October 15, 2017

Struggles

I have been struggling to....
....get out of bed in the morning.
....be a good mom.
....take care of my house.
....take care of myself.
....have a smile on my face when I leave the house.
....make others think I'm doing okay.
....read my Bible every day.
....pray every day.
....continue to trust in God's plan for my life.
....believe that God has a purpose for me.
....go to church on a regular basis.
....open up to trusted friends & family.
....not stay in bed & cry all day.
....remember & trust that Daron is in a better place, out of pain & happy with the Lord.

I have been struggling with all of these things & so much more. The past 14.5 months have changed me in ways I never thought possible. I honestly thought that my faith was deep enough to keep my head above water when Daron passed away. I thought that I was clinging to the cross hard enough. I thought that I would be able to truly rest in God's embrace through the past 14 months. I thought I had faith that would move mountains & I would be able to continue to put one foot in front of the other every day. I thought that I would be able to see God change my life & draw me closer to Him. I thought all of these things but I was wrong.

I am struggling to remind myself daily that God didn't do this to me. God will never harm me. God will never leave me or forsake me. I know all of these things to be true, but I am struggling to remember them. There are days when I feel like God doesn't hear the cries of my heart. There are days when I think that I am being punished for something I did. There are days when I feel like my Bible will burst into flames if I try to read it. There are days when I feel like I am being shunned. There are days when I feel like my life is going to crumble around me & I will fall into a bottomless pit. There are days when I am yelling at God instead of crying out to Him. There are days when I am blaming God for everything that I am going through. There are days when I want nothing to do with Him & I turn my back. There are days when I just can't walk the Christian walk anymore because I can't see outside of my grief bubble.

Then there are days when I can see God's hand at work in my life. Days when I can see a glint of light coming through reminding that life does get better after a loss. Days when I find myself talking to God all days long while I'm at work or doing things around the house. There are days when Scripture comes to my mind without having to search for it. Days when the same praise song is on my mind & in my heart for the entire day. These days are there, but they are few & far between it feels like.

When Daron died, my brain changed....my emotions changed....my life changed. I don't feel like I am in a fog anymore, but I don't feel like I am completely out of that fog either. These past 2 months I have had more emotional breakdowns then I did during the first 12 months. I am truly starting to feel my emotions now & that is where all of the struggles come from. I don't have control over my emotions & I don't know how to get that control back.

That is my biggest struggle......not having control over myself. I know that Daron's death has changed me & I feel like a completely different person these days. I thought I had gained control over my temper, only to lose all control since Daron's death. I am quickly annoyed by specific people, so I tend to avoid them at all cost. I am quick to snap at Taylor & then feel horrible about it soon after. I am quick to jump to over thinking a situation that doesn't turn out the way I think it should. I am quick to blame God rather than blame myself for something not turning out the way I want it to. This list can go on & on & on.

To be 100% honest, my biggest struggle, the one that I can't seem to shake or handle right now, is my faith. That one weighs the heaviest on me. I don't see my need to attend church on a regular basis. I don't see my need to reach out to others & ask them to pray for me. I don't see my need to worship in a corporate setting each week. I don't know exactly why I am struggling so much with this right now. I don't know why I don't feel the driving need to be in church every week & worship in a corporate setting with other believers. I know those needs are there! I know that God has called me to these things! Trust me, I fight with myself every day about it. I know that I'll be called a hypocrite or something along those lines. I can't control what others think about me. I can't control what I think about myself right now! I think I'm a giant failure when it comes to my walk with the Lord, my faith, my time in God's Word & my church attendance.

So there you have it. Those are my struggles. I don't know how else to explain them. I don't know what else to say about them. The struggles are real & I am fighting them the best way that I can these days.

August 9, 2017

Ramblings of an Introverted Extrovert

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a people person. I thrive in situations where I am surrounded by people & I enjoy being a large crowd. I have worked in jobs where I get to meet people on a personal level & really get to know them (hence being an elementary school lunch lady). Well, all that was true until a year ago. The past year has changed me in ways I never expected. Now, I am a lot more comfortable staying at home in my comfy clothes working on a crochet project or building my jewelry business. I feel safe at home in my regular surroundings.

Let me take a moment to explain a few things. I hope this will help those around me understand a little better when I don't accept their invitation to an event, a get together, a family outing, etc. So, let me introduce you to a new Cathy.....

I don't like to be in large crowds of people. In fact, they scare the daylights out of me & send me into a panic attack. I would rather work alone then with a large amount of people. I still like to get to know other people, but I'd rather get to know my close friends & family better then meet new people.

I plan all of my outings around the busy times of the day. I know when a good time is to go to the grocery store so I am not in a crowd of people in the checkout line. I know when a good time is to go to the mall -- I will never step foot in a mall between October 31 & January 30th. I have learned that sometimes it is better to order things online so that I have the least amount of contact with strangers.

Taylor & I used to go on mother/son dates to the movies once a month or every few months. Now, I have to plan those around busy times & pray that someone doesn't sit next to me. I can't sit in the middle of a row of chairs or a church pew because I need to know there is a way out if needed. When I enter a building - especially one I haven't been in before - I need to know where the exits are first so I know I have a way out. If I'm at a restaurant, I need to sit in a way where I can see either the main exit or the emergency exit.

Church has also become a place that can lead to a panic attack. Holidays in church, when it is super crowded.....no thank you. Being surrounded by my church family used to make me feel safe & at home. Now I feel closed in & out of place. Please know that I have nothing against anyone in my church family or against my church itself. I can't go to extended family outings or get together events for the same reason & I have nothing against any of them either. I trust the people who are there, but right now, large crowds of people are not my cup of tea. Honestly, I get small panic attacks just thinking about it sometimes & I have to talk myself off the ledge so to speak.

I know it sounds completely odd, especially to those who have known me for years. I do still go out to the stores, go on outings & go to restaurants. I just only go when the stores won't be as crowded or when I am with a trusted friend or family members. I also only go to family outings or events when it is a small group of family members. Now, I do make myself leave the house at least a few times each week so that I am not a complete hermit. It is intimidating to say the least, but I make myself do it. I may only go to one store or visit with a friend, but I still make sure I leave the house. I go to work & I go to meetings that I have scheduled. I am also still apart of children's ministry at my church. Those are things that I can control, so to speak. They are also commitments that I have made & I have been challenged to keep every commitment. That is my way of making sure that I step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.

There was a time, a few months after Daron died, when I refused to leave the house at all. I would order my groceries online & pick them up rather then go grocery shopping. I used to love spending time in the grocery store. That was my alone time & I would savor every minute of it. Now, I can't wait to get out of the store. I map out my shopping so that I am in & out as quickly as possible. I used to make small talk with the store employees. Now I try not to even make eye contact. I have gotten better then & I am proud of myself for the small steps.

To say that life was simpler when Daron was alive is an understatement. I look back over the past year & I can see just how much his death has truly affected me - inside & out. I never realized just how much I relied on him being around. Even when he wasn't at home for those last 5 years, I knew that I could call him to help calm me down. I knew that he was only a phone call, or an hour drive, away & that kept my mind at ease. He was my rock, my safe harbor, my calm in the storm. Now that he's gone I am finding it hard to calm myself down.

Before you say it, I know that God is my Rock, my Safe Harbor & my calm in the storm. I know that He is only a prayer away & the He will calm my heart. I know these things, but remembering them is a completely different story. I mentally kick myself when I remember a verse after I needed it to help calm my heart. I am getting better, with God's help, & I am thankful for that. But, I still prefer my home to the crazy world. I still prefer to stay in my fortress then step out into the chaos outside my front door.

Please try to keep in mind that I am still healing from a huge loss. My heart & mind are still very fragile. I am only doing what I feel is best to let them heal. I will get back to myself, or at least a different version of myself, one day. I can only heal one moment at a time & only with God's help. I have learned that grief truly is a marathon & not a sprint. I have to take it easy with my heart or I can risk damaging myself even more. Trust me, I don't like being an introverted extrovert. I miss my outgoing personality at times. But for now, I am happy, safe & secure resting in God's loving arms & letting Him heal my heart. God is helping me to heal as He sees & I know that He is doing what is best for me. He did create me after all & He is the Great Physician.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my journey with you. I wanted to be able to let you see another glimpse into who I am a year later. I am changing every day & I pray that my change will be for God's glory alone.

July 27, 2017

I Grieve With Hope

I sat down to write a post that I thought I had fully figured out, prayed over & was ready to type out. Now that I am actually in front of my computer, the words won't come out. I don't know why. I know that I want to say something deeply personal & spiritual about coming up on the first year anniversary in a few days.......but nothing wants to come out. So, please bear with me as I just ramble on & type the thoughts as they pop into my head. 😌

This past year has been a whirlwind of emotions for me. I really don't know if I have actually processed any or all of them at all. Over the past few days I have felt myself start to shutdown emotionally & mentally. I really don't want to think about what July 30th means to me this year. I don't want to feel what I know I have to feel. I don't want to think about the fact that Daron has been gone from this earth for 365 days already.

Memories from this time last year have been flooding my dreams & thoughts. They are almost driving me insane. I can't sleep, eat, drink, feel, think, speak, cry, laugh, talk without some memory popping into my head & completely throwing me for a loop. Night time is still the hardest time of the day for me. I lay in bed & start to pray, that's when the tears start to fall & I end up crying myself to sleep. Then my dreams are full of all the what ifs that could have taken place leading up to Daron's passing. I wake up worried, pray & ask God to take that away from me. Go back to sleep & do it all over again. No wonder I drag through every morning.

I don't want the memories to stop. I love thinking about & talking about Daron. I love to think about our life together. I love to think about what he would say to me about whatever I am dealing with. I love knowing that I have these memories to think back on. But, I don't like that I feel like I can't control when they pop into my head. That's the frustrating part. I love having them pop into my head, but I wish I could control them more.

Everyone says that once you get past the first year mark it will get better. I really hope so. I'm ready to get back to feeling "normal" again. I know that I am in this new normal & I get that. But I don't like feeling like I am disconnected with myself, my emotions, my mental health, my spiritual health. I like to feel like I am in control of what I am doing/feeling/saying/thinking. The last year has not felt that way for me. I have felt like I am just floating through life & watching everything go on around me. I feel like I am stuck in slow motion at times & the world is speeding by at full speed & I can't keep up anymore. I am praying that changes after the one year mark.....but I won't hold my breath.

I do know one thing for sure.....God has been carrying me this entire past year. If He wasn't I don't even want to think about where I would be spiritually/emotionally/mentally. Truth is, this past year has shaken my faith. I won't lie about that. But I want to say that it was shaken in a good way (if that makes any sense). My faith was shaken in a way that has made me lean more on God then I have in the past. Before, I would walk ahead of God & hit every landmine the devil had set for me. Then I would look back & ask God why He didn't warn me about them.....only to see that He had & I just didn't pay attention. Now, since I am asking God to carry me through, I am learning what true faith is all about. Granted, there have been times when I have jumped out of His arms & ran ahead.....only to sit down & wait to be carried again because I hit another landmine.

I am finding joy, comfort and strength in reading my Bible again. I am finding peace and strength in praying again. It's like I am seeing the Bible passages & praying for the first time. There are days when I don't want to open my Bible or I don't want to pray because I have so much I need to get done in that day. But, I feel even more worn down, drained, tired when I don't open my Bible or pray. I am feeling refreshed when I read that God cares for me as a widow so much that He won't avoid me. He wants to offer me comfort, hope and healing as I face the future as a widow.

These verses from Psalms have spoken to me a lot lately. I rest in the knowledge that God is close to me while my heart is broken. I rest in the knowledge that He will bind my wounds & breath life back into my heart.

                           Psalm 34:18                                  Psalm 147:3

I know that my posts can ramble on & come across differently to each person who reads them. But, I hope that each person who reads my blog learns a little more about my Heavenly Father. I have to share the rough patches in my life so that people can see how God has brought me through them. Life isn't pretty, that's for sure. Life is hard, but God is good!! God is my refuge & strength during this time in my life. I can't always say that when I look back over the years. But I am resting in His arms as He continues to carry me through this rough patch. When I am ready to walk beside Him, I know that he will be there & that He will never leave me. Again, that is not something I would have been able to say a decade ago - it wasn't something that I trusted. This is still something that I am learning each day. 

God has shown Himself to be my protector, my strength, my guide, my friend, my Savior, my healer. My prayer is that I will come through this first year since Daron's passing a little stronger then I was before....a little wiser then I was before....a lot more humble then I was before. Above all of that, my prayer is that I come though this with my faith deeper, stronger & rooted more deeply in the Word. I want this to change me for the better, not for the bitter or for the worse. I want to grow from this, not stay the way I was a year ago -- or even a month ago. 

I grieve with the hope of what is to come. I grieve with the hope that God will continue to carry me. I grieve with the hope of knowing that even death has parted Daron & I, it is not a final parting. I grieve with hope because Jesus conquered the sting of death. I grieve with hope because Daron is in the presence of God & is not in anymore pain. I grieve with hope because I will see Daron again. 

                       Hebrews 11:1                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13


July 13, 2017

Approaching 1 Year

One year......how can that be possible?

One year......where did the time go?

One year ago I was making almost daily visits to spend time with Daron after he was put into hospice care. I was going with Taylor or with my in-laws to see him. I was talking with his doctor as much as possible to stay updated on how he was doing. I was trying to make every moment with him matter.

One year ago I was writing out the obituary I never thought I would have to write. I was planning out a funeral service I didn't want to think about. I was trying to get the "small" things out of the way so I could focus on my beloved husband.

One year ago I was crying out to God from the depths of my soul. I was asking God to let Daron stay with me one moment & then asking God to be merciful to him the next. I was handing my husband back to God & thanking my Heavenly Father for the years I was given with Daron. I was trying to be strong for those around me during the day & then crying myself to sleep at night.

One year ago I was telling my husband that it was okay to not keep the promise he made to me after we got married. I was telling my husband that it was okay for him to let go of this earth & go Home. I was giving my beloved husband permission to enter Heaven's Glory.

One year....how can this even be possible? It still feels like yesterday....


July 1, 2017

To Daron....

July

Why did July have to come back around?
Why did we have to make another trip around the sun already?
How can it have been 1 year so quickly?
Am I ready for the start of another year without you?

July has so many bad memories attached to it. It makes me wish that this entire month would just disappear off the calendar. July 5, 2011 started July off badly. I still can’t believe that I had to have you put into a facility. I honestly thought that we could have handled everything at home. I thought that you would just snap out of whatever it was you were going through & we’d be fine. But God had different plans for our lives. Leaving you in Battle Creek that evening was the hardest thing I ever had to do at that point. I cried all the way home. I cried myself to sleep for days, weeks, on end. I prayed & begged God to heal you so you could come home. I never told you any of this because I had to be strong for you. I had to let you know that I could handle everything at home alone. But I couldn’t. Life fell apart that day & I still can’t put it back together.

As July 5 rolled back around every year, I still begged God to perform a miracle. I argued with God on a daily basis. I told Him that it wasn’t fair to put us on this path. I told Him that we couldn’t handle this & He needed to change His plans. I’m sure I gave God something to laugh about. I mean, how can I truly expect the One who created the entire universe to change His plans. How can I expect Him to change the plans He laid in place before the foundation of the world? But I begged Him to nonetheless. I came to despise July 5 & I still do. There are times when I pray before bed on July 4 that I can just wake up on July 6…..but that hasn’t happened. July 5 still rolls around & brings all of the memories with it.

Now there are more dates in July to add to the bad parts of the month. More dates that make me wish July would disappear off the calendar. More dates that will bring tears, heartache, memories, pain, regret, remorse, dread. More dates to make me miss you with everything that I have in me.

July 8, 2016 
I found out that you were not eating. To be honest, I wasn’t really worried at that point. I didn’t think anything of it. You were a little heavy & you hadn’t really lost a lot of weight from not eating. I knew that you were on a liquid diet due to swallowing issues, but I still wasn’t concerned. The doctor & I came up with a plan for the weekend & I thought by Monday you would be okay.

July 11, 2016
I got the phone call about having to put you into hospice. VBS started that day & you know that’s always been a crazy week for me anyway. I was excited to see the kids who would return from the year before & excited to meet the kids who would come for the first time. I was excited about our theme. I was just excited for another fun week of VBS. When I got home that afternoon, I was looking forward to a nap. Instead, the phone rang & it was the VA calling. My heart sank to my toes. My gut told me something wasn’t right. Maybe the plan for the weekend didn’t pan out & we needed to make changes.

I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t anything drastic or horrible. I tried to tell myself that you were okay. My brain & my heart were not on the same page. I answered the phone & heard the doctors voice on the other end. I listened the best that I could. I remember hearing the word “hospice” come through the phone & I almost dropped it. I had to force myself to engage in the conversation & help make the best decision possible for you. I agreed with her decision & hospice was put in place. I hung up the phone & tried to compose myself for the task ahead – calling your family, our pastor, my family, friends.

I remember staying locked in the bathroom while I made those calls – it was the only quiet place. I remember tears & shock. I don’t remember what was said to who or exactly how many phone calls I made. I remember making the conscious decision to not tell any of the VBS staff until the end of the week. I remember putting the news on Facebook so people could be praying, but then hoping that no one from VBS would bring it up. I spent the rest of the week going to VBS during the day & then to visit you with your parents in the afternoons. Yes, it made for long days, but it was worth it. I remember bringing Taylor to see you during that week & having Jon come along. I needed the extra support. Taylor needed the extra support.

I remember telling you that it was okay for you to break your promise of growing old with me. I remember giving you to God & asking Him to work Him perfect plan your life. I remember the tears I shed every night. It was a good week at VBS…...but it was a rough week at home.
Between July 11 & July 27 I heard your voice for the last time on this earth. Your brother Mark was the last person you talked to over the phone. It was a tough phone call on both sides of the phone, but it was needed. After that, to keep you comfortable, I asked the doctor to medically sedate you. I knew that was the best thing to do, but I missed hearing your voice from that point on.

July 27, 2016
Life as I knew it was going to come to an end. There was a care team meeting that day & your mom went with me. I remember the mood in the room when we arrived. Everyone was there & the looks on their faces said it all. I didn’t want to believe it though & chose to ignore the pit forming in my stomach. I sat through the doctor telling me that your skin color was still good, you weren’t running a fever, you had a rapid heartbeat…...it was all normal care meeting items. The only difference was the mood in the room. I took the time to thank each person there for all the time they had spent taking care of you over the years that you were there. Your mom & I left that meeting & went to see you for a little bit. It was the first time I started to cry in front of you. I forced the tears to stop. Even though you were sedated, I didn’t want you to see me being weak. I still needed to be strong for everyone around me.

We went home & went to Wendy’s for lunch with your Dad, Taylor & Chase. We laughed, we talked, we made a few more plans to go visit you the next day. Little did we know all those plans would drastically change over the next few hours.

When Taylor & I got home, I called the doctor to ask her a question. I had to leave a message & wait for her to call me back. My gut was trying to tell me something again & this time I had to listen to it. My head & my heart wouldn’t let me ignore it. When the doctor called me back, I asked her if your time on earth was nearing an end. She said she believed so & I told her I would be there as soon as possible. I asked for a bed & a comfy chair to be brought into the room. We ended our phone conversation & I immediately started packing a few things for myself. I also started packing a bag for Taylor. I called my brother & if Taylor could stay with them. Of course, they said yes. I called your parents & let them know. A little bit later, you mom asked if she could come with me & I agreed. I dropped Taylor off & then picked up your mom. We headed back to Battle Creek. That night our Pastor came & so did your dad. We weren’t expecting either of them, but were glad they were there.
The next few days were spent at your bedside. The staff came in to say their goodbyes & to share stories with us from your time there. We laughed with them & thanked them for their care. Your older boys came on Thursday to say their final goodbyes. Your brother & his wife came on Friday evening. We laughed together while sharing stories.

Did you know that we were there for those last few days?
Did you hear us talking, laughing, crying?

Each evening the doctor said she wasn’t expecting to see us the next morning, but you held on. On Friday, she said she would be surprised if she saw us on Monday. We thanked her for all her time & care before she left for the weekend. You dad had been driving back & forth each day, but decided to stay on Friday night. We could all sense something was changing.

Saturday July 30 rolled in with rain. Was God crying with us? The rain cleared up & the sun came out. It really is odd what you remember that you kind of forgot. Your mom was on the phone with your brother when your breathing started to change. I dropped my book & was immediately at your side. She went to meet your dad at the door & I got to say my personal goodbyes to you.

Did you hear the cry of my heart in that moment?
Did you feel the love I had for you as we parted on this earth?

When you parents came back into the room, I was listening to your chest. I didn’t want to miss the final heartbeat. When I couldn’t hear it anymore, I was frantic & prayed that it would beat again. But, it didn’t. You were gone. My heart shattered into a million pieces in that instant & I cried out to God. I kept my tears at bay the best that I could. I didn’t want you to try & come back for me.

Phone calls were made, the staff was called to the room, chaos seemed to ensue. I didn’t want to leave your side for anything. When the staff came in to say their final goodbyes, I thanked them again for their care. Then they played Taps & I couldn’t hold the flood of tears in anymore. I sobbed from the depths of myself for you. I prayed that you couldn’t hear them.

My world ended at 2:27pm on July 30, 2016 – the moment God called you Home. My dreams disappeared. My heart tore in half. My brain went into auto at that moment. My body went numb.
When you parents & I left, I truly felt I was walking away from you & our life together. I wanted to run back to you so much, but my brain wouldn’t let me turn around. My legs kept walking me towards the door & further away from you. I vaguely remember getting in the car. I don’t even know how I made it home without an accident. I think that Jesus was truly driving my car.

July can just disappear off the calendar & I wouldn’t miss it. Maybe I should call the calendar people & ask them to name it something different. July starts & ends with memories of you. I wish they were better memories though. I miss you so much, my love. There isn’t a day that goes by when you aren’t in my thoughts. You will always be a part of me & I am thankful for that. Every time I look at Taylor, I see you. He is looking more like you each day, but in his own way. You would be so proud of the young man that he is becoming. I wish you were here with us, but I know that you are whole in Heaven & that is what matters most. I’m thankful you aren’t suffering anymore. I am thankful that you are whole & well as you walk the streets of gold.

Daron, you are the best gift that God gave me. From the moment we met, I knew that my life would never be the same. I knew that we were going to have an amazing journey through this life together. I just wish it wasn’t so short. I am so incredibly thankful for the years that we were given together. I am thankful that you were my best friend, my husband, father of my son. I will never stop loving you…. ever! You will forever be a part of me & I will carry you with me always. Even on days when I want to stay in bed & cry, I know that you wouldn’t want me to do that. I know that God will continue to give me the strength that I need to get through each day. I wasn’t planning on walking the rest of my life without you, but I will never stop loving you. I love you more than words will ever be able to express.


Until I see you Heaven……

June 26, 2017

New Venture! Exciting and Scary!

About a month ago, I decided to jump back into the world of direct sales. I say that I jumped back into because I have for two different direct sales companies in the past that will not be named. I was hesitant about jumping back into that world because my first two attempts didn't go very well for varying reasons.

But, I am happy that I made this decision & I have found a company that makes it easy for me to succeed. Before I had to meet almost impossible goals that were set by the company every month or I was "fired" from that company. It was very disheartening to say the least. Now, I have an achievable goal from the company that I have been able to surpass every month due to goals I have set for myself.

I made this leap of faith because I need to be able to take care of my son as we continue down this new journey that we are on. I need to make sure that bills are paid, food & necessities are provided. As a widowed-parent who only works 9 months out of the year, I have to do what I feel is necessary to make those things happen. Yes, we are receiving benefits from my husband that were already in place. But it doesn't hurt to make sure things are taken care of.

Also, the company that I am joined is all about helping women feel beautiful. That has come to mean so much to me over the past few years. It really is amazing what a little bit of lipstick and some jewelry can do to helping me feel beautiful!

So.....you are probably wondering what I am selling. I am an Independent Consultant with Paparazzi Accessories!! I sell amazing pieces of Jewelry and Accessories that only cost $5 a piece. That is incredible! You don't have to break the bank to look or feel beautiful! Every piece is also Lead and Nickel Free which helps those with metal allergies be able to wear beautiful pieces of jewelry! I do not have catalogs to hand out because our inventory changes.

If you are interested in learning more about this new venture, please feel free to visit my website any time of the day or night! If you would like to get exclusive pieces & deals that I have, please consider joining my Facebook VIP Group.

I truly believe that every woman deserves to feel Glamorous, but not feel guilty about their jewelry. That is where Paparazzi comes in & I am happy to help you find amazing pieces for an amazingly low price!!



June 17, 2017

It Has Been.....

It has been.....
.....15 years & 8 months since my first date with Daron (Oct. 2001)
.....14 years & 8 months since I married Daron (Oct. 2002)
.....13 years & 6 months since Taylor birth (Oct. 2003)
.....5 years & 11 months since Daron entered the VAMC (July 2011)
.....4 years & 3 months since Daron stopped his MS medication (Mar. 2013)
.....1 year & 6 months since Daron entered palliative care (Dec. 2015)
.....11 months & 6 days since Daron entered hospice care (July 11, 2016)
.....10 months, 2 weeks & 4 days since Daron entered Heavens Glory (July 30, 2016)

I still cannot wrap my mind around how much time has passed since Daron & I first met. I cannot believe that almost 16 years have passed since that first date. There are so many memories that were created in that time frame. 

At the same time, I cannot believe that it has been almost an entire year since Daron passed away. I still don't like saying "Last year" when I talk about the final months, weeks, days with Daron. My heart still prays that new memories with Daron can be made.....even though my brain knows it's not possible. 

There are days when it is a struggle to get out of bed & do life without Daron. There are days when I pray that the past 10 months, 2 weeks & 4 days were just a nightmare & I'll wake up from it soon. There are days when I pray that I could see Daron one last time.....hug him again, hold him again, kiss him again, talk to him again, hear his voice again. I still reach out for him in my sleep & when I wake up. I still talk to him. I still what his advice on tough decisions. 

I'm not ready for July 20, 2017 to come. If there were a way to take that day off the calendar, I'd be all for it. I know that day has to come & I know I have to face it. I have to face the turn of the calendar. I have to face the end of the first year without my husband. I have to face the start of another year without him by my side. I have to do all of this.....even when I don't think I have the strength to. 

I trust that God will continue to get me through the next few weeks. I trust that God will give me the strength I need to face July 30th. I trust that God will continue to carry me through this. I trust God to continue to walk beside me & never leave me.  

May 22, 2017

Time To Stop Blogging???

So it's been almost a month since my last post. There are few reasons for that.....some I can explain & some that I can't for various reasons. Life has been crazy in our household. With school/work getting ready to end for the school year (WooHoo) we are just go, go, go around here. With school getting ready to end that means VBS prep is in full swing. That also means that life is just crazy. So I have been away from the blog just trying to stay afloat. 

I have also been away from the blog because I'm not sure how I should continue the blog - or if I should continue to blog at all. I have always said that my blog is where I can be open & honest with myself & with the readers. I have also said that you, the reader, have the choice of reading my posts or not. This is an outlet for me to get my thoughts & feelings out into the open.  

I understand that it is hard to figure out the emotions that I am feeling while reading words on a screen. I understand that can cause you, the reader, to interpret what I am writing differently. I understand that there are people in the world who don't want such openness & honesty. I understand that my openness & honesty can offend, upset, bother, & push people away sometimes. That is not my intent at all with this personal blog.

Please know & understand that I am not trying to call anyone out, push anyone away, make anyone feel like I am picking on them, etc. I am just working through my thought pattern right now. I am trying to make sure that I am doing what I feel is best for myself during this time of my life. 

I am trying to let others into my life, to get a glimpse of my life, so they can better pray for Taylor & I. I am trying to let God use my struggles, pain, journey, grief as a way to bring others to Him. I know that my blog doesn't always show that.....that is real life for me right now. I want this blog to bring glory to God, not to me. I am trying to help another young widow as she faces life without her husband. I am trying to let her know that it is okay to feel the way she is feeling towards everything in life. I am trying to show others that it is only by God's help, strength, grace, mercy & peace that I am even able to get up in the morning. I want this blog to be a way to help others who are struggling with their faith, journey, life to know that God will always be there right beside them. I'm not perfect & I never claim to be. 

Truthfully, this blog started out as a way to keep our extended family members updated on Daron's health. Many of them are not on Facebook & I don't have their email addresses. But I could easily share a link with my family & my in-laws that they could pass on to others in the family. It really did help & make life easier at the time to just type everything into one place. Now, it has become my solace & my therapy in a way. It allows me to open up & share what I am dealing with & how I am asking God to help me grow through this journey.

I pray over every post before I publish it. I pray before I even start typing the post. I ask God to use this for His glory. I ask God to write into my posts what He wants me to share. There are times when I write a post & then delete it because it is a true stumbling block. Granted, I know there are posts that some would say should never have been posted.....but there are true to life & sometimes life is ugly, gritty, tough to handle. Those posts are ones that I felt someone needed to read to know that it is okay to be angry with God, angry with the journey you are on, angry with the struggles you are facing.  It is okay & God wants us to be open with Him, even though He knows what we are thinking 24/7. He wants to hear us call out to Him & complain, yell, cry, scream, blame, beg, everything that comes with this life. He can handle it! He wants to handle it for us!

But again, for this world, for this life, for those around me.....If my blog has become a stumbling point or has pushed you out of my life for what ever reason, is it worth keeping my blog active? I will continue praying about this, but I didn't want you to think that I was neglecting my blog or neglecting you.

So, with that said.....I may be closing down my blog in the very near future. I haven't decided yet & I am still praying about it. I have always said that I don't want my blog to be a stumbling point for those who read it. But, if I am pushing people away, offending people, upsetting people, bothering people & being a stumbling block in their lives, their faith & their walk with God......is it even worth it anymore?

Please pray with me that I follow God's plan for my life. Please pray that I will continue to grow in Him & follow Him daily. Please pray that I will let the Spirit move in my life & accept that moving. 

April 23, 2017

Music is Healing

I have always been a strong believer that music is incredibly healing. It always speaks to my heart & can express what I can't. For as long as I can remember there as always been the perfect song on the radio when I need to hear it. There are songs that I always go to when I need to smile, sing through the frustrations I'm facing, when I need to cry, when I need to be uplifted, etc. I would like to share some of the songs that have really spoken to me over the years. God has been bringing a lot of them to me as I need them & I am grateful for that. Some of these songs bring back memories of loved ones who have gone to Heaven.....some remind me of God's faithfulness, grace, mercy, strength, love, compassion & will for my life.

Lately, there are quite a few songs that I turn to for reminders of God's grace & strength. They are ones that I love to sing out in the car when I'm by myself. I cry through them as the tears come or I just sing them from the depths of my soul. Depending on what I am trying to convey or remind myself of, I choose any of the following songs to listen to & sing to. A lot of these songs have been on the radio exactly when I need to hear them & I will never stop being amazed by that.

My prayer is that some of these songs will speak to you as well in whatever you are going through in your life.

Disclaimer: I am using all these songs off of YouTube. They are all official videos from the artist/band themselves. I do not own the rights to any of them. 


Even If by MercyMe

I Will by Citizen Way

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

I Have This Hope by Tenth Avenue North

Still by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family

Tears by Matt Hammitt

The Hurt and The Healer by MercyMe

Dear Younger Me by MercyMe

Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns

Just Be Held by Casting Crowns




Daron's Birthday Video

I forgot to share this video with all of you. I shared it on my Facebook page, but not here. So I thought I would. It isn't anything fancy, but it was made with love for the love of my life. I made it to celebrate Daron's 45th Birthday (click the link to watch).

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter/Resurrection Sunday. Thank you again for praying for us as we continue on our journey.

April 16, 2017

Struggles

The daily struggle of life is getting more & more real with each day that passes. I am constantly worn down, tired, weary, exhausted, lonely, easily agitated, strained, pulled in a million different directions, drained, frustrated.....I could go on & on. Being a single parent isn't for the weak & being a newly widowed single parent isn't even for the strong some days. As a widowed single parent I have to try to deal with my own grief & trying to move on as well as help Taylor deal with his. That leads to a huge emotional & mental drain on a daily basis. I try to hold in my emotions & my grief until after Taylor is in bed, but that makes things worse. It leads to me being more agitated & more easily frustrated.

I feel a kind of lonely that I never thought I would ever feel. It is a loneliness that I can't even really explain. I mean, I was lonely when Daron was in the nursing home, but this is a different kind of lonely. This is a loneliness that reaches to the depths of my core. I can be surrounded by family & friends & I can still feel alone. I feel alone because I have lost the love of my life, people who called themselves my friends for years, people who have called themselves my family. I feel like I have lost myself as well through this.

Yesterday was Daron's 45th birthday & today is Easter - Resurrection Day. While I am thankful for the hope that the Resurrection brings.....I am in the midst of such chaos that I can't even focus on the meaning of today. Having Daron's birthday take place with Easter makes it so much harder to get focus on. Yesterday I spent time at the graveside talking to Daron. Yesterday I missed him & today is another day where I miss my husband, my marriage, my friends, my family, everything that I lost the day that Daron died.

There are so many struggles in my life that I can't even name them all. The largest struggle that I am dealing with is who I can count on & who I can't. Who I can call my friend & who I can't. I know that there are people other then me who are grieving Daron's loss. I know that & I wish I could be there for them, but I can't. I can't focus on the grieve of others when I can barely deal with my own & Taylor's. I can't & won't apologize for not reaching out to everyone who has ever been called my friend. I can't & won't because I need to focus on myself & my son before I can even think of focusing on others. If I could say something to all of those people it's this......I am here if you want to & need to talk. I am here, I need for you to contact me first. I will gladly talk to you about the memories you have of Daron & the memories that we share. I will gladly listen. Please understand that there will be times when I can't though. Please understand that I am grieving just like you are - if not more. Please understand that myself & my son have to come first.

So, through all of the struggles that I am dealing with, I am thankful for the sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross. I cling to the blessed hope of Heaven. I cling to the blessed promise of the resurrection & eternal life with Christ. I cling to it with every fiber of my being. I cling to it because that is the only way that I can get out of bed each day.

Grief Journal -- God's Comfort & Love

Looking at what the Bible says about God's comfort & His love.....


2 Corinthians 1:3-7New King James Version (NKJV)

Comfort in Suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
How does Paul describe God?
The Father of mercies, God of all comfort

What does this passage say about God's comfort?
He comforts us in all our tribulations
He wants us to partake in consolation & salvation - whether by sufferings or by being comforted

What is God's hope for you? What does He want you to share?
His hope is for me to be steadfast. He wants me to share in the consolation.


Psalm 34:17-19New King James Version (NKJV)

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Notice that this passage says even the righteous have afflictions. What does it say about God?
It says that God doesn't treat people differently based on how "religious" they are. He delivers everyone from their afflictions if they cry out to Him.

What do the following verses teach about God's comfort and love?

Psalm 56:8You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?

Psalm 147:3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”


Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.



Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


1 Peter 5:7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

All of the above verses show that God truly cares for each of us. He keeps our tears in a bottle. He heals our broken hearts & binds up our wounds. He is steadfast. His mercies never end. He is faithful. He will comfort those who mourn. He gives rest to the weary. He cares for us.

April 5, 2017

Expectations

We all have expectations for things in our lives. We have expectations of our spouse, our children, our job, our finances, our friends, our church.....the list goes on & on. Expectations are different for each person, each phase of life, each situation. Sometimes we have low expectations & sometimes we have high expectations -- it depends on what is going on around us. Expectations can change while we are dealing with something. They can change each time we face a similar situation.

As a widow, I didn't know what expectations I would have until I entered widowhood. The days leading up to Daron's death, I expected that things around me (friends, family, etc) would stay the same. I expected people to walk beside me & support me along this new journey. I had these expectations without thinking about them. I guess you could say that I just assumed nothing would change. Truthfully, nothing really changed.....until the day after Daron's funeral service. That is when all of my expectations were violently thrown out the window. People who I expected to be there for me disappeared from my life without notice. Others stayed on the outskirts of my journey & spoke to me like I was an acquaintance instead of a member of the family or a friend for many years. Some people have chosen to ignore me completely. Others have chosen to only say Hello on there way to talk to someone else. Then there are those who see me coming there direction & turn around abruptly so they can avoid me. I wasn't expecting to be treated like I have the plague or something. I wasn't expecting people to act like widowhood is a contagious disease.

Trust me, I get it. I understand that people don't know how to act around me. They don't know what to say to me, or they are afraid of saying something stupid. I was the same way before July 30, 2016. I always worried that I was saying the wrong thing to someone who had suffered a great loss. But even though I get it doesn't mean that I don't get hurt when these things happen. I still have feelings & they are easier to hurt now then before.

I have come to realize that it is better to say something then it is to say nothing. It is better to ask the widow or widower exactly how they are doing & take the time to listen completely. It is better to give a hug then to walk the other way. Just saying Hello in passing doesn't cut it. Actually, it makes me feel like I am not worth your time or effort. Actions speak louder then words - now more then ever. I'm not offended if you say something stupid - unless it is extremely hurtful. I see those moments as was to help others get a glimpse into my life. I won't call you out on what you said. I will help you learn how to say it differently so as not to offend others.

My expectations of people has changed drastically over the last 8 months. I have come to see who my true friends really are & who were just pretending. I have come to see what is important to me & what isn't. I have come to realize what needs to change & what can stay the same. I have made some changes in my life based on new expectations......other changes will follow in the near future. Everything I do is bathed in prayer & I am following God's leading in my life. I don't know where He will take me or who He will bring into my life (or take out of my life). I do know that all I need to do is trust Him without any expectations.

I am grateful to those few dear family members & friends who have stayed beside me. The ones who contact me to see how I am doing & are willing to hear the truth. The ones who I know will be there in the middle of the night if I just need a listening ear. The ones who have seen me at my worst & only want God's best for me. The ones who are slow to speak & quick to listen. The ones who see for me who I am, not the journey that I am on. I know that God has blessed me with some amazing people in my life to help me along this journey.

I am grateful for the friends who take the time to say something, anything, other then Hello. I know they don't know what to say or they are afraid of saying something stupid, but I am grateful they still treat me like a person. They can see me for me & not just for my journey.

I am (slowly) coming to realize that God even blessed me with those who left my life, or are on their way out of my life. He put those people in my life to show me what true family & friends look like. For that, I am grateful that they were in my life for a short time. While it still hurts that they couldn't meet expectations, I know that God has a wonderful plan & they were apart of it for a reason. While it hurts that they have left my life when I thought they were true friends, I can see God working His plan. I don't always see it & I don't always trust it, but I know it's there.

Expectations are hard to deal with when others don't meet them they way we want them to. But, I think expectations help us grow. I know that sounds odd, but I think it's true. Expectations can help us see what it right from what is wrong. They can help us see the true family & friends from the ones who leave at the first sign of struggle. They can help us see what we need to change in ourselves for our good. They can help us change a situation for the better. Not all expectations need to be met & that's okay. It's also okay for expectations to be broken because that will help us grow. We won't see the growth right away, but we will will get glimpses of it here & there. That is what I am seeing -- small glimpses of growth in my life. The growth is painful at times, but that will only make us stronger in the end.

April 4, 2017

Grief Journal -- Comfort in Grief


This verse is the focus of the lesson I am working on in my grief Bible Study (God's Healing in Grief by Ron & Kathleen Duncan). Reading through it brought a few things to mind......Did God keep Daron's life? Will He keep my life? Is everything I have been taught my whole life true?

Further into the lesson I was reminded again that my grief journey is unique. Every single person has their own unique grief journey. The journey I am on after the death of Daron is certainly different then the grief journey I was on after the death of my Grandpa Orr. I miss them both deeply, but I grieve for them differently. It's okay that my journey is different -- it is supposed to be. Just as their deaths were unique, the grief journey for each is unique. The only thing that is the same is the source of healing: Jesus Christ!

I was reminded that healing doesn't happen quickly or overnight (even if others think it should). It takes work to heal from the death of a loved one.....if you are honest & willing. I was reminded that I need to diligently see the Lord & trust Him through this journey. I must remain steadfast through this journey & trial.



I am thankful that God sent His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to help me remember all that God has taught me so far & will continue to teach me. The Holy Spirit will lead to a place of healing & restoration. Only God can give the peace, joy & hope in the midst of grief that we all need.



Am I truly willing to let God work in me & lead me along this journey? I know that all I need to do is ask.....but it is so tough to pray lately. I feel like my prayer life is nothing but yelling at God these past 8 months. I am so angry that Daron was taken from me so soon. I am angry that my son doesn't have a father anymore. I am angry that Daron & I weren't able to resolve some things that we needed to resolve. All of this leads to prayers that seem like blaming rather then asking for healing and comfort. Granted, I do start out trying to ask for those.....but then I start getting angry again.

My journal suggests writing out a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to teach me, comfort me, & lead me into a place of healing & peace. I honestly don't know if I can pray that kind of prayer right now. I honestly don't feel worthy of the peace & healing that God freely offers. I have been so angry for so long now that I don't know if I can even accept the healing & peace God is offering. I don't even know what that healing & joy would look like.

I know the prayer will come & when it does I will write it out. But for now, I will trust that God knows the cry of my heart & He will comfort me as I continue this journey.

April 1, 2017

My Grief Journal - Introduction

Welcome to My Grief Journal.....

I have been tossing around the idea of starting another blog specifically for my grief process.....but I know I can't handle keeping two blogs up to date - I can barely handle one. So, I will be mixing my grief journaling & family updates on this blog. Any post that is specifically about my grief journal will be labeled accordingly.

My Grief Journal will be a mix of two journals I just received. One journal is full of questions to prompt me as I journal through the grief process. The other journal is a companion to a grief Bible study I will be working through. By journaling on my blog instead of privately, it will allow me to do a couple of things.....
1) I will be able to continue to openly & honestly share my journey with you.
2) I will be able to work through my thoughts & feelings as I work through each journal & Bible study.
3) It will help provide a deeper insight to you, the reader, into my grief journey. It will also help you know how to better pray for me.

If you are a widow & interested in starting a grief journal, you can purchase the Writing & Widowing: Journaling the Journey journal that I will be using by clicking Here.

If you are interested in the grief Bible study & journal, God's Healing in Grief, there are a few different places to find them. You can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking Here. You can also find the journal on Amazon by clicking Here. You can go to the publishers website & purchase both together to get a discount by clicking Here. (I found Amazon to only be $2.00-$3.00 more, but they arrived faster.)

Please pray that I will be open to God's working in my life as I continue to work through this process & travel down this journey. I know that God has called me to this for a specific purpose. I may never know or understand what that purpose is, but I will continue to trust God to shine through me. I am an unfinished masterpiece that God is still working on!




March 31, 2017

Right Now....

Right now I still have tough days - some weeks there are more tough days then there are good days. Even when I have a good day it is still tough. My good days can turn into tough days at the flip of a switch.

Right now I still feel like I shouldn't be happy or I shouldn't be laughing. I feel like I am betraying Daron if I'm happy or laughing. Even the happy memories of Daron can cause me to feel like I am betraying him for some reason. I know that he would want me to be happy, but it is difficult. I do still smile & laugh at the good memories of Daron.

Right now I still feel like I should be dressed in all black & be in mourning.

Right now it is tough to have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I have to remind myself that I have to go to work so I can provide for my son.

Right now it is tough to care about anything that is going on around me or things that I have to do everyday.

Right now it is tough to go to church on a regular basis. I feel like I don't belong there anymore. I feel like I am out of place when I am there. I feel like I am a parasite or invisible when I am there. I understand that people don't know what to say & so they ignore me. Saying something is better then saying nothing at all.

Right now I don't care about things that I should care about outside of basic necessities (food, bills, personal hygiene, etc).

Right now I am still in the grief fog & I wish others would be more patient & understanding with me. I forget things. I have to write notes of what I am supposed to do. I forget what I am saying or what is happening in a conversation.

Right now I wish that people would stop telling me that I need to get over my grief & move on already. I wish they would understand that loosing my husband is not something I can just get over & move on from at the snap of a finger. Please give me some grace & let me walk this journey at my pace.

Right now I have become a pro at putting on a fake smile & getting everyone to believe that I am doing better then I really am. I am tired of the fake smile. I am tired of acting like everything is okay.

Right now I am missing my role as wife & caregiver to Daron. I miss the little things in our marriage. I miss having a co-parent. I miss having time to myself. I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of. I miss my life prior to July 30, 2016.

Right now I am praying that God will continue to give me the strength I need minute by minute. I am trusting him to provide for my needs.

Right now I am asking you to pray for Taylor & I as we continue down this journey. It has been 8 months & I have only made it through by the grace of God.

March 5, 2017

Our Story Chapter 7 -- Last Few Years Together

When Daron said he wanted a divorce at the end of 2013 & beginning of 2014, life really wasn't the same. Our marriage wasn't really the same either. I tried to convince myself that he didn't know what he was saying & he didn't mean it. But it didn't work. Whenever we talked after that I could sense the strain. I had to try & put it behind me.....easier said then done. Daron said he wanted the divorce for financial stability for me. He said that the only way he could think of to take care of me & Taylor was to divorce me. He said he had talked to another resident who had a divorce for financial reasons & it sounded like a good idea to him. He didn't understand how much that crushed me emotionally & mentally. He couldn't comprehend how much that hurt me. He couldn't see past wanting to help me & he couldn't see how it wouldn't help me.

What a way to start a new year......

This talk went on over the course of a few months.....he brought it up during every phone call. The hardest part was that he wanted me to find the attorney & file for divorce since he was in the nursing facility. He got incredibly angry with me every time I said I would not do that. I told him that if he wanted the divorce he had to figure out how to file on his own. It got so bad that I had to stop all communication with him for awhile. I had to block his number so I didn't know when he called. He could leave me a voicemail & then it was up to me to call him back - which I usually didn't do. I did this as a way to protect myself emotionally & mentally. I did start returning his phone calls & I always reminded him of the boundaries - if he mentioned divorce, I would hang up on him. I knew that he couldn't focus mentally & that things just come out without him realizing it, but I had to place boundaries. This was at the advice of the psychologist & doctors.

A few months of peace went by & I felt like I had a piece of my husband back. Then the MS caused another turn & the man I married disappeared again. Daron began blaming me for him being in the nursing home. He told me that I abandoned him & that I was telling the staff to not let him do certain things. I know that he couldn't mentally understand that what he was saying wasn't true, but that didn't stop the hurt the words caused. It became very draining emotionally & mentally to visit with or talk to my husband. Taylor & I made semi-regular visits to Battle Creek. As Taylor got busier at school & I had my job, it was harder to make weekly visits. I do regret not visiting Daron on a more regular basis, but life at home got in the way. That's how things happen I guess.

2015 brought about more health declines for Daron. It also brought the start of 4 years that Daron was in the nursing facility. Each day it was hard to believe that Daron had been in a nursing facility for that long. Taylor & I did our best to carry on each day. Taylor started 6th grade - Middle School - & I felt another year older. In November 2015 we got a glimpse into how much of a decline had taken place. Daron was sent to the Hines VA Center outside of Chicago, IL for testing that couldn't be done locally. The staff at the Battle Creek VA were noticing that Daron was loosing weight, not eating, choking on his medications & food, running into walls or people in his wheelchair & loosing coordination. They were concerned & wanted further tests done. Because Daron was still in charge of making his own decisions during this time, he asked the staff to not tell me. He was in IL for a full day when we found out. He was talking to his parents & mentioned that he was in Chicago. They called me & I had no idea what they were talking about. I called the VA social worker in an angry panic & was told that Daron told them not to tell me.

I decided to drive to IL to get more information directly from the doctor. I got there in the evening so the doctor was gone. I was able to get some information from the nurses, but not a whole lot. They were still waiting on some tests to be run. I went into Daron's room & woke him up to let him know I was there. I was absolutely shocked to see how much of a decline he had taken. I had visited him a week or so before & he didn't look that bad. He parents saw him a few days before they sent him to IL & they didn't think he was that bad either. The person I saw in that hospital bed looked like my husband, but it wasn't my husband - if that makes any sense. Daron couldn't see me unless I was super close. He was pretty much legally blind. He couldn't eat solid foods anymore. He couldn't hold onto his phone by himself. He was at the mercy of the staff.....

My plan was to stay in the the guest area of the VA Center, but Daron told me to leave. He told me he didn't want me there. So I turned around & drove back home. I should have stayed, but I know how Daron's temper was at that time & I didn't want to do anything to cause him to take it out on the staff. I did get a phone call from his doctor a few days later & was told that they were waiting on test results. The doctor said that his MS was progressing & was now Malignant MS. I had never heard of that form so I spent hours looking it up online. Everything I found said that this was a rare form & that he might have 6 months left. I went numb.....

Daron was released back to the Battle Creek VA on November 12th. Taylor & I went to visit Daron on November 13. I had tried to prepare Taylor the best that I could, but you can't really prepare a child for that sort of thing. Taylor did his best to stay present during the visit. He answered his Dad's questions about school & gave him a hug. About 15 minutes after we got there he asked to leave. I could tell that he had mentally checked out so we said bye to Daron. Taylor was able to stay composed until we got down the stairs.....then he just clung to me & cried. I cried right along with him.

On December 2, 2015 Daron's parents & I attended a care conference to get a better understanding of this new Malignant MS diagnosis. I went into the meeting with at least three pages of questions. I left the meeting with a lot of information & had to take time to process all of it. Malignant MS is a very rare & very aggressive form of MS. It is so rare that the staff at the VA had never heard of it. They weren't sure what was going to happen with Daron or how quickly things would happen. Daron was placed on a nectar thick diet, had a new wheelchair ordered & had to see the low vision center. We were also told that Daron might have 6 months (more or less) left on this earth. That was tough to hear & we had to remind ourselves that only God knows the exact time frame for Daron's life. I had a meeting with the care team on December 9, 2015 to discuss end of life decisions so everyone was on the same page.

Everything from that point on came at a fast pace. I felt like I was in a whirlwind & out of control. Some times I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I had to write everything down because I was afraid I would forget something. This also led to some very emotional moments & some very emotionally out of control moments.

On March 3, 2016 I fell on some ice while at work & injured my back. I was told to take the next few days off work & see the doctor again on Monday. On March 4, 2016 my niece was born. On March 7 I see the doctor again.....long story short, I end up missing the remainder of the school year. I had to have a bone scan & an MRI done. I went to PT & then to a specialist. He sent me to PT that focuses on getting you back to work. It was a crazy few months, but I was able to visit Daron during the day while Taylor was at school - if my back wasn't bothering me.

In April 2016 I was informed that Daron needed a feeding tube or he would have to go into hospice care. At the time, I was given the impression that it was life or death. I was kept up to date on how things were progressing so I could help make an informed decision. On May 4, 2016 I had a very tough conversation with Daron's doctors that led to a moment I kind of regret......I stormed out & slammed the door. At this meeting I was told that Daron was not ready for hospice & I felt completely betrayed by the doctor who had given me the wrong impression. After I calmed down it was decided that Daron would be moved into palliative care with the understanding that he could move into hospice at anytime. We had reached the beginning of the end of Our Story together & I was not ready for this next turn in the journey.

On July 8, 2016 I was at my church getting the decorations in place for our VBS program when I got a phone call that Daron hasn't been eating & he has lost about 12 pounds. I wasn't completely worried because he was still heavier then he had been in the past. The doctor & I decide to wait & see what the weekend brings. On July 11, 2016 our church started VBS & I basically left what was happening with Daron at home (as odd as that sounds). I was glad I had a distraction during the day. I got a phone call after I got home that pretty much shattered my heart......it was time to move Daron into hospice care. I made the decision to not say anything to the VBS staff - I only told the two other directors so they were aware in case I had to leave at a moments notice. I am still incredibly thankful that VBS was happening that week. If I didn't have that distraction, I don't know what I would have done.

From July 8 until July 27, 2016 life was crazy busy. I spent the week of July 11-14 going to VBS until noon & then trying to make sure things were in order for when Daron passed away. I wrote the obituary, I wrote the outline for the funeral service, I took Taylor to say his goodbye to his Dad (thankfully my brother went with us). I tried to prepare myself & Taylor for this next step.....easier said then done. On July 27, 2016 Daron's Mom & I went to what would be our last care team meeting. Since it is still so fresh in mind & I am not ready to go over everything that took place again, I am including the links for a few of the posts I wrote while all of this took place. I encourage you to read them if you haven't already.......

Saying Goodbye - It's Not For the Weak -- This was written a week after Daron was placed in hospice care.

Final Goodbye -- This was posted a few days after Daron was called to Heaven. It covers the last few days we spent with him here on earth.

Thoughts & Ramblings of a Grieving Widow -- This was written two days before Daron's funeral.

It is still hard to believe that the Our Story has reached the end so soon. There are days when I feel like Daron & I just met yesterday. We didn't have a lot of time on this earth together, but I am grateful that we will have an eternity together in Heaven. Some days that is the only thing that keeps me moving forward.

Thank you for reading Our Story. It was something that I never thought I would be ready to share, but I am glad that I did. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below......I'm glad to answer anything that you want to know more about. I will never tire of talking about my beloved husband Daron & the life that we had together!

Struggles

I have been struggling to.... ....get out of bed in the morning. ....be a good mom. ....take care of my house. ....take care of myself. ...