It’s Hard to Know~

I can’t help but wish I would have paid more attention.

So many things – some big, some not so big, but all things nonetheless –  I wish I would have observed, locked away in my memory, or delved deeper into your heart in search of answers to or understanding about.

It’s not that I didn’t notice, or didn’t care, or didn’t take note, Handsome, because I did.  I certainly did – more detailed notes and more in depth observations then you would ever imagine, but maybe not deep enough.

It’s hard to say.

It’s hard to know.

How can you ever be sure you have known someone completely?

How can you ever be sure you have squeezed all the knowing of someone out of a relationship, out of a conversation, out of a hug or a kiss?

I can’t help but feel there were still facets of you that went unopened -uniquely you aspects still for me to discover, unlock, embrace, learn and grow from.

If you were still here, I would try to sit you down and talk you into a game of “twenty questions”. But, no – that would never have worked because 1.) you would never have played, and 2.) you don’t discover the depth of someone by asking a million and one questions.

You discover the very heart and the very essence of who someone is by living with them, dreaming with them, laughing and crying with them, failing and succeeding with them, wounding and healing with them, fighting and surrendering with them, flying high and laying low with them, breathing in and breathing out with them – day after day after day.

And, maybe this is why I feel I have come up short.

Maybe this is why I can’t shake the overwhelming feeling there was more of you to know.

I’m not yet ready to stop living, dreaming, laughing, crying, failing, succeeding, flying high, laying low, breathing in, breathing out, living life with you day in and day out.

I want more.  More of you.  More of us.  More of life – together.

Maybe I did pay attention, after all.  I just long for more time with you to give my attention to. Maybe I did glean from you all that God intended for me to, it’s just I long to glean more. Maybe I did untap the all of you that made you uniquely you, it’s just I long to untap more.

Maybe I did love you completely, it’s just I long to love you more.

It’s hard to say.

It’s hard to know.

How can you ever be sure you have known someone completely?

If only I could know you more.  If only I could.

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Enjoy, Baby! Enjoy!

I sit on the porch, a light rain serenading me in the background.  As the cool breeze caresses my face, I can’t help but think of you.  I don’t know who loved rainy weather more – you or me.  The fact that we loved it together, one of God’s sweetest blessings.

It rained yesterday afternoon, too.  I can’t remember a Spring quite like this one ever before – cool, comfortable days, followed by even cooler nights. And, this rain.  Here, in the desert. Here in May.  Definitely, not the norm.

But, then again – since you’ve been gone, nothing seems to be normal.  Most of the “no longer normals” have been hard to welcome into my life, but not this rain.  I sit here on the patio and breathe it in deep. Then, I breathe it in deep again.  It it precious refreshment to my parched heart.  And yes, if I think about you not here enjoying it with me, it can bring tears.  But, for some reason, these rain-induced tears seem to have a cleansing touch to them.

I think back to so many other rainy nights of the past.  Me, here on the patio.  You, just on the other side of our sliding glass door, seated in your favorite chair, watching a good game of hoops or enjoying a show all about elk. As the rain would pitter-patter, and my body would start to unwind, I couldn’t help but call out to you.

“It’s SOOOOOOO beautiful, Handsome.  SO very beautiful out here.  Love the rain!”

And your reply, (each and every single time)

“Enjoy, Baby! Enjoy!”

And, it hits me – for the first time in 104 days – that in your absence, enjoy has not been what I have been doing.  In fact, I have been doing everything but enjoying.

I’ve been crying, trying, struggling and wallowing.

I’ve been hating, debating, flip-flopping and questioning.

I’ve been wondering, replaying, avoiding, and wrestling.

I’ve been remembering, forgetting, reliving, and rearranging.

But, enjoying.

Nope, it didn’t even come close to making the list.

And, it hits me – for the first time in 104 days – that me not enjoying, would break your heart. Because, most of your enjoyment was a direct result of my enjoyment.  It delighted your heart to know I was enjoying something. Big enjoyment. Little enjoyment.  Mediocre enjoyment.  It didn’t matter.  If I enjoyed it, you enjoyed the fact that I did.

“104 days, Beautiful?  You’ve let 104 precious days, filled to overflowing with opportunities for enjoyment, slip right by?”  As this thought – words I can almost hear you saying – penetrates my heart, I can see the look on your face, and yes, who could help but see, the shake of your head.

“I know, Handsome. I know. But, . . .”

“Uh huh. Nope. You’ve got nothing to say, Beautiful. No reason to justify your total lack of enjoyment. Maybe you need to get up from your seat on the patio and head inside the house and over to the door leading out to the garage.”

I know exactly where you would be going with this line of thought, if indeed you were here with me.  I know all too well what is waiting for me to re-discover on our garage door.

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That yellow sticky note has been there greeting me each and every time I go out into our garage for as long as I can remember.  And, you’re right.  (I know me admitting that would spark that cute look you always seemed to get when you were right, and I knew it.)

Joy.  It is a choice.  And, it is one of the precious fruit of the Spirit.  Tucked in with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is joy. Second in line, matter of fact.  And yet, with each  precious fruit given by the Holy Spirit, it is up to me to yield, to surrender, to choose to allow this fruit to grow and rule in my heart and life.  It is a choice – my choice.

Joy –  like all the other fruit – is an all-season fruit. It is capable of being present in my life no matter the season I may find myself in.  Spring – joy.  Summer – joy.  Fall – joy.  Winter – joy.  It is there to be discovered in the all of my life.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ~James 1:2-4

And, I remember the words written in red, penned by you, my love. “Your choices determine your destiny and happiness.  Choose to be thankful. Choose to be joyful.”

It is this choosing joy – no matter the season, no matter the circumstance, no matter the situation – that eventually, as God works out His perfect will in my life, leads me to be complete, lacking nothing.  It is this choosing joy – no matter how I feel, no matter how I don’t feel – that eventually will lead me to my God-given destiny and true happiness found in and through Christ Jesus, my Lord.

As the rain quiets and the hush of the night closes in, I want so much to call out to you from here on the patio to where I wish you were sitting on the other side of our sliding glass door, “It’s SOOOOOOO beautiful, Handsome.  SO very beautiful out here!”

And, I realize the choice I have to make now is this:  Will I choose to go 105 days without enjoying?

“Enjoy, Baby!  Enjoy!”

And, with tears streaming down my face, my only appropriate response is this: “I will, Handsome. I will.”

If only I could tell you.  If only I could.

Becoming One Again~

“You know what it is?” I ask out loud to a living room of one. “It’s the whole “two are better than one” principle.  That’s exactly what it is.”

(And, admittedly, talking out loud to myself, is part of what it is, too.)

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves. ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One too many ice cream shakes.

Far too many sleepless nights.

Harder falls with even harder pick-me-back-ups.

Too much taking myself seriously and not enough of you to put my eyes back on God.

“Yes, this is what it is, Handsome.”

Marriage isn’t easy, make no mistake about that.  Two lives, two minds, two hearts, two dreams, two opinions, two “know it alls” trying to mesh into one.  No wonder marriage is for life – without a doubt, it takes a lifetime  for the “two to become one”.

It takes a whole lot of dancing to learn the steps and to finally enjoy waltzing through life.

But, what happens when death cuts in (unwelcome, uninvited, unplanned) and leaves you dancing on the dance floor alone?

What happens when one of the two who have become one, is now one again?

Yes, two people becoming one union is hard.

The only thing harder: Becoming one again after having been united. 

Yes, I have family.  And, yes, I have friends.  And, yes, Handsome – everyone has gone above and beyond to encourage, to comfort, to support, to be there for me.

But the thing is this: No one knows me like you do.

No one understands my hopes and is aware of my fears.  No one can predict how I will react before I react.  No one can hear what my eyes are saying.  No one can talk me down, talk me up, balance me out and keep me grounded.  Like you.

No one knows our history.  No one can sight a leading of God in the past to encourage me to step out into the future.  No one can quote a scripture with a memory connected to it.  No one can rekindle my faith, reboot my courage, re-ignite my passion.  Like you.

Except God.  And, of course, God is always the exception who is exceptional at all of this and so much more.

But, I miss the second best part of me, –
the part that was second best
to the best part of me, God.

I miss my dancing partner.  I miss your words, and your humor.  I miss your look and your hand in mine.  I miss your zeal and your enthusiasm.  I miss your honesty and your spontaneity.  I miss your hugs and you wrapping me in prayer each morning and each night.

“The hardest part for me was feeling like part of me was missing. Because, it was.”

My mom told me these words a couple of days after you were gone.  Kneeling on the floor in the hallway, outside the bathroom door where you took your last breath, sobbing uncontrollably and wanting nothing more than you back, she – having walked this walk before me – walked over to me and said those words.

A couple of months later, one night while talking with her on the phone, she said them again.

No wonder I feel so lost.  No wonder I feel so empty.  No wonder I feel so “not like me” anymore.

“Yes, that’s what it is?” I say out loud to a living room of one. “It’s the whole “two are better than one” principle.  That’s exactly what it is.”

While the missing you is hard,  and while the trying to become one “me” again after years of becoming one “us” is pulling me apart, I lift my hands to Heaven and thank God, for the better I had with you.

A beautiful better.

A better beyond what I could have ever hoped better to be.

A better I would choose to do with you over and over and over again,

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if only I could.  If only I could.

 

If Only You Could . . .

I pull away from the drive thru window, shake in hand, and a million questions on my heart.

As I wind my way around the building and the other cars parked at the drive-up stalls and make my way back to the street, I can’t help but see in the distance, the old familiar parking lot where your truck could always be found.

As I take a sip of my shake, and wipe a tear, I ask out loud, “What am I going to do, Handsome? What am I going to do without you?  What would you say to me?  What would you tell me to do?  What advice would you share with me? What would you tell me if only you could?”

And immediately, in my mind’s ear, I hear your voice: “Well, for one thing, you don’t need any more Oreo shakes! Seriously, Beautiful. Eat something healthy, not a shake.”

Sometimes, a Sonic located just down the street, along with 1/2 price shakes after 8:00 pm, is not a good thing.

And always, having to drive past the parking lot next to it, where you spent your days blessing others and earning a paycheck, it not a good thing either.  Honestly, it is the one – that leads me to the other.

The missing you each and every time I drive by. The not being able to swing through the parking lot on my lunch break and steal a hug and a kiss. The not being able to sneak a note into your truck for you to discover at quitting time. The not being able to spot you walking across the parking lot helping someone with a purchase out to their car. It is all this not being able to that has me ordering shake after shake.

Because, the missing you doesn’t stop once I drive past that parking lot. It flows right on into our home. The not being able to dosey doe with you in the tiny space we called our kitchen – you always right in the middle of it, sprinkling a little of this in that, adding a pinch of that to this, stirring up this, and frying up that.

And yes, of course, you’re right.  I have had enough shakes in the past three months to last a lifetime.  But what else, I wonder. What else would you tell me?

And again, I no sooner finish the question before my heart hears your answer from so many times nights before:

“You need your rest, Beautiful.  Don’t worry about doing that right now. It can wait until tomorrow.  You need to head to the shower and then, head to bed.  If you don’t get enough rest, it’s going to catch up to you. Get your rest, baby.”

Sleep never has come easy for me, even with you slumbering away beside me.  Now, our bed is my least favorite place in our home. And to think, all these years, up until about a year ago, we shared a  small full-size bed, back to back or nestled together.  Now, alone without you, in our barely broken in queen size bed, I feel lost, and almost as though I am drowning in the aloneness.  Sleep – nope.  Rest – I’m trying, Handsome, I really am.

Knowing  you always knew the deepest fear of my heart, I can see you lower your gaze, and in the tenderest of voices speak again, words you spoke so many times before:

“And, don’t worry so much about how you’re going to get through this, Beautiful.  Don’t worry so much about what lies down the road, around the next bend, waiting in the next month. Don’t worry about what you’re going to do then.  We don’t even know if we’ll be around to see tomorrow.  All you have been given is today, this moment, right now.  Don’t worry about tomorrow, honey.  Simply try to enjoy today.”

I think about you.  Here one moment, talking to me on the phone, gone the very next second before I could even make my way through the front door.  Life doesn’t come with a guarantee. We aren’t promised next year, next month, tomorrow or even our next breath.  I thought I knew this cold, hard fact before.  I certainly know it now.

And, you’re right.  It is this looking beyond today that has me struggling the most.  The missing you is intense.  The sorrow and grief, overwhelming.  But this worry about tomorrow, crippling. Suffocating. Paralyzing.  Trying to comprehend the rest of my life (not just the next hour) without you – TOO MUCH.

Again, words from you flood my memory:

“Remember when the Holy Spirit entered my heart in March, 1979?  What was the first scripture I told you I ever read?  Remember, Beautiful?”

And, I do.  How could I ever forget? You told me this story (and anyone else who would listen) over and over and over again. Unlike, most stories that are re-told and begin to sound like a broken record, this story only sounder sweeter and sweeter each time you shared it.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

~Matthew 6:33-34

SO very sweet.

SO very precious.

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Exactly what I needed.

Exactly what you would tell me if only you could.  If only you could . . .

 

 

 

Dining on Life~

Three months.

You would love the slow and easy way summer is meandering in this year, – cool nights and picture perfect days.

The turtles are out and about with some tiny, new additions to their ever growing family. The older ones come by the patio door quite frequently. Like me, I think they are expecting you to come bounding out of the house any minute now.

You’d be proud. In our annual “who can get more cherries, the birds or us?” race, I was declared the winner!

Sleeping without you still makes one night feel like a month long and the moon, since you’ve been gone, strangely, has gone unnoticed.

I found a card I had written to you when we first started dating, “until you, I didn’t realize I was living my life in black and white, mute button on, and not fully tasting, breathing in, and experiencing life.” Such truth in those words penned so long ago. …now without you, I am back to black and white. You took all the life with you.

You made everything and every day a special occasion. I think this is why I miss you so much. Remember this night?

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My 29th birthday? Yep! That’s right! Dinner at “The Incredible”.  And, it WAS incredible!

I loved dining on life with you.

Thank you, baby.

Until we dine together again, I’m carrying all your precious love in my heart. ❤️

If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .

On Cherries and Death~

I’ve never thought about cherries and death in the same thought before. Really, do you suppose anyone has? And yet, yesterday, as I was picking cherries from our cherry tree, these two things – cherries and death – were tumbling over and over in my mind and blending together.

Trying to intermingle them both in the same thought might seem like quite a stretch.  But honestly, here in this new place of trying to make sense in my mind of what often times seems senseless to my heart, is truly the greatest stretch of all.

I hadn’t planned to pick the cherries. What started out as me simply grabbing the hose so I could give the turtles some water, led me to the side of the house and the cherry tree.  Reaching down to grab the nozzle of the hose, I found myself looking up from under a canopy of green leaves, dotted with cherries.

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Not ripe cherries.  Not quite ready to pick cherries. But, cherries red enough to be attracting birds who were willing to take a test bite to see if these cherries were “done”.

“Crazy birds. Only a peck on this one and a little bite on that one.  Just enough to ruin the entire cherry! These aren’t ready to be picked yet.  They could stay on the tree a little bit longer, but in order to save them from the birds, I think we should go ahead and pick them now.”

You had spoken these words to me last year.  And, the year before that.  And the year before that.  And, as I stood there, I could hear you speaking them again as plain as yesterday.

So, I pulled the hose around to the back of the house, filled up the water dish for the turtles, and then headed back to the tree.

And, that’s when it hit me:  This out of the blue notion of cherries and death somehow fitting together, somehow helping me take the broken pieces of my heart and fit them back together in a way that made sense.

As I stood on tiptoes, grabbing hold of one the highest branches and pulling it down to me, I felt my spirit reaching up as far as it could stretch to grasp a spiritual truth. As I  began to pluck each untouched, unmarred cherry still clinging to the branch, my memory was pricked by a scripture I had pondered over twenty-two years ago when your sister, Mary, passed away of cancer at the young age of 43.

Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. ~Isaiah 57:1

As this long-forgotten scripture resurfaced in my heart, I heard the words you had spoken year after year.

“Crazy birds. Only a peck on this one and a little bite on that one.  Just enough to ruin the entire cherry! These aren’t ready to be picked yet.  They could stay on the tree a little bit longer,but in order to save them from the birds, I think we should go ahead and pick them now.”

And, I thought about you.  61. Not young, but certainly not old.  In my humble human opinion, you were one not quite ready to be picked yet.  And we both know, if it had been up to me, I would have loved for you to stay on this earth quite a bit longer.

But, could it be –

the words of Isaiah are words that not only apply to your sister, but to you, as well?

Could it be, God, in His mercy and tender kindness was protecting you from the evil to come?

As I bent branches low, and plucked one unripe cherry after another, I couldn’t stop wiping one tear after another.  And, I tried to understand the timing of harvest; taking now to prevent what might happen then.  Taking too soon before it becomes too late.

And, while it might be a stretch – a huge stretch indeed, to mingle cherries and death in a spiritual way, this new revelation brought peace to my heart.  It eased the heartache of missing you just a bit.  It opened the eyes of my heart to see a sliver of blessing peeking out between the dark clouds of sorrow and grief.  It caused me to look deeper, to understand greater, to appreciate stronger the heart of our God.

“He died way too soon.”

“His life ended way before it should have.”

“He was taken too early.”

Written in cards of sympathy, spoken to me at your service, shared with me even still, these words always accompany news of your passing.  And until yesterday, until I stood beneath our cherry tree, plucking cherries that weren’t quite ripe, these words hurt.

But now, I see them from a different angle.

I see them as a reminder of the goodness of our Heavenly Father.  I see them as proof of His tender love for His children.  I see them as a most precious gesture of protection and watchcare. I see them as words that bring healing and comfort.

And maybe, just maybe, this connection between cherries and death is the first step in me beginning to find peace in the pain.

And, I can’t help but wonder what you would say about this “revelation”.

If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .