A Reason, A Season, or a Lifetime

A reason, a season, or a lifetime . . . this story has been playing across my mind a lot lately.  It is said to describe the people who come through your life.  The only one that is not defined by an ending is the person there for a lifetime.  But what if, what if you believed that would be your spouse?  And now, it isn’t.  This is where I should say that we are never alone for God is always with us but I would be a hypocrite if I said that’s what I’m thinking right now.  Because I am not.

Right now I am questioning who.  Who is my lifetime?  Who can I count on when times are tough?  Who can I call when my friendships falter?  Who can relieve me of child bedtime duties when I am sick and desperately want to crawl into my own bed?  Who will be on the other end of a hug when I climb out of a shower with a tear-stained face?  Who will wrap me in their arms so tightly I know a piece of me will always be left in that embrace.  Who?  Who?  Who?  And why?

Reason, season, lifetime.  Was my husband just a reason?  That’s it?  I can’t believe that and yet he is gone.  The reasons are plentiful . . . he taught me love, he taught me the pain that comes with love, he created my children with me, he grew up with me . . . a house, a job, a family, a farm.  And in the end his story is the reason my faith is so strong.  But just a reason?  Hardly.

Maybe a season . . . a season of growing up, growing older, growing wiser . . . and then gone. The season of young adulthood.  The season when the future seems like eternity and we know we are invincible.  The season when we plant our roots and start to spread our limbs.  The season when we begin to realize all that is possible and hope springs eternal.  But just a season?  That can’t possibly be true.

But a lifetime?  The lifetime of love, hugs, planned vacations, and rocking on the front porch.  Of raising our girls and watching them bloom.  Of dreaming big and chasing our dreams into the sunset.  Where did my lifetime go?  God.  God has a reason.  God defines the seasons of our lives.  God gives us our lifetime.  What is His message for me?  And who is my lifetime?  Ryan will be in my heart and life for my lifetime.  He will live on in our girls and the recipients of his organs.  But who can I go to for my lifetime?

This is where I begin to ask God about friends.  What friends did he intend as my roots?  And what friends did he intend as my leaves? (If you don’t understand this reference check out Tyler Perry’s book.  It’s a good one.)  This is when that leap of faith comes in.  When I am supposed to put my heart and trust and woes in God’s hands.  When I turn it all over to him and trust it will be ok.  But goodness that’s a struggle right now!  I want answers!  But alas, that is a reason . . . waiting, trusting, faith.  Because sometimes it is not a person that is the reason, season, or lifetime, but the lack of a person that is the reason, season, or lifetime.

Anger in the face of tragedy

Anger.  That primal emotion that erupts unbidden from the very depths of our soul.  That reaction we wish we could harness and make heel like an obedient pet.  That fuel that burns uncontrollably.  Anger.  White, hot anger that even tears cannot squelch.  That is what I feel.  I guess some days I have to remember that it is a blessing to feel anything at all as depression has robbed me of many emotions.  It has not robbed me of anger.

And with anger comes guilt.  The idea that I have no right to be angry at my husband; to be angry at God.  But anger is a very human emotion.  And I do have a right to be angry as long as I don’t live there in anger.  Maybe another widow or widower would understand.  Other people try to but I’m not sure they can fully fathom the power of that anger.  I am angry that my husband suffered depression before he died and that it made our lives so stressful.  I am angry that the multiple treatments we tried didn’t work.  I am angry that my children had to be exposed to his depression.  I am angry that he died and left us.  I am angry that sometimes my children will say they would rather be with him or prefer him or that he let them do x, y, or z because I don’t so obviously I am the mean parent.  Try competing with a ghost.  It sucks.  A ghost can do no wrong and you sure as hell better not try to ruin the image of that ghost for a child clinging to their own kind of reality.  No, have patience, the truth will come later.  I am angry that I have to juggle all the responsibilities meant for a couple by myself.  I am angry at my friends who live in matrimonial normalcy.  I am angry when they have someone to call after a big event and I well, don’t.  I could call a friend, my kids . . . but it’s not the same.  I am angry that no one else in this world feels the weight of responsibility for my children with me; no one who can truly feel the same worry, care, frustration because they are no one else’s kids on this earth except for mine.  I am angry that I am depressed.  I am angry that I cry without warning.  I am angry when I feel irritated and lose my temper with my kids or pets.  I am just angry.

And you know what, I am going to stay here and be angry for a little while.  I am going to embrace it and feel it.  I am not going to try to justify my anger, I am not going to try to explain it.  I am going to just be with it.  Maybe by not fighting it, it will burn out and leave me exhausted and empty and READY to be filled with the emotion that comes next.  Acceptance maybe?  Guilt?  Sadness? Will there be space for joy?  There are no two roads to choose from in these woods – just one path straight through the darkest part of the forest.

So here I am . . .

All too often I think we forget the miracles we are and see ourselves as unimportant, inconsequential … but we ARE miracles. We have purpose. And we each are a piece of art created by the greatest Artist man has ever known. Even better, as His masterpieces he cares about even the smallest detail in our life. He wants to hear our every care and worry and joy and celebration. What a comfort to never be alone and to know everything in your life both great and small is valued and validated.

I didn’t learn this easily but during my darkest hours God made his presence known in a way I couldn’t ignore.  Some excerpts follow from the madness of learning my husband, Ryan, had been in a terrible car accident through the two and a half weeks that followed.  Let me say that the support that came during that time from friends, family, and community was humbling.  The sight of a never ending line at the wake and standing room only at the church both overwhelmed me and comforted me.  Here I share what led me here to write about this journey.  It is my hope, my prayer that through sharing I can help someone else through their own journey through the tunnel of darkness and back into the light of living.

“Please continue to pray that Ryan will pull through the injuries sustained from the car accident. Pray for his family, for me but most especially for our girls as I will have to tell them something tomorrow. They may never hear their daddy tell them he loves them again and as a mother I just don’t know how to prepare them for that possibility so I won’t even entertain it for now. But I have to be honest with them. I have to love and respect them enough to give them the pint sized version of the truth and I just don’t know how. Please all, just wrap my children in love and prayers as we travel this road together as a family.”

“More fractured vertebrae than whole ones; hematoma; traumatic brain injury; lacerations to spleen and live; fractured pelvis and sacrum; broken ribs . . . coma.”

“Heart rate dropped.  Intracranial pressure dangerously high.  Unstable”

“Stable.”

“Nope. Unstable again.”

“Moving him to neuro ICU. Severe traumatic brain injury. Adding another monitor – not sure he is getting enough oxygen to his brain. No sign of neurological function.  The chaplain and I met with Taryn and Jenna this morning. The questions are coming slowly. They are loved and supported and right now I couldn’t ask for more. Their whole little lives are changing in the blink of an eye.”

“I couldn’t get through this time without the web of support everyone is weaving. I am humbled by the outpouring of love from our community here as well as friends who aren’t so close but are providing all the support they can from afar. In these darkest of times God has been good and is finding ways to provide the strength we so desperately need right now. I am filled with gratitude for each of you who have prayed, visited, fed me, hugged my children, donated … from the bottom of my heart thank you.”

“Ryan’s parents and I met with the doctor, FNP, and Ryan’s current nurse today. He continues to have high pressures further worsened by the need for a CT scan which required him to lie flat. Sadly long-term high pressures hold a worse prognosis than if they had begun decreasing. We are still in the early phases and have more waiting to do as the pentobarbital (half lie of five days) begins to leave his system. We won’t know brain activity until that point. Ryan’s heart rate and BP was good today with the medications they are using to stabilize those.  Right now his family and I would like prayers that God will take the decision out of our hands – that either He will provide miraculous healing so Ryan can lead a full life that he would be happy with or that God will bring him home peacefully on His own.”

“My heart is torn as to how to provide for their {my daughters’} needs and still be able to take care of Ryan’s needs. I’m tired and cranky. My nerves feel raw and I’m not sure whether to cry, scream, or start smashing things. In the end, I will take some deep breathes and hold it together for a while longer until we can get through this latest crisis. I will give my worries over to God and pray that He can lighten my heavy heart and guide me in how to best take care of my family.”

“Ryan went home to his Father in Heaven this afternoon in my arms and surrounded by his parents and sister. I have been exceptionally blessed to have loved and been loved by one of the most generous hearted men I have ever met and been included in his amazing family.”