December 25, 2016

A Letter To Daron

My Dearest Daron,

It doesn't seem possible that we are approaching five months since you left this earth & entered Heaven's Glory. How that can be true? I still feel like it was just yesterday I was at your bedside saying goodbye to you on earth. Yet there are days when it feels like it has been much longer then five months. There are days where it feels like it has been years since you passed. So much has happened in these past five months. I know that you have been watching us from above, but I still want to tell you about them.

Can you believe our son started 7th grade this fall?!? I can't believe it myself. Plus, he turned 13 this year! Where has the time gone? You would be proud of the young man he is growing up to be. Yes, he has his moments & he drives me crazy, but every teenage boy does that....right? You would be proud of him for realizing his mistakes & taking responsibility for them - it may take him awhile, but he does. Were you at his party on the 17th? He had so much fun with his friends from church. I am proud of him for wanting to surround himself with friends from the youth group. He reminds me of you so much, Daron. The way he talks, the way he acts, the things he says, the ways he looks at me, his physical build.....all remind me of you. I joke with him that he has your frozen feet & your stomach/appetite. I hope that he will tell me if that bothers him. Right now I think it makes him proud to be compared to you. He can see it himself. Thank you for our son & for being his father for 12.5 years.

Did you see that I finally made it to Mackinac Island with Taylor for my birthday? I know that it was something you & I talked about doing for so many years. I carried you with me in my heart & I hope you were there with me. I can't wait to go back sometime soon. It is such a beautiful place & there is so much more I want to see. I just will not go over Labor Day weekend again - that was crazy. Thank you for encouraging me to be adventurous.....I will take that with me.

I can hardly believe that we would have celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary & our 15th anniversary of being a couple this year. I know that I didn't get a chance to do anything special or take time to remember the days.....but I did think of you both days. I thought back to how we were just kids (for the most part) when we got married. I thought back to all of the love that we have had for each other.....the love that I still carry in my heart for you. Yes, those days were filled with tears over the thoughts of what could have been.....but I am so thankful for the memories that we made over the years together. Thank you for finding me online & talking to me. Thank you for marrying me all those years ago. Thank you for allowing me to be your helper through those years. While I regret the ways that I acted during our time together, I don't regret a second of the time we had. I will always treasure our years together.

Did you see the tattoo that I got in your honor? Took me long enough, right? :-D Honestly, I don't know why it took me so long to get one.....oh wait, yes I do. I couldn't decide on a meaningful design. Thank you for helping me choose one. I know that you were leading me during that process. Every time I look at my tattoo & see "I Love You" in your handwriting......words can't describe the way that I feel.

The holidays were tough on me, my love. I so desperately wanted you there to share those days with Taylor & I. I wanted you back for one more Thanksgiving & Christmas. Please know that I will never wish you back into the pain & suffering you went through. That would not be fair to you. I'm not ready to start new traditions for the holidays. Starting new traditions is painful right now. As odd as it sounds, I missed driving to Battle Creek to see you for Thanksgiving & then again to open presents with for Christmas. I never thought I would miss the hour drive (both ways) to see you.....but I do. I did take some of the fudge I purchased on Mackinac Island to the VA staff in your honor. That at least allowed me to make the drive again this year. Maybe I will turn that into a new tradition - visit our VA family between Thanksgiving & Christmas......maybe bring them some fudge every year as well. Speaking of that......Do you like the wreath your parents, my dad, Taylor & I placed on your headstone? I hope it lasts until February - that's why it isn't a true Christmas wreath. Plus, blue was always your favorite color.

Daron, as I get ready to cross into a new year without you here, I am torn with my emotions. I am so grateful that God fulfilled His perfect plan in your life. I am so thankful that you are not suffering anymore in your earthly body. I am so thankful that you got to celebrate Christmas in Heaven with God, Jesus, our family members & everyone who has gone before us. While I am thankful for that, I am sad that you aren't here any longer. I am sad that a new year will start without you. Words can't describe what I am feeling as I head towards a new year. Just thinking about it brings tears that I can't control. While a new year will bring new adventures, I will be thinking of you as each one comes into my journey. As I enter 2017, you will be in my heart. I will carry you with me every day, sweetheart.

I know that you have watched me cry more now then when you were on earth. You know how much I am struggling with all of this. You know the pain I try so hard to hide from others. You know the sorrow I cover with a fake smile. Please know that I will get stronger. I will keep the promise I made to you before you passed. I will turn that fake smile into a real one again.....with time & God's strength. I will continue to take each memory of you as they come to mind & be thankful for them through the tears. I will never stop loving you, Daron. Thinking of you gives me strength to get through the tears. I desperately hold onto the knowledge that you are waiting for me in Heaven & we will be reunited one day for all eternity. Please give my Grandpa Orr & my Uncle Jim a great big hug for me. I love you with all that this earthly body will allow, my dearest.

December 13, 2016

Different Kind Of Christmas This Year

Reason behind the title to this blog post:  I was recently looking through accompaniment tracks for Christmas songs, just looking to see if there was anything new this year. I came across a song I hadn't heard before & wanted to be able to read the lyrics. So, I did what I always do.....I went to YouTube & looked up the song. I should not have done that. The song is called "Different Kind of Christmas" & it is by Mark Schultz. I love Mark Schultz music & the way that he tells stories through them. This one follows he normal writing style.....but, I wasn't prepared for the story it would tell. This song had me sobbing from the first verse & I still can't listen to it without crying. 

If you feel inclined, here is the link to the video with the lyrics. If you have lost someone you love, you will be able to relate to the sentiment of this song. If you are not ready for a song like this, please keep scrolling past the video link to read the blog post.

This is where my thoughts are right now getting ready for Christmas. I know that it will be the most wonderful time of the year again at some point......but right now it is truly the most difficult time of the year. I don't feel like celebrating Christmas this year. Honestly, I wish that we could go straight to January 3rd & be done with the holiday season completely. I know that I should be so focused on the true meaning of Christmas that my grief won't be able to show it's ugly face.....but I can't. Grief is a normal, healthy emotion & it is intensified during this time of the year. There are traditions that won't happen anymore. There are memories that will flood back in that will be me to tears I can't control. There are so many things that won't happen in our house anymore & I am having a hard time dealing with all of that. I have been told that next year will be harder then this year. I really hope not. This year will be tough enough just getting out of bed on Christmas morning.

It is really tough for me to talk about & share my grief journey with people. Yes, there are other widows who I am becoming dear friends with & they understand my situation.....for that I am grateful. But, there are others who say they understand but they can't - they still have their spouse with them. No one can understand what I am going through until they have experienced it themselves, & I don't wish this on my worst enemy. Life is tough without Daron here. The house seems really empty without him. I know he hasn't been in the house in over five years, but now that he is's hard to put into words. For those five years I could call him & go visit him. Now there's nothing. There is a void in my life now that I wasn't expecting & don't know how to handle. I trust that God will fill that void, but only in His perfect time & way. I trust that God will take my grief from me, but only in His perfect timing. I trust that God will put the pieces of my shattered heart back together, but only in His perfect timing. I trust that God is still carrying me & I am so beyond words thankful for that. I can still barely stand on my own two feet these days.

Please be patient with Taylor & I this year. Please try to understand that how we appear to be handling this season isn't how we are really feeling. We have become masters of the fake smile & strong appearance for the sake of those around us. Please take time to look at the deep sorrow that is in our eyes - that's the one spot we can't hide. Please know that we are doing the best that we can this year & if we say "no thank you" to an invitation, it is not directed at you personally. We are only able to handle so much this year & we want to be able to spend time with family.

Please take a moment to read through a few things that I found online recently. I feel that they help explain what my brain can't at the moment. I truly wish you & your family a Blessed Christmas & A Happy New Year!

November 17, 2016

I Don't Want To....But I Have To

Tonight I realized just what I am struggling with through the early stages of my grief. I am struggling with my stubborn, strong-willed personality that God blessed me with. I am struggling because my personality can get me into trouble some times.....okay 98% of the time my persoanlity has been my downfall. Lately though, it has put me into a mood that can cause me to act like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum saying "I don't wanna" (in a whiny voice) over everything that I am going through. But then I hear another voice say "But I have to" & I try to get out of my mood.

Here is some of the back & forth that has been going on in my head lately:

  1. I don't want to grief over the death of my husband.....but I have to because God was merciful & gracious enough to end Daron's suffering at the perfect time.
  2. I don't want to cry my eyes out at the drop of a hat......but I have to because God created crying for a reason & crying is healing to the soul.
  3. I don't want to read a Scripture verse & sob over my Bible......but I have to because God speaks to me through His Word & it's ok to have tear stained pages. It reminds me of the passages God pointed out to me that He wanted me to read.
  4. I don't want to have my first thought be "Can I handle it?" when someone invites me over for dinner......but I have to check in with myself in order to take care of myself. 
  5. I don't want to think about "using the widow card" if I want to get out of something or say something rude to someone......but I have to think that way so I don't offend anyone with my words or actions.
  6. I don't want to feel left out or out of place when I am in a group of people - especially when it is a group of couples......but I have to in order to spend time with other people & it's ok to be the odd man out sometimes......but I have to because those are precious days to me now & I don't want to miss them.
  7. I don't want to fall to pieces whenever I see a picture of him, a family picture, a picture of us as a couple, our wedding pictures......but I have to because I am remembering those moments frozen in time & they are now precious memories.
  8. I don't want to be a widow......but I have to be because God called me to widowhood. He knows that I am capable of handling this new calling. 
  9. I don't want to have to visit his grave......but I have to in order to respect his memory.
  10. I don't want to dread the sound of Taps, Amazing Grace (on the bagpipes, sung, or played on any instrument)......but I have to because those songs are special to me & to so many others. They are precious songs to me that I hold very close & have new meaning. 
  11. I don't want to look at the American Flag in a display case with his dog tags, medals, picture......but I have to because he served his country & I am very proud of him.
  12. I don't want to cry every time a lyric from our song pops into my head......but I have to because that is the song he chose to share with me as a way to express his feelings for me. 
  13. I don't want to be looked at diffrently......but I have to be because I am a different person now. I am being formed by God into a new person throught this.
  14. I don't want to see people look at me with a loof of pity or sympathy......but I have to because they need to see how I am handling my grief so they can grieve as well.
  15. I don't want to be a single mom of a teeanger......but I have to be because my son needs a mother more then ever right now. God has called me to be his mother & I will continue to be there for him as much as humanly possible right now.
  16. I don't want to raise my son without a father......but I have to & I will be pointing him to his Heavenly Father - one who will never leave him. 
  17. I don't want to have to figure out what part I have in my husbands family now that he's gone......but I have to since this is new territory for all of us. I trust that we will figure this out together with God's help, grace, peace & strength.
God created me with a stubborn & strong-willed personality for a reason & I am thankful that he did. My personality can be a hassle at times, but I think it is one of my better qualities. I am completely living up to my personality through all of this. If I wasn't stubborn & strong-willed I would have caved a long time ago I'm sure. Being a widow has made me a stronger Christian & I believe it is slowly making me a stronger mother & woman.  
What type of personality did God give you? 
Do you consider one of your better qualites? 
Are you living up to the personality He blessed you with?

Next time you want to throw an "I don't want to" tantrum, try to listen to the "But I have to" voice to hear what God is telling you.

November 13, 2016


Let's face it.....women are the more emotional ones of the human race. Some women are more emotional then others. Some women can cry at the drop of a hat. Others keep their emotions tucked deep down inside & won't let anyone see how they feel. They will hold things in & then let them out in the privacy of their own home.

I think I would say that I am in the middle of the emotional scale....or I used to be. Before, if someone confronted me on something I had done wrong, I would go with the flow. I'd explain my side as calmly as possible & move on. Now, I can barely hold myself together. I cry at the oddest things & at the oddest times. I can't control it no matter how hard I try. Sometimes just sitting in a quiet room causes me to burst into tears. It drives me crazy!

People I have talked to tell me it's completely normal & OK to cry. When the tears come I need to let them out & not try to hold them in. I can't do that though. I have a son to think about. He doesn't like seeing me in tears over something small (something stupid he'd say). If he doesn't like when I do that just imagine how he feels when I am uncontrollably sobbing my guts out when my grief catches me off guard. While Daron was still in the home he would tease me about how easily I would start crying. He would never watch a "chick flick" with me because he knew I would start crying. So, since I was teased for so many years about it, it's no wonder I want to hold my emotions in check as best as I can.

Over the past few months since Daron's death I have found it harder to stop the tears. I go to sleep crying. I wake up crying. I cry over dropping something. I cry over a silly commercial. I cry over nothing for no reason other then the tears won't stop. I can't stand it some times. I know that I need to have a real, hard, cleansing cry......but it won't come. Right now I am OK with that. Honestly, I don't want that cry to happen at all if I can help it. I know that doesn't sound right, but that is how I am feeling right now. I don't want to cry! I want the out of control emotions to get back under control so I can function like a normal person again (whatever normal is of course).

I don't like feeling like I have to stay home away from the world because someone might say something that will cause me to cry. Because if I start crying in public I will have to give some sort of explanation. I don't want to tell people that I am widow. I don't want that to be what defines me right now. I don't want to use being a widow as an excuse for anything that I am dealing with right now. Even now my emotions are going crazy. I can't decide if I am frustrated over crying so easily, if I want to cry about it, if I want to scream at myself in anger over it, or if I just want to get a big container of ice cream & feed the crazy emotions.

I know that someday this will get better.......someday my emotions will be mine to control again......someday I will feel like a normal person......someday can't come soon enough.

November 6, 2016

Hard To Look Back

I have the memories on Facebook set to pop up on a daily basis. Most of the time it is fun to see what I shared on Facebook a year ago, two years ago, etc. Today's memory was not fun to see & I know that the memories to come over the next few months won't be fun either.

One year ago today I posted this....

Prayers needed for wisdom, guidance, emotional/mental/physical strength! Daron is currently undergoing MS testing at a VA clinic near Chicago, IL. He has been there since Tuesday & I just found out yesterday (long story short - privacy laws didn't allow the staff to tell me or his parents after Daron told them not to). I spoke with the social worker there this afternoon & she wasn't sure how long he would be there - normally people are there for this testing for 3-5 days. Part of me wants to drop everything & drive to this clinic so I can know what's going on. The other part of me doesn't want to go so the doctors there can get a full picture of Daron's current state without my added input. Been praying all day for direction & still am not sure what I should do. Please pray that I will see God's will & do what is needed during this time. Thanks!

(You can get more information on what decisions were made by clicking here & reading a post I made.)

That was the beginning of the biggest change in our lives. A month after all of that took place I was told that Daron had about 6 months left on this earth - give or take. Daron made it to 7 months & 27 days after we were given that information. It is hard to think back to a year ago, knowing that we were spending our last holidays & special days with him. Granted, at the time, I didn't want to fully think that way. I knew deep down that God was preparing us to say goodbye, but I wasn't ready & I wanted to be stubborn. I honestly was praying for more time with Daron. Plus, I was realizing just how little time I actually spent with him over the years that he was in the nursing home.

Now, seeing in black & white what I wrote a year ago.....I am thankful for the time that we had with Daron. I may not have gotten out there every weekend like I wanted to, but every minute I did spend with him was precious & priceless. God gave us time to prepare to say goodbye & I am thankful. God gave us time to spend with him & I am thankful. God gave me the strength I needed to get through those times & I am thankful. I pray that I can say the same when I am looking back at this time a year from now. I know that God will remain faithful & keep His promises to me. For that I am thankful!

October 30, 2016

Precious Memories

Lately I have been thinking about a lot of different things. It seems my head can't stop spinning & remembering different things. I will wake up in the middle of the night with thoughts I can't control. Some times those thoughts are happy memories of Daron. Some times they are odd thoughts about work. Some times they are thoughts that bring tears to my eyes. All of the time they are thoughts that bring me to prayer. They bring me to the feet of my Father who loves me unconditionally & I am thankful for that.

When I can't sleep because Daron is on my mind, I try to tell myself that it is because he is trying to talk to me. I try to focus on what memories my mind is playing through & figure out what Daron is trying to say. I know that sounds crazy, but it brings me comfort. It lets me know that life will get easier. It lets me know that my love for Daron hasn't faded in the three months since he left earth. There are days when I wonder if that's the case. I wonder if I will start to forget him & the love will fade. I wonder if I will stop missing him. I wonder if I will stop being able to picture his face. I wonder if I will stop having the memories pop up out of nowhere.

I have talked to other widows who tell me that those memories & feelings will always be there....the intensity will fade with time, but won't completely disappear. I am scared of that time coming. I don't want those memories or emotions to fade at all. I want to hold onto them for as long as I possibly can with all of the strength I can muster. I want to keep them locked away where they will be safe from fading. I want to protect them because they are sacred to me. But, I know that isn't the right thing to do. I know that by doing that I am putting Daron on a pedastal & turning him into an idol. I don't want to cross that fine line between honoring him (God-centered remembering) & idolizing him (self-centered remembering).

I thought it was a blessing that I couldn't remember a single bad memory during the first month or two after Daron entered Heaven. Looking back, it wasn't because God had taken them from me, it was because I was trying to idolize his memory. I was trying to remove the bad & only remember the good in our marriage. Daron wasn't a saint at all. I have to remind myself of that when all I want to remember is the good. It's ok that I want to remember the good, but I have to even it out. I have to remind myself that our marriage was not full of rainbows, roses, sunshine, blue skies & unicorns. It was also full of storm clouds, rain, gray skies & tornadoes. You can't have just good in life without the bad - not on this side of Heaven anyway. When I get rememberances of the good times, I am grateful. When I get rememberances of the bad times, I am grateful as well. I can't help but be grateful. It just means that I am still grieving - which is healthy - & I am able to spend a few precious moments with my husband - in a different way.

Yes, it has been three months since Daron met Jesus face to face. Yes, it has been three months since I got to touch my husband, hug him, kiss him, listen to his heartbeat. But, it has been three months of getting closer to my Savior, deeper into my faith. Three months of being carried by the One who loves me beyond what my heart can handle. Three months of precious memories. For that, I am grateful!

Another First

On Saturday, October 29, I made a decision that was many, many years in the making - my first tattoo. When Daron & I got married he started talking to me about getting a tattoo. He had five of them himself & he thought I should have one as well. I kept putting it off because I couldn't decide on what I wanted. I knew that if I got one it had to mean something. I didn't want to just get a random something on my body & regret it. So, I kept saying no everytime he asked me. 

When Daron passed, the thought of a tattoo kept creeping back in every day. Although I still wasn't completely sure what I wanted, I knew that I wanted a tattoo that had something to do with Daron. I started looking back at pictures that showed his tattoos & was thinking of getting a piece of one of his. But, I don't have the same interests that he had.....three of his five tattoos had to do with skydiving. So I sat down & really thought about what my tattoo show look like. That's also when I found an old anniversary card from Daron & my tattoo came into view.

This tattoo incorporates my faith, my love of music, Taylor & Daron. The word "Strength" was written by Taylor. The "I Love You" is in Daron's handwriting directly from the anniversary card I found. The music clef heart has a cross at the top to combine my faith & music. When it is all put together it is very meaningful. I get my strength from my faith in God, the music that I listen to, the love I have for my friends & family, as well as the love they give me. I am in love with my tattoo & thnkful it has meaning to me. I love that I have Daron's & Taylor's handwriting on me. It is on my left arm so that it is close to my heart always.

October 26, 2016


October 26, 2002.......14 years ago.......Our wedding day....

I have fond memories from our wedding day. Many interesting things happened to make the day unforgettable. One was the fact that U of M was playing against Iowa (and lost). Daron was bummed that he would have to miss the game....he spent time in front of the TV until he absolutely had to get ready for pictures. That still makes me giggle.

Another thing that happened was that I forgot all of the programs. I had spent hours getting the programs just perfect & printed them off myself......only to leave them on the computer desk 2.5 hours away from where we got married. Oh well.....things like that happen to everyone.

We had our pictures taken before the wedding. I am still grateful to Daron's Uncle Jon for being willing to take all the pictures. He captured a lot of candid moments & some funny ones. Just look at this picture....

My family is completely crazy fun & loving, that's for sure. I asked for this picture. My Dad had been playing around & "threatening" Daron about marrying me. So I wanted a photo that showed that &this is what I got. Truly a keepsake!

I have a few other keepsake photos. These photos have become more precious to me throughout the years. The photos with Daron's Grandmothers became more precious when each entered Heaven. Now that Daron has been reunited with them.....words can't describe how precious they are.

 The photo above is precious as well. My Grandpa Orr had a stroke a few days before my wedding. I didn't know this until the night before. I was worried that he wouldn't be able to make it, but I left it all in God's hands. I just wanted my Grandpa to be ok. Turns out he wasn't going to miss my wedding for anything (I am the oldest granddaughter after all). This picture became more precious when my Grandpa passed away in 2007. When Daron passed, half of this picture was gone & I love this photo more then before.

Of course you can't have a wedding album without lots of photos of the bridge & groom. Here are a few of my favorites.....

Many things changed over the course of the last 14 years of our marriage. We bought a home shortly after we got married & moved into it 3 months later. I had major surgery 3 months after we got married - 2 weeks before we moved. We had a child 14 months after we got married. We had our ups & downs like normal. We dealt with the yearly springtime flares of his MS. We dealt with the change in medications that lead to travelling to Ann Arbor every 6 weeks. We dealt with the large flare that took away a lot of things from him. We dealt with him leaving his job & going on full disability. We dealt with the struggles that came from being in a full time caregiving environment at home. We dealt with the increased mental changes, physical changes, emotional changes, spiritual changes that came from the progression of the MS. We dealt with him going into the VA nursing home in Battle Creek. We dealt with his move to a nursing home in Lowell a year later & spending our 10 wedding anniversary there. We dealt with the move back to the VA nursing home in Battle Creek a year later. We dealt with the trips to & from Battle Creek for Taylor & I. We dealt with the continued progression of his MS & everything that went with it. We dealt with everything that came along with having a chronic disease over the years of our marriage.

Then, I had to say goodbye to my husband 3 months before our 14th wedding anniversary. This will be the first anniversary where I won't get a phone call from him.....I won't get a card from him.....I won't get flowers from him.....I won't hear him tell me he loves me & that he is thankful for one more year together. These are the new things that I have to get used to. These are the small things that I will miss every year without him. These are the things that I will treasure as our anniversary comes around each year. These are the things that I am beggin my married family members & friends to treasure within their own marriages. These are the things that get looked over, forgotten, taken for granted as the marriage continues. Please treasure these things & hold tight to them!!

Happy 14th Wedding Anniversary Daron. Enjoy our day in Heaven, surrounded by God, Jesus, the angels, & family. I love you beyond what words can express & I always will!

October 23, 2016

Late Night Thoughts & Ponderings

I spent the weekend at a widows retreat & walked away blessed. I was unable to sleep last night, so I grabbed my journal & wrote the following:

Thoughts from 11:20pm on October 22, 2016

Here I am at Gull Lake for a widows retreat. Our cottage looks out at the lake - its beautiful here! The fall colors show just how creative God is & I am truly in awe of his handiwork. The speakers - Susan VandePol, Miriam Neff & Jolene DeHeer - have all been wonderful & they have blessed me with their words & hugs. I have had wonderful fellowship with the ladies here. I'm grateful to have gotten to spend time with Marlene, Bonnie & Mary. We have each been called to this new calling by God in different ways, but we truly know what each other is going through.

I am truly glad to be here.....but what am I so drained? Why do I feel like I should be seeing everything in a gray haze? Why am I even on this new journey?

God, I know You know how all of this will turn out. I know You have a plan for my life. I know that all things work together for good for those you love You & are called according to Your purpose (Rom 8:28). I know that You know the plans You have for me & they are plans to prosper me & not to harm me, plans to give me a hope & a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

I know all of these things & yet I am still struggling with my faith. I am still wanting to hold onto my life with Daron. I want him back - like he was when we got married. I don't want him to suffer & pass away though. I want him to stay how he was so we can continue our life together. I want him with my when Taylor graduates High School. I want him with me when Taylor goes to college & the house is empty. I want him with me when Taylor gets married & has kids. I want him with me to help spoil the grand kids. I want him with me when we are 90 & 80 years old & we can pass away in each others arms.

I want all of that, but You decided I'm not worthy of that life. Why? What could You possibly have planned for me that is better then a long life with Daron? Better then a long marriage with Daron?Why was that taken from me at 35 years old? Why am I now being forced to raise my son alone? Why would You take my sons father away from him? Why did You call me to be a widow at such a young age? Why???

I know Daron wasn't perfect & neither am I. I won't deny that to fact at all! But he was my husband....He was Taylor's father. Why couldn't You let him stay here with us? Why did his health have to get worse? Why did he have to die? Was it something he did? Was it something I did? Was it something we did together? Is this my punishment for something I didn't repent of?

I don't understand any of what has taken place of the past 5 years - especially the past (almost) 3 months. Maybe I'm not meant to understand any of it at all. Maybe I am supposed to take a larger leap of faith & trust that God will catch me before I hit rock bottom. Maybe I am supposed to hit rock bottom & trust that God will lift me up & restore me. Maybe I am already at rock bottom & God is trying to teach me something before He will lift me up & restore me. Maybe I need to deepen my faith & loosen my grip on what I want. Maybe I need to truly let go of what was & trust God for what will be.

God, please be Taylor's Father. Please guide him, teach him, train him. Taylor is You son & You have seen fit to allow me to raise him here on earth. Please forgive me for my parenting shortfalls. Please strengthen me as his mother. Please give me the grace I need as I raise him for You. Please draw him closer to You through this time.

God, please be my husband. Forgive me for my doubt, lack of faith, lack of trust, my pride, my stubbornness & my fear. Please remind me daily that You love me with an unconditional & unfailing love.....a love that will never be matched on this earth. Please speak Your love to my heart & soul daily - many times a day. Please help me to remember that Your thoughts are not my thoughts & Your ways are not my ways (Isa 55:8). Please guide me in paths of righteousness daily. Please help me to see that I am worthy of You plan, love, grace, mercy, salvation & this calling. Please remind me that I am Your daughter - royalty in Your eyes. Please remind me that I was bought with a precious price. Please break my pride, break my strong-will, break my stubbornness. Please mold me into the beautiful vessel that You want me to be.

Thank you, God, for speaking this precious passages into my heart now.....

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)
Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Deuteronomy 33:25 (NIV)
The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.

Job 14:5 (NIV)
A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Isaiah 54:5 (NIV)
For you maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

Psalm 13 (NIV)
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long with my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, :I have overcome him, " and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

Thank You, God for all that You have done for me. Thank You for being my God. Thank You for listening to me. Thank You for holding me close & loving me beyond what I deserve. Thank You for the wonderful women surrounding me this weekend. Please be with each of them in a wonderful & loving way. You know their hearts & I ask that You meet them where they are. Please continue to grant strength, grace, peace, love and mercy to Susan, Jolene & Miriam. I am blessed to have them in my widow sisterhood.

(12:02am on October 23, 2016)

We sang this song today before our final session. I am thankful for God's steady heart!

September 30, 2016

Two Months....

This post might be a little disheveled & full of ramblings, but it is where I am right now & I didn't want to go back to change anything. I want you to see the raw emotions that I am dealing with today.

Can it really be two months already?!? It's hard to believe that amount of time has gone by already since Daron entered Heaven. There are days when it feels like he passed an hour ago....days when it feels like he passed yesterday....days when it feels like he passed last week. I can't wrap my head around it being two months already.

I have been busy over the past month with school & work starting back up, joining a weekly grief support group & just getting back to a normal routine. The first month after he passed was busy as well. Maybe that it is why I am having a tough time - I have been busy since the day he passed. Have I been to busy to truly grieve my loss? Probably. Have I been to busy to let myself grieve? Probably. Is that a bad thing? Possibly.

This is going to sound odd......I have not been left alone long enough to truly grieve the loss of my husband. Please don't read anything into that. I am grateful for the loving family, friends, church family & co-workers who have surrounded me over the last two months. I am thankful that they have taken the time to send a card, send an email, call, text & just check in on me. I just mean that I had to go back into life immediately after Daron passed away & I have not been able to focus on my grief so I can begin to walk through it. I don't want to hurry this process along or anything.....I just think that I need to begin to deal with my grieve.

My weekly grief group has been helping. It is nice to have an hour & fifteen minutes with others who are on a similar journey. It is nice to be able to share thoughts & feelings with them. It's nice & it is helping.....but I think I need something more. What that is.....I don't know yet. I do know that I am really struggling with everything & I can see it taking a toll on me. I am already sick (mix of allergies & a cold). I am tired a lot & wanting to go to be as soon as I get home (I fight the urge, but it's getting tougher). I am moody & having to remind myself to walk away a lot more then usual. I am more sensitive to certain things & I never know what will trigger an emotional meltdown. For example: The door to my kitchen at work was slammed shut by the wind the other day & I burst into tears over the middle of my work day. The sound brought back the memory of closing the door to Darons room when I left that day & it sounding like I slammed it because the hallway was so quiet. It's just one of the triggers that can hit out of nowhere.

With everything going on & all that I have said, I know some people are going to tell me I have depression. Others might tell me that it is normal for me to feel this way after the loss of my husband. Still others will tell me that I need to just get over it & move on already. There will be those who tell me that I need professional help - therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, etc - so that I can get things out by talking. I may even be told that I need to go on some sort of medication or something. To all of those people let me say this...."Thank you for your suggestion/comment/concern/input. Please understand that I am dealing with this the best way that I can since there is not a guidebook on this. I am relying fully on God to show me what I need to do through all of the changes this has brought into my life. All I ask is that you pray for me in that same way." 

That's all there really is to say. I covet your prayers for me as I rely on God to carry me through this. Only He can give me the strength, peace, grace, calm, comfort that I need to get through each day. Only He can meet my needs before I even realize what those needs are. Only He can listen to my heart crying out before the words even reach my lips. There is no one who can heal my wounded heart & spirit the way that God can. There is no one who can carry me through this part of my life the way that He can. I am so thankful that I have God on my side during this. I don't know how I could get through without Him & I am glad that I don't have to find out.

This song has been speaking to me a lot lately. It seems to always be playing on my way to & from work.....anytime I'm in the car really. When that happens, I know that God is really trying to tell me something. I am thankful that even though I see myself as wounded, He sees me as mended. My favorite lyrics in the song are these ones:

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you're becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell
You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

I am thankful that God sees me through eyes of mercy!

September 17, 2016

Emotions - Will I ever be "normal" again?

My emotions have been all over the place lately. Each day brings a new roller coaster of emotions. Of course I can never expect what type of roller coaster it will be. Some days it seems like a kiddie roller coaster - just a few small ups & downs, mainly a smooth ride. Other days seem like a normal roller coaster - a lot of ups & downs, but I can handle it. Most days seem like a corkscrew roller coaster - a lot of twists, turns, ups, downs & by the end I need to sit down & breath so I don't get sick.

With all of that emotional craziness, it is a miracle I can function every day like a "normal" person & a regular member of society. Granted, there are days when I just want to stay in the house, in bed, & not be a member of society. On those days, I have to ask God for more strength & grace. Thankfully, He never runs out & is always willing to provide what I need.

I am thankful that I was able to return to work a few weeks ago. It really helps to keep me sane (as sane as working with close to 300 4th/5th graders can be). As soon as I enter those doors I don't have to think about my life at home. I am busy for the 6 hours that I am there & it doesn't allow me to think of anything outside of my daily tasks. I can usually keep that feeling going until I get home & that's when the emotions kick in again. As hard as I try, I can't stop the grief from flooding back in.

I started attending a grief support group for spousal loss this week & Taylor is attending one for his age group. It helped to hear from others who are on the same roller coaster ride that I am. We are all in different parts of our grief, but it helps to know that we truly aren't alone through this. It helps to know that the thoughts that I have aren't unique to me. It helps to know that I am not the only one my age with a teenager who is a widow. I am thankful that God led me to this group. Taylor wasn't so sure about it when we first got there, but when we left he thanked me for making him go. He even said that he will go back.

Please pray that God will help my emotions to remain in check. With being out of balance, I am afraid of how I will react to some things on a daily basis. I feel like I am a ticking time bomb & I never know what emotion will explode if something happens. I know it is normal, but I don't like feeling out of control in that way. I ask God every day to plant a smile on my face & kindness in my heart before I walk into work. I know that some of my kiddos come from rough home lives & I want to be one of the caring, smiling, loving people they see on a daily basis. I have to remind myself that I need to ask for the same thing whenever I leave the house as well.

Please continue to pray for Taylor & I as we go through the next few weeks & months. I am trying not to dwell on the tough days ahead for us, but I can't help it sometimes. When you know that an anniversary or a holiday is right around the corner, you can't help but wonder how you will face it. You can't help but think about how you are going to keep things "normal" on those days. You can't help but dread the change in the calendar & wish you could just skip over certain dates. But life keeps moving on & you have no choice but to go along for the ride.

This song is one of many that I am clinging to each day. I don't like what I am going through & I don't understand, but I know that God has a plan for my life. All I ask is that God's Will be done through all of it & that I will be a stronger witness for Him every day.

September 10, 2016

Difficult Times Ahead

I can still vividly remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I can also remember meeting Daron within 2 week of 9/11 happening. I remember talking with him about his military service & how he wanted to go back but couldn't due to his MS. All of this still feels like it happened yesterday & not 15 years ago. It also still doesn't feel like he's been gone a month. I still think that I can go visit him at the VA & give him a hug. I think that is the hardest thing to handle. I get in the car on the weekends & my brain wants to go to the VA. I have even caught myself driving in that direction without realizing it, no matter if my destination is in that direction or not.

There are so many memories around this time of year as well. So much of our relationship starting took place during the months of September & October of 2001. Not to mention our engagement in September 2002 & our wedding in October 2002. The next few months are going to be the toughest for me emotionally.

A lot of "first one without Daron" will happen in a short amount of time:

  • My Birthday 
    • This year I spent my birthday weekend in Mackinaw City & on Mackinac Island just to get out of the house & make new memories surrounding my birthday. It was still tough since Daron & I always talked of going to Mackinac Island together. Now I can do all of the things we talked of doing over the year with Taylor & make our own memories. 
  • Start of a new school year
    • Taylor is now in 7th grade & I am thankful to be back at work. School & work are good distractions for both of us right now. It keeps us busy physically & mentally.
  • First time we met online 
    • For those who don't know - Yes, Daron & I met on an online dating website. We did not meet in person until our first date. We spent a month talking online or on the phone just getting to know each other by personality only. I think it helped to build a solid base for our relationship. 
  • Wedding Anniversary & Anniversary of first date
    • These dates are one day apart. We got married the day before our one year anniversary. It made it easy for Daron to remember both dates. This year marks 15 years together & 14 years married.
  • Veterans Day
  • His Dad Birthday
  • Thanksgiving
  • Taylor's Birthday
    • This is the one that I think will be the hardest. Taylor turns 13 this year! 
  • Christmas
That is a lot to put into a few months after Daron's passing. I know that God will carrying me through all of these tough times & I am thankful for that. I am also thankful to have many caring friends who I know are praying for me during this time. 

I know that the times ahead will be tough & I know that I will have emotional breakdowns when I least expect them. I know that I can't prepare myself for any of the emotions that will hit out of nowhere (I really wish I could though).  I will just continue to rely on God's strength to carry me through each moment, day, week, month, year, memory - that's all I can do at this point.

Thank you again for your prayers during this time. They are appreciated more then I can express!

August 13, 2016

Two Weeks.....Still Surreal

Two weeks have passed since I sat at Darons bedside as he took his final breath on earth.
Two weeks have passed since my world turned upside down & everything changed.

Honestly, I don't even know how two weeks have passed already. It still seems like just yesterday & some days it seems like a month or more has gone by.

Most of my days are spent in auto mode - I wake up & then I go to bed without even processing the day as a whole. I know that I spend time with Taylor, take the dog outside, eat something at some point.....but I do that every day really. Other days I try to plan some sort of activity outside of the house just to make myself leave the house. Most of the time I just want to stay home & hold onto something of Daron's. I just want to let the tears come & not have to worry about others seeing my grief.

Can it really be two weeks already?

Can it really only be a week since the funeral & five days since the burial?

That doesn't seem right to me. It seems like it should be longer. At the same time it still feels like I should be able to go see him & give him another hug & kiss. It seems like this is all some horrible dream that I can't wake up from. No matter how hard I pinch myself, I can't wake up from this.

This new reality.....this new path.....this new journey.....this new pain......this new loneliness.....this new emptiness......

Empty vs Lonely - yes there is a difference. When Daron was in the VA facility, I was lonely at home, but I could go visit him & spend time with him. Now that he is gone, part of me is gone & I feel empty. I feel like half of my heart is missing. I have memories & pictures, but that's all I have of him now. I also have Taylor - who looks like his Dad - & I am grateful that I have him to keep me busy during the day.

It is the quiet moments when the memories creep in or when I see a picture or hear a song that reminds me of Daron.....those are the difficult times. Those are the times that the tears flow like rivers down my cheeks & I let them.

God has promised to take care of me through all of this & He keeps His promises all the time. I am grateful for that. I am grateful that God is carrying me through this difficult time in my life. I don't have the strength to get through any of this myself. Honestly, I barely have the strength to get out of bed at times - it's God's strength that gets me out of bed each morning. God will replace my emptiness with His love & grace when His time is perfect. I am holding tight to that promise.

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to the love of my life on this earth - to Daron, it has only been mere seconds in Heaven. I hold tight to the promise that I will see him at the Pearly Gates of Heaven when my time on earth is complete. Until then......I will work through this grief, walk this path, let God carry me when I can't walk anymore, embrace my tears when they come, raise my son to the best of my ability with God's help & take each moment as it comes.

August 10, 2016

Thank You

The family of 
Daron Austin Tilburt 
would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the cards, flowers & kind expressions of sympathy shown during his passing. Your thoughtful presence & prayers have touched our family deeply & will always be remembered with love. 

Thank you does not seem like enough to truly express our gratitude to everyone during this time of loss. Such an outpouring of love, care, concern, prayers, kind thoughts, words of sympathy, hugs & support needs more then just two simple words of thankfulness. But those two words, Thank You, can carry so much weight with them in circumstances like this. We are truly thankful for everything that you have shown to us as individuals & as a whole family. 

Thank you for your continued prayers as we navigate through this new part of our journey. We greatly appreciate each of you!

August 4, 2016

Daron Austin Tilburt - Obituary

For those who have not see this yet & would like to.......


Service Information

Daron Austin Tilburt 
Visitation:  Saturday, from 10:30 - 11:30 am prior to the service at the church
Service: 11:30 am Saturday, August 6, at Good News Baptist Church, 6830 Eastern Ave. SE
Cemetery: Ft. Custer National CemeteryAugusta, MI
Memorials: Memorial contributions may be directed in Daron's name to the National MS Society, 21311 Civic Center Drive
SouthfieldMI 48076 or to the Good News Baptist Church Building Fun

 Daron Austin Tilburt, age 44, entered Heaven's glory on Saturday, July 30, 2016, following a brave battle with Multiple Sclerosis.  He was the youngest son of Rev. Robert and Thelma (Taylor) Tilburt.  He proudly served in the United States Army and was an avid skydiver. He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Cathy (Lovegrove); his sons, Tige, Aidan and Taylor; his parents; his brothers, Mark and Bryan (Ann Marie); his five nephews and two nieces; his in-laws and extended family; along with many friends. He was reunited with is paternal and maternal grandparents. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:30 am on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at Good News Baptist Church, 6830 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI. The family requests that those in attendance wear Orange or Red, White and Blue to honor Daron. The family will visit with loved ones and friends one hour before the service. A family burial service with military honors will be held at Fort Custer National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed in Daron's name to the National MS Society or to the Good News Baptist Church Building Fund. The family extends their deepest gratitude for all of the care, love, and friendships he received from the staff at the Battle Creek VAMC.

Thoughts & Ramblings of a Grieving Widow

In October of 2007 I was at the bedside of my Grandpa, James Orr, as he took his final breath on this earth. I remember every detail to this day & I have looked back on that day a lot over the past few weeks. I have shared the details of my Grandpa's passing with many different people because it was a very peaceful time.

On July 30, 2016 I was at the bedside of my husband, Daron, as he took his final breath on this earth. I remember every detail & I know those details will never leave me. Daron passed peacefully just like my Grandpa did. The only difference - I am not quick to share the details of Daron's passing with anyone outside of my family & very close circle of friends. I'm not ready to let others into that personal moment of my life just yet. I'm not ready to share my final moments with my husband with the world. I will share them eventually with everyone because I know that is what Daron would want me to do. But for now, I am holding my final moments to myself & cherishing them along with the good memories I have with Daron.

As I approach one last "final" in my relationship with Daron on this earth, I am finding myself clinging to that reminder more & more. When I was getting bogged down with finalizing funeral preparations, going through photos, finding an outfit to wear, etc; I was constantly reminding myself that this is only here on earth & it's only for a moment in the grand scheme of things. Granted, there are moments when that doesn't help & I find myself complaining to God - I'm only human after all. In the moments of complaining to or questioning God about all that has taken place, I am grateful that God wants me to come to Him like that. I am grateful that He is my Father who wants to hear all of my issues, screams, crying, arguing, complaining, yelling, frustrations - everything. He has never said that we are only to bring our prayers of thanksgiving to Him & nothing else. He isn't a God who needs to be reminded of how good He is all the time. Yes, we are to bring our prayers of thanksgiving to Him & thank Him for His goodness, but those aren't the only things He wants to hear from us. Lately, my prayers end with thanking God all that He has given me but they don't always start that way & that's ok. God is ok with how I communicate with Him - if He wasn't, I'm sure I wouldn't be here anymore.

I am thankful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to sit & listen to my outpouring of emotions from every end of the spectrum. I am thankful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to take my outpouring & turn it into something for His glory & for my good. If I didn't pour out my heart & go through every emotion under the sun right now, I would be a miserable person. I know that not everyone wants to sit with a grieving widow whose trying to raise a pre-teen boy......but God does. I know that not everyone wants to offer me a shoulder to cry on.....but God offers His all the time, 24/7. I know that not everyone want to sit & listen to me ramble on & in circles about what I'm going through right now.....but God loves to sit with me & listen to everything I have to say. He may not answer my questions right away, or at all, but He listens with love. He grieves with me. He holds me & wipes my tears. He already knows what I am going to ramble on about before the thoughts come to my mind, but He still listens to every word & syllable. That is amazing to me!

Thank you for your prayers during this time. Please keep them coming - the funeral is on Saturday & the burial is on Monday. I know that God will give me the grace & strength I need for both of those events, but I covet your prayers over my family & Daron's family as we say our final goodbyes on this earth.

August 1, 2016

Final Goodbye

On Wednesday, July 27, my mother-in-law & I went to Battle Creek for a care team meeting. We were told that Daron was nearing the end of his journey. After the meeting, we went & visited Daron for a little while. A few hours after getting home, I received a call from Daron's doctor letting me know that he had about 24-48 hours. So my mother-in-law & I went back to Battle Creek to stay at Daron's bedside so he wouldn't be alone.

We stayed over on Wednesday night and Thursday night thinking God would take him Home on Friday......but Friday came & went & Daron was still holding on. Saturday, July 30, we watched Daron slowly decline more & more throughout the day. The Lord graciously called him Home at 2:27pm on July 30th with his parents & myself at his bedside. Daron passed very peacefully from this world to Heavens glory & we are thankful for that.

We are also very thankful for the amazing care that Daron received at the Battle Creek VAMC over the past 5 years. We truly discovered how much the staff cares for our nations veterans while we were there around the clock. There was a pretty constant stream of staff coming into the room to express their sympathies & their care for Daron. They each shared stories of how much Daron touched their lives, changed the way they took care of people, made their day better, made them laugh, and so many more amazing stories. I am beyond grateful that Daron made so many amazing friends there - we consider each of them part of our family now.

I know the days ahead will be difficult for all of us, but I know that God will give each of us the strength we need.

Enjoy your Heavenly Home my beloved Daron. I promise you that you will never be forgotten & that you will always be in our hearts. Enjoy skydiving in the endless clear blue sky. We will see you soon, my love!

Daron Austin Tilburt
April 15, 1972 - July 30, 2016

July 20, 2016

A Prayer for the Moment

God, I need your strength to get through all of this.
Lord, I am weary & worn as I go through this journey.
Heavenly Father, please grant the peace & strength that only You can.
Thy Will Be Done.

Everything hit me hard this afternoon, God.
I am physically & mentally weak from everything going on around me right now.
I know that I can trust You through this & You will carry me through.
I trust You to carry me through.
I trust You to bring Your perfect plan to fruition.
I trust You to cover Daron with peace, love, grace, mercy.
I trust that You have the perfect time set in place for him already.
I Trust You.

I am so weak, Father.
I am so tired.
I am so worn out & worn thin.
I am so drained.
Please hold me, Father.
Please let me rest in Your embrace for awhile.
Please let me feel Your strength take over my weakness.
Lead Me God.

Remind me, Lord, who I am to you.
Remind me often that I am Your Daughter.
Sometimes I forget that & I thank You for bringing it to my mind daily.
Remind me that I can only find perfect rest in You.
Remind me that I can only find perfect strength in You.
Remind me that I can only find grace & mercy in You.
Thank You for adopting me into Your family & making me Your Daughter.
Thank You for being my Savior, my Friend, my Guide, my God, my King, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Strength, my Rock, my Everything!

Father, as I continue through this journey, I put all of my doubts aside.
I leave all of my doubts, fears, weakness, failures at the cross.
I follow Your leading through this time & through everything I come to.
I know that it is not for me to know Your plan for this time & I trust You in that.
I know that You are already at the end & You know what will happen next.
I know that You will not give me more then I can handle in this life.
I trust You to guide me daily.

Thy Will Be Done!
Thy Will Be Done!
Thy Will Be Done!

In Jesus Name,

July 19, 2016

Saying Goodbye - It's Not For The Weak!

It's been a week since Daron was placed into hospice care. It has been a tough emotional week. I took Taylor to visit Daron & say his goodbyes. I knew it would be tough on him, but I didn't want him to look back & regret not having said goodbye. It was tougher on him then I thought it would be. It broke my heart watching him shut down & find a way to cope with it - thankfully the TV in Daron's room was on a show he likes to watch so he could focus on that. Taylor & I talk often about what is going to happen & how things might change. Considering that it has been just the two of us in the house for five years.....I don't see a lot of change coming (other then not being able to talk to Daron or see him in person).

Yesterday I went with my in-laws to visit Daron. They had placed a beautiful flag afghan over him & that caught me off guard. The flag is placed over a veteran who is under hospice care (in a Veteran Affairs facility - I believe) as a way to honor him & his service to our country. It will remain with Daron until the funeral home comes. At that time it will be washed & I will receive it. They also have a routine they do after the veteran passes. I have been doing research on it so I am prepared, but I know that it will be tough.

While visiting Daron I was able to talk to his doctor & the social worker. His doctor was able to answer my questions & help me talk through some concerns I have. Daron is receiving heavy pain medication & anti-spasm medication to keep him comfortable. They also keep him under sedation so that he is as comfortable as possible. He can hear everything we say & even responds as best as he can. It's comforting to me to know that he isn't in any pain.

When Daron was placed into hospice, I was just starting VBS & I was thankful for that. It was a good distraction & it kept me busy. Now that VBS is done my mind is on overdrive with everything I need to try to get done before Daron passes. I don't want to have anything that will keep me from getting to his bedside as often as possible. I know that not everything has to be done in one day & that whatever isn't done beforehand can be done later.....but the way my mind works right now, I want to have as much done as I possibly can. (I've learned over the past few years that I need to keep my mind busy. If my mind is able to wander at all.....I am a tearful mess & not able to take care of the day to day tasks). I am able to keep my mind bust during the day, which I'm thankful for. Nighttime is the toughest part of the day for me right now. After Taylor is in bed & I'm settling in for the night, my mind wanders. Sometimes it wanders to the good times with Daron. Other times is wanders to thoughts of what will happen when he passes. Questions go through my mind - will I hear the phone ring.....will I be aware of what they are telling me.......will I make it to Battle Creek in time....

Lots of different things go through my mind at night. Sometimes I cry & pray myself to sleep because I don't know what else to do. How am I supposed to say goodbye (or see you in Heaven) to my other half? To the person I have devoted my heart to? To the person who completes my heart? To my best friend? To my husband? To the father of my son? Those questions haunt my dreams & sometimes my waking hours as well.

Going through this has shown me how stubborn, strong-willed & bull-headed I am. It also shows me where my weaknesses are & how God has taken those weaknesses & used them for His Glory. It shows me how much I need God's strength, peace, grace & love in my life. I do not know how an unsaved person can go through all of this. I know that I would be a mess if I didn't have God carrying me through all of this right now. When you see a smile on my face during this --- it isn't because I am happy at all. It's because I know my husband is in God's hands & that God is giving me the strength to put that smile on my face.

Please know that I appreciate all of you for your love, care, concern, thoughts, prayers & everything else you have done for my family. Please keep praying for Daron. God knows the time & I trust His timeline!

July 11, 2016

Looking Back Over The Years

  • September 2001 - I met Daron online & we started talking to each other. I still can't remember the exact date, but I know it was after 9/11. We talked about all sorts of things as we were getting to know each other. 
  • October 2001 - Daron & I met in person for the first time & had our first date. We get Hungry Howies pizza - pineapple, ham & mushrooms - & rented a DVD - The Mummy. I don't even think we watched the whole movie. We couldn't stop talking & getting to know each other better. We talked all night long.
  • September 2002 - Daron Proposed & I said Yes! We went skydiving in Hastings & he asked me to marry him shortly after I reached the ground. We joked for years that he scared me into marrying him. :-D
  • October 2002 - Daron & I got married! One of the happiest days ever! The next day - our 1 year anniversary together - we ordered Hungry Howies Pizza - pineapple, ham & mushrooms - & rented a DVD - The Mummy Returns - in order to recreate our first date. We also opened our wedding gifts. 
  • April 2003 - I found out that I was pregnant! First person I told.......My Grandpa Orr! I called him & said "guess what Grandpa!" His response "You're pregnant?" He thought I was kidding when I told him & was pregnant. He & my Grandma Orr were excited that their first Grandchild was going to give them their first Great-Grandchild. 
  • December 2003 - Taylor was born & I was head over heels in love with him at first sight. Of course Taylor accomplished a lot of milestones over the years - heading his head up, rolling over, crawling, walking, riding a bike, loosing teeth, starting school, etc.
  • July 2011 - I can still remember every detail like it happened yesterday. We went to the VA clinic for Daron's lab work. The end of the Casey Anthony trial was on the TV & every veteran was discussing it amongst themselves. One of Daron's lab tests took a while longer then usual so we were there most of the day. The clinic went completely silent when the verdict was announced. Shortly after we headed home. I still can't remember what Daron & I argued about, but it made him very upset & he tried to get out of the van while we were driving down the highway. Thankfully he couldn't get the seatbelt undone. An hour later I was taking him to the Battle Creek VAMC to have him admitted. I couldn't take care of him anymore - it wasn't safe for him, Taylor or myself. 
  • March 2013 - Daron decided to stop taking his MS medication & we were told he would go downhill quickly without the medication. 
  • December 2015 - Daron was given an estimate of 6 months to live & placed under palliative care. He begins to decline & then settles on a plateau for a little while. 
  • April 2016 - Daron's doctor begins talking about having a feeding tube put in for Daron. 
  • May 2016 - I am made Daron's decision maker & have to decide to follow Daron's wishes about a feeding tube. It would not be put in & everything will be done to keep him comfortable.
  • July 8, 2016 - I receive a phone call from his doctor that Daron has lost 12 pounds since April & that he is eating less food since April. I tell her I'm not all that worried because he is still at a good weight & he's still taking in food (40% of his food with lots of cues while being spoonfed). 
  • July 11, 2016 - I receive another phone call from Daron's doctor & I know something is wrong before I call her back. Daron is now eating only 20% of his meal & that is not on a consistent basis. He is even declining meals or sleeping through a meal. He isn't able to swallow his medications either, so he isn't getting pain meds. Decision is made by the doctor & supported by me to move him into hospice care & keep him comfortable. He will now get injections of strong pain meds, injections of antibiotics if he develops pneumonia, & medication to calm him down if he starts to choke on his food. Meals will continue to be offered to him, but won't be forced on him. 
It has been.....
.....14 years 8 months & 2 weeks since my first date with Daron
.....13 years 8 months 2 weeks & 1 day since I married Daron
.....12 years & (almost) 7 months since Taylor birth
.....5 years & 1 week since Daron entered the VAMC
.....3 years & 4 months since Daron stopped his MS medication
.....6 months since Daron entered palliative care
.....3 days since I was made aware of Daron's decline
.....8 hours since Daron entered hospice care

Life is about to change drastically for us again. God knows when Daron will be called Home & I am thankful for that. Daron's doctor has stated that she doesn't see another plateau in the future & that his MS is fully progressing. We have gone from years left to weeks left & now (possibly) to days left.

October will be 15 years together & 14 years married....December I will be the mom to a's not likely Daron will be here for those milestones. Am I ready to enter this new phase of my life & become a widow? I don't know....

I do know that God is in control. I trust God to give me the strength that I need - He has been doing that this entire time. I trust God to give me the peace that I need - He has been doing that this entire time.

Please continue to pray for our family as we walk through this time.

May 8, 2016

Holding Pattern

Wednesday, May 4, was a tough morning. I had to meet with Daron's care team to discuss the feeding tube decision - Daron will not be having one put in. The meeting did not start as I was praying it would. It became clear that things were not as dire as the doctor had been telling me. Yes, Daron needs a feeding tube......No, he is not going to die right away without it. The nursing staff & speech therapy recommended the feeding tube for accessibility purposes when Daron has issues swallowing his medications. Basically, everything I'd been told by the doctor for 2 weeks was a lie. I had asked him about that point blank on the phone more then once & he lied to me about how bad the situation was.

After hearing that, my strong-willed stubborn attitude came out & I left the room with a slam of the door. Not my finest moment, but it was better then saying what was really in my head. After having been told for 2 weeks that either Daron would get the feeding tube or he would have to go into hospice care, being told that that wasn't truly the case made me feel an anger I had never felt before & never want to feel again. I had to leave the room before something was said or done that I would regret. I don't regret walking out at all. I needed to clear my head & calm down so I could hear what the team had to say.

Thankfully, the psychologist was willing to help me talk through my anger & help me see that the situation was not black & white like I'd been led to believe it was. I was then able to talk to the palliative/hospice doctor & come up with a care plan for Daron since he won't be getting the feeding tube & doesn't qualify for hospice right now. The plan is to keep him as comfortable as possible & follow his lead as to what makes him comfortable. She told me that he might be moved to hospice at any time depending on how his MS progresses. So we are in a holding pattern right now.

Daron has been moved to a different ward on campus, which is a good thing. It means that he has a private room & bathroom. It also means that he has the palliative/hospice doctor in charge of his care from here to the end. I am on the same page with her on his care & that eases my mind immensely.

Only God knows how long this process will take. Only God knows the day & time things will happen. Only God knows how all of this will end. Only God knows if I'm strong enough to get through this.......if I'm not, only He will give me the strength I need. Only God can give my family & Daron's family the peace beyond all understanding that we need through this. The holding pattern won't be easy at all. Every day can bring something different & one day will bring the decision to place Daron into hospice care. But we trust the God who created all life, who knows the number of our days, who saw this moment before the foundation of the world, who will never give us more then we can handle. We trust that God will carry us when we can't carry on & hold us when we collapse under all of this.

Thank you for your continued prayers for all of us during this time!

May 2, 2016

Next Step - Decisions

A lot has happened since the last blog post. Daron's mental state has continued to drop to the point that I am now responsible for all medical decisions. The doctors decided that his durable power of attorney for health care needed to be put into place because Daron is no longer able to make his own informed decisions. The first decision I have to make......whether or not to put a feeding tube in.

I knew this decision was coming, but that doesn't make the decision any easier. Reality has just hit me full force in the face and now I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I know Daron has to be suffering through all of this. I don't want to see the suffering continue and I don't want to go against his wishes. I want to honor the man that I married - the man who told me that he does not want any life-sustaining artificial treatment. That's exactly what a feeding tube is - an artificial way of providing nourishment and medication directly to the stomach to sustain life.

If I choose not to have the feeding tube put in, that means that he will go into hospice care and begin the end stage of his life. Hospice would keep him comfortable, maintain his pain level and hopefully let him enjoy the time he has left. His suffering might decrease some, but there's no guarantee.

I'm at a loss as to what decision to make right now. I'm praying that God will guide me down the correct path as He's done before. I'm praying that God's will will be done through all of this. I'm praying that Daron will not suffer any longer and that God will grant him mercy. I'm clinging to the comfort I have in knowing that God ordained all of this before the foundation of the world. God already knows the day and time that Daron will enter Glory & im thankful for that.

This decision will be made on Wednesday morning after I've had a chance to talk to Daron myself. I'm praying that he will be clear minded enough to express himself. I don't take this decision lightly and I want to make a fully informed decision. I covet your prayers through the next few days.

April 26, 2016

Another Turn On Our Journey

For the past few months Daron has been having issues while eating. He's done ok with it up until recently. The doctors have changed the thickening agent they use hoping that would help. Unfortunately over the past week his swallowing has gotten worse & he is continuing to choke on his food. With all of that going on it has become clear that he needs assistance with getting nutrition. So the decision to put in a permanent feeding tube has been made. The doctor talked with Daron about it last week & he said that if he needs it he wants it. So I will support him through it. Daron does have the right to change his mind about getting it - even if he is on the table about to have the procedure done. If he changes his mind & does not want the feeding tube, he will be put on hospice. I am just praying that Daron fully understands this decision & what goes with it.

Please pray that God's will be done through this no matter the decision. Please pray that I will continue to have the strength needed to support Daron through this.

March 7, 2016

New Normal

It isn't easy living in a new normal kind of life these days. While my life at home with Taylor hasn't really changed, Daron's is shifting every so slightly every day. The doctors say he is stable in his new normal, but every day can bring something new. He has a new manual wheelchair....he's getting new glasses to help with his new eye issues....he's going to new groups & activities....he has to be patient when it comes to certain things & this leads to a new attitude/behavior on his part.

Al of these new normal things don't seem like a whole lot, but in the grand scheme of things they are a big deal. Now when Taylor & I visit with Daron we have to remember these new normal things. We have to remember that his attitude & behavior are different from the last time we saw him. We have to remember that his eyesight isn't the greatest. We have to plan our visits around his new groups - that means Sundays are usually the best day for us to visit him between our schedule & his.

This also means that we are in another waiting pattern right now. He could stay at this new normal for awhile or he could suddenly go further down hill. God is really testing our faith & patience through this, but we know He is in full control of everything & His timing is perfect.

Please continue to pray for our family as we find our way through this new normal.

Two Years...How Is That Possible?

How is it possible that two years ago today Daron left this earth and entered Heaven? It still feels like it was yesterday at times. This y...