Category Archives: The Sequel

Sorrow

I saw another sorrow this week. I saw it in my husbands eyes, heard it in his words and felt it as he hugged me tighter. We think no one deserves that kind of pain, but that isn’t the truth. The truth is hard, it’s real life and that means if you love someone deeply, you miss them deeply.

The preacher said “It’s because you loved him, it hurts to lose him.” It’s true. Does it make it easier, I guess it doesn’t but it does mean he knew love and that is a comfort.

Does that mean if we know love we will certainly know sorrow? I think it does. I think we try to avoid sorrow, I do get it, I know it doesn’t feel nice. Lots of things do not feel nice but we have to do them anyway. If we avoid cleaning things we can get sick, but no one likes cleaning, well not the normal among us. We might like the outcome but the process is not enjoyable. This is sorrow.

The process of sorrow sucks! It rips at your stomach, pulls at your heart and causes a lump in the back of your throat that cannot be swallowed. It lets us know that we have lost something that makes us feel like our soul has been torn. The puzzle is no longer complete, the game unwinnable and left completely undone.

But as time goes by this pain assimilates into who we are, the puzzle doesn’t  look like the picture we had on the box, and there will always be a piece missing. Yet, it’s our puzzle and we think it’s beautiful. We remember all the times together, good and bad that are threaded into our fabric, woven so tightly that they cannot be separated. When we feel a tug it helps us to remember who they were and who they will always be in out hearts.

I think we need to get past worrying about who sees us cry or if they are uncomfortable with our pain. It’s in everyone’s life, why do we hide it? “I’m good thanks” we say what if we could say, “He was a bloody good man, I will miss with with every fibre within me. I might cry, but it’s OK, I will be OK, but today I am just sad”. I don’t hear that kind of thing much I wish I did though. It’s the truth. When we speak truth it helps release the pain trapped inside. It escapes anyway, the pain, it will burst through, and often in hurtful and regretful ways.

Can we try this? Can we try to listen to sorrow without fixing it? Can we listen without thinking about our uncomfortableness? Can we let our own eyes well up and let the tear slide down our cheek and not care if it’s seen? Can we really care but not care about appearances? It’s a big ask, lets see how we go.

So here’s to Vik, my hubbies Dad and my new families Gramps. He really was a good man, he was his own man and in this house he will be forever missed, loved and remembered.

Vik, mēs mīlam tevi un mūsu sirdis, lai gan dziļi nobijies, atcerēsies tevi smaidošu.

Paul and Vik


Still Believing

I am speaking to my own heart today, I am telling it to listen carefully, don’t shut down heart, don’t tune out this time. I’m yet not sure it’s listening, but I’m giving it a go. It wants to shy away, to sit in the back, to not be noticed as it wonders why. Why?

Why?

A long time after grief began, I found a smile on my face and I felt a sigh. It was a deep, relief filled sigh that I had indeed found hope again. Stress and anxiety lifted slowly, gratefulness for this hope grew and a respect for life heightened.

But I forgot a very important fact… Life still goes on and it’s not all happy. It’s not always as it should be, grief returns, people get sick, and hard, hard days are still part of life. It’s as if there’s some arthritis from the wound, it’s healed, I can walk, but it left some decay behind. So when conditions aren’t right, I feel it again. Agony. Cancer shouldn’t be able to touch my loved ones again, but it does. The agony of losing should be a thing of the past, but it’s not. My heart should not have to feel this again, but that’s just not realistic. Life, the good and the bad still march on whether I am prepared for it or not.

But why? 

Is God still good?

Is He a carer of my soul?

Is He really all powerful?

Can I trust Him?

Does He really want the best for me?

Is He even listening?  

I’ve learnt to answer “Yes” and yes there is sickness and death and horrid things that should never happen. Yes it doesn’t seem fair (don’t even get me started on that one!). But I still believe it through pain and when it’s hard. Why?

Why?

It’s nothing to do with a survey, it’s not a feeling, but a discipline of belief I can be sure of. Doubt surfaces for sure, and many questions race around my brain but at the end of the day I know there’s a whisper inside that knows hope will still come around the corner. There is a “however” on the end of the sentence that invites my heart to know there is something more.

There is more to death than grief, there is an eternity spent pain free in a better place. There is another side to hard times as we pull together and unite around common concern. There is another side to loss if I choose it. I can choose to add new people, new family, new love…if I choose. It’s not what I imagined in the beginning but it’s still good if I choose it.

I know by now that there are many, many questions in life that cannot be answered, won’t be answered, I don’t like that. That those “why’s” are not answered how I would like them to be and some days are just plain hard. If I make my heart listen it might bleed. If I summon it out of the fog it will need to go through reality before it can see hope. I cannot hear the whisper if I ignore the reason for hearing it. I cannot feel the relief until I know the pain.

When I walk with a limp I protect my wound, my broken limb, my pain from the blows of the world. When my heart hurts I protect it too. I put on my brave face, I distract conversation away from the pain and I keep in the shallows away from the deep stirrings that probe too much. I still don’t like the pain. I’m still a person. So I’m trying “however” on the end of lifes’ sentences. However, the treatment might be good. However, we are loved. However, there is yet hope. I’m hoping God is there in the however, planted firmly in between the pain and the hope that lies beyond. I’m not looking for new answers to all the hard questions, I’m choosing to keep believing what I began believing before grief began.

I’m praying my and my loved ones hearts understand. Understand we are loved, understand we know it hurts and understand we are all in this together. I’m praying we hear the whispers of hope over the noise of the why’s.

I’m praying. 

Hope.

MI Rainbow blessings getty


Remember the Smiles

Sadness can alter your memory. It can trick you into believing the lie that suffering was all there was to living. It isn’t true. Amidst the suffering there was true life, the one were a joke was laughed at, a hand was held, or  “hey how are you” was shared. These small things in the everyday mattered, and still matter.

The end did not negate the years of holding his babies, of taking them to soccer, of kissing me goodnight, of the worst dad jokes possible or of just sitting together wherever we were…because the place didn’t matter.

Hope finds it hard to return if it has to fight through regret and guilt. They where the bookends that held me captive, torturing me with a continual reel to reel of all that was bad in the end days. The “what ifs” intertwining each chapter with nagging questions.

“What if I had prayed harder…”

“What if we had tried another doctor…”

“What if he had wanted to stay a bit more…”

“What if I had been more…”

Answer-less questions that feed guilt because they can’t be answered from the grave.  

Before the suffering I knew the answers. Yes he loved me and knew I loved him. Yes his kids were his greatest achievements and nothing could alter that. Yes he found joy in life, in nature, in his faith and those he loved.  They were unaltered memories. They didn’t have question marks.

I had added the question marks to the statements of his life. I had warped the looking-glass of my memory. I had forgotten the smiles and could only see his pain.

I needed to see hope again. To believe hope was possible. I remember falling to my knees on my bedroom floor, desperate to know that moving on was OK. Stuck between the holding on and the letting go. Only a decision away but uncertain if letting go would leave him behind.  I asked God to free my heart of the guilt and betrayal that pushed hope away. To let go of those unanswerable weights and open my life up to new possibilities…even if that was on my own.

I needed to understand that choosing to live was in fact what he had wanted, even though every pore oozed the contrary. I took small steps and made small decisions that supported hope until it became a habit. Grace filled the space guilt left behind and I was able to walk on. Hope grew into a new life because you can’t grow moving backwards.

Honouring those who have died doesn’t have to be sad, live the life they supported, be all you can be. Intertwine the best of them into who you are and go forward knowing they are always in your heart. Smiling …until you meet again.

my honey


Notes for my new husband…

Sometimes I get stuck and I forget.

I forget how special you are and how much I love being a part of us. Life gets busy and I get tired and it clouds my remembering. When it’s cloudy, a storm might just be around the corner. I don’t like storms. I don’t like hail, it hurts, it damages. I don’t like heavy rain, it floods, I might drown.

0ne day there was a storm.

I nearly drowned. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see sunshine, I couldn’t see through those clouds. I don’t like storms.  I lost a lot in that storm.  Not a house, not things, but I lost being a part of an us when the storm of cancer took my other half away. It destroyed me. Some things were lost forever; a father, a friend, a son, a brother, a husband. Gone.

Gone.

So, I don’t like storms, I get frightened. Frightened of the weather that might bring back the clouds. I can’t stop them, I can’t predict them, there’s no app for that. If I hear the hail I worry, if I feel the heavy rain I panic…what if it’s catastrophic? What if I am not enough? What if I can’t do it all? What if I don’t make it, don’t pray enough, don’t say the right thing … can’t save everyone?

I can’t breathe.

If I bury the worry, the panic, the fear so I can’t feel them, I can’t feel anything. It makes weathering the storms easier, but I can’t feel the sunshine. I don’t feel the warmth, the growth, the life. It stays dark. Really dark.

And that’s my choice. A really hard choice.

So sometimes I get stuck and I miss the important stuff. I miss the warmth in the touch of your hand or the life in your words “I love you”. I’m sorry I miss that. I know you will protect me if you can, I know you love me. Just remember that I still need to choose and if I seem stuck, look around for the clouds, I might be hiding. Just wait for me, I’ll try not to be too long.

I will come back into the sunshine.


Family Photos

I remember the stress I created the day of our family portrait shoot. I wanted the perfect family picture, in order to proudly display my perfect  family!

Hence the stress.

Of course perfection and family are not synonymous. But I loved them and wanted something to commemorate that. I bought new clothes, haircuts all round, french tipped my nails (as if anyone could see them), and brushed the dog because she was part of the family too. It was a lot of work and I can never quite understand why kids just didn’t want to do things my way…

We got our great photos and my family is recorded smiling and happy. It was worth the effort because very quickly the photos on my hard drive changed. The photos that came after were of a man losing his hair to chemo. He didn’t want photos taken then. He died in 2013.

I go down the stairs at home and I see a photo of a woman I never knew. I often wonder if our paths crossed somewhere living in the same town, I will never know. She is the mum in the photos of another family in their happy times. She died in 2014.

2 families all lost their smiles for a while.

I, the mum from one family met the dad from the other and we found our smiles together. We joined those two families. Life for everyone did not become perfect all of a sudden but we are working on the smiles. I see them seeping back and it brightens my heart and a brighter heart has less room for darkness. That’s how happiness can grow.

Family photos are bigger now, we’ve got a few good ones so far and I pray like crazy we get a million more.

We will forever keep the photos we have of the dad and the mum that are gone, treasure them and love them. Sometimes they will make us cry, but sometimes they also brighten our hearts, and that’s how happiness can grow.

sassylanephotography-641

“This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.” 1 John 1:15


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