Letter to Bob at 3 1/2 Years Into My Journey

Bob,

Three and a half years have passed and I miss you as much now as I did the day you died.  Grief still ambushes me at times and there’s not a morning that goes by that I don’t become fully conscious and think of you wondering what in the world you are doing up there.  I like to close my eyes and really dwell on what heaven must be like, but I know that my imaginations don’t even come close to the truth of it.  Oh the joy that awaits those of us down here who know Christ!

My purpose on this earth isn’t finished – whatever that purpose may be.  I’m still looking for it, but have finally realized that it’s much less stressful for me to just wake up every day and say, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today”.

It was suggested to me that more counseling would be beneficial.  The girls have gently told me that for awhile, but I couldn’t see the need for it.  Someone else helped me to see things more clearly.   After researching christian counselors in this area I believe that I have found the right lady for me to work with. Willingly I am ready to do whatever work  needs to be done to deal with more issues in my heart and to help me find joy and peace.

Several friendships that I thought were good ones have fallen by the wayside and that has been difficult for me. I have processed through that and accepted that these were friends were in my life just for a time.  God knows how fully I commit myself to what I perceive as real friendships and how hard it was for me to move on.  But, move on I have and I am grateful for the tools I was given during my first months of intensive grief counseling to help me do that.

I have continued to do things that I would have never tried had you been here with me and have surprised even myself.  Some things I have been able to complete alone.  Others I have not, but I don’t consider those as failures……just adventures that I needed help with.

There are two new grandchildren who will make their entrance into this world before the year is over.  I cannot help but think how very proud and happy you would be.  Yet, I also feel some sadness at how those precious little ones will never have the privilege and joy of hearing your big laugh, feeling safe in your arms as you talk to them, enjoy the rides around our big yard out in the country that you would have gladly given them on your John Deere riding mower, or gotten to see how much you love their Mama and Dad and all the rest of our sweet family.  I’ll do my part to tell them all about you and show them the collage of your life that is hanging on a wall in my house.  You’d be so very proud of all of your grandchildren, Bob.  They bring me so much joy and I love lavishing my love on them the best that I can.

Our daughters continue to give their lives being the best wives and mothers that they can be.  It makes me smile to see so much of you in them.  Sometimes I think they don’t do enough for themselves and I remember how I was the very same way at that time in my life.  But, they are so much wiser and spiritually grounded than I was at their age.  That’s because of you, you know.

Life is empty without you, but I am working to allow God to somehow fill that void that you left in my life.  You asked me a few days before your left this earth if I was going to be okay.  I couldn’t answer that question when you asked it because I didn’t want to even entertain the idea that you might go to heaven.  Your death has forever changed me and my new counselor tells me that I may never get over it.  But, I have a “new normal” now without you.  It’s not a normal that I want, but I was not given a choice.  God made that choice for me and even though I still cannot see how this could possibly be better for me, I will continue to try to trust that it is.

Here I am facing my 4th Father’s Day without you never dreaming that my first Father’s Day without my dad would also be my first Father’s Day without you.   Always and forever I honor you for the influence you had in my life and for the Father that you were to our four daughters. Your legacy lives on!

I’ll see you again!

I’ll see you again!

I’ll see you in heaven some day.

For now it’s good-bye.

With sorrow and sigh.

But I’ll see you in heaven some day!

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Letter to God on Anniversary of 1st Year

Written Nov. 10th, 2010

Dear God,

Last time this year I was very angry with you for not answering our prayers the way that we had asked You to.  I felt so betrayed by that, yet there was no way that I was going to turn my back on You because I still love You.  I know that doesn’t even make sense, but it is the truth.

In my journal to Bob recently  I wrote, “There were many times in our marriage that I didn’t understand why you did things the way that you did them, but I always knew that you loved me.”  As soon as I wrote that, I realized that exactly describes what my understanding of You needs to be, Lord.

Oh, I’ve had my doubts about that love because there were so many times that I haven’t been able to feel Your love.  And, You know how sensitive I am and how much I NEED to feel Your love all the time.  But, if I can just think about You the same way that I thought about Bob knowing that even when I couldn’t understand his ways, he still loved me, You will make more sense to me.

Do I want Bob back now?  Yes and no.  Yes, because he so much completed who I was here on earth.  No, because I know that he could never be happy here again – not even with me beside him.  My love would not be enough and I know that now.  I long to experience all that he is experiencing without me.  We were never apart for more than a week.  We did almost everything together and now he’s doing this by himself and I’ve got to wait.

Thank You for helping me to find Dr. Trathan,, Christy, and Widow’s Walk.  Thank You for giving them this HUGE heart for widows and not only a heart, but this urgency to not sit around just thinking of ways to help us, but for the feet and some finances to act on it.  It’s one thing to think about doing something.  It’s totally another thing to act on it and really do something about it.  Good intentions aren’t enough.  There are so many of us out there crying to You, Lord, for help to get through this hard and very painful journey of grief.

Thank You for helping me make the choice to mine for gold and not for ore.  I’ve already found the richest gold nuggets of friendship and love from these widows in group and I’ll be forever grateful for that.  Oh, how much I needed that in my life and You knew it.

Thank You for how you are using these 3 greatest losses of my husband and both my parents  in my life to force away the cobwebs and throw open  the doors on things in my heart – doors that I had slammed shut, sealed, and barricaded for so many years of my life and things that needed so badly to be dealt with.  Thank you for using people in my life – even complete strangers – to say to me exactly what You want to say and to let me know that You really do love me no matter what I am feeling or thinking.

You are my Strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek,

You are my All in All!

Seeking You as a precious jewel, Lord, to give up, I’d be a fool!

You are my All in All!

It’s just me and You now, Lord.  It’s just me and You and Your Spirit in me says that You are enough.  Help me to really “get” that truth, Lord.

I still love you, Lord.

Candy

Letter to Depression

This letter was written during my 1st year of grief.

Depression,

You are the part of this grief package that I was not aware of.  I never thought that you and I would ever be walking together hand in hand.  In fact, I never wanted you to ever be a part of my life.

Whenever I heard that someone was depressed, I had no idea what that really meant, but now I do.  There is nothing like firsthand acquaintance with you to really know what you can do to a person.  You are a prolonged and great sadness and are considered a normal part of the grieving process.  All I know is that I do not want you here with me for any longer than necessary.

Unresolved grief leads to an even greater degree of depression.  So bottling up my emotions is something that I will not do.  I want to go through this grieving process in the right way so that I do not have to stay in this painful place.

I read some about you, Depression, and found out that there are different degrees of depression.  Some widows are so depressed that they cannot even get out of bed in the morning.  Life simply just stops for them.  Then there are others that continue to function as they carry around feelings of great sadness inside.  I am one of those.

Tears are a part of my every day and my heart aches with this deep void inside.  I sometimes find it hard to really think clearly.  My feelings overwhelm me at times and I will have to allow myself to cry just to get relief.

I find that talking with other widows who have gone through this grieving process or are going through this process is helpful.  Also talking to my Christian psychologist helps me to see things more clearly.  I know that in order for me to conquer you, I must have some help and some guidance.

There is comfort in knowing that some of those closest to God’s heart went through the pain of depression and God let them write about it.  David so aptly describes depression in the book of Psalms.  At the end of those descriptions he always found something to praise God about.  So, praise must be the antidote to you, Depression.

Elijah told God that he just wanted to die and God so graciously and lovingly sent him sustenance and rest in his time alone.

Naomi was not only depressed after the loss of her husband and two sons, she was bitter and angry at God and wanted people to call her by a new name that meant bitter.  However, God did not turn His back on her.  He caused her daughter-in-law Ruth to go with her when she returned to her country.  Ruth went out in the fields and gleaned wheat to support them both.  I think that Ruth was Naomi’s picture of God’s love in action and that love was what cracked Naomi’s hardened heart and allowed it to heal.  The best part of that story is how God gave her back 3 people to love for the 3 people she lost – Ruth, Boaz, and grandson Obed.

“And the women said to Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a close kinsman, and may his name be famous in Israel.  And may he (Obed) be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher and supporter in your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”  Ruth 4:14-15

This story of Naomi’s says to me that God is not going to hold it against me that I am going through all the emotions of anger, resentment, depression, etc. that go along with grief.  He is walking through this process with me and I WILL get through it and come out of it.  I am so thankful to know that.

Letter to Acceptance

Written Nov. 17, 2010

Dear Acceptance,

The definition to “acceptance” is the act of taking or receiving something offered; the act of believing.  I am having a hard time accepting several things in my life and I really cannot go on until I do.

Twenty  years ago I became very ill with CFS.  Life as I knew it came to a very sudden halt.  I didn’t know what was happening to me and I for sure didn’t like it.  I became someone that I didn’t know or like and that scared me more than anything.  All I wanted was to get back to being the person that I was.  To this day,  I am still ashamed of this person that I have become because when people ask me to do something that I know I cannot do and I have to say no, it makes me feel so inferior.  The other me would have loved to have done those things, but the person I am now knows that it would be very hard on me in several ways.  I have missed out on so many wonderful things in all these years and I know now that it actually grieves me every time I have to say no.  I still haven’t accepted CFS as a part of my life and I haven’t accepted this person that I have become.

Six and a half years ago, my husband came home with a terminal diagnosis.  We both refused to accept that and began doing all that we could find out what to do to help his body heal.  Everything went fine until a little over a year ago when suddenly his body began to deteriorate.  Still we refused to accept what was happening.  I think now that he may have finally accepted it near the end of his life because he asked me if I was going to be alright.  There was no way in this world that I could even entertain the idea that he was dying and no way was I going to accept that possibility.  I couldn’t answer his question and gave him a look that must have said, “Don’t ask me something like that!”  A week later his heart suddenly and unexpectedly stopped and the ICU nurse that was with him told me that right before that happened he had the most peaceful look on his face.  He had accepted God’s will.

Now he’s been gone for a year and I am still having a hard time accepting what happened because it wasn’t my will.

Less than two months later my mother went to heaven.  Up to the last week of her life, she had not accepted all of her illnesses and was believing that God was going to heal her.  I think that she finally got to the point of acceptance because she was just too tired to keep fighting.  One day in that last two weeks of her life she called to tell me that she had asked God to take her on home and said that she knew it wasn’t a good time for me.  Then she asked me what I thought about that.   Again, I couldn’t answer her question, but this time I cried.  I knew how very hard she had been fighting for so long and I could see that her body was tired.  It was hurting me so badly to see her struggle, but I didn’t want to let her go.  She was my Mama and the greatest source of encouragement and spiritual help that I had in my life outside of my husband.  The morning of the day she went to heaven, she had the most peaceful, beautiful smile on her face as her eyes kept going back and forth, back and forth looking up at something on the ceiling as if she just could not get enough of what she was seeing.  She had accepted God’s will and I believe God was allowing her to see into heaven.

Two months later my daddy went to heaven.  He willed himself to die because he couldn’t bear to live without my mother.  He died of a broken heart.  They were born next door to each other and had always been together for their entire 78 years being married 59 of those years.  Daddy had no brothers or sisters.  My mother was his everything here on this earth.  I had thought that Daddy and I would go through the grieving process together and he would be with me for awhile longer, but that didn’t happen.  It was pure torture to watch him give up on life and sit there begging God aloud saying over and over and over, “PLEASE GOD, take me home!!  PLEASE GOD, take me home!!!”  I couldn’t bear it.

By this time I was in such a state of disbelief that I could lose the 3 people in my life who loved me the most and acceptance has still not come.  It’s just hard for me to accept that God pulled the rug out from under me like that and that this is a good plan for me.

I don’t know how to make acceptance come so that I can quit struggling and go on with my life.

God, I don’t know how to accept that Your way is the best way.  I just can’t see it, Lord.  You made me to be a very sensitive person and to have taken my husband, my mom, and my dad one after another in such a short time – to have taken my complete support system here on earth – it just seems like the worst thing that You could have done to me.  It doesn’t say love, God.  It doesn’t feel like love. 

I can’t figure it out.  I accept that You love me because You sent Your precious only Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have the gift of salvation.  I accepted that gift when I was 9 years old.  But, how is CFS and the deaths of the three people who loved me the most the best for me?

You are going to somehow have to help me accept this, Lord, because I just don’t know how to do it and I’m too tired and confused to figure it out.  I know that I’m just hitting at air and I’m using up so much energy doing that.  Help me to take off my boxing gloves and lay them at Your feet in acceptance of it all.

Letter to How Am I Doing

Written November 6th, 2010

Dear Bob,

This week it will be 10 months since you went to heaven and I have done things in these last 10 months that I never dreamed I would have to do or that I could do.  I’ve packed up 2 homes, listed them both, and sold them.  How strange it felt to do all of that for the very first time in my life and to do it alone.

I looked for a place of my own in town, found it, presented an offer, signed a contract, and then signed closing papers – all on my own.  I never even had a clue how all that process worked except for what I had seen on the TV show Property Virgins.

I’ve worked with our personal financial advisor and you know how very much I don’t like anything that has to do with numbers.  He knew that and took the time to teach me something about how it all works.  I tried my best in this fog that I am in to listen and to learn something and with God’s help, I did.

Your truck had to be sold because I can’t drive 2 vehicles and did not need to be paying double insurance.  I think that was the hardest thing for me to part with because it was something that you worked so hard to get in perfect running order and was what you drove all of the time.

Our car was the next to go.  It had over 286,000 miles on it and you weren’t going to be here to continue to repair it when something else went wrong.  The transmission had gone out during your last stay in the hospital and it was my responsibility to get that fixed.  I was so thankful that I already knew exactly what mechanic to take it to when that happened because you had used him twice before.

For the first time in my life, it was me doing the research on what kind of vehicle to buy to replace our old one.  I got so very frustrated at times doing that.  I didn’t want to waste money on buying something that didn’t get good gas mileage or didn’t have good ratings or good reviews.  And, I didn’t want to spend too much money either.  I needed something that was a much newer model, but not brand new because you had told me how much a car depreciates as soon as it is driven off the lot.   When I finally settled in my mind just what to buy and how much to spend, it took over 8 weeks for my dealer to locate it.  I was so blessed to have a good, honest dealer helping me with all of this process and we were finally successful.

I did the best I could to keep Mama and Daddy happy those few months before they joined you.  Back and forth I went to the nursing home every day taking them whatever they asked for and you know how demanding Daddy was.  It was so frustrating at times and I was so very, very tired and full of grief, but I’d set that aside the best that I could to keep him content.  But after Mama died and left him behind, he could not be comforted.

Living alone has been so hard, Bob.  The quietness is overwhelming at times.  I have more time to think now – too much time to think.  I cope with it the best that I can by reading.  I couldn’t read for several months after you died, but I am able to now.  I also listen to books on CD when I go to bed at night and it is somehow comforting to hear someone reading to me.  It usually lulls me to sleep for a few hours.  Then I’ll wake up and turn the CD on again so that I can hopefully get back to sleep.  Sometimes this action is repeated several times a night, but at least I am able to do something to keep my mind from going over and over and over all those terrible memories of our last months together.  It seems that the bad memories very much outweigh all the good ones and there are so many more good memories than bad.

I’ve had to swallow my pride and ask for help.  I wanted our son-in-law to teach me how to change the oil in the Murano, but he absolutely refuses to do that.  I KNOW I could do it because after all, I watched you change oil in our vehicles for over 36 years.  But, he won’t teach me.  So, I am resigned to asking him to do it because I don’t trust anyone else in those oil changing places.  I know how very careful you were about those kinds of things.

You would have scolded me if you had seen me in the store when I bought an ottoman.  It was in this big box and there was no one around to help me get it up to the counter.  So, I somehow got it down off the bottom shelf (it was so bulky and heavy) and set it up in front of my shopping cart.  I got about halfway to the front pushing it with my cart before a worker saw me and took over and even brought it out to the car for me and loaded it up in the back.  When I got home, I devised a way to get it into the house.  It was much easier to deal with once I cut the box away from it while it was still sitting in the back of the car.  I didn’t want to wait until someone could help me.  Sometimes those kinds of jobs sit around for days before someone has the time to stop by and give me a hand and that is so frustrating to me.

I’ve made several trips out of state since you’ve been gone.  I hoped that a change of scenery would help get my mind somewhat off all the grief, but it went with me.  So many times I would have to excuse myself quickly and head for the bedroom or the bathroom or the car to burst into tears.  Anything and everything seemingly triggers this deep pain I carry around in my heart.

Everyone is going on with their lives and everyone is so very busy.  I feel like a grain of sand on a beach – unnoticed.  Life seems to be passing me by and very few seem to even care or want to share in my grief.

I know they probably don’t want to really hear how I am feeling whenever they do ask how I am doing.  “How are you?” is such a formality much of the time.  No one really wants to know.

Two days ago I put together a wooden shoe bench to place in the front door entryway so that our grandkids will have a place to put their shoes when they come inside.  I was quoting Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” the whole time I was trying to get those long screws screwed in.  I ended up having to put a thick sock on my hand and then another thick sock over the allen wrench because it hurt my hands to try to get those screws into place and tightened properly.

Life without you is so different and so very, very hard, Bob.  There are just some things that God made men to do.  I don’t want to do those things, but now I must and am determined that I WILL do them.  I will do everything that I can do by myself.  Do I sound like a 2 year old child or what?  I do and there are times when I feel like throwing a tantrum just like a 2 year old, too.  But, I don’t.  I just sit quietly and cry asking God all of those “why” questions knowing that no answer He would give me would be good enough when all I want is you back whole and well to take care of me.

I look around me and it seems that everything is done in couples and I’m not a couple anymore.  I feel as bereft as a sailboat cut loose at the moorings or a ship lost at sea.  I know if you were here you could tell me not to give up and to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.  I’m doing that and I’ll keep doing that.  Walking alone through life is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Bob, and if it weren’t for having God in my life, I don’t know how I would do it.

I’m able to read some in my Bible now.  You know that I couldn’t even do that for a time.  There are still so many questions about things when I read and my faith is so shaken because my heart is so broken that God did not answer our prayers to heal you here on earth.  I refuse to give up on God now because He’s all that I have to get me through this life.  I can’t feel Him most of the time, but I see evidence that He’s here with me for how else would I have been able to do all of these things?  How else would I have made it through these last 10 months without you?

A Widow’s Letter to Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed,

You are the feeling that comes as soon as you hear those words, “He’s gone”.  You come crashing in through all the pain and grief and you even overwhelm that numbness that tried to protect me.

You are not at all passive, but are like the waves of the sea that continue to go in and out and in and out never stopping.  You hit me with questions like, “Where do I send his body?”, “What kind of funeral would he want?”, “Do I want a funeral or should I have him cremated?”,  “Should I have a memorial service for him or do I want just a graveside service?” , “What would his family want?”.

Then there are the other questions that you throw at me such as, “How am I going to live without him?”, “How am I going to make if financially?”, “Was there any life insurance?”, “Will I still have medical and/or dental insurance?”,  “How will I be able to take care of our children?”, “How will the children ever make it through this and come out in one piece?”, “Will there be anyone to help me through this that I can trust?”.

Later on come the questions,  ”When should I get rid of his things?”, “Should I sell the house or stay in it?”, “When should I sell his truck/car?”, “What should I do with all of his tools and the things in the garage?”, “What would he want me to do with the rest of my life?”

The “WHY?!” questions are always there to overwhelm me.  Those are the ones that haunt me the most.

Then as time passes, Overwhelmed asks, “Should I even think about getting remarried?”, “Would any other man really want ME for their wife?,   “How would remarriage affect our children?”, “Can I ever really love another man the way that I loved him?”, “Can I really ever trust another man to be the kind of husband that I need now?”

Overwhelmed is when you realize that you have lost your identity and now do not really know who you are and what your purpose is.

It has been 8 months now and I am finding that Overwhelmed is not as prevalent a feeling in my life as  it was.  I realize that this will be different for everyone.  Widows with children still at home to raise will more than likely find that Overwhelmed will greet them often.  When there are decisions to be made, Overwhelmed will try to rear its ugly head.  Any kind of uncertainty, conflict or crisis is an open door to Overwhelmed.  I find that the less I sleep the more Overwhelmed is present.

The opposite of Overwhelmed is Unimpressed.  How can I be Unimpressed with all that is going on in my life?  I thought about that and the only answer I could come up with is that I have to resort back to my belief in the promise that Almighty God is my husband.  He is in place of my earthly husband now and it is His job to take care of me.  And, there is nothing that He cannot take care of.  He will never ever leave me.  I do not ever have to go through any anticipatory grief about that.  He has the ability to do for me things that my husband could never do.

So, Overwhelmed, when you come calling, I will do my best to be Unimpressed!

Letter to Friends

This letter was written almost a year after my husband died. I can honestly say that I have worked through my hurts,  been able to let go of my expectations and no longer feel anger.

Dear friends,

Thank you for being there for me during my husband’s illness and for his burial.  Thank you for all the kindnesses you showed us and all the words you said assuring me that you would walk through the journey of grief with me.  I was so comforted by it all.

Some of you made some statements that weren’t comforting at all such as:  “He’s in a better place now.”  “Time will take care of this.”  “He was so ill.  This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to you.”  “It was God’s will.”  “I’ve been through a divorce and know what you are going through.”  “Heaven needed him more than you.”  I know you meant well, but those words made me feel as if my husband was unimportant and God doesn’t love me.

But, where are you now?  It’s as if when my husband died, I died too.   You haven’t called to just check on me or to see if I just needed someone to talk to.  So many times I have needed you in that way, but you haven’t been there.  I feel like I have this big “W” on my head that scares people away.  It’s like being a leper in a leper colony that no one can stand to look at and avoids.

I would love for someone to just ask me if I’d like them to go out to the cemetery with me or to call and ask if they could bring me some soup.  But, no one does.  What is happening?   I’ve not only lost my husband and the person that I was, but now have I lost my friends/our friends as well?  Why?  If I ever needed you in my life, it’s now.

Going through this grief is so confusing and deeply painful way down in the depths of my soul.  I know that you cannot understand that because none of you have been in this place and I wouldn’t wish you to be here, but I need you now like I’ve never needed you before.  Your lack of care and concern for me makes me even more sad if that’s possible.

Please don’t ever tell a widow “I’ll be here for you and we will walk this journey together” and not be willing to do it.  Not ever having any contact with me at all since the graveside service has been devastating for me.  It would have been better if you had never ever said those words.

Pastor, you were there for us during all those long stays in the hospital, in the ICU conference room right after we were told that my husband was in heaven and even spoke at the Memorial Service and at the graveside.  I thought you really cared, but I haven’t heard a word from you since then and it’s been almost a year.  Is this how a pastor shepherds his flock?

I feel not only saddened by all of this, but I also feel deeply wounded.  I know it will only harm me to be angry and I will tell you that I have felt much anger towards you all and even resentment.  But, I refuse to become bitter about this.  Instead I am learning the right way to respond to another person going through the grief walk and hopefully I will get it right and be there for them the way that I wish others were here for me now.

I didn’t really “get” grief before at all.  No one ever talked to me about it nor did I ever receive any instruction on how to grieve nor how to help someone who is grieving.  So, I have failed others in their grief walk as well simply out of complete ignorance.  I will now do better because I KNOW from first hand experience what grief is all about.

Letter from My Husband to Our Daughters

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Dear Girls,

Remember all the things we’ve read in the Bible about heaven?  I want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is all true!  It’s even better than we thought it would be!   And I want you to know that it was worth it all when I saw Jesus!  It was worth it ALL!

You girls were the greatest gifts that God gave to me beside your mother.  As each one of you came into my life, you blessed me and the more of you that there were, the more I was blessed.

Leah, remember all those math lessons and how you cried when I was trying to teach you?  That wasn’t fun for me either,  but look at you now!  You are homeschooling my grandchildren and teaching them math in much better ways than I knew how to teach you.  I am so proud of the woman that you have become.  Thank you for helping your mother and I through those last 6 months of my life.  All we had to do was call you and you were there for us.  Thank you for that, Leah.  Thank you for loving me.  I love you so much!

Annissa, I was so proud of your talent on the piano.  It gave me so much joy to hear you play.  We had great fun watching sports together, too.  You were the only one that enjoyed them as much as I did.  Thank you for coming to spend all those weeks with me during my last 4 months, Anna.  Thank you for giving me those shots at home when your mother just couldn’t do it.  Thank you for being so matter of fact about everything.  It helped bring things into perspective.  Thank you for loving me, Annissa.  I love you so much!

Charity, I loved to hear you sing!  I wasn’t a music person, but you always touched my heart when you sang.  It meant so much to me and I was so proud of you.  Thank you for sitting in the hospital with me and for bringing the boys up to see me on Halloween so that I could see them and give them some candy.  Thank you for that last song that I heard you sing via the internet.  It meant so much to me for I could see God in your face and hear Him in your voice.  Thank you for loving me, Charity.  I love you so much!

Tshanina, you were always the sunshine in my life.  You light up a room whenever you walk into it and you always made me feel better when you were around.   I was so proud of you when you faced some very difficult heartbreaking times in your life.  You were such a strong young woman to get through that with God’s help.  You didn’t turn your back on Him and I was so glad that you didn’t.  Thank you for all those nights you spent in the hospital with me trying to get me to play games and just smile.  You were so good to me.  Thank you for loving me, Tshanina.  I love you so much!

All of you girls are so loving and faithful to your husbands and the ones of you who have children are such good mothers.  You are all such good money managers and don’t truly realize what a relief and blessing that is to your husbands.  You are such good examples not only to your family but to others.

You girls are all beautiful not only on the outside, but more importantly,  you are beautiful on the inside because of your relationship with the Lord.  Always take time to cultivate and nurture that relationship because when it comes right down to where the rubber meets the road, your relationship with the Lord is all that you have in this world.  Nothing else matters.  NOTHING else matters.  THAT is THE most important thing in your life.  I can testify to that.

When it came down to the end of this life for me, God was there.  He showed Himself to me there at the end, took me by the hand, and introduced me to heaven.  OH, what a glorious thing that was!

So, give it all you’ve got.  Raise your children to really KNOW God.  I know it’s a decision that they each have to make on their own, but do all that you know how to do to point them in the right direction.

Be there for your mom.  She’s having such a hard time right now and you’ve been so good to her.  I knew that I could count on you all to take care of her and I left her in your very capable hands.  You are being so patient with her.  You are listening to her and encouraging her in her journey alone now without me and her parents.  We didn’t all plan to leave her so closely together and this has been devastating for her.  Keep on loving her and being understanding.  Give her time to become the woman that God wants for her to become now.  Be there for her, girls.  Be there for her the best that you can.  It’s not your responsibility to be everything to her just like it wasn’t my responsibility to be everything for her.  But, be who God wants you to be in her life and He will bless you for that.

I love you, Leah, Annissa, Charity, and Tshanina!  I love you!  I’ll see you again soon and I guarantee you that when you get here, you, too, will see that it was worth it all!

Love,

Dad

Letter to My Life Dreams

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.sheknows.com/articles/2011/02/woman_reflecting.jpgWritten July, 2010

To my life dreams,

During my teen and beginning adult years, I thought about you.  I wanted to work in a children’s home and little did I know that God was going to give me a children’s home of my own when He brought my husband and 4 daughters into my life.

I absolutely loved being a wife and a mother.  It was hard work and I was always having to tweak it, but it gave me such a sense of fulfillment and contentment.  I was wanted.  I was loved.  I was needed.  What I did mattered.  How I treated my husband affected his life and the life of my daughters.  How I raised my daughters affected not only my husband and I but the world.  I was making a difference.  I was living the dream that God had for me.

After all our daughters left the nest, my husband and I began to dream about his retirement. We began to make plans to become debt free.  Bob’s dream had always been to retire by age 55 and we rejoiced when we reached that goal!  He accomplished a lot with his job as manager of the Emissions Lab at Nissan North America, but I learned after he retired that all that pressure to produce was very stressful for him.  Now he could relax and we could live our dream of finally having some time to ourselves.

That dream was shattered 8 months ago.  We had only 2 years together of retirement.  Suddenly I was no longer his wife.  All those plans that we made were gone.  My job of loving and caring for him ended.   I found myself in a whole new place that I never wanted to go.  I was not given a choice and this is where I am now.

Good-bye life’s dreams as I knew them.  Thank you for all the wonderful blessings that you gave me for over 36 years.  Thank you for the unconditional love that I experienced from the husband who was made just for me.  Thank you for all that you taught me through his life.  Thank you for all the wisdom that you gave me through the things that he showed me.  Thank you for the example that he was not only to me and our 4 daughters but to all the others whose lives he touched.  Thank you most of all for letting me see God in his life.

Now I say hello to the new dreams that God is going to give me for there must be some reason why God left me here on this earth.  It ‘s 2 years later and I still do not know why I am here.  There’s got to be more to my life than waiting to go to heaven.  I want to please God and dream the dreams that He has for me now as I give up the dreams that I lived.

Letter to Hope

https://i2.wp.com/www.artrenewal.org/blogimages/gerhartz_DawnOfHope-Large.jpg

Written May 7, 2011

Dear Hope,

I just realized that I am afraid of you.  I know that sounds strange, but it is the truth.  You see, I “hoped” and prayed that Bob would get better, but he didn’t.  I “hoped” that we would enjoy long years as empty nesters, but we didn’t.   I “hoped” that when the time came for my parents to go to heaven, my husband would be by my side to comfort me and help me through that, but he wasn’t.  I “hoped” that Bob and I would grow old together and walk together through our last years as senior citizens, but it didn’t happen.

I don’t trust you, Hope.  You can’t be depended on or relied on.  I’m afraid that if I start to have just a little glimmer of hope, that “hope” will be dashed all over again and I cannot bear that.

The only thing I DO have hope in is that I KNOW I am going to heaven and I KNOW I will see Bob and my parents again.

So, where do we go from here?  How do I get past being afraid of you?  How do I have you in my life again?