Saturday, December 27, 2014

...who has felt the stone?

We've finally reached the other side of Christmas. It's the 27th, and even though there are still some extended family celebrations planned, the main events are now part of our family's history.

I took few pictures. (I even forgot the video camera for the church Christmas program.) I'm usually quite the shutterbug, so this was unusual for me. I'm not sure what was wrong. It's as though I felt recording the events would in some way be recording the pain as well. Strange, I know. But it's what was.

I felt disconnected from much of what was going on. Survival seemed to be the ultimate goal rather than enjoyment. Christmas Day felt no different from December 29th. It was another day to get up, perform my duties as mother, to survive... Strange, maybe, but it's what was.

I dreaded the special holiday because of the emotion it normally evokes. I dreaded the memories of last year's Christmas which seem to be trumping all other memories. I knew it would all be different, feel differently, affect me differently...I was expecting that. What I guess I didn't expect is the horrible loneliness, the ache, the deep gnawing sense of grief that came back for so much of the month of December. For quite some time, I had been able to say I had more good days than bad. Not in December. It has been dreadful. I suppose more of this is due to the approaching one year anniversary of Michael's death rather than Christmas itself. There have been many moments in which I've honestly thought a mental breakdown will be arriving before January 17th does. Strange? Probably, but it's what was.

I listened to Christmas music, yes.  But not "our" songs. I couldn't bring myself to do so. It was too tender a place in which to venture. Sometimes grief processing requires me to surround myself with all things Michael...other times the pain is so deep that I am completely unable to "touch" them. Strange? Most likely. But it's what was. 

I pray my children survive without any lasting damage...I've done my best to separate my pain from their performance or behavior and continue to let them know how much I adore them. And I worked my hardest to make sure Christmas could be as special as it's ever been for them. But I've checked out more this month as a parent than in a long while. There has definitely been overspending in the "dining out" portion of the budget. That does not make me proud. Michael wouldn't have wanted to eat out that much. So it bothers me. But I've had to do it some days just to survive with our family relationships all still intact. Strange? I don't think so, but for sure, it's what was.

There have been some extremely precious moments this Christmas. And I do my best to not lose sight of them. They are special, sweet reminders that God is still loving on us. He has not forgotten us in the pain. 
I have felt deep connections with my children as tears have coursed down our cheeks. 
I have sensed the Lord's help and sweet presence in the writing and recording of a special song. 
We have been wrapped in love by the generosity of a youth group and the wonderful gifts they carefully chose, packaged, and sent to us; generous gifts from family; and some delightful packages from one of Michael's former bosses. 
We were carried through the busyness of the church Christmas program with strength and health and (somewhat) clear minds. 
We were encouraged by conversations and sweet notes from family and friends who let us know they were carrying us in prayer faithfully. 
We were blessed with quick recovery from the illness that finally caught up with us this week.

Yesterday, I was stunned to receive a cashier's check for a very generous amount...from my "Guardian Angel!" It humbled me. It shook me to my core. No, I've not worried, per se, but I've felt a few fleeting moments of panic at how quickly the money was flying out of our account here at the end of the year.  

But receiving this today revealed to my bruised reed of a heart that my God was not just answering prayers for Michael - He is also answering prayers for me! I am loved! Truly loved and cared for by an amazing and all-sufficient Savior! In fact, I would have to say I'm truly spoiled! He has supplied every need!!! And so many of our desires as well!! Praise be to the One true God Who fulfills as His promises! 

I cling to those promises. I depend on those promises! I live and breathe those promises for provision, care, strength, and grace!


Because I'm experiencing this new level of's not the same outburst of strong emotion, pound the pillow, scream till my throat is raw kind of grief. That kind comes, flows over me, then passes leaving me exhausted, but able to face the next day with some measure of sanity. 

This is different. 

It has crept in and around me, swallowing me whole. It is a deep down, soul bruising, bruised reed trampling, dark tunnel, bone-ache, physical weight kind of grief. That's the best I can do at describing it. It has commandeered my life for days now. And it's only grown worse. 

"Grief, according to him, was like a large stone tied to your heart. 
Grief is a feeling you carry inside, a heaviness of spirit. 

Mourning, on the other hand, is best described as putting the grief on the outside. 
Mourning is the public expression of grief."
~ from Life after the Death of My Son, Dennis Apple

That's it. It's a stone...a boulder, if you will, tied tightly around my heart. And it goes with me everywhere...even into my dreams. Mourning - that outward sign of the grief - comes and goes. 

As I heard another, "sometimes you just have to keep living until you can feel alive again."

So, this post wasn't terribly profound, nor was it exquisitely written, but at this point I'm beyond endeavoring to impress. It just is what it is...

In celebration of Michael's love of God's creative design in sunsets as well as his solid and visible testimony to the faithfulness of that same God, I created a calendar for the new year to give as gifts. I wanted to share the photos with you all.

Each month's photo was taken in that same month in 2013; and each Scripture was one Michael highlighted or marked in his favorite Bible. 

Best wishes for blessings on your new year!
I pray you are encouraged as you enjoy these photos
and read the Scriptures...

P. S. I'm not a watermark fan from the standpoint that I'm not trying to promote any business nor draw unnecessary attention to my very amateurish photography, but it has been pointed out that it would be prudent to protect the photos in some manner. Thus, the addition of the watermarks. Thank you for your understanding.

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