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Friday, August 28, 2020

unconditional love

I think I have gotten to a place where worry is so useless and I'm so confident in God's plan that I worry so much less. Surviving grief and realizing how much losing Steve has forced me and allowed me to grow as a person and as a mom proves to me that God was right. I know He always is but to accept that He knew what He was doing, feels incredible. To accept Steve's death, to know he's in heaven, to know that God knew I could be without Steve and be okay and to feel good, is amazing.

God granted me him for 25 years in a relationship, longer if you count being classmates and friends. He knew that was long enough to learn about unconditional love from a non-family member, to become a mom, to understand marriage, to grow in my faith, to learn the hard way about honesty and budgeting, to learn what being a partner involves and to know and feel loved and wanted.

Since Steve died, I've also learned that my faith was what was most important. Without it I couldn't have loved, been a mom or a wife and our marriage wouldn't have been as strong. My trust in God allowed me to grieve, to be sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, angry, hurt, confused, scared and at the same time so happy and blessed to have had him. My faith allowed me to be okay some days, to get out of bed, to comfort others, to believe in myself, to increase my confidence, to be still, to ask questions and be okay not getting the answers, and to know that I'm loved no matter who is in this physical world or watching us from in heaven.

Through prayer and journaling, meditation and healing, through myofascial release and through counseling, I worked with my faith, my body, my soul, my mind and my spirit to allow peace to enter, to use my strength to find joy and allow myself to feel happy, good, okay and to accept that whatever I feel is what is meant to be. I'm allowed to be okay and not okay at the same time.

There's no wrong in grief. No specified rules. No timelines. No book to say what to do or how to do it. We each just need to travel to joy on our own and accept help and healing along the way. Our loved ones would want us to be happy. They did when they were here. That hasn't changed because their bodies aren't here and we don't get to go for a long car ride with them.

The signs Steve gave me; leaving quarters, moving the shower curtain to touch my leg, and a fruit fly in a strange place, all were saying, you've got this. You're good. Suck it up buttercup. I'll always love you. Be happy.

Moving forward, I know I need to make decisions for myself based on what's right for me. I should have always been doing this but I didn't. I always wanted everyone to be happy and at peace and I still do but I also now want that for myself and realize it's not separate. I can be happy and others can be happy at the same time even if they don't trust my choices.

Thank you God for always being there and for giving me Steve, his family and my family and friends and to be supportive and to love me unconditionally.

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Every morning I write a couple lines that I hear God saying to me. Here is what I wrote this morning after this journal write:

I love you unconditionally and so do your family and friends. Steve did and still does too. I want you to be happy and that will ultimately happen when you get to heaven. You are on that path but you need to share more of the trip with others. You are a travel agent helping others see my way. To know that I am the truth, the way, the life and that love is all that matters.

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All year I have been reading daily reflections from a book called "Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Gary Zimak. Here was the reflection for today: 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. (Lamentations 3: 22) 
As much as we try to love unconditionally, we fail far too often. We might be able to forgive someone once or twice, but eventually we reach our limit. God, however, doesn't operate that way; his love is unconditional. He is so merciful that he will never stop forgiving us for our sins. This is a great meditation for you, especially if you're having a bad day. no matter what you are facing, you can take comfort in the fact that God loves you unconditionally. nothing you can ever do will change that. If you think about it enough, you will start to feel very grateful. Eventually you may even forget your worries and cares.
God, thank you for loving me unconditionally. Teach me to extend mercy to others, showing them a love without any strings attached."

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I absolutely love when God works in this way! He puts words in my heart that I can then share. Then he connects it to everything else I do in my life. I know I am meant to share my journey with as many people that are open to hearing it.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Moving Forward But Not Forgetting

In the past couple months I realized that I have accepted Steve's death and I'm okay. I'm even good most days. I completely accept that everyone is at their own time frame and there are no rules to this grief journey, but I also know that I cannot stay in a place of grief. I must move forward for not only my boys, that have kept me going, but for myself. I have the right to be happy. I have the right to be sad, to miss Steve and to grieve the loss of the marriage we had. I have the right to do activities by myself or go out to dinner with a friend. 

My newest right I'm realizing is the right to potentially find someone else to love. I have done a lot of praying and a lot of journaling to decide to move forward. Who I am now is because of who I have been in my past and the events that have happened. I believe that God has put me here to love others, to be accepting, and to experience absolute joy. He has given me the strength to suffer through and survive loss, grief and heartbreak.

When my friend died in 2010, Steve and I talked about people moving forward and getting remarried and what the time frame should be. We agreed that we had no idea how long it would be or if we would ever try to be with someone else if it was us in that situation. There is no time frame other than what is right for each person. 

At that time I wrote a note to my friend's husband telling him, "I thought about how I feel and if it’s okay that it is happening already.  Like I said before, I don’t have a definition for “rush into it”.  I have no idea what it means or how long is “long enough”. Here is my conclusion: I never dated anyone other than Steve and he never dated anyone other than me.  I have no past loves to remember and never had to move on and start over.  I assume that you loved someone before and that it was weird to be with her and to not be with the other person at first and then the past became the past and you lived in the present and planned for the future.  I never had to do that and so I have no idea how to do it….and I can’t imagine trying.  I think you moving on means you are coping and living in the present.  I am not getting to the present as fast as others and I think that is okay too. I will catch up eventually and if not we will all be at different places. In the song I wrote for Brian when he was born is the line, “In our hearts, a new space grew”.  I think that is what is happening now.  No one can replace her. Her space is taken. But a new space grew and gets filled with someone else and new memories are formed.  I believe that you can love more than one person. I have three boys and although I love them all and I love them the same amount, the love is different with each one.  I love my family and I love Steve.  I love my friends.  All of these loves are different." I again think her death prepared me for where I am now.

Since Steve died numerous people have sent me a YouTube video about moving forward not moving on. (I put the link to both the video and the transcript at the end of this post.) The speaker, Nora McInerny, in the video talks about losing her first husband, Aaron, and the life she has with her current husband, Matthew. I agree with Nora so much when she says, "By any measure, life is really, really good, but I haven't "moved on." I haven't moved on, and I hate that phrase so much, and I understand why other people do. Because what it says is that Aaron's life and death and love are just moments that I can leave behind me -- and that I probably should. And when I talk about Aaron, I slip so easily into the present tense, and I've always thought that made me weird. And then I noticed that everybody does it. And it's not because we are in denial or because we're forgetful, it's because the people we love, who we've lost, are still so present for us. So, when I say, "Oh, Aaron is ..." It's because Aaron still is. And it's not in the way that he was before, which was much better, and it's not in the way that churchy people try to tell me that he would be. It's just that he's indelible, and so he is present for me. Here, he's present for me in the work that I do, in the child that we had together, in these three other children I'm raising, who never met him, who share none of his DNA, but who are only in my life because I had Aaron and because I lost Aaron. He's present in my marriage to Matthew, because Aaron's life and love and death made me the person that Matthew wanted to marry. So I've not moved on from Aaron, I've moved forward with him."




I initially struggled with how to tell my boys and when I did finally tell them that I was thinking of joining a dating app they all laughed at my choice of app. They didn't seem phased. They are ready for me to go on a date with someone. I believe they understand that this person will never, ever, no matter what happens, replace the love I had for Steve and the love he had for us.

I now have to decide how to tell my family and Steve's family. I know that no matter how they find out there is the possibility that they are not going to be ready for me to move forward but I also know that they want me to be happy and right now this is what's making me happy.

I am moving forward but I am not forgetting.