I began this post a few weeks ago and it started out like this:
There are some days that I forget all that we’ve been through.
I should clarify. It’s not that I forget Jeremy. There isn’t a moment that passes by, an experience or even a thought that doesn’t include my awareness of his absence (and longing for his presence). So I’ll rephrase that opening line …
There are some days that I forget what I once pictured our life looking like, had we not gone through all of this.
This new normal feels all too normal. Jeremy’s death is becoming an ingrained part of our history, a finished thing. I forget from time to time that there is a constant undercurrent of sorrow that is ours even still; and because I don’t always feel it, I forget that it is a grief that needs attention. I know that if it weren’t for the fact that my life has been placed in God’s hands grief could take the upper hand. Instead, there are days that are filled with more joy and life and “okay-ness” than I sometimes feel comfortable with. And I begin to wonder, have I somehow forgotten that I am a widow and that my boys are fatherless? It is then that I realize that faith has taken the upper hand.
Had I started this post this week, it would have begun differently. At the end of last week it felt like my head was barely above water with caring for the boys, myself and interacting with people in the midst of daily life. When I feel like that I crave Jeremy’s presence, his bolstering, his conversation, his help. So, to feel nearly underwater in so many ways, causing me to miss him even more, my heart and mood are in a precarious position. One minute, it feels like I’ve forgotten what it was like to have him here and the next moment, I’m aware that I have not forgotten one single thing. My heart buckles. And a part of me wishes I could just forget that this is our story, our history, our loss and our life, and deny that our conversations will always be about him, never with him. Some days it seems as though it’s always been that way. But other days, for whatever reason, I again take in the reality that it will now always be that way.
I know the load I have to carry weighs a ton because some days I’ve carried it myself, and those aren’t good days. The best days are the days I hand it over to Christ. I tell Him it’s heavy and I’m tired. He says, it was never intended for you to carry. Why don’t I take this, and I’ll give you something lighter. And then I remember that there’s more to this story than I can see. Remind me, Jesus. Remind me. Remind me that there’s more going on than I can see and that You care to carry the load.
The boys began school two weeks ago and they are doing well. They were placed with amazing teachers and some really close friends as classmates. Aedan began fourth grade, Eli’s in second grade and Jo Isaac began half-day Kindergarten. They are growing up. I’ve never been one to shed tears over that; I take joy in seeing them grow and watching them become. But I have to grow and become as a parent as well–to figure out how to walk a bit ahead of them so I can guide them, listen to their struggles, dig deeper, see to the core of the issue and walk with them through it. It is difficult, to say the least. On certain days, I find myself still tempted to question God and His wisdom and say, Do you know, LORD, how much grace you’ll have to bestow upon me to be able to raise these boys into young men? Just what were You thinking? I had no brothers growing up (though I always wanted one) and my dad, though extremely significant to me, was not as integral as was meant to be; I lived solely with my mom and sister from 8th grade on. Here I am now with three sons and all I can say is thank goodness they have each other and praise God that He says His grace is sufficient; it will be enough for me and for them. In those private moments with my Maker–sometimes in joy, sometimes in sorrow–I say, LORD, You know what You’re doing. We’re yours. I trust You. Then I try to live out my days like I believe that.
I made the decision mid-summer to return to school this fall. So as of last week I’m a full-time student at Crown College, through their online program, finishing my Bachelors of Science. It won’t be in nursing, but the degree will incorporate many of those credits that I’ve already earned. I’m not shutting the door on the possibility of nursing down the road, but I’m making what I’ve already worked towards matter more in the meantime. I really believe this is good for me in this season, despite how much work it is. I’m riveted by the learning, the in-depth study and the awakening of parts of my brain that haven’t been used in a while. Though it’s intense it’s refreshing as well. And I’m hopeful that this transition will prove to be foundational for whatever God has for us in the future.
This coming year will be busy. At the close of last week, I briefly questioned whether I had possibly committed us as a family to too much–my schooling, the boys’ schooling and activities for the boys that have us out of the house almost every evening of the week. And I thought about what activity we’d pull out of, if we had to, and nothing seemed to come to mind; I think everything we’re doing right now is purposeful. I think it all matters. And this may just be me with my fists pounding into ABBA’s chest but I think, why should the boys have to miss out on things that nurture their bodies, hearts and minds just because I’m parenting alone? They are already missing out on Jeremy; why should they have to miss out on more of what it is to be a boy, to grow, to experience new things and to meet new people? If it means I carry a heavier load (or have to practice more the laying down of my load to pick up Christ’s) I want it for them. And if ever all the activity seems to cause more harm than good, we’ll pull out of it, I promise. (I don’t do well living in chaos for long).
I do still hope to write. Unfortunately, a lot of my writing in the next several months probably won’t be blog material. But the process of writing what fills this space has brought about an immense amount of good for my heart. I know there’s more of that to encounter.
Thank you for always being near. Please continue in your prayers for the boys and me as I lead them (and as He leads us). Blessings.