Table for One

I’ve been avoiding sitting at my dining room table alone. The sofa was my eating place of choice.  That was until a few weeks ago when my 3 pound puppy learned to jump up on the couch on her own…and meal time was prime time for her to pull out all her tricks.  I’ve never given her “people” food, but that certainly doesn’t stop her from trying to nab something from my plate.

So, eating at the table was my last resort, eating at my table alone.

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A marble in the ocean

I’m a little behind on some of my blog posts. Some have been sitting as half-finished drafts for months now.   Blame it on lack of inspiration, blame it on busyness, blame it on grief that literally exhausts me often, if not constantly, oh and blame it on my super cute new puppy (more on her later).  I will just go ahead and forgive myself.

So journey back with me a few months to my wedding anniversary on April 26.  On what would have been a celebration of 3 years of marriage, I threw away another marble from my jar that Tony gave me when he proposed.  There’s now 73 left.  If I live to throw all of them out, I will be 104.  I told the good Lord I was okay with that as long as I could keep my teeth.  I’m well on my way – I finally had a cavity-free visit to the dentist!  That’s a major accomplishment.

Looking back at my post a few days before my anniversary, I wrote about getting lost in the sea of God’s love.  And that’s exactly where I journeyed, all the way to the ocean and back.

I met with my Jesus there.

I was joined by one of my best friends, Karen, such a fun friend to have alongside on road trips.  I heart her!  My biggest concern for the trip was to just escape life for a few days and relax.  I made it my goal to “unplug” from technology as best I could.  With Karen’s gentle encouragement, I succeeded, somewhat.

It was the day after Easter when we arrived at the beach.  We stayed in a high rise hotel with a view overlooking the beach and the ocean.  It was perfect.

But what was beyond perfect, a message just for me, was what was spelled out with dried up seaweed on the shore.  It said “He is risen.”

I took it as my own personal invitation to meet with my Jesus right on that sand, right on that shore, right where the roaring ocean meets mere man, right where the endless sea of God’s grace and love washes over my toes and into my very soul.

I stared for hours at the enormity of that sea, at how small I am compared to how large God is.  I wept, I laughed, I dreamed of memories spent by the ocean with my husband, I breathed that ocean air in, and I invited God to restore me.  I reflected on an entire year I survived, I lived through without Tony, a year I never imagined possible.  And I thanked my Jesus for never leaving my side.

He deserves all the credit, all the Glory, forever and ever.

It came time to toss that marble symbolizing what would have been year number 3 of our marriage into the ocean.  Karen accompanied me; I could not bear to do this task I was dreading alone.  I didn’t want to let go of that marble, that year, because it represented a year apart from the love of my life.  It’s a year I will never get back.  It represented the beginning of year after year of time passing between us.  Like the unceasing roll of the ocean tide, time moves on, and I’m forced to move with it.  I’m forced to move forward, time is relentless and unforgiving that way.

And it was that tide that took away that marble.  I took this picture, tossed the marble into the waves, and then it was gone…forever. 

Yet, I was not without hope, for that ocean also represents the unceasing, unfailing love of my Savior.  I can’t think of a better place for my marble to be.

Now I’m 3 months in to living out marble number 4, and I’m shooting for it to be another cavity free year!

Dearly loved, teeth flosser,
Melissa


Fuzzy…

What a hard week I’ve had, a hard week indeed.  For those of you who understand the Twitter world, I simply tweeted #hardday yesterday, and I was so amazed to have so many of my colleagues stop by my desk to check on me today.  I’m so very grateful to work in such a supportive, caring environment.

Why so hard?  Well, if you’re reading this and you really want to know, it all stems from my memory.  It seems that this week, my brain has decided to have flashbacks to the night and day after Tony’s accident.  Sure, it also doesn’t help that every major network in Atlanta plays commercial after commercial advertising Stone Mountain right now.  I do my best to put my fingers in my ears, shut my eyes, and yell “la la la la” until it’s over.  Hey, my counselor told me whatever works to get me past it is just fine.  Funny that it’s not much different from my days as a child when we would visit the laser show at Stone Mountain on the 4th of July.  I would react the same way to the fireworks.  Gosh, that place just doesn’t hold good memories for me.  Hard.

These flashbacks cause a continual question running a marathon through my head, “Did I really live through that?  Is that really a part of my story? Really?”  I am so very grateful that I don’t wake up to that question every day.  Quite honestly, I sometimes go weeks without dwelling on how Tony died.  Sure, I don’t go a day without missing him and our life together, but  I’m finding those memories make me smile, more than cry these days.  Comfort.

I did put on my big girl pants and revisit those horrific 12 hours of March 23-24, 2010, with my counselor yesterday.   Part of grief is just “getting it out” and I had not had the courage to do it before now.  It was painful, a little sickening to my stomach, but one thing surprised me in a comforting way:  Some details of my nightmare have faded.  I don’t recall it all like I did in those early weeks.  It’s a bit fuzzy, and fuzzy is more than okay with me.  Grateful.

I drove home last night with a view of the moon, one of my most favorite reminders of our amazing God.  Atlanta being a “sauna” this week, the sky was hazy, and the moonlight appeared fuzzy.  Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable” came on my Ipod, and I could not hold back my tears.  That fuzzy moon was just for me; it was God reminding me that He knows my pain, He walked through my nightmare with me, and He, my Creator God, can turn what is so clear, yet so indescribably painful to recall, into faded and fuzzy. He reminded me in that moment that He is not only the God of my heart and my life, He is the God of my memory too.

You, Lord, are amazing.

Dearly loved, fuzzy thinking,
Melissa


Solitary Courage

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” ~Acts 27:11

These past few weeks, I’ve been camping out on the verse above, two words in particular:
Take courage.

I just love how the Lord came so close to Paul and uttered this simple, yet powerful phrase.  Paul was in chains amidst a plot to take his very life.  He was completely by himself.

And, I can only imagine, he was utterly terrified.

Jesus came near him and told him to take courage.

Take courage.

That’s what I long for these days.  That is my earnest request of the Lord.

You see, I’ve reached the part of my grief, my pathway through pain, that I must face on my own.  No amount of family, friends, distractions, work, or play, can walk this journey for me, or even with me.  I must face my pain, I must face this reality of life not being as it should, I must face this “new normal” that’s anything but normal, by myself.

It is a solitary road.

And I feel as if I am struggling to keep one foot in front of the other; I’m in survival mode.  I’m learning to face life on my own again.  Sure, I did this one time before when I graduated college, but that was after I had 22 years of preparation.  This time I was given no warning; I’m scared to death at times when I really dwell on that fact.  Sometimes I melt down, wishing I could somehow twitch my nose and be right back in my old life again.

I miss it, and I miss my Tony.

I feel as if I take a step forward on this road and then two in reverse.  I’m back to facing life one day at a time.  I’m back to praying every morning and telling God that if He gives me the strength, if He just gives me the courage to get out of bed, I’m gonna trust Him to lead me through the rest of the day.  That’s all I’ve got to offer.  It’s certainly nothing to boast about.

Yet, my Jesus draws near. 

He meets me in my fear, he meets me stumbling along this road, he meets me just where I am.  And, He brings me courage for the taking.  Because though I don’t see the end of the road, I don’t see what’s on the “other side” of my pain, He does.  He knows how scared I am, and yet He knows I’m gonna be okay.  He gives me courage.  He is my courage.

Dearly loved,
Melissa


Silence

I came home from work last week and did something I have not had the courage to do for a while.  I didn’t immediately turn the TV on.

I know, that sounds pretty lame.

But it took me intentionally choosing silence over my companions for these last few months, my trusty television and DVR.  It’s become more than just a love for my new HDTV.  It’s become an escape from the reality of my life, an escape from my pain, an easier way out.

I just could not take the silence.  (Well, silence, except for the dancing elephants on my ceiling, a.k.a. my upstairs neighbors.)  I was afraid of that silence…because the silence gives way to the overwhelming emotion I seem to be face to face with.

Hurt.

Yes, I admit it.  I’m hurting.

And I’ve been too prideful to just come out and say it.  It took a while for me to admit it to myself, and even longer to actually be okay with it.  I mean, it’s been an entire year now, shouldn’t it hurt less, shouldn’t I cry less, shouldn’t I have more good days than sad?

I’d much rather be seen as strong, as having all the answers, of possessing rock star faith against the odds, as overcoming grief or just darn defeating it all together.  As my counselor so eloquently put it, I’ve been trying to earn an “A” in Widowhood 101.

And now that the first year of my grief is over, there’s nothing else to “check off” my to-do list and no more “firsts” to make it through.  All that is left is for me to feel the deep pain from loving deeply and loosing deeply.

Turns out, there’s no grade to earn for pain endurance.

And there’s no set time frame. And there’s no set way to feel it. And there’s no easy way to just “get over it.”

And swallowing that reality makes me want to very well give up.  

But I press on. (Though quite honestly, I tell Jesus often that I’m okay with Him coming back to earth any day now.  Those of you reading this who don’t yet know Jesus, I suggest you get to know Him.)

Pressing on for these last few weeks has meant shifting from “doing” to “being.”  That explains my silence on my blog.  I’ve been focusing on “being” with God, and not “doing” anything for Him.  That’s hard work for a Type A, overachiever like myself.

And yet, my God meets me in my being.  He comforts me in my silence. He keeps me company while  I do absolutely nothing at all, He is in my breathing in and breathing out.  He reigns in me being so desperate for Him to meet me in my pain and in my hurting, that my very life, my very next heartbeat depends completely on Him and Him alone.

Silence and being…God’s open door into my heart, into my hurting.

Dearly loved, back to blogging but shooting for a B minus,
Melissa