Monday, November 18, 2019

Six Months Walking

It has been six months since Ed's death.

If you are someone close to me who is thinking, "Oh no, I forgot." Don't feel bad. Every month on the 18th at least one friend has called or messaged me, and often I had not remembered the date. I think of May 18th every day, but I'm not often aware of dates and anniversaries.

In many ways I feel as if I've lived a couple lifetimes in the last six months. I'm living a life I never dreamed of and walking a road I never wanted. I'm not surprised at the grief, but I never imagined I'd find joy even here.



I've enjoyed the fall weather this year more than usual, possibly because I've been enjoying regular hour-long walks in the roads around our home. After a challenging morning of homeschooling, to walk in the sunshine several times a week feels like a gift.

I always enjoyed walking, and before I married I had a job that I could walk to across farm fields. But with babies I was too busy for walks. But last fall Ed needed exercise, and we started walking several days a week. I did it for him, but enjoyed it for myself. I learned that I could leave for an hour, and all my work would wait until I came back. And I might have renewed energy to tackle it.


If you asked me last fall, I would have told you that I enjoyed walking with Ed. I know we talked and laughed and watched the birds. But now I only remember how slowly he walked, completely unlike his usual six-foot stride that made me trot to keep up. I remember how I worried when I saw him decline week by week. How I feared that our options to keep fighting his tumor were dwindling.

This week, as I walked the familiar stretch of road as I've have dozens of times in the last months, I had a flash of memory from sixteen years ago. That fall I was pregnant with our first child, and we woke up early enough to walk together before Ed went to work. 

I had not thought of those days for a long time, and instantly that memory brought back a rush of that heady time of life when we were relishing new love and new life and our days held the promise of a million dreams. 


It is rare for me to think about days such as those. My mind circles around the days last fall and winter, watching Ed lose his personality and control of his body to the monster in his brain. 

I wonder if subconsciously I'm pushing down memories from those happier, hopeful days to protect myself. As long as I remember Ed struggling in a cancer-ridden body, I can't wish him back to earth. But remembering Ed before, in the days when cancer and surgeries and seizures were unknown, brings back too many what-ifs and whys. 


So I watch the clouds scuttle over blue fall skies and the golden leaves dance in the wind. I relish equally beautiful words of an audio book. I chat with friends and make plans and dare to paint new dreams.

I wonder if it is okay to feel happy. To hold my face to the wind and feel joy. I know that Ed is happy. Unspeakably so. And I think that he's want me to find joy too.


That knowledge doesn't take away suffering. Seasons continue to move on. The golden leaves fall and crunch under my feet. 


Now the tree limbs are bare, making their own kind of stark beauty. The cycle of seasons continue.

We survived the first six months without Ed. We leave the busyness of summer to join the quiet of winter. I look forward to sitting by the fireplace with a book as snow falls. But I know that motherhood in winter means finding profitable activities for children without losing my own sanity. 

I suspect the neighbors will continue to see me walking, watching the sky, my ear buds turned to a fun book, my nose red from the cold, and my heart searching for joy. 

27 comments :

  1. Sending you big hugs and prayers to our heavenly Father for you!

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  2. Beautiful pictures to go with your beautiful words. Time does pass quickly and perspectives change. You do deserve joy in your life, be it the beauty of nature, a child's laugh or a special memory. As a mother we have to find that joy, so our children know that life is a gift from God and we need to live it to the full. Sad moments will be followed by joy as long as we stay open to them. You are doing so well but I continue to pray for you and your family. Blessings Diane x

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  3. Thank you for sharing how you are doing. Tony just asked me last night if I knew how you were. We pray for you so often.

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  4. Oh Gina, blessings to you! It's ok and right for you to feel happy & joyful. I'm sure that's what Ed would want for you & the children. He would want you to continue on being a godly example to your children and others. He's waiting for you all to join him and wants you to finish well. Your children and others see & know your sorrow, lonliness & pain but they also need to see you living in happiness & joy despite the heartache. Setting that example for them will leave a lasting legacy of the goodness & faithfulness of God and show them where to turn in times of sorrow. Keep on keeping on my dear friend. You're a strong person and with God's help you will finish well!

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  5. Beautiful post, Gina. It is good to hear, straight from the heart, how you are doing. God is so good!

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  6. You know, you take some amazing photos. My uncle was a self taught amazing photographer and sold his beautiful photos of the ocean (where he lived), hummingbirds, squirrels, scenery, and others. He passed last July and I am blessed to have some of his work. Maybe it could become something for you too.��

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  7. You amaze me. I have thought of you and prayed for you often, not only in the past six months, but in the days and months before Ed left his earthly body. I will continue to pray and I'm thankful that you are finding some peace.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  8. We are so encouraged to see you finding joy in the midst of sorrow. May God continue to hold you in His hand.

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  9. Beautifully written. I don't often say that, but that's what I was thinking before I got very far into this post. Blessings to you.

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  10. You really capture the 'seasons' part of it! It always feels wrong to feel good when there's grief, then other times you do feel good, then there's the grey or black times, round and round or mixed up together - can make a person dizzy. Anyway let's hope for some nice cozy times this winter, for everyone :) Published or not, I hope you have some satisfying writing times too

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  11. This is so beautiful, brave lady. ❤️

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  12. "I wonder if it is okay to feel happy. To hold my face to the wind and feel joy. I know that Ed is happy. Unspeakably so. And I think that he'd want me to find joy too." Oh, Gina...once again, the pain yet the hope and joy that only Jesus can bring shines clearly through your words. We continue to remember you and your family in our prayers, and know God is walking each step of this unfamiliar path with you. But then...that's what He does for each of us...each moment of each new day. We love you!! ~Eunice

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  13. I think this is my favorite thing you've ever written. To find joy in the midst of suffering is a beautiful thing.

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  14. Gina
    You really inspire me to keep living life without guilt. I lost my mom 3 years ago and it's just something I can't move on from. I know she's happy safe from pain with her new body waiting for me. I just miss all the memories alot too which makes me miss her physically even more. I take myself out for about an hour or 30 minutes a day to just reflect on the beauty God has made. Thank you for updating all of us on your life and thoughts. You are NEVER judged by me. We all go through our own trials and tribulations. I'll always be here for you. God bless you my friend

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  15. Absolutely beautiful post - the words,reflections, and photos! My husband passed on the 18th too, for him it was January.
    Thinking of you, your children, and all of Ed's family too,
    Mary

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  16. I continue to remember you and your children in prayer.
    We don’t often hear how your children are faring these days but with their strong mother(I know you don’t feel strong, but you are!) at their side, you will eventually feel like living again.
    Walking is indeed so good for you. Physical exercise is so good for the soul.

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  17. GINA: ERES UNA MUJER FUERTE AUNQUE NO LO CREAS, MUCHAS VECES A TRAVES DE TUS COMENTARIOS, DAS ANIMO A OTRAS MUJERES QUE PASAMOS POR DISTINTAS CIRCUNSTANCIAS, LA VIDA ESTA LLENA DE BUENOS Y MALOS MOMENTOS, DE TRISTEZAS Y ALEGRIAS. DIOS CONTINUE DANDOTE FORTALEZA PARA CRIAR A TUS NIÑOS Y SEAN FUERTES EN EL SEÑOR. BENDICIONES QUERIDA HERMANA.

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  18. Hi Gina,

    Thank you for this touching and encouraging post. I continue to light candles for you and your family when I go to Mass.

    You words have a particular resonance for me because my Dad died back in July and my mother is struggling badly to find joy anywhere and, when she experiences a moment's pleasure - such as learning she was a great grandmother this week - she immediately feels pangs of guilt at smiling, as though she is somehow forgetting Dad. I will show her your words which, I feel sure, will help her as she adjusts to this new season of her life on earth.

    Thank you and much love to you and your children.

    Heloise

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  19. Such beautiful and poignant words of your sorrow but also those little moments of joy that you are finding as you walk. I hope you continue to find solace in those steps across fields and down lanes there and a happiness too that it is okay to feel in the midst of grief. Much warmth and love to you. MegXx

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  20. I am not a widow, but my dad and my brother have left us for glory land in the last 3.5 years. So I can relate to the loss. It is definitely ok to find joyful moments in your grieving, and as your healing continues, they will definitely be more of them n oftener! I admire your going and traveling in spite of your grieving. It definitely helps to think of other people! And its good for the children, too!
    Recently I listened on Libby (an app that uses your library card to read ebooks and audio books for free) to the Audio book entitled Option B by Sheryl Sandburge. It was a fascinating read written by a widow relating to her husbands sudden death, and her and her children's grief journey. Even though she is Jewish, and mentions God, the book is very secular. But I liked it for the practical points in relating to grieving people, as well as how to use the difficult things in our lives for good, and gain a resilience from it. She backs up her points w a lot of data.
    My mom enjoys going to the widows retreat at Penn Valley in McVeytown, PA. Its a weekend gathering of all sorts of mennonites relating to the same thing... The death of a spouse. It will be the 3rd weekend in may 2020, i believe.
    Blessings to you in your jouney!

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  21. So sorry you lost your husband. Blessings from Kentucky

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  22. Thank you for sharing with us how you are doing. I just wanted to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. May God continue to hold you and give each one of you the grace for each day
    Ana

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