My heart will beat again . . .

tellyourheartI am typically not one to believe that songs were written, or meant just for me. However, the moment my husband passed away, it seemed as if every time I got in my car and turned on the radio, this one particular song always kept coming on. And knowing that the person who was singing it had lost his wife, I knew the significance of the song and meaning behind it. I also remember wanting to fight the words of it and every time I heard it play, it would just bring pain to my heart and my eyes would become filled with tears.

This song is called “Tell your heart to beat again” by Danny Gokey. Oh man was this song a painful one, for each time I heard it, it was like I was being told to move on, look forward, continue living my life. But how could I? I didn’t want to! I wanted my husband back! And if I couldn’t have him back, well, then I wanted time to just stand still so that it didn’t have to seem like I was moving on without him. Nothing really made any sense, and it just didn’t feel right!

And now as I look back so much has happened and continues happening. It’s like I am being forced to move forward whether I like it or not.  My house had plumbing problems, and now I am left with having to clean things out to make way for repairs to be done. That is, wall repair, new paint, new vanity, and new floors. And it just seems crazy having to face and deal with all of this without him.

But I also know that based upon that song, I wanted something to remind me that moving forward is healthy, and is something that he would desire for me. And so as I pondered it all, I began to take some steps. Such as, on the 1 year anniversary of his passing, I took off my wedding ring. And then knowing that I had gotten a full sleeve tattoo already on one arm in honor and remembrance of him about 6 months ago, I decided that I would begin covering up some work that I already had on my other arm. Only this one would be for me. And so a couple months ago it began. The first one was of Edward Scissorhands. This was just because Johnny Depp is one of my all time favorite actors and well, this character would cover up what I already had pretty well, and it did.

But then just this last Friday, after waiting for a couple months for this next appointment, it was time for the next one. Only this one would be of a heart. A heart that would have a crank on it, and would be a reminder for me, to ‘tell my heart to beat again”. This is the completed heart that is pictured here. It took about 6 hours and yes, was pretty painful, but truly doesn’t even come close to the pain I have been experiencing because of his passing. But underneath this heart was an eight ball tattoo from about 25 years ago, and honestly, I never thought i would be able to have that one covered up. And now that it is, it has become a double blessing for me.

And I realize that each person has to grieve in his or her own way, and not everyone will view tattoos as part of the healing process. That however is not the case for me. I received my very first tattoo when I just 15 and have always liked them. The only thing was that most of them never had any true significance behind them. And now since my husband passed, the ones I have gotten do. And yes this arm is not yet complete yet. There is still just a little more areas that still need to be covered up. However, I won’t be going full sleeve on this arm. No real need to!

But in an attempt to take those small steps forward. I also made another commitment to myself. That once I had the heart on my arm, I would change my statues on Facebook from married to widowed. And so just this past Saturday I made that change. Yes it felt kind of weird, and I still am not in a place to even indicate that I am single. But I am coming to a place of accepting that the reality of grief being a process. A process that most definitely is different for each person. And that there is not a “right” or “wrong”way, because the process is unique, different, and personal for each person. And one that can only be traveled in a way that is suited for the person traveling it.

I do pray however, that my journey is able to one day help and bless others. I do know however, that my journey is still a work in progress. But as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and placing my complete trust in God, progress and healing will occur. And I know that one day, my heart will beat again.

~ To Be a Widow

 

Grief . . . A State of Brokeness

10434315_10204546328633360_2263574191541259881_nWell, it truly is hard to believe it’s already been a year since Rudy passed away. And now as we approach Halloween, this will be the second one without him (this pic was taken 2 years ago today at a halloween party). I guess I made it through all the firsts, and now it’s time to move on into the realm of all the seconds.

But as I reflect on this past year, and upon how me, and my life have changed, oh how I wonder how i even made it through, let alone survived. Grief is just so complex, unique, powerful, and unpredictable.

Such as, I remember asking so many questions. Questions like, what’s next? What am I suppose to do? How am I suppose to feel? What is life suppose to look like for me now? Who am I? or better yet, who am I suppose to be? What is my purpose now? Just so many questions, with little to no immediate answers to ease the initial sting of it all. And if I had to use one word to describe my immediate state of being at the time grief hit me, it would have to be “lost”.

Yes, looking back now, I was just so lost, and desiring so desperately for someone to please clarify this condition that I was so quickly thrust into, called grief. And all I truly wanted was for someone to please give me a plan, a road map, GPS, just give me something . . . .

But all I seemed to get were answers that included the concept of grief being a process. That it looks different for everyone. That I was going to have to do whatever was “right” for me. Well, that didn’t really help much, as I didn’t have any idea as to what “right for me” was suppose to be, let alone what it was suppose to look like, or feel like.

But as I look back now, what I have discovered at least up to this point, is that just making it through the first year is good enough. And that the process of grief is not about right or wrong. It’s about experiencing a loss, and having to somehow live through that loss, in order to make it to the other side. And what that other side is suppose to look like, I don’t even know. But what I do know, is that hopefully the experience of it all will one day, allow me to use it for a greater good, with a greater purpose.

But until then, I am working towards embracing my grief as something that extends beyond the capacity of  complete understanding. For there really is no substance to it. Grief just is. It is like a “state of being”, or maybe even a “state of brokenness”. A brokenness that has the capacity to run so deep at times, that it can almost become paralyzing. Where each day is just so different from the next. Like a roller coaster filled with ups and downs, and so much more in between.

Maybe this could even be the reason why no time frame is given for how long grief is suppose to last. It’s just a day by day, one day at a time thing. But what does seem to be necessary, is first, having a loving relationship with God. And for me, my faith and my belief in God has truly been a life saver (I have spent countless hours alone in my house, with just me and God). And then second, family and friends. Being surrounded and encouraged by people who are able to provide love and support through out the process of grief is just as crucial. For although grief is a process, it is not one that anyone ought to have to travel through in silence or alone. Grief truly requires the love and support of others, no matter how long the process.

But for now, to everyone who helped me make it through my first year, thank you. Thank you for your unconditional love and support. It has been and will continue to be ever so appreciated, more than words could ever adequately express. And although I may not know exactly what lies ahead for year two, I am looking forward to continuing to put one foot in front of the other, so that in a healthy way, I am able to transition out of a state of brokenness, and begin living in a state of healing.

~ To Be a Widow

 

 

 

A New Kind of Freedom

nature-forest-industry-rails-largeWell, it has definitely been a while since I have blogged concerning my journey as a widow. And now it is just 3 weeks away from the 1 year mark since my husband Rudy took his last breath. It truly is hard to believe that it has already been almost a year. Time surely does fly by, and stops for no one.

But over these last few weeks there is just so much that I have been reflecting on. Such as, there truly is no instruction manual on how to be a widow (although I have spent much time and energy, not to mention countless hours, trying to find one, define one, or at least figure one out). I mean, one would think with all the technology and knowledge that is out there today, there surely would be a book out there, maybe even one called “Widow for dummies”. I mean, I truly wanted (actually needed) some kind of direction, guidance, and answers. But to no avail, there wasn’t any simple one out there. At least not that I could find, see, accept, or trust enough to use and/or embrace.

And now, as I have started looking back on this last year, I am coming to realize just how far out in the forest, the wilderness, and sometimes even the desert, I have been. I mean maybe I was in one of the 5 stages of grief, I don’t know. And to be honest, I really don’t care. Having knowledge of the five stages of grief in no way prepared me for the journey that i was going to have to embark on as a widow (and let’s be clear, this was definitely not the kind of journey I ever wanted to be on. So maybe i was a little (ok maybe a lot) defiant about it all).

So many things would just race through my mind in the forms of questions. Such as, someone please tell me how am I suppose to feel? Or, someone please tell be what am I suppose to do? What is right and what is wrong, because I surely didn’t know the answer, but I surely wanted to know. I really wanted to know how to be a widow, because my entire world turned upside down that moment he took his last breath. And I don’t know about other widows, but I know for myself, my entire purpose was focused upon my husband, his illness, and his care. So when he passed away, so did his illness and his care, and well, you can probably guess what that then meant. Yup, you guessed it, my purpose instantly ceased to exist as well. I mean what was I to focus on now???

And so from that moment on, I constantly was wondering what life was to look like for me without him. Everything had just changed so quickly, and I mean everything changed. And as the days and weeks went by, I found myself often times questioning my friendships, my profession, and even sanity.

And if you were to ask me now how I have managed to get this far, I would honestly say, outside of the grace of God, I truly don’t know. Because many days I wanted to sell everything and run away. But instead I have just kept pressing on with the hope and the belief that it will get better. And that no matter how lost, how alone, how angry, or how sad I have been, I have some how always seemed to hold on to the fact, that Jesus loves me, and that He desires the best for me, and that He will wander with me for as long as I wander, and will lead me out of the wilderness, the forest, and the desert, when I am ready to let Him lead me out. And I can finally say, in all honesty, I am ready!

So where am I at now with all of this? Well, I’d like to say that I know exactly, but I don’t. But what I do know, is that I am tired and I am exhausted, and I am ready to take (which I have already begun) the necessary steps that will place me on the path towards healing. A path that I know He is in charge of, and will lead me and guide me through, so that I may begin experiencing a new kind of freedom.

To Be a Widow ~

 

Not all is Lost

8865642401_d2a7b0e5dc_bMy current reality of being widow is by far one the most uncomfortable places I have ever been. I liken it to the notion of being lost in a forest, surrounded by nothing but trees, and all I can think about or desire, is to find my way out. And in my quest to achieve such results, anything will do that might provide to me, the slightest glimmer of hope.

But with each day that comes and goes, I find myself in the same unsettling place, wondering the same thing. When will all of this pain, discomfort, and confusion end? When will I be centered again, and return to the comfort and security of knowing who I am? And then I can’t help but wonder, does anyone even notice? Or better yet, does anyone even care, that in the deepest part of my soul, not only am I inwardly struggling, but that I am barely staying afloat, in order to some how regain my footing just long enough, to stand back up on my own 2 feet again?

And then out of nowhere, a moment of clarity comes upon me, reminding me that not all is lost, and a little voice then whispers in my ear, saying “Remember, I am with you”, “Take my hand and lean into me”. Yes! I cry out! The Lord spoke to me, and the light of hope raised it’s little hand. And at that moment, I was reminded that although my position in this currently reality is uncomfortable, if I lean into Him, He will show me things that I would otherwise never be able to see. And that the length of time that I am in this uncomfortable place that I am in, is actually not a form of eternal emotional punishment, but rather, an act of everlasting grace, with an overflowing amount of love. That He is truly my Heavenly Father, and I am truly, a daughter of the Most High King.

I so needed that word of encouragement. And coming from God himself, just made it all the more special. A reminder that God is always up to something. And that something, is always and nothing less, than that which is good. That is because God, by his very nature, only does that which is good. And so although today I may remain in the forest, surrounded by trees, that doesn’t allow me to see or feel the good, of all of what He is doing, I can be assured and hold on to the promises, that one day I will.

And so for today, instead of embracing my current reality of the pain that reminds me of the loss of my husband, and my best friend, I will seek to choose to embrace the presence of an all loving, all caring God, who is with me always. And I will trust that He is actively at work behind the scenes, guiding me, protecting me, and leading me to a place that I could never achieve, or arrive at on my own.

So my parting thought for all of you reading this today is this, “I will never be thankful that I have become a widow, but I will always be thankful for all that God reveals to me, and teaches me during the process of healing, and how I can be used for His glory as a result of becoming a widow”.

To Be a Widow ~

Everything Changes

picIt’s been a while since I have blogged. But one thing that is becoming ever so clear, is that as a widow, everything changes. Everything about the life I once knew is not only different and new, but it is overwhelmingly uncomfortable, and over the top more difficult of a path than I have ever traveled.

It is like not only have I been left with a hole deep within my heart, but it has also left an emptiness within, that goes way beyond what words could ever adequately describe. And oh yes, I know I have God, and I know God loves me. And I know He doesn’t give His children more than what they can handle. And I know His joy is my strength, and He will see me through.

But there lies yet before me, a small little voice that is continuously tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear, reminding me that I am human, and that my heart still hurts. So what is a 47 year old widow to do?  Well, I look at the world around me, in hopes that I may find some kind of relief from this broken heart of mine.

But at the end of the day, I often times still find myself feeling very much lost and alone. Lost with who I am, what I am to do, what and how much I am to share, and alone with who and how much, I am to share it all with. And so in response to all of this uncertainty,  I continue to smile,  nod, and tell those around me that life is good, and that I am fine.

But trust me when I say, time doesn’t necessarily lessen the pain, it only increases the distance from the moment that it all began. And I really don’t know, or maybe don’t even understand, how others have landed on the healing side of something such as this. But I do trust in an all loving God, and believe that He, in His own timing, is leading me to that place as well.

To Be a Widow

So many firsts . . .

IMG_1422Well, today is the 5 month mark of Rudy’s passing. And it’s just so hard to believe that it has already been 5 months. But one recurring thing that I remember people saying, was that the first year will be the hardest, because it will be the year filled with all the firsts.

And now 5 months later, looking back, I have already experienced my first Halloween, my first Thanksgiving, my first Christmas, and my first New Year’s without my love. But i just knew, that beyond all of that, March was the month that was going to be a tough one.

In a matter of 6 days, I will have my 47th birthday, the 5 year anniversary of my dad’s passing, and then what would have been my 15 year wedding anniversary.  Yup, all of this will be reflected within a total of 6 days.

So a few months back, I began planning and prepping for when this time came. I knew that I didn’t want to be home, and I for sure knew that I didn’t want to be alone. Thankfully I had my sister who was all for then planning a trip. And so now, this Saturday is the day, where I will be getting on a plane and headed to Spain. Yup, I am headed to Spain with my sister and her boyfriend.

We are scheduled to land in Spain on Sunday morning, which is my birthday. But this will not only be my first birthday without my hubby, it will also be my first trip/vacation in almost 17 years without him. So although I am excited for the trip, I am definitely having to work through some uncharted territory of emotions, as I begin packing.

This trip is just so bitter sweet, as I am devastated that my hubby isn’t with me for us to experience it together, and he won’t be with me to celebrate my bday, or the 5 year anniversary of my dad’s passing, or our 15 year wedding anniversary.

But I do have plans, to do a lot of relaxing, a little reading, a vast amount of site seeing, and as much taste testing as possible. Other than all of that though, I am looking forward to taking this time to be still before God, and just take it all in, as I inquire with him about my life and my future, as a widow.

P.S. I am also totally looking forward to blogging and sharing with all of you everything that I am seeing, learning, and experiencing, while I am there!

To Be a Widow ~

The Struggle is Real

IMG_1394You don’t know what you don’t know. And for Rudy and I, we just didn’t realize the importance of making better choices when it came to food. For years our number one meal choice was the “drive thru”.

We had busy schedules, and were always on the go. Therefore we had some how convinced ourselves that we didn’t have “time” to cook. Well, that was until cancer struck for the second time.

It was only then, along with some encouragement from friends, that I started researching food. And what I found was astonishing. The levels of sugar and processed food that we were consuming was not just mind blowing, but was absolutely devastating. And then to discover how this very food could be the source and the root cause of Rudy’s cancer, brought me to my knees.

“How could this be?” I asked myself plenty times over. How could a Del Taco burrito, or a can of coke, or a medium fry, be the root cause of all of this? I mean, this wasn’t alcohol or drugs, it was food for God’s sake! How could food cause cancer?

Well, it does! And although I may not know all of the details of the how, statistics have revealed that 1 in 3 people will at some point be diagnosed with cancer, and that most all causes of cancers are environmental (yup, not genetics).

Are you surprised? I know I was! Which is why Rudy and I decided to make some necessary changes. We started juicing, and we started eating a more plant based diet (yup, that would be more fruits and veggies). And although all of the changes we made didn’t “cure” Rudy, I do believe that it helped to enhance his quality of life.

And now that he has passed, and my life is no longer based on, or centered around cancer, it only seems fitting that I would continue down the path of eating healthy. I mean, to not continue down this path, would be like a slap in the face to all that Rudy endured.  Not to mention, I know this is what he would desire for me.

And although it may not be a guarantee that I will never develop something such as cancer one day, or anything else for that matter, it at least betters the odds, and helps me to overall, “feel” better. And isn’t that what we all desire, to feel “better”?

But I’d love to hear your thoughts on this . . .  what are some of the things you are doing to assure that you are engaging in healthy habits?

To Be a Widow ~