Circling the Runway

Holding patterns.

 

Our lives are circling the airport. It’s been two years of circling. We spent one circling cancer. The waiting and being, in the moment, proved grueling and beautiful.

It’s been a shocker to find ourselves again in the holding pattern. We got word from the tower on my birthday. Jobs changed and work that was, now does not exist. You know the drill, America, she knows the drill.

Big decisions had to be made and a sacrifice marred red on every one of the pro and con sheets. The question that hung heavy in the tension of our house, Which sacrifice will we make?

We prayed and fasted.

It’s a bummer when God speaks clearly but I make it an issue because His words aren’t the answer I’m looking for.

There are so many times when I am disappointed with my human response. My head knows how I should behave and yet I throw a temper tantrum.

My temper tantrums fuel the tank to circle longer.

I wish I could tell you that I have that childishness under control, go ahead… let’s all have a good belly laugh over the insanity of that statement.

When will I truly mature?

This is not my first time circling the airport. I can say that I have grown some. Previous holding patterns found me withdrawn and sullen. I have remained engaged, personally, with the folks around me.

This just means my tantrums are of a new nature and God and me, we are having to work them out. Thankfully, this God is in for the long haul even when this girl is ready to nose dive in fiery flames.

One Year

One Year.

So much can happen in one year.

Life happens in One Year.

We change in One Year.

Today is the Anniversary of our One Year.

I’ve been dreading this Anniversary.

For One Year it has loomed large on the horizon.

And, for One Whole Year I’ve been wishing for a fast forward button.

Damn, where is that fast forward button.

Why don’t emotions respond to direct commands.

I’ve lived this One Year.

I have felt it all, all for One Year.

I don’t stuff emotion well, I eat them.

I don’t connect well in the tumult of emotion, I hide.

I don’t sort emotion well, I explode.

But as I live this dreaded One Year Anniversary and I gaze back at the path to this day I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, We’ve (the little family that lost this Husband and Dad and Papa) accomplished.

We’re not as big a mess as I thought we’d be.

I’ve hid from my blog this One Year.

I felt you could only take so much of my wrestle with this One Year. Feel free to embrace the assumption based on my above comment, the real reason for silence, “She doesn’t connect well in a tumult of emotions, She Hides”.

You’d be right to make such an assumption.

I can be such a coward.

I’m back now.

Today I mourn.

The deepest, heart wrenching type of mourning. If you saw the  state of my heart you would weep too. Maybe you’ve already caught a glimpse in the words tear typed on the screen.

But Tomorrow.

Hope for a new horizon.

Tomorrow, I’m past this Anniversary and my heart senses the warmth of the sun on that new horizon.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

It’s been quite a Year.

Kelly

In it With You

The cursor blinks on this electronic diary. It’s been seven months since my last visit. I gladly stayed far away from this blank white space. At my exit of the funeral home last March I had two things facing me, a life I had put on hold that now demanded my attention and a future forever changed. I decided to wake up every day and tackle that day with a fist full of vitamins and a Gratitude Journal.

The vitamins have worked wonders.
And, daily choosing joy with 10 simple gratitude’s has made the journey to this 7 month mark,
This visiting again,
Here…
In this white space,
Well…
It’s made it all possible.

I have amazing days.

Then there are the days when my heart feels like a melted puddle in my chest and I can’t clean it up. I wish I was nicer on those days. I wish I didn’t miss him so on those days. On those days, I wish the world would stop and feel my loss. But it’s a busy world. It doesn’t have time to stop for my broken heart.

I have days that start great, I’ll plan a normal event and I forgot that he had been a natural part of that normal. I don’t know why, at times, I forget my loss. When memory jolts me to the change… it’s hard.

The jolt is 100,000 wattage to the heart. And I’m standing in a once normal event and I want to run from my memory, my loss. I am proud to say I’ve learned to stand and face the future minus Dad, this new normal, and hold the tears. It’s not until later that I crash in a quiet room and sob.

I have learned the emotional release in a sigh. It gets me through the grocery store music that surfaces memories of childhood. Through the inside jokes that bubble so naturally to my lips, but zap my heart because it’s an inside joke to me alone now.

I’m dripping my tears and ragged heart for you here. I guess I could apologize for a sad post, but I won’t. I think there is too much hurt that life barrels right past. Too many times I’ve run right past you and your broken heart and I am sorry for that.

Repeatedly my gratitude’s in that aforementioned journal are for the people who see the red rimmed watery eyes and offer me a look…. the one of compassion and knowing. I am grateful for the understanding human who pats my shoulder in remembrance, offers words of encouragement. These nurses of pain pull me through the jolted moments. I appreciate them.

I don’t know what’s left your heart in a pulped mess but let me be that for you today. Let me offer you a ragged watery grin, a pat on the shoulder with a loving embrace. I know it hurts, I’m in there with you.

Jolted Gratefulness:

1444. Seeing a motorcycle like Dad’s and remembering how much he loved to ride.

1445. Going to Amazing Glaze and reminiscing with the lovely women there about Dad and his pottery painting antics.

1446. The Scroll Saw coming to my house because it seems Dad made sure EVERYONE knew he had bought that for me.

1447. When she drops two laundry baskets of his clothing, that smells like him, at my house and I remember Dad in those clothes and I can’t not cry.

1448. That The Boy wants to hunt, fish, carry a pocket knife and that he is the kindred spirit to his Papa.

1449. A younger brother with a video camera asking hard questions about grief and he interviews me with tears pouring and my tears are pouring and we nurse each other in our pain.

1450. A Backyard Birthday Party for one of Dad’s Grand babies and the water balloon fight would have been started by him. His antics were missed but his spirit hovered in the fun.

Remarkable?

My Dad
It’s been weeks I’ve thought about what I would say on this day. How do you take the whole of a man’s life and impact the listener with the fullness of it in just a few minutes. I made a list of words, is there just one word that would describe the life of My Dad? 

It’s hard not to turn him into a saint and if you knew him you knew he was no saint. As a matter of fact, Dad was a transparent sinner. He sinned out in the open, for all to see. This was hard on the today’s American church. Dad just didn’t look like the common picture of that edifice. He was loud, he was politically incorrect, he told off color jokes, he hunted and rode a motorcycle and he came to church every Sunday with his wife and children, often sleeping soundly through the sermon.

So, as all the good is running through my mind coupled with the memory of this transparent sinner I grasped for a word to describe him. For days I’ve tossed around the thought, 

“What makes a man remarkable?” 

 Is he remarkable when he drops out of high school and finds a career he loves? 
When he goes on his knees in prayer to save the life of his unborn child? 
And, when that life is safe he joyfully marries and loves the mother, child and her little brother as well? 
Then he loves and pursues his wife for 38 years. 

Do we call this remarkable? 

And if he works the night shift and brings a paycheck home faithfully for his family those same 38 years? 
What if he makes it known to his wife and children that they are his favorite people to be with. Because he always wants to be with them, building a house, doing yard work, vacationing, stocking shelves late at night in the grocery store, or just running to 7-11? 

And, when he slips a disk in his back and refuses immediate surgery to bring relief from the pain because he won’t be able to walk his girl down the aisle on her wedding day?
Then delays that surgery again because he can’t let her drive an 8 hour trip alone on a new engine?

What if he gives his free time, every weekend, many hunting opportunities, to be with his son in prison on visiting day? If he does this for 6 solid years, 

is that remarkable?

And when his face is the picture of sheer delight each time he lays eyes on a new grandchild?
Do we count him remarkable when he will drive 45 minutes just to kiss them goodnight?
And what if I told you I have found picture after picture of his face turned away, turned toward a crying little one that he is comforting,

Remarkable?

Finally, when he is diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live he embraces his family, friends and begins to talk, like never before. 
 He tells of his love, his faith to all who listen. 
He demonstrates that faith more wholly to his family by his subdued anger, perseverance. 
When he holds on for 3 years in unspeakable pain because he wants to be with them, be part of the party, not miss a minute,

Is this remarkable?


These are just a few of the memories I’ve mulled for weeks now. You have to be careful though because if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the hidden hand in this picture of my Dad’s life.

Dad steamed through life, often getting it wrong before he got it right. The moments I listed are Dad getting it right. He often told me that he loved to hunt because God met him there amongst creation. I know God did because Dad had to be meeting God somewhere effecting the change in Dad so he could get it right.

There were many hard times with my Dad but what I think made him remarkable is how God met him and in  these encounters, he was changed.Dad went to heaven Monday evening and God was glad to bring home his transparent sinner.
I will miss my Dad, 

He was a man made remarkable by a remarkable God. 

You should know such a God.


I am grateful for all the remarkable moments:

1151.
That others miss him too and share in my loss.

1152.
A church where I can freely worship.

1153.
Quiet talks with The Man late in the eve.

1154.
A childhood friend who comes and is compassion and love and friendship.

1155.
Cool March day full of sun and wind.

1157. 
Kids running in and out full of life and laughter.

1158.
Amazing members of the church body of Christ who open their homes, bring food, love and serve. I am overwhelmed by the love.

1159. 
Family with stories that make me laugh and warm my bruised and battered heart.

1160.
Children who keep my electronics charged and up to date. A simple act of love in serving.
 

Confounding Question

“How Are You?”

Three little words.
They confound me.

My mind races to grasp what to say. My Dad is dying. Right now he lays in bed, eyes sunken, half lidded and we think he’s already seeing glimpses of heaven. His arms reach round like holding a beach ball, extending a hug to the unseen, maybe loved ones already on the other side.

“How Are You?”

Puzzled every time I’m asked. Three little words. I assume asked in reference to this life altering event, the dying of this integral man to my life. My mind filters through files and files of memories, moments and my face is frozen as my mind reaches to respond. I am lost how to respond.

“How Are You?”

And I am suspended in thought because I am well. The whole experience is beautiful. My own mind shocks at such a response. Loosing Dad is real. For days I’ve done mental cartwheels to understand how my response can be such. But what brings the tears? Why do I feel so overwhelmed that my chest is about to explode with it all?

“How Are You?”

I wrestle to put my finger on the factor, what is that one factor that does me in? What leaves me wracking with tears and gasping for breath?

And then I see it.
It’s Crystal clear.
This God, this creator, He keeps showing up. In a million tiny ways He keeps showing up to care and provide. And not just for me but for my children, my brother, our neighbors and I watch as this God gently loves The Man, tenderly cradles my broken Mom and this kind of love, it does me in.

I am in the midst of loss and the creator of the whole world keeps stepping in and caring for all these little people experiencing this loss.
It is overwhelming.
It is beautiful.
It is breathtaking.

This God, who gave His Son so I can dwell with my Dad on the other side. This swells in my chest and creates sobbing, wrenching tears. How can a being love me so much? How can he give so much so I can have so much? He just never stops giving.

“How Are You?”

It’s Ash Wednesday and the reality of mortality is nose to nose. So, I’m loading up my babies and we’re heading to church to worship this amazing God. It’s the least I can do as He carries me through this hard, hard life. I am honored to do it.

“How Are you?”

And now I ask my question of you. You see, I’ll be there one day. I’ll be reaching arms to hug Dad on the other side. I’ll rejoice as I enter God’s gates. I’ll worship at God’s feet holding tight to Dad’s hand. Yes, that’s going to happen one day.

Will you be there with me?

So, really, “How are you?”

Think on that question, the one that has confounded me for days, but first scroll to the bottom, pause the music then press play on the video and join me in processing the question:

Spilling

DSC_0380
Dad is a silent.
Mom is sad.
Hospice is amazing.
People who follow Jesus,
true disciples of Him,
they make me cry,
heal my heart,
make me long to deeper know my God and His Son.
My breaths come sharp.
Tears spill in odd places.
Children play and laugh and then hide in corners with silent tears streaming.
My even, steady Man has a fuzzy red that rims his deep, brown eyes.
I make meals to comfort souls.
I write words to capture the amazing beauty of this family,
on this journey.
We celebrate an 8 year old birthday and play with the newest family member.
We have journeyed to a cemetery to make arrangements.
We drank coffee afterwards,
so normal.
Normal will soon, forever change.
Soon my father will be past tense.
Oh, how I need the heavenly one to face the loss of the earthly one.
My God remains faithful.
His strong arm supports,
He is not shy to show His face.
My writing rhythm is shot.
My words won’t flow.
I’m focused on a family rhythm for now.
Cancer altered the lens.
Joy spills with the tears.
God is so good.

Impending Loss

Every thing makes me weepy. That’s the nature of loss. You feel it. Impending loss is cruel. It lingers in the foreground and in our case there is no arrival date. For 3 years now we’ve carried the best guess of this or that doctor.

I rejoice that the first declarations of our impending loss were way off base. That doctor gave us weeks. God responded with years. Blessed years so The Boy got to know my Dad, his Papa, better. Time spent together sharing things Dad wanted us all to know. He has told me so many wonderful things, he has spoken those kind of words we think in quiet moments but the joy of living finds few windows to speak them.

I come from a messy family. We sin and we sin hard. We love and we love deep. These are drastic spikes on the emotional scale. Is it any wonder we all struggle a bit with depression. You won’t find us coasting, we just don’t coast. My Dad never coasted. I love the story of his pursuit of my Mom. It was all in, hard pursuit. He’s told me many times how he loved her from minute one. He always told me he was a “one woman man” and he didn’t want anyone but her. Their 39 years have been hard fought. My brother and I have had box seats. It was war. I never cheered for a war more than I have on the sidelines of that marriage. They did it. The battleground they gained paved a path for my own marriage.

When Daddy realized the nature of his cancer he went about telling us all what he wanted us to know. One day he sat me down to tell me the story of my birth. Now, I have heard the story of my near abortion. My mom has shared over and over again the divine intervention that occurred in an abortion clinic while lying on a sterile metal table. The voice that she heard, almost assuredly audible, telling her if she had this baby God would take care of her. It changed Mom’s life forever and her faith, in that moment, gave me a chance at life. Yes, this story I had been told but I had never heard it from my Dad’s point of view.
 
It was a bright sunny day and Dad still looked like himself. He had lost a lot of weight but he was his usual rugged handsome, wearing his favorite levis and standard harley shirt. He sported his signature mustache and on his neck a bandage covering where he had recently had a port inserted under his skin for upcoming treatments. He wanted to have a heart to heart talk. We were just facing the reality of cancer. I was full of hope yet the impending loss already dangled large in our future. The hope side of me longed to silence his words. They felt like goodbyes. He was insistent so I sat across from him on the couch to listen.

“Honey, I want to tell you about your birth. I have never told you my side and I want you to know.”

I wish with all my heart I had gotten the video camera out. I regret I didn’t put him on hold and do just that. He proceeded to again share his love for Mom. How it was the summer before her senior year of high school when she told him she was pregnant. He responded with great joy. He told me how excited it made him. He wanted to get married. She didn’t think they could actually do this family thing. She was certain it was better to save a child from teenage parents.

 
He agreed to help her however she needed him. She made an appointment but he said it pained him greatly. He felt it was wrong and he didn’t know where to go with it all. A new follower of Christ he decided to go on his knees. He shared the facts with his mother and she joined him in prayer. He told me he wanted me from day one and he prayed with all he had that God would work to save my life. He drove her to that clinic and he watched her walk down the corridor always petitioning God on my behalf.

“I prayed like I had never prayed before. I just knew if there was a way to change this outcome that God could do it. When your mother came out of the room and told me she wanted to marry me and have this baby I couldn’t usher her fast enough out of that place. God answered my prayer.”

Daddy went on to tell me things he had told me over and over in my lifetime. He loved me. He wanted me. He adored me. He treasured all our days together. My Daddy has been all a knight in shining armor should be. He fought for me, he protected me, he treasured me as a helper. I have spent 38 years toiling at all kinds of tasks joyfully at his side.

Now I will help him rest comfortable until God calls him home. I am so grateful for all his prayers that day to usher my life into this world. It’s  just way too soon to be sitting at his side praying for him as we wait for the doors of eternity to open and usher him home.