite bakery. We had plans that afternoon to take a picnic lunch up to one of our favorite state parks and enjoy the day. As we were examining the options for a ‘birthday cake’ it became evident to the lady behind the counter that we were looking for the perfect dessert for a special occasion. She innocently asked my son, “What’s the special occasion?’ My son easily replied, “It’s my Dad’s birthday”.

We decided on a pie and my son pointed out to her the perfect one. She promptly boxed it up for us to take. She cashed us out and then sweetly commented, “Tell your dad happy birthday for me.” My son smiled and assured her that he would. As we walked out of the bakery, my son turned to me and with a wry grin and asked, “How do you think she would have reacted if I told her we were buying a birthday pie for a dead man”. I laughed. Some things are too much information for others, but we find the humor ourselves.

Monday, March 8, 2010


My friend ‘J’ is coming up on her five year anniversary. As the day approaches she e-mailed me this note:

As the day comes and goes that changed your life forever, you realize that no one in the world really remembers, but it is a day you can never forget for it is one of those moments that everything changed in a flash and that flash is forever embedded in your memory.

I think one thing I have gotten much better at in terms of personal growth is to be more patient with others’ actions and words. We never know what has just happened to them or what anniversary is creeping around the corner.

After Chris’ death there was many times that I would be standing in line at the grocery store looking around watching the people around me. I would stand there thinking about how strange it is. The person in line right behind me… they have no idea I have just buried my husband. But, what is their story? I began to realize that within so many of us is something… something for which an anniversary comes and goes or a terrible burden they are facing daily while the world goes on like it is a day of normalcy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


As is evident from yesterday’s post, I have several sisters. Quite a few years ago we decided to try to get together for a “Sister’s Reunion” as we are all spread out in different states. This had just started to become a tradition when my husband got sick. The year he was sick my sisters decided it was best that they spend their resources and each come visit to help at staggering times. The following year, the funeral brought us together.

It took a few years for us to decide to get back to our reunions. Last year was the first stab at resurrecting the tradition. I made the necessary arrangements so I could get away for a weekend and we met up in Lake Tahoe.

Our weekends are really just about playing cards, sitting in the hot tub, and of course a little shopping. As we were checking out some of the local shops in Tahoe, my sister came across a pair of sunglasses she fell in love with. They came with a hefty price tag. Certainly this was not a purchase she would easily be able to justify to her husband. We continued shopping and she gravitated back to the sunglasses. Thoughtfully, she turned to me and suggested, “If you bought a pair of sunglasses - you wouldn’t have to justify it to anyone. Then I could tell my husband that I HAD to buy them because it was a sisters’ thing.”

Yes, we were discovering a few of the perks to widowhood…:)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I have commented before about my lack of reverence. I will tell you it seems to be hereditary. All my siblings came in for the funeral services. The night of the viewing we had traveled together in my Yukon. On the way home a discussion began about how this was not just a loss that was affecting me… as Chris had dated one of my sisters for a short stint… so she was facing the death of an ex-boyfriend. I then pointed out that another sister should be feeling a loss as well, as he had once thought she was the prettiest of us all. Then another sister noted that she too had a “special” relationship with my husband (of course before he was my husband). So, with the five of us sisters this meant that: he thought one sister was hot, dated another, had a special relationship with one (whatever that means) and then married me. Leaving one sister with no connection…left out. At which thought she began to question, “Why not me? Why didn’t he like me?” Of course, we reminded her that since he had passed there would be no way of knowing why she was sadly left out. As the discussion continued it was determined since he was not here to answer for himself – his brother would have to answer for him.

When we arrived back to the house, the five of us stormed in on my brother-in-law. He had no idea what was hitting him when my oldest (left out) sister demanded that he account for his brother’s actions. She recounted the relationship he had with each of her four sisters, and wanted to know why she wasn’t good enough to catch his attention as well.

In a calm and smooth way, his brother simply replied, “Chris never expressed interest in you, because he knew of the feeling I had for you - and didn’t want to betray me.”

The perfect response to diffuse the situation.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I spent the first few weeks of my oldest being gone reminding myself that this was the best thing to do. Then, bit by bit, I started putting the house together, fixing things that had been broken in careless moments and so on. I cancelled my plans for spring break – because it just didn’t feel right to be going on vacation when we weren’t together as a family.

The other two children had mixed feelings; well mostly they were fine with the break from the chaos that had become the norm in our home. But, one night my youngest son was particularly sad over the most recent change and he commented, “We just keep losing members of our family. First Dad, now my brother. It doesn’t even feel like our family any more.”

It broke my heart.

There wasn’t a time frame to this plan, but my son seemed to do well in his new environment. His grades were much better, and there, of course, were not any problems with his after school activities.

I wanted him to come home for the summer – but he did have a class he still struggled in and had to attend summer school. He still didn’t pass the state testing after the first round of summer school so they had him go through another round. He finally got to come home the end of July for a month. He had changed so much…

In the meantime, I had decided that it was time for me to move closer to family (yes, another move), so things were up in the air at home. Certainly my oldest continuing on a solid path until I settled seemed to be the best option.

It has been one year since this change in our family dynamics. I crave the day that we can put our family back together – but I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my family that has reached out to help.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Tears soon turned to anger as the reality of what was happening hit my son. I questioned myself a hundred times, but I felt it was right and I didn’t feel there was even a possible plan B that would result in success. We had to stop this before we had serious issues.

I was up at 3am on Tuesday morning to pack the car and my son and to depart for the airport. There wasn’t much to say. He didn’t want to understand why this was happening. He just said (and told all his friends) I was kicking him out of the house. How do you convey how deep your love is for your child and how much you ache for him to be able to stay when you are indeed ‘sending him away’? My reminders of love were met with angry sarcasm.

We arrived at his Uncle’s to open arms and a bedroom prepared. We had an appointment with the guidance counselor at school. As I met with her and signed paper work giving my sister-in-law parental rights I sobbed. He was mine. For good or for bad – and there was a part of me that felt like I was giving that up. I wasn’t of course, but the pain that weighed on me that day certainly felt like it. When the paperwork was in order the counselor took us for a tour of the school.

I was a mess. I could not stop the tears that were running like an open faucet. I met every one of his teachers and saw every one of his classrooms through blurry non-stop tears. I couldn’t stop crying. He accompanied me with a confident ‘don’t care’ front.

When the tour was complete, we returned to my sister-in-laws and relaxed for a bit before it would be time to pick up her other children. As I sat there, I had a seizure. Too much stress, too exhausted. I showered and napped.

The next day I got his clothes unpacked and had his room settled before getting back on a plane and having hours to think about and question what I had just done. I just had to breathe deep and go by faith. I just had to be grateful for family that was there when we I needed them most.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Along this path my oldest child was choosing, some additional bad behaviors were magnifying. He became an expert at smooth talking, expanded his story telling techniques, and found a way to get some tangible things he wanted.

We continued visiting bi-weekly with the psychologist. I hoped we could break this cycle… but the weeks and the months passed and things were only on a slippery slope down hill. One day as I sat waiting outside the office of his psychologist for their appointment to be finished, I overheard my son sharing a story (some may just call it a lie) of what was happening at home. I couldn’t believe it… and it made me start to wonder if this expense of resources to drive an hour every other week and pay the fees was helping any more. Had my son healed to the point that he wasn’t ready to do any more and perhaps was content with where his life was? He saw no danger, no sadness as I did when I looked on him. I considered these thoughts for the next couple weeks, and then joined him during his next session. At that time I explained to the doctor and to my son that there sessions were done. My son needed to want to change, and until he did my resources were being wasted. I have two other children at home, which were somehow being ignored… and left with what was left of my energy when done focusing on their brother. Sadly, that was nothing. I felt like I was sacrificing two for the sake of one. How do you choose? What is the perfect balance?

I began to tell my son that we were done. There was no more of this behavior allowed in our home. You are to show respect by letting me know where you are at all times, and only leaving when it is permitted. It did not change his actions, but I kept saying it. Over and over. I started to look around my life… it felt like total disarray. How do we get off this slippery slope?

I reached out to a family member who tried to be sympathetic, but pointed out that it may not change until I find a male role model for him. I spent the next two weeks in prayer. Was there someone who could help me? Asking this of anyone would be a huge burden…. and I didn’t know who I could even ask. Reflecting back on offers from family, I felt it may be time for a ‘shake-up’. I didn’t feel that minor changes regarding who was involved in his day-to-day were the solution. We were sliding fast and only a complete change of course would offer the recovery we needed.

In faith I sent an e-mail to a few family members explaining the situation. I clearly outlined all of the bad habits he had become accustomed to. I informed them that I needed an intervention. But accepting the challenge of having him come to live with them would not be easy. He had a lot of learning and growing to do. The e-mail was received with open arms and it was decided he would finish the school year at his Uncle’s.

This was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life. I was fearful if I sat on it too long, I may shrink. I bought the plane tickets the next day.

He had just finished a growth spurt so I scheduled a shopping trip – took him for all new clothes and then we went to dinner. He wanted steak. I acquiesced, and as we waited for our meals I told him what was happening. It was Saturday night. I explained Monday he would have the opportunity to say good bye to his friends and Tuesday he and I were flying to his Uncle’s home where he would finish the school year.

He curled up like a small child and cried. I cried too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


How do you define normal when your children are entering the teenage years? It seems what could have one been classified as ‘normal’ behavior is no longer in existence. I think the combination of grieving his father’s death mixed with the entrance into the puberty years had to have had an effect on my oldest. Or at least it would offer some explanation as to why we seemed to go to such extremes.

As much as the psychologist was working and making strides with my son, in some areas he was starting the slow steady spin that would one day feel out of control. One area that has been a trial with this child, even when his father was here, was getting him to do his homework. I think he viewed this as a violation, an interruption to HIS time. As he graduated to higher grades, the importance of this homework grew. Not in his mind. He was not eligible to participate in any extra curricular activities which only meant he was home from school by 2:30. That was too early when I was at work until 5:30. As his grades declined, I reduced his interaction with friends, etc so he could spend that time at home on his homework. He reacted by taking back HIS time by not coming home from school. He would go find some friends to hang out with, although the only other children that were free that time of day were other children of single moms. There was a small pack of these boys. Some were good kids, others I questioned their influence on him. I would never really know where he was or what he was doing. I still don’t. Most days he would make it home shortly before I did.

I checked with the school regarding whether it could be enforced that he get on the bus to come home. They said they would try. He still never made it home. I felt as though this was larger than me. I didn’t know how to wrap my arms around it and control it. You can’t really control children. They have their own little spirits with a desire to be free. We can only teach and discipline them. The trouble is that in order to learn…. you have to want to. No discipline was too harsh – because he was free for three hours a day. It didn’t seem matter. He would give up anything – because in those three hours he was free. He was ‘winning’.

He started to keep less track of what time it was and did not always make it home before I did. He missed guitar practice repeatedly, as he was not home to go. One day I arrived home to discover he was yet again missing. I drove all over town looking for him. Nothing. I came home. I said a prayer. It was getting late – going on 8pm now. He had never stayed out this late. Six hours since school let out… what is a thirteen year old doing for six hours? I had checked the homes of the boys he hung with. They weren’t there. I told Chris that this has to be one of the benefits to not being limited by the mortal body. He should know where his child is. I asked him to find him, and send him home. He arrived home half an hour later.

It felt as though life was spiraling. How do you personally have time to worry about anything other than surviving… when your children are consuming your every thought? When the fear that what you feared the most seems to be exactly what is happening… or at least your child is opening the door for it to happen. How do you make it all stop?

Monday, March 1, 2010


The signs were evident from the very beginning that my oldest son would not take the same path as the other two children in healing and grieving his father's death. Not that any one's path is the same - but his would be longer and more painful and difficult.

Within a couple months of Chris' death I was in contact with Hospice (or perhaps they were in contact with me). They had a wonderful woman who was working as a Counselor specifically for children. She would come to the house and talk to the children. My oldest refused to have anything to do with it. We tried the counselor at school. They pulled him out of class almost everyday to visit with the counselor. This did not seem to help either. We did things at home, that I hoped helped - but he needed more than what I could offer him. For two years this game continued. I tried to let him be - wondering if he could work through it. No. He was angry. He was angry that me and the other two children had somehow 'moved on' and forgotten. I tried to assure him, we had not forgotten. I think of Chris every day. Everyone just shows their emotions a little differently.

I asked around regarding an excellent male (I had determined he needed a male) children's psychologist who had knowledge and expertise in grieving. I didn't want someone who would classify him as depressed or some other label - I needed someone who would know what to do and how to work through this process with him. I had no luck in finding what I was looking for.

I was in for my yearly check-up with the doctor, and different that any other time I have been in for a similar appointment, the Nurse Practitioner saw me. She was interested in how things were - was I healing, were the children? I shared with her a little of what was going on and my frustration in finding what I was looking for in a Children's Psychologist. She told me that she thought she knew of someone who might help. He had a great reputation and she had heard a lot of good things about him. I eagerly accepted his contact information.

Making the phone call to his office just a day later, I inquired regarding his expertise and experience. He sounded as if he could be a match. We made our first appointment and took the hour long drive to his office. On the way up I talked with my son about how this would be a waste of time unless he wanted to feel differently. This doctor could help him, but only if he wanted to let go of some of the anger that he was feeling. He was surprisingly receptive. I was grateful.

Our first appointment went well and we established a pattern of every other week on Thursday nights or Saturday morning. The drive up provided us some quality time to visit and he was making progress. I began to see less anger, more smiling. After one year I was amazed at how far he had come. I was so grateful.

I was grateful to my Father in Heaven, for his divine intervention in giving me the nurse practitioner that day, not the doctor. For the nurse, that I had never met before, who cared enough to ask how the kids and I were doing. For a doctor, who cared and for my son being open to healing.

We had made some steps in the right direction.