Welcome to Christian Widow's Walk

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for visiting. If you care to follow my story from the beginning, I encourage you to click on the oldest post first and make your way to newer entries. In so doing, hopefully, you will see the hand of God in my healing journey that started in April, 2009.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Busy, Busy, But All Is Well

Posted Jun 14, 2009 ~ (seven weeks into widowhood)

My life has been very busy, full of mostly good things, like visits with dear friends; some I haven't seen in years, some new ones and my growing circle of faithful, church-family friends. And then there's always mowing and some new challenges seem to keep cropping up, but all is well, when I stay focused and continue to trust the Lord in ALL things.

I continue to need reminders when new situations want to take over. Thank you Sarah, for knowing me so well and for being that dependable voice. You are so often my compass, when I allow circumstances to replace the Peace I've known. It has to be a deliberate decision each day and with each new issue, otherwise it would be so easy to fall into a pattern of overwhelming, harmful distraction that would so quickly and easily rob me of the Peace that God promises. The Lord has been so faithful to supply that gift of Peace from the first of the year as I have relied on my faith throughout these past six months. I didn't know that heartache and Peace could coexist! I am thankful and blessed to be able to say it is true in my life and available to all of us who trust in Him.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds, in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I pray this finds all of you with hearts and minds full of God's Peace. It's real my friends and loved ones!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Overdue Physical And Powerful Pictures

Posted Jun 9, 2009 ~ ( 6 weeks into widowhood)

This past week produced a whirlwind of activity, starting last Wednesday with an overdue physical at my family doctor’s office. I wasn’t sure if the last six months of stress might have shown up on my EKG or affected my blood pressure numbers. Thankfully, my doctor was able to give me a good report. We talked at length about Buck as Dr. S. had never received any information from the hospitals. He was saddened as Buck had been his patient for many years and our doctor’s wife was raised close to where Buck grew up and they attended the same high school, although I don’t think they knew each other back then. Buck and our doctor always talked about Richwood, W.V. whenever Buck needed to get his annual physical or had an illness that needed attention. Dr. S. was generous with his time, concern and compassion, as were all the staff, for which I was most appreciative.

My daughter, Sarah and baby Kyrstin came to visit on Thursday. Our mission was to locate the photographs that Buck and I have collected over the last 12 years. We were excited to find Buck’s pictures first. We found lots of photos depicting Kevin and Jessi’s (my step-children) growing up years, including team pictures, when Buck coached soccer and softball teams. Looking through them was not very difficult because I didn’t know my sweetheart then. There was only one picture in particular that affected me emotionally. It was a picture of Buck holding Jessi as a tiny infant against his bare chest. They were both sleeping peacefully. It was a rendering of a tender moment that spoke volumes about the warm, loving father he was to his children.

Then Sarah and I were blessed to accomplish our mission by finding the box that held many but not all of our most special photos, including our wedding and honeymoon pictures. I debated if I should go through them, knowing the emotional effect that would follow. Throughout the day, I was feeling sensitive emotionally and decided it would probably be good for me to vent some of the building feelings. Reliving all the precious memories had the predictable outcome and was a very painful process. Nevertheless, I was so very thankful that we finally found the pictures and I sent them home with Sarah to use for the slide show that she is putting together for Buck’s Memorial on June 27th. I will be sure to bring my towel that day. You may want to do the same.

My friends Jim and Sue came to visit that evening while Sarah was still here. I was still wearing my grieving towel when they arrived. They knew it had been a difficult day for me, but I really appreciated something that Jim said to me. He reminded me how blessed I am to have such wonderful memories, as some unfortunate people have few or no good memories to hold on to. The memories are painful now, as of course; they intensify my already broken heart and make me miss my Bofren all the more. Reliving our wedding day was the hardest part, as it was so obvious, as all the pictures clearly captured, that it was the most joyful day of our lives and a beautiful celebration of our gratitude to God for bringing us together! I am indeed so blessed to have so many wonderful memories to cherish and hold forever in my heart.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stressful But Better Week

Posted June 3, 2009  ~ (Five weeks into widowhood)

This week has been very stressful, but very pleasant in many ways as my friends have been keeping me busy with invitations to go for walks, (thanks Pat) and to an exquisite tea party at my dear friend Eva's home, to celebrate our friend, Sue's recovery from a very serious car accident in December. Sunday brought a fun visit with friends Jim, Susan and Darla and dinner on Monday evening with friends Glenn and Debbie, whom I hadn't seen in years . This week will be equally as busy as friends and family keep me distracted with their help and friendship. I continue to be so blessed as the Lord is answering many prayers. Everyone makes me feel special and very much loved in taking such good care of me!

My sweetheart on our new garage roof, just days before his heart attack
I often get emotional at church either because of the music selection or because of the beautiful outdoor video clips that are the backdrop for the lyrics for our praise and worship segment of our service. Pictures of mountains with layer upon layer of disappearing ranges in the distance and scenic cascading waterfalls always bring tears as they so vividly remind me of my sweetheart and our many memorable New England hikes. Another backdrop that affects me is of a man standing on a cliff, overlooking the ocean, as the waves break and splash against the rocks just in front of him. It always makes me think of Buck as he too would freely raise his arms and hands above his head to praise and worship His Lord, whom he loved so much! It also brings to mind, the silhouette picture of Buck on the roof of our garage, pictured above. I am very thankful that so far, the pictures have only inspired tears and not full blown weeping like often happens at home. I know it is all an important part of the grieving process. With God's help, I am moving forward as best I can, as He gives me the grace to deal with each new day, one day at a time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Memories And New Challenges

Posted May 28, 2009 ~ (Five weeks into widowhood)
I have been searching for all of our photos with no success. Having moved into our new home just three months before Buck’s heart attack, our pictures are still among our many unpacked boxes in the basement or elsewhere. While looking around in his closet, I found a Valentine’s Day gift that I put together for Buck in 1999. It was a photos frame with 14 various openings of different shapes and sizes. It held a collection of pictures we took during our daylong hiking adventure, climbing and descending Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

I had not seen these pictures for nearly a year and a half, as they had been packed away while we built our new home. I forgot that I put the frame in Buck’s closet. Finding the pictures returned me to the same intensity of sorrow and weeping that I confronted when I first returned to my “Home Without My Bofren” reality a few weeks ago. Some of my favorite outdoor pictures of us together are included in that frame. The tears come again now as I think about those significant hiking days. Buck had carried his camera tripod, so he could take pictures of us together to remember some of our challenging hiking adventures. The frame holds many memories that we captured during several days of that summer vacation. One of the oval shaped openings holds a small calligraphy message I made for him that reads: Loving You is a Mountaintop Experience! August 1998.

We went to New England on our honeymoon in October 1997, visiting Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. We drove to the summit of Mount Washington on that trip and also rode the Cog Railway to the top, where we encountered horizontal snow as we made a run for the observatory building. Mount Washington has an elevation of 6288 ft. and is known for its reputation of being “Home of the world’s worst weather”! We fell in love with the Northern states and returned to New Hampshire during our first summer as newlyweds to experience Mount Washington on foot. The trip up was wonderful as I was able to keep up with Buck pretty well and the views and Wows were amazing! However, the trip back was agonizing as the very first step heading back down the mountain, produced pain in my knee that made for a lengthy, slow, miserable return journey that got us to our destination just before nightfall. In spite of the painful part, it is a favorite memory and I’m so glad I have the pictures to take me back. I know someday I’ll be able to look at them and not break down. Sarah will be using some of those pictures in the slideshow she is putting together for Buck’s Memorial on June 27th.

The pictures were not the only trigger that brought me to that meltdown condition on Saturday afternoon. After I semi-recovered from finding Buck’s Valentine, I also found a bag from the Lifeway Christian Book Store. Buck had shopped there before Christmas to buy a gift bible for Jessi’s boyfriend, Justin.

Buck and I made a decision early in our marriage not to buy gifts for each other, but it was our tradition to get ornaments for each other, every year. My Sweetheart was known for waiting till last minute to shop for me: Christmas Eve type last minute; it happened all the time. I fell to pieces when I opened the Lifeway bag to find a ceramic ornament with Jesus inscribed on it, that Buck had obviously chosen and tucked away to give to me this Christmas!

My heart breaks anew in each remembrance of the beautiful life my Bofren provided for me. He always made sure that we took time to have fun together. I miss him so much; sometimes I think I can’t bare this! Gradually the weeping subsides, but leaves me in a physically weakened condition, that usually takes half a day to recover from. It’s difficult to be productive on those days. By God’s grace, I am enjoying more good days than emotional ones. I feel strong some days and do what seems to be the most needful or the next logical step. I enjoy the mindless jobs, like doing the dishes. I dislike the days that require making phone calls to get information about subjects I don’t understand, as I will need to do today. Often, it is hard to decide what the priority should be on that given day. Fatigue and forgetfulness have been my constant companions the past week, making it difficult to think clearly or hold on to thoughts.

Life has been somewhat overwhelming as I face a different financial future than I expected and I have to confront some important decisions. I know the Lord will provide the guidance and direction that I need. For a couple days, I lost sight of the fact that the Lord hadn’t gone anywhere. I needed to be reminded that He had a plan; I just didn’t know what it was yet. Thank you for the reminder Sarah (my precious daughter)! The Lord has already restored peace to my heart, as He always does when I look to Him. What a gift! Thank You Lord, for the peace only You can provide! I would like to request prayer support as I wade through this new unfamiliar territory.

Thank you for continuing to care about me, for checking up on me, praying for me, encouraging and supporting me and holding my hand as we journey on together. All of you are precious gifts from God, and reminders of HIS LOVE! God bless all of you. Enjoy your day and don’t forget each one is a gift, as are those that surround you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grass, Garden And Groundhogs

Posted May 27, 2009 ~ (Five weeks into widowhood)

Aside from the initial challenges of getting the lawn tractor out of the shed, all went well with this rookie’s first solo lawn mowing on Friday. If you have ever read Scott Peck’s, “The Road Less Traveled”, you might remember the very first sentence: “Life is difficult”. My first moments of experience operating my lawn tractor proved he knew what he was talking about!

Last week, Ed taught me how to use my jumpstart system to start the lawn tractor, because the battery was weak. I tied the tractor seat down; knowing I would need to dismount in order to disconnect the battery cables when I got the tractor started and knowing that an empty seat would mean the engine would stop. I thought I had everything under control.

I got her started, unhooked, put her in reverse and immediately got the deck hung up on the ramp! Forward, reverse; the wheels just spun. I was good and stuck! Great, now what do I do Lord? My pride and embarrassment kept me from seeking help to get out of this mess I had gotten myself into so soon. The Lord and I had to figure this out on our own. I turned the engine off and used a two by four under the tractor to get some leverage. I got the tractor to pivot somewhat and maneuvered it down the ramp and into the grass.I jumpstarted her again, disconnected the cables, turned her around and she was making a strange noise. Now what? I got off and looked underneath to realize that the way I tied the seat down was interfering with the wheels turning freely. I held the seat down while untying the rope, hopped back on and finally was on my way. Live and learn the hard way.

A few hours and a fresh sunburn later, the yard was shaping up and I was learning what not to do. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks after all! At the end of the day, I was feeling good about things getting done. I spent some time weeding my new raised bed vegetable garden that my dear friends and neighbors, Mark and Kristie put together for me while I was staying with Sarah and family. I came home to find three tomato plants, two broccoli plants and several different varieties of lettuce. Buck told Mark about his plan to put in some raised garden beds like the ones Mark and Kristie had installed on their property. They had high hopes that Buck and I would be enjoying fresh veggies from our own garden this summer when he got home from the hospital. How kind and thoughtful of our friends to carry out Buck’s plan to provide a garden for me! Thank you Mark and Kristie for your labor of love.

Unfortunately, I was also sharing my garden with a family of groundhogs. It seems my antics and efforts have persuaded them to move on. I wondered if my neighbors thought I must have lost my sanity, if they witnessed my running across the yard while banging two large fry pan lids together like cymbals in order to terrorize the greedy veggie vultures. I happen to have a really bad attitude about the mooching marauders who consumed my broccoli and harvested my lettuce. I hope they got the message! I also planted some more lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, basil and lavender that my friend Pat brought for me.

Mark stopped by this week and took the batteries from our camper and lawn tractor to charge on his battery charger. I am hopeful the battery will hold the charge and start right up when I need to mow again.

I have found that keeping busy is very helpful when one is grieving, but it does not protect me from dealing with the pain. Every time I think that maybe I’m getting a little stronger, because I have experienced a day or two with no tears, a new wave will open my wounded heart again with another precious memory. I was in Buck’s closet on Saturday and was simultaneously thrilled and broken over what I found. I will share that in another entry, as it is very late and the Melatonin (a natural sleep aid)is kicking in. Perhaps I’ll sleep better tonight.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Homeowner Skills

Posted May 21, 2009  ~  (One month into widowhood)

My friend, Ed, returned last Thursday to install a new belt on my lawn tractor. He also taught me how to start, operate and fuel my lawn tractor, push mower and weed whacker. Ed was a great teacher. Time will tell if I was a good student. I didn’t know that the weed whacker required a special mixture of gasoline; important details for this rookie to understand. Operating the noisy machine was a new experience for me. I’m going to need to develop some upper body strength and arm muscles (or guns as Sarah would say) to handle the rowdy yard tool.

I can understand why Buck enjoyed using the lawn tractor. It was kind of fun and I’m sure it will be rewarding when I mow the entire yard, probably on Friday. This week I attacked part of the yard that hadn't been mowed yet and it was quite challenging. The weeds had grown hip high, but I pretended that my push mower was a bush hog and got the job done. The weeds were so high, I was afraid I might damage the lawn tractor if I found something unforeseen the hard way. Keeping my one acre lot should be more manageable, now that I can see it clearly. Hopefully, I’ll do as nice a job as my Sweetheart always did. I always appreciated how pretty he kept our yard and wanted him to know what a great job he did.

I depended on him for so many things. I was so blessed to have such a handy husband. He was a jack of many trades and exercised his abilities on a continuous basis. He could repair almost anything and was quite ingenious at times. He loved the challenge and would always give it his best shot and would often render hopeless things to a useful, working condition once again. He often amazed me!

I have so much to learn, but I feel good about becoming a little more self-sufficient. I like to think my Bofren would be proud of his Girfren. I’ve really been missing him a lot and often it’s hard to comprehend that my reality no longer revolves around him. I have accepted the fact, but it still doesn’t feel real. It's been a month today and I still find it hard to believe that my best friend isn't here to share our new home!

On Saturday, I drove to my sister and brother-in-laws house. It was my first solo drive since my return home after spending two and a half weeks with Sarah and her family. The drive became very emotional as I reminisced that Buck always drove whenever we went anywhere together. I am constantly surrounded by and sometimes overwhelmed by the memories; memories of the wonderful life we shared! I look forward to the day when I can recall a precious memory and smile and enjoy the place they hold in my heart, instead of the predominate sadness that so often overtakes me. I know the healing will come and has surely already begun with tiny baby steps. I am especially thankful for tear free days, but I am getting used to the emotion filled moments when they arrive. I like the way Sarah describes them. "It's just all that love pouring out, Mom!" I thank God for each new day and for walking through my new life with me. I’m so glad I don’t have to go through this alone, as His Word clearly promises; He will never leave or forsake us!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lawn Mowers And Lifted Spirits

Posted May 15, 2009 (Three weeks into widowhood)

Some of our dearest friends, Bobbie and her husband, Ed, came to visit on Wednesday with cooler in hand and all the makings for a delightful lunch. They brought some of my favorites: shrimp salad and croissants, chips, cantaloupe, strawberry shortcake and iced tea. My contribution was a batch of last minute brownies. We had a great time!

My friend, Ed, was on a mission, while Bobbie and I visited and went for a walk. I had asked Ed if he would take a look at my lawn mower. Buck had mentioned that it needed some attention and I didn’t know if it was safe to start it up. That plus I have never operated our three year old riding mower, because Buck was in love with his lawn tractor and took great pride and pleasure from maintaining our property, both before and after we built our home here. The truth is, it often caused much friction between us as he would escape for three or more hours, when there was so much to be done at the house we were living in, to prepare it to put on the market. It was an issue I had to learn to let go, since although he wasn’t perfect, he was truly wonderful and made a regular habit out of never mentioning my many flaws! What a treasure I had in him!

Returning to Ed and his mission. Ed, like Buck, is known for his servant’s heart and for helping all the widows with their homeowner problems. Never did I think that I would be among the ladies that he so kindly looks after. He jumped right in and got the mower started in no time. Unfortunately, a belt broke after several passes around the yard. He asked if I had the manual and I was actually able to find it. I feared the sea of unpacked boxes in the basement, (since, we had moved into our new home just three months before Buck’s heart attack), but was pleasantly surprised to find it in the file cabinet, the first place I looked.

In the meantime, Ed got out the push mower and began the arduous job, as my grass was quite tall and very thick, because Buck had done such a great job of seeding our lawn (well, with the help of friend and neighbor, Mark and myself). Ed worked hard for a good while and then he had a brainstorm. Bobbie and I watched as he tied the push mower behind the lawn tractor and towed the “working” mower around the yard. He did a splendid job. I told him he was a genius and I know Buck would have been so proud of our friend and his clever creativity! Bobbie and I took pictures to capture the memorable event. Although I started out with a heavy heart, it turned out to be a great day thanks to wonderful friends.

Another scripture that has comforted me came from a perpetual calendar that was a gift from my sister, Colleen. The April 21st page read: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. The Lord fulfilled this promise in Buck and I during his four months of hospitalization. I know He will continue to be faithful in my future, as I trust in Him. Although the pain is intense at times, I have Peace…Genuine Peace! I know my Sweetheart is pain free and enjoying the presence of the Lord.

While speaking to Buck’s mom on the phone recently, she shared that when Buck made his last trip to West Virginia to visit and go hunting (just weeks before our journey began), he proudly showed pictures of our new home to her and his brothers. They commented on how nice they thought it was. Buck agreed, but said, “Yes, but I have a mansion waiting for me some day”. He held loosely to material things, and looked forward to going home some day with great anticipation. I would love to know what he is experiencing right now, but I am certain it is more wonderful than any of us can imagine!