A Widow's Walk -- The Ragged Edges of Grief
My Beloved, you are dead.
You are gone from me for as long as I draw breath.
Grief and heartache are my constant companions.
They are my ever-present unshakable companions.
Tears blind me as I walk along these raged edges of grief.
Nothing ever prepared me for knowing you, the love of my life.
Nothing ever prepared me for your death.
I had given up hope that the kind of love described in the Bible would ever be offered to me.
So had you.
But Lord, in Your mercy You allowed us to find each other.
My Beloved, you came to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior before we married.
You were baptized, as He commanded, on Christmas Sunday.
What a blessed event to see the outward expression of what had happened to you on the inside.
Lord Jesus, you knew grief.
You died for both of us.
You offered us both undeserved grace and forgiveness.
Because you conquered death,
My Beloved lives on in immortality
In Your promised land of heaven,
And someday I will join him there.
But Lord, what about now, what about until then?
My brokenness and pain, Lord, are more than I can bear.
His coffee cup, his chair, his side of the bed, his toothbrush, his razor, his shampoo, his comb, his magazines, his
kitchen, his cooking tools, his beloved bird pictures, his billfold, his jeans, his favorite shirts, his Sunday clothes,
his pen, his belt, his Bible ---
His things surround me in every room.
No matter where I turn his life surrounds me.
Reminding me of what I will never experience again as long as I am on this earth.
Reminding me that I can never touch his face, or kiss his forehead,
Or go to sleep holding his hand.
Lord, I confess, I love him more than You.
I didnít know it at the time, but who didnít love him?
This man was the closest thing to you Jesus that I have ever known.
I donít know how to love You Lord, more than my husband.
You will have to teach me to love You the way I love him.
Who am I now, Lord?
I feel like I died without the benefits of death.
Like Lazarus, I am wrapped in the bonds of my grief.
My life consists of ragged edges of grief.
Sorrow has my eyes blinded by his death.
Please resurrect my shattered life.
Like Lazarus, call me forth.
Let me go home, Lord.
What can I say to convince You that I want nothing more than to go home?
Never again will I rush into your arms and feel your incredible strength,
Or pour out my heart to your listening ears,
Or lie beside you and listen to your heart and your breathing,
Or sit beside you at church and turn to see your eyes filled with tears from the Holy Spirit,
Or kneel with you in prayer,
Or laugh with you,
Or cry with you,
Or dream with you,
Or eat with you,
Oh my Lord, what do I do now?
I stand here and weep.
I just cannot stop crying.
Are you weeping with me, Lord?
Please put Your loving arms around me, Lord,
And hold me close.
Youíll need to pull me to my feet.
I am the woman crumbled on the floor,
Holding his pillow against my face, wet with my tears.
We were a great pair, werenít we?
We were the way that love should be.
I am grateful that I had you all these years.
But I still canít hold back the tears.
I would rather have had a dozen years of perfect
Than to have lived a lifetime of nothing.
We didnít fight or argue.
I have no regrets about things I didnít say.
I donít wish I had done more or been more to you.
We knew we had a love that only happens once in a lifetime.
After you neck surgery last year, you lost the use of your right arm.
It was the most natural thing in the world for me to help you get dressed.
You were so frustrated at not being able to do the things you had always done.
But I helped you see the silver lining---you needed me more than ever.
You held me so close that day and cried for the loss of your arm.
We cried together, I cried because you were so hurt and disappointed.
I told you it didnít matter to me that I would always love you no matter what.
You were afraid I would be disappointed in you because you were always so strong.
How could I ever be disappointed with you, My Beloved?
Remember, ďTwo hearts, One beat.Ē
You had those words inscribed on our wedding bands
We said those words to each other every day
And right before we fell asleep.
Honey, I listen for your return.
I hear a truck in front of the house and rush to see if it is you.
I rush to the door waiting for you to grab me and twirl me around and say, ďIím home!Ē
Now I am the one that opens the door to our empty house to say, ďIím home.Ē
But no one answers me, just the silence of the emptiness of our home.
But, in my heart, I dream that you are just outside watering the yard.
It must be how I cope, thinking you are just outside and still at home.
When we found out about the cancer.
We were both shocked.
You had just had a complete checkup.
And the doctors said you were fine.
So how was it possible that you had Stage 4 cancer in your brain and lung?
After the doctor told us that you had only one to six months to live,
We just sat there like he was talking in a language that we didnít understand.
After he left, I crawled up in your hospital bed.
And we cried, we prayed, we believed, we held each other until you went to sleep.
I got up and went out to my car in the hospital parking lot.
I got in
That this was just a nightmare,
And I would wake up.
Please, God wake me up.
Please, God take me not him.
I nearly broke the steering wheel that night.
It still makes a noise even now.
I will never forget that week.
We couldnít seem to find time to be alone.
Once everyone found out.
Your room was full of the people that loved you so.
My mother had the same cancer.
When she got sick I quit my job to take care of her.
I wanted to be with her to give her everything she had ever given me.
I stayed with her for 4 months in a hospice so she could have pain medicine.
It was the most horrible experience I had ever been through---at least till now.
It was a blessing that we were able to talk everything out.
Every mother and daughter should talk through all the things they didnít understand.
I saw my mother, my best friend go from a vibrant woman
To a 70 pound body of skin and bones
That day I told her it was ok for her to go.
I was lying; she was my best friend, my Mother.
But I knew she was hanging on because she knew how much I needed her.
I crawled up in her hospital bed.
And put her in my arms like she was my child.
I could feel her relax.
We both went to sleep and when I woke up she was gone.
She died in my arms.
I begged God to take me home then.
I didnít want to let her go.
Everyone came and forced her out of my arms.
I remember they put her in a body bag and took her away.
I began to hit the wall with my fists.
I still have the scars on my hands from hitting the wall that day.
Now exactly 26 years later, you have the same cancer.
You were so afraid of what would happen to your body and your mind.
You wanted to talk about death and dying.
You wanted to know about heaven.
You tried to talk to your family and friends about dying,
But they didnít want to talk about it.
You asked me why people live their whole lives without talking about dying?
You admitted that you had never wanted to talk about it before, but now
You needed to know, to believe, to be able to face the end of your life.
So many people told you that you would beat this and that you would not die.
But when we were alone you talked to me, you knew that this was different.
You knew this was the end.
We just didnít know how quickly the end would come.
We would only have five weeks.
You just stood up and died.
I didnít get to say goodbye or hold you while you left me.
That morning you looked into my eyes longer than normal.
Why didnít I notice that then?
I started to look away and you stopped me.
You said, ďI want to memorize your eyes, your smile and the love in your eyes.Ē
You told me that you loved me so much it hurt.
You hugged me longer than usual.
Why didnít I realize what you were doing?
I think now that you knew that this would be the day you would die.
But you didnít tell me.
I called you from work that afternoon and you were great.
You were watching the western channel,
And Bonanza had just ended and Big Valley was starting.
I asked if you were ok and you said yes.
You said, ďGotta go Babe, the nurse is bringing me lunch. I love you Sweetheart. Come home soon, ok?
I told you I would be home in a couple of hours.
Then, you just stood up and died.
You were gone before the ambulance and fire department got there.
At 4:00 the head of EMS called me on my cell phone and told me that you were dead.
What did he say?
ďWeíve been working on him for 45 minutes and we have had no response.Ē
ďCan you meet us at the hospital? We are going to keep trying.Ē
I donít even remember driving to the hospital.
I donít remember where I parked.
I just ran into the emergency room and the head nurse was expecting me.
I asked, ďIs he alive, did he make it?Ē
She said no, and she took me into a part of the hospital I didnít even know about.
You were already in a body bag.
They had left all the tubes in your nose, mouth, and legs.
I didnít recognize you.
Could this be my husband?
Honey, is that you?
You are so cold.
How did you get so cold so fast?
No you are not breathing,
No your heart isnít beating.
Your wrist is broken, how did that happen?
And your wrist had been bleeding.
I didnít know about the blood as I held your hand and cried.
I got your blood all over me.
I have a migraine, someone hands me a pill.
My head is going to explode.
I relax for a moment because I am sure that I am dying too.
What a relief?
Yes, I am coming with you My Beloved.
For a moment I thought you had left me behind.
Iím coming with you Honey.
Isnít that right?
But who is talking to me about your death certificate?
Why are they asking me all these questions?
Why are your nurses from home here?
Why is everyone telling me they are so sorry?
The knot is my stomach is back.
Yes, I am dying, but I am not dead, you are.
I throw up.
I canít kiss your face because of all the tubes.
And this time, I canít get up in the hospital bed with you, like I always did before.
I ask the nurse to remove all the medical equipment.
They will, but I will have to leave the room.
I donít remember who all was there.
I remember hearing Maggie screaming and crying,
Then Maggie wanted me to talk to someone one the phone.
I canít talk, I can barely breathe.
I remember Karen and Ken Shutts hugging my back because
I wouldnít quit holding on to you.
They were going home now to tell ďthe twinsĒ that you were gone.
Donít tell them because this isnít real.
This canít be happening.
But why is Ken crying?
I have only seen him cry one other time
In the emergency room, the day they told us you had brain cancer.
Then Karen hugs me, she is crying too.
They will be back after while.
I ask everyone to leave the hospital room,
To give me some time alone with you.
Now, we are alone.
I check every part of your body to make sure it was you.
I open your eye lids to see your eyes one more time.
They look so alive and I can still see that sparkle in them.
They are still so beautiful, as brown and amber as ever.
I look at each of your hands,
Yes, all the scars are here.
Is this really you, My Beloved?
Yes, there are your freckles on the face I love so much.
Yes, that is your head, bald from the radiation.
You didnít die of cancer, you died from radiation.
I canít remember why we agreed to radiation.
I hold you as close as I can.
I think I can feel your hand close around mine
Like it had a million other times.
I talk to you in a whisper, near your ear.
ďWhat am I supposed to do now, My Beloved?
What do I do next?
How did we end up here?
Can you hear me talk to you?
How did you become so cold so fast?Ē
I cover you up with a blanket.
I put my head on your chest to listen to your heart.
But the only sound I hear is my own heart
Breaking into little pieces.
ďHoney, how am I going to live without you?
I canít go home without you.
These people want to take your body away from me, My Beloved.
They want to put you in a refrigerated room.Ē
They let me stay for 5 hours
We are alone in that hospital room
Time stands still.
The room is spinning out of control.
But I am standing in the middle
And the rest of the world is dissolving away.
I hear you say,
ďI love you Sweetheart, I love you so much it hurts.
Come home soon, ok? Iíll be waiting for you.Ē
But I donít say a word.
Am I losing my mind?
I donít know if I am imagining this or if my mind is making this up.
But in my mind, I see your big smile and your one dimple.
I see the sparkle in your eyes and your eyes are alive.
I hear the voice I will recognize for all of eternity.
Now, I am back by your side looking at your lifeless body.
You are gone from me as long as I live.
I kiss your forehead, your eyes, you nose, you lips.
I smell your neck, that special spot
Where I rest my head every night.
Yes, this is you.
Itís your smell.
Itís your skin, your hand, your head.
Oh God please donít let this be happening.
Turn back the clock just 5 hours and let me hold my Beloved one more time.
Let me kiss him good bye.
Let me tell him how much I love him.
Let him put his arms around me one more time.
Just let me say goodbye any way but this.
Not in this cold room with him in a body bag.
The funeral home arrives.
They are going to take you away from me.
No, please God donít let this be happening.
I canít live without you, My Beloved?
Donít they understand I will never be able to make it.
I canít breathe.
I canít breathe.
I am only one breath from being with you.
Donít let me take another breath.
Then I can come with you.
But I do breathe.
And you donít.
You are gone.
And I am stuck here forever
To live without you
Until my last breath.
God you made a mistake, I am the one who was supposed to go first.
My Beloved wanted to live and I told you God I would go for him.
Give him back his life and take me.
He will be missed by the whole world.
No one will even know I am gone.
They tell me it is time to leave the hospital.
Somehow I am in my car.
Did I walk out to my car?
Maggie is driving.
Maggie never drives my car.
I donít know where we are going.
Now, I am at home looking at the empty hospital bed in our den.
I donít know where Maggie is.
Did she go home?
The phone rings and I run to answer it.
It must be My Beloved calling me.
But it is Sheila, your nurse.
She calls to tell me that the medics and firemen messed up the bedroom.
The medics had a hard time getting to you so they had to move our furniture.
She cleaned up as much as she could before I got home, but wasnít strong enough to put the bed back together.
She couldn't get the blood off our new white carpet.
When we bought the stainmaster carpet, they told us that blood would make a permanent stain---they were right.
But where did all the blood come from?
What did they do to you that made you bleed?
I walk into our bedroom and it is a mess.
The mattress is half way off the bed.
The bed is no longer on the risers.
Somehow, I pick up the mattress and box springs and put all 6 risers back.
I was never strong enough to do that before.
I start to fix our sheets the way you like them.
I fix your pillows.
You will come home soon.
I know you will be so tired.
I am tired, too.
Why is it so late?
And why am I at home alone?
Where is our dog, Anna?
Then, I rememberÖyou died.
It canít be true.
You are just not here right now.
You are hunting or at a horse show.
Youíll be home soon.
I put on your favorite shirt.
The yellow and blue plaid shirt you wear to church.
It is so big, it goes all the way to my knees.
And the sleeves are a foot too long.
I take some nausea medicine and a tranquilizer.
I start looking for Anna.
I find her at the back of our master closet.
The place she hides when there is a big thunder storm.
The place she hides when she is afraid.
Under all your hanging clothes,
I find her shaking and terrified.
I grab your favorite pillow and
I crawl into the bottom of the closet.
Your smell is so strong in here.
Holding her, shaking and terrified
We stay together all night in the back of the closet.
The day after you died.
There is a huge thunderstorm hitting our house.
It hits with the same intensity that I feel.
Our neighborhood is being ruined by a massive hail storm.
It destroys our roof and your garden.
You love your garden of roses, gardenias and lilies.
Even though we have a sprinkler system,
You stand for hours with the hose, watering each plant.
Your green thumb and tender care kept us in flowers almost year round.
But today, I sit on the bed and watch the baseball sized hail hit each rose bush.
Your Easter lilies are destroyed, there are none left standing.
Your beautiful gardenias are stripped of their blooms.
I think that the whole world,
No the whole universe is crying so hard that
The clouds just canít hold back the heaviness of this day.
I have lost you, our garden and our roof
In the same 24 hours.
It feels as if each piece of hail is hitting me.
I take more nausea medicine.
Maggieís car was damaged by the hail, but I canít remember why her car is here.
But your truck was not damaged.
They were sitting side by side, in front of the house
And your truck should have been ruined.
But it didnít have a scratch.
How can that be?
The whole neighborhood was destroyed.
But the truck you loved so much was untouched.
The funeral home calls and tells me to bring clothes.
I need to select a suit, shirts, boxers, socks, tie, but no shoes.
You died yesterday and today I am in our closet
On the floor, screaming, and falling apart.
I canít do this.
I need you to tell me what you should wear.
You always liked a sports jacket more than a suit.
Then I realize I can let the suit go, you wore it so rarely.
But I canít let your sports jacket go because it smells like you.
I put the jacket on and lie on the floor of our closet and cry.
Can this wait until tomorrow?
Can I bring the clothes then because I donít think I can drive?
People keep calling, wanting me to make hotel reservations for them.
Most of these people have their companies.
Donít they realize that you just died?
ďIím sorry but I just lost my husband, can you make your own hotel reservations?
No I am sorry, I canít help you. Forgive me, but I think I am going to be sick.
Could you call someone else, please, because I can't even breathe right now?Ē
I canít quite throwing up and they want me to make hotel reservations.
I quit answering the phone, again.
Anna and I crawl back into the closet while the phone and doorbell rings.
We will spend another night in here.
It is so safe and it smells so much like you.
The closet doesnít expect anything of me,
So we lie down under your clothes again.
Itís day two, Friday, May 5.
We had a special day planned today---itís my birthday.
Do you remember?
I was going to take my first day of vacation.
We had planned on sleeping late.
Giving the nurses a day off, and
Spending the day together in bed.
We were going to eat and drink everything we shouldnít.
But you died 2 days ago, on Wednesday.
Now, today is my birthday
And I am at the funeral home.
My birthday will never be the same.
It will forever be remembered as
The day I planned your funeral.
I drive alone to the funeral home.
I shouldnít be driving, but what choice do I have?
No one in the family would think to help me.
Yes, they are suffering, but they have each other.
I have never been so alone and so forgotten.
I have never had some many expecting me to perform the impossible.
I am walking through a sea of decisions.
What casket, flowers, music, scripture?
I walk into a room full of caskets in total denial that one is for you.
I select one that is a natural light oak stain.
You hated, truly hated, dark wood and mahogany.
You said it was depressing and made a room feel cold and old.
So I picked the strong, solid, natural oak
Strong, solid, natural just like you.
But, I still donít believe that this is for you.
I am talking to you in my head.
Nobody can hear me, but I am begging you to make this go away.
ďMy Beloved, today is my birthday.
You ordered our special cake for me.
We phoned ahead and ordered prime rib from Stonegate.
If we donít get home weíll miss my birthday dinner.
Honey, letís just go home,
Iím tired and I canít do this,
Please take me home.
Letís get in the truck and go home.
Youíll need to drive because I am so tired.
We have to stop this nightmare.
Honey, please take me home.Ē
I made a mistake about the casket.
Someone should have helped me.
Hadnít the funeral home had this happen before?
I didnít think about the width of the casket.
Your shoulders are too broad for the casket we selected.
Why didnít the man at the funeral home tell me about the width?
I canít judge how wide caskets are, especially today.
I didnít even think about it.
But, why am I surprised?
How could a man that is larger than life,
Fit into a typically sized casket?
The funeral director tell me that the mortician can make you "fit" in the casket, but you wonít look natural.
How does anyone look natural when they are dead?
Who looks natural in a casket?
They ask if I want to postpone the funeral and order a larger casket.
It would take 5 more days.
But, everyone is already flying in.
The obituary is already in the paper and on the internet.
No, we canít postpone the funeral.
You said you can make the casket we selected work?
Yes, we can, but I need to tell you what has to be done to your husband.
Do it, but I donít want to know what you do or how it is done.
Donít ever tell me anything about how you made this work.
Never mention this to me again.
Did your husband want to be buried?
No. He didnít ever want to be put in the ground.
He said he had buried too many horses to have that done to his body.
You made me promise that I would never let anyone put you in the ground.
"Sweetheart, do you promise, will you do that for me?"
"Yes, my Beloved, but what about the rest of the family?
Will they understand?"
You laughed, "My family has never understood me. They will think more about their needs and wants than mine. Please do this for me."
I tell the funeral director that you will not ever be buried.
He wanted to be cremated.
Now another decision, we need something to put your ashes in.
We go into a room full of urns.
This is crazy, this must be the wrong room.
These urns and boxes are too small.
How could your ashes amount to no more that a few cups?
I select the largest wooden urn they have.
It has a cross on it.
You are with Jesus,
And now I am to pick up my cross and follow Him.
Someone please help me pick up this cross.
Remember me, I am the woman crumbled on the floor.
I am so weak and tired.
I canít seem to remember why I am here.
My Beloved, you were always my strength and confidence.
Will there be a viewing?
Yes, but only for the family.
Where will we hold the service?
How many people do you expect?
The funeral home chapel will be too small.
Our home church is already booked for something else.
So we end up in the wedding chapel
At the church where you were baptized.
Our first church is where I will say my last goodbye.
We need someone to play the piano.
We need bagpipes to play Amazing Grace.
Yes a Scottish kilt should be worn.
What casket spray do you want?
Red roses, for the Kentucky Derby.
The Derby is tomorrow on Saturday.
We were going to spend the day watching the Derby.
Now I have to finalize writing the funeral program to be given out.
And put together a DVD with the pictures of your life.
When I was writing the obituary,
I realized that I have to write that you are ďsurvived byĒ your loving wife and family.
Why do they use the word survived?
I am not surviving, I am drowning
But no one notices.
Your loving wife is going under, but she canít seem to die.
I go home while the funeral home gets you ready.
I am to go back in a couple of hours to make sure everything is as it should be.
The door bell continues to ring with flowers.
I donít know where to put all the flowers.
The house is filling up.
The phone wonít stop ringing.
I keep thinking you will call me and check on me.
To make sure Iím doing ok.
ďMy Beloved, where are you?
I need to hear your voice.
I carry my cell phone with me from room to room, just in case.
I crawl in bed with my phone and finally go to sleep for a couple of hours.
I am so tired and I am so sick at my stomach.
I quit answering the door.
I take the phone off the hook.
My cell phone finally rings, but it is the funeral home.
It is time for me to go back.
I know I shouldnít be driving.
Iím shaking from head to toe.
ďMy Beloved, I am so afraid and alone.
What if this is real?
What if you are really in that casket?Ē
I go in and ask for you.
And tell a woman Iím your wife.
Sheís been expecting me.
She takes me into their chapel.
Itís the largest room they have.
At the end of this room is a casket.
It is open but I canít see if you are in it.
She leaves me alone.
I start to walk up the aisle.
There is someone in the casket.
But it is not you.
Relief rushes over me.
Thatís not your face, is it?
The nose looks familiar.
But that is not your head.
This body is so pale.
Itís not my husband.
I start to back away.
I am so relieved.
For the first time I take a deep breath
And slowly exhale.
Yes, this has all been a big mistake
I walk out and tell the woman that is not you.
She smiles sadly.
She seems like she has heard that before.
She takes my arm and says ďLetís go see.Ē
Now we are walking up the aisle again.
She asks me if I see anything that is familiar.
Yes, he has a suit like that and the exact shirt and tie.
Yes, those look like his hands.
She says, ďMany people donít recognize their spouse after they have died.
Honey, this is your husband. Iíll leave you alone now.Ē
Oh no, it is starting again.
The room is spinning out of control
Iím alone and someone is in a casket.
Everything is dissolving away again, everything but the casket.
I want to close my eyes
But I have to know if this is you.
Yes, this body was yours, but it is not you.
That is your nose, your eye brows, your lips
Those are your hands, but it is not you.
In all my life, I have never seen anyone so changed.
Iíve been to at least 50 funerals
But Iíve never seen such an empty body.
This time I canít hold you.
I canít climb in next to you and put my head on your shoulder.
Iím shaking again.
I lightly touch your forehead, then your hands.
You are so cold, even your clothes are cold.
They have your hands folded over each other
So I canít even hold your hand.
Something is wrong, something is missing.
Thatís itÖyour freckles
Oh no! They have makeup on your face.
You would have hated that.
Iím glad we are having a closed casket.
I should have told them about the makeup.
But it never occurred to me that anyone would ever dare put makeup on you.
I want to get a washcloth and wash your face
Yes, this was my husbandís body, but my husband is gone.
Our spirit makes up so much more of who we are than we realize.
Your spirit is gone and Iíll never see the real you again.
Not until God allows me to pass over to join you.
I get a chair and put it beside you.
I read you the program that I wrote for your service.
I read you the obituary that I wrote for the paper.
I wonder if you can hear me when I talk to you.
Yes, you are in heaven but can you hear me?
I know the Lord can hear me,
But I wonder if you are allowed to listen to me.
This will be the last time I can talk to you, my love.
This is the last time I will ever be alone with your body.
No one is here but me and I am grateful for that.
I put my head down on the side of the casket and cry.
I cry longer and louder than I have ever cried in my life.
I realize I have stained the lining of the casket with my tears .
I donít care, these are my tears and this is your body.
I sit and talk to you for 3 hours.
The funeral home is closing, I have to leave.
ďMy Beloved, how can I leave you?
How much more can we be ripped apart?
How can I go on without you?Ē
I want to take your body home
Isnít that crazy?
Yes, I am going crazy.
Iím thinking Iíll just ask them to bring you home.
Iíll settle for just having your body with me.
Yes, I am more than a little crazy at this moment.
I wonder if my life will ever stop spinning out of control.
It is time for me to go homeÖfor my birthday.
So here I am alone in our home that we loved so much.
There is nothing spectacular about our home, but it is ours.
You picked out the furniture with great encouragement from me.
ďMy Beloved, what do you like?
Pick out what you want.
Iíll like what ever you want to get.
This is an adventure. Yes, Honey you can decide.Ē
Remember when we picked out our dishes and flatware.
You had the best time.
You were so glad that it was all new and if anything broke you wouldnít get in trouble.
You wanted no china or antiques.
You said, ďYou have made me so happy. I love shopping with you.Ē
What happened to you during all those years before me
That would make dishes mean so much to you?
And life goes on for everyone else.
Anna and I are here alone and
I just donít know how much more my heart can take.
Iím so tired but I canít sleep.
I am standing on the edge of something too deep for me to comprehend.
Couldnít I just fall over this edge of grief and wake up where you are My Beloved?
I feel so much but I cannot say a word.
I am screaming inside, but I know that no one will ever hear me.
I remember when you were sick we would say to each other,
ďLetís just take it one day at a time.Ē
Now, I am doing well to make it one hour at a time.
I cannot quit crying no matter how hard I try.
Even in my sleep, I wake up to find my eyes caked with tears.
Your pillow is soaked with my tearsÖwhen will this stop?
Iíve cried so much that I had to have a special pair of glasses made.
My doctor says my eyes are under too much stress and they canít keep up.
That pretty much sums up my life right now,
Too much stress, and I canít keep up.
We are having the visitation at the funeral home today.
Time for your friends to come by and pay their respects.
First, we have lunch at our house for the family.
Val and Gail brought enough food for an army.
But, I am so sick, and
I canít get rid of the nausea
Or the permanent knot in my stomach.
The family briefly stops by the house.
I feel like I am a piece of your shadow that no one can see.
I go in the bathroom and throw up again.
When I come back into the den.
Everyone is gone.
Thank God for Karen.
She calls and said she figured everyone left without me.
She sends Kathy to pick me up.
We have a viewing just for family members.
We want to close the casket before everyone else comes in.
Since all the family has seen you
The funeral director says it is time for me to close the casket.
I turn to tell everyone that they need to say goodbye now.
I realize that no one is in the room with me.
I donít know where they went.
There is no one to help me do the impossible.
How do I say goodbye to you?
You are my heart, my breath, my life.
Iím glad we are alone for one last moment.
I whisper in your ear,
ďI will always love you, wait for me, I wonít be long.
What do I do now? Where is the other half of my heartbeat?
Go with God, my Beloved, and thank you for loving me.Ē
I must fold up the lining over your head and arms
And close the casket forever.
I touch your hands,
I touch your face,
I kiss your forehead,
I kiss each eye.
I lightly kiss your lips one last time.
I will never be able to look at your face again.
This is it, this is final.
I gently tuck the lining in around you.
I place our private anniversary card and the words to our song in the casket.
I close the lid.
Father, I want to die.
Dear God, please let me go to where he is.
Jesus, donít leave me behind.
Please let me go with him.
So many of our friends came today.
Over one hundred people showed up at your visitation.
I have never known anyone as loved as you.
Karen and Ken helped me put your saddles and pictures next to your casket.
Ken Sauer helped me with your hats.
We had you western show hat and your English show hat, but
Mostly we had your hunting hats.
How could a man wear so many hats in his life?
Only you, my love, could have lived life so fully.
You loved every day and everyone you ever met.
Bob and Rhett came today and they were wonderful.
I couldnít have made it through today with out them.
I donít think they know that, but it is true.
Cherry could not come today, but she will be here tomorrow.
When did Rhett grow so tall and handsome?
When did he develop such a tender heart?
Rhett has this incredible hug that seems capable of holding me up.
I am only one step from crumbling to the floor.
Just knowing they are here, helps me make it through.
The funeral director pulls me aside and says we canít have a funeral without a death certificate.
He said none of the doctors at the hospital would sign it.
Because they didnít see you die.
Dear God, I donít need this right now.
I thought someone had to pronounce the time of death and write it on the record.
I ask, ďThey saw his lifeless body, why wouldnít the doctors sign your death certificate,?
Because of malpractice and medical liability?
Are you serious? This is a really sick joke.Ē
You have been dead for 5 days.
You died on Wednesday and this is Sunday.
He says, ďLegally you are not dead.
And we cannot conduct the funeral until I get the certificate signed.Ē
Dear God, it is Sunday, the day before my husbandís funeral,
I must find someone to sign the certificate?
Amazingly, I turn around and Bob is standing there.
ďBob, will you sign his death certificate?Ē
ďOf course!Ē And our beloved Bob goes upstairs and signs the paper.
Our family doctor, our dear friend, leaves with tears in his eyes to make it official.
Now you are legally dead.
Someone tells me how brave and strong I am.
I want to scream or hit the wall or break a window
The only reason I have ever been brave or strong is because of you.
Our love was one of biblical proportions and promises.
He made us one, so together we could support each others weaknesses or fears.
Now I must face it all alone.
I know the Lord is with me, but I am too hurt and brokenhearted to sense Him.
It is time to close the funeral home.
I try to talk to everyone, but I am only one breath away from passing out.
They are leaving and so is the family.
Everyone is going to go meet at a restaurant for dinner.
Donít they remember that my house if full of food?
Val and Gail spent hundreds of dollars to feed us.
ďDonít you want to come to our house and eat?Ē
ďDonít you want to get away from home and meet us for dinner?Ē
They canít be serious.
How is it possible to go out into the public without falling apart?
I just want to go to home.
I donít remember how I got home tonight.
I just know I was at the funeral home
And then I was at home.
No one came to the house.
They all went out.
No one even calls me to see if I am ok.
I put on your shirt and go join Anna.
She is in her hiding place,
At the back of our master bedroom closet.
And again tonight it is just Anna and me
Sleeping on the floor under your clothes again.
Both of us are shaking from head to toe.
Neither of us can sleep in our bed.
Dr. Mock, our beloved Bob, asked me if I was asking myself ďwhyĒ?
I told him no, that I was glad for you.
You didnít have to waste away not knowing who you were or where you were.
You never experienced pain or the other symptoms of cancer.
I do ask why not me, too?
Why canít I go home, Lord?
Why do you want me to stay in a place that is not my home?
My love, you were my home.
I was always at home with you no matter where we were.
And now I dream about going home.
I just want to leave this earth to be with you and Jesus.
Who am I now, Lord?
You made us one.
So that leaves me as half a person.
Death is such a gift, one I have wished for many times in my life.
But not after I met My Beloved.
He loved living and life more than anyone I have ever known.
He is missed.
I wouldnít be.
The Bible says, ďDeath where is thy victory, death where is thy sting?Ē
For those who die there is no victory or sting,
But for the ones left behind the victory and sting is real.
I know it is wrong to question You, Lord.
But I canít get my head and heart to understand that my husband is gone
And Iím not.
I know I must count my blessings.
I am thankful that My Beloved was in no pain and didnít suffer.
I thank You Lord that You loved him so much that You delivered him from the pain and suffering.
I am grateful that You provided for us financially because My Beloved was so loved.
I am thankful for the finances You made available to me.
I am grateful for my dog, Anna.
I am grateful for my home and having a roof over my head.
But, the very depths of my heart are filled with desperation.
Iíve done all that I can do.
Iím trying to do my part.
Iím trying so hard to pull myself up and out.
But this goes much deeper than words can express.
Lord Iíve called out to You daily
But your silence is as loud as my tears.
When will I feel joy again?
When will I laugh again?
I went to dinner with my friends
But I felt like they were speaking in a language that I couldnít understand.
I know they care and want to help me.
But what do I tell them.
What can I say when I canít even smile?
I canít get my language to work.
Iím not a ďweĒ or an ďusĒ anymore.
ďOurĒ things are now ďmyĒ things.
How is it possible that I am a ďMrs.Ē but I am no longer married?
Lord where is my family?
Who is my family?
Most widows have children or an immediate family to help them cope.
But I donít have anyone here.
What happened to the peace that passes all understanding?
The whole time that My Beloved was sick
That peace helped me make it through each day.
I couldnít have made it without that peace.
But where is it now?
Where are my dreams for the rest of my life?
Where is my hope for my tomorrows?
Who do I plan my tomorrows with?
Without a dream the people will perish?
Lord, I am perishing without at least a small dream or some kind of hope.
The opposite of mourning is joy?
It feels like I will never feel joy again.
I thank you Lord that You have taught me to walk by faith and not feelings.
But I must talk to You truthfully and bluntly about my sorrow and misery.
You have designed me to have a personal relationship with You.
But I am too hurt to sense Your presence.
I stand on are the promises You have given in Your Word.
Your funeral is today.
And once again, I donít know how I will get to the church.
I could call Christie and Henry but I canít remember where I put their number.
Thank God for my brother Bill, and Myrt.
They showed up this morning, having driven in the early hours from Waco.
Thank you God, I have a ride to the church.
I feel so alone God.
I feel like my life is a glass of water being poured in the ocean.
A life that will not be noticed or ever make a difference again.
We arrive at the church but
The funeral should have started by now.
Why are we waiting?
We are waiting for Buddy to show up.
Heís late, again.
Lisaís here, but not Buddy.
You had vowed that you were never going to waste
Another minute of your life waiting on Patrick Swayze.
So, I tell everyone we are going to start without him.
I remember my brother Bill walking me into the church.
I wish he had been there to walk with me to you at our wedding.
Iím shaking so badly I canít see or think.
Iím crying so hard, I canít see through my glasses.
I pray that I wonít throw up again, especially now.
I know that Rhett and Cherry are sitting behind me.
I reach back and hold Rhettís hand.
I wish I knew my brother well enough to hold his hand.
Several people speak but I canít understand what they are saying.
Someone hands me a flag for your service in the military.
They call up the pallbearers.
They take your casket out of the church.
I canít remember where we are going.
I am directed to follow the casket.
I am gripping the flag with all my strength.
I hear bagpipes playing Amazing Grace but I canít see who is playing.
We walk out the front of the church.
The pallbearers put your casket in the hearse.
Everyone said it was so beautiful and meaningful.
I remember so little.
The funeral is over.
My brother asks me where to put all the flowers.
Over 100 flower arrangements were sent to you.
I want all of them put in our house.
He leaves to open our home.
Did I warn him about Anna?
I ask Ken and Karen to get the saddles, hats, and the pictures.
Lisa takes Myrt and me to the back of the church to the Youth building.
Steve sponsored a luncheon after the funeral.
My most prominent memory of lunch that day is sitting without any of your family.
All of your family, Buddy, Lisa, everyone from South Carolina
Are on one side of the room and I am on the other.
Myrt is sitting with me now and my brother is back from the house.
He tells me that he had to put about 25 sprays in the backyard.
The house is completely full of flowers.
Your words come back to me, my belovedÖ
ďNever expect anything from anyone and you will never be disappointed.Ē
I messed up, I expected to be included.
I walk over to introduce Bill to Chanís family.
But they are busy talking to the rest of family.
Lisa looks startled when she sees me and says, ďI forgot that you were here.Ē
Really, I am My Belovedís wife.
Then Marcy hugs me and says, ďWe forgot all about you.Ē
I can see that.
There are so many people laughing.
Everyone is making plans to visit each other.
Bill, Myrt, Please take me home.
I donít belong here anymore.
I donít know where I belong.
Bill and Myrt take me home.
Lisa brings in wonderful food.
It keeps me alive for the next 2 weeks.
They all have to leave and drive back to Waco.
They have to work tomorrow.
Oh God, what happens tomorrow?
Please come and take me home.
I feel like I am in a world that doesnít know me anymore.
You were the only one who truly knew me.
All I have left is our memories.
But I need more than memories.
I need your smell.
I need to touch your skin.
I need to look into your eyes
And see that sparkle again.
I will always love you.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
For one day past eternity.
But Honey, how do I get past today?
My Beloved, I donít want to be alone.
I donít know how to be alone.
But I donít want anyone else around me.
I have quit answering the phone.
Everyone who calls wants to know how I am.
They want me to say that I am fine.
But Iím not.
I donít want to hear the words they say to try make me feel better.
I donít want to hear that I am strong.
I donít want to be strong.
I donít want to hear that you are in a better place.
I know you are but I want to be in that place with you.
I donít want to hear that you didnít have to suffer.
I am glad you didnít have to suffer but I wasnít ready for you to leave.
I am not ready for you to be gone and it has been 4 months.
I donít want to hear that I will marry again.
I donít want anyone else but you.
You were always all I needed.
And I need you more now that ever before.
I donít want to hear that time is a great healer.
Time is killing me.
I am realizing that every minute will always be without you.
I donít want to hear that you will never leave me that you will live on in my memories.
I didnít have enough time to make enough memories
For the rest of my life.
I donít want to hear that they know what I am going through.
I am sure they have experienced grief.
But they donít know what I am going through.
I donít even know what is happening to me.
I donít care if I get out of bed.
I donít care if I eat or bathe.
I just donít care.
Everything in my life is gone because you were my life.
How do I get another life?
I donít want any other life but ours.
I cremated your body today.
I am alone, watching as your casket is put into the furnace.
Your earthly body, which I loved more than my own life,
Is now forever beyond my reach.
The funeral director said it would take 4 hours for stage one of the cremation.
Then it would start over and take another 16 hours.
ďDonít you want to go home?
You donít want to stay the whole time.Ē
ďYes, I will stay until the crematorium closes.
This is my husband, and I will sit with his body for as long as I can.Ē
Even in heaven, I will never know your earthly body again.
Now your ashes will be put in a wooden box and
Someday my ashes will join yours.
I keep having the same dream.
I can see you ahead of me but I canít catch up.
I am swimming through thick moss and branches keep holding me back.
You are happy, laughing, calling my name, telling me to hurry.
But I canít reach you and then you are gone.
I look everywhere for you and I call out your name.
I must be screaming and crying because Anna wakes me up by licking my tears.
She now sleeps on my side of the bed.
And I now sleep where you always slept.
I donít know if she understands that you are gone.
She rushes to the door as often as I do.
She must understand because she saw you die.
Thatís why I found her in the back of our closet the day you died,
Shaking like there was a thunderstorm outside.
Yes, Anna this is the worst storm we will ever know
Because it will never end.
I think God that I have you, Anna.
Your are my family now.
Dear God, she is getting so old.
Will you take her from me too?
I heard that the head of the deacons didnít want the elders to go and pray for the sick any more
Since after they prayed for you, you died.
He is afraid that they would be providing the sick with false hope.
I wonder what Jesus would think of that?
Does He know that He is considered to be false hope?
If the elders in the church donít believe in Him then why are they elders?
You and I both experienced physical healing in our lives.
There was no false hope, just belief and relief.
Momma Kitty disappeared the week you died.
Her grown kitten, Stripes, has been crying ever since.
For 3 months now, he sits on our patio and calls for her.
He goes all over the neighborhood looking for her.
I hope that someone took her in and gave her a home.
If she had died, I think Stripes would know.
But nothing can ease his sorrow or his aloneness.
I try to hold him and tell him that everything will be ok.
But we both know that it is not ok.
We both will never see the ones we love again as long as we are alive.
I understand his cryingÖit is as loud as mine.
Each time I hear him crying I run out to hold him.
But nothing I do or say can soothe his broken heart.
Thatís how I feel
There are no words or actions that can give me relief.
Youíre ashes are ready.
The funeral home says I can come and pick them up now.
I go to get what is left of you.
I didnít expect the box to be so heavy.
This container is so little I donít know how they got your ashes in it.
But it is so heavy I can barely carry it to the car.
Ok Lord, now what?
It is your birthday today, My Beloved.
No one called.
I called Stanley for you and left a message on their answering machine.
You both shared the same birthday and you called him every year.
Then I went to the drug store
And out of habit, I went to cards section.
I just stared at them.
I realized I would never buy you another card.
I felt the knot in my stomach tighten a little bit more.
I will never be surprised with a bouquet of flowers again.
Or a special card from you.
I canít breath.
I canít move.
I just fall into a million pieces again.
And no one in the store noticed.
How many people do we pass everyday that are falling apart?
Do I notice? Do you?
I sit alone everywhere I go now.
I sit alone in the car.
I sit alone at church.
Itís the weekends I miss the most.
Saturday sleeping late holding you close.
You making our coffee and drinking it in bed.
Talking together for hours.
Sunday hearing you sing with me at church.
A weekend filled with nothing special.
Just the special way we were with each other.
I finally sat in your chair today.
It took me 5 months to be able to do it.
I never realized how big it was.
I never knew it could be so empty.
It had dust on the leather.
And I thought,
How is this possible?
How did I get to this day?
I canít get my heart to understand.
God knows how this will all end and that everything will work out.
But he can still see me crying and can feel my pain.
He knows that the living are left to carry on each day.
He knows you are perfect and happy.
But he knows how much I miss you.
And how much I want to go home.
My head understands that my time is not over yet.
But my heart aches to go home now.
The Lord showed me something todayÖ
I put up humming bird feeders
And each day I sit and watch them feed.
There is one bird that guards all the feeders.
He wonít let the others feed if he can stop them.
I wish I could explain to him that I will give them as much food as they need.
But he doesnít even know that I am here to help him have food.
He is afraid of me.
He is afraid of losing what he hasÖjust like me.
He doesnít know that I just want to be able to watch them.
I wish I could tell him that I am a friend.
And I want to tell him that I will provide more than he needs.
I want to marvel at the workmanship of the hands of the Creator.
I want to learn from them.
I realized today that the Lord wants to give me all that I need.
He wants to see me.
He wants me to be safe and secure.
He wants to know me.
He wants me to know that He wants these things for me.
He wants me to know that He desires to be my everything.
The Lord of all creation wants to show His love for me.
I must get past this pain and grief so that I can sense His presence.
I want to feel Him, to hear Him, to rest in Him.
I want Him to dry my tears and help me feel loved again.
I want Him to give me joy and laughter again.
But every time I walk into our home I fall apart.
It is so hard to get up without you.
I miss our coffee, reading our scripture and praying together.
I had to move your clothes out of our closet.
I put them in the front bedroom.
I couldnít get dressed with them in there without falling apart.
I would smell your clothes and cry for you.
I wear your shirts and T-shirts around the house.
There are so many memories surrounding your clothes.
I can remember each time you wore each piece.
When I come in the house it is so silent.
Our house that was so full of life and sounds.
Now it is so quiet that it is deafening.
Unless you could hear this type of silence
I donít think you could understand what it is like.
It is so quiet I can hear my own heart beat.
I can hear myself breathe.
At the grocery store, I find myself looking for all the food you love most.
I come home with canned soup and crackers.
And as I microwave my soup,
I realize that I will always eat alone, now.
You have gone ahead, my Beloved.
Where time is not measured or considered.
But here, each second and each minute, rips my heart into a million little pieces.
In an instant, your were gone.
Leaving me to continue my life alone for what looks like forever.
The next 50 pages are being written and will be posted soon.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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