Monday, March 23, 2009

the first milestone

Dear Brian,

A couple of days has passed since we buried you. I finally feel up to writing something. Please forgive me for waiting. Please forgive me for being sporadic in the future. I have a lot of figuring out to do. I don't know who I am without you. I know that comment would make you mad, but it is true, nonetheless.

Friday was your visitation. Grant woke in the morning and immediately went and dressed in "church clothes." He came out in a polo shirt and nice pants - AND A TIE. You would have laughed. Did you? Can you see us? I have so many questions. Anyway, I told him he looked handsome and didn't need the tie. He said, "I thought I would wear a tie today." So, we got a button up and put his tie on. He looked so handsome.
Do you see how he had to have your cane close by? Anything to hold on to more of you.

We were all so nervous all morning. Then I saw you. I couldn't believe what I saw. You looked 15 years older. It didn't look anything like you. I was mad at first. I just wanted to see you again - one last time. I wanted to hold your hand. You were so cold and your flesh was so hard. It was terrible. It was then that I realized your soul is what made you beautiful. The soul gave your body life. Your soul brought a constant smile to your face. Your soul was gone and your body lied in front of me. It made it easier for me.

However, I think it was harder on our boys. They hadn't seen you since Saturday morning. I still think that was what was best for them because you could not carry on a conversation on Sunday, and on Monday you were in a terrifying state with the seizures before you passed in the wee hours on Tuesday. Still, when they saw you, you didn't look anything like their Daddy. They had a lot of questions about bodies and death, yet they did not appear sad.

Then we drove home for a couple hours before heading back for the official visitation for the public. Grant cried the whole way home stating how he missed you. It melted me. Did you feel the sadness? Is there sadness in heaven? I pray not.

Gavin asked questions all day: "Why can't we see his feet?" "What would happen if we opened his eyes?" "Why is he so cold?" "Where is his blood?" - all the things that are legit questions, but taboo to ask. You would have loved his piqued curiosity at the situation.

Gavin went swimming for the rest of the evening with relatives. Grant stayed in a chair by my side being held by various relatives crying and sleeping the entire evening.

Over 600 people attended the visitation and/or funeral services. Did you see them? Were you proud of who you were and the impact you had on lives? I was. Is pride a sin in heaven? I know the apostle Paul talks about none being able to boast.

The funeral service on Saturday was awesome. The music was amazing. We had the bagpipes you requested. Do you remember when you told me bagpipes would be cool at your funeral? We delivered. He was 83 years old and he didn't quite have enough wind. I personally thought he was flat and awful and it made me laugh inside. I think you would have made some crass comment if you would have heard him.

Michael and Sean, your beloved brothers, gave a heartfelt eulogy. Your best friend, John, also gave a humorous and dead on eulogy. One that compared your life to a game of Euchre. There was lots of Euchre played in your honor this weekend.

Kara played the piano and sang. It was beautiful. She sang I'll Fly Away and I Can Only Imagine. Kara's Dad sang Danny Boy and I'll Walk with God. I don't think there were dry eyes in the place. It was remarkable. The programs - OH MY THE PROGRAMS. They were incredible - beautiful, Irish, some art from the boys, pictures of you, a family picture. Just amazing.

The boys fidgeted and sort of fought during the entire service. They are 6 and 7 and that is exactly normal. Did you hear Gavin trying to explain about why leprechauns are real during the eulogy. I was laughing in my heart knowing that you would giggle at the irony of leprechaun talk during such a beautiful and serious moment.

We buried you a few miles down the road. It is a cemetery that we pass by often. I wanted to be able to visit your grave often. I wanted the boys to have easy access to your grave. There was a light breeze and just a touch of sun. It was lovely.

We had lunch at Northwoods church after. It was so perfect. The caterer had 4 plates remaining after all were served. We guessed. I guess we guessed correctly.

Your parents had a party that afternoon and into the wee hours of the morning. Your Dad called it an Irish Wake. I call it a perfect party. Did you talk with God about the weather? Did you know that well over a hundred people would continue to celebrate you at your parents house? It was supposed to be low 50's and cloudy/rainy. It was just over 60 degrees and wonderfully sunny. Our friends supplied the food. Our family supplied the beer. Your friends and family supplied the fun. It was perfect. It was exactly as you would have wanted it.

We had to celebrate our first milestone today without you. Today is my birthday. I know you know that. The thing is, if you were still on earth, I am not sure you would have known that. I know you would have had help remembering it. I was surrounded this morning for several hours with friends and family for breakfast. Tonight I am going out with girlfriends. We are going someplace where I have no memories with you. I don't think I could bear it. I know you understand.

I miss you, Brian. I love you.



  1. Oh, Angie. My sweet Angie. I wish you a very Happy Birthday amongst friends.

    I am so glad the weather was perfect and family and friends were plenty. I love the image of Brian smiling at the bag pipes out of wind. I am sure he was looking down. Sending you lots of hugs on your first milestone.

  2. Oh Angie. Happy Birthday sweet friend. I too hope you are surrounded by wonderful friends tonight.

    Your words are amazing. I am sure Brian is going to love this letter. What grace and peace you write with. I am afraid that if it was me in the same situation, I would just be angry.

    So glad that the day was just how you and Brian had hoped it would be.

    You are an amazing wife and mother.


  3. Angie,
    I have been thinking of you all day - knowing it is your birthday (check your email), hoping you are doing well - I will check in with you tomorrow - I figured you were surrounded by friends and family today so I didn't want to intrude. So glad that was a correct assumption.
    You are all in our prayers and will continue to be!

  4. Angie, Angie!! We wish you a Happy Birthday--guess it will be hard at times. Your blog is so sweet and loving--thank you so much for sharing your amazing love of Brian. And, you were right--the service Sat. was just awesome--so sad but so healing. We're praying for you!! John & Peg

  5. You poor girl. My heart goes out to you and your boys, and I wish you all the strength you need to get through this. I am sure your husband is looking after you all from above, and that he would be proud of you. Huge hugs.

  6. Angie,
    I can't even find words to say. I know Brian knew how much he was loved by all of you and I hope you can continue to feel how much he loved you back. Even in your darkest hours of grief, I pray that the memories of the amazing love you shared will sustain you. My prayers continue for your family.

  7. My heart goes out to you - lifting you in prayer today.

  8. Happy Birthday, sweet Angie. I love you and have continued to check often to see if you would let us know how you are doing. Thank you for inviting us in to your private pain and for being so real.

    Shawn from TN

  9. Oh, I cried through your entire letter. I pray that somehow your friends will know exactly what you need tonight. Many blessings to you Angie.

    I am so sorry.

  10. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. This is such a very difficult time. Nothing ever really prepares you for the reality of seeing your loved one gone from you, and looking so still. You hold their hand but they don't squeeze back. In a way, it's comforting to know that they aren't really there.

    I'm glad you are going out for your birthday. Sometimes it is amazing to watch other people laugh and talk and go on with their life, and feeling like it's amazing to see them do that, when they have no idea how your life has just stopped for a moment in time. Life carries on without the one you love so much, and it hurts.

    Please know that many, many people are praying for you all, and you will always have your husband's love forever.

  11. Happy Birthday, Angie.

    "It was then that I realized your soul is what made you beautiful." Beautiful, just beautiful.

    I continue to lift you in the boys up in prayer.

  12. A beautiful post, Angie. Happy Birthday.

  13. Angie,
    I pray for you and the boys. I think of you so often. I don't even know what to say as I have tears running down my face. I am so glad you and Brian know God. I know He loves you. Thank you for sharing. I will continue praying. And Happy Birthdy too-

  14. What do you say? I have no words, well, I have a couple, but that's it.

    This is beautiful, I am crying again, but smiling too....just as I did all weekend. I believe that while we are all in the depths of pain we still have Hope and that's where the smile comes from.

    I love you and I hope you have a wonderful evening tonight.

    Janell H.

  15. Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great evening out with the girls.

    Your words, as usual, are perfect. I love that picture of you and the boys. They do look handsome :)

  16. Thinking of you. Crying.

    I hope you are able to find some peace and joy with your friends tonight. Happy birthday.

  17. Hugs on your birthday and first milestone.

  18. Sweet sweet Angie, have a beautiful birthday! You are an amazing woman. Praying for you during your grieving process and a year of many 'firsts' that God will see you through.

    Sending you a birthday margarita from me... xo

  19. Angie, ~ Happy Birthday!~
    Celebrate your day! Celebrate your life! I know Brian is very much aware of everything happening to you, whether it be around you, on behalf of you and the boys and especially in your mind and heart!
    I hope this new chapter in your life brings many wonderful things... As you begin to heal - I would like to extend a hand of new friendship. I hope in time we can become more than neighbors and mothers of boys in the same class. I hope AND pray that we can become good friends... I admire you more than any words could express and I would be honored to be able to lend a helping hand to you WHENEVER life called. And even more than that, I would love to share laughter and even tears as you grow in your new chapter. I feel helpless to say anything more except this... Even though God can't be here on earth with us in person when we need Him - He does however send angels to be there for Him... I would love to be one of your newest angels and friends!
    Jenny Alcenius

  20. That was beautiful.

    ((hugs)) for your birthday!

  21. Happy birthday, and prayers to you for making through this day and the others before it.

  22. I'm so sorry you are going through all of this, Angie. You are so graceful, though and handle everything with such grace and dignity. This was a beautiful recollection of a very difficult time in your life. I think it will mean so much for you to have these memories documented and so much to your boys.

    Happy Birthday. I hope you have a wonderful time with your girlfriends and I continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

    Take care - Kellan

  23. I do not know you but found you through Kelly's Korner yesterday. I just read and read and read your blog yesterday afternoon. You are such a brave young wife and mother. I am just crying after reading your post today. I'm so sorry you're going through this right now----it breaks my heart that your birthday (so soon!) is your first milestone. Bless your heart----stay strong. You will make it. Brian will always help you.
    Sugar in New Orleans

  24. XOXO!!! Happy Birthday sweet Angie!

  25. You know Angie, I don't even 'know' you but all weekend, God kept calling you to my mind and heart...wanting to let you know that..(((Hugs))

  26. Now this post really made me cry. Bless you. May the God who gave you at least two wonderful reasons to celebrate the day of your birth, inspire you with a bit of joy today, in the sorrow of course, but just a bit of joy. The service sounds absolutely perfect. Recently I found Amazing Grace done by Divo in some out door ampitheatre with bagpipes, it's on you tube, it will bless you if you can find it. Your boys are doing just awesome and bravo for not making their questions taboo! It's their Daddy and they are little, whatever it takes to help them out. You are again, doing an amazing job.

  27. I don't know how I found your blog, but I am so glad that I did. You and your family have touched me in so many ways. Your bravery combined with your honesty and wit make me smile and cry at the same time.

    Just know that I have been thinking of you and your boys the last few days and wondered how you were doing. Brian's spirit will remain with you always, and he will watch over you all and keep you safe.

    God Bless,

    Jenni in Ohio

  28. Oh Angie- I am such and unemotional person. It makes eric so mad that I dont every really cry, yet my face is literally drenched from ready that. As some above as said, I am sure I would not be even half as Gracefull as you are and as remarkable as you are being... I think I would be full of anger, which I know is not right, but none the less how I would be. Have a good night out with the girls tonight! You are remarkable!


  29. I have no idea how I came across your story. I just know I am here, and am changed. First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Second, what a wonderful woman you are. I wish I had more words. As I was reading, I had a million different things going through my head. Right now, I am somewhat speechless. I hope you can find peace and happiness today on your birthday, as well as in the many days, weeks, and years to come.

  30. Angie
    A beautiful post. May your special day be filled with love and beauty. The world is praying for you and the boys. Peace Paul

  31. Angie- Happy Birthday, I hope you get to laugh some tonight with your friends. I was so unprepared for that feeling of who I was without Jeff. I felt very unprotected and alone, my children gave me so much security and strength. I am so proud of you in your honesty and your hope. Keep on writing and know that you are loved and cared for by all and you are not alone. Your post made me cry and laugh as I too laughed inside at some things that happened at Jeff's funeral that he would have fallen over in laughter and would have so appreciated it:)Take care and know that I am praying for you all!

  32. Angie-you are an amazing person-your words are heartfelt and honest-your thoughts are so touching-your boys will be forever reminded of their wonderful Dad through your words and memories. A special Happy Birthday to you-I continue to pray for all of you.

  33. Dearest Angie,
    Happy Birthday to you.
    Having read about your girlfriends, I know they
    will make this evening just perfect with you in mind all the way.
    Thank you for letting us know about Friday and Saturday, sharing the celebration of Brian's life, with so many wonderful family and friends.
    Being far away we are so close.
    Love you Marjo

  34. Angie, not sure how I got here but I know the Lord had a hand in it. I lost my dad to brain cancer 9 years ago this July, what a truly heartbreaking time it was to watch him leave us. He is now home with his heavenly father and it comforts me to know that he no longer feels pain and that he is once again himself.

    Lifting you and your boys in prayer, may you all have peace and joy in your memories.God bless you!

  35. What a beautiful letter to your sweet husband. I'm lifting you all up in prayer right now.

  36. Dear Angie,

    Happy Birthday to you...with big hugs...

    I found your blog just two days ago and immediately wanted to follow.. To be here for you, to give you and the boys strength and pray, pray, and keep praying..

    My love goes to you and the boys..I thank you for sharing every part of your life with us..

    Huge Hugs,

    Stephanie in Mo.

  37. Angie,
    Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories of this past weekend. You are a strong and amazing women and your boys are lucky to have such a great mom! I am glad the programs were great, I work in a funeral home and it is always a good feeling if you can give someone something "special" during such a painful and difficult time. Let me know if you (or the boys) having any questions I might be able to answer.
    In Christ,

  38. Angie,
    Another beautiful, yet heart-wrenching, post. With your writing abilities, I wonder how you ended up in engineering.

    Sending you birthday wishes.


  39. Beautifully written, Birthday Girl! Sending love and warm Firsts wishes your way. xoxoxo

  40. Angie, I know that Brian got this whole message from you and is loving every sight he sees. I truly believe that.

    Happy Birthday. I hope you had a good time with your friends.

    Love you.

  41. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing that. I am sorry that your birthday is so soon after Brian's death. I am glad you got to get out with your girlfriends. I am praying for you!

  42. I wish I could be there to see you through this first milestone. I'm glad your friends are with you. Wishing you a happy birthday.

  43. I believe Brian knows everything that is on your heart. What a beautiful letter to him.

    And I hope you've been able to celebrate your own life on this birthday of yours. Happy Birthday Angie. Much love,

  44. I especially liked the bagpiper—-because he was 83—-and because he was perfectly imperfect.

  45. Angie,
    When I saw (on facebook) this morning that it was your birthday, I sent you a happy birthday message, but really wanted to come hug you. I knew it would be a hard day without your sweetie.

    In a few of Karen Kingsbury's novels, she mentions a "window in heaven" where those who have passed away can see what we're doing on earth. Who knows if it's theologically correct, but the idea is a beautiful one. I believe that there is something to it, though. The Bible tells us that all the Saints in Heaven celebrate when 1 soul is saved on earth, so they've got to have SOME idea of what's going on down here or how would that work!?

    I loved reading this post. I know Brian is proud of you and the boys. My prayers are with you in the coming days. I posted the contributions ticker thing on my blog so people can give to the fund. I pray that tons of money is raised so you can be at home to focus on the boys for a long, long time.

  46. Lifting you up in prayer.

  47. Not sure how i got here. But I am and will be back. I don't know you and I can't relate, but I wanted you to know that you've struck a chord with me. Your posts are truly profound, honest and beautiful. I'm praying for you and your beautiful boys.

    Happy Birthday

  48. I want to wish you a happy birthday, but that hardly feels appropriate at this point in your life. Thank goodness you have so many friends and family to keep you company!

  49. Happy Birthday Angie. You are so very cool.

  50. Why is it that what you have to say to Brian saddens and uplifts us all at once? It is your amazing spirit. I'm glad this first milestone is passing with you surrounded by friends and loved ones.

  51. Angie, I came across your blog from Angie Smith's, Bring the Rain, a few days ago. I've been reading, crying, praying. I am a sister in Christ and have been seeking the Lord on your behalf. Happy Birthday!!! I really pray that through the hurt and grief, you were able to find some pure joy today. I'm sure Brian is loving that letter. It is beautiful. I can tell you two were very close, best friends. Praying for you and your boys.

    Ruthie in Ohio

  52. So much love to you on your birthday Angie.

  53. I am coming to you from Kelly's blog. I don't exactly know what to say but I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. After reading your post to Brian it sounds like you have 2 huge support systems in your families. That is awesome!!! I will most definately be praying for you and your boys. I hope you had a relaxing dinner with your friends tonight, know that you are surrounded by prayer everywhere!

    Praying from Oklahoma!


  54. Happy Birthday beautiful Angie. Happy Birthday.

    Still believing.

  55. Wishing you a happy birthday spent with special people who can help you through your first milestone.

  56. Hi Angie
    Just popping in to say I hope you had a good evening celebrating your birthday with your girlfriends.. Know that when you need to talk you can always call on a girlfriend..... Sending you much LOVE as you start your first year of milestones. Love to you and the boys
    Carol:) (()) xoxo

  57. What a wonderful letter, to Brian. i pray you have a wonderful Birthday!

  58. How blessed are we that we have YOU as a best friend? I know today was hard for you, but as usual, you handled it with the grace you always do! I am so happy to have spent most of the day with you and hope I can be here for you for all of your milestones!! I know "who you are" are one of the strongest, most compassionate, funniest, bravest people I know and I am proud to call you a friend! Hang in there, you have so much love and support around you. Happy Birthday friend!


  59. It does seem odd to say "Happy Birthday"--and I'm sorry to say it's a bit late, too, now. But some lightness without worrying about Brian's health now s something you really can use and I hope you did have an enjoyable time with your friends.

  60. Dear Angie, I know I am late but wanted to wish you Happy Birthday wishes. I really wanted to attend Brian's services this past weekend but was unable to - I am sorry. I have told you this before - you have truly touched me by sharing your life with me and so many others. I am amazed at your strength and the love and dedication you and Brian had towards each other. It has made me realize that I have a long journey to be in the place you are (spiritually) - which is scary to me. I know you have lots of people who love you and I wish I had known you better in college. I simply remember laughter - when I think of you and Brian - pure laughter. Today that makes me smile. Thank you and God bless you and your family. Angie Singer

  61. Happy Birthday, Angie!

    This was a lovely post. I'm sure Brian is up there . . . watching, laughing, loving all of you.

  62. My eyes are pouring out the tears as I read your words. You're amazing and my heart goes out to you and your family.

  63. Angie,

    What a wonderful letter to Brian. I am sure that he treasures everything you say, write and think. You two have (and I do mean have) a relationship with each other and our Lord that will last through the ages.

    My daughter was 10 when her Daddy passed. Although she was quiet, she had the same questions and the same grief as Grant and Gavin. She is a mother herself now and is wonderful with her son. She knows how precious every day is. She still visits the veterans cemetary where her Daddy is. So do I.

    Keep believing that Brian will always be with the three of you and that the memories will never leave your hearts or minds.

    Grant and Gavin, Your Daddy loves you and is with you every moment holding you in his arms just as our Lord is holding daddy now.

    God bless you all, Karen

  64. Angie, I am so so so sorry. I cannot even imagine what you are going through. Prayers and hugs for you during this difficult time.

  65. Wow Angie...that was beautiful. I haven't cried that hard in a long time. You manage to touch so many hearts in so many ways. I know that Brian is in heaven "clinging" to every word you say to him...similar to the way you and the boys are "clinging" to anything to hold on to more of Brian. I hope you had a peaceful Birthday. God Bless, Andrea Turner

  66. I thought about you all day yesterday, Angie. I know that was rough to have a milestone so soon. Your letter to Brian is beautiful. Saturday was beautiful. You are beautiful. You will be able to find yourself again. I know it is rough. But you have so many people around you who love you who will help you through it.


  67. Oh, Angie. What a beautiful letter. Perfect.

  68. Happy Birtday Angie!
    Enjoy a Killian's Irish Red for me.

    Angie, I was angry when I saw and toughed Angel at her viewing. I couldn't agree more that it's the soul that makes us who we are. It took me a while to get over that disappointment. I'm not sure why I had my hopes so high. I guess because it was our final moments together.

    Loving you.

  69. Happy birthday Angie. I hope today is filled with new and happy memories. I am sorry for your loss, but hope you continue to strive to make happy memories. Your boys are beautiful and I'm praying for you all.

  70. You blog has touched me. I wish you a happy birthday during the very difficult time...I'm sure your wonderful husband was singing happy birthday to you amongst the angels.

  71. I'm glad your holding up well. I have to tell you I was laughing about the boys and their questions...reminds me of my nephew Nate (TJ's son who is 7) at Grandpa's funeral last summer...he was asking all the same stuff and got into such detailed questions we sent him to the funeral director. What is it with boys and the gory detailed questions?

    You're doing good, stay strong for the boys and ball when you need to!


  72. I had to read this post in many stages so I didn't bawl my eyes out. It is so full of raw emotion and reality and so personal, that I almost felt bad reading it, but yet felt priviledged to have a glimpse of your honest thoughts and feelings. The service sounds like it was beautiful and I am so glad that God shone upon that day in so many ways as people honored Brian and the wonderful man that he was. Still praying for you and the boys...

  73. This broke my heart -- every word of it. I can only imagine all the emotions you were experiencing and will continue to experience. You and your boys both. I love how you are able to understand your boys' reactions and emotions so perfectly, and realize every bit of it is completely normal. You are an amazing person, mother and wife. Of course Brian still sees and hears you. He is there. Always.

  74. Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday. I'm so glad you were surrounded by those who love you.

  75. are so brave and blessed in this journey as it are surrounded by light and love...Brian will ALWAYS be in your heart....ALWAYS!
    Many blessings and much love to you & your precious little guys.

  76. Happy belated birthday Angie. What a beautiful letter. ::hugs:: Love and prayers my friend.

  77. You are so beautiful and your boys are too. I think of all the questions. My boys would have asked the same, and yet there you are so strong for your boys. You amaze me.

  78. Wow. This was in my google reader shared items.
    Really touching. Happy Belated Birthday and Best Wishes in your healing journey. The services and wake sound really lovely and appropriate.