Monday, October 5, 2009

Can I get a side of Peaceful with that?

I did it again.

With full intentions to sit down and blog more, I have realized that intentions only go so far. Not a day passes that I don't have thoughts that I'd like to put into words. Unfortunately my thoughts lately are not the type that I prefer to share with many people. Particularly the thoughts of pulling myself out of this funk that I've been lounging around in for a couple months or so. I've probably spent more time thinking about how to make myself comfortable while I'm IN the funk, than how to actually get out of it. I suffer annually from S.A.D. It feels like this problem has made a grand entrance months too early this year. When I really think about it, I have to realize that my series of life events is probably the only reason I feel blue, and it has not a thing to do with S.A.D. (until today, it's our first real fog of the year, while my brain, on the other hand, has been in a real fog for months.)

My day is pretty much the same every day. I get up, kiss my husband goodbye, I get my kids going, I fuss about the condition of the kitchen, I do errands and chores all day, I spend a few days a week at the middle school helping out, I taxi kids to practices, games and events all evening, I try to make dinner (haha!), I help with homework, I read bedtime stories, I fuss about the kitchen again, I go to bed. Somewhere in there, I make occasional retreats to my husband's computer to read a blog, or play a game or respond to a lengthy email or look at our budget with wondering eyes. (Wondering how on earth we're going to make it this month, that is.)

My days are full, but in my mind, not full enough. Nowhere in there do I have actual scheduled time to sit and read, or pray, or spend time with my husband, or just do something for myself anymore. I think that I'm afraid that if I do, the floodgates will open and all my feelings of grief and loss over the past few months will come pouring out.

In January, when I lost my Grandpa, I don't think I could have imagined anything more painful or heartbreaking. People say to be happy because he's in heaven - well I AM happy about that, but it doesn't lessen the pain of just plain MISSING him. The hurt of wishing I'd been able to spend more time with him doesn't go away very easily, and knowing my kids won't be growing up with him isn't ever going to feel good.

Then in March, I lost my Grandma and all those fresh, raw feelings from my Grandpa's death never really had time to be dealt with and sorted out in my mind. My Grandmother's death was different... different feelings, different emotions and different side of the family involved. Still - heartbreaking. I can't believe how much missing someone forever feels like. I hate it. I think that if my heart was broken in half with the first death, that it got quartered the next time around. I loved her phone calls and her cheery voice. Memories I will treasure forever.

In May, my Great Aunt Mary passed away. She didn't live near to us during my life, but whenever she entered our presence (from the far off land of Virginia), it was like a grand parade. She was lively, exciting and most of all, she loved us like we were all hers. My most vivid memory of Aunt Mary was when we all attended the funeral of my Great Grandfather Ash. Her own father had died, yet here she was, hugging my younger cousin and I as my cousin wailed and I cried because she was crying. I think we were about 7 and 8 years old at the time. I don't remember Aunt Mary's tears, I just remember her making ours all better. Her death left a hole in my heart, and although it felt like a small hole compared to the other two deaths, it still leaked the same brand of grief.

Throughout all these months, things had been changing a lot at our church. My husband had been asked to discontinue one area of our ministry, which he did with a heavy heart. And then the other area of our ministry, which he enjoyed the most came to an end for both of us as well. This opened up a whole new category of grief that neither of us had really ever had to experience before. Our hearts hurt from the abrupt, and business-like loss of our passions, and our spiritual health suffered from the loss of those people who used to mentor us and care about things like that. It's really sad to learn that people are really interested in your spiritual health and hold you accountable when you are on stage, but they could care less if you're sitting in the back row. Feeling unliked, unloved and unwanted, we trudged on, trying to heal things with only our heavily damaged hearts and just the spark of faith we still carried. Our marriage then began to take hits, which is common in the middle of spiritual war. Spending time together as a couple wasn't something to look forward to anymore, because each one of us had such a large quantity of emotions to work through that we frequently dumped those feelings out on each other. I am so grateful for that spark of faith that we hauled along with us, because without it, we'd be living in separate homes right now and that's a fact.

We worked through small things and big things or we ignored issues and then we yelled and then shared tears of misery and tears of forgiveness. Then we hugged. Then we did that all over again. For weeks. Months. I'm exhausted just writing this.

Somewhere in all of this, I lost a friend or two. Or three.
I gained a new one. A few are still hanging there on the fringes waiting for me to pull my head out and come back to the party. I am grateful for those friends. I am sorry for those friends too - because they have to put up with me. Those are the ones I know are genuine, because they are still there. Maybe not as much as before, but they are still there. My husband also forced a Couple's Retreat on me, and I actually liked it. I'm really glad he's hanging in there, because I'd be so completely lost otherwise.

A few weeks ago, my cousin Alice got really sick. She's actually my Mother's cousin, but we all call her "Cousin Alice" because my Grandma's name is Alice and that can get confusing real quick. Cousin Alice has an Aunt Alice and that's my Grandma. Get it? Good. So Cousin Alice got really sick. The doctors couldn't fix her. She died on September 20th. This past Friday we had her Memorial Service, and on Thursday night - the day before - I had finally allowed myself to process some of the grief. It was very difficult. Again - I know without a shadow of a doubt that she's in the arms of Jesus right now, but sorting all the feelings out has been really hard with all those OTHER feelings still real and raw and just hanging out in my little bitty brain. I think about something, and my brain flashes to something else, and then to something completely unrelated and then people wonder why I can't ever find my car keys.

This weekend, I absolutely refused to let anything land on our schedule. The kids slept in (or maybe it was just me) the sun shone, and peace threatened to begin to take over the land of the Back Acher. I told people at our church not to expect us there, and all was well. On Saturday, the love of my life installed the new stove and dishwasher that have been waiting patiently in our carport for a week. A new sense of excitement came in with them. Where else do you hear kids fighting over who GETS to do the dishes? My daughters have already tried out the new oven and so far the brownies and cookies brought more than a few smiles (hooray for a stove that doesn't take an hour to preheat!!). Three new baby chicks hatched (2 right in the kitchen while the appliances were being installed!) and a fourth was lost on his way out. I briefly played with the idea of feeling very sad, but I knew that if I really dwelled on my thoughts, that someone would find me slumped on the floor in the kitchen, appearing to cry hysterically over an egg with a little dead chick in it, and send me straight to the hospital with the tight white jackets. I buttoned up my emotions for another time. Again.

Sunday I awoke to a sick husband. His headache was so bad that even the kids running through the house made him grumble. I showered and headed the kids out the door while whispering to my baby chicks that we'd be right back and I told them not to make too much noise. We went to church here in town - about a one minute drive away. At this church we were free from the questions and the wondering and all the unspoken feelings that we can feel even when people don't say them. We were free to just relax and let the words and the songs speak.

Peaceful. That's the word I'm looking for, and that's what I need. My prayer is that I get a good dose of that this weekend at the Women of Faith Conference (thank you to my few remaining friends for dragging me there, and to the angel who made sure my room was paid for - thanks for making me cry AGAIN).

Anyone else going to a Women of Faith Conference?

(Photo taken for my Mom - only she didn't know it)


Grandma Dora the Explorer said...

Crying too. Again. So are we each trying to make it through this without the other because we fear causing the other yet more grief? I know I am. Good grief!

The Hotrum Family said...

I am so sorry for all the pain you are experiencing. Know you are in my prayers and I truly believe you are one of the strongest, most beautiful, amazing women I know!

Darca said...

I love are one of the few who can totally open up her heart; something I wish I could do. Miss you lots. See you Thursday, roomy (!).

He & Me + 3 said...

I hope you have PEACE that only He can give this. You sweet have had a time lately. Praying for peace & rest.

momof3darlings said...

How is it we can live states away and yet somehow, we are living the same life at 2 separate times?

Gosh, my heart is so full right now over your post and mainly because I've been there, right there in your shoes, deaths and my parents scary health problems and near deaths, our church went down the crapper, and our positions not only being told to vacate, but our pews too.....

It's so strange to look back over that time and wonder how in the world I got through it. How did I continue surviving when all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I was doing everything RIGHT, how did it all go so WRONG??

And now, on THIS side of it, God carried me through, probably with lots of kicking and screaming on my part...but somehow, I made it. I never cease to be amazed by it. Something so dark and so ugly...He called me and walked me through it.

Alexis, my sweet friend, I'm praying for you. Feel it. Know it. And live through it too. I'll be waiting on the other side for you. ;)

Have I said lately how desperately I wish we lived closer?

startastical said...

My wonderful friend. Remember that you are never alone, those who love you are many. Your heartaches and sorrows are heard and taken to heart. I hope you find peace, but the journey to healing has to be taken. It cannot be bypassed or avoided. Thank you for being brave enough and open enough about your pain.

Katie said...

Hang in there sister! I miss you and love you loads. We need to have that coffee date...ahem from a year ago!

Love ya!

Misty said...

No but I wish I was. I did just join Keepers of the Home however. Do you have a chapter that meets there? i totally recommend it. Though I haven't had the losses you've had, I do feel like I've disconnected form so much since I first moved back to idaho... I am starting (slowly) to see how I've done this to myself. Maybe as a way to not have to cope and deal. I don't know...

Mokihana said...

Just because you know you'll see your loved ones again doesn't mean the grief isn't real right now... there's still the constant, everyday loss.

I really appreciate your post...I relate to it a lot.

Mokihana said...

In the grief class I'm taking, we were all asked to contribute all the unhelpful comments made by people in our time of grief, and you'd be amazed how long the list was.

Things like, "Well at least s/he's not suffering anymore", or "Well, at least s/he's in heaven" or stuff like that. Like you said, true, but that doesn't ease the pain and the grief of losing someone.

Then we were asked to write down helpful things, like "You will get through this even if it doesn't seem like it right now", or "You must have love him/her very much", or "you must miss him/her desperately".

People just don't know what to say; they're uncomfortable, for the most part, with others' grief.

I'm sorry you have had such a string of losses in such a short amount of time. I know you have big empty places in your heart... and I know you are trusting God for the healing.

It will come... for both of us....