Wednesday, June 30, 2010
May 15, 2007
I keep thinking I need to get back to writing and do it regularly. But, at the end of the day, I'm done! So.... here was today:
I called the babysitter as I was walking out of work and asked her to grab a frozen dinner and put it in the microwave. By the time I got home it was about done. I took it out and put it on plates for the kids, then took the sitter home.
Got back home at 5:50, changed my clothes, took the kids and went running at the track.
Took the youngest on a mom and me night out. Got home at 8:20. My girlfriend was here when I got home. I had promised to help her download songs on her son's mp3 player. Just got started and the youngest cut his foot badly. Dealt with that - went back to my friend, kids were crazy. Lost my patience, sent them to bed (at least ten times before they went).
Another friend stopped over to chat. Chatted with her while I helped my other friend with her mp3 player. At 10:00 I remembered I was supposed to make a cheesecake for the youth group at church the next night.
It is 11:15, just took the cheesecake out (I got some laundry done while I was waiting). Going to bed.
Things haven't changed much. My days still pretty much stack up that way. Where was the homework time? Oops! No wonder I have issues there.
Life continues to be busy busy.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
It is my own fault. I had dental work from seven years ago that I had not taken care of. I couldn't believe it when they told me I hadn't been there since 2003! How did SEVEN years pass without me realizing it? But, thinking about it... 2004 - Diagnosis. 2005 - Death. 2006-2009 - Surviving. 2010 - Trying to thrive. Yes, it HAS been seven years!!
So many years spent in survival mode, and dealing with REAL health issues - my teeth have been largely ignored. So, now I am paying the price. Physically and financially.
Two years ago I realized I had not been to my gynecologist in a while. I called to make an appointment. They requested my name. And then informed me that I was not in their system, so they would need to set me up as a new patient. I petitioned with the sweet lady that she must be mistaken. I have three children. All delivered by doctors in that office. I have been going there for fourteen years.
"When was the last time you were here?"
"Um... well, probably three or four years ago. Things have been pretty crazy here."
"That explains it. After three years of inactivity, we retire records"
"What? My medical history is gone - just like that?? Just because I have not made it there?"
I guess so.
I showed up the day of my appointment, filled out all the 'new patient' paperwork and did the standard wait, wait, wait.
When the doctor walked in (the same doctor that delivered two of my three children), he introduced himself and started in on some "let's get to know my new patient" chat.
I didn't respond. I just looked at him. Squinted my eyes and said, "we have met before".
I think it was a look of relief, and he commented that he thought we had - but where? He could even recount that he knew the town I lived in... but couldn't put the pieces together.
I then proceeded to tell him that he delivered two of my children. I think he was a tad embarrassed then, but also confused, and at the same time remembered who I was and remembered my husband and deliveries. "Why does your chart say you are a new patient?"
"Hey, it's your office, not mine. You tell me."
Lesson Manual: How to be a Widow
9. Don't forget the basics of living. Make your doctor, dentist, mammogram, colonoscopy and any other appointments you should have. Time will go by too quickly and you will have enough other things to worry about, let alone your health if you don't take care of it.
Monday, June 28, 2010
We were talking and my phone rang with a concerned friend who had read my blog and wanted to make sure I was OK. I assured her I was and when I got off the phone I started to tell them about how people need to read my blog with MY tone... 'cause then they will see the comedy in it... I proceeded to read them yesterday's post with MY tone and we all laughed a little. When I finished yesterday's, I went on to Saturday's.
My daughter was sitting in the room listening, and when I finished the post she was stunned. Stunned to find out that Guy #1 proposed to me and she never knew it. She was actually moved to tears!! Which stunned all of us!
We proceeded to explain that I had declined for a reason. One girlfriend started to explain that you never want to commit yourself into a relationship unless that man loves YOU completely. "Eyes, heart and mind for you only". She said it all very eloquently and when she was done, the other girlfriend commented.... "And so, that is why the four of us are sitting here single."
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Can I just crawl back into bed and assume the fetal position?
Today is one of those days, that just stinks. It reminds me of all the time that has passed... and it makes me wonder where all this time has gone and what exactly I have accomplished. I don't feel as though I have gone anywhere in life in the past five years... and I hope I don't feel the same over the next five.
The last five birthdays have been spent pondering on my lack of living.... and just surviving. In fact, I guess that has become my TRADITION (to be said like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof). To spend some time in bed sulking about life.
As far as I have come, and as much as I have spent more and more time 'out of the clouds' in the last year... things still happen... life still goes on that makes me feel like I am in a maze. Every time I think I make a good decision regarding direction, I hit a wall (sometimes hitting that wall hurts worse than other times). On days like today, I feel like I am wandering around in this maze by myself, and even though I attempt to prayerfully consider how to get out, I just keep hitting the walls.
I wonder what I have yet to learn? Why can't I find my way out?
Did you ever see Groundhog Day?
Sometimes I feel like that is my life. I wake up everyday and try to get it right... only to fail and have to try again tomorrow.
I still have so much to learn... so much growing to do... why does it take so long for me? What am I missing?
My girlfriend is going through a divorce... I serve as the dark cloud reminder of what she could become if she is not careful.
- She would like to re-marry. She would like to find someone who loves her. But, then she looks at me, and how unsuccessful I have been in that area... and I think it strikes fear to her very core. It makes her get back down on her knees and pray that she is not like me. That in five years she isn't in a pattern of consistently dating the wrong guys... that somehow end up just causing heartache. I think she will be fine there. She consoles herself with a reminder that SHE wants it. She prays and asks for the Lord to prepare someone for her. Me... well.. whatever. If my Heavenly Father wants me to re-marry.. someone will be put in my path. In the meantime I will pick up the wrong people on that path. Get hurt the same way as the last. Pick up my pieces and move on. Shaking my head that I did it again.... and try to re-focus on the benefits of being single.
- She does not want to become the mother I have become. She recently went to work full-time after working as a full-time mom and entrepreneur for fifteen plus years. She comes home tired, and when the kids' behavior is not too great and she only has energy to respond in an ornery way... she stops. Because she does not want to become me. Tired, ornery and too crabby of a mom 90% of the time.
- Lower standard of what is clean. She has always kept an immaculate home. I kept a clean home that was often cluttered with the kids activities of the day. Now... well I keep a home that is cluttered with the kids' activities of the past week or more. The spiral. She has seen how bad it can get. I think she will always keep herself in check.
- I am a good 15 pounds heavier than I was when Chris passed. And it is only 15 because the scale was down some this morning (Happy Birthday!). I could easily say 20 most the time. But, let's take the little victories in life... 15 it is. She is actually doing well in that area. She is a good 15 pounds thinner than she was before she got the news that her marriage was over. Is it possible to change the way you deal with stress? I eat... Speaking of which... where is my birthday cake?
I am fine, really. Just need to feel as though I am accomplishing something of substance. That I am becoming a great mother... and getting set in a great career... and making a great impact on the world. I want to be a mover and shaker... at least to my children.
Alright... fetal position over. Sulking time over. Time to celebrate 35 blessed years!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I think he sensed that Guy #3 could be the real thing. He and I were very compatible and it looked promising. As things began to grow a little more serious, Guy #1 panicked.
I came home on my lunch break one day to a very busy list of things to accomplish. I was running around the house gathering things and preparing to mail a package off to Guy #3, when Guy #1 showed up at the house. We chatted and I was busy busy. It was a hot summer day, and I remember how he was just sweating. He was telling me about how he felt about me and I believe I was half listening... but perhaps more focused on accomplishing everything I had to do. When I finished up at the house, I needed to run to the post office before my lunch break was over so I quickly went to leave. Guy #1 continued to follow me... talking about how he felt...etc. As we got outside he stopped me. Got down on one knee. Professed his love for me. Pulled out a diamond ring, and asked me to marry him. I sat there is shock and followed the shock up with a "Are you serious? Get up, what are you doing?" I proceeded to pull him up off the ground still shaking my head in disbelief. "Did you buy that ring? Can you return it? What were you thinking?"
Suffice to say, I didn't accept the proposal. But somehow, he and I continued to be friends.
Friday, June 25, 2010
One night I had a dream. I was somewhere and they were training and working with these sharks. I was in the water and this shark attacked me. My instinct was to fight back and get my arm out of his mouth, but the thought came to me to be calm and wait. So, I sat there not moving and the shark did the same. My arm was still in his mouth, but he wasn't biting harder or anything like that. Then one of the trainers saw the shark had my arm and began to wrestle with the shark. He ended up losing his hand and several fingers. The shark died a short time later.
I woke up from that dream feeling like it was a message to me. I needed to be calm and I would hurt less. Eventually it would all pass - but in the meantime it would hurt less if I was calm.
I was empowered by the mental energy that came as a result and things changed.
I need to remember that lesson more. Be calm.. and you will hurt less. In time, things will pass.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Here... the mood was crabby. Not intentionally. When the kids got up Sunday morning I asked if they wanted to wish me a happy Father's Day. They replied with a "what for". I reminded them that theses days I play both mother and father... so they needed to remember me on Father's Day and Mother's Day. They rolled their eyes.
I decided to make the kids pancakes for breakfast. I got the batter mixed up and the pan heated up. I started cooking them only to realize we need to leave the house in five minutes or we would be late for church. Where did the time go? I tried to keep cooking the pancakes... but I was making a terrible mess and in reality no one would even have time to eat them. So, I took the pan off the burner and left the burned pancakes on the plate and went to throw on a dress.
There were a couple ladies at church who know that I expect my children to acknowledge me on Father's Day. They were gracious enough to wish me a happy day.
My daughter was in a terrible mood all day. And if for a moment she stopped, my youngest son started. I thought I would loose my mind with all the crabby behavior and bickering. After I sent them to bed, I told them I was going to run out to visit a friend who recently moved into a new home. I had not yet seen the house, despite multiple promises to stop. After I got there, it wasn't long and my son started calling me to tell me to come home. Then when I stopped answering my phone... I started receiving a text message every five seconds from him. There seemed to be no end to the ornery behavior.
Why? Maybe they just hadn't had enough sleep. We had a busy Saturday. But, I wonder on days like that if it is something more. I know over the past few years I have even noticed that in myself. It is subconscious. I don't intend to be crabby - but there is something in the air on certain days. Something that nags at your conscience telling you that things are just not right that day. I wonder if that was the children on Sunday. Just feeling a bit of that void in their lives.
This is something that for me has gotten easier. I am able to be more even-tempered despite the date on the calendar. I am less and less affected. But, sometimes I still sense it is there. Without even consciously thinking about it, it is there...
Lesson Manual: How to Be a Widow
8. Cut yourself and your kids some slack... and be prepared. No matter how much you 'think' you will be fine. There are certain days on the calendar that you can't be fine no matter how hard you try.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I had put my house on the market and was very much leaning towards that direction. I made a trip to the area they live in - looked at homes and jobs and was confident I would be able to find both. I continued thinking in that direction, as I just didn't want my children to miss out on that influence in their lives. But, the more I moved in that direction, the more I wanted to feel excited about it - but I didn't. I love my home. My home, as in the area that I live. I have been blessed with tremendous friends, and the small town in which I live feels safe compared to a larger area where I knew so few people. I enjoy the changing weather. I love the water. I love the trees and the smells in the fall. I love the east. This is my home and has been for years. At the time I was blessed with a job that allowed me to be home every day when the kids came home from school. In the end I decided the long commutes and being home less was not worth the trade. They may have their uncles, but it would be in exchange for their mother. I decided not to go.
I have never regretted that decision. Although, I know my kids have really missed out on many things through the years.
I was watching my youngest play catch with a football with a friend of the male variety the other day. I was overcome with sadness. He was so happy. Just to be playing catch. I have not bought all the right boy toys, nor played all the right games. They have not learned the talents their father possesed. They don't work on cars or build stuff. My youngest has missed out on all these things for half of his life... and my oldest for over one third of his life.
Christopher comes home today. That fills me with joy. Joy because I have missed him. But more joy because he comes home a better person than he left. Joy because he has had the opportunity to work on cars and build stuff. Camp and hike. Ride four wheelers and be a better person. Be the person his dad would have helped him become. For this, I feel overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude for a loving and supportive family who took him under their wing and helped him fly.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Frequently the need of the widow is not one of food or shelter but of feeling a part of ongoing events. Elder H. Bryan Richards of the Seventy once brought to my office a sweet widow whose husband had passed away during a full-time mission they were serving. Elder Richards explained that her financial resources were adequate and that she desired to contribute to the Church’s General Missionary Fund the proceeds of two insurance policies on the life of her departed husband. I could not restrain my tears when she meekly advised me, “This is what I wish to do. It is what my missionary-minded husband would like.”
The gift was received and entered as a most substantial donation to missionary service. I saw the receipt made in her name, but I believe in my heart it was also recorded in heaven. I invited her and Elder Richards to follow me to the unoccupied First Presidency council room in the Church Administration Building. The room is beautiful and peaceful. I asked this sweet widow to sit in the chair usually occupied by our Church President. I felt he would not mind, for I knew his heart.
As she sat ever so humbly in the large leather chair, she gripped each armrest with a hand and declared, “This is one of the happiest days of my life.” It was also such for Elder Richards and for me.
I never travel to work along busy Seventh East in Salt Lake City but what I see in my mind’s eye a thoughtful daughter, afflicted with arthritis and carrying in her hand a plate of warm food to her aged mother who lived across the busy thoroughfare. She has now gone home to that mother who preceded her in passing. But her lesson was not lost on her daughters, who delight their widowed father by cleaning his house each week, inviting him to dinners in their homes, and sharing with him the laughter of good times together, leaving in that widower’s heart a prayer of gratitude for his children, the light of his life. Fathers experience loneliness as well as mothers.
I have commented before that I do not believe others will ever understand the impact they have had in my life because of the little things they do.
Right after you become widowed there are many who offer a helping hand or comforting thought. As time passes, most will get on with their life while the widow's life remains forever changed. And, as time passes it continues to change. All your previous friends who are couples find new couple friends... leaving you to yourself. In the quiet and solitude. OK - I guess quiet is a stretch as the three children eliminate that. But, even amongst the chaos comes a feeling of loneliness.
There is the loss of adult interaction and loving touch. So, for those who had shown up or made a phone call in those first years of transition... thank you. The Lord provided, and continues to provide, for me temporally. But, the act of kindness from another was truly a need that when filled helped make me feel whole.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I express my sincere appreciation to one and all who are mindful of the widow. To the thoughtful neighbors who invite a widow to dinner and to that royal army of noble women, the visiting teachers of the Relief Society, I add, may God bless you for your kindness and your love unfeigned toward her who reaches out and touches vanished hands and listens to voices forever stilled. The words of the Prophet Joseph Smith describe their mission: “I attended by request, the Female Relief Society, whose object is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes.”
Thank you to thoughtful and caring bishops who ensure that no widow’s cupboard is empty, no house unwarmed, no life unblessed. I admire the ward leaders who invite the widows to all social activities, often providing a young Aaronic Priesthood lad to be a special escort for the occasion.
And my own thank you to all of you have lifted me through the years.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Long years ago a severe drought struck the Salt Lake Valley. The commodities at the storehouse on Welfare Square had not been their usual quality, nor were they found in abundance. Many products were missing, especially fresh fruit. As a young bishop, worrying about the needs of the many widows in my ward, I said a prayer one evening that is especially sacred to me. I pleaded that these widows, who were among the finest women I knew in mortality and whose needs were simple and conservative, had no resources on which they might rely.
The next morning I received a call from a ward member, a proprietor of a produce business situated in our ward. “Bishop,” he said, “I would like to send a semitrailer filled with oranges, grapefruit, and bananas to the bishops’ storehouse to be given to those in need. Could you make arrangements?” Could I make arrangements! The storehouse was alerted, and then each bishop was telephoned and the entire shipment distributed.
The wife of that generous businessman became a widow herself. I know the decision her husband and she made brought her sweet memories and comforting peace to her soul.
My mother-in-law was widowed prior to my marriage to Chris. Through our marriage Chris consistently expressed concern over his mother and sought to watch over and care for her. I admired the care he showed for her, but it was not until I was a widow myself that I could catch a glimpse of the comfort she must have felt through the years, knowing he would care for her needs. As I look at broken things in my home and chores that seem out of my realm, I am glad he provided the service to her to care for these things. She was (is) a strong woman, and certainly one I classify as being 'more cut out' for being a widow. I say that simply because she harbored no fear and was willing to work hard to keep her home as beautiful and perfect as it always had been. She could look around her home at the end of a summer day and feel good about the work she had accomplished. She knew what needed to be done, and feared not in doing it. (I know what needs to be done... but my lack of know-how sends me to the fetal position!)
My mother-in-law re-married about six months before Chris was diagnosed. Somehow, I do not see the coincidence in that as much as I see a loving Heavenly Father, always mindful of the widow.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The word widow appears to have had a most significant meaning to our Lord. He cautioned His disciples to beware of the example of the scribes, who feigned righteousness by their long apparel and their lengthy prayers, but who devoured the houses of widows.
To the Nephites came the direct warning: “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against … those that oppress … the widow.”
And to the Prophet Joseph Smith, He directed: “The storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.”
The widow’s home is generally not large or ornate. Frequently it is a modest one in size and humble in appearance. Often it is tucked away at the top of the stairs or the back of the hallway and consists of but one room. To such homes He sends you and me.
There may exist an actual need for food, clothing—even shelter. Such can be supplied. Almost always there remains the hope for that special hyacinth to feed the soul.
"Go, gladden the lonely, the dreary; Go, comfort the weeping, the weary; Go, scatter kind deeds on your way; Oh, make the world brighter today!"
Let us remember that after the funeral flowers fade, the well wishes of friends become memories and the prayers offered and words spoken dim in the corridors of the mind. Those who grieve frequently find themselves alone. Missed are the laughter of children, the commotion of teenagers, and the tender, loving concern of a departed companion. The clock ticks more loudly, time passes more slowly, and four walls do indeed a prison make.
Hopefully, all of us may again hear the echo of words spoken by the Master, inspiring us to good deeds: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these … ye have done it unto me.”
The late Elder Richard L. Evans left for our contemplation and action this admonition:
“We who are younger should never become so blindly absorbed in our own pursuits as to forget that there are still with us those who will live in loneliness unless we let them share our lives as once they let us share theirs. …
“We cannot bring them back the morning hours of youth. But we can help them live in the warm glow of a sunset made more beautiful by our thoughtfulness, by our provision, and by our active and unfeigned love. Life in its fullness is a loving ministry of service from generation to generation. God grant that those who belong to us may never be left in loneliness.”
As I have been watched over and cared for, there have been many along the way on the errand of angels that have gladdened my lonely heart, comforted my weeping and scattered kind deeds along their way. I have learned for myself the impact of a small act. A phone call. Stopping by. A smile. A hug. I have learned the impact that can make in another's life. Now, I pray that I can be that light to another that so many have been to me.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Like the widow at Zarephath was the widow of Nain. The New Testament of our Lord records a moving and soul-stirring account of the Master’s tender regard for the grieving widow:
“And it came to pass … that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
“Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
“And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
“And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”
What power, what tenderness, what compassion did our Master and Exemplar demonstrate. We, too, can bless if we will but follow His noble example. Opportunities are everywhere. Needed are eyes to see the pitiable plight, ears to hear the silent pleadings of a broken heart; yes, and a soul filled with compassion, that we might communicate not only eye to eye or voice to ear, but in the majestic style of the Savior, even heart to heart.
I love this story, I have felt it. I have felt my Savior's love and compassion as if he said to me, "weep not". I have seen miracles in my life, that I know came as a tender mercy, as an act of love and compassion... a gift from Christ.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The plight of the widow is a recurring theme through holy writ. Our hearts go out to the widow at Zarephath. Gone was her husband. Consumed was her scant supply of food. Starvation and death awaited. But then came God’s prophet with the seemingly brazen command that the widow woman should feed him. Her response is particularly touching: “As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
The reassuring words of Elijah penetrated her very being:
“Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
“For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail. …
“And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah. …
“And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail.”
I believe it was stories like this that instilled some fear in me as a new widow that I might face a similar plight. But more than fear... or perhaps it overwhelmed and replaced my fear... was faith. Faith that just as these widows in the bible stories were cared for, I too would be watched over and provided for. My needs would be met. The Lord would not leave me alone.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Many years ago I attended a large gathering of Church members in the city of Berlin, Germany. A spirit of quiet reverence permeated the gathering as an organ prelude of hymns was played. I gazed at those who sat before me. There were mothers and fathers and relatively few children. The majority of those who sat on crowded benches were women about middle age—and alone.
Suddenly it dawned on me that perhaps these were widows, having lost their husbands during World War II. My curiosity demanded an answer to my unexpressed thought, so I asked the conducting officer to take a sort of standing roll call. When he asked all those who were widows to please arise, it seemed that half the vast throng stood. Their faces reflected the grim effect of war’s cruelty. Their hopes had been shattered, their lives altered, and their future had in a way been taken from them. Behind each countenance was a personal travail of tears. I addressed my remarks to them and to all who have loved, then lost, those most dear.
Though perhaps not so cruel and dramatic, yet equally poignant, are the lives described in the obituaries of our day and time when the uninvited enemy called death enters the stage of our mortal existence and snatches from our grasp a loving husband or precious wife and frequently, in the young exuberance of life, our children and grandchildren. Death shows no mercy. Death is no respecter of persons, but in its insidious way it visits all. At times it is after long-suffering and is a blessing; while in other instances those in the prime of life are taken by its grasp.
As of old, the heartbroken frequently and silently repeat the ancient question: “Is there no balm in Gilead?” “Why me; why now?” The words of a beautiful hymn provide a partial answer:
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? …
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
to be continued...
Monday, June 14, 2010
As we were walking, she sighed and said... "I wonder what life would be like if Chris hadn't died".
It is interesting. Certainly, my life would not be anything like it is... but similarly, hers would probably not be like it is either.
Another good friend, who is going through a great personal trial right now... had her son, who is the same age as my oldest, comment... "This wouldn't have happened if Chris was here".
All of our lives were altered. It makes me think a lot of the impact of one person. He impacted many... and his passing changed lives. It changed many lives. But, while we are living, each of us has the opportunity day by day to change lives, to impact people. What kind of impact did I have on another today?
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I knew the story. Hannah had not been blessed with the gift of a child. She pleaded with the Lord to bless her with a child, and if He did, she covenanted that she would give her son to His service when he was old enough.
The Lord blessed Hannah and, as she promised, when he was of age, she gave him to Eli at the temple so he would be in the service of the Lord.
I am touched in that story of the demonstration of great love and devotion to her son, as she continued to visit him yearly and make him a coat every year.
As I sat in class listening to a story that I have long known, I was struck with a realization that I had not had before. What a woman of faith. What a woman of hope. What a woman of charity.
Sending my oldest to go live with his uncle 20 hrs from home was the most emotionally difficult thing I have endured: To make that decision, to realize I could not provide him what he needs, and send him to someone who could. To let go, was in part due to a covenant I have made with the Lord. In bearing these children it becomes my sacred duty to bring them up in light and truth. To lead them and guide them on paths that are good. I needed to send Christopher, so I could re-direct his path. But, as a mother.... letting go... was difficult.
Look at Hannah. What a great example of faith, and hope and charity. Those traits that everyone of us seeks. She followed through on her end of her covenant with the Lord. She willingly gave her child back to the Lord. And was grateful. Grateful that the Lord had entrusted her with him for the time that he did.
I have no doubt that Hannah was pained by giving up her child earlier in life than was customary for the time... I think I have felt a bit of that pain. But, she reminded me of faith, hope and charity. The story of Hannah begins with a cry of distress and ends with a cry of thanksgiving.
May we use that perspective in facing our own trials... if we are faithful... our story, too, will end with a cry of thanksgiving.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
As she shared her brief story with me, I become emotional as I felt her gratitude. Then she said.
"I am full. I am full."
I thanked her for sharing her experience with me. And I quietly thanked Chris for being the man that he was.
Friday, June 11, 2010
We Will Go On Music Video
The Lowe Family | MySpace Music Videos
Thursday, June 10, 2010
When Chris was in the hospital following his surgery, it was difficult day after day to walk in and see the state that he was in. I really just wanted to snuggle up with him and feel his presence and know that everything would be OK. The first week after his surgery that possibility of snuggling up with him amongst tubes and tubes and tubes was not realistic. There was too much fear over pulling a tube out! When they eliminated some of the tubes, I took to snuggling up in his hospital bed with him daily.
Once, while I was laying in bed with him, the doctor walked in to check on him and was a little surprised to see two of us squeezed into that small hospital bed. After a couple times of seeing us that way, it became a bit of a joke and he would knock and ask if it was safe to come in. We got a good laugh over it.
Have you ever seen The Notebook? Below are some of the scenes from the movie... the very last made me cry; when he climbed in bed with her in the hospital. Of course, in the movie they die together - but what I saw was a man who wanted to be with his wife... who wanted to hold her. When I saw this movie it hit me how much I missed that... And it made me remember with great fondness the many times I climbed into bed with Chris so I could be with him.... not just near him.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
If that saying is true, Chris certainly did his part to increase his chance of recovery. He never lost his sense of humor. Even in the week prior to his death, the nurse, Debbie, commented to me regarding what a joy he was because he and his brother just kept her laughing.
He may have lost some hair, some weight and during the surgery several body parts... but, he never lost his sense of humor.
One day we were at the cancer center for a doctor's appointment. As was typical, the waits were long. But, this particular day it was exaggerated by a FORTY-FIVE minute wait just to check out so we could leave. By the time we made it up to the assistant who was scheduling next appointments and so forth, we were beyond tired. Chris greeted the lady by saying, "The cancer center really is a great place to be if you are dying". Assuming he was referring to the extreme talent employed there, she smiled and nodded. Chris continued, "because the last 45 minutes has felt like a lifetime".
I burst into laughter, he smiled and the shocked assistant muffled a laugh.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Most of what I recorded over the past couple weeks were the logistics of how it all played out. But, what you need to understand is that for the most part I look back on that time with fondness. It was one of the most intimate times in my marriage. Probably equal to the experience of having a child. The difference is, we had a child three times - and each of those times it only lasted for hours. But, this was an experience that went on for months.
I feel as though there were many blessings through those months and one of the greatest was the opportunity to spend such a concentrated amount of time with Chris. We did a lot of talking, and laughing and even a bit of crying. These are what sustained me. The test results and continuous doctor appointments and procedures, were also opportunities for us to be together.
The day of our first doctor appointment at the cancer center we went to breakfast at Bob Evans while we were waiting for our next appointment with the doctors. As we sat in our booth waiting for our food, we noticed an elderly couple seated across the way from us. There was something tender about the scene. Here we sat.... Young. In love. And on the verge of a trial that would take my love from me for the remainder of this mortal existence. The news we were waiting to hear, happened to be the news that would keep us from ever becoming like this little couple across from us. We would not be blessed with the opportunity to grow old together.
We were engaged and entertained in listening to their conversation. It was something out of a Seinfeld episode. The husband talked about getting the ladder out to fix something. The wife was not happy about him being on the ladder. He didn't have the right kind of shoes to be climbing a ladder. The conversation continued, and we sat there listening. Enjoying the "contention" between this couple.
When they left, we laughed and laughed. Just recounting their comments to each other. So sweet. This was one of many moments we seized along the way.
Monday, June 7, 2010
We tried to wake him and tell him the kids were there. He woke slightly and acknowledged the children. Chris' oldest brother had flown in overnight so he was sitting there with the other brother that had kept a vigilant watch night and day since he had arrived a week earlier.
Our good friends came up. The plan was for them to take the kids home with them. Another childhood friend of Chris' showed up with his wife as well.
Chris' sleep grew deeper as the day went on. There began to be less and less talking and moving in his sleep. The afternoon was enjoyable. We visited with all who were there. I rubbed Chris' feet and cut his toe nails (oh come on... this can not surprise you. I WAS a little crazy before I was even a widow).
As the afternoon pressed on, our friends needed to leave. We got the kids ready to go, then tried to wake Chris and tell him to say goodbye to the kids. Chris awoke - wide awake for the first time all day. He started talking and said he wanted to say something so to listen because he could only say it once (he still had the oxygen mask on - it was difficult to understand him as he was still struggling for air). He said he was grateful for this opportunity to speak to the children, then called them each by name and expressed his love for them. He told them to be happy and to do what's good so that we can be together in heaven. He ended, as he would a prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
My friends walked out with the kids. I walked into the hall with them and struggled to compose myself. That was the most difficult time of my life. To watch my husband say good bye to his children. I broke down in the hall for a minute, then went back in his room.
When I walked back in Chris was having a seizure. The nurses gave him some medicine and he calmed and went back to sleep. He didn't wake up again after that. Chris' mom and step-father arrived about a half hour later. His other sister got a flight and flew in around 7:30pm.
Once she arrived, we had a family prayer. It was 8:00pm
I asked everyone to leave for a bit so I could have a moment with Chris. I felt at total peace. I was so happy that he was done suffering. The nurse, Debbie, came and sat and talked with me for a little bit. I asked her how this would work.... would he just stop breathing? She explained that his breathing would slow. There would be long pauses between his breaths - then it would stop.
Everyone came back in and I sat there counting. Sometimes he would go 30 seconds without taking a breath.
I felt peace. I was just waiting. 3 of Chris' 5 siblings were there. I decided to go home.
I walked in my home at 10:15pm. My friend was there, she had come over and put the kids to bed. The phone rang within two minutes of me getting home. Chris had died shortly after 10:00. His siblings said his last breath was a long exhale - and they knew that was it. They sat there a few minutes with him before calling the nurses in.
It was January 16th.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
When we arrived home I sat the children down on the couch with me and told them that their dad was not doing well. My oldest son, Christopher was crying hard. I told them we would go see Dad in the morning, and inside prayed he would still be with us for the children to see.
When we were driving to the hospital Sunday morning, I was trying to explain to the children that they needed to say good bye to their dad as if it was the last chance they had.
My heart was aching, and yet I continued to feel peace.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
While I waited I talked to Chris some. I asked him if he felt like this was it. He said no. I felt the same. He looked good, despite the fact that his health was declining daily.
When the doctor came up, he sat down with us and explained that they had not given up. They would continue to treat Chris as soon as his health started to improve. But, his health was not improving. He had gotten an infection that wasn't going away and he had an infection in his lungs. Terminal care was something we were going to have to consider. He asked Chris where he wanted to be when he died; in the hospital or at home. Chris said he'd prefer to stay there at the cancer center. He didn't think it would be good for the kids to have him like this at home.
It was a surreal day. I couldn't believe they were talking about TERMINAL care. His brother stayed with him again that evening.
I walked in Saturday morning and it seemed that everything had changed. Chris had an oxygen mask on and he was struggling to breath. I has nurses and doctors coming to me to get all the "DNR" paperwork signed and straightened out. Signing the paperwork was extraordinarily emotional and difficult for me.
When I walked in that morning and saw the condition Chris was in, I felt this WAS it. He was on the brink of death. The question lingering in my mind was... is he coming back? I felt overwhelming peace.
Many people stopped to see him that day. A good friend and the leader of our congregation gave Chris a priesthood blessing. Again, I felt such peace. I knew this trial was over for Chris. I knew that the outcome was completely up to Lord and that His will would manifest itself. I knew that he would make a turn for the better, or as he sat on the brink of death - he may cross over. I knew it could go either way, but I felt peace.
Chris struggled to breath all day By evening he decided he'd like some morphine. The doctor took me into the hall to make sure I understood this. The morphine would make him more comfortable, it would slow his breathing. But this could also expedite his death. My mother-in-law was there in the hall with me. She was tearful. I felt such sadness. For her. For Chris. For my kids.
I gave the doctor my approval and returned to the room to talk to Chris. I told him they were going to start him on the morphine and that it would make him more comfortable... that it would slow his breathing... but to the point that eventually... He finished my sentence with "it will be over". I replied with a "yes". He said, "OK".
I left early that evening so I could talk to the kids.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Chris was in the hospital a few days before I arrived home with the kids. Chris' brother and sister that were in town both changed their flights to stay a couple more days with him. They left on a Saturday and that same day another of Chris' brothers arrived. By Saturday evening Chris' breathing became more labored. His brother spent the night at the hospital with him. Sunday morning they again drained his left lung.
By afternoon his breathing was good - but he was out of it and very tired, no doubt as result of the pain medication. At one point he woke up and asked me if it was Halloween (perhaps I was starting to look a little haggard). He had forgotten his other brother left and could not wake up enough to have a conversation.
I enjoyed watching him drift off to sleep. As he was drifting in and out of sleep he would talk and move his hands and feet. At some points he would even sing in his sleep.
In order to control the pain, and yet leave him functional rather than this comatose state, they decided to give him an epidural. Unfortunately, even with doses as high as what they would give a child bearing mother, the pain was barely touched.
The chest tube they had put in continued to drain and drain. His intestines continued to be inactive.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Thankfully, his siblings fought enough to get him admitted. They put a drain tube in his right lung in an attempt to drain it more completely. On Wednesday they injected talc powder into his lung hoping it would 'dry it out' for good. Meanwhile, his left lung was filling with fluid and because of his difficulty breathing he was pretty much 'bed ridden'. His abdomen was still in a lot of pain, so they had him on some pretty strong narcotics. Between these two factors, by Thursday his intestines had gone to sleep.
The doctors were anxious, as was I, to get him started on some chemotherapy. The plan was to have him on an infusion every Monday for two weeks. Then one week off, and repeat for six months. The chemo would not be as strong as what he was on in the spring... but they needed to wait to start the chemo until his breathing was under control and his intestines woke back up.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
We went to Disney's Magic Kingdom on Tuesday. To make the day easier we got a wheel chair for Chris. It still ended up being a very long day for him. The children enjoyed the perk that the wheelchair moved us ahead in many lines, but his pain was still so intense and he had difficulty breathing, especially when he tried to lay down at night.
Wednesday morning we checked out of the hotel, figuring he would be more comfortable at his sisters. After our check-out we let the kids play in the pool at the hotel as we sat there. I think for our benefit, Chris decided to try and give it one more day. So we checked back in and spent Thursday at Disney's Animal Kingdom. That evening Chris was not feeling well at all so we decided about 8:30pm to leave and go back to his sisters. We packed up, checked out and headed back. We arrived around 11:00pm. By the time we got there Chris' breathing was very labored. My brother-in-law gave him a priesthood blessing then took him to the emergency room. They were able to give him morphine for the pain but they couldn't drain his lungs until the radiologist came in the morning. My brother-in-law came home around 4:30am. I went over around 8:30am. They didn't drain his lungs until noon. It was Christmas Eve. I was concerned due to the holiday and how slow things were going, that we may not 'get out' that day. Finally, around 5:00pm they discharged him. We had a nice Christmas but Chris was very uncomfortable - more each day.
On Tuesday we bought plane tickets to go home early. We were supposed to leave at 8:00 Wednesday evening. But, Wednesday morning we were back in the emergency room. We ended up having to cancel the tickets for us all to return on Wednesday, as they strongly advised against Chris flying the day he had his lungs drained. Another blessing as the airline gave us a full refund with no penalties, despite it being longer than 24hrs from booking to cancellation.
Thursday morning he felt better than he had all vacation. It seemed to make the most sense for him to travel that day knowing his 'feeling well' would most likely not last. The ticket prices were high - so we just purchased two. One for him and one for his sister to take him home. One of his brothers also bought a ticket to meet them at our home the next day.