Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Approaching January 29...

Hello Everyone,


Well, here we are, we have made it through the holidays.  In a way I am glad that Christmas was the last of the major "firsts" that we have made it through. There are so many people who have to figure out how to deal with a first Christmas without a loved one so much quicker than we did.  We had almost a year to be able to cope with it. 


The kids and I had times that were very hard, times where we reflected some, times when we kept to ourselves to try to work through all the feelings that we were experiencing.  But God was  and is so good to us and has given us the strength and the courage to get through the toughest times.  


We are now coming up on the first anniversary of Curtis' death on January 29.  I have spent much time thinking and praying this past year.  I have thought about Curtis' life and about his passion for God.  I have thought often about how he sought God even when he felt like he had failed.  I have thought about his last month here with us - including our trip to Disney the first week of January 2011. I have thought about how quickly he deteriorated.  How the last week of his life included hospice being called in, how his will to live was challenged so greatly.  I also remember his last day where he was able to spend most of the day with his siblings and his mother.  How he was so glad that he got to see them.  I remember his last hours, as he was rushed to the hospital not being able to breathe.  I have read back over the first few posts when I started writing, and I described his last hours.  Thinking back on that time, we had no idea that when we called the ambulance that he would not return home. We had no idea that we would not hear him talk to us logically, to tell us he loved us.  We saw the tears coming down his face as the ventilator tubes tried to help regulate his breathing.  As the doctors told us that things were really bad, we struggled with trying to come to grips that he was really in dire straits.  As we came home that night, thinking we would come back to the hospital the next day and be able to see him, we thought that he would make it.  But when we were called back to the hospital after a few hours and were told that he had crashed and they had brought him back but  asked my permission to stop the life saving efforts.   All these things I remember as we come upon the anniversary of Curtis' death.  


As I approach this date, I have a choice to make.  I can continue to keep going over all the 'what if's', all the 'could haves'  all the 'should haves'.  I can choose to be a slave to the grief.  OR I can choose to move forward with my life. I can choose to discover a new life.  That doesn't mean that I will ever forget Curtis. He will live on through the lives of our 4 beautiful children.  I have come to that point in my life where I have decided that I will choose to move on.  Now that may sound harsh to some of you. You may think that I am cruel, but I am not.  I had almost 21 years with Curtis and they were filled with alot of ups and downs.   Me choosing to move forward with my life doesn't mean that I won't still miss him. Of course I will miss him, but the pain has gone from a constant stabbing of my heart the first few months after his death, to a constant dull aching,  and now it is not constant, it is more like an occasional dull ache.  To me, that tells me that my God has carried me through this year and will continue to carry me as I head into this new season of my life. 


Death did not come with a handbook that said I have this timeline that I have to go by.  No, there is no set time, no guideline that says I have to stop grieving at the year mark.  For some it may be 2 years, 5 years, however long it may be.  I still grieve from time to time. I still shed tears at times when I think about Curtis' laughter and his love for his family.  But I truly believe that he would want me to continue to live. To make the best out of my life and to walk down the path that God has laid before me.  


So unless I write more before January 29, this will be my final post in this blog.  This chapter of my life was full of curves and winding roads.  I hope that I have helped someone else along the path of grief.  Even if this helps someone years down the road...  I have shared my heartaches and my sorrow, I have bared my soul to the world for one reason. That is to be able to help someone who may be going through a similar path.  


Thank you all so much for reading and for standing behind me and my children in this past year.   I have to believe that through it all, it will be worth it.  


God bless and keep you. 
Renae







Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is here...


Hello All,

As the Christmas season is in full swing, my family and I are dealing with a variety of emotions as we approach our first Christmas without Curtis. It is still hard to believe that it has been almost a year now since he passed away.

I remember last Christmas there was such a somber atmosphere when we did our family portrait for our Christmas cards.  It was as though he knew it would be his last.  Still, he pushed on and continued to make plans to go to Florida the first week of January. Curtis wanted to make this trip special for the kids and with the help of so many, he did.  Waking up on Christmas morning, the kids opening gifts that Curt had helped me pick out.  This year shopping just hasn't been the same. Realizing when I write the names on the gift tags that the From:  will be me missing a name. But we must continue to live. We must find new traditions but yet always remember the ones that included Curtis.

I know that many people have lost loved ones this past year. I want to encourage you - yes, the holidays are very hard. All of the 'firsts' are very hard.  But through it all if you can keep calling on the name of Jesus and allowing Him to carry you, He will never let you down.  It has been by the grace of God that we have made it through. There are days that I would rather stay in the bed. But I have a wonderful friend who has told me time and time again that there is no guideline to grieving.  That I need to take my time and move at my pace and know that the good days will show up more often.  And they have. And they will for you too my friend. My heart goes out to you all who have lost someone. Holidays are hard, but reach out and let someone help ease your pain.

May your holiday season be filled with the tenderness of God's love which is how we have a reason to celebrate. 

Blessings
Renae

This picture was our last year's Christmas picture.  I will add one of this year on my next blog. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Alignment...

Hello all:
I realize that my writings have gotten less frequent over the past few months, and hoping that will change.  I think I will give you a general update today and then I will dive into some deeper areas later.  


It has been 9 months since Curtis has passed away, and while at times it feels like only a few days ago, there are other times when if feels like it has been years already.  Not in the sense that we are forgetting him or anything like that, it is just that the kids and I are becoming more settled. The pain of losing him is still there, but seems to have become an ache that is no longer the constant throbbing of our hearts.  


Going through new experiences, facing the upcoming holidays, and getting through surgery without him by my side has been and will be difficult.  God's healing power is sustaining and keeping me.   


Last week, I had to have extensive surgery on my ankle. It had been hurting for over a year, but with all that I was going through with Curtis last year, I didn't get it checked out. So finally in February of this year, I went to my foot and ankle doctor and he found a bone spur in the center of my ankle joint. We tried numerous treatments and over this summer, the pain gradually became worse and was hindering my daily activities.  So the dr did surgery and scraped and cleaned up the bone joint, as well as repairing a ligament and shifting my heel so that my foot would be in alignment.  I have pins in my ankle right now and am total non weight bearing for 9 weeks, then will be put in a walking cast. I am out of work of course, and non weight bearing means that I am spending all day in my recliner.  I have goals and projects that I want to work on during this time and I truly believe that God is going to speak to me and give me more healing in other areas while I am healing physically.   


The dr is bringing alignment and restructuring my ankle which will align my walk.... Hmmmm I truly believe that at this time in my life, God is restructuring me at this time and bringing alignment into my spiritual walk with Him. There are areas that I know that I need adjusting in. Areas of my heart that have gotten used to the past pains and pressures, so therefore it still reacts as though those pains are still present.  There are so many things that He is healing me in, so many different layers that need healing.  


Alignment is a good thing.  A bringing into order, a lining up, a state of agreement or cooperation.  The proper adjustment.  All these things are being done in my foot, but I can see God doing these things in my life.  Adjusting me and bringing things into order. The grief and pain that I have experienced have caused me to be out of line, and that has been a normal thing. It is normal for death to throw you off course for a time and a season. When you lose a loved one, it is quite normal to even find yourself on a different path.  But at some point in your healing, God begins to shift and to create a desire within you to be aligned with His purpose and plan for your life.  


So as I recuperate from this surgery and heal on the outside, I know that God is continually healing and bringing adjustment to me on the inside as well. 


Pray for me and the kids.  I will be posting about dealing with the holidays and how we are dealing with them soon. 


Thank you again for your support during this transition year. 


Renae

Monday, September 26, 2011

8 months and anger....

I can't believe that it has been about 6 weeks since I have blogged.  I guess things seemed to have settled into more of a lull till a couple of weeks ago. 


The funeral home that handled everything with Curtis' death has been sending me small books that have been a real blessing to me.  Well last month, they sent one and it was primarily dealing with anger.  I read it even though at the time, I really wasn't experiencing anger that I could tell.  Well.... God knew that I needed to read the book and be prepared. But I still wasn't prepared.  I began a few weeks ago to feel such an anger on the inside of me. Now, please hear my heart.  I wasn't cursing people out and having road rage or screaming and yelling.  It wasn't that kind of anger.  It was an internal seething.  An anger that really can't be explained. 


I have been told by several people that anger is a normal part of grieving, and I had even experienced anger at Curtis around 2 months after he passed away.  I am sharing this because I know that there may be someone reading this who may be feeling guilty over feeling anger after a tremendous loss.  


The anger has been coming out slowly but surely. Having friends that I am so safe with that I can express my feelings without feeling like they would be upset or offended at me has been a mainstay.  I have found my anger coming out in ways that are not good as well.  Things like really fussing at small things with my kids. The feeling of anger is an emotion and as we all know sometimes well, it gets emotional. My kids have asked me continuously over the past 2-3 weeks, "Mom, what is wrong with you?  You seem upset all the time"  Even my youngest asked me why I was mad all the time. Sigh... when your kids know something is up, then it is time to begin to seek answers and try to work through this.  


I have spent much time talking with a friend and with my counselor.  I know anger is normal and healthy in grief.  I have began to ask myself what am I angry about?  The more I think about it, the more I don't really think it is anger that Curtis passed away.  It is not that I am angry that I am now a single parent.  The anger is coming from the past.   I have shared things previously on my blog with you and you know that Curtis and I have had a rough past. We had a difficult marriage.  I am finding that the years and years that I held things in and buried them so deep in my heart that I thought they were gone for good.  Only to feel them starting to rise to the top.  I have thought about the scripture that talks about going through the furnace of affliction and going through the purifying process. That is where the fire is heated up hotter and the impurities begin to rise to the top so they can be skimmed off.  This is where I feel that I am at.  I am boiling, and it isn't necessary a bad thing.  The anger that has been dormant for so many years, is making it's way to the top.  In this rising to the top, I have to be in constant communication with the Father to make sure that I am not allowing the dross or the anger to consume me, but allowing it to surface in a healthy manner. 


The anger in feeling like I didn't have a voice, the anger in being controlled.  Feeling anger that I  thought was buried along with Curtis in the ground.  Sometimes the anger is easily pushed back down, but I have to realize the more that I push it back down, the longer it will take to rise to the top to be skimmed off.  


So I am writing this to you today, asking that you will continue to pray for us.  I know that if I am experiencing anger, that my children are probably as well. They don't talk about it... I am sure that Curt's family may be experiencing it and not understanding it.  It isn't a taboo subject.  Just because there is anger doesn't mean that I am a bad person.  It means that there is much healing that needs to take place. Deep inner healing that I so desperately long for. 


Yes, 8 months is coming up this week and while I know that I am doing well in so many areas, this is the area that I am now battling. I know that if I continue to allow it to rise to the top that the Father will begin to skim it off the surface and healing will come.  


Thank you for your prayers and support. 


Renae

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Matters...

Hi all, 
It has been quite the journey, literally and emotionally recently. Again, we have set out on our travels, this time heading north to visit Curtis' family.  We flew out to Boston where we went on to Curtis' brother's house and stayed there with him and his family for 3 days. It was such a wonderful blessing for my kids to meet their cousins and to form lifetime bonds.  We had such a wonderful time.  I truly felt that bridges were built that will last forever. 


I have discovered that even if you don't know your extended family very well, that family is so very important.  If there is something that I know Curtis would want me to tell everyone, is this.  Family is very important and vital, and if you have wedges in your family, don't wait until it is too late to make things right.  On the day that Curtis passed away, his older brother and sister came to visit him.  They made such an impact that they would travel all that way to see him. They had no idea as none of us did that the day they visited, would be Curt's last day.  I can remember all that week, Curt was so pleased that he would get to see them.  So thankful that God worked everything out and the timing was precise.  


Spending this weekend with his family was bittersweet.  It was so cool to be together and to laugh and even enjoying a game of whiffle ball with everyone.  It was awesome that most of his family came together on Sunday and that we could all just enjoy each other. Of course, seeing his brother and family brought some sadness, because I knew how much Curt would have enjoyed being there and seeing the kids all get to know each other.  Missing his booming laugh and his sense of humor...I think all of us were thinking the same thing.  


But spending this weekend with Curt's family has made me realize that no matter what we are still family and families who can work through differences will come out stronger.  I hope that if you have family that you are not on good terms with, that you will begin to see the family ties for the strengths and not the weaknesses. To see how important that family really is and that yes, family matters much. 


God bless
Renae

Monday, August 1, 2011

6 months later...

Hello all,
6 months is a long time to not see the one you love. Half a year, 182.5 days...4,380 hours...262,800 minutes.  6 months... I wondered during the first month how I would be handling things at 6 months.  


Actually, I am surprised.  I have traveled more in the past 6 months than I have in the past 5 years.  I have been to West Virginia, Alabama, NC coast, Tennessee, soon Virginia and up North to see his family. Looking back on things, I wonder how have I done this? How have I found the courage to travel by myself and some with my kids?   I can tell you how, it has only been by the grace of God.  Yes, I have had plenty of days as you have read in my previous posts, that I have fallen apart over and over and wondered if the pieces would ever be put back together.  Times when my heart has felt like it could become no more shredded and torn.  


The desire to travel has surprised me. Want to know another thing that has surprised me?  The hunger within me to touch others and to see them walk in freedom and victory over the chains of bondage that hold them hostage. The desire for ministry has not decreased as I was concerned it might, but instead it has grown larger than I can contain.   I have wondered how can God's love in me grow so much when I have a hole in my heart that came from Curtis' death.  I have a greater compassion for the hurting. Maybe it is because I saw my husband hurt so deeply. I saw him come from years of denial and secretly trying to overcome to being a man who had allowed the shackles to be broken off bringing a liberty that could not be denied.  


I pray that my desire for freedom will never be quenched.  That I will never feel like I have obtained all the freedom that I need. For our lives are filled with layers and layers that will always need the healing touch of the Saviour.  I believe that Curtis had began to experience the freedom that comes with the layers of pain and bitterness being peeled back.  I want to keep experiencing that myself. To have yet another layer peeled and the oil of the Lord poured onto the scars so they will not become hardened and calloused. 


During the past 6 months I have grieved, yet I have laughed.. I have cried yet, I have experienced joy.  I have plunged to the depths of a despair that has scared me so badly, but God's love has reached down and brought me into a new path of restoration.   Grief is a peculiar thing.  Like I have said before, there is no right or wrong way to grief.  For those of you who have lost something very precious in your life, take time to grieve, whether it was yesterday or 25 years ago. Bare your heart to God, to friends who will hold you and give you a safe place to express your pain and sorrow.  Burying the pain will only make it harder to release it later.  Yes, it hurts so deeply to express the grief, but in doing so, you will soon find out that the huge ball of relentless emotions begins to subside and you begin to live again.  


So yeah, 6 months is a long time to be without the one you love, but when you count the minutes that God has carried you, it makes the next 6 months seem more tolerable.  


Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. 


Renae

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

death of our dog....

The death of our dog….

This past Sunday morning shortly after midnight, my son came upstairs to tell me that Hooch, our Great Dane mix, was not acting right.  I came downstairs to find our big baby panting and heaving trying to breathe. His tongue had turned gray and he seemed really in distress. We called the vet and were given a couple of things that it could be and decided that we needed to take him on to the vet, so I called Faith and she came over and we loaded him in her car. I told the other kids before we left that Hooch seemed very sick and if there wasn’t anything that the vet could do, that we would have to put him to sleep.  This broke Alex’s heart, well all of them, but he seemed most affected.

He threw his arms around Hooch’s neck and just hugged him and sobbed. Faith and I took him on to the emergency vet to be evaluated.  The vet listened closely to his heart and lungs and advised us that there was fluid built up in his lungs and that he was in congestive heart failure. It was more than likely due to his age, as he was 8 ½ which is old for a Dane. With the diagnosis, and knowing there wasn’t anything he could do, he recommended putting Hooch to sleep. So I called the other kids and let them know, and again, Alex was just sobbing which so broke my heart and Faith and I began to sob as well.  Faith went out of the room and they gave Hooch one shot to relax him, then the medicine to stop his heart.  He went peacefully. 

The after effects….

You may wonder why I am sharing all of this about our dog’s death, let me explain. First of all, Hooch was Curtis’ “big dog”. He had Hooch, and he had Mitzie his “little dog” who is a lap dog.  Curtis loved his dogs (we still have Mitzie) and Hooch was the biggest baby when he was with Curtis.  So it is natural that Hooch’s death was hard.

But even more than that, it is the triggers that overwhelmed me as I had to deal with this situation.  To see Hooch struggling to breath brought back the vivid picture of Curtis laboring to breathe in the emergency room on the night before he passed away.  Then the trip to the vet’s was on the same road that I and the kids rushed back to the hospital early in the morning when Curtis went into cardiac arrest.   The memories flooded my mind as I drove to the vet, and I could hear the anguish in my children’s voices as they cried when the doctor asked us permission to stop live saving measures for Curtis… I had to give permission for my husband to die basically and had to do the same with the dog.  I know it must sound really odd for me to be giving comparisons, but I want you to hear my heart to see the pain that all of these triggers caused. 

After the ordeal was over at the vet’s, I had to decide what to do with Hooch’s body.  Ughh…again memories of the hospital, being asked “where do you want your husband’s body taken?”  Faith and I decided what we would do and we went home.  Exhausted, I fell into bed with my youngest, Alex, coming to bed with me.

All of this to say today is Tuesday and I am still being affected to some degree. The triggers have lessened and the pain has dulled.  I never knew that so many things would so dramatically affect me after Curtis’ death.  I have learned as I have told you before that there is not a right or wrong way to grieve. Death is something that we deal with for quite some time and as I am finding out, grief can come in many ways. 

I and my children will continue to move forward, we will continue to work through this process.  Yes, we have had a “wrench thrown in the spoke” so to speak but we get back up and will move forward. We must. Each of the kids is moving forward at their own pace as I am.  Keep praying for us in this journey. It was NOT just the death of a dog, but the after effects.

Renae