Monday, October 19, 2009

two steps forward, one step back...

I don't know if you have noticed or not, but to me when I read over the last 7 months of posts, I notice a slight trend in the overall mood of this blog. As I read, I notice that the first several weeks after Brian's death were full of, "I don't feel like doing this" mentality. My mentality is changing a bit to not wanting this for anyone else, to understanding that it does get easier, to simply forcing some mood changes at home.

The forced smiles are working. Strange therapy, I realize, but honestly, I have heard enough sermons on the topic and been in enough Bible studies to know that there is JOY to be claimed even when your heart is hurting and your whole body doesn't feel like rejoicing. JOY is still abundant. And Christ wants JOY in our lives. You can still have joy even if you have a bad marriage. You can still have JOY even if you are fighting illness. You can still have JOY even if you are oppressed and mistreated. You can still have JOY when you have been told you are dying. And you can still have JOY when what you thought was your future left this world without you 7 months ago.
(one step forward)

In the past 6-8 weeks, since around the second week of September, my mindset has been shifting a bit. I have started focusing more on what lies ahead instead of what just happened. I find my thoughts looking more towards my potential future rather than mourning the future I had planned - one that included Brian.
(one step forward)

The kids and I are in a better routine. The schoolwork is probably the biggest challenge. Honestly, they both struggle a bit - especially Grant right now. That is very difficult for me because I lack patience in this arena. I am praying for patience and gentleness in this aspect of my life so I can be a better teacher and mom to the boys since this will be a huge part of their lives for years to come. Honestly, I get Grant so frustrated with my lack of patience, that he sometimes claims he wants to go back to Kindergarten. My problem is that I never really struggled in school. I didn't have to work hard for many years and when I did, if I just applied and practiced and did some homework problems, I pretty much "got it." (except Dynamics [shudder]). So, I don't "get" "not getting it." Clear as mud? That's what I thought. I've had a couple friends offer to work with Grant independently, so pending the outcome of his conference on Thursday, I may hold them to that offer.
(one step back)

Still, other than the homework, the boys and I are finding our groove. I have implemented a 'no screens' rule (video games, computer, TV) on Mondays-Thursdays. There is no Spongebob to compete with teeth-brushing time in the mornings. They come home and do homework immediately with no ICarly tempting them in the background. And they PLAY with TOYS in the evenings. Well, sort of. They usually set them all up in some sort of never-ending war of the worlds they have created in the basement. A war that makes it very difficult to get from point A to point B. Point A being the bottom of the stairs and Point B being ANYWHERE IN THE REST OF THE BASEMENT due to their elaborate traps, battle zones, MASH tents, headquarters, etc. I do love watching their imaginations at work, but I do LOATHE the resulting mess.
(one step forward)

The boys are almost finished with their counseling sessions. The counselor thinks we have done a great job in processing their grief, which is obviously ongoing, and are equipped to continue. I, strangely, was more worried about Grant who seemed to suppress his emotions a bit in the last several months - since mid-summer. The counselor suggested that he did not see anything alarming in Grant, rather that perhaps Grant was farther along in his grief process. Last week, during Grant's session, he finally spoke of Daddy. He claimed, as he does to me all the time, that he does not miss Dad. This initially broke my heart when he made this proclamation to me this summer. Still, he told the counselor again he did not miss Dad. And upon further discussion (through a game) he told the counselor that his Daddy wasn't hurting anymore. It must have been very difficult for Grant to come home from Kindergarten every day at lunch time last year and watch his Daddy - his male role model, his protector, his human superman - slowly deteriorate. Kids in essence want their parents strong and happy. Anyway, Grant was able to process what was happening to Brian as he witnessed it first-hand with me last Fall and Winter. And he has come to terms with it as being okay for him and okay for Brian. In the end, that is the place we all need to be.
(one step forward)

I do miss Brian immensely right now. I miss the laughter he brought to my life with his sarcastic, dry, witty comments. He was great at a quick one-liner. And he thought I was funny. To get a laugh these days, I have to do things like this: While Gavin was practicing typing his spelling words last week (another medium we try to use to change up the mundane task of printing the same 15 words 4 days a week), I took MY turn. I printed the words: "Gavin is a poopy head." Which had Grant in stitches. Then I typed: "Grant is a fart-face." Which had Gavin in stitches and opened a can of worms I wish had stayed sealed shut with what they continued to type the rest of the evening. Still, that is the level to which I have to resort to get a laugh.
(neither forward nor back, or is that just back??)

Also, I miss having a driver. I have been to my parents' (4 hours one way) twice since the last weekend of September. This past weekend we went to Indiana to see McKenna get baptized. (4 hours one way) This weekend, we are going to Paducah, KY to see Kevin, Heather and the kids in their new house (at least 5 hours one way). In two weeks, I am going to St. Louis (3 hours one way). All that driving and being the only driver gets really old. I long to be a passenger again - reading, taking care of snacks and movies for the kids, channel surfing or manning the IPOD, telling Brian he is driving too slow, complaining about the route Brian chose, you know, all that kind of passenger stuff...
(one step back)

Also, I miss Brian's touch. Oh my LORD, how I miss being touched by him. I miss simply holding his hand. I miss his warmth next to me at night and intertwining our feet while we slept. I miss resting my head in his lap on the couch while he played with my hair. I miss snuggling in the crook of his arm. And yes, I mean I miss his touch in every other way your mind is taking you right now. Holy Cow, if someone could just tell me how to shut this off, I would really appreciate it. Honestly, I PRAY for these desires to flee me. And I can't believe I am sharing this with you, but I was NOT prepared for this part.
(one step back)

I have done a lot of road time as I outlined above and I am soon to do even more road time. One of the things this ROAD TIME allows is opportunity to think. WAY TOO MUCH TIME TO THINK. Since the kids pretty much watch movies the entire way, my mind just marches all over the world and back again. I think about Brian and how I miss him. But, mostly, when I think of Brian now, I smile. My memories of Brian are good ones now. I am not so consumed with the week of his death as I was. I am not so much caught up in my guilt of how I stopped believing in his healing. I think about the man he was. I think about how inspiring he was. I think about the silly things he said and did. When I think of him, I smile more than cry. From what I research, that is a pretty big step in grieving.
(one step forward)

I, also, think about the future. As I stated before, when I think about the future I now think about a different future instead of pitying myself for the future that won't be. I think about where I want to live. I still don't know. Part of me wants to go back to St. Louis to be closer to my family. I have not lived in the same state or within 4 hours of my family since 1995. I would love to experience that. But, I know it is not so easy to just pick up and go somewhere I haven't lived in 15 years. And, to do that, would be to take on an identify in my world of 'single mom of two boys.' It would no longer be - 'Angie, widow of Brian.' I am not ready to take on my identity without Brian, yet.
(neither forward nor back)

Also, when I think about the future, I think about the boys and me. I really don't want to be alone. Right now, I MAY be saying that more from the loneliness I feel every day and from the human desires I spoke of a few paragraphs above. (is anyone still reading this far along anyway?). Still, when I think of myself in the future, I don't see myself alone. I think when you experience a love like Brian and I had - a mutual, respectful, nurturing, physical, encouraging, spiritual, Christ-centered LOVE - you can't help but want part of that again. It is not a desire to replace that love. It is not a desire to redirect loneliness. It is simply a desire to love again.
In the right time...
When my confusion is less and my priorities are better in line with Christ-like thinking...

If God wills it....

I also think about what Brian would want for me and the boys. I credit Brian solely on my ability to begin a new outlook on the future for two reason. First of all, we were blessed in that we were able to have these conversations for years due to our circumstances. I know he wanted a new future for me and the boys. He spoke of it even while believing in his own potential future. And in knowing that, the guilt of thinking about it is subdued. Also, Brian rarely looked out on his life and lamented the "could have beens." Rather, he concentrated on the "here and nows" to get to where he wanted to be. He did not allow the fog and cycle of self-pity to enter his daily regimen of a good attitude and a positive outlook. I have no doubt if this situation were reversed, and it was I who had passed on to heaven, he would rejoice for where I was and would pick up the shattered pieces of his broken heart excited about the next adventure in his life. If I were in heaven, isn't that what I would want for him and my boys on earth until they joined me?
(one step forward)

Thanks for listening.

And now for something completely different....
That was for you, Babe. You LOVED it. Hopefully, Sean and John will appreciate it today and see a bit of you in it.

And even more different...
A few pictures because I haven't posted one in a long time...

Grant taking a pic of me doing a cartwheel. That's my game face. If only I could get my abs to be as cut as my calves. I'm working on it.
P.S. Yes, I am geeky enough to make sure I had a 2 to 1 ratio of forwards to backs. I may not keep a very clean house, but when the math doesn't add up, I have a sleepless night.
P.P.S. I would have chosen a different picture of myself, but since the camera went swimming in the lake in July, I have taken only a handful of photos and this is the most recent of me. AND, I wanted you to see that I still do cartwheels despite being 37 AND despite my grief. Sometimes there is no better therapy than a curse word or a cartwheel.


  1. I did read this entry to the end!!

    No tmi it's only you and your emotions which is beautiful for you to share!!

    Your initial note about Joy..I needed to hear that thank you..You opened my eyes today!!

    Sending many hugs to you,


  2. Congrats on your cartwheel! I'm impressed! I tried to play Twister today with my before school kids and it was pointed out that I was NOT very flexible! Thanks kids! While my husband is still here on this earth with me (we haven't been married quite 5 years) I want to remember the touch, the laughs, etc. I guess I need to work on the smile therapy myself!

  3. I just stinkin' love you!! Thanks for the note the other day, I will be in touch soon :).

  4. Of course I read it to the end! So many forwards and backs, and all so important. I am heartened to read all of them.

    Love the idea of getting a friend to help the boys w/ homework. I actually have a tutor (M's first grade teacher)working with her right now. Not that I couldn't, but the mom/daughter dynamic wasn't great. Now this is special attention she LOOKS FORWARD TO with her special tutor.

    The fact that you can look forward right now is a testament to yours and Brian's relationship.

  5. I would say it sounds like three steps forward and no steps back... Recognizing you weaknesses and finding others to help your children get what you can't provide is a HUGE step forward! We can't all be everything to everyone, nor to our children...not only will it let you keep your sanity, but it gives them exposure to other adults and the positives they have to offer. You should be very proud of yourself.

  6. You know how you are driving and you suddenly look up and you are way farther down the road than you remember having driven? I was just reading along, not realizing how far I had actually read, when I ran right into Monty Python. As a member of the 1% club (% of male readers of your blog), I thank thee.

  7. Nope, I read the entire post. Glad to know that somebody else out there writes some long ones too! ;)

    It's is a for sure thing that nobody could prepare us for life as a widow. There are things that people have told me and things that they have not. Uhm...the touch is one of them. Trust me when I believe what you are saying 100%.

    It's also kind of funny, but not in a ha ha way, but rather in an amazement kind of way that you can take one or two steps forward, but then take a step back the next day. Like you said in one of your other posts. makes you crazy sometimes with all emotions it throws in your face.

    I'm so glad we got a chance to talk last night on FB-hopefully we can do more of that. I really enjoyed talking to you.

    Oh and by the way...your calves do look awesome.Way to go on the cartwheel!!

  8. Okay, first of all, if you think Brian would be rejoicing for you in heaven, you are right. But he would also be devastated to have lost you. Don't go thinking that he's not mortal... you're an amazing woman and DEFINITELY would be sorrowfully missed by everyone who ever has had the joy of knowing you.

    And, I am glad you felt comfortable sharing your feelings. I've been wondering... but not wanting to pry... just kinda waiting for you to put it out there. I'm sure it's a natural step in healing. Take heart: you're normal. eek.

    And, one last dumb thing: Linus' teacher has a great list of things to do to practice spelling words, like: write them with rainbow colors on a list, or put them in ABC order (I do this by taking a sheet of paper and cutting it into small squares, then have Linus write each word onto a square, then put them in ABC order). You can also read a book and play I-spy with the spelling words. Or you can make a seek-n-find on graph paper with the spelling words. Or see how many words you can make into one sentence. Those are just some ideas. Hope it helps a little.

  9. Angie,

    Your post reminded me of one of my favorite Scriptures that I believe talks about taking two steps forward and one step back:

    Psalm 84:5-7 (New Living Translation)

    5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
    who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

    6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
    it will become a place of refreshing springs.
    The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

    7 They will continue to grow stronger,
    and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

    I do not pretend to even know what you are experiencing in the absence of your beloved Brian. Through your writing of him, I know you two were soul mates. Your valley is much deeper than any I have ever walked through, but what you are doing, sweet Angie, is giving water to weary, parched people who look at you and realize that if Jesus can sustain you in the valley, they too can have hope in their particular situation. I know you would never have chosen this road, but you are beautiful in your pain and are bringing much glory to your Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Love you, girlfriend. One day, the valley will be no more. Looking forward to that day with you--Shawn from TN

  10. Angie - your last two posts have been beautiful and have brought a smile to my face. My family has faithfully prayed for you for a long time and it brings me genuine joy to see you healing. You're amazing!


  11. Angie,

    I love your style of writing. In school we have to analyze texts and novels from all kinds of important authors in English, American, and German literature (with their stylistic devices and stuff). I HATE IT!!!
    To me your posts make sense. Not only that. I LOVE YOUR POSTS.
    I love your antithesises, your irony, your allusions, your ellipsises, your inversions, your exaggerations, your anaphoras, your alliterations, your sarcasm, your hyperboles, your repetitions, and your puns. But most of all I love how you put so much heart into it.
    I think I love it because it's real and not made up.
    I loved todays post. It made me cry because the way you write and what you write is so touching.

    Hugs from Germany!!
    And say hi to Gavin and Grant.


    P.S.: Could you please come over and tell my brother to stop watching Spongebob, iCarly, and all that kind of stuff, too.

  12. Thanks for sharing the serious and the not so serious.

    "In this picture we cannot see Mrs. B.J. Smegma" That will keep me smiling for a week.

  13. Angie, I sometimes wonder if I'd even be walking at all...forward or back. But then again, I had people say the same thing to me several years ago.
    One thing I have to tell you...I am so amazed at your openness. You share your heart with us in a way that is so inspiring. You seem to have a fearlessness in your growth, whether you are moving forward or back. You are who you are, and that is beautiful. You are loved by so many, and that is just one reason don't hide who you are. I admire this SO much and I strive for this in my own life. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  14. Oh, by the way, that's one bad-ass cartwheel.
    I do one several times a year just to make sure I haven't lost it.

    Keep it up, yo.

  15. Angie,
    Love the entire post! Jeff LOVED anything monty python too:)))) I was 37 when he died too, and I do cartwheels on my birthday every year:) I am now 46:0 Keep it up, I am so very proud of you!!

  16. Nice form on the cartwheel, and I completely understand about the math... You are simply amazing. (I do disagree that impatience with the boys on homework is a step back. You recognize that this is hard for you b/c you always got things. You even know how they feel b/c of Dynamics. So, the impatience may seem like a step backwards but it seems to me that you are moving forward in terms of dealing with it.)

  17. I love you! I've never met you but I love you. And girl, I'd kill for those ripped calves. My abs are a lost cause! LOL

  18. Angie,
    That was both heartbreaking and refreshing at the same time. Your kids must be doing just amazing at recovering at such a tremendous loss. And you are just an amazing person to be able to deal with all of what has gone on and still remain so strong. God bless you are your boys.

  19. Found you via Momisodes. Thanks for sharing your story. This touched me in multiple ways but it's a bit difficult for me to articulate them right now.

  20. Teri (Laurentius) MooneyOctober 20, 2009

    I just got caught up on your blog and I loved it! I love how you are so "real" with your grief. And having been in your shoes, (and teaching GriefShare), I can honestly say, you and the boys are progessing forward gracefully.

    It's awesome to see how now when you think of Brian, you SMILE, instead of crying. That is a very big step....The kids and I did and still do a lot of reminincing about Randy: "Remember when Dad killed that spider on the ceiling with one shot of a rubberband?" (No kidding...Randy really did do this and the four of us just belly laughed for a half hour afterwards.) When we can think of Randy and Brian about all the funny, fun-loving things they did when they were a part of our everyday lives, we can finally allow the JOY to return.

    Thanks for sharing your heart and keep going forward, as you have been doing.

    And when you need a "babysitter", don't hesitate to call me. I'll drive 3+ hours to do that for you! lol

    Love ya bunches,


  21. To the end, sister! That entry was outstanding.

  22. I think one of the things that keeps me coming back here is that you and Brian shared a real love. The kind of love I try to cultivate with my husband. It's easy to see that you were friends and lovers, husband and wife, mother and father. What an outstanding blessing that is. I am so thankful you have experienced it fully.

  23. Angie,
    You never give TMI. You share your beliefs, feelings and joys and sorrows. These are the things that keep me coming back to your blog.

    Before I prayed for healing. I still do. Healing for you and Grant and Gavin. Moving forward after the loss of a husband is one of the hardest things to do. The only time I cried was as night in that lonely big bed. Daytime was to show strength and give support to my 10 year old daughter.

    You have one thing that I did not have at that time. I have only recently found our Lord and my walk is a very short path compared to yours. I did not have God to lean on. I had to do it on my own. Oh, He was there and He was helping, but I didn't know it.

    I too was facing the possibility of moving back to the area where my family was. I choose to stay in Ohio and looking back I don't regret it. My daughter did not have to make new friends and go to a new school. I had friends who helped me when I needed it. I even learned to change the oil in my car.

    All of God's blessing on you and Grant and Gavin.
    Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

  24. Read it to the end and glad I did Angie! What a long way you have come. To me you are taking many steps forward. This journey you have been on is quite inspiring. Not so sure that I could have done as well as you have done.

    Sending many hugs to you and your new steps forward.

  25. Angie, I think I understand what Grant is feeling about his dad. My Mom suffered for a long time from her cancer. When she died, I honestly felt a sense of relief to see that she wasn't suffering anymore. I didn't miss seeing her lay in bed in pain or worrying that she getting sicker and sicker. I do miss her dearly, but I don't miss those terrible months of seeing her slowly slip away from us.

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