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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The arrival

I've been wondering for a while now what happens when you die. Not like to your body or anything sciency, but what happens when Jesus comes to take you home? Do you get any say in it? Do you get to ask him to stay? Are you upset? Do you worry about the people you're leaving behind? Do you question if it's your time and why now? Is it peaceful and quick?

Or are you so excited to see Jesus that you just go with him without questioning? Does it happen instantaneous so you don't have time to think or worry or be sad or scared?

I know Steve is watching over us from heaven. I know his goal in life was to get to heaven based on how he lived. But I also know that he absolutely loved us and he loved the life he was living.

I hope he quickly went from Earth to heaven without questioning anything that was happening and it was with complete happiness, joy and peace.

I know he's no longer in pain, that he no longer feels old, and that he will always be a part of our lives. I picture him happy and laughing, teasing those around him and spending long hours fishing on a beautiful lake. I picture him looking down on us as we go through our lives celebrating him and other events but I also believe that a part of him still wishes he was here physically with us.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hate

I got up early this Saturday morning. I felt the need to go to the cemetery. The sun was shining and there was a beautiful breeze blowing. I took the truck. I sat in it and sobbed. I wrote in my journal the following:

I miss you! It's not fair that I'm sitting in your truck without you. It's not fair that you're not here to complain that the yard hasn't been dealt with yet or to help Michael with the bathroom. It's not right to be up on a Saturday morning sitting in the cemetery sobbing. I hate being alone. I hate being lonely. I hate goodbyes. I hate missing you. I hate being a single mom. I hate making decisions. I hate not hearing your voice. I hate not being able to get a hug on a bad day. I hate not having your touch. I hate going to things without you. I hate being at church without you by my side. I hate receiving honors in your place. I hate seeing the boys and your family hurts so much. I hate being strong. I hate sitting in your truck alone. I hate this whole situation. I hate not growing old with you. I hate myself and struggle to forgive. I hate that I'm still on earth and you are in heaven.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Burial day

Where I live, if someone passes away in the winter, they can't be buried. We have too much snow and the cemeteries are closed. And so we wait. We wait  almost five months knowing that this day will come.

Today's the day of the burial. You say goodbye one more time. You stand and watch as the body is taken away.

A part of me really doesn't need to go because I know he's not there. I know he is watching over us. I know God took him home almost 5 months ago.

But I am going because I need to say goodbye. I need the closure. I need to be there for my boys.

Physical
Today we put your physical body in the ground.
And every day I know you're not physically around.
I physically feel the loss of you every day.
Physical reminders of you will always stay.
A hug, a kiss, the physical touch
Those are the parts that I miss so much.

Friday, May 11, 2018

In case of emergency

One day I was looking in my phone after hearing a friend story. He was outside and his phone in his pocket automatically called 911 and the message also went anybody listed as ICE in his phone. It was really hard, but I removed the word ICE from in front of Steve's name but I couldn't delete his name from my contacts. His contract on his phone has discontinued so I guess it doesn't really matter now.

Another day I went to the hospital and when I got there they asked me who I would like to list as my emergency contact. It was one of those situations that I wasn't expecting and so it hit me hard. I wasn't sure of an answer. I want it still be Steve. I added my mom.

Strange things that you don't expect, seem to be the hardest to deal with. Knowing that an event is going to happen and that he won't be there, makes it easier to be at the event.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Talk

Make sure you and your spouse or significant other are having 'the talk'. Discussing what happens when one of you dies or if both of you were to die is one of the hardest conversations you're ever going to have. But it's also the absolutely most important conversation you need to have. We had talked multiple times about having life insurance policies and what we would do if one of us was to die.

It's also not a one-time conversation. Having it as soon as your relationship starts is one thing but then as your relationship changes; as you age, as your health changes, as you add children to the situation, if your job changes, or you end up with different expenses this conversation needs to happen again.

I was talking to a friend this week and she said her husband is trying to give her information in case something happens to him and she doesn't want to hear it. She doesn't feel like she understands any of it and emotionally it's really hard to think about it. I know her husband has been doing more work on getting her set up in case he dies. He and Steve were working on a bunch of stuff this fall with their insurance at work.

She is the only one that works outside of the home. They also have little children. And I know he has set up stuff so that she would be able to receive money for approximately 5 years so that their little one could go to kindergarten and she would be able to get a full-time job outside of the home.

This has nothing to do with how smart you are or how much you know about finances or understand any of the language. It's about being prepared because you never know.

On one hand I feel bad that my children are learning all of this information at the ages they are. On the other hand I feel that they are smarter and more informed because of this that's happened. I pray they will have conversations with their spouses about what to do with one of them dies early in their relationship.

Spending a few dollars every paycheck for life insurance is huge when you actually need it. The amount you spend in the amount you receive are totally different from each other. If you could understand the peace of mind I have knowing that I'm receiving an income every month to help replace Steve's income you would go out and buy life insurance today. You would skip eating out for a meal or not get a coffee in the morning everyday or something in your budget that makes it work.

Free policies

One of the organizations that we both belong to offers a $1,000 death benefit just for signing up and becoming a member, which was free. Steve had only signed up a few months before. Again, I am very grateful that this was an offer. There are so many expenses at this time and your brain doesn't really work. It's nice to know that your savings account is getting money put into it so you don't have to worry about rewriting your budget every week. Anything that can be automatic at this time I found helpful.

I contacted contacted them at the beginning of January.  They sent me a claim form to fill out and I returned it with a copy of the death certificate. A deposit was made into my bank account approximately 3 weeks after I returned the paperwork.

Everything takes time. Documenting the date that everything was sent or received was really helpful. A lot of the time I had no idea even what day it was or how long it had been since I had done something.  Having the notebook to go back and look at was comforting.

My advice now is to check with groups you belong to and see if they offer life insurance or death benefits.

Life Insurance

My husband's family had bought a small life insurance policy when he was a baby. We made a once-a-year payment to keep that policy going and I never thought more about it than that.

The funeral home contacted them directly to let them know that Steve had passed away and to start the paperwork. I had the choice again on how I wanted to receive the funds. I chose to have them pay the funeral home directly to help cover the cost of funeral; the casket, the cards, the burial, the fees because it was winter, etc.

If anything was left, I would receive the remaining in the form of a check. I signed the paperwork only a couple days after Steve had died and about two weeks later I received the check.

I feel absolutely blessed that his family started this policy. It cost us about $3 per payday to have enough to make the yearly policy payment. Having the peace of mind that the funeral was covered was huge at that time.

I completely recommend everybody getting a policy for at least enough to cover a funeral.

In the last month or so I went to my insurance agent and contacted them about getting a quote on how much policies for my boys would be. I am using part of the money I receive as a death benefit to cover the cost to have policies for them. I know firsthand how important it is to be able to cover the funeral costs. I pray that they will not have to use this money until they are much older, but as we now know, we do not know the time that will leave this earth.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Watching over us

A couple weeks ago in church I was kneeling down praying and I have what I guess I would consider a vision. My son was next to me.

I could see Steve up above us in what I believe to be heaven, kneeling on one knee by a little boy. He had his arm around his  shoulder and Steve leaned close and told that little boy, "Do you see that boy down there? That's my son and he's 11. I watch over him just like you'll get to watch over your 11 year old brother."

A woman I know just lost her 12 year old little boy and has an 11 year old son here on Earth. I don't know what either of her children look like, but I know that's who Steve was with that day.

Maybe, just maybe, the reason Steve needed to leave us with so that he could be in heaven to welcome that little boy and to teach him how to be a gaurdian angel. 

Option B

I got a package in the mail the other day from a friend because she was thinking about me and wanted me to know that. Awesome.

In the package was a book called "Option B; Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy". It's written by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I started reading it and even though I'm only halfway through, it's already amazing. Everyone should read this book whether you've lost someone or not.

It talks about what to say to people and what you're feeling and what's right and what's wrong and a lot of it is really perfect.

The whole idea of resilience rings true to me. I have been asked how I get out of bed every day. I have to. Option A is gone and so I follow Option B. Option B is moving forward, creating new memories, doing what needs to happen so that my life and the life my boys can continue. I know that the grief is not going to go away but I need to learn how to cope with having greif in my life. There are always going to be new times of grief.

I know when people ask me how I am today, it's because they care. But some days that question is really hard because I don't know how I'm feeling and I don't know what to answer. My personality makes me think of what the other person is feeling too and I don't want to be upsetting to them so that adds to the difficulty. I try to be honest and if it's an 'eh' kind of day, then that's what I say.  If it's a good day, I say that too. Some days are good days! Some minutes are still really awful!

The book has also made me question how I treat others in my life; people that are also experiencing grief or are fighting a battle of cancer, or just not having a really good day or a good life. Am I compassionate enough?  Do I have empathy? Am I sympathetic to what they're feeling? I need to remember to treat them as I would like to be treated.

Quotes

I started a journal to write things that reminded me of Steve or things I wish I could say to him still and poems I wrote. A couple of the pages I filled with quotes that I found about grief:

The Lord watches over the fatherless and the Widow. Psalm 146:9

I am not a widow. I'm a wife. My husband waits for me in Heaven.

I aspire to be the widow that my husband would be proud of...still.

It's not the kind of sadness to where you cry all the time, but more like the sadness that overwhelms your entire body, leaving your heart aching and your stomach empty, making you feel tired, and yet you can't even sleep because the sadness is in your dreams too. It's almost a sadness you can't escape.

Today is one of those days that I'm getting through minute by minute.

I look up at the sky and talk to you. What I wouldn't give to hear you talk back. I miss your voice. I miss your laughter. I miss everything about you.

No rule book. No time frame. No judgement. Grief is as individual as a fingerprint. Do what is right for your soul.

You can't be strong all the time. Sometimes you just need to be alone and let the tears out.

Grief is learning that it's possible for a part of you to die while you are still living.

God is the only reason I made it this far.

For many grievers tears come in private places like the car, the shower,  the garden, the closet. Just because you don't see us crying doesn't mean that we aren't feeling the loss. On the contrary, we feel the absence deeply.

Grief is the last Act of love we have to give those we love. Where there is deep grief there has been great love.

I wish you were here to tell me that everything is going to be okay.

When I simply say 'I miss him', I really mean I miss his smile. I miss his voice. I miss his laugh. I miss him next to me. I miss his jokes. I miss him holding my hands. I miss him teasing me. I miss him so much I can feel my heart breaking.

Grief is a nasty game of feeling the weakest you have ever felt and morphing into the strongest person you will ever become.

Sometimes when I say 'I'm okay', I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me and say 'no you're not'.

You realize how much you truly miss someone when something happens, good or bad, and the only person you want to tell is the one person who isn't there.

Missing you comes in waves. Tonight I'm drowning.

I still don't understand.

The hardest thing is not talking to someone you used to talk to everyday.

In French you don't say 'I miss you' you say 'tu me manques', which means you are missing from me. I love that.

Grief, I've learned is really just love. It's all the love you want to give or cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

Sometimes the person who's been there for everyone else needs someone to be there for them.

Time passes but not a day goes by that you are not here in my heart. The day you died was not just a date on the calendar, it was a day when my very existence changed forever.

My mind knows you are in a better place where there is no pain. You are at peace. I understand that. I just wish I could explain that to my heart.

My mind is still trying to wrap itself around the fact that you are gone.

Don't tell me how strong you think I am. I survived only because in the end it was all I could do.

Your wings were ready but my heart was not.

There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.

I think the hardest part of losing someone isn't having to say goodbye but rather learning to live without them. Always trying to fill the void, the emptiness, that's left inside your heart when they go.

To keep on going since you're gone the hardest thing you've ever done. I wear a mask from day-to-day and try to cope in my own way. I'll miss you till we meet again and long for you each day till then. There's now a hole no one can feel within my heart. I love you still.

You never said goodbye. Only God knows why. A million times I've needed you, a million times I've cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life I loved you dearly, in death I love you still. In my heart you hold the place no one can fill. It broke my heart to lose you. But you didn't go alone. For part of me went with you the day God took you home.

Please know that hug helps a lot. Please know that your smile helps me heal. Please know that I appreciate your patience. Please know that I love and appreciate you.

Prom

My son right now is getting ready to go to prom; his senior prom. I'm really struggling with him going in the fact that at our junior prom was the first time Steve told me that he loved me. I didn't repeat it that night to him but I did the next night when we got off the phone. I'm so thankful he was brave enough to say it twice. He always told me when I didn't repeat it back to him while we were dancing, that he wasn't sure if I didn't love him or if I hadn't heard him.

We hadn't been dating that long but we both knew at that point that we would be together forever. He said he knew he loved me before he even asked me out. He told me it was because I was beautiful and always kind.

It's hard to believe my senior prom was 25 years ago. I am so thankful for the fact that we had 26 years together. I still don't understand why some people get to have 60 years and why some people don't get any years. I do know it's all according to whatever God has planned for us.

Little things like prom become big things in my heart.

On my way home last night from sitting on the beach at sunset, all of a sudden behind my vehicle was a truck similar to the one that Steve drove. I was listening to Bob Seger on the radio. Then the next time I looked up, the truck was gone.

I know he was following me home last night. I know he still watches over me. And I know that he's watching over our son as he goes to prom with the girl he loves.

Gone

Steve taught 6th grade and obviously affected the kids that he worked with. I heard from my sister that one of the girls really struggled to go to school once he was gone. This is the poem she wrote about him. She is very insightful. I feel the same thing that he's gone and we're staying here. But we have our memories and that will keep us.

GONE
Here
still here
staying here
gone
no one knew
no one thought
that one day
gone
cherished
loved by all
amazing
gone
hurtful
painful
wondering why
spiking
stabbing
crushing
gone
dreadfully
dreading
the days that have gone
without you here
with you gone
always helped
when help was needed
always there
but you can't help anymore
because you're
gone
here
still here
staying here
always in our hearts
always here
never gone

This poem is dedicated to Steve Lancour. I miss you.