Take Heart, My Friend~

Once a Daddy’s girl, always a Daddy’s girl, and I truly was.  I remember as Daddy was getting weaker and weaker and his eyes were growing dimmer and dimmer,  one night you rolled over so close to me in our bed and whispered, “Prepare your heart, Beautiful.”

I remember looking right at you, my teary eyes surprised by the tears in yours, and asking, “How?”

With a look that said, “I’m not really sure”, you simply said again, so gently and oh, so softly, “You really need to start preparing your heart.”

You were right.  A short time later, my precious Daddy passed away.  And when he went, it felt as though the rug of all I ever knew,  the foundation of all I ever knew to stand upon was pulled right out from underneath me in one quick, hard swoop.

A few days later, you came home with a CD in your hand.

“I’ve got something for you, Beautiful.  Come sit down for a minute, Baby.  I want you to hear something.”

You placed the CD in the tray, pushed it in, and in the next moments, touched my heart in a way I will never forget.  You sat next to me, took my hand in yours, and together we listened as Fernando sang, “Take Heart, My Friend”.

And, we did.  We went together, you and me, side by side, walking the journey of grief. You were there to wipe tears when they fell, you were there to steady me when memories caught me off guard, you were there to remind me to be thankful for the precious gift of my father – to remember what I had, not what I lost. You, my Handsome Honey, helped my heart take heart and keep moving forward.

Yes, losing my precious Daddy was hard. But, losing you – there is no comparison. So many people who have lost a parent, but not a spouse, have commented, “I know how you feel. When I lost my dad . . .” Or, “I know how you feel, when I lost my mom . . . “. But honestly, Handsome, I doubt they do.  Losing you feels absolutely nothing like losing my father.

My love for my father ran deep, long, and strong – but he wasn’t the one I built a life with.  My love for my father was precious and irreplaceable – but it wasn’t the love between a man and wife, – a love that brings out the best and the worst in you, a love that challenges you, convicts you, and changes you, a love that God can use to refine you and mold you more into His image, a love that God, through the blessedness of holy matrimony,  uses to create in a man and wife a heart that is more holy like His.

When I lost my father, I lost my father.  But, when I lost you, Handsome, I lost me. Because what I realize now more than ever is that somewhere over the course of our time together, somehow as we went about living our days as Mr. and Mrs., someway through living out our vow of “til death do us part”,  I became so meshed into you, and you became so meshed into me, that I don’t know where you stop and where I begin, or where you begin and I stop.  All I know is a huge part of me is missing now.

In an odd way – each time I step out the front door, I feel half-dressed.  I feel as though I’m not quite put together, that part of me is exposed, that my covering – the covering that came from submitting to your manhood as head of our home has now been ripped away, leaving me unguarded.

I feel unsteady, incapable, overwhelmed, and undone. I feel that once again, the rug of all I ever knew,  the foundation of all I ever knew to stand upon has been pulled right out from underneath me in one quick, hard swoop.

But today, Father’s Day, has me remembering back to my father and the gentle way you led me through that period of uncertainty, insecurity, and new.  And the way you did it, Handsome – the way you helped my heart take heart – was by pointing me back to The One who never changes, The Rock who can never be pulled out from underneath us, the very God who promises to never leave us or forsake us.

I slip the CD into the tray, and I sit on the couch.  And even though you are not here to sit beside me, I know I am not sitting alone.  For my God, the very God who our precious union as man and wife has drawn me into such intimate fellowship with, is here in my midst. He is here to comfort me, to steady me when memories of you catch me off guard, to remind me to be thankful for the precious gift of you – to remember what I had, not what I have lost. He is here to help my heart take heart and keep moving forward. He, the very Lover of my soul, is sitting beside me.

And once again, I hear the words of Fernando:

Our faithful God has always gone before us
And He will lead the way once again

He is our comfort, our sustainer
He is our help in time of need
And when we wander He is our shepherd
He who watches over us, never sleeps
Take heart my friend, the Lord is with us
As He has been all the days of our lives
Our assurance every morning
Our defender in the nigh

And, once again, my heart takes heart.  And, once again, for the millionth time since you’ve been gone, I long to wrap my arms around you and tell you “thank you.”

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

Faithful Yesterday



The Swirling of Time~

Four months today.

The calendar says June and everyone is acting like it’s June. Kids are out of school for summer vacation. Families are packing their cars and heading out to lakes, national parks, the mountains, and to see family. Neighbors are firing up the grill and barbecuing.  And, today – the weather even joined in with temperatures that found me wiping sweat as I piddled around in the yard.

It must be June, but honestly, Handsome, I have no idea what month or season we are in.  Since you’ve been gone, time to me, has been what, just maybe, it was originally meant to be – immeasurable, noncalculable, undefined,  elusive, and not one bit tangible. And even though the world is living like it’s June, me – I’m just going to sleep, tossing and dozing, waking up, and going through the day to day of living my life totally oblivious to any date on any calendar.

And, I can’t help feeling that I have lost four months of life, four months of living, four months of February, March, April, and May.

So much has happened since you’ve been gone – and yet, on the table beside your favorite chair everything has remained untouched.  Even a ziplock bag full of piñon nuts is still full of piñon nuts four months later. To you, these were better than potato chips – and admittedly, you always said you couldn’t eat just one.  You were lucky if a bag of these tiny treasures lasted for four days, much less four months.

The shirt you wore for a few hours the day before you left is still hanging on the bedroom door knob where you put it.  And, thankfully and amazingly, when I pick it up and hold it tight, your scent is still there.  Your toothbrush, your cologne, your razor – all just where you left each and every one.

Maybe this is why I can’t seem to wrap my heart around “time”.  Memories and precious moments of yesterday flood my heart and mind nonstop.  Our dreams and talks of tomorrow are a constant companion.  Sometimes, it is almost impossible to know if I am living in the past, the future, or here in the here and now.  It all blurs together in a beautiful swirl of emotion.  Sort of the way in the Fall, the wind scoops up leaves of gold, red, brown, and orange and tosses them into the air like confetti.  It’s gloriously beautiful, but still there is that tinge of cold in the air, and the vivid, undeniable reminder that one season has ended and another is beginning.

Four months, Handsome.

How can it be that all the years I was so blessed to spend by your side have passed so quickly, and yet these four months without you have already felt a lifetime long?

Honestly, Handsome, I think I am learning what I think most people, if they were honest, would admit they still have yet to learn.

Time is not the ticking of a clock,  the setting of an alarm, the scheduling of appointments in a date book, the flipping of one calendar page to another.

Time is the minutes, and the hours, and the days, and the months, and the years spent with those you love.  Time is the letting go of yourself into strong arms around you, the smell of coffee and the taste of a tender kiss. Time is laughing until it hurts and the crying when it hurts, too. Time is dancing in the middle of the living room floor to the beat of “our song”. Time is wandering through the forest on a moonlight night at 3:00 am being serenaded by the bugle of an elk. Time is sitting by the warmth of our fireplace. Time is cheering for our favorite team.  Time is sharing the first tomato from the vine. Time is listening to your favorite stories over and over and over again. Time is me washing dishes and you drying. Time is singing along to the radio as we drive along a narrow, bumpy, often muddy mountain road. Time is my phone ringing all through out the day and hearing “Hi, Beautiful” as soon as I answer with “Hi, Handsome”. Time is you and me on bended knees before the throne of our Heavenly Father. Time is looking for your truck in the parking lot where you work each time I drive by. Time is sharing a look across a crowded room and knowing exactly what the other is thinking. Time is finding a love note from you in the most unlikely of places. Time is you snoring and breathing deep beside me.  Time is enjoying a plate of enchiladas we made together in our tiny cocina. Time is the brush of your hand on my outstretched hand each time you pass by where I’m sitting. Time is Alison Krauss singing “You Say it Best When You Say Nothing at All.“. Time is standing in our front yard as we wait for the moon to peek over the mountain. Time is you coming out to my car to greet me each and every time I arrive home. Time is deciding whose turn it is to make their way to the kitchen and pour us both another cup of hot tea. Time is placing freshly laundered towels for you in the bathroom. Time is listening to the rhythmic sound of you chopping firewood.  Time is stepping over your work boots for the umpteenth time.

And, I think this is why time has been so hard to find, so hard to nail down, so hard to experience the past four months, Handsome.

Because even though time is definitely moving on, (the world around me is proof of this) time – real time, you and me time, is somehow moving around me instead of moving on out in front of me.   And,  I think it is this bumping into it each and every time I see something, hear something, smell something, taste something, and feel something that reminds me of you, or you and me, of us that has me in this never-before-experienced time warp.

Four months.  It might as well be one day or a million – because without you here, it is just that – time without you and how could I ever truly measure that?

And while I would love just one more minute with you, followed by just one more for the rest of my life, I will forever and always turn my wishing into thanksgiving to the Author of Love who wrote our story, line by line, chapter by chapter.  And, each time  I re-read our story and come to the last page, the one on which you took your last breath, I won’t flip the page.  I won’t turn that moment over into the next one that, like most stories, would come to a final conclusion with the words “the end.”

For unlike any other man-written story, our God-authored story has no end.  Because our hearts not only loved each other, but that of our Heavenly Father, our story will last through out all eternity.  And, Handome, you and I both know – when eternity comes, once and for all, time – the earthly kind of time that fades lighter and lighter with the tick of the clock and the passing of the seasons, will be no more.

There, with our Father God, we will never know time again – just the forever of forever. And, baby, I can’t wait to spend forever with you.

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

Friend 4 Ever-