Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year and a Fresh Start

A New Year is here. 2012. To me, a new year means a new beginning and a fresh start. Most years, I make the usual new year's resolution of losing weight to fit into my favorite jeans. And some years, I just have to start life ALL over!

When I was about 1 and a half to 2 years into my widowhood, I began to accept the death of my first husband and had to begin making new plans for a new future as a single mom. This was not as simple as going on a diet to lose a few pounds or making a goal to go on an exotic vacation. This was a life-changing, earth-moving, role transformation, that I did not sign up for!

About that time, there was a program at the local college for newly divorced women and widows called, "Fresh Start Program". It helped show me opportunities and options for my future plans. And with God's help, I pursued and conquered all of my dreams and goals. I raised my daughters on my own, (with God's help) and put myself through college to earn a master's degree. My daughters are now adults, living on their own, and I'm pursuing my second career in social work.

So this new year is not only about losing a few pounds but it's also about a fresh start in my life to make more dreams and goals come true. For Christmas, my darling daughter, gave me a Groupon, for a Tandem Skydiving Session! YIKES!! Now I love rollar coasters and motorcycling riding, but....SKYDIVING???? My friend, Trish, says,"Oh, do it, and then check it off your bucket list!"

A bucket list, hmmmm...... I've worked hard for many years. It's time to have more future fun which includes traveling to fun and exciting places. So I'm deciding to make my bucket list and the kick off will be skydiving in the spring! It will be my new and fresh start to the New Year and my future years. After all, I don't think I can fit my 10 top trips (Paris, Italy, Hawaii, California, NY, LV, PR, Bahamas, Key West and a Carribean Cruise) all into one year!

So 2012 is here! A New Year! A new beginning! A fresh start! So, no matter where you are on the life cycle, it's time to plan for the future. Is it time to plan your bucket list? Or is it time to restructure your life and start fresh again? Oh, and it's a good idea to pray about these things. If it's in God's plan, too, you'll have much better results. Trust me on this one!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How I was lifted from Sorrow and found Peace

                                                                       Foot-
                                                              Prints
                                                           In The Sand
                                                         One night I had a
                                                        dream. I was walking along
                                                      the beach with the Lord, and across
                                                    the skies flashed scenes from my life.In each
                                                  scene  I  noticed  two  sets of  footprints  in the
                                                sand.  One was  mine, and  one  was  the  Lord's.
                                              When   the   last   scene   of   my   life   appeared
                                               before  me,  I  looked   back  at   the  footprints
                                                in     the     sand,     and,     to    my    surprise,
                                                I noticed that many  times along the  path  of
                                                 my life there was only one set of footprints.
                                                 And    I    noticed    that    it    was    at
                                                  the    lowest    and    saddest   times
                                                   in  my  life.   I  asked  the   Lord
                                                    about   it:   "Lord,  you   said
                                                     that  once   I   decided   to
                                                      follow  you, you   would
                                                      walk with me all the way.
                                                       But I notice that  during
                                                       the   most  troublesome
                                                       times in my life there is
                                                      only one set of footprints.
                                                      I  don't  understand  why
                                                     you left my side when  I
                                                     needed  you  most."  The
                                                     Lord said: "My  precious
                                                     child, I never left you dur-
                                                     ing   your  time  of  trial.
                                                     Where  you  see  only
                                                      one set of footprints,
                                                        I  was  carrying
                                                              you."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Embracing Holiday Grief

I had to face it, holidays would never be the same after my husband died. I soon realized that I was never going to share time with my loved one again. There would never be the traditional Christmas shopping together, putting up Christmas decorations, shopping around town for a real Christmas tree, or going to a Christmas party together. I was never going to see another smile from my loved one or hear him say "I love you". At times it felt that life would never be joyful again. And holidays seemed the worse because of so many joyous memories.

I had many other joyous moments in life. I remembered how joyous I felt when my children took their first steps, how excited and happy they were on Christmas morning. Then they went to their first day of school and they were no longer toddlers. I grieved to a certain point because I remembered the beautiful memories of them as babies, but knew that period of time was over and could never come back. But I'm still able to smile of those memorable moments.

Children grow up, get lives of their own. If we're blessed, we can still share time with them. We take what we can get and savor every moment. Life is different, but we live in the moment and make new memories. Are we going take advantage of the present, and find the joy? Or will we still live in the past and wish they were toddlers with excited faces on Christmas and feel sad that it could never be like that again? If we live in just the past, we'll never find joy in the present.  

Why not embrace the past and smile that we were fortunate to have wonderful memories. That's how I came to embrace the holidays through my grief. I had a wonderful man for many years. Yes, I was deeply sad that he died at a young age. It didn't seem fair. But I had to face it. He wasn't coming back. All I had were the memories. I embraced them. I remembered how he loved shopping for Christmas, wrapping presents, decorating, and parties. I recalled how much he loved his family. I now smile when I think of those bittersweet memories.

But I can also smile in the present when I see my adult children making good choices and having lives of their own. I smile when I can spend time with my 2 year old grandson and he tells me he wants Santa to bring him a bike for Christmas! It brings me joy to hear Christmas songs on the radio that I've loved since I was a child. This causes me to remember childhood memories that I can never live over, but embrace the past with a smile. Merry Christmas!!

Does this help put things in a different perspective for anyone?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My 12 months (not days) of grieving

These were my first twelve months of grief:

First month: Shock
They told me Nelson died. But I didn't feel sad, angry, or anything. I actually felt joyful that my husband was in heaven and no longer in pain. Why were others so sad?

Second month: Denial
Nelson's presence was still close. There were many coincidences that proved my husband had not left. I denied my grief and was comforted by dreams that he was still with me.

Third month: Instant Gratification (Out of control!)
Drinking, eating, gambling, shopping, and traveling. Within a couple weeks, I was into a pattern of habits that I couldn't stop.
(excerpt from my book)

"If I stay as close to the Lord, like I am now," I confidently told my friend, Lynette, "then I'll never feel any grief from my husband's death." I stirred my Margarita then swigged down the last gulp.
"It doesn't work that way." Lynette adjusted her kitchen blinds to block out the early evening sun. "You're still in shock. But once you get back home, the pain will come."
"We'll see." I didn't want to argue. "I think I'll have one more drink before we go out to eat."

Forth month: Guilt (Coming out of the fog)
Why didn't I call the doctor sooner. Doesn't matter. My husband is not coming back. I'm the only parent. What was I modeling? How could I be so selfish and neglect my children?

Fifth month: PAIN (My broken heart!)
Unbearable and excruciating pain. A knife stabbing my heart. Relentless nights of weeping to God. As the pain released, I felt God's comfort. Only God's love could mend my broken heart. 

Sixth month: Depression (Letting go)
It was October, a change of season, and the holidays were approaching. I started cleaning out my husband's closets. I gave his favorite leather jacket to his best friend. I cried.

Seventh month: Disorientation (Past or present?)
Sometimes I wanted to go back. I wanted to cry and live in past memories. A familiar place. But my children lived in the present and my friends encouraged me to keep going forward.  

Eigth month: Revelation (Acceptance)
My first holiday season consisted of visiting numerous family and friends from all time periods of my life. This revealed that Nelson was not my entire past, only part of it.

Ninth month: Comforting moments
The pain came and went. Moments of joy between moments of pain. We made new memories over the holidays by allowing our family and friends to share our pain and fill us with love.

Tenth month: What do I do now? (My future?)
Should I move closer to my sister and parents? But professionals say, don't make any big changes for at least a year. I better wait a few more months. I just don't have a clue as to what to do.

Eleventh month: Finding fun and socializing
It was time to go out and dance again. It was time to meet new people. I needed to feel alive again.

Twelth month: Time to reminisce
I spent the anniversary of my husband's death with friends. We all went out and celebrated Nelson's life. We all shared our best stories of the best memories we had of this wonderful man!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Life goes on...Make the best of it

"If I kill myself, then I can be with Daddy forever," Jessica said.
I felt exactly the same...wanting to die.
"I understand how much you miss Daddy, but you can't kill yourself." I sadly looked my 7 year old's wishful face next to me.
She quietly stared ahead again as if in deep thought. "Well... what if someone else kills me? That would be a good idea."
Her attempt to scheme such an outlandish plot startled me.
"No," Nicole piped up from the back seat. "You can't do that either, because if you want to die and you make that happen, it's still a very bad sin."
My heart ached for Jessica, understanding her yearning to leave this world and go on to the next.

At 34 years old, in my first year of widowhood, it was hard to imagine, that I'd ever feel truly happy again. Life went on. One day at a time. It never stopped. Then one day I woke up and I didn't want to die anymore. I wanted to live. Life was never going to go back to the way it was. It was time to go forward. It was time to make something good out of something tragic. It was time to realize that it wasn't about me. Life became more about my children and about helping others.

As the years unfolded, we found our happy days again. I started college at the age of 37 to become a social worker. It took me another 13 years to complete my master's degree, but I did it. (See pictures) I also found another wonderful man to remarry 2 years ago. My children are happy and pursuing their own dreams. I'm pretty sure they don't want to die any time soon! I'm just as happy now than I ever was. And when I think of my first husband...I smile. He made me very happy during the 17 years that I knew him. I feel blessed that we had that time together.