Grace to Carry On

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I wrote the post titled “Life and Death” on June 15, 2018. I never dreamed, could never have imagined that two years later I would lose yet another person I love so dearly.

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This quote from that post is so true –

“We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Chuck didn’t fear death. He knew where his hope was. I knew that, too. I know that. But, the sadness is still here. Sadness that his face will no longer light up when his children or grandchildren enter the room. Sadness that we talked, dreamed, and finally planned for his retirement and our return home to Jacksonville.  That return was overlaid with sorrow. For him, that return lasted one month. Now he is truly home, and I’m left here to carry on.

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This Song – Not Just for July 4th

Last October Chuck and I waited excitedly for our copy of Closer Than Together on vinyl to arrive. I’d heard a few songs ahead of time, others were brand new the first time we listened. Some songs took a while to grow on me, but I came to love them all, with New Woman’s World being the exception. But, a few packed a real punch. Like We Americans. The more I listened, the more I loved it. A few weeks after our record arrived, we got to hear it sung in concert (and sing along)  in Pelham, Alabama. It was powerful.

The music of the Avett Brothers makes me happy and sad all at once. It will forever be their music that brings me back to these last few years Chuck and I had together.

Say Love

“I Wish You Never Left Me”

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June 13th

As I look at this list of times I’m making tonight, I think back to almost 40 years ago and another list.

Tonight I am keeping track of what time I give medicines. Medicines to try to keep my husband out of pain in this wretched losing battle with pancreatic cancer. In two and three hour intervals I give him the tiny pills with sips of water to try to ease him into sleep and ease his pain.

Many years ago, on the back of an envelope, we wrote down times. These, too, were times of pain, but pain that led to great joy, the birth of our firstborn. I still have that envelope tucked away.

Across the years we have counted minutes, hours, days and years. We marked off days in anticipation of our trip to California. We looked back at years of marriage, and so often my husband would choose the perfect gift accordingly : pearls, agate, ruby.

 

June 15th

Two days after I wrote the above, my husband was gone. It’s been only two weeks and I have wanted to write but I just can’t find the words. My world has been turned upside down. Less than three months ago we were selling our house and planning for retirement. Now I am moving once more, just me and my dog, and starting a life without the one who has been by my side for over 41 years. 

I stayed up until 3:30 one night last week, reading all the texts on his phone. All the little conversations we had about what to eat for supper, reminders to feed the dog, ideas for the weekend, don’t forget eggs.  Then I found a 43 minute clip that was unknowingly recorded. I’m pretty certain he never knew it. It was us – going through a drive-thru near our house, eating fries until we got home, talking to the dog, laughing, burping, just being. Just being together. 

 

June 29th

And though I can’t find words, my seven year old granddaughter found some. Beautiful words. This is what she wrote:

 

Sunshine

You’re the sunshine in my heart

I wish you never left me…

I sometimes wish you are here

Why wouldn’t you stay?

Wait until dawn for you to arrive…

Sunset – you should be here!

I guess you don’t belong here

My heart is beating hard as a drum

Sunshine in my heart

You are part of my family

 

New World

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Spring – 2014

 

we talked of a new normal

as we hid in our homes

but, the old still abided

in the hearts of those who love

good news cheered us everyday

the drive-by birthday greetings

teddy bears on display

meals freely delivered

a husband who stood outside the window

of his wife’s room

where he could no longer go

there, on either side of the glass,

they sang Amazing Grace together

this was a sweet new normal

I didn’t  want to lose

but then that normal

changed for my world

the words pancreatic cancer

turned my world upside down

now we are back home

but not the way we dreamed of being

our days are filled with tests and procedures

and the endless repetitive questions

name? birthdate? 

have you had fever, chills, change in taste or smell?

and I see the hollow look in the eyes of my love

the one who has been by my side for over 41 years

the one who protected me

kept me from falling when I lost my way

and all I want to do is to

take away the sadness

 

A lot of of packin’

 

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here
A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

I could add a whole verse here about a lot of packin’ :

A lot of packin’, A lot of sortin’

It’s nerve rackin’, We’re transportin’

A lot of leavin’ there

A lot of arrivin’ here

Goin’ on a lot of love and prayers

A lot of thinking about where we’re goin’ next

 

I’ve wanted to write a post for a while but have been so overwhelmed by life. To try to make a long story short, I’ll share my husband’s facebook post.

From my husband…

As some of you are aware, I put in for retirement effective June 1 and we placed our home on the market. The house went under contract immediately and we close on 5/19/20.

Unfortunately a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. We have consulted with UAB oncologists and decided to return to Jax, FL as planned and I have an appointment at Mayo Clinic this Thursday.

I wish all of you the very best in all life as to offer. Angie and I covet your prayers for strength, wisdom and that the Lord be glorified in our circumstances.

According to the Scripture all ‘our days are numbered’ so whether mine are few or many “I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for my sins…”

Please forgive me if I ever offended you in anyway, it is never intentional but still there is no excuse.

I pray his blessings upon each of you.

 

So, here we are in Jacksonville. We are home. One more night in a hotel and we move into an apartment for six months.  This is not the move we planned. We were going to buy a house -our last home -in Jacksonville with cash so we would have no mortgage payment going into retirement. God had others plans. And He has provided for us.

My husband will start chemo next week. Our lives will be much different. But I look forward to a sweet time.

There have been many silver linings in all of this. I have seen God’s providence. Had there not been this “pandemic” our two daughters would not have been free to come help us as they have. We have seen amazing things with these two girls. Young women. Their love and care for their dad and me has been overwhelming. From cooking, packing, and making phone calls for me to massaging feet, taking vitals and tracking meds and food for their dad, they have been here for us. I could never have done it without them.

Our sons, too, have poured out love and help on us. Our oldest with his nursing skills has been a comfort to lean on, traveling back and forth from Tampa, which is NOT a hop, skip, and jump away.   The younger son, thankfully working a new job, maintains constant contact and cheers us up. A few weekends ago they were all at our house in Bham. It was the first time we had all been together in over 13 years.

Silver linings and blessings from God.

 

 

That’s Good

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My Juliette – 2019

Back on April 5th, the prompt for NaPoWriMo  was quite complicated.

“It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following (the list followed)  in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!”

I got most of them in. Stuff like: Begin the poem with a metaphor. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”.   Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person. Use a phrase from a language other than English. And a bunch more.

Here’s the final product:

That’s Good

today is a loaf of bread
the sky’s fresh-baked goodness calls out
and lures you, Juliette, to come and play
to Siesta Key’s pure white sand
today is a pie
it’s chocolate-pecan-apple all over
today is a mere slice of bread
just a taste of life in the sun
I closed my eyes and you were gone, Juliette
it gave me the frissons
the tender band of hope reached out
but it didn’t touch
Juliette, you soar above the ocean
you will rise above us all
Mae watches helplessly
knowing you will come down
but not knowing where
your jellied wings will melt
Ca c’est bon
the pie speaks of love
the bread rises again 

I Walk

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Bring Your Love to Me -The Avett Brothers

Like I said in my last post, God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. Today’s prompt from NaPoWrimo was to write a poem based on a “walking archive”.  Those of you who follow me here or on Instagram  know I post a lot of pictures of things I find on my walks and hikes, so this one was a natural prompt for me.

I Walk 

I walk for sunshine
I walk for sanity
I walk to remind myself
Of Pippa’s song
God’s in His heaven
All’s right with the world
Even when it feels all wrong
I find a dandelion
And think of Ray Bradbury
And The Avett Brothers
And blow my wishes
to scatter the seeds
I observe moss on the rocks
And dream of the fairies who visit at night
Knowing it’s all pretend
Think of how we used to pretend
Give each other different names
Like Twenty-One Pilots
And I hum the song
Wish we could turn back time
I catch the sun
Filtering through the trees
Making shadows on my arm
While the birds sing
A song I do not know
I see beauty in the wildflowers
Beauty in the ruins
And I walk on
Ruby by my side
Man’s best friend
And mine, too.

April in my Heart

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Helena, AL

 

April. The month of poetry. The month we used to celebrate our mothers’ birthdays. The month we moved to Birmingham six years ago.

I’ve been writing poems everyday this month. In the midst of corona-craziness, it’s one of the things that calms me. Not to give them equal value, but God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. I’ve been using three different sites for prompts each day: Writer’s Digest PAD, Poetry Super Highway, and NaPoWriMo.

The following poem was inspired today by NaPoWriMo.

 

I Love Us

 

Sometimes it’s hard to say it

I try to convey it

I try to show it

Though I know you know it

 

I love us

The very thought of us

We are two peas in a pod

Though we are flawed

I am awed

At how we are still in this together

 

I love us

We are more than love like the movies

We are groovy

Stuck like glue

Each day new

Who knew?

All those years ago

We saw each other across the dance floor

And you asked for

My number

 

You weren’t so great at disco

We didn’t want to go to Frisco

But oh those Redwoods trees

The Pacific ocean breeze

We make each other laugh

In all those photographs

And memories

 

I love us

We made some precious babies

Grand-babies

No maybe

About it 

 

I love us

We’re an A-plus

Top grade 

Like a sweet dessert

A crisp dress shirt

A little bit introvert

A little bit extrovert

 

I love us

We’re a Pulitzer Prize

Flying blue skies

Over Montana’s mountains

And Savannah’s fountains

Our love

Fits like a glove

Just a couple of

lovebirds

 

I love us

Our records and roses

Touching noses

A glass of fine wine

Hearts intertwined

 

I love us

So romantic

Hearts gigantic

Peanut butter and jelly

Lots of belly

Laughs

 

I love us

I’ll always love us

For-e-ver

 

Four boys born in the days of COVID-19

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I know four little boys born within about a week of each other. Each one precious in the sight of the Lord. Each one with families who love them. It keeps reminding me that yes, life goes on.

First is Ryker, born to a young man, Jarrod, whom I have known since he was about nine months old.  He holds a special place in my heart. Jarrod has had a lot of ups and downs in his life, but he is now a wonderful father who is following Christ.

Next is Elijah. His daddy is also special to me because I got to know him as we went through the new members class at our church. Then he got married and is now a father of two. Elijah’s mommy, if she has her way, will be sure he grows up to be a Harry Potter fan. 🙂

Born the same day as Elijah, Henry is sorta related by marriage. Henry was born with a fairly severe birth defect and has already undergone one surgery with flying colors. I’ve known Henry’s daddy since he was a boy and he, too, has grown into a fine young man.

The last one is closest to my heart. My niece, Ella, had baby Wyatt at only 27 weeks. He weighed two pounds, 10 ounces. I love every picture I see and can’t wait to meet him.

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I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God. -Psalm 22:10

 

In this time of fear and uncertainty, we can be sure of one thing:

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 9:9

 

I wish I could sing, I wish I could play

I’ve been inspired by creative kids to come up with lyrics to fit these trying times.

The song in the video below came to me this morning and I wrote another verse for it. If I could play an instrument or carry a tune in a bucket I’d perform for you. But, here’s my verse for you to sing.

I know a guy who dreams of work

He’d love to be there

About to go berserk

He doesn’t have gloves

He doesn’t have masks

He doesn’t have toilet paper 

Although he asks

He uses Quarantine

Quarantine

Quarantine