Thursday, February 6, 2014

..."celebrating" today?

Today is February 6.  

It's just a normal day for most folks.  

Aaron Burr, Babe Ruth, and Ronald Reagan were born on this day in 1756, 1895, and 1911 respectively.  

On this date in...

1862, General Ulysses S. Grant captured Fort Henry in Tennessee
1899, the Spanish-American war ended
1911, a great fire destroyed downtown Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey)
1935, the board game Monopoly went on sale for the very first time
1948, the first radio-controlled airplane was flown
1951, Paul Harvey was arrested for trying to sneak into Argonne National Laboratory
1952, Queen Elizabeth II succeeds King George VI to the British throne
1968, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower shot a hole-in-one
1971, a golf ball is hit for the first time on the moon (Alan Shephard)
1974, the U.S. House of Rep. begins determining grounds for President Nixon's impeachment 
1974, Shawna Joyce Englund was born to Don and Joyce Englund in Centerville, Iowa.

See?  No big deal. Really.  The day is just another day in most folks' lives...not just this year, but pretty much any year.  

But for me, it's a big one.  And I don't mean because I'm turning 40.  I don't really mind that.  Not anymore.  In another lifetime, the big 4-0 might have brought with it a twinge of "Seriously?? I can't be this old!  Where has time gone?  Do I LOOK that old???"

But in this lifetime, I don't really care.  40 isn't that different from 39.  

It's just that I don't want to face the day alone*...   

You see, I wasn't supposed to be a widow at 39.  I was supposed to be celebrating this big birthday with Michael by my side, teasing about how I'll soon need bifocals...because that's what people told him just before his 40th.  

But instead, nine days into his 40th year, his right femur decided it had had enough strain from the tumor it had secreted away...and it broke...bolting us across the game board of Life, putting an emphatic end to all the hopes and dreams we shared for our future together. 

Kinda puts a new spin on the term "mid-life crisis," doesn't it?  

And Michael never did need bifocals.

Could it be that I'm nervous about what my 40th year holds since Michael's was so traumatic?  Maybe. 

This day represents so much to me.  Yes, I'm now 40 years old.  That means I have now spent half of my life with Michael and half without. Being with him is all I really know.  I don't know how to do life without his steady wisdom and precious encouragement.  I have depended on his emotional support for so long now, I find I have trouble finding any alternatives.  Sharing important things with another seems so...well, awkward...

This day is also the beginning of many special days we will face as a family without Michael.  

Valentine's Day. More birthdays. Family events. Our 20th anniversary...

Julie was sobbing last night as I tucked her in bed.  She said she had to have her "Daddy blanket" with her - she was missing him so very, very much.  So we wrapped it all around her little arms and snuggled it up close to her face. I told her to think of it as a hug from her daddy...

I often wrap myself up in my blanket.  It sports three of my very favorite pictures of Michael and me together.  It helps.  Temporarily, at least.

Other times, I hug his pillow.  

Or smell his cologne.  That cologne sits proudly on Karson's bedroom shelf now.  He claimed it for his own just a few days after his daddy went where the scents are beautiful beyond anything our feeble minds are able to imagine! 

Sometimes I wonder whom I will be now that Michael is gone.  

I know I am a daughter of the Most High God - my loving Heavenly Father and a Protector of the widows and orphans.

I know I am a mother - of four of the world's most amazing human beings!  And they need me.  They need me to Still. Be. Mom.

I know I am a daughter, granddaughter, sister, in-law, cousin, niece, and aunt.  And oh, how I appreciate the blessings I have been given in that these relationships have not been torn apart by bitterness or anger, but are supportive and comforting and dependable!!

I know I am a friend.  Well, I have many wonderful friends.  I don't feel as though I've been much of a friend to many of them for a while now.  Maybe someday soon that can change.

I know I am a widow.  For now, that status seems forefront.  But I know it won't always be that way.  And I know that at some point, I can and will - by God's precious grace - get to a place where it will no longer define me.

I know I am blessed.  
I was blessed beyond measure by the privilege of being the wife of Michael J. Wright!
I have been blessed to have been given these four precious children!  
I have been blessed to have seen God's gentle hand at work in our lives, in my life, in undeniable ways! 

I know I am a recipient of God's amazing grace and precious provision...daily.

I don't know what else the Lord may have in mind for me. 
I pray that someday I can share with at least one person some of the lessons I've learned or  encourage at least one soul who is faced with tragedy...

But for today, I will do my best to focus on the blessings I have been given instead of whining like a spoiled brat about what I do NOT have.  

Frankly, though, that is much easier said than done.

* By "alone," I'm referring to the sense of loneliness that comes with facing things without my precious husband.  I will have my family around me, so I won't literally be alone.  

(Please understand.  I am not complaining.  If you feel I am, please just skip any further postings on this blog.  Writing in this form happens to be one of my favorite ways of processing and facing the things I'm feeling.  It is by no means meant to be whiny, nor am I trying to beg for sympathy.  But as Michael was open about his trials and struggles as well as his victories and blessings, so I may be at times about my own.)



  1. I feel to leave a comment but don't [w]rightly know what to say... I did try to climb inside your blog and experience your thoughts as you wrote them. Sometimes I smiled, sometimes I laughed.... sometimes I cryed (especially when I read about our Heavenly Father protecting widows and orphans!) Mostly I simply admired your beautiful portrayal of "God in your life"... and prayed.
    Happy birthday Shawna!

  2. Shawna, How can I respond to such a beautifully written, heartfelt response to what you are living this very moment? Words fail me. Just know that I love you, I care about you, I'm thinking of you, and most definitely am praying for you on this, your 40th birthday. May you experience today that, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." ({hugs}) Michelle

  3. On a light note, you mentioning being or seeming old at 40. You were born the year I graduated from H.S. at 19! lol Now, who's feeling old! lol I have never seen you in person, only in the pictures posted on Facebook, but you have always looked young, much younger than 40, and very pretty! Ok, now moving on. I love how you are able to put your emotions down, and while reading we can feel them along with you. It is amazing how as believers we know the God of peace, and are able to rest in His peace. It is not always easy, but if we didn't have our relationship with the Savior it would be so much harder. Thank you for sharing with us. It helps us in knowing how to lift you and the family up in prayer.

  4. Happy Birthday Shawna!! You are a beautiful 40 year young lady, and I love your blog. I think you should write a book, it's so honest it brought me to tears. You are such a strong, beautiful, wonderful soldier for our precious creator. Lots of love to you as you turn another page. And I guess Michael had the last laugh, he doesn't even need glasses anymore, let alone bifocals! If you keep writing, we'll keep reading. Thank you for being so open and honest, I am sure you are helping so many going through something similar or just helping everyone, including me, by giving us things to think about in our own lives. God Bless YOU on your birthday!!!

  5. Happy Birthday, Shawna! You are a beautiful woman inside and out. You stood beside Michael during the roughest time of his life. You proved that during the hardest times, you still could be a family and enjoy each other. We are still praying for you and the family that God will give you the strength each and every day that you need. May this day be special and may He give you the peace that you need today.

  6. Shawna, First of all, I want to say Happy 40th Birthday. You will never celebrate 40 again...for after this day your life will start on a different path than ever before - not an easy one but another one than what you have traveled so far....Today after reading your blog I am reminded of this song...THROUGH - and today that seems to say what is on my heart to share with you. God knew you before you were born on this day much longer than 40 years ago and He knew He would be there to see you THROUGH this part of your life. He gave you the very best person to love you He could possibly find for you....Michael. He also has given you the blessings of that love, Luanna, Esther, Julianna and Karson. He also has not nor will He ever leave you. That is a promise in His Holy Word. I think Amber Brewood said it so beautifully....KEEP is very good for the soul and Yes, I agree...sometime in the future maybe your story should be shared for millions to read who may be facing similar sorrow in their lives. That will be good healing for the soul as well. Today...allow God to wrap His loving, caring arms around you with all that He has for you and know there are so many who love you deeply and as far as a blessing to others in their time of need or sorrow or have ALREADY been that to me. I LOVE YOU, Jannie

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Know that it gives encouragement to all that read it! May God bless you and comfort you as only He can!

  8. Keep writing! Praying you feel Jesus very near.

  9. I was 44 when I became a widow, and your thoughts express so many of my thoughts in the past....Just so you know I admire your courage and bravery....I am afraid that just maybe I might not be as brave. Love to you and may you feel Jesus near today.