About a year ago, I began making a list of all that needed to be done. Tasks that I didn’t sign-up for were now mine to accomplish. Jeremy had passed away a month before and instead of coming up with creative gift ideas for his birthday, I was trying to think of creative ways to remember him. How does one go about not forgetting the one who breathed such life into mine for well over a decade? Not that I would ever choose to forget him, but what were you doing ten years ago? How many of the details do you remember about daily life? This was a person; my husband, nonetheless. I knew there would be things I would never forget, but I feared, even still, that there would be much that I would. And what about the boys—how would I help them to remember him? How do I go about deciding a month after his death (and now a year) what of Jeremy’s would be important to them years from now? Just how much of the past should we hold onto?
But those weren’t the only kinds of things on my mind. The list included more practical things as well—like unpacking hospital bags, going through drawers, making sure everything that was important on his computer was backed-up; the contacts on his phone, voice mail, text messages…what were the last text messages he sent me? Our finances: switching names and closing accounts and opening new ones. The living will that we had just completed as a couple was now void just months later; time to make a new one, without his name on it. We had two iPhones, two computers, two vehicles. Two was now one too many.
And the list was personal: what books had he been reading? What movies had he brought with him to the hospital that he never watched? His clothes—what do I do with them? Do I keep some of them for the boys or do I cut them to pieces to make quilts for them, or neither? The button down shirts that still had a scent of his cologne from a more formal outing, how long will that last? His shoes…would the boys ever want his shoes? The videos, the letters, the voice memos he left of himself reading scripture and stories to the boys so they could hear him reading to them—how was I to go about sharing that with them in the course of our everyday life?
And then, the music. This, he had spoken of. Finish it; have Grant and Brad do what they can to complete it. He was speaking of the Lutheran Liturgy project in particular. This was a daunting task. The studio was Jeremy’s domain. Completely his. And I wondered how I’d go about facilitating the completion of that project.
The whole process unfolded quite smoothly, but I will say, I had no idea what I was doing. So “thank you” to Brad Johnson and Grant Adams, the two who did know what they were doing; and to the musicians and friends that were a part of filling in the gaps…thank you.
Of that list that I started last summer, I haven’t crossed much of it off. I merged our computers into one. I switched iPhones with Jeremy’s because his was better (though his number is still up and running for now…maybe it’ll be Aedan’s number in a handful of years). An updated living will has been worked on but not finalized. I packed up most of his clothes into boxes but they’re still stacked from floor to ceiling in our closet because I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with them. There are still two shirts that carry the scent of a date night out with him. I rarely take the time to hold those shirts up to my face because the tears come so suddenly.
But when I look back at this past year, I have grieved. I have lived. I have remembered the past. I have lived as fully as possible in the present. I have claimed hope as mine for the future. And we managed to complete A Lutheran Liturgy. As of today, it’s available for purchase—hard copy or download—via the link below. I’m also including a link to the digital booklet for the album. There is more written there that gives a backdrop to the project. I’d love for you to read about it. And pay attention to the lyrics; many of them will be common to you, but Jeremy included some of his own–they are rich with life, promise, and hope. On my best days, those lyrics resonate so deeply. And on my worst days, those lyrics remind me of Whose I am.
Happy 37th Birthday, Jeremy. We finished it. It feels more like a gift from you to all of us. And it’s completely worth holding onto. Thank you.
Click here to purchase.