Ralphy and Me

I grew up with a dog named Tiger.  Yes, I gave her that name!  Turns out I’m allergic to dogs.  I really never thought I’d have another one.

I recall one of my early grief counseling sessions just months after Tony’s passing where my counselor suggested I get a pet just so I’ve have something to hold, to snuggle with, something living and breathing to bring me comfort.  I bluntly cut her off by telling her I was allergic to pet dander.  She instead suggested I start holding babies at church.  Well, those of you who read my post a few months back know that I caught a cold that turned into pneumonia from the one time I did that.

No pets, no babies for me.


Pure joy…

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance.” James 1:2-3

Joy? Really? These verses about trials and excruciating pain are all about joy?  Really, God?


Yes. Joy.

I divide joy into two categories – moments of joy and ultimate joy.

Moments of joy come at just the right time.  Sometimes anticipated, sometimes out of the blue.  Sometimes in the form of a fun activity (have you seen my face whitewater rafting down the Colorado?) and sometimes caused by another (my conversation with sweet Chloe Melissa the other evening about her first dance class – you would have thought this almost 4-year-old had just won the lottery!) 

These moments of joy add such vibrant colors to life.  They come in all shapes and sizes and are just enough to keep me pressing on.  Joy, yes joy.

And then there is ultimate joy.  This joy often cannot be seen this side of heaven.  It is too large to be contained on this earth. It is the joy described in the verses above.

It is the joy that led Jesus to the cross.
It is joy that led His followers though many trials and pain.
And, it is my joy.

My joy to keep me pressing on and pressing into the Lord.
My joy, as much as I want Tony here with me, to rejoice that he is in heaven.
My joy, no matter what this life throws at me, to keep living for the life yet to come.

How else do we keep going in a world so broken and so full of pain, a world that is not our final dwelling place?  Moments of joy, as nice and refreshing as they are, are simply not enough. 

Not a moment of joy
every moment of the day
for every day of my life
could ever be enough.

Our souls are made to long for more.  Our souls are made to long for eternity.  Our souls are made to long for ultimate joy.

Dearly loved, and longing for joy,

Kickin’ birds

Last week marked 3 months since the accident. All the books on grief that I have read warned me that month 3 would be just as intense as the first day of loss. I had begun to mentally prepare myself for total emotional melt-down.

I made it through that day, and the week before and after, without that melt-down. I wasn’t prepared for that.

Just yesterday, I finally finished “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis – his reflections on losing his wife. It was a tough read for me, but was filled with helpful nuggets for my own grief. Toward the end of the book, Lewis talks about the way his grief lessoned at a time when it should have intensified. He went on to say that because he was not blinded by his tears and uncontrollable emotions, he was actually able to reflect positively on his spouse, their fond memories, and the beauty of who she was.

I can totally relate. So often I think I should constantly be a slobbery mess. But I continue to be reminded that my grief is unique and cannot be defined by a book or other people’s expectations. Actually these last few weeks have been a welcome relief. My mind, as always, is filled with thoughts of Tony, but these thoughts lately have brought laughs and smiles, more often than tears. I find myself wishing for him just to tell him something funny that has happened or show him a beautiful place he would have loved.

I wished for him at the beach with his family this week. I wished for him to see my neice Haley kicking birds. Yes, kicking birds. This is a long-standing joke between Tony and me, starting on the top of the Empire State Building when we were just dating. Since I was a kid, I have always been intrigued by getting as close to a bird as possible until it flew away. Call it mean, I call it fun. We were surrounded by pigeons on the observation deck. I simply lifted my leg toward one bird to see what would happen. As the pigeon flew off, its beak hit the safety rail, making it sound like I had actually kicked it. A lady behind us loudly stated, “she just kicked that bird.” The look on Tony’s face was one of utter shock, but quickly that turned to unending laughter. He never believed I did not actually kick the bird and brought it up on multiple occasions.

So just to make him smile, I attempted to kick birds on our honeymoon in Barbados, and on our West Coast vacation, and in Denver with my girlfriends. Really, I just chased them away, with pictures to prove it. When pigeons landed near our stuff at the beach this week, I seized the opportunity to share our joke with my neice. She loved it so much that on my last day at the beach with her, she told me “I sure hope we can kick some birds at the beach today, Aunt Melissa.”

I can hear Tony’s belly laugh now.

The mystery of grief continues. I think mystery is a fitting word.

Dearly loved,