Thursday, December 31, 2009

The countdown

**************Update 9:16 PM 12/31/09**************

We were only at church for about 45 minutes before Kacie got sick. I gathered them up and headed back home. I am just hoping that I can be asleep when the new year hits. I think it will be a little less painful that way. I am also hoping that whatever has upset Kacie's tummy will be short lived and she won't be sick all night long.

**************Original Post******************

It's down to the final hours of 2009. I was watching a little of the nightly world news at 5:30. The journalist was doing an "in memory of" segment of all of the "famous or influential" people that died during the last decade.

All I could focus on was that Keith's name wasn't on that list. His name should have been on that list. At least that's what I think. He was a HUGE influence in my life, the lives of our children, and many other people (some I know and others I don't know).

With the hours of 2009 drawing to a close, so many thoughts and memories are running rampant through my mind. On this night 10 years ago, I was very pregnant with Kacie. She was born at 11:05 AM on Monday, January 3, 2000. On this night six years ago, I was sitting in a sleep chair at Huntsville Hospital keeping watch over my husband who was newly diagnosed with colon cancer. He was 5 days post surgery. He would come home on Friday, January 2, 2004. Yes, that would be the day before Kacie's 4th birthday.

Our lives had been changed forever.

Here I sit on this night in 2009. I am so grief stricken I can't think straight. My heart is so broken, I'm afraid it won't ever be put back together. I am fighting the black of depression once again. I am having to fight it very hard today. The entire day has been tough. As the hours to the new year draw closer, the black of depression seems to get closer too. Not only is the depression weighing on me, but the grief is especially heavy today too. I've felt it looming for the past few days.

To be frankly honest, I really don't want this new year to come. I don't want 2009 to end. I don't want 2010 to begin. I don't like what 2010 represents. It represents the beginning of the first entire year that I will spend without Keith. I know, I've already spent the better part of six months without Keith. BUT I HAD HIM FOR SIX MONTHS BEFORE HE DIED!!! I don't get to have him with me ANY of 2010!

I could always try to put a positive spin on the new year. It will be the first year in six that I don't have to wonder if it will be the year that Keith dies. That's already happened. For some reason, I just can't make that one fly.

I can't put a positive spin on the coming of 2010, whether it be from my grief, my depression, or both. I just can't. I'm tired of trying. I've been trying all week long to find something positive about the new year. My grief has won this time.

The kids seem oblivious to anything that I am feeling. They aren't having the issues that I am having with the coming of the new year. That's a good thing I guess. There are times I wish I could have their sense of innocence and just simple faith.

Despite what I want, we will be going to our church for the new year's eve service in just a little while. We will play games, eat pancakes cooked by our pastor, and pray in the new year. I am hoping that will be better for me than staying here at home and crying because I miss Keith so dreadfully. Crying, because it will be the first year since December 31, 1991, that I will not be able to share a first kiss of a new year with the love of my life.

I am hoping that I can focus my prayers on letting God lead my life and heal my heart in this coming year. I am hoping I can get through the first few minutes of the new year without crying, but I doubt it. I am hoping that I can concentrate at least a little bit to enjoy playing some of the games. I am hoping for a small reprieve from the black of depression and the overwhelming grief that has been shadowing me for the past few days and especially today.

I am not making any resolutions for the next year. I only want to get through it with as few scars as possible.

May God be with you and yours during this new year.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Imagining and shelving

As I sit here trying to put my jumbled up thoughts into some kind of order, Kacie's new 12 week old kitten, Izzy, keeps nibbling at my fingers while I type. My hands are shaking from yet more medication I am taking to try to get well. Oh, I am also shelving as many emotions as I can, because I just can't face them right now.

My pharyngitis moved into bronchitis. I am on a steroid inhaler, oral steroids (again), and I have to finish what's left of my antibiotics. I have a full blown case of the shakes. I am tired, but can't sit still. My mind is running at 100 mph. The kids are at Nana and Paw-paw's house for a couple of days. I really want to say that I am looking forward to 2010, but I'm not.

I am not looking forward to the new year. I've been trying to imagine what it will be like without Keith by my side...and I can't. I just can't imagine going through the 365 days of 2010 without him. I know that I have to. His trip to heaven was one way. Keith isn't coming back here...not even for me.

I wish I could say that Christmas was full of joy, magic, and wonder over our Savior's birth. I wish I could say that I held onto what Keith must have experienced being with Christ on Christmas. I wish I could say that I didn't just go through the motions. I wish I could say that although I was sad, I was still full of joy for the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I simply wish I could say that I celebrated Christmas.

The truth is I simply went through the motions. I missed Keith terribly. I got through it because of the kids. I didn't really care to celebrate Christ's birth, although I went through those motions for the kids as well.

I am shelving as many of my emotions as I can right now. It seems to be instinctual for me. MLC said I could do that during this tough couple of weeks, but I can not wrap them in duct tape or put them into long term storage as I have been prone to do in the past. I will meet with him on Jan 7. I'm sure that everything will come roaring to the surface then, if not before.

Jan 7 is the six month mark since Keith's death. Half of a year without Keith by my side. Where did time go? Has it really been that long? It feels like an eternity. How can I do this for an entire year? 2010 will be an entire year spent without Keith. January 1 to December 31...without him. At least 2009 I had Keith for half of the year. 2010 will be entirely without. How can I do this? I can't even imagine it. There are so many days in the next year that Keith should be here for. I have another half of a year of firsts to get through.

Dear God, I miss him so much. Please carry me through 2010, because I can't and I don't know the way.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Our first Christmas

December 29 2:08 PM

Below is the post that I began on Christmas night. I simply could not finish it. I have decided to go ahead and post what I started to give just a glimpse into what I was feeling on Christmas day and the days leading up to it.

I am currently working on a followup post. Hopefully I will have it up before the day is over.


Well, it's here. As I write this, it's actually almost over. Our first Christmas without Keith finally got here and now it's almost gone. I have to say that I am so relieved that this hurdle is almost behind me.

The last few days leading up to Christmas have been extremely difficult. The days have only been made more so since I am sick. I was in the doctor's office last week with a sinus infection. I was back this week with pharyngitis. Now it's full blown congestion, a cough, and I wear out quickly. I am on another round of antibiotics to hopefully knock this stuff out.

Back to the difficult days... I have really struggled with massive amounts of grief and sadness the past few days. I have spent a lot of time just crying. MLC has told me on many occasions that letting my emotions out is one of the only ways that I am going to find my way through this journey of grief. The longer I hold everything in, the longer it can take me to recover.

Yesterday was especially difficult. I woke up terribly sad. I managed with the kids, taking care of breakfast, and those morning things that you do when the kids are out of school. I managed until I got in the shower. I began to cry and literally sat down with the shower running. I sat in the shower and cried until the hot water ran out. I cried out to God for help. I knew that I did not have what I needed to get through Christmas Eve. I'm certain that God heard my cry simply because I was able to get up, get out of the shower, and get dressed. I was able to get through the day and the things I needed to do. I was able to play the role of Santa last night with the help of my new elf, Nick. I could not have made it through these past several days without the God sent friends who have lent many ears and shoulders. Yesterday was no different.

I have never in my life felt as consumed by sadness and grief as I have during this Christmas season. Thanksgiving was an absolute breeze compared to Christmas.

I am so glad that it is almost done.

I have missed Keith with such ferocity I didn't think one human being could feel.

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 days

I would like to apologize to my daily readers for my 12 day absence. I have not been of the mind to write here. I haven't been much of a mind to do anything during the last twelve days. So, grab a cup of tea, coffee, or whatever, and we'll catch up.

In my last post, I had been crying for 4 days. Well, the four days turned into six. Yep...I cried for the better part of six days. I woke up on Saturday morning of that same week so relieved that the "movies" had finally stopped playing only to have a new one begin while I was in the shower. The new movie was not a pleasant one to experience either. I had a lot of pent up anger, bitterness, and hurt that needed to be purged. That's all I'm going to share about that. It was very intense though. I dealt with it by writing all of my feelings out as honestly as I could without holding anything back. Then I shared the writings with MLC on my next appointment. He has them under lock and key for me until I decide what I should do with them, if I do anything with them.

I wasn't going to put up a Christmas tree, but we did. Granted I had to go buy all new everything: tree, tree skirt, ornaments, topper, stockings. EVERYTHING! I absolutely could not deal with getting out our other things. There are simply too many emotions and memories attached to each and every piece. The kids ended up having to decorate the entire thing though. I tried putting a few ornaments on the tree and the emotions were once again just too overwhelming. I don't have a clue how I am going to take it all down next week.

I have also been having a very tough time the last four days. It began on Friday. The events of the past 14 years with Nick finally caught up with me. I had so many emotions come to the surface that dealt with Nick's initial cancer diagnosis. I did not realize that after so many years I could still have so many unresolved emotions. I haven't even gotten past the majority of them yet.

I was okay until Saturday afternoon. I began crying a lot again. I had spoken with MLC on Friday about what was going on with me. He cautioned me that the weekend might be tough, but to try really hard not to suppress my emotions too much. Well, I didn't think that it would turn out the way it did. My good friend, A, came over and we had a girl's night in. It was a wonderful time that truly helped me through the muck that night.

Then yesterday (Sunday) happened. I woke up and all the "movies" had gotten jumbled up and I could not stop crying. I finally got up, got the kids up, and got dressed for church. Although, I really did not feel like going. I still don't know why God wanted me in church yesterday, because all I did was cry. I had to leave the service before it really even got started. The lighting of the Advent candles made me a mess. Then there were the Christmas hymns. I sat in the foyer and just cried. Friends came out and checked on me. I just couldn't handle it. We didn't go back to church last night like we usually do. I could not handle it emotionally.

As yesterday wore on, I cried more and more. Today has truly been a struggle. I am full of so much sadness. I miss Keith so much. December 22, is when Keith was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pains 6 years ago. December 23 is when we found out he had cancer 6 years ago. These were the days when I just KNEW that God was going to heal Keith. I am dealing with what is now. God didn't give Keith earthly healing. God called Keith home.

Keith is not here today 4 days before Christmas. I miss him so much. I feel like my heart is freshly broken once again. Last night I didn't know how I was going to make to bedtime. I could not stop crying. Today, I have had to work so hard to be able to function in spite of my emotions being right at the surface. I talked to MLC once again this afternoon. He really thinks (and I agree) that it isn't the depression. It is just massive amounts of sadness and grief. Everything could also be made worse be the fact that I am taking steroids for a sinus infection.

I wish I could be joyful. I am trying to concentrate on what joy Keith must be experiencing celebrating Christ's birthday WITH HIM. In my humanness though, I can't get past my own feelings of sadness and grief at Keith's absence.

I want to just get through this week. Then I want to get through next week. Then I want to get through Kacie's birthday. Then the kids will be back in school and this season will be over. I will be able to say that I made it through the first one without Keith. I am working really hard at not letting myself look too far ahead. I am truly taking it in baby steps, much like I did this week 6 years ago.

Pray for me dear friends. I don't know if I have enough within me to make it special for my kids. They so need it to be.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And today makes 4

4 days of lots of crying. I called MLC this morning when I could not stop crying. I have to admit that I was VERY worried that the depression had reared it's very ugly head and I was sinking into the abyss once again.

Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case. MLC thinks, after trying to make out my some what incoherent tear jumbled information, that I am in the midst of releasing some of the emotions that I didn't let myself feel while Keith was sick. That's 5 1/2 YEARS worth of emotions! Apparently once these emotional doors have opened, there's no closing them again. The flood (literally feels like I cried enough to contribute to all the standing water from the storms here last night) keeps coming until there is no more. There's no stopping it.

The best way I know how to describe the "episodes" when they happen is it's like a movie playing in my head, except backwards. The one that happened Tuesday was about the day Keith died. Today's episode was about when Keith was on chemo. I'm sure that episode is not finished yet. That's where Keith and I spent the majority of his 5 1/2 year battle.

MLC even hazards a guess that there will be some "episodes" that go all the way back 14 years ago when Nick was fighting cancer as a baby.

It is very overwhelming to be feeling everything that I am feeling right now. It is very painful. I am very raw. MLC says that I might be beginning to recognize the weight of the burdens I have carried for so many years. At times, it is like seeing yourself for the first time. I feel like that was someone else who was doing all of those very difficult things.

MLC says that I will likely be crying a lot for a while, if this is indeed what is happening. I have to deal with the emotions/feelings. I have to let them out when they come. I will not recover from the grief, the depression, and the weight of the burdens will not be lifted if I don't.

That's a whole lot of emotions to let out.

At least I know I'm not going crazy or losing my mind. I'm being treated for the depression with very good medicine, so we know it isn't that. I can't even imagine dealing with all of these emotions if I weren't being treated for the depression. UGH! I would probably be in a padded room somewhere.

And so, like sands through the hour glass, these are the days of my life!

I'm holding close the promise that God is with me and carrying me through this very painful place.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I have been crying for the better part of three days now. MLC* advised me just today that I am likely emoting in advance of the very difficult days and weeks that lie ahead.

*My Lovely Counselor

He also thinks that my raw emotions (aka frequent crying jags) are also a result of the last two VERY difficult weeks (Thanksgiving the first week and Keith's birthday this past weekend). MLC does not believe that my depression is worsening. I was relieved to hear that. The way I have been feeling has had me worried about that. The symptoms of grief and depression are very, very similar. It's difficult for me to tell the difference.

I began seeing MLC twice a week when I was diagnosed with depression. I really struggled with some kind of stigma attached to that, the diagnosis of depression, and taking medication to treat it. It took me a little while to realize that seeing MLC twice a week was actually better for me than only once a week. It took me a little while longer to come to terms with the fact that I have an illness that is chronic, that I have to take medication every day for it, and it won't be going away any time soon. It took me some more time to be okay with the fact that for a few weeks, I not only saw MLC twice a week, but spoke with him by phone nearly every day. I haven't talked to him every day lately, but have had to call a few times.

The world of depression and grief is NOTHING like I ever imagined it would be. I don't mean that I've spent tons of time during the last several years thinking about it. During the some of the worst times, I did think about what my life would be like without Keith here. Usually the next thought would be what dying would be like, then onto what emotions I would actually feel and how I would feel physically. I have learned that every thought I had was no where close to what actually IS.

Depression is not a predictable illness. For me, it is a deep, dark, black pit that threatens to consume me if I get too close to it. Although, there are lots of times when the pit is nowhere in sight. I am able to be happy and feel joy. Then I turn around and there's the pit. Where did that come from? How did that get here? Grief is also very unpredictable. It likes to sneak up on me, ambush me out of nowhere, and leave me so emotionally drained I need to take a four hour nap. Grief is also very raw. The emotions I have experienced because of grief have totally run the gamut. I can be smiling one minute and falling to pieces the next. I can be happy one minute and completely furious the next. Sometimes the roller coaster makes me feel like I don't know who I am.

I had an episode of anger today that completely took me by surprise. I decided I wanted some muffins. The muffin mix was on a high shelf, so I had to use my step stool to get it down. When I climbed up, I could see behind some other things that were on the shelf. There was an open bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs left from Easter. Keith had hidden them there so the kids wouldn't sneak them. That was his candy stash. He absolutely LOVED Reese eggs. I took the bag and the muffin mix down, and got off the step stool. As I was moving back toward the counter, I was OVERCOME with anger. I took each and every candy egg out of the bag and threw it as hard as I could onto the kitchen floor. The entire time screaming, "NO! NO! NO!" Then I stomped on them. (Thankfully they were individually wrapped so it didn't make a mess.) I put my head down in my hands and cried so hard I was nearly sick. Once I quit crying and I calmed down, I realized that I needed to clean my mess up. I had flung candy eggs everywhere. I began to feel bad about being angry and ruining perfectly good candy. Keith's favorite at that. As I was picking them up, it occurred to me that the candy eggs were still whole. You know, the chocolate shell around the peanut butter...well, it felt like it was unbroken. I started mashing around on them. Those things were so hard. I took my sudden burst of anger out on stale candy. No guilt there. It needed to be thrown away anyway. I just threw it away in a very therapeutic way!

I only shared that very personal story to give a glimpse into what happens with my grief sometimes. I am unpredictable. Sometimes my emotions are very jumbled up. Sometimes they come flying out of nowhere. There are times when the least little thing will set me off. Other times, things that I would assume would bother me don't. According to MLC, this is all a very normal response to grief. Oh, and add to that the weight of the burdens that I have carried for so many years, well that puts me at the head of the class for emoting.

I am emoting ALL OVER THE Cheddar's Restaurant, at Party City, at Sear's. More on those stories later.

I'm still having trouble seeing the path through my tears.

I've cried to the point I can't wear my contacts...again. I went to group tonight without fixing my cried on all day makeup. I thought about going as I was (which would have meant wearing my sweats, no shower, no hair fixed, and no makeup) to see MLC this morning. I decided that I didn't want to be "that" person. I don't know exactly who "that" person is, I just didn't want to be it today. I guess somewhere in my mind that made me think I would look on the outside like I feel on the inside. So, I decided to take a shower and see how I felt. That led to fixing my hair and makeup always follows hair with me. Next thing I knew, I was dressed and ready to go.

I'm not even going to address the fact that I came home from my appointment with MLC, laid down on the couch, and cried for a long time. I've already shared the episode with the candy. I also drank what amounts to 6 cups of coffee, although it was only two and a half mugs full. I ate three of the muffins. I didn't eat anything else today, until I started to get kind of sick about 7:20 tonight. Then I ate an Arby's sandwich. Nick and I were on our way back from our grief groups to pick Kacie up from dance.

As I said in this long rambling post, I am emoting all over the place. I don't know exactly what emotion is going to come out and when. I don't know what's going to set me off...whether it be a really bad server, a smart mouthed store clerk, or a lost Christmas tree. Sometimes it is just the fact that my husband died and I'm a widow at 35 years old. Who knows what's going to trigger it?! Certainly not me!

I am trying very hard to remember that God is very near to me, especially now. He is indeed guiding my feet and carrying me through this valley of the shadow of death. Some day I will come out on the other side.

I have to treat myself with patience, kindness, and gentleness. I am in a very hard place, but still...

In His Grip!


Monday, December 7, 2009

5 months

It is 5 months today since Keith claimed his place in heaven. Two days ago would have been Keith's 39th birthday.

I think that I handled Saturday considerably well. The kids had a tough time while we were doing what we decided we would do to commemorate Keith's birthday. The plans we made were the kids ideas with just a little tweaking.

I do believe that it is finally catching up with me today.

I miss Keith so much still. I know, how can I not?! We were together for 18 1/2 years. That doesn't go away in only 5 months.

It just amazes me how I was crying every single day just a couple of months ago. I have been at a point during the last few weeks where I don't have the need to cry every day. It's even been a few days in between. Then I have a day like today, that actually started yesterday morning during church.

I am emotionally drained. I am crying a lot. My heart feels like the wounds are fresh and new instead of healing.

The thoughts going through my mind are jumbled, yet racing. It's like a movie playing in my mind of what I saw and experienced on the day Keith died.

I'm putting one foot in front of the other. I just can't see where I am going through my tears.

Father God, please guide my feet today. I can't seem to find my way. Please carry me because I can't. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The first big one

It is Saturday night, two days past Thanksgiving. I made it through the first big holiday since Keith's passing. How did I do? How did the kids do?

The kids did very well I think. I know that they missed their dad, but they do not seem overwhelmed by his absence the way I do. I have prayed so often for God to heal their hearts and dull their pain. They accept that Keith is gone, but they are joyous because their dad isn't sick anymore. They miss him, but are okay that he is in heaven and not here with us.

I think that I did very well too. The kids and I arrived at my sister's house for the meal about 30 minutes before meal time. The rest of the family had been there for a while. I knew that it was possible that I would have a difficult time, so I tried to plan ahead a little. We had lots of good food. I was able to find a quiet spot and just "be" for a little while. I helped my brother in law clean up the kitchen. It was quiet in there too. I dealt with the day by counting down the hours until it was over. I spent some time crying at different times that day, but not a lot. It was a hard day to get through, but I did it.

I don't know how Christmas is going to go. I am going to take it one step at a time. I am not putting up our Christmas tree or our ornaments (some of which were wedding presents). I am not even going to look at the boxes in the garage.

MLC* has advised me to go buy new this year. That's my plan. I am going to buy new. As a matter of fact, Kacie got a new stocking and three new ornaments just today. We'll start looking for Nick's maybe tomorrow.

*My Lovely Counselor

Another big gigantic step I took was taking off my wedding rings. I did that on Wednesday morning. I can't explain it. It was just time. I know that God was/is in the decision. I have been praying for Him to heal my heart. It was time to let Keith go. I also began cleaning out Keith's side of the closet. I only did half, but it is the first time I've done anything remotely like that. I had the realization that holding onto Keith's things isn't affecting him in any way. It is only serving to hurt me. I have to begin letting go of him, in these physical ways, in order for me to heal.

Don't get me wrong! I wanted more than anything to put my rings back on the next day. It had only been 24 hours since I had taken them off and I wanted them back where they belonged. I knew that I couldn't though. I can't let myself go back on this decision.

What did I do with the rings? Well, I have been wearing Keith's wedding ring on a chain as a necklace. I have added my rings to the necklace. I didn't let myself wear the necklace for three days. I felt like I needed to give myself some space. Some time to get used to the idea before I wore the necklace. I wore the necklace with all three rings today. I'm thinking about taking the rings and having them made into a pendant. That's a decision I will take plenty of time to make though.

Another big step I took (yes I've taken several of them in the past few days) was to sell my van and buy a new car. I did that yesterday. I made this decision for financial reasons and emotional reasons as well. I am happy with my decision and have no regrets. I got a Honda Pilot. It is the first SUV I have ever owned. I am thrilled with the vehicle.

It was harder than I thought to let go of the van, but there are so many bad memories associated with that vehicle. It was time to make that decision too.

That's about it on the run down of my Thanksgiving weekend. I had a HUGE realization on Thursday morning. I realized that for the first time, in a long time, I didn't have to worry about this Thanksgiving being our last one with Keith. That was one HUGE burden that I didn't realize I had been carrying. What a relief to have that burden lifted, but oh how I miss him! I also thought about the kind of Thanksgiving Keith must have been experiencing. He would probably tell me it was beyond any of our wildest dreams.

I miss him terribly. I am accepting that a part of me will always miss him. I love him more than words can say. I am accepting that a part of me always will.

But I give thanks to God that Keith has spent his first Thanksgiving in several years cancer free!

That is definitely something to give thanks for!

In His Grip!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To wallow or not to wallow

**********UPDATE********* Please read the original post below before reading the update.

I have spoken to MLC and the kids LC. The general opinion is that I am not wallowing, at least not in that sense of the word. I am dealing with so much. They would rather see me continue to take it one day at a time, than start picking up pieces of life before I'm ready. I am going to try to find some middle ground. I will stick to my plan of getting through these next very difficult 6 weeks. Then I will look at making some other decisions about how I spend my time. I was thrown off course today. I need to concentrate on what I am able to do each and every day. Do I wallow? I'm sure I do. Don't you?

****Original Post****
I had my 1 month checkup with MLD (My Lovely Doctor) today concerning my depression. He thinks that I am better than I was, but there is still room for improvement. So, he doubled my medication. He also doubled the medication he prescribed to help me sleep. Apparently, that needs improvement as well. MLD also asked me what I had done within the last month to get myself involved in the land of the living again.

Well...I haven't done that. I decided not to concentrate on THAT part of our conversation last month. I was still reeling from the diagnosis of depression. I honestly had forgotten about THAT part of our conversation. I didn't expect him to hold me accountable for that either, at least not so soon. I was thinking about tackling the land of the living sometime in January.

MLD was not thrilled with me. He says I am wallowing. He says I HAVE to STOP wallowing and reenter the land of the living. He says I have to do something other than sit around all day thinking bad thoughts. He says I have to DO something with my life. I have to get away from the medical stuff. I have to start living my life without Keith.

Okay. First of all, I don't sit around all day thinking bad thoughts. I do have days when it is like that, but it isn't every day (especially since the medication helps with that). Second of all, I thought that I was doing something every day. I get out of bed, I get the kids to school, I get them home from school, I feed them, I make sure they have clean clothes, etc., etc., etc. Third of all, I don't want to rejoin the land of the living right now. I am still struggling to adjust to life without Keith. I don't want to see what is out in the world. The world just doesn't hold the same appeal to me since Keith is not here for me to share it with.

If feeling that way is considered wallowing, then I guess I am. As of right this minute, I have not talked to MLC (My Lovely Counselor) about this. I have spoken with three very good friends today, since my appointment with MLD, who all are of an opinion (though it is in varying degrees) that I am wallowing at least sometimes. Okay, I'll agree to that. I probably am wallowing sometimes. Doesn't everyone? Don't I have reason to?

One friend said that she would love to see me do things because I want to, not because I have to. I would love to be that way too, but I'm not right now. I honestly don't know why. Rejoining the land of the living just seems too hard. That means I have to be around people that I probably don't have the tolerance for. That means I have to be nice when I don't want to be. It means that I have to have an interest in life. As bad as this sounds, I just don't want to. I don't feel mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually strong enough to even be nice to someone I don't know right now. Just ask another very dear friend I was out to lunch with just yesterday. She can tell you that I didn't have much tolerance for our server who was completely terrible at her job. At one point my friend said she thought she saw steam coming out of my ears. I was nice though. I didn't yell at the server, or throw things, or act ugly in any way. I did talk to the manager about the server. We did get our meals comped. I will go back and eat at this restaurant, although I will be sure not to sit in this server's section.

I took a bit of a side trip there. I know that I have to reenter the land of the living at some point. I know that Keith would not have wanted me to wallow in my grief, sadness, depression, or whatever it is that I am apparently wallowing in. One big point for me right now is that KEITH IS NOT HERE! If he were here, I wouldn't be wallowing. I don't know how to DO anything other than live a life that revolves around medical stuff. I don't KNOW how to live my life without Keith because I've never done that before.

A little bit of history about my life with Keith. We met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Keith was 19 and I was 16. I knew from the first date that I was going to love him and he was the ONE for me. We may have been young, but we KNEW! We dated what was left of my junior year in high school. We dated my senior year of high school. He took me to both proms and my senior homecoming dance. He gave me a promise ring on Valentine's Day 1992. He asked me to marry him on May 7, 1992 (my 18th birthday). I graduated high school on June 4, 1992 (I think that's the date), and we were married on July 11, 1992.

My life with Keith is ALL I KNOW!

I don't know how to live without him. Everyday I struggle with some new challenge, whether it be with the kids, the house, myself, the van, something. It is something each and every day. Each and every day is something new that I have to do for the first time without Keith by my side.

I'm going to end this very long, rambling post now. I still have more to say, but... To wallow or not to wallow? That is the question. I don't have the answer right now. I'm hoping that MLC will have some kind of answer for me. It may be next week before I get that answer, since we will be having a holiday this week. That holiday is a topic for another post which, I can say with some certainty, will come later this week. A little hint...I don't want to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have to for the sake of my kids. I don't feel very thankful or blessed right now. AND I HATE HEARING CHRISTMAS MUSIC BEFORE THANKSGIVING!

I really am okay. Just needed to vent a little there.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

It had to end, but I give thanks

It had to end. The good days had to come to an end. I knew it would happen. I was even a little worried about when it would happen. It happened today. I knew it even before I was fully awake this morning. I knew that my streak of good days had ended. Today would be a day that I had to dig deep and find the strength to get myself out of bed.

I did get out of bed, although it took me a little while. I also decided to let the kids sleep a little longer than usual this morning. I needed to have some peace and quiet for just a little while. I thought about not going to church this morning. My heart wasn't really in it. I'm glad I went though. God gave me what I needed to help me through this day, and really the next several that are to come.

My Sunday school lesson this morning was based on Psalm 116:1-19.

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!"
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
10 I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted."
11 And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."
12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all of people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD-in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD!

God spoke to me so clearly this morning in the verses of this Psalm. The Lord has indeed heard my voice, and I certainly love him for it. He has heard my cry for mercy. I have cried that many times in the last 20 weeks. Let's go further to say almost 6 years, and even further to say the last 14 years. I will call on him for as long as I live. I know that God is the only one who can truly help me through these hard times. In verse 3, I am overcome with how closely that describes what I have felt since Keith died. I have felt entangled by the cords of death. The anguish of Keith being in the grave has threatened to overtake me at times. I have been overcome by trouble and sorrow. I have called on God to save me.

I don't remember feeling the way these verses made me feel this morning. I felt like these verses were describing me to a "T". I feel like God has given me such a gift today. While I am not in the black or gray that my depression has been, I am not feeling the best emotionally today. This entire Psalm was a gift from God that he has indeed heard my cries. He is aware of my anguish and sorrow.

I am in awe once again of the way God works. I can rest in God's graciousness, righteousness, compassion, and protection. I can rest knowing that God will keep my feet from stumbling, even today when my eyes are full of tears and my soul is weary. If I do happen to go into the gray or black place of depression, God is with me. It's funny though, even though I feel the way I do, I know I won't go there today anyway.

So, yes the streak of good days had to end, but I do give thanks. I give thanks to God for freeing me from the chains that come from living in a sin filled world. I give thanks to God for freeing Keith from the chains of cancer. I give thanks to God for the 18 1/2 years Keith and I had together. I give thanks to God for my moody "tween" daughter, and my adolescent 15 year old son. I give thanks to God for helping me get out of bed so that I could receive the blessing he had waiting on me in Sunday School this morning. I give thanks to God for his Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross so that He could welcome Keith with open arms on the day he was called home to Heaven. I give thanks to God for that same gift that my children and I will both walk into those same arms of Christ and be reunited with Keith when our time comes. I give thanks to God that we have been freed from the chains of an eternal death.

Today, the day that I am not feeling all that well emotionally, I choose to give thanks to God, because I am...

In HIS Grip!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

4 pretty good days

I have had four pretty good days. Thursday had a few bumps in the road, but that's okay. Bumps are to be expected. I rode them out and was better for it. I didn't go into the black or even the gray. I have liked my life the last four days.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like the fact that my husband is dead. I didn't like the fact that he had cancer for 5 1/2 years. I still don't like the fact that my son has cancer for the third time in 14 years. It is very hard to be a single parent, deal with my depression, help my children cope with their grief, deal with my own grief, and balance all of the "normal" activities.

I still have issues with anger, frustration, sadness, and grief. Sometimes, I still am afraid that one or more of these emotions will consume me. The last four days I have experienced very little of these emotions. I have to think that it is a combination of the medications I am taking for the depression and insomnia, and God. I have turned my broken heart over to God. He is Jehovah-Raphi. The LORD My Healer.

I still miss Keith so much that sometimes the pain is very keen. Thursday's bumps were due to a mental box the needed unpacking and MLC helped me through that. I guess that is one of the reasons I go to see him. It was difficult to unpack that mental box that really didn't have anything to do with Keith, his life, his illness, or his death. It was simply a mental box that had been in mental storage for over 20 years. I had a difficult time dealing with what was unpacked. I experienced another secondary loss that is so common when dealing with death and grief. I was at home that night, needing the safety and security of Keith's arms around me, and he wasn't there to give it to me. I needed him so desperately. The pain of his absence was very keen Thursday night. Something important happened though. I realized, through much prayer, that while Keith wasn't there to comfort me, God was.

I know, I know. How can I not have realized that? I speak of God's love, comfort, compassion, mercy, and grace all the time. So, how could I have not realized that? I don't exactly know, unless all of my grief and depression have clouded my heart. I'm sure that certainly has something to do with it. I'm also sure that it was a moment of spiritual growth for me. Yep, I do believe that we all continue to grow spiritually our entire lives. I KNEW that Keith could not comfort me in my time of need. God was the only One who could provide me the comfort I needed. I asked Him for it. I am certain that He answered me in my time of need. I was able to go to sleep. I awoke Friday morning with a peace filled heart. The only explanation is that God wrapped me up tight in the safety and security of His arms. What an amazing God I serve!

I am in awe of how He is big enough to handle my anger, frustration, bitterness, doubts, and questions and STILL love me enough to give me the comfort and security I needed. What an awesome Father He is!

In HIS grip,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

bullet points

I can't seem to find exactly the right words to write a "formed" post. I've tried for two days. So, on the advice of MLC, I am just going to write in bullet points.

  • Yesterday was crappy for me emotionally. I was in a gray place. I think the gray is worse than the black place that my depression has often been.
  • Today is better, even though Keith has been gone for 19 weeks now.
  • The kids spent their first weekend with Nana and Pawpaw, Keith's parents, since Keith died.
  • I spent two, count them TWO, nights alone in my house for the first time while the kids were gone.
  • Friday I had a come apart of almost major proportions, while sitting in the van at our meeting point, after the kids left with N & P.
  • I sent them off with lots of hugs, kisses, and smiles. They didn't see me cry.
  • Yesterday I laughed so hard at something Nick said that I couldn't drive. I HAD to pull over.
  • Saturday morning I woke up at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep. I went into the black of depression and could not shake it. It took me until 8:00 AM, to be able to draw on every ounce of inner strength that exists in me, to get out of bed and into the shower.
  • Saturday morning, while trying to make myself get out of bed and shake off the black, I got so angry that Keith wasn't here to have a date weekend with that I almost took my wedding rings off and threw them across the room. Thankfully, God intervened and I didn't. I would have been devastated if I had done that and the rings had gotten lost.
  • Saturday, my dear friend, A, took me to Lawrenceburg, TN to visit the Amish community there, and that evening we went to a Southern Gospel concert. I had a wonderful time.
  • It took me until just as we were arriving in Lawrenceburg to shake off the black.
  • I went shopping for myself today for the first time since Keith died. It was fun, yet difficult. Keith was not a husband that hated shopping. He often accompanied me.
  • Yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel and quit, but I didn't. Quit what? The what didn't matter. I just wanted to quit something.
  • I am so glad that today is better than yesterday. I hope that it continues to be that way.
  • I am not ready for the holidays. My emotions are all over the place most of the time as it is. I know it is just going to get worse as the holidays get closer.
  • I want to skip Christmas. I tried to bribe the kids with a trip to Disney World if we could skip Christmas. They refused.
  • Saturday night I fell asleep while waiting until 10:00 to take my sleep medication. Truly felt successful when I woke up Sunday morning at 8:30.
  • Keith's death has left a huge hole in my heart and my life that sometimes I wonder if I will ever heal.
  • I know what it means to be truly brokenhearted.
  • I am so glad that we aren't scheduled to go to Birmingham this week.
Well, that's the good, the bad, and the ugly of my thoughts and emotions over the last several days. Take them for what they are. I mentioned a while back that I was going to be more open and honest here about where I am emotionally and how I am dealing with everything. Some days are better than others. Some days are just down right hard. Some parts of some days are better than others. Some parts of some days are just down right tough.

I've made it 19 weeks. 19 very hard and very tough weeks. I've made it through being diagnosed with depression. I'm still struggling with the depression, but I'll be on the medication for 1 month at the end of the week. I'll see MLD next week for a checkup. Hopefully, things will continue to improve.

Until next time, remember we are all...

In His Grip,


Friday, November 13, 2009

not today

Today is not the day that I had a come apart and went to the dark and scary place I was in on Monday's come apart. Today's come apart was let loose, let out, and done. I dusted my hands of it and have moved on. I finally feel good about that. I have now had 3 come aparts in one week. I do believe that's a record for me.

I am not someone who typically has these episodes. A part of my counseling has been to recognize and acknowledge the huge amount of emotions I have carried around inside me for SO MANY YEARS. I have always considered myself emotional. I cry when I'm happy, sad, or mad. Well, apparently I have not cried enough through the years of carrying this load. I have to accept, and even embrace, the fact that for now I am someone who has these episodes.

So, today is not the day that I feel like I am in the dark and scary place that depression can be. Today is the day that I woke up at 2:30 this morning and could not go back to sleep...even having taken my sleep medicine. Today is the day that I decided it was too soon for me to attend a very dear friend's funeral. It wasn't good mentally or emotionally for me to go there today. Today is the day that I went back to bed after getting the kids to school. Then I slept for 2 1/2 hours. Today is the day that I had my first (because I'm reasonably sure it won't be the last) come apart because Thanksgiving is in13 days and it is the first one without Keith.

Today is the day that we will "live" life once again. The kids will be going to Nana and Pawpaw's house for the weekend. Today will be the first time they have done this since Keith died. This weekend will be hard for me. These weekends were very special to me and Keith. We didn't get them very often once Keith had the seizure last April. The summer trips the kids took to Nana's were timed with Keith's chemo treatments to help us with child care. Keith didn't exactly feel like having a date night after getting pumped full of chemo that day.

I do have some plans. It's things with a friend, who is generously giving me most of her weekend. I am cautiously optimistic about this weekend. I'm a little worried too. That dark and scary place still looms. I hope I don't revisit there anytime soon.

We are certainly...

In His Grip, even in the valley!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Something happened last night that makes me feel fragile today. Nick ran a little bit of a low grade fever last night. Okay, in everyone else's world that isn't a big deal. In my world, it's a huge deal. The low grade fever at night that goes away by morning is a symptom of the cancer becoming more active. I have seen the pattern before. I saw the pattern three years ago. That means chemo is imminent. That makes me feel fragile.

Last night's low grade fever wasn't the first episode. Nick had another episode a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think about it again, because it went away. There seemed to be an explanation too. Nick had taken a hot shower not long before I noticed how warm he felt. That's why I thought it was simply a fluke. Last night has no explanation. There is no reason why, other than the cancer.

I'm feeling very fragile today. This scares me. I know what the reality holds. I know I have to tell the doctor tomorrow when we see him. I know this will affect the outcome in some way. I don't know how much of an effect it will have. I know that I am scared.

I wish I could have a break from this. I KNOW that God has the power to stop this. I'm struggling with why He won't. I'm struggling with the reality that He hasn't. I'm struggling with everything I have been through. I'm struggling with the fact that it seems to keep coming at me...AND IT WILL NOT STOP! I cry out "oh God!", and I wonder if He hears me.

I'm fragile today. I don't want to face tomorrow. I don't want to tell the doctor about the fever. I don't want to face chemo again. I don't feel strong enough emotionally to handle this. I don't feel strong enough to be strong enough for Nick and Kacie.

I just want a break. Some time off for good behavior. Some time to heal. Some time to simply grieve without all of this other junk thrown in on top of my grief. I just want some time to concentrate on me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

18 weeks

Today marks 18 weeks. I wish I could say that it wasn't the first thing I thought about today, but I can't. The fact of the matter is most days Keith's death is the first and last thought of my day.

How am I doing? Well, I think that really depends on who you ask. MLC (my lovely counselor) told me just this morning that he thinks I am right where he would expect me to be. I will confess that I was afraid I was having a nervous breakdown yesterday. I had a REALLY TOUGH morning yesterday. I started crying at about 7:30 AM and didn't stop until nearly noon. That's a long time to spend crying. I needed it. I now know that I had another box that needed unpacking. That box contained a lot of really big and heavy emotions. MLC has reassured me that yesterday was NOT a nervous breakdown. It wasn't even an emotional breakdown. It WAS a huge emotional release.

Do I feel better? Yeah, I do. Physically, I am tired today. That isn't unusual for me, especially after experiencing strong emotions. Emotionally, I feel okay. I'm steadier today. Yesterday's release allowed me to release at least a portion of the packed up emotions that I've been storing for a while. These emotions were directly related to Keith and the night before he died. There were some things that happened in the hours before the hospice nurse was called that I needed to deal with. I am not ready (and may not ever be ready) to share those details. It is very difficult to address exactly what I experienced that night. I say it that way, because it IS what I have to deal with now. Keith is gone. Keith is walking the streets of gold. Keith is not suffering anymore. I am one of the ones who is suffering now. I have to address that.

I do think that I will have to begin "unpacking" those particular boxes one day soon. I don't see any way around it. I am going to have to go back to those extremely painful final hours of Keith's life and allow myself to feel the emotions associated with what I saw and the decisions I made.
MLC compared it to the pain that is experienced when a broken bone is set. In order to heal, there has to be some pain. I don't like pain. I don't want to experience another day like yesterday, but I will if I want to heal. I do want to heal.

There is a song that is played on WAY-FM quite regularly. Some of the lyrics are: I want to wake up. I want a restart. Put the drum beat back in my heart. I need to be revived. Bring me back to life. It feels so good to be alive. The name of the song is Heartbeat by Remedy Drive. This song just speaks volumes about what I am feeling and what I want to feel. I've added it to my play list at the bottom of my blog. Search it out and listen to the words. If you feel led, please pray for God to put the drum beat back in my heart and for Him to revive me. I know that I can't do it myself. I am taking the necessary steps to heal physically and emotionally, but ultimately God is the only one who can heal my broken heart.

It's 18 weeks without Keith by my side. I've made it longer than I ever imagined I could. Each and every day is a new day. I've learned that for me it isn't leaning on my faith in God. It's falling into the arms of God and the faith is KNOWING HE WILL CATCH ME! He'll catch you too. All you have to do is ask.

In His Grip, especially when walking through the valley of the shadow of death!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

4 months

Today is four months since Keith died. At this moment, I am not consumed by the sadness that has been present on past anniversary dates. Will it be there at some point in time today? I don't know. I imagine the sadness will likely rear it's ugly head sometime. Can I handle it? For the first time in a couple of months, yes, I do believe that I can handle it. I can handle letting the sadness come. I can handle letting it out, instead of packing it in a mental box and putting it on a mental shelf.

I finally am beginning to feel more emotionally steady than I have in a very long time. I don't feel as overwhelmed by my life. I know that's just the medication beginning to work, but it's nice to feel steady.

Some one said to me the other day that it was nice to hear me laugh again. Now, I'm getting a little teary. I didn't realize that I had stopped laughing. I don't remember when I stopped laughing. I do remember wondering if I would ever find humor in my life again. That was even before Keith died.

Realizing and accepting how difficult Keith's illness has been on me has been difficult. MLC (my lovely counselor) says that was because I was so focused on caring for Keith. I was so focused on how to keep Keith comfortable and the kids as normal as possible that I never stopped to look at how hard it was on me. Now that I am having to do this in order to heal, it truly breaks my heart. It's like watching a movie of yourself. I remember doing all of these very hard things. When I look at them from the "outside" perspective, I am floored that I was able to do any of them. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway. Today is four months. Tuesday is 18 weeks. Thursday is Nick's repeat trip to Birmingham. Another tough week ahead.

But I can do this, because...

I am in His grip, especially when I am in the valley of the shadow of death!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Stored up and let out

My lovely counselor (MLC) and my lovely doctor (MLD), who have literally been life savers for me in the last several weeks, have been advising me that I have a lot of stored up emotions that need to be addressed. The phrase "an emotional reservoir" was used. At first, I did not like hearing that. I don't like to lose control of my emotions (period). For years, I have put a lot of my feelings/emotions in a mental box and placed them on a mental shelf never to be looked at again. In coming to terms with my diagnosis of depression and being treated for it, MLC and MLD have both been advising me that these emotions and feelings need to be let out of their respective boxes. That means I have to allow myself to FEEL them.

Okay, you may be asking, "Why did you store them Kristy?" Well, the main reason was I didn't want to burden Keith anymore than he already was. Since the majority of these emotions were related to him and his illness, it just seemed better for me to store them. It's called a coping mechanism. That is one way that I have coped for years and years. Yep, that's right. I have discovered that there were some boxes on that mental shelf from as far back as 14 years ago when Nick was first diagnosed with cancer. Talk about a surprise! Those emotions are so buried I am still uncovering some. I hazard to say I'm libel to find some from even further back, but that's for another day...maybe.

Ok, back on track. I can honestly say that feeling these emotions was scary to me. Letting them out felt like opening Pandora's box. MLC finally convinced me that allowing myself to feel these really big and heavy emotions would not kill me. He finally convinced me that in order for me to heal from the depression and the grief, I have to let the emotions out, give them face time (literally since I cry a lot and it isn't a pretty sight), and stop adding more boxes marked for permanent storage. Yep, I've lost my main coping mechanism.

Yikes! How am I supposed to do this that is my life now? Well, I can shelve the bigger emotions until I reach a place where I can let them out. I do have to reach that place sooner rather than later. Absolutely no permanent storage allowed. This realization made me worried that I would become a woman that did nothing by cry and scream at no one in particular all the time. False worry. That hasn't happened. Yet.

Letting these stored up emotions out apparently falls into the category of treating myself gently. Hmmm. That's another thing that I don't know exactly how to do. Something else that I am learning to do.

These are aspects of grieving that I didn't expect to encounter. I knew it would be a journey, but I didn't realize how much like a roller coaster the journey actually is. For you that know me really well, you KNOW I can not stand being on a roller coaster. This journey is hard. It is the most difficult path I have ever been on. There are so many unknowns.

So, if you see or hear me crying and screaming at no one in particular, just know that I am unpacking boxes. MLC says it won't kill me and it gets easier. I can agree with the first part, but I'm not convinced that it gets easier.

In His grip, especially when in the valley!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

17 weeks, a new path, and a trip

Tuesday was 17 weeks since Keith's death. Wednesday was another trip to Birmingham with Nick for CT scans and a checkup. A new path for my self is slowly being revealed.

Tuesday was difficult for me. I think it is difficult on the kids too, but certainly not in the same way. I am finding that Mondays are tough for me as well. The weekends are especially tough too. I guess it's just safe to say that there are tough days all around.

It's hard to believe that 17 weeks have already gone by. I have struggled with my diagnosis of depression. It isn't easy for the caregiver to become a patient. I am getting better with the idea of having an illness though. There are a lot of the details about my depression I will not go into here. These details have some very intense feelings associated with them that I am having to handle very gently.

I am seeing a new path open up for me and my life. I don't know where that path is going to take me, but I know there is a path. The experience I have had with depression has been a scary one. One aspect of the depression has been the feeling that there wasn't a path. I felt like I was lost in a forest thick with trees. I couldn't see the sky. I couldn't see the path. I couldn't find a way out. Now, two weeks into my treatment, I can see the path. It still gets a little hidden at times, but I know that the path is there. I know that God is leading me along this path.

I do know that somewhere along this path I will find a new Kristy. She will eventually emerge from this nightmare a better, stronger person. I asked my counselor what would happen if I didn't like who emerged. He answered with a grin, "You can just change her!" That's a neat thought!

Nick's trip to Birmingham was yesterday. I sent out a full run down in an email update earlier this afternoon. If by chance you didn't get that email, comment here with your email address and I will add you to my list.

Emotionally, yesterday was TOUGH. I am so glad it is finished. I am trying to be glad for the good news we got and that the bad news wasn't worse. I think the depression is affecting how I feel about yesterday. It's hard for me to focus on the good, and the bad seems so big and scary.

Things certainly are not finished with Nick, but I guess they won't ever be until God calls him home. Nick is doing well and seems to be handling every thing very well.

Kacie still has tough moments, but who wouldn't. We handle them when they come up and try to move past it.

Taking one day at a time seems to be the best choice. Of course it usually is. I know I don't like who I was becoming with the depression prior to beginning treatment. I want to get well. I want to recover from this grief that I still worry (a little bit) will consume me. I want the kids to move past their grief and be able to laugh about memories of their dad, instead of cry. I want to be able to remember Keith with laughter instead of tears. He was so full of laughter. His sense of humor was one of the first things I fell in love with. I know that I am getting better, because I have a sense of "want to" now. I didn't three weeks ago.

I know it takes time. I have had lots of folks who have walked this path of grief tell me it simply takes time. Time, time, time.


Friday, October 30, 2009

looking backwards in order to look forward

Grief is funny in how uncomfortable it makes people. Sometimes people think that you should move on from your grief when a certain amount of time has passed. Sometimes people think they are being helpful by urging you to move on, to stop looking back at what was, and look forward to what will be. The problem with all of that is for someone dealing with grief (especially from the loss of a child or spouse) you can't always stop looking backwards, and looking forward hurts too much.

You can't help but grieve what you don't have anymore. Everyday without Keith gets harder, not easier. Everyday is another day that I have lived without him as an active part of my life. In the last couple of weeks, I have been faced with an overwhelming amount of emotions. My counselor and doctor both agree that this emotional "cave in" is likely because I didn't have the time, energy, or strength to address all of these emotions while Keith was sick. That's 5 1/2 years of emotions! They are even going out on a limb to say that some of these emotions go all the way back to when Nick was sick as a baby. That's 14 years!

So for me, I have to look backwards in order to look forward. I have to address all of these feelings that are coming to the surface and demanding to be acknowledged. I have to look back at what happened to cause these feelings. I have to let myself feel them. I have to talk about them. I have to hurt, and that's hard for those that love and care about me.

I also have to address and accept the weight of the burdens I've carried for so many years. Many of you have known me long enough to have heard me say at least once in response to the statement, "I just don't see how you have done this." My response being,"I just do what anyone else would do and keep putting one foot in front of the other." While that response is wholly and completely true, it didn't help me to accept the credit for what I've actually done. So much has been focused on Keith and Nick, because it had to be. That isn't wrong. I don't think that I would do anything any differently. Now, in the midst of my grief, the enormity of my life as a wife and mother is demanding to be addressed.

I have to stop operating as if nothing has changed, because everything has changed. I have a lot of emotional baggage to wade through in order to heal. I have to accept that the way I've always done things isn't going to work anymore. I have to work really hard at healing this grief and everything that comes with it. I have to treat myself gently and kindly for awhile. I'm fragile and that's hard for me to accept.

I'm grieving as fast as I can. I cry a lot and at odd times. I look back, because I have to. I can't look forward yet, but I will one day. Have patience with me. I've never done this before and there is no road map.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

16 weeks and counting

Someone told me recently that I should stop counting. I don't want to, so I'm not going to. I'm not keeping up with the days everyday. When it crosses my mind, then it occurs to me how many days it's been. Today, I don't know right off hand how many days it's been. I know that it's been 16 weeks. Sixteen weeks that have been very long and very difficult. I think the weeks are just getting longer and more difficult as time passes.

My counselor thinks that I am indeed very normal in the place that I am at. He thinks I need to stick with the medications (even though I am experiencing some unpleasant side effects) for a little while longer before deciding it isn't working. He also thinks that I have to be patient with my self for a while. This is going to take some time to fix and it will take some time to even notice a difference.

The good news is that I am sleeping more. It's still not enough though. Once again, I have been encouraged to stick with the medication and give it time.

I miss Keith. I miss him so much more with each and every passing day. It is still difficult to accept that THIS is the way our life together turned out. We never dreamed that we would have such a short time together. It is very difficult for me to be around couples our age. I see what I don't have anymore. I can remember when Nick was a baby it was difficult for me to be around healthy babies because mine had cancer.

So many times I have thought that grief is the here and now, but it isn't. Grief is also about losing what you had, and losing what you might have had. Senior night was celebrated at last week's football game. I struggled to keep from falling apart, because it occurred to me that when Nick is recognized on his senior night I will be walking out there without Keith. Nick will be introduced as the son of Kristy Baxley and the late Keith Baxley. My heart broke a little bit more.

I have to stop now. I'm crying. My counselor told me just this morning that it's important that I don't hold back when I am crying. If I keep going, I'm libel to talk my self out of crying. Crazy I know, but that's me.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

the path

Well, it has been a few days since I have met with my family doctor to discuss the place that I am in mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have not been in a good place regarding any of these.

My doctor and counselor both agree that I am indeed suffering from depression. I have been given some medicine to take to hopefully help bring me out of this. I have been assured and reassured that this is a perfectly normal response to losing a spouse.

My doctor and counselor also agree that I am exhausted. I haven't been sleeping very much for a very long time. The doctor also gave me some medicine to help me sleep.

Hopefully, between the two new medications, I can begin to feel like myself and heal.

I have also been assured that this is no quick fix. It will take time and effort on my part, as well as theirs.

There is so much more that I want to say, but I'm not going to tonight. This is still very new to me. I'm not used to being the one that is sick. I'm not used to feeling so fragile. I'm not used to being on the "list" and I'm finding out that I HAVE to be on the list. I have a lot to learn for me to heal.

Thank you for covering me in prayer. I will say that the last few weeks have been some of the most difficult of my life. This last week has been extremely difficult, yet eye opening. God is at work with me. He is letting me know, in some very tangible ways, that He is not going to leave me in this pit of despair.

I know that I am in His grip, especially when I am in the valley of the shadow of death!

Please keep praying!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

15 weeks=105 days= 2524 hours

This is not a countdown. It's a count up. The hours, days, and weeks are adding up.

I need to say that my heart is not in this post. My heart isn't in much lately. I am heartsick and heartbroken. I understand why people die from a broken heart. Don't get all wound up in my saying that! Just because I understand doesn't mean anything beyond that. If you will recall, I mentioned that I was going to be more open with my thoughts and my feelings as I go through this journey of grief. It's not pretty. As a matter of fact, it's down right ugly most of the time.

My lovely and wise counselor only reinforced what he said last week. He feels that it is very important for me to meet with my family doc to discuss my current emotional state of mind. I am sick. Supermom has found her kryptonite. It's called the death of her spouse and it has given her depression.

For years I have wondered, worried and been afraid of when I would reach my limit of what I could handle. Let's be honest. I have handled a lot of things that most people don't have to handle (at least not at the same time). It will be 14 years next month since Nick was diagnosed with stage 3 liver cancer. It was 13 years in September since Nick received a liver transplant. It will be 6 years in December since Keith was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. It was 5 years in August since Keith was diagnosed as having stage 4 colon cancer. It will be 4 years in January since Nick has been diagnosed with a second cancer, PTLD/lymphoma. It will be 3 years in December since Keith was diagnosed as terminal. It will be 2 years in February since Nick has been out of remission and the PTLD/lymphoma came back. It is 6 months since Keith was diagnosed as having metastatic colon cancer to the brain. It has been 15 weeks since Keith died. It has been 12 days since Kacie broke her arm. It's two weeks until we return to Birmingham to learn if Nick will begin his third chemotherapy protocol in his life.

That's where my limit lies. That is what has made me sick. That is why my heart is broken. There is also so much more that I can fill in. Things that just add more weight. Nick nearly dying at least 3 times in those 14 years. Countless surgical procedures and hospital stays for both Keith and Nick. Kacie being rushed to the ER because she had an asthma attack and we didn't know she had asthma. The death of my father and grandfather in one year. So much, so much.

Some of these are more likely to be things that anyone experiences, but the weight that it adds (when the life being lived is shadowed by so much other bad stuff) is tremendous.

So, I am going to meet with my family doctor tomorrow to discuss this place I am in. I am hoping and praying that he can help me get back on the right path (or at least one that is better) so that I can heal. I know that eventually I will heal. I just can't see it now. I am hoping that, between my doctor and my counselor, they can help me not only see where I am going, but get there as well.

I guess I'm turning my supermom cape over and waving the white flag underneath.

Pray for me. I feel more lost than I ever have, more like a failure than I ever have, and more defeated than I ever have. That's about as open and honest as it gets.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

days and nights; nights and days

Days and night; nights and days. That's what my life feels like right now. Everything is simply divided by the passage of time. Lately, most of my days have been difficult. Lately, most of my nights have been difficult.

I keep waiting for the pain, grief, sadness, fatigue, and loneliness to ease. I can't find any ease from it. Not even during sleep. I am not sleeping well. When you don't get "good" sleep for several nights running, it begins to take a toll. I actually came home from taking Nick to school on Friday morning and went back to bed. I had one of the worst headaches I have had in a while. A dear friend, whom I was supposed to go help out that morning, urged me to go back to bed and call her later. Well, later came at 11:00 AM. I slept, but it still wasn't good sleep.

My sleep is overrun with dreams of Keith. It seems like I dream of him nearly every night. At first I couldn't remember my dreams, but I when I awoke I had been crying. Then I began to remember my dreams. My dreams were so vivid and realistic that when I woke up, I was disoriented. I did not remember right away that Keith was gone and my dream was simply a dream. The aftermath of those dreams was like reliving Keith's passing all over again. The grief felt as fresh and raw as it was in the very beginning. Now some of my dreams will have something ridiculous in them that I know, as soon as I wake up, that it was indeed just a dream. However, seeing Keith in my dreams whole, healthy, and full of life (even with the nonsense thrown in) is still devastating. Even when I nap, like Friday morning, I dream about Keith.

If there is a night free from dreams, I don't get enough sleep. It's usually after 11:00 or midnight before I can even fall asleep. Then I usually wake up after only a few hours. Most of the time I can go back to sleep, but it isn't too much longer before I'm up with the kids.

I've gone long term without good sleep before. The amount of time I have logged in a hospital has seen to that. I know that eventually the lack of sleep will catch up. I am worried about it catching up. I'm worried about how I will handle needing to rest, but having to care for my kids. Keith has always been there for me to take up where I leave off, to give me a chance to recover and recoup.

What do I do now? How do I do this? I don't have these answers. I don't expect anyone else to have them either. It's just another layer of this new life that I haven't figured out.

I will be meeting with my doctor soon to talk about the physicality of my grief. I still meet with my counselor every Tuesday. I hope these steps are enough to help me find the answers to get through this place that I'm in now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

100 days and 100 nights

100 days since Keith died. 100 days since I've held my husband's hand. 100 days since I've kissed him. 100 days since he entered the gates of Heaven. 100 days he has been healed. 100 days that have been some of the longest, hardest, saddest, and loneliest days of my entire life.

As I am writing this, the clock on the computer has rolled over to 10:01 pm. Ten o'clock has been my bedtime for years. Of course, bedtime for me means that's when I get in the bed, but I watch TV (usually until I fall asleep). So for me right now marks the beginning of my 100th night without my husband by my side. These 100 nights have been some of the darkest, loneliest, saddest, soul wrenching times I have ever experienced. Last night, my 99th night, was one of the most difficult nights I have had in several weeks. That's saying a lot too, because several of my nights have been hard. They haven't been as hard as last night. I don't know what made last night hard, but it was. I cried for a long time. I cried myself to sleep sometime after midnight I think. I missed Keith with such fierceness I thought it would consume me. I couldn't find comfort anywhere in my house or within myself. I couldn't stop crying. The only things I could do were cling to his pillow, cry hard, and plead with God to help me and comfort me.

God did comfort and help me. I know this because I fell asleep. He gave my broken heart enough peace for me to sleep.

I don't know how I am tonight. I'm teary. I'm sad. I'm heart broken. I don't know if I am devastated like I was last night. I didn't think I was when I went to bed, but it ambushed me while I was trying to go to sleep.

I am a little afraid of going to bed tonight. I am afraid of being so overcome with despair once again. I was afraid to go to sleep the night before Keith died. I remember that feeling of fear that Keith would die while I was asleep. That was before I called the hospice nurse to come over. That was before I was told Keith was in the immediate process of dying. That was before my 100 nights began. That was the last night I had with my husband alive but suffering, conscious but unable to fully communicate, trying to breathe yet unable to get enough oxygen.

It all began about this time (10:20 pm on June 6) 101 nights ago.

Monday, October 12, 2009

14 weeks and counting

Tomorrow is the 14 week mark since Keith's death. It will be 98 days. We are fast approaching the three digit mark. That realization just devastates me. Today has been very hard for me. I do believe that I am dealing with symptoms of depression once again. I will be meeting with my wonderful counselor in the morning. I have complete trust that he will help me get back on the right path, if indeed I have strayed.

I don't know exactly why today has been so difficult, unless it is because of the realization that it is indeed October. Okay, I know that it has been October for almost two weeks now. So why right? Well, it goes back to April 18. That is the day that Keith had the seizure. That is the day that I consider the beginning of the end. October 18 would be the day Keith could resume driving again. Once someone has had a seizure, they are unable to drive for 6 months. Once the 6 month mark passes and the person has not had any additional seizures, he will be allowed to drive again. Keith was LIVING for that day to come. To be quite honest, so was I.

October 18 was our goal of life returning to our previous state of normal. It is another layer of grief being uncovered! Keith is not here to be able to drive again! I can't help but feel like this is completely unfair. It isn't like we were expecting him to be cured on that date. We were just expecting things to go back one step. We were expecting to put the whole entire episode of the seizure, brain tumors, hospitalization, and radiation behind us. We were planning to resume living, AND WE DIDN'T GET TO!!!!!

Then there is also the fact that we are very quickly approaching the holiday season. My November 23, 2008 post goes into detail explaining some of the reasons why the holiday season is hard for me. I am absolutely dreading this year. It's coming. I can't stop it. I'm afraid I'm not strong enough to get myself through it, much less make it special for my kids.

I know that I keep asking to be covered in prayer, but I truly do believe that God is the only One who can heal this broken heart of mine. Please pray for me, especially during these next weeks that are sure to be painful.

I'm trying to remain...

In His Grip, even though I am surely in the valley of the shadow of death


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 months

Today marks three months since Keith died. So far, today hasn't been as difficult emotionally as I thought it would be. However, the day is not over and I really haven't had the time to really focus on how I am doing today.

We are in Birmingham today for yet another checkup with Nick. Nick is also receiving another dose of IVIG. The checkup went well. Nothing new to report there. Of course, we will be waiting to hear back from the blood tests to see exactly how active the EBV is, and next month will be the next CT scans to check the growth of the cancer.

I am going to take some time to whine a little bit. I am so tired of coming every month. It is better than coming every week, which is likely to happen if Nick has to start taking chemo again. I wish Nick could be well. I wish Keith didn't die. I wish the two guys that I love the most in this world didn't have to fight cancer. I wish for so many things that I can't have. I don't understand even a small portion of all of the "why's" of the last 14 years, the last 5 1/2 years, the last 4 years, and especially the last 3 months. I am tired of just getting through each and every day.

I know I should probably just focus on the good. At least I am getting through each day. At lease Keith is healed. At least Nick doesn't need chemo today. At least, at least, at least. I could go on all day long.

How was our vacation? It was really nice. Yes, it was difficult at times. I don't enjoy driving in Atlanta. I don't know of many who do though. We went to the Coca-cola Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and to Turner Field for a Braves game. We also ate at The Varsity, which is an Atlanta must. What'll ya have? What'll ya have? What'll ya have? We decided not to go to the CNN Center and tour the studio. I could not figure out where to park and the one place I found to park cost $20.00. I just didn't think that was worth the money!

We did a little bit of shopping at the Tanger outlet mall at Exit 212 on I-75 S. That's always fun for me at least. I didn't feel outlet mall deprived by doing that. Every time we have gone to the beach, whether fall break or summer vacation, I go shopping at the Tanger outlet mall in Foley. I had been feeling pretty down. There were a lot of memories that haunted me while we were on this trip. Memories of our last "normal" trip to the beach on this same week of last year. That reality is hard to face and then accept. This may not make sense, but remember I've said before that grief doesn't make sense. So, being able to shop at a Tanger mall at the time of year I've gotten used to was nice and helped to ease the hurt just a little. I only bought one thing, so I know it wasn't retail therapy. I do think that it was just doing something that I have done while on vacation for the last several years that helped.

I also went to a Joann's Fabric Store for the first time since Keith died. For those that know me well, you know that Joann's is my favorite store in the whole world. There isn't one in Huntsville. The closest ones are in Franklin, TN and Hoover, AL. The Hoover location just opened a couple of weeks ago. I usually go to the Joann's in Pensacola, FL when we are vacationing at the beach. Yes, I go fabric shopping while on vacation. Keith tolerated my love of fabric with lots of love. My fabric stash was always a running joke in our house.

So, we had a good time. The kids weren't ready to come home. It did me good to get away for a few days. I'm not in a hurry to go anyway again for awhile. So far, I haven't fallen into the depression I dealt with when we returned from our Bama game trip a couple of weekends ago. It may still happen, but I'm hoping I am stronger now than I was then. There are days I don't think so.

I'm still having to remind myself that God is here. That He is with me while I am in the valley of the shadow of death.

Thank you for continually lifting us up in prayer.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Another first

This afternoon and the next few days will mark another first in the journey that the kids and I embarked upon on July 7 of this year. (That's the day Keith died.) We will be taking our first vacation type trip this weekend. We are starting small and just going to Atlanta for a few days. I have a very sweet friend, Anita, who is accompanying us so I don't have to do this first alone.

I have to say that I have been dragging my feet all week long on making preparations for this trip. It isn't that I don't want to go. I am excited about going. I just don't want to be somewhere that I can't associate with Keith. Every place we are going, we have never been with Keith. None of us. Keith and I had only gone to Atlanta twice in our 17 years of marriage. Once for my birthday the first year we were married. We spent a couple of days at Six Flags. The second time was a couple of years ago. Keith and I took the kids to a Nascar truck race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (We couldn't afford the "big" race that weekend.)

I really don't want to be away from our house, especially not for 4 days. I don't want to be away from our bedroom, away from Keith's things, away from the grief. What!!! You may ask. That's right. I don't want to be away from the grief. Even though it is painful and miserable, it is what I know. It is my comfort zone. Living outside of grief is not something I am familiar with. It is the unknown and that is very scary to me right now. No one likes to be out of their comfort zone. Grief is all I have known for 12 weeks, 3 days, 1 hour, and 52 minutes (as of when I am writing this). It's ALL I have known. I want more than anything to cocoon myself in this grief where I feel that it's all I have left of Keith. I don't want to know that I can live life without him by my side. I don't want to know that I am capable of being happy without feeling sadness or grief. I don't want to move on.

Now, I KNOW that is the grief talking. That is my broken heart talking. That is my flesh talking. I also know that in pain there is healing. Driving away from our house this afternoon will be difficult, but I need to do this. My kids need me to do this. I will go simply because the kids are looking forward to this trip so much. It's what they are used to. We have gone on a fall break vacation for the last few years. They have been afraid that we would never "do" the family things that we did with Keith anymore. I have to do this to let them see that it is okay to live life, even when your dad has died. I need to let them see that life doesn't have to be all sadness and grief. Just because that is how I feel, doesn't mean that is how they feel. Children grieve differently than adults. My kids need to know that this is OKAY!

So, off we go for our first family vacation without Keith. Yes, I am crying right now. Can't hardly see to type for the tears. That is a very hard sentence to type, much less speak. This is our first family vacation without Keith. In speaking it and seeing it, comes acceptance. With acceptance, comes the pain and sadness. Through the pain and sadness, comes healing.

Please cover us in prayer this weekend for travel mercies, peace filled and happy hearts, and that we stay well.

If I have Internet access and some down time, I may post during our trip on how we are doing.

Still in His grip, even while in the valley of the shadow of death!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 weeks

Last week I mentioned that I would be more open with expressing my truest feelings. Here they are, ready or not!

Today is 12 weeks...aka 84 days. I hate it! I don't like this life this way. I didn't ask for it. I don't want this to be my life anymore. I want so badly to change it, but I can't.

Please don't take that to mean that I would consider quitting or anything like that. My counselor, whom I saw today BTW, assures me that I am not suffering from full out depression...yet. I am simply grieving and missing my husband, friend, companion, etc. with a soul deep yearning that is painful. No one likes anything painful. This life I am forced to live right now was put upon me with out my choosing. It also came without any kind of rules or instruction manual. I don't know which step to take next.

The only thing that I KNOW is that I miss my husband so completely and thoroughly it hurts! There is not one single moment of any day that passes without me missing him, without me grieving him, without me wanting him here. For the majority of the last 12 weeks, I have clung to the comfort that Keith wasn't suffering anymore. No one wants to see a loved one suffer. I still live daily with the memories of Keith's suffering. I wish he were still here...without having to suffer. I want something that I can't have. I don't know that this point in my grief would be considered anger, but it is certainly frustration.

So many things are happening that I wish Keith were here to help me with and through. Nick was diagnosed with H1N1 flu during this past weekend. It was (and still is) very scary. Nick is so high risk. He developed bronchitis from the flu almost immediately. As a matter of fact, that's why I took him to the doctor. He sounded like he had bronchitis. I wasn't expecting to hear that he had the flu as well. I've been worried that we would have to go to Birmingham. Those worries brought on worries about Kacie and who would take care of her. How could I possibly be with both children at the same time? I would have to choose Nick over her. I am so tired of having to choose. Nick's body seems to be handling the flu pretty well. He hasn't had any major issues from it yet. I'm continuing to hope and pray that he won't develop any and that he will heal quickly. We don't have to go to Birmingham for this as long as he continues to do well.

Anyway, all of this gives a tiny little glimpse into my head and heart over the last few days.

Thank you for covering me in prayer. I'm still not through this rough patch in my grief. I'm still spending some time every day crying. However, it's not as bad as it was last week. I can wear my contacts! I couldn't do that for a few days last week. I still haven't found the energy to take care of the routine things around the house that I put off last week. I had finally found a little bit of a routine when the depression of last week hit. Nick's flu diagnosis pushed me back a little bit. I am hoping that each day will continue to get better for me. I am hoping that I can feel stronger again. I was there, but I'm not now. I am trying to remind myself that God is continually with me and the children. He has not left us, although it feels like it at times. I am trying to remember that these steps backward do not mean that the steps forward I have taken are gone. I am trying to remind myself that each step is a baby step forward. Like babies do, sometimes I will fall and get scraped up. The main thing is that I keep getting back up and trying again.

My quote for the time being is:

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." Mother Teresa

I am also reminding myself that I am still in His grip, even while in the valley of the shadow of death.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

11 weeks

Yesterday marked 11 weeks since Keith went to his heavenly home. I would like to say that yesterday was spent with happy reflections on a beautiful life spent with beautiful children and tons of beautiful memories. I can't!

Yesterday I was an absolute mess. I have been a mess for the last three days. It has taken every ounce of my being to get up in the mornings, get the kids off to school , and face whatever I have to face that day. Yesterday was the worst. I was a complete and total mess yesterday. My lovely counselor told me, yes I may feel like a mess, but I am a functioning mess. I was not in a fetal position curled up on the floor unable to make any kind of coherent sound. Okay. I'll accept that. I wasn't that big of a mess, but I was enough of a mess for me that I wanted to quit! I wanted to quit grieving, quit getting up every day, quit putting my shoes on and walking, just quit, quit, quit! But I didn't.

I guess in reality I don't know how to quit. I just always keep on walking. I keep on doing whatever has to be done, whether I want to or not. I just do it, and I don't quit. Maybe sometimes I should quit. Maybe sometimes quitting some things would be better for me than continuing along on the wrong path. These things have made me reconsider some decisions I've made about my blog and other things. I've always thought that this blog would not just be sounding board for myself (my calm in the eye of the storm), but also a place that someone else could find something that they were looking for to help themselves out on their own journey. Well, I can't do that anymore.

What I've said may bother some of you that have known me for so long. I'm sorry for that. I have made a decision to be more open with my feelings. Let me explain why. I found myself sitting in my grief support group meeting last night unable to share what has been going on with me for the past week. I couldn't and I wouldn't. While listening to the others share, I realized that a major part of why I would not/could not share was simply because I did not have anything nice or uplifting to say AT ALL! I didn't want to burden the others with my mess. I am holding a lot of my truest feelings in mainly because I don't want to let some one else see a weakness in me. In reality, I am very weak. Since Keith's death, I have been weaker than I have ever been. I have realized that in my weakness is God's strength. I can't be open to the help that others can give me if I don't let them see my needs and my feelings.

This probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that is how grief works for me. It doesn't make sense. I am realizing that grief has many facets. In some ways it is like a diamond. In it's rawest form, it is ugly and doesn't look like it is worth much. After quite a bit of honing and polishing, the beauty of the diamond begins to show through. Now, that process of honing and polishing is quite painful (if the diamond were a living thing that could feel). In the end, we are left with something exquisite and beautiful. Something that has worth. Something that looked nothing like what it started out as being. Grief is like that. I know that, throughout all of this honing and polishing, one day I will be able to hold in my hand a precious, exquisite, beautiful diamond that came out of this grief. That diamond will contain so many facets, it will be blinding. That diamond will hold all of the beauty of the life that Keith lived. All of the many beautiful moments that we spent together from the early days of first love to the last day of bliss filled peace. I can't have that diamond with those facets without the honing and the polishing. IT IS PAINFUL! But I wouldn't change it. I know that in my pain there lies the beauty. In my pain, lies the healing. If I didn't feel this pain, I wouldn't love Keith the way I do. And oh! Do I love that man!

Today we have been apart for 78 days. 78 days that instead of decreasing, my love for him has increased. 78 days that have been the most painful of my life. 78 days. 78 days. 78 days.

In these 78 days, I have a new found relationship with my God. My God is the only One that can heal this broken heart of mine. My God is the only One who can comfort me when I am in so much pain I don't think I can bear it another second. My God is the only One who can take this ugliness of grief and turn it into a diamond. My God is the only One who can heal me and make me whole again. My God has to be first not last. My God is the only One who has the POWER for me to see my husband again. My God is THE ONLY ONE!

Pray for me dear ones! I need to be covered up in prayer. I am struggling with this thing called grief. I miss Keith dearly. My heart feels like it's been broken into a million pieces. Only God has the power to put them back together again. There are times when I don't think that I can bear up another second. There are times I am completely overwhelmed and I can't find my way.

I know that I am...

Still in His grip, even though I am certainly in the valley of the shadow of death.