A different perspective

I've looked at life through a whole different point of view since Ayden passed away. After losing Ayden, I became very guarded. I was scared to love..fully. To put my whole self out there again. Because, what if I did, and I lost someone else. Then, I began to realize - in this life, there is loss. Period. And there's nothing I can do to stop it. All the more reason to approach life and loss with hope....doing your best to muster up all the hope you can find amidst the pain.

When October rolled around and we had gotten past the 2 year mark (August 25th), I began to look at the coming holiday season with more joy than I had felt in the past 2 years. I was hopeful....looking forward to finally experiencing a somewhat "normal" holiday season. One of so much happiness....so much joy....new perspective. Then, October 21st reared its ugly head. And it all fell apart all over again.

BUT....because of our loss, I have approached the loss of my Dad much differently than I expected. At first, I was completely torn apart. I felt so lost....so down....I begged God to take me HOME...."take me to Heaven because I can't do this anymore....I can't go through life constantly waiting to lose something/someone else." Then, I began to think about my Dad and how he would approach this. How he would tell me to treat his death. My dad would be more upset with me if I continued to dwell...continued to focus on the loss...because that would mean I wasn't focusing on the joy he is experiencing right now. The joy that is to come when we meet again. After we lost Ayden, he was the only one I would really listen to. I've always valued my dad's opinion and advice (well...except during my teenage years....because when you're that age you "already know everything" right? But even then, I did consider what he was telling me...), and I know that he knew I needed him. He knew I needed his sound advice....even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear. And yes, there were times when I was frustrated with him because I didn't understand how he had been able to move forward (or seemed to), but he did it because we all needed him to be strong for us...to hold us up...and he knew we needed a hopeful perspective. And...that was my dad. Always hopeful....because there's no reason we should live this life without hope.

Over the past few weeks, I've struggled. Today was hard. But I didn't show it. As I've said, I've kept this loss more private. I'm not sure why. In a way, I guess it's my way of sharing my pain with my dad....in the moments when I'm alone with my thoughts and memories....alone with his words, laughter, smile, and wisdom running through my head. In those moments, I'm with my dad, and we're sharing our time together...just the two us....moments which were so very special to me. That's when I break down. I was determined to approach Thanksgiving with a grateful heart. I don't want to be angry and bitter. I just want to live with hope. To me, letting myself get bitter and angry is letting this world win....because I would be clinging to this world, this life, a life that is going to pass away and is not guaranteed to any of us. This is not my home, and it is not my son's home...or my dad's home....this is not where I will spend eternity with my God. That doesn't mean I'm not sad or hurting....because I am. So much. I was doing okay today until Jeremy's uncle hugged me - he's about the same height and stature as my dad. When he squeezed me....and held on....my heart broke. I have missed that more than anything....to be in my father's arms was the safest I ever felt. And now, I realize I have a heavenly father who wants me to look to Him for that safety and security....He wants all of my hope to be in Him. I'm so glad he understands our hurt and our pain and our questions. He can take every angry moment or bitter blame we throw at him. He knows our sorrow, but He always knows where our Hope should be, and I am determined to give him all of my hope.

Aside from all of the loss we have experienced these past 2 years - Ayden, my Dad, and just last weekend....my sister's dog (you might say, "It's a dog." But Paisley was more than a dog to all of us....especially my sister. She was there for my sister at her lowest moments and she was our hope for my sister during those times....her absence is felt greatly!)....I still have so much to be thankful for. I have lived a blessed life - A savior who loves me unconditionally, wonderful, Godly parents who I credit so much for me being the person I am today, for the values I hold, and for my faith, a loving husband who adores me, two beautiful boys with bright blue eyes who have made my life complete, a sister and a best friend all in one, wonderful family who love me and have shown me what family should be, a supportive and compassionate church family who never fail to amaze me, friends who have stuck by me through it all, a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear....every basic necessity, and nothing but wonderful memories past, present, and to come, and most of all....hope for a future with no more pain, no more tears, and a reunion that is beyond my imagination.

And while I certainly don't like the circumstances that have been allotted to me, and I would never have greeted them willingly, they have given me a new perspective....a new focus. And for that, I am grateful.

Forgetting...then remembering....stinks.

Obviously, I haven't been keeping up my blog as I should. I wish I had more time to devote, but time is scarce these days. I was already behind at work when everything happened with my dad, then I took a week off, and I became even more behind. Not saying that I really care....I did what I had to do to take care of myself and my family. So, I'm slowly but surely catching up....definitely slowly.

Lately, I've been having those typical moments after loss....when you forget. I would talk to my dad on the phone every couple of days - either on my way to work or on my way home. On my way to work this morning, I had some down time after dropping Collen off and then driving to school. I had the sudden urge to call my dad...my mind was saying, "You haven't talked to Daddy in a while." My common sense kicked in just behind that thought with the obvious answer as to "why". Those moments are hard. When, for a split second, you forget that that horrible event ever happened, and then you're quickly reminded and hit with it all over again. It happened again on my way out of work. I was walking across the grass to get to my car, and I saw all these little holes in the ground...like an animal had tunneled all these little holes, and just as I was thinking, "Daddy would know what made these...." reality hit me again. ugh...

I've dreamt of my dad twice, and I have to say, it is quite comforting to see him there. When I'm awake, I feel very lost without him. Then, when he shows up in my dreams, everything feels "right" again. In my last dream, he was lying on the couch at he and my mom's house. I was so overcome to see him because I've missed him terribly. In my dream, I went over to him and knelt down....laying my head on his chest....just sobbing. He said, "What's wrong, sweetie?" And I answered, "I miss you, Daddy." And I think I remember him saying, "I know you do" in that tone of his that would say - "I know you're sad and upset, but everything is going to be okay." Oh, how I miss that voice and tone.....it brought such peace and calmness into my life.

28 years with someone is a short span of time when you're looking at the big picture. But, 28 years of memories, routines, traditions.....that's a long time to build a life with a person....to build such a secure and meaningful relationship. And now that that is gone, so abruptly, it has been very hard to get used to.

The grief I am experiencing through this loss is much different than losing Ayden - as it should be. Losing your child is probably the most tragic loss anyone can ever experience. It's not natural...it isn't expected. Now, I certainly didn't expect to lose my dad at 28, but my heart was beginning to prepare itself for his loss. I knew it was going to happen, and Daddy has been trying to prepare us for years now. But, as much as you anticipate it and try to wrap your mind around life without someone you cherish, you're never ready when it happens, and it hits hard. I haven't expressed my grief emotionally very much this time. I've held a lot in. A lot. Instead of feeling overwhelming pain, I've felt more of an overwhelming sense of confusion....feeling very lost and uncertain about everything.

I've been very open about how loss has affected my faith and relationship with God. No doubt, I've gone through a lot of questioning. A lot of doubt. A lot of wondering.....about everything. All the "what ifs" take over because you can't help but consider them. At first, I would push it all away....shocked that I would even think that way....that I would even doubt! Then, I realized, it's normal...and it has actually made my faith deeper. I've had to search my heart and really own what I believe.....really get into scripture and theology....and decide what I believe in the hardest of situations. I still have a long way to go, and before this, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere....finally getting to solid ground. Although this did spur the questions again, my foundation is much stronger. And I have my Dad to thank for that because whenever I questioned....whenever I doubted....he was one of those voices of reason....one of the people who helped me keep my faith. But, now, I understandably feel a little lost now that that is gone....but luckily, I can hear his voice still....telling me to keep leaning on the Lord.

We are taking a much-needed family vacation this weekend. We've never gone on a trip where it was just the three of us. We decided to take advantage of the last little bit of warm weather left and take Collen to the NC Zoo. I haven't been in a very long time. I'm really looking forward to it! We are planning to take our time...taking Friday and Monday off...and just spend time together as a family. Please pray for safety as we travel.

I know so many of you continue to think of us and remember us in prayer. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It means so, so much...especially when I just can't find the words to pray sometimes. I know God knows my heart, and he knows our hurt.....He knows what we need. I'm so thankful for that.

Back to work

I meant to write about Monday on....well...Monday, but this week has gone by very quickly. And here it is, Thursday night, and I'm staring the weekend in the face (thank God!).

Needless to say, going back to work Monday was not easy. It's amazing how quickly you get out of the groove...especially when teaching. It was as if I was meeting my students all over again. Most of them, though, were very gracious and sympathetic. A couple of them actually had flowers sent to me during class (I was holding back tears at such a kind gesture from middle schoolers!). Of my 3 three, a majority of them were extremely sympathetic and cooperative. But, you always have those few.....the ones who can just ruin it all. I choose to ignore them and just focus on the ones who make it worthwhile.

I did not teach on my first day back. I had planned to. I had notes ready to go. But, I just couldn't get my "teacher voice" going. I needed to my legs back under me. So, I did what every good teacher does - we watched a movie. It was Halloween....so why not? And I chose two movies that were both based on literary works. For my advanced group: The Count of Monte Cristo (they LOVED it!!) and for my standard groups: Because I knew it might keep their attention more - The Others (based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw). My 2nd group loved it, and I loved watching them squirm when that suspenseful music started to play. My 3rd group...well, they're my challenging group. We survived it....and that's an accomplishment.

I have gotten back into the swing of things, and being back at work has been a good distraction. It's just strange, though, because I feel like I have a split personality. All day, I'm in teacher mode, but my grieving side....the daughter who desperately misses her dad....tries to push through all day. And I have to push back in order to keep my composure. On the outside, it looks like I'm handling it all well, but on the inside.....I'm not. Once school is over, and I'm in the car on my way home, I'm breaking down.....the emotions surface....and I'm a meltdown waiting to happen. It definitely takes a toll on you when you have to handle it this way.

I'm so used to picking up my phone on the way home and calling Daddy....or him calling me. I miss that so much. That's what I have missed the most this week....hearing his voice. It is becoming more real, which is just plain hard. But, I am able to find comfort in knowing that my dad is up there in heaven....with Ayden. They're together. 2 friends have made allusions to butterflies this week....both mentioning my dad and Ayden together represented as those butterflies. It's such a sweet image.....warms my heart a little bit. I also find comfort in knowing that my dad is worshipping....boy is he worshipping!! I loved to watch my dad worship the Lord. For his memorial service, we chose the song, "How Great Thou Art." There was no question in my mind what had to be sung at his service because that song IS my dad. As a child, I remember watching my dad sing this song....belting it out....raising his hands...and tears rolling down his face. He meant every word. He was always in awe of God. He taught me to be in awe of God. We shared so many interests - nature, weather, animals (birds in particular), the Universe (he and I loved looking at the constellations, planets, pictures of galaxies and stars), and we would talk about the return of Christ because the book of Revelation always fascinated us. I'm really, really going to miss sharing those things with him because those were things that I shared only with him.

As the song was sung at his service, I sat with my eyes closed....taking in every word. It had been a while sing I had last heard the song, but I knew most of it by heart. I hadn't realized, until that very moment, just how perfectly it fit my dad.

Stanza 1:
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The world Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed;

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Stanza 2:
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;


Stanza 3:
And when I think,
That God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross,
My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
To take away my sin.


Stanza 4:
When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that joy filled my father's heart in the moment that he met Christ face to face. My prayer is that, here on earth, I can be half the person and believer my dad was every single day.