A week or so ago I deactivated my FB account. I didn't go in depth in the reason. I didn't really know what to say. A lot of folks were very supportive. Some were very concerned. I am going to take a few minutes and explain what is happening around our home 1) to alleviate concerns, 2) to maybe give a picgture in to help folks who have never been here understand and offer aide and comfort to others they know that find themselves here, and 3) to hopefully encourage others where we are that there is Life, and He has you much closer than arm's length.
After Mom died October 2nd, we had the funeral on the 6th.
October 13th-- I was in the ER with chest pains. Several thousand dollars in test later, they thankfully determined it was an anxiety attack.
October 20th--I hopped a plane to Harrisburg, PA, for a conference.
October 23rd--three weeks from the time Mom died, I listened to one of my favorite bloggers talk about the Upside-Down Kingdom, being raw and honest and just what folks need to hear. I was honestly raw, but I didn't know if I had anything for people to hear.
October 24th--I returned home with the goal of stepping back into life where it had left off July 30th when Mom entered the hospital with stroke symptoms.
And I did.
I stepped right back into the shock of being separated, being a single parent, and figuring out how to build a life for the children and me...just the three of us.
And this time, it really was far more the three of us than it had been.
My brother and I talked, and we agreed we really were not up to celebrating Thanksgiving. My stepdad has imploded with his anger and doesn't speak to us unless it is a required business matter. The holidays loomed before me like a tsunami waiting to drown us. Both of my parents are gone. My brother won't be here, and Rob isn't here. Besides the children, I had no family with which to spend the holidays. It took about 48 hours for the wave of "alone" to pass over.
During those 48 hours, I cried A LOT. I barely ate because I felt like I was going to throw up.
I missed Mom horribly. Then the weather changed, and my emotions were drawn to the front porch of my parents' house where Dad and I sat and drank coffee on cool mornings. The feeling of "alone" hit even harder. And for a few days, I felt like I was drowning.
The weekend came and went, and Monday rolled around. I was feeling a bit anxious because my CERT class that I have enjoyed so much would be ending in a few weeks, and then I had nothing to do. I've loved this class. I've learned so much, and I've grown, but I love the people most. I look forward to them each week, and soon they would be gone. That left me a bit blue.
Then Stacey called. Uncle Buck had died in the night.
I just cried.
When Mom died, I was talking to God and said, "Now I know why you only gave us two parents. Because it would rip us apart to bury three."
But that is what had to be done. I didn't plan on going to the memorial, but I drove up to the funeral home. I couldn't handle the social visitation, but I visited. I talked. I thanked him. There was a lot to thank him for, and while I had tried to thank him over the years, I needed to tell him again...and I did.
Then I went home.
The next day I went to the graveside service, listened to a beautiful sermon, celebrated a wonderful man, and came home tired.
On Friday I made an appointment with my doctor for another evaluation to see if surgery to remove my gall bladder will be necessary.
And in the midst of those two weeks after returning from the conference, I worked to build a routine, to roll with emotions, to create unity among family that has seen each other so little. The children responded beautifully. We cleaned the house to "baseline", which is what the house should be before we go to bed each night. They rolled with the emotions, did their schoolwork, enjoyed activities, and talked.
We talk a lot.
And each day I spent about an hour lying on my bed with a child who simply wanted to connect, so we did.
Each night I went to bed tired. I didn't always sleep well, but I was tired.
During this time, my goal was (and still is) simple--create a stable environment for my children where they know they are safe, they are part of the solution, they can make a difference, and they are going to be okay.
We all needed to know WE ARE OKAY and WE WILL BE OKAY.
I needed to spend my time praying and pondering, analyzing where we were disconnected or struggling, and determining a plan to attack the gap, and it had to be done in such a way that the children stepped into it instead of being pushed or forced. They needed to be part of the healing process, too. We had to talk...A LOT.
I could not talk to them and talk on FB or email or phone or text. I refused to interact with anyone in any form that might affect my ability to think clearly or respond well to the children. I had a clear objective. Everything else was peripheral. Thus, I deactivated my account, and quite possibly will do so again. We are not through this yet. The holidays still loom ahead of us, and I still need to focus my attention on getting myself...the children...through.
I do not need escape. I need purposed relaxation and refuge, which I have been blessed to find. Last weekend was a tough weekend without the children, but my friends Chris, Shaleen, and Dena were fabulous about giving me a soft place to land, talk, and cry. And we all know that is temporary. Building a life takes time, and I am doing that one step at a time. I'm not there yet, but I will be. In the meantime, a place to not think and not have to be in charge...a place where someone else took care of me...was perfect. By the time Sunday came, I was charged and ready to go.
I tackled the garage. With help, I was able to organize one half of the garage and begin to dig into Mom's boutique full of clothes. To give you an idea, I've done 1-3 loads of clothes each day for the last three weeks I've been home. I'm not exaggerating. I had done 3 (over-)full loads of pants last week. Today, I did 5. I have at least 2 more to do tomorrow (JUST PANTS). We wash a load, hang them out for 12 hours or more until they no longer smell like cigarette smoke, and then we fold them and start over. We emptied around 20 large kitchen bags of clothes Sunday, not to include the 10 or so I had already done OR the 2 10-ft closets still on hangers lying over a large wooden trunk in my garage. And did I mention the other 70 or so pairs of shoes? We are around 200 pairs of shoes right now.
Also, I have signed up for my Emergency Medical Responder class, and Chrissy and I are working on chartering a homeschool 4-H. There are some other things that I prefer to wait until they are solid to mention, but they are exciting. Anna is rocking with her drama, and Robert is loving the cooler weather and being able to be outside to exercise. They are also working on designing and coding computer games.
So as you can see, we are really doing great. If you are worried, maybe you need to talk to Chris, Shaleen, Dena, John, or Rae. I think all of them will assure you that we are not floundering. We are flourishing. We have clear goals, and we are working toward them as a family. We are talking, crying, screaming, and laughing. I am watching the children mature and grow in beautiful ways, not broken ones. We have a fabulous counselor who is helping us when we feel overwhelmed by the landmines that we are trying to avoid. And we are learning that often landmines really aren't as bad as we fear they will be. We are learning that "hard days" and "sad days" are really good days because they cause us to think, process, and choose healing, and they give us a chance to talk, to be still, and to connect. It is amazing how one can hurt so much and be at the best place possible at the same time. God is so weird that way.
And speaking of God, our faith is solid. We question theology, but not God. We know He is giving us strength, peace, and wisdom, and we know He has not abandoned us. He is with us and for us, and although we don't understand why He does things or allows things, we know He sees the picture we don't see. It's one thing to serve a middle-class, cushy seat, hour-long service each week God. But to serve a God who isn't afraid to throw us into the fire to bring us forth as silver...to know we blame Satan way too much for the "hard stuff" when we should be giving God credit for His faith in us and His love that makes Him do hard things to accomplish great things in us...THAT is a different way to live...and while it hurts, it heals.
So there you go. That is where I have been--boldly building a new life based on God's promises to do above and beyond what I can imagine. I will most likely disappear again. If so, don't worry. I'm not failing. I'm focusing...and we are flourishing...and it is a great place to be.