1200 Days a Widow

Twelve hundred days have passed since I stopped being a wife and started being a widow. It is a change in title that no one ever wants to experience but so many of us will. You might be surprised that I am still counting. Let me reassure you that I don’t mark off each day on a calendar and count them individually, but please realize that they do all count. The Birthday Days, the special to only us days, the holidays, the anniversaries of everything; from the first kiss, to the first I love you, to the proposal, the first dance, the first vacation, the first everything that was supposed to be followed by years more of first’s, second’s, tenth’s, twentieth’s and so many more.

Widowhood doesn’t end with a new relationship, a new romance, a new first kiss. Don will always be the person I thought I would spend forever with and didn’t get to. Will I fall in love again YES! Have I already fallen in love again and had my heart broken again, yes! Will I risk it all again for love, ABSOLUTELY!

Becoming a widow doesn’t mean my life is over it simply meant that my life as I had thought it would be, never will be. Twelve hundred days are many more days than Don and I did get to spend together but life is not in the quantity of someone’s days it is in the quality of the living of those days.

Don taught me to live all of my days with passion, love, inspiration, truthfulness, transparency, and humility. I try to remember those things every day. I still to this day do not watch television, drink alcohol, smoke anything, or let the balance of my bank account determine the generosity of my heart, my time, or my passion.

My job as Director of Community Development at Butterfly Wings is a volunteer position that may never earn me a dime but it is something that I am passionate about and that is what helps me honor the things that Don taught me. Will I ever be rich? Yes, rich with the love of my family and friends, rich with the fullness of heart that comes with helping someone out who needs a hand up, rich in the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God. Will I ever have enough money to buy a brand new car again? Probably not. Do I care? No.

Life is not about the destination, life is not about the journey either, life is about the person, and people you get to spend the journey with. My wish for you today on this 1200’th day is not that you never ever have to lose someone, because that is unrealistic and not how this world of mortal souls works, my wish is that you love the people that you are on this journey with and that you love them fully, without reservations, without limitations and my wish is that you feel that love in return from your family, from your friends, and from God, because you also are a beloved child of God.

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The Grief Calendar

December 3, 2016

It has been two years since I published the thoughts that follow. The anniversaries still come, the memories still bring a smile or a tear, the calendar continues to be a reminder of what once was, but it is also a tool to help plan what is to come. There have now been more milestones since Don died than we actually shared together. More birthdays, Thanksgivings, Easters, and soon Christmases will be celebrated since his passing.

As I look forward to more birthdays, weddings, graduations and celebrations of all kinds it is good to also look back and remember what once could have been, and thank God for what there still is. There is still love, kindness, forgiveness, family, friends, and hope! Hope for a future that contains joy, love, happiness, and family.

As we all look towards Christmas this year during Advent let us not forget that for some this will be the first Christmas without someone near and dear. So please pick up the phone, send them a note, or just visit the person who is missing someone for the first time this Christmas.

Christine

 

December 3, 2014

I seem to have a different relationship with the calendar since my world came to an end six months ago. The painful passing of time being marked in increments of greater and greater length. First it was hours, then days, weeks, now months. Each leap meaning I am continuing to live and go forward.

Going forward also means sometimes looking ahead, which is not the same as it used to be. Looking ahead to the next meaningful date on the calendar means mixed emotions at best, or with fear and dread of the survivability of the date most often. First it was the blur of days before his funeral, then his memorial service in our hometown, and now all of the little, but oh so meaningful, anniversaries from our way too short life together. The first time we met, the first e-mail, the first card, the first letter, the first concert together.

That first time we hugged and felt the spark of desire. The first look into his eyes knowing that I would never be the same again after sinking into the deep blue pools of love that they held. The first time my lips accidentally brushed his cheek as we embraced to say goodnight. The first kiss. The first time he said “I love you” and the first time I replied. The first time we danced and the delight in his eyes while we clumsily made our way around the room.DSCN7188 (640x434)

Little anniversaries that we celebrated in small but meaningful ways, flowers, cards, a special dinner at home or a night out to hear some music. We both kept a dated journal to remember special days. There would be notes tucked into books to surprise each other, or sometimes a special sweet treat from the freezer or the oven.

I have also “survived” the big dates on the calendar; Our wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, his birthday and my own. There are special dates in the Church Calendar that have great meaning to us as well. All Saints Day was a date not just to remember that he has gone on to join the Great Communion of Saints but it had special meaning to the two of us before this year as well. We had both suffered losses in our lives and it was through loss and through our faith that part of our connection was built. One of the early things Don did for me in our friendship was to go up in my place and bring home the rose offered in our local church for my Mother when I couldn’t be there that day due to obligations at school.

This week we have had the First Sunday in Advent and World Aids Day. A year ago those two dates coincided with Communion Sunday and I had the privilege of helping to serve communion to  Don for what I thought would be the first time. It was the only time I offered the elements to my husband and I am eternally grateful that I had that chance.

There are more dates to come as I look at the calendar and sometimes I am not sure if I can endure the memories and other times I know that without the memories I could not endure.

In this season of preparing for Christ, in this season of Advent, I will prepare my heart for the pain it must go through and I will prepare my heart for the JOY of Christ, because in  ‘All My Days’  I know that Christ is with me, just as I know Don is with me always.

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Autumn Anniversary

Route 30 Adirondack State Park
Route 30 Adirondack State Park

That first year, less than five months after he died,   I could not even see their beauty. The second year their beauty haunted my dreams and stung like thistles.  This year their beauty brings warm memories and a tear or two. You see we were married In Autumn, October 11th to be exact, right around the date that the trees in Upstate New York reach their full beauty. Their splendor, something that people drive miles to see, was all around us as we celebrated our love.

Blue Mountain Lake October 2016
Blue Mountain Lake October 2016

I have always loved Fall. It is refreshing and inspirational to me; to say goodbye to the long hot days of Summer, to lift the windows and feel the crisp air. To occasionally catch the scent of a neighbors wood stove taking the chill off the night when turning on the furnace just seems too soon. There is nothing better than that first walk in the woods crunching leaves underneath my boots or wrapping up in a sweater for the first time of the season.

 

All funds raised support mission projects and trips supported by the church.
All funds raised support the mission projects and trips of the church.

Pumpkins covered the lawn of the church the day we were married. The church fundraiser seemed so appropriate for the wedding day of this girl with the pumpkin colored hair. My dress was green, his suit was brown, the wedding was a beautiful expression of who we were and who we hoped to become. We made a commitment before all of our loved ones and God that we would be together from that day forward, together in service and together in faith.  It was a musical and love filled ceremony with six songs and vows that we had written together.

The reception was simple and elegant. A musician played the guitar while our guests helped themselves to desserts and sparkling cider. We danced together to the beautiful wedding song we had practiced to during our Fred Astaire dancing lessons, carefully we counted out our first steps as we nervously stepped onto the dance floor.  Soon the rest of the room disappeared and we were alone together for the first time as husband and wife. It was what we thought would be the first of many dances, but in the end it was the only time we “danced” together.

Blue Mountain Lake October 2016
Blue Mountain Lake October 2016

There are other ways of dancing of course and Donald and I lived our lives as a dance every day that we had together. While our time together was cut short unexpectedly we lived each and every day with intention. We did not know that our time together would be so brief but I have very little doubt that we would have changed a thing about the way we spent our time together. We didn’t have a television or a subscription to Netflix or any other streaming service. We choose instead to spend our days learning about each other and deepening our relationships with friends and family.

The trees are beautiful in the Adirondacks this year. My photos do not begin to convey their actual beauty. Take some time to look up and around during this beautiful season, and while you are doing so, remember that you are also a creation of the amazing God that created the beauty you see.

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Leaving a Legacy

They say that a person dies three times; the first time when their heart stops beating, the second when they are buried or cremated, and the third time when their name is no longer spoken.

We all want to be remembered. We all want to leave behind a legacy.

When someone knows that they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness they begin to think of what their friends and loved oves will remember about them when they are gone. My husband did not have this luxury. Donald died in less than a day. He woke up healthy and vital and before the next sunrise he was gone.

We had no goodbye.

Maybe that is why it is so important to me that his story be told, because to tell his story, is to keep him alive,

Donald fell in love with Drew almost as much as he fell in love with me. We lived on the campus,Drew Gate a scenic, serene, and at times breathtaking one hundred and eighty seven acre oak forest preserve. We walked hand in hand from Seminary Hall to the student center, the library, the bookstore, the mailroom, the undergraduate “Brothers” college, and the United Methodist Archives.Our dorm room apartment was three hundred and fifty square feet including the three square feet that housed the shower, when I say it was small I don’t mean that it wasn’t spacious I mean it was miniscule. The playgroundPlayground was outside our windows and every afternoon we would be serenaded by the laughter and cries of the many toddlers and children that enriched our life there. Donald knew the name and purpose of every building on the campus and he loved giving visitors a tour.

We made the most of our time at Drew in every way we could. Lunches and dinners in the Student Center, with the undergraduates that graced our lives by sharing their lives with us, quickly became one of our favorite activities. Musical productions in the Performance Center allowed us to experience operas, comedy, plays and classical performances by just sharing our Drew I.D. cards. Donald went to all of the sporting events held at the university, he wrote in his journal about the baseball games and lacrosse matches, he went to the tennis tournaments and swim meets, his enjoyment of the sports at Drew was so complete he never once mentioned bringing our television out of storage where it sat ignored until I finally gave it away not long ago. Lectures made possible by the Drew Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies allowed us to meet speakers that we could have never met on our own. Educational programs put on by the Undergraduate Student Groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine opened our eyes and our hearts to a part of the world we knew very little about. Dinners in our tiny dormTipple Hall with fellow classmates from places like Tanzania, Burma, Mexico, Puerto Rico, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and South Korea widened our world view in ways that were never possible before we came there. When I say we showed our I.D. cards I mean we were both students. Donald enrolled at Drew as a Community Fellow in the Lifelong Learning Program. He audited classes right alongside me so that when my education was complete he would not be uninformed.

I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention what Donald loved most about Drew and that was Chapel. We have Chapel services three times a week at Drew and Donald attended every service he could. Many times he would attend Chapel on his own because I would be working on an assignment or paper. He wrote in his journal more often about Chapel than any other topic. He would record who the guest preacher was and how the service filled his soul. He loved the Black Ministerial Caucus Chapel services best of all. He wrote that we “the white church” need more JOY in our celebrations!

Donald had grown up in the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church had always been a place of welcome and acceptance for Donald, something he had not always found at home. Donald and I met at our church and it was at church that we deepened our connection to each other and to God. Giving back to the church by supporting Drew Seminarians was something Donald did during his life at Drew so deciding to support Drew Seminarians in Donald’s memory was a natural decision for me. The Donald K Baxter Prize for Community Engagement will be awarded for the first time on April 20th, 2016. The prize will go to a student who is graduating from the Theological School who has made the most of their time at Drew by engaging in the wider University Community in much the same way that Donald did during his time at Drew. The prize will be awarded annually in perpetuity. My deepest gratitude is extended to the staff of the Alumni Relations Department at Drew for helping me honor Donald in this way. I know that he will be smiling above us when the prize is awarded.

They say a person dies three times; the first time when their heart stops beating, the second when they are buried or cremated, and the third time when their name is no longer spoken.My gratitude goes with this prize for assuring that Donald’s name will continue to be spoken.

 

 

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Thoughts of Hope From a New Widow

Nearly four years after beginning my journey in Seminary it has come time to stand and preach my Senior Sermon at Drew Theological School in Madison NJ. Preparing for this day has been something of a roller coaster to say the least. The joy of falling in love during my first semester and the amazing love that relationship brought into my existence coupled with the nearly life ending pain of losing my husband less than eight months after our wedding have changed me in ways I cannot regret. To do it all again I would make the same decisions all over again.

To love is to risk and to live is to love, life is a terminal condition and no one leaves this life alive. If we are to fully embrace this one precious life we have we will risk the pain of grief by exposing our heart to love. It is simply the only way.

My Constant Companions
Thoughts of hope from a New Widow by Christine J Baxter

Sadness you don’t own me

        No matter how you try

Sorrow you cannot defeat me

        No matter how you try

Grief you will not drown me

        No matter how you try

Pain you will not kill me

        No matter how you try

Joy you live within me

        I welcome you in

Love you can flow through me

        I welcome you in

Peace you can surround me

        I welcome you in

Grace you may walk with me

        I welcome you in

Survival you have found me

        Because I welcomed you in.

 

Feed Shark

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My Husband’s Collection of Quotes II

I have read “Delicious Ambiguity” almost daily now for the last few months. I don’t think that reading it any longer will change my feelings about it. Life is ambiguous, life is fragile, life is fleeting, and indeed life is delicious, life is exhilarating, and life is passion and love. Finding the deliciousness in the ambiguity of life is something I admire Gilda Radner for, it speaks to what an incredible woman she was. I wonder if she was able to embrace the ambiguity of life because she knew she would not be the loved one left behind?

It is time for a new quote and so I have pulled out my husband’s little pile of carefully hand cut pieces of paper each with a quote on them and each dotted with thumbtack holes from being posted to the walls of his office cubicle and I read the next quote.

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it

                                   William Feather
Twentieth Century American Author and Publisher.

What I can tell you about my husband and I is this; we always stopped to enjoy our life together. We were intentional about every moment we spent together. We never once took our love for granted. We had both lived long enough to appreciate the fact that we had been given this opportunity to experience life , love, learning, and laughter that we always made the most of each day. Never once would we have dreamed we would only have such a short time together but at the same time we lived each day as if there were no tomorrows.

I can’t really explain all of the reasons why we had this attitude about living but much of it had to do with the fact that we had both experienced great losses in our lives and we knew how precious life was. What I can explain to you is that because we choose to live each day this way, I have no regrets. I will never look back and say “If only we had taken the time to….” because we did take the time for each other. We did tell each other how much we meant to one another, we did spend time with the people who loved us and we them.

Maybe that is where the deliciousness comes in, we savored our lives together and we enjoyed every precious moment we were given. So that is my wish for you when you read this; savor your life, your love, your passions, your family, your friends. Savor each moment you are granted here in this world before you are called upon to journey into the next world, because you never know when someone’s journey will end and you may never get to say the things you think you can say tomorrow.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, make today a gift you give to yourself.

 

 

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The Reconciling Sermon

It was April of 2013 and I was finishing my first year of Seminary and my fiancee, Don and I were going to church with a friend about a half hour south of my school. None of us knew what the sermon was going to be about that day. I invited friends from school to come along with us, a couple from Tanzania and a young lady who had emigrated to the United States from Mexico with her family when she was in middle school. So there we were the five of us in the third pew, or essentially the front row because no one ever sits in the front two pews in church, five unfamiliar faces to the pastor. She was passionate and energetic, she prayed with the fire of the Holy Spirit in her heart right up until it was time for the sermon and then she looked nervous. I thought to myself that seems strange that a pastor who was so confident and passionate just a few minutes ago would be nervous and then she looked over at the five of us and said;

“It is always on the day that God gives you the hardest sermon that God fills the pews.”

Then she began to give the reconciling sermon. I had heard reconciling sermons before, my fiancee and I were Reconciling United Methodists but what I did not know was that he had never really heard a reconciling sermon given by a Pastor on a Sunday morning before. My fiancee had been baptized and confirmed in the United Methodist Church and had been an active member of several United Methodist Congregations near our home in Upstate New York. I did not know however that during the majority of his adult years he had attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church with his family. It was not his first choice of where to worship but he did not change churches until he became a widower soon before he met me, in my United Methodist Church.

So while I sat there listening to a very impassioned and well laid out argument for full inclusion of all people in the church, my fiancee was hearing for the very first time that God loved every member of his family just as much as God loved everyone else. Having left the United Methodist Church before the Reconciling Movement began he had followed all of the changes in our Book Of Discipline through the printed subscription he had to United Methodist Reporter and through other media sources but he had never experienced in a worship setting the personal feeling of being told by an ordained clergyperson that God loved everyone, not just heterosexuals.

When the sermon was over we sang “Christ Has Broken Down The Walls” a Hymn by Mark Miller who is the music director at Drew Theological School where I was attending Seminary. I had sung the words many times in my first year there and so that too was familiar and not unusual for me to hear, but Don had never heard the hymn before and his experience was very different. We finished singing and the service was over and so I turned to my right to hug my friend before turning to Don and that is when I saw the tears just running down his face and as I embraced him I could feel him shaking and he said to me;

This is how Church is supposed to be!”

2014-01-12 10.41.43
Foundry United Methodist Church , January 12, 2014 Washington DC

In that moment I said what has become a vow for me, I told him; “Honey, I will do everything within my power to make sure that this is how church will be!” From that Sunday forward we visited a different Reconciling Congregation each Sunday. Traveling to places like Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington DC, and Church of The Village in Greenwich Village, and Tabernacle UMC in Binghamton, NY, and to the church that I just became a member of this month Christ Church UMC in Troy NY.

The Pastor wearing the Reconciling Ministries Network Stole as he blesses our hands on our wedding day.
The Pastor wearing the Reconciling Ministries Network Stole as he blesses our hands on our wedding day.

 

In posts to come you will hear more about my commitment to help make church what it should be; a place of welcome and love for all persons regardless of their race, age, gender, ability, or sexual orientation. For now I will let you know that I have signed the Altar for All agreement put forth by the Love Your Neighbor Coalition of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and I have agreed to volunteer ten days of my time to help the LYN Coalition do the work it needs to do in Portland, OR for General Conference 2016.

I will never know what the impact of the pastor’s sermon was on her own congregation. I am not a member of that church and not long after that time the friend who had invited us to visit moved on herself so I don’t have ties to the small congregation. If there were any hearts or minds that were opened to seeing God in a new dimension by the pastor’s words the effect of those changes might not be visible for quite some time, but what I do know is this; a heart was healed that Sunday morning. It was a heart that had been broken by the church many times before and the healing of that one heart is something any pastor can rejoice about, and that is when God’s people can say; Amen!

 

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What To Say, What Not To Say, and Why

WHAT NOT TO SAY AND WHAT TO SAY TO A WIDOW OR WIDOWER AND WHY

Christine J Baxter

 

There is a learning curve that comes along with being a widow, and widowhood isn’t a course anyone willingly enrolls in. As a widow or a widower you quickly learn the phrases that hurt the most and the ones that help the most. Unfortunately, well-meaning friends and family members are often the ones who say these things. They just haven’t learned what not to say and what is best to say. Hopefully this list will shed some light on the topic.

 

WHAT NOT TO SAY

“At least you . . .” Whether the widow was married for six months or sixty years, it is never long enough. So saying something like “At least you had your dream wedding” or “At least you had a long marriage” doesn’t help. If the spouse died suddenly and someone says, “At least they didn’t suffer,” they are diminishing the suffering the widow is experiencing by not being able to say good-bye. If the widow lost a spouse after a long illness, people may say, “At least you got to say good-bye”—this phrase deals a double blow because it diminishes the suffering the widow/widower went through as the caregiver, and the bottom line is no matter how long the illness is ,no spouse is ever ready to say good-bye to the one they love.

 

“I understand.” No, you don’t. You are not me and you do not know my pain, my doubts, my fears, and my sorrow. You may know pain of your own, and your pain may be deep and wide, but it doesn’t give you the understanding of my own or anyone else’s pain. If you have lost someone near and dear to you, then you have a deep understanding of your own pain. If you have lost a spouse, then you have a much closer understanding of my pain, but unless you are me, walking in my shoes, living my life, you do not understand my pain.

 

“When my spouse left me” or “When I went through my divorce …” My husband/wife didn’t leave me, and we didn’t break up. He/she died, suddenly, unexpectedly and tragically, or painfully, slowly, and heartbreakingly. If you have an ex (boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife), that person is still alive. Recovery from a breakup is hard work; I have been divorced, and I know that it took me a long time to feel myself again and to want to date and have a social life. But this is death—finality: there are no second chances. If a couple has children, the widow/widower needs to deal with the grief of their children. Regardless of the age of the child, no parent wants to see their child suffer that kind of loss. If you are divorced, no matter how ugly the circumstance, the child still has a living parent. Even if it isn’t possible for the child to see the parent until the child becomes an adult, the parent still exists.

 

“Give it time.” This saying hurts even more, because the person who says it is usually someone who thinks they know how you feel and thinks they have been where you are right now and thinks that time will heal you. Time doesn’t heal wounds; time gives scars a chance to grow. A widow/widower’s heart will never be the same again; they will never be the same person again. In my conversations with widows and widowers, I have discovered they never stop loving and they never stop mourning their spouse. Yes, grief changes, but it never ends. In my experience as a widow, I have yet to have another widow or widower tell me to “give it time.”

 

“He/she is in a better place.” This amazingly hurtful comment frequently comes from a person of faith, somehow implying that where the deceased was here on earth wasn’t the most wonderful place imaginable. Every widow/widower believes that the best place for their spouse to be is happy and healthy here with them. I want to be perfectly clear that my pushback against this statement has nothing to do with a lack of faith. I fully believe that my spouse is completely surrounded by the most amazing love of God that could ever be conceived. In fact, I believe that love to be so great that it is actually inconceivable to me as a human. I think that the phrase “he/she is in a better place” is only the widow/widower’s phrase to utter, and no one else has the right to say it.

 

“Have you tried grief counseling?” I believe that grief counseling is a positive and healthy experience for widows and widowers to work through. Having said that, I do not believe it is healthy or kind for friends and family of the widow to suggest that they get counseling at the first sign of emotion or any tears. Your friend or family member has just experienced one of the most difficult losses they will ever live through. No matter how prepared or unprepared they might have been for the loss. their world will never be the same. Give them some time and space to heal.  

 

“You have been on my mind.” This comment usually comes from someone the widow/widower runs into at the grocery store or some other place of business. If you are thinking of saying this to a widow or widower, please think carefully before making the statement. Have you called, e-mailed, stopped by, or sent a card? If not, then clearly you have not acted as if they were on your mind, and for you to say so just because you have now run into them in public is awkward at best and really very hurtful because it just makes the person realize that you haven’t contacted them in any way.  

 

WHAT IS HELPFUL TO SAY?
“I love you.” Yes, it really is that simple. If you want someone to know that you love them, then just say so. It will mean the world to them to hear those three little words that they no longer get to hear from the person they have lost.

“How is your day going?” Yes, just ask this question and then really listen to their response. Simply asking “How are you?” is usually guaranteed to elicit a simple, one-word response and end the conversation, but if you really care enough to ask them how their day or week has been going or something even more specific, then they will know you really care enough to listen to the answer.

“What are the kids up to?” If the widow/widower is a parent, they are now a single parent. You may be giving them an opportunity to discuss new challenges in their life, or they may simply relish the opportunity to pull out the iPhone and show off the latest pictures. Children are usually a source of joy for the widow or widower to talk about—a bright spot in their life and something they will readily share. If you are uncomfortable talking about the deceased, then asking about the living members of the person’s family at least shows you care about their loved ones.

“Would you like to have dinner?” Yes, dinner, preferable to lunch or brunch—and maybe even with your family. See, that is the thing about being a widow/widower: friends invite us to lunch, and that really does mean the world to us, but when dinnertime rolls around, then it is family time or couple time, and since we are no longer part of a couple we don’t get invited to dinner. The same principle applies to weekend activities. Most widows and widowers are used to being part of a couple and a family, and they may not have single friends to do things with on the weekends. Suddenly they find themselves left off the invitation list for backyard barbeques, dinner parties, and traditional couple activities, leaving them feeling rejected and even lonelier.

“Can I come over?” Most people say, “Call me if you need anything,” and they actually mean it—but in reality the new widow/widower rarely knows what they really need, and what they need most is love. Call them and schedule a time that you can go to their house. Bring something they can freeze or put away to eat later, and offer to throw a load of laundry in or take out the trash. After the initial call, you might call on the way over and ask what they need from the grocery store. Do not wait for them to call and tell you what they need; they are too numb to know.

 

WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE THING YOU CAN DO FOR A GRIEVING PERSON?

Say “Tell me about him” or “Tell me about her.” Ask how my spouse and I met or how we fell in love, what his favorite color was or what was her favorite food, what we did together for fun. Ask about our vacations or our day-to-day life—just ask. Ask to look at pictures or home movies. Share your own memories of the deceased with the widow. Yes, they might cry when telling a story or two, but it will be a good cry and not a cry from loneliness or pain. It will be the simple tears of a good memory that they have the honor of sharing with you.

 

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My Husband’s Collection of Quotes

              postcards_to_rb_rangers6_kani_naidu  Everyone that knew Don knew that he collected things, books, news clippings, magazines, postcards, stamps, he even collected his e-mails and frequently cut out quotes from them and hung them in his workspace. He worked for a large teaching hospital as a Systems Analyst, he did coding.
For some time now I have had the quote that seemed to hold the the most prominent position in my husband’s cluttered (I have pictures ) I am sure in his mind organized work space. I am guessing this based on the multitude of thumbtack holes in the paper and the very large font of the quote as compared to the others. I have to guess this  because Don was retired when we met and all I am going by is the box of things that came home from the office on the day of his retirement that was never unpacked.img_6994-e1428445295193
This precious gem of insight into my beloved’s past is a quote by author Lou Austin who’s most famous book was “The Little Me and The Great Me” published in 1957.  titled Quote of the day and dated April 17th, 2003 it reads 

YOU ARE HERE FOR A PURPOSE. THERE IS NOT A DUPLICATE OF YOU IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD; THERE NEVER HAS BEEN, THERE NEVER WILL BE. YOU WERE BROUGHT HERE AND NOW TO FILL A CERTAIN NEED . TAKE TIME TO THINK THAT OVER. 

I have had this quote on my refrigerator since about three months after Donald’s death when I came across it. It has given me a connection to him. It has given me strength. It has helped to remind me that I have a calling in this life and that I need to continue to seek out the clarification of that calling. I have decided that now as the second anniversary of our wedding approaches it is time for me to move on to see what the next quote has to teach me about life, about myself, about Donald, and about the God that we both passionately believed loved everyone. So today I have turned to the next quote.

I will fill you in soon on what it is already teaching me.  shipStampsPC

 

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Happy Birthday My Brave Knight !

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you may have come across a post or two where I refer to my late husband Donald as my Brave Knight. Over time friends and family have asked me just how did I begin to call him that. So in honor of what would have been my Brave Knight’s Birthday I have decided to tell the story.

It all began with a children’s storybook called “Sir Kevin Of Devon” published just one time in 1953 as a weekly reader that somehow ended up on my bookshelf when I was a small child and, according to my Mother because I have no memory of this whatsoever, this book was my favorite book of all of the books I owned. Well when my Mother told me this information, before I met Donald, I searched Amazon and the internet for the book to no avail.

My Mother passed away not long after that conversation but I kept searching every once in a while for this mysterious book that she insisted I had made her read to me over and over again. Time went by and I went away to school and Donald and I fell in love and sometime before our first Christmas together I FOUND the book , there it was on Amazon used books, it wasn’t expensive and I thought how perfect I will tell my sweetheart the story and surely he will surprise me with the book. Well, Christmas came and Don bought me a beautiful gift but no he didn’t buy the book. So I thought surely if I drop a few more hints he will understand by Valentines Day right ? Wrong, flowers, chocolate but no book. Just when I had about given up hope of dropping hints along came my Mother’s Birthday and I went out to lunch with her best friend to reminisce with, and wouldn’t you know it when I came home from lunch sitting on the kitchen table was my very own copy of “Sir Kevin Of Devon” . Kevin of Devon happens to be a smallish lad of not nearly eleven who proves himself to be a Knight who is Brave!

Don proved himself to be brave all throughout our all too brief romance. Don was

Donald on his last birthday at Boldt Castle standing in front of the Knights Entrance. 8/5/2013
Donald on his last birthday at Boldt Castle standing in front of the Knights Entrance. 8/5/2013

used to vacationing with Yankee Trails Bus tours or Triple AAA Trip Tips and pre planed agendas. I had grown up vacationing by throwing a tent in the trunk and taking off to parts unknown. Don would sit in the passenger seat while I drove us down the highway and ask me why the GPS lady wasn’t talking and I would say because I turned her off. He had a plaque that read “LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE”  and every day he would venture out a little farther from his comfort zone and bravely go into a world that he had not known before, a world that he loved, and a world that loved him back in ways he had never known.

So Happy Birthday my Brave Knight! I love You !

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