Monday, June 27, 2011

The Catalyst...

I know Curtis' birthday is Wednesday and it is also the 5th month anniversary of his death.  I have been wanting to share something for about a week now.  I want to please tell you though, this is very painful for me to write, but not only that, but I take the chance of you thinking bad of me for sharing this deeply personal event in Curtis' life.  

I would not be sharing more of this had I not known that Curtis expressed to me before he passed away that he wanted his story told. You have  read on previous posts (My Hero- March) how I have described a little about the great change that Curtis experienced in his life. He went from being a verbally and emotionally abusive person who loved God but did not know how to see the change he so longed for, to being so sensitive and kind and truly changed.   

If there is a defining moment of change in Curtis' life, I have to say that the event that I am going to describe is probably the catalyst, the launching pad of the turn around that we experienced. 
I read somewhere before "these are the best of times, these are the worst of times"  I can truly relate.  So I will tell you about a day that was truly the worst of the worst, but how God caused it to work together for our good. 

One day in October of 2008, I had came home from work and we were getting ready to go out for dinner. I and one of my kids were there, along with Curtis.  I can't even remember to this day what Curtis got so angry about all of the sudden, but I found myself in the middle of one of the worst rages that I had experienced with him.  As the minutes ticked by, he became angrier and angrier.  His fury was mounting.  He was yelling at me and cursing, and he stormed through the hall and literally ripped the door of the hinges to our bedroom. I was in the dining area, and he came through the hall and threw the door down the stairs and I believe he went down and got it and threw it again.  Then he backed me up against the wall and I saw my life flash before my eyes. I had never been so afraid of Curtis as I was that day.  I really and truly thought that his rage was going to take complete control and that I was going to die.   In the middle of this, my teen that was home called the police out of fear and the officer came. By then, Curt had already began to calm down, and we assured the office that everything was fine, although he left very reluctantly. Somehow I went on to dinner (after realizing that the cycle had now began and there was little I could do to resolve the situation) 

Somehow over the next few days when the reality of what happened began to sink down into Curtis's mind, he became very broken and finally admitted that he needed help.  He crashed to the lowest low and had it not been for God, I am not sure that he would have came out of the swirling cesspool of condemnation and guilt and shame.   At his lowest, he begin to cry out for help.  A recommendation came for a Christian psychologist, and he began to see her, after being diagnosed with mood disorder and possible bi-polar condition, along with OCD,  Curtis begin to find answers to the things that had plagued him all of his life.  He began to for the first time be able to control his anger and rage.  He began going to a therapist who really made great strides with him as Curtis became open and honest about the rage and the bitterness that was inside of him.   Curtis began to see the faint gleam of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  Curtis began to be accountable to his mentor and began to truly listen to the advice and the wisdom that his mentor shared with him.  

Life finally began to take new meaning with Curtis. Here he was, had been born again for 17 years and had such a heart after the Father, but never receiving the freedom he so longed for till now.  Over time, with medication and appointments, he started seeing changes that became evident to those closest around him. The changes that he encountered had an amazing effect on our kids.  Over the period of the next year and into the months that he was diagnosed with cancer, Curtis was truly a different person. He was so much softer around the edges.  The sarcastic outlook that he had melted away.  The judgmental and critical air that he carried was gently blown away.  The true heart came to the forefront.  I had seen this heart periodically during our marriage, but for it to be constant and so consistent was mind-boggling.  

I share this traumatic day with you in hopes that you will look past the anger and the rage, and realize that we all have areas that we need to overcome. If this blog does anything to you, I hope that it will impact you enough to know that change is inevitable if one is teachable.  Please do not hold this against Curtis. I don't.  I have forgiven long ago and that is the only way I can even share this time with you.  Do I deal with the pain of the memory?  Yes, at times, but as time goes along, Christ is taking the pain out and allowing me to the broken man behind the memory.  

Don't feel sorry for me. I hurt yes, I cried many, many tears. But I have decided that I will be Curtis's voice. I will tell his story, for if one person is healed because of his testimony, then I will be able to have the courage to keep telling it again and again.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord is with me.  

A catalyst motivates and moves a person, and in Curtis' case, it was the driving force that pushed him right into the path of healing.  

Thank you

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day...

Another painful first today, and I think that I will convey this best by just writing Curtis a letter. 

My dear Curtis,
Today I face the first Father's Day without you.  My heart is crushed and feels like once again it has been shattered into a million pieces, although I am not sure how many more times it can feel this way.  If I am feeling this way, I cannot imagine what our children are feeling and experiencing.  Today I mourn and grieve for my children's father.  For the man who would love them with such a huge love.  For the man who would spend hours praying over them. Baby, our kids are so amazing. You have imparted in them a love and a hunger for God.  The last few years of your life, you allowed God to change and mold you in such a way that it will forever be tattooed on our children's heart, that they have seen with their own eyes how a man can lay aside the things that holds him in bondage and become free.  That my dear husband is a treasure that they will never forget and I will never forget.  

Curtis, yes there is a hole in our hearts. Our children miss you so much, they try to be strong, but only if they could realize that it is in the tears and the letting go that they will be able to move forward but yet keep the legacy you have given them.  Today is going to be hard for them, but with God's strength we will make it through.  Thank you for giving me these treasures from heaven.  Well, I know there is so much more that I want to say, but the words are having trouble getting from my heart to my hands.  

I love you very much Curtis.  Thank you for being a godly dad and for leaving a legacy. I miss you and our children miss you so very much. 
Happy Father's Day


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My grief letter to all of my friends....

Hello all,
In my grief share support group last week (my first class) I was given a work book, and since I missed the first two classes, I went back to see what was covered and they suggested that I write out a letter to all of my friends to help you to know where I am and what you can do that will help ease the stress of the grief that I and my family are experiencing.  So Here is my letter to you. 

Dear dear friends,
Most of you know that on January 29, 2011, I lost the love of my life to melanoma cancer.  We are now approaching the 5th month anniversary, which also will fall on his birthday.  The loss that I and my children have experienced has been devastating.  We have cried so many tears, yet knowing there are many more to fall. This is something that we won't be "over" for a long time. This is something that my extended family, including Curtis' siblings and mother and other family members won't be "over" for a long time.  

I want to say how much I appreciate each and every one of you. All those who have texted, who have called, who have sent a card... Everyone of you have been a part of this new journey that we are walking.  I want all of you to know that there are still days that I have all I can do to get out of bed, but I also have days where I am happy, days that I make it through with a smile on my face.  I am finding out that it is ok to experience a wide range of emotions all at one time, and that I am not crazy for feeling these intense feelings.  I need you more than ever, you might think well it has been almost 5 months, I should be doing much better, but grief is such an individual experience that there is no right or wrong way of experiencing it. There is no timeline. 

You may see me experiencing some of these wide range of emotions.  You may see my children experiencing them as well. We may experience anger for no apparent reason.  I may repeat the same thing to you as the last time that we talked.  More than anything right now, we need your love and your patience as we work through this.  

This weekend is going to be specially hard with Father's Day, and then also on the 29th, like I said, that is not only the 5th month anniversary but also Curtis' 44th birthday.  You may wonder what you can do for us during this time, the most important thing is that you don't stop calling, don't stop checking on us. Even when I reply "everything is ok" - keep asking.  Don't stop hugging me and the kids.  Especially my kids.  I have experienced much support so far, but maybe you don't know how to give my kids support.  This weekend with Father's day, send them a message, give them a call. Let them know that you are praying for them.  And please do pray for them... I am experiencing a  whole new layer of grief this week, and that is for my kid's father... I am grieving over their loss of their dad.  I grieved the loss of my husband on my anniversary, but now grieving the loss of my kids dad.  Don't be afraid to reach out to my kids this weekend.  Don't be afraid to let them see you cry, don't be afraid to share your favorite memory of their dad. Yes, it will be hard- for you and for them- but what my kids and I need to know most of all is that you have not forgotten my husband- their dad: Curtis Forbes.  

When you are missing him, it is ok to let me know that.  When you are remembering good times or bad times, I want you to share with me.  Please do not ever forget the man he was and the man that he became. 

I and the kids may appear on the outside that we have it together and are doing well, but our hearts still break every day in some way.  Even when my kids try to be tough, they are crying on the inside.  You don't have to have the right words to say, just you being near by is so important to us.  Your prayers are so appreciated.  God will continue to carry us through I am certain, but we still need you. 

Thank you for everything.  Don't stop praying for us friends. This has been difficult to say the least but your prayers and support are helping us in so many ways.  

From my heart,

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Teetering on the edge of the Pit....

I am so thankful that I am wanting to write again, and that my words don't seem to be piling up behind the dam of pent up emotions that was threatening to crack with pressure. Over the past few weeks, I have found myself teetering dangerously on the edge of a pit. A pit of depression and despair that would have loved to pulled me in head first and engulf me.  I had began to instead of facing the pain- to shove it back down in my heart to deal with later.  I noticed that the tears were coming much less frequently. I was becoming increasingly irritated at the kids, and just longed to be able to sleep the day away and not talk to anyone.

These feelings begin to scare me, and I was reminded of my commitment that I refused to be enslaved to grief.  I would allow grief to wash over me, but I had determined that I did not want to become a servant to it.  But without realizing it, depression was calling my name.  Now in no way do I want any of you to think if you are in the pit of depression, that I am against you, oh my dear friend, please don't think that. I want to help you get out of the pit if that is where you are at.   We all fall into pits at times, but it is in the staying in the pit where we become stale and despondent.

Anyway, I felt like a new kind of normal would never come. Ups and downs, feeling like I had danced a ball room dance of one step forward- two back, two to the side...But I want to tell you friends, that like David said in Psalm 40:2, that God has pulled me out of a horrible pit, He has pulled me out of the sticky clay and set my feet upon a rock.  Over the past week, I have been able to express my sorrow again and allow myself to cry and sob and release some of the pressure in my soul. Several things that have made a difference is one, reaching out to friends who were a safe haven for me.  I didn't need pity, but I needed compassion. And that is what I received. Sometimes I don't turn to my family, even though I know that they are there for me. I don't want to cause them more pain. I need to get past that, and know it is ok to be real even with my family and especially my kids.  Heaven knows I don't want my kids to think because they don't see me cry that they should stuff their feelings back down as well.  So I am working on that, I promise.

The support system that God has placed around me has been amazing.  The friends who listen, who most of all pray for me.  I have found out people this week that have been praying for me fervently and oh, that makes me feel so wrapped in the Father's love.  My family who doles out hugs whenever they are with me.  All these things are helping me pave my road to a new kind of normal.  To those who do not have a support system and are trying to navigate the journey of grief- I would encourage you to take a step forward to get help.  I took another step this week, in addition to seeing a counselor, in addition to my friends and family- I joined a support group called " Grief Share"  ( I went Friday night from 7pm till 9 pm.  Was it uncomfortable? YES! was is scary?  YES! But I met other people who are also traveling down this road that they did not ask to be on.  I begin to hear a little of their story and hope that I will be able to contribute at some point in their walk of healing.   For any of you who have lost someone near and dear to your heart, please reach out and grab ahold of someone that can help you.  A close friend told me this past week, that she is not grabbing me by my fingertips, but grabbing me by my arms and refuses to let go.  I pray that you find that person or group that will help you.

So this time, I avoided the pit of depression and despair.  I am not saying I will never fall into a pit again, because I am sure I will. But I will cry to the Lord and He will hear me and will lift me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet on the rock- CHRIST JESUS.

From my heart

Monday, June 6, 2011

birthdays and such...i

I wanted to write a short blog to just try to make some sense out of some of the feelings that I have experienced over the weekend. This weekend was full of extreme highs and extreme lows.  I wanted to share with you, because I know that many reading this have experienced grief and maybe you feel guilty or ashamed for feeling some of the ways that I have felt, but I want to let you know that I am finding out that it is ok to feel these things.

My extreme highs for the weekend, was that close friend that I have known for 8 years came to visit me and was here to help me during the weekend. Also another close friend that has recently moved to NC was a big help too.  Another high was that my family and Curtis's family came to the boys' birthday party and it was so good to see everyone. I love my family and his family so much and it is always a blessing to get everyone together.  Another positive thing is that my friends and I went to the botanical gardens near my home and being out in God's beautiful creation was good.

The lows were mainly trying to plan the boys birthday party and get it carried out. Knowing my boys were missing their dad so much, and knowing that this was their first birthday without him was very hard.  I was frazzled all day, I was moody, I was forgetful.  I forgot to invite some of Alex' friends that I never forget to invite.  I forgot the hotdogs.... sigh... I was a mess.  I think that it must have been so evident because everyone at the party was so helpful, without all my friends and family, the party may have been a flop.  Right at the end of the party, a huge thunderstorm crashed on us.  Usually I do ok with storms, but that one almost did me in. Finally got home and my front yard was flooding from all the run off water from the streets.  But I took some deep breaths and asked God for help, and the rain soon stopped.

Another low was that I was mad at Curtis.. I was mad because 2 weeks before we went to Florida before Curtis passed away, I felt like I was supposed to buy birthday cards for the kids for the year and help Curtis fill them out.  I brought them to Florida, and when I suggested to him that it would be good if he could sign them and write something on them.  He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said " you think I am going to die don't you?"  It broke my heart and I tried to explain that I was believing for a miracle, and if he signed the cards then it would be more of a testimony, and on the other hand if he didn't make it then the kids would have something from him. Needless to say, he never filled the cards out, so I was mad that I didn't have cards for the boys from their dad.  I had to ask God to forgive me for being mad at Curtis.

I am learning that grief is by no means just crying. It is feeling the searing pain that comes from the huge hole in my heart when I hear a song that reminds me of him.  It is feeling the anger and experiencing it in a positive way. Grief is crying and laughing at the memories - good and bad.  Grief is letting the hurt wash over your heart but not drowning it. I really had never thought about what grief was or was not before, but now, I am facing grief head on.  But I am moving forward in my grief. I can see positive steps forward, even when it is one step forward and two steps back.  Progressive. Sometimes the pace is as I said before, snails could pass me up. But the important thing that I am finding is that I have to keep moving. Staying stationary for too long begins to make me feel like I am walking through sludge, mentally and physically. If I don't move forward, then the pain over takes me and threatens to pull me into the raging waves.  Grief is not meant to be a stopping place where we camp out and stay for years.  It is a process that we work through with God's help and with the help of our friends and support system that is a much needed process but one that has to be moving.

Yeah, I get stuck in the rut so many times. Birthdays, holidays, special times have a tendency to make me feel like I want to just sit down and camp out for a while. But I cannot do that. I cannot become a slave to grief.  Walking through the process yes, but not enslaved to it.

So highs and lows... part of everyone's life.   Birthdays come and go, but they will never be the same without Curtis. If you have lost someone those special times will not be the same, but I have to trust God that He will help me to create new memories and that we will be ok.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

it's been a long few weeks...

Well, it has been several weeks since I have posted a blog, actually since May 17.  Seems like months ago.  Sometimes it feels like time is rushing past me but I am stuck in this one spot and haven't seemed to made alot of progress.  But I know according to my counselor and close friends, that I am moving forward, even when it seems like the snails are zooming past me ☺

I haven't been to the grave since Easter. I need to go put a new flower arrangement on the grave site, and really need to order Curt's grave stone. I just haven't been motivated.  I haven't written here on my blog for the same reason. Just not motivated. I am talking to my counselor every week, talking about the things that make think, make me grasp the enormity of how much my life has changed, yet how much of it is still the same.  I know that you must think that I am really being random in this blog, I am sorry.  that is really how my brain has been going lately.  But back to not being motivated. It seems like the past 2 weeks, I have just been plowing through my days, get up, go to work, come home, stay up late and then do it again.  There have been some really bright spots though. 

For instance, we went to the beach! Yea! Curtis and I had talked about going to the beach for the boys' birthdays since last year, so I decided I would invest in renting a condo and we went this past weekend.  Loved watching the kids play in the waves, riding boogie boards, playing in the sand.  I enjoyed collecting sea shells.  Walking the beach, letting the water lap up over my feet, I thought quite a bit. I thought about the waves, and how some of them were just little waves, and I would just be able to walk right on up the shore, but then when I wasn't expecting it, and wasn't watching the ocean, there would be a bigger wave come in and really splash me and take me by surprise, throwing me off balance.  And that is how my life has been.. small waves that I could handle, but there have been bigger waves that have nearly tossed me to the ground.  Through all the waves I have encountered though, God has been right there to reach out and pick me back up. He hasn't left me laying in the sand for the waves to drown me.  

Back to the beach.  I really had a good time, but it was very bittersweet. I kept thinking that Curtis should be here walking with me, looking at the souvenirs- wanting to spend money on the kids.   I sat in the dark on Sunday night in the sand, listening to the waves coming in, and was thinking so much about how much I missed my husband and how much he would have enjoyed the trip.  So yes, it was bittersweet.  But I guess there are going to be alot of bittersweet moments over the next few years.   

The boys had their first birthday without their dad.  I haven't been able to tell whether it has affected them. Father's Day is coming up in a few weeks and I am not looking forward to it.  My kids loved their dad so much, through the good - the bad- and the ugly, they still loved him and always did something for him at Father's day. This year, we will most likely be in Alabama with our spiritual father.  I am praying that God will touch each of my kids that day and will just soak them in His love.  Then we have Curtis' birthday on June 29.  I plan to have balloons for the kids to write a message on and then we will release them.  we will have cake and ice cream in his honor and celebrate all the years that we were privileged to have him in our lives.  

Guess that I am sound depressed and down.. I really don't think I am depressed. I am just still trying to cope and trying to learn how to be a single parent.  Trying to understand what widowhood is all about.  Trying to get my feelings out of my head and into words.  Trying to let the tears fall when they want instead of turning them off.  For those of you who read this who have recently lost someone, you know what I am talking about.  It is a daily adjustment, something different every day that brings back a flood of memories. sometimes good, sometimes not good.  Yes, and even dealing with the what if's, the could have's and should have's.  But living in the regrets will not move me forward, it will only cause my feet to be in quicksand.  So I choose to keep my feet on the rock, on my Christ Jesus, and move upwards and onwards.  It is not easy by no means.  I need to take care of me, to allow myself those quiet moments and to allow myself to sob when I hear a love song that reminds me of Curtis.  I need to feel those things, to feel the pain and then allow Christ to pour out his healing oil over my bleeding heart.  

yes the days seem long but time keeps marching onward.  I will step back in line with the beat of the drums and will walk forward into my healing, even if it is a baby step at a time. 

Thank you