The Suburb Woman
Posted on July 18th, 2015

​It was another first this week when I didn't travel home from an "adventure" with Michael or he wasn't happily waiting to pick me up at the airport. Overall, I did much better than I expected other than changing flights at Houston Hobby on my flight home. I was emotional remembering the countless trips we made to MD Anderson - the pre-MRI anxiety as we stepped off the plane to head to the clinic and the relief on all but one occasion when we waited at the gates to fly home. 

Nashville was kind and it was comforting being with friends, several of which I haven't seen in many years but were mentors early in my career. I pulled off some sightseeing on my own, enjoyed some great food, caught up with my childhood friend (Sheridyn), and began one of what I'm sure will be much needed times to just "dance it out." I feel a bit awkward learning to walk again at 44, but walk again I will.

Posted on July 12th, 2015

Shortly before Michael died, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg ended 30 days of intense mourning for her husband who passed suddenly the month before. She penned one of the most moving, impactful and spot-on verbal illustrations of grieving a beloved. 

Sandberg described having lived “thirty years in thirty days… I am thirty years sadder… thirty years wiser.” No truer words have been written. She writes about trying to fill the empty space in her bed, crying herself to sleep and suffering the anguish of her children’s loss of their father as well. If you haven’t read it you should take the time to do so.

The most poignant part to me when I read it on June 3 was the last two paragraphs: While talking to a friend Sandberg cries to have her husband back and is mourning her option A – to which the friend replies, and I quote, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the s*** out of option B.” 

When I read her words I sobbed... I knew my option A was slipping toward eternity. 

So in the days following Michael’s death, I focused on finding comfort in planning MY option B. That made sense to me. As much as I didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to face the sunrise, didn’t want to talk to people, didn’t want to eat and really didn’t want to think of a future without him… my kids needed me and option B would have to be enough to get us through.

I’ve spent countless hours combing through the Bible, writing my thoughts, questions and fears, and reading every book I could get my hands on about suffering, assurance of faith and how to resolve being angry with God. I’m desperately seeking meaning. The stack of books and notes is high on my nightstand. Books are scattered and dog-eared around my home. 

I’ve sought counsel from wise people about my inability to rationalize how it was “God’s plan” for a great man to die and for my young son to grow up without a father. I reached out to others who have suffered or are suffering a similar loss in the hope they could assure me the acute pain and vice grip on my heart would subside.

I’ve only missed two sunsets sitting by Michael’s grave this past month. I’ve used that hour to find temporary relief through tears and pray for resolve and peace with MY option B. But then, about a week ago as I watched the sun set it dawned on me… What if it’s not about MY option A or option B. What if this painful season is all a part of GOD'S option A for my life?

Initially, the idea was shocking and it hurt deeply. How could any acceptable "plan" include Michael dying and the way he died?

Biblical scholar Os Guiness writes, “Suffering is the most acute trial that faith can face, and the questions it raises are the sharpest, the most insistent, and the most damaging that faith will meet. Can faith bear the pain and still trust God, suspending judgment and resting in the knowledge that God is there, God is good, and God knows best? 

“To suffer is one thing, to suffer without meaning is another, but to suffer and choose not to press for any meaning is worst of all… There are times when we see glimpses of God’s ways but not enough to allow us to make true conclusions about what he is doing and why. Yet we cannot resist jumping to conclusions anyway. Then, being insistent as well as inquisitive, we refuse to suspend judgment and our wrong conclusions so misrepresent God that we end by doubting him. 

“But if the Christian’s faith is to be itself and let God be God at such times, it must suspend judgment and say, Father, I do not understand you in this situation, but I understand why I trust you anyway. Therefore I can trust that you understand even though I don’t.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read those words. My faith has never been more tested than it has been in the past month. I’ve even questioned the existence of God, heaven and all I’ve said I believed most of my life. While I’ve shared positive thoughts openly, I must admit it has mostly been in an effort to convince myself I am strong enough to carry out MY option B.  

The truth is, I’m not. I never could be or will I be. 

I can, however, let go of the idea that I control anything and go forward with a different outlook: 

Yes, I’m forever changed and this is a defining moment no matter how I look at it. But the rest of my days, however long, are still a part of HIS option A for my life and I MUST be changed for the better. I’m not promised there won't be more suffering, tough days, tears and loneliness ahead – but I am promised He will ALWAYS meet me where I am. I’m still a mother, I’m still a daughter, I’m still a friend and I must work to stop feeling guilty for still being alive.

The Michael I’ve known and love is with God. His soul is free, his race is won, and he is exactly where we all want to be one day. It doesn’t mean he won’t be dearly missed and thought of every day the rest of our lives – I still have more to write on that subject. But, the beauty of it all is heaven is much more real to me now than it has ever been.

So, I’m choosing to trust God and not in a passive state of mind, but “a vigorous act of the soul.” I'm going to cast all my cares on Him. I know it’s important as I go forward to continue to read the Bible and be open to life and possibilities. I also know in modeling this new outlook, renewed faith and trust, I will help my children and family heal.

The only time I remember Michael breaking down was the first few days when it was undeniable our worst fears were going to be realized. He said, “I have the easy part. But I can’t bear to think how hard this is going to be on you and all I’ve ever wanted is for you to be happy.”

So, as I pray tonight I’m going to ask God to give Michael a message: I miss him. I love him. I will be happy. And I’m sticking with God's option A wherever that takes me.

“What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? For I am convinced that neither death … neither the present nor the future … will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:31-32, 38-39

Posted on July 6th, 2015

​With the sunrise three weeks ago today Michael flew to heaven. It feels like three lifetimes. His gift to me over the weekend was finding three more of his journals he had safely tucked away. 

I always treasured his cards and letters, but they as well as his journal writings are like gold to me now as I wade through emotions and memories. We took a trip to Quartz Mountain Lodge for just a weekend getaway with Sam when he was two months old. Michael thoughtfully took his time in making a list of things he wanted to teach Sam as he grows up. There was no indication he would have less than nine years to raise Sam with me, but he knew having a child at age 50 meant there was a higher probability he might not see him grow into a man. 

Sam and I look at this list a lot. He loves that he knows what his dad wants for him - and we've made a promise to make sure he learns all these things the way Michael intended to teach him. We stumbled through learning to tie a man's tie for the funeral and Sam is working on the firm handshake and eye contact. We have throwing a baseball down, we play basketball and throwing a football will happen this fall as a start. 

Even though all might be normal in your life, I would encourage you to take some time in the coming days to write your wishes, what you're thankful for, and notes to those you love. Put them in safe place where they can be found when they will need it most. 

Posted on June 21st, 2015

​When I reflect on the outpouring of support and love for our family this week on so many levels in so many ways, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and these words from Anne Lamott capture the collective voice I hear... "You'll have to survive some unsurvivable deaths this side of eternity. You'll never 'get over' them. You're not supposed to. We'll help you."

Posted on June 19th, 2015

​Our view a year ago today as we took what now was our last family vacation. We were departing OKC at sunrise with a large storm moving in. I could NEVER have imagined a year later I would be burying the love of my life. Please pray for strength today as it is not my own that is carrying me. Every second of since Monday morning I just want Michael here with me. I am broken. I am lost. I am angry. I am lonely.