My Beautiful Story

"Emerging from the ashes to embrace the beauty..."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Life, There is Death

 How much is too much? How much pain must one person endure? Is there ever a point when enough is enough? What purpose can trauma serve? These questions are flooding my mind this morning... In the dark hours of the early morning, I lay awake in my bed and couldn't sleep. The events of the night unfolding in my mind. Images of horror that grip my heart and keep me from sleeping. Thinking about my daughter and all the trauma she has endured in her very short life....
 When Valerie was just 5 years old, her precious grandmother died. It was heartbreaking to see her and her brothers so very sad. Then, just a few years later, her grandpa died. This had a bigger impact as he lived with us for over 2 years and they were very close. At his funeral, Valerie recited from memory the entire 139th Psalm. I was amazed at her strength. And then of course, just 9 months later, she would run out in her pj's to find her daddy lying in the driveway dead...
 And you would think...that is enough for such a young girl to take... she was 3 weeks shy of her 9th birthday when her daddy passed away....
 But then she would have to endure saying goodbye to her beloved horse, Cupcake. Not once, but twice. The first time was of course, when we had to get rid of our horses and our farm due to Erik's death. It was so hard... And then, my horse died....and then, her gerbil died a tragic death by the claws of our beloved cat! ( I must also add that between my dad and her dad dying, one of her first little gerbils died)  And then, our kitty died....and then her beloved horse had to be put down... saying goodbye that day was one of the hardest moments I have had to witness.... and then, our dog died....and just about 2 months ago, another one of Valerie's little gerbils died..... 
 But last night was the icing on the cake (so to speak).... Not only was her favorite newest little gerbil dead, but the other gerbil instinctively had begun to eat it. Seriously?!?!?! It was like a horror scene from a movie! Valerie's blood curdling screams filled the heart sank... I ran... it was AWFUL! How could this happen????? It is bad enough when they die, but this?!?! It was just too much to take! The image is burned into my memory forever.... Flips was such a cute gerbil. Valerie loves them all so much. They are not just rodents to her.... they are her family.... and now the other gerbil isn't looking too good. Not sure if eating it's friend has left it dying.... 
 Oh, and let's not forget...Christmas is just 3 days away....( a holiday that is already going to be tough to endure!!!! )
That elephant that sits on my chest that I wrote about in my previous entry; well it is now stomping on my chest! 
 I am not sure I will be able to end this entry on any kind of a positive note... all I can say is this:
In life, there is death. There is a cute side to gerbils and there is a very ugly side.... I cannot protect my daughter from pain and suffering... I can only hold her as she sobs and screams....  I pray she is able to erase that horrible image! I pray she overcomes her fear of entering her room..... I pray that we can somehow make some sense of all of this.... 
 I know that her name means "strong".... and  I hope she continues to be......................

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Weight of Grief

 Is it possible to measure the weight of grief? In what terms could we measure it so that people could understand? 
 Before I drifted off to sleep last night, my heart was heavy... My cheeks were hot with the stream of my tears... My mind was full of so many questions that I do not fully have the answers for... I was gripped with the pain of watching my kids grieve the loss of their beloved daddy... A pain I cannot carry for them or take from them completely. 
 If I could measure my grief for you I would have to use the following terms and analogies:

Crushing: It feels like my heart is on the verge of breaking into a million pieces...
An elephant is sitting on my chest: There is no other way to describe the heavy weight that seems to sit on my chest as I cry; a weight that feels inescapable. I mean think about how much an elephant least 2 tons! If he was sitting on your chest, you would not be able to escape! And that is grief.., it is truly a pain we cannot escape... 
Overwhelming: The pain can be very intense and can seem to overpower me at times...
Unbearable: Thinking about the pain my kids are going through can feel impossible to endure at feels like I just won't be able to go on...

All of these terms of measurement seem so negative and discouraging... they seem hopeless... and yet... I continue and have hope... How? you ask?


 Have you ever seen Lord of the Rings? Do you recall the scene in which Frodo is being crushed under the "load" he must carry? Do you recall what Samwise said to him? "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you.".... It is GRACE that has carried me as I carry the load. GRACE has come through many forms for me on my sister, my friends, Norm, my children, prayers of many, and the greatest GRACE of all: God. It is in turn that I will be that GRACE for my children. While I cannot carry their grief for them, I can carry them in the process. I carry them in my prayers, I carry them with my words of encouragement, and I carry them in my tears...

 The hardest part of my grief journey has not been my own pain or grief. It has been the fact that I am but a bystander to my children's grief. As a parent we want to protect our children from pain. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean. But the reality that I have come to know is this: their pain is theirs to carry. Nothing I can say or do will ever remove it from their lives. I believe the ultimate pain for any parent is to be that bystander... I think of the movie, The Passion. The scene is when Jesus was dying on the cross. It was a pain He had to endure... the camera goes overhead for us to see the view from what I believe is God, the Father's perspective... and from there all He could do was watch His Son endure this pain... and then we see a single tear escape from Heaven... and then the earth shook! That is the only way I can try to explain my pain to you... it is a pain I do not wish on any other parent... 

 So, I cannot take away another's pain or carry their load... but with GRACE perhaps I can carry them...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Aftermath of Grief

I recently read an article about grief and I can't shake one theme. This is the quote, "We have no control over the fact that someone we thought we couldn’t live without did the unthinkable and died. We have no control over how other people will react to this news, or to how they may interact with (or avoid) us in the aftermath."(Alisha Krukowski, Hello Grief website article)

The phrase that keeps resonating in my head is in regards to how other people react to the news and how they avoid us. It amazes me that people can actually avoid you after you have lost someone so significant in your life. And what amazes me even more is when those people are family and the people they are avoiding are the children! And what if it is the family of the person who died? You may be reading this and think that it is not possible. Or maybe you are reading and know it to be true. Either way, this is what is known as "secondary loss". 
 The phrase, "You find out who your friends are" is a very true statement. You even find out who your family is. These secondary losses can really throw you for a loop. They leave you bitter, hurt, and even confused. You wonder why these people have been avoiding you. Is it you? Is it them? Is it the new life you have begun since the loss of your loved one? Do they sit back in judgment over your choices?Is it because they have no idea what to say? Is it because seeing you or your kids makes them feel the depth of their own grief? I don't have the answers. I can only speculate and assume the answers to these questions. I have no solid answers as to why certain people in my own life have avoided me and my children since my first husband died. There has really only been one loss that I know for certain the reason. Even knowing the reason has still left me bewildered. I can't believe people sometimes. I can't believe that in your darkest moment of life, that someone who claims to love you would  abandon you because you aren't handling your grief like they think you should. Who can tell you how to grieve? It really amazes me to say the least. But that story is for another entry. 
  The aftermath of grief can be a very messy thing. Once the shock of the loss has worn off a bit, things begin to change. During the first days and weeks following the loss, it seems that your house is always full of people, the phone is constantly ringing, and the mailbox is full of cards and letters.But after a while, things begin to calm down. People go about their lives, "business as usual". You are left with the reality that your "business as usual" will never be the same. You and your kids are the ones whose daily lives are affected by the loss. You feel forgotten. You feel abandoned. You feel alone. It only makes the loss that much more enormous. You wait for people to reach out. It is so hard for those who have lost to reach out. We don't want to bother people.We want to try and stay strong. We assume that since they aren't reaching out, they are just too busy and you don't want to burden them with what you are going through. And perhaps there is that unspoken truth that maybe they just think you need to get over it and they are tired of listening to you cry and grieve. I know that life can get busy. I know that in my life I have been guilty of allowing too much time to pass before I reach out to someone I know who has suffered a loss. But some people have dropped me out of their lives completely. It is strange. I may never know the answers. I know that everyone whose lives were touched by Erik have suffered in some way since his death. But no one has suffered greater than me and my kids. We were his life. We were his everything! He was our everything! The sting of his death is still very real and intense. Perhaps people think that since I have remarried, I no longer grieve. That couldn't be further from the truth. You never "get over" the loss of someone so significant in your life. You just learn how to live with it. You also have to learn how to live with the reactions and actions of other people. I don't have any control over other people and how they have chosen to handle their own grief. I can only control myself and my own actions. 
 This is all just food for thought for anyone who has lost or for those who are friends/family with someone who has lost. Maybe this can help you. Maybe you will think twice before you judge. Maybe you will make more of an effort to keep in touch with that person. I don't know. I just know that I have been chosen to walk this path and I want to be able to help others. I don't want my pain to be in vain.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Home For the Holidays... or Not...

 Losing someone who is a central part of your life and your family affects every aspect of your life. We find ourselves embarking on a year of "firsts" as soon as they are gone. Those first holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries stare at us like ominous strangers. We wonder how we will ever make it through without them. If you have children, these "firsts" can be even harder to face.
 How will you celebrate Christmas now that your loved one won't be there to fill his or her role in your family tradition? What about birthdays? Is it still okay to say "happy" that day? Questions loom in your head, "Do we keep our old traditions?" "Should we start new ones?" "How can we keep our loved ones' spirit alive on this occasion?" "What do we do if we cry?" These are all very real questions that we all have to face on our grief journey. No one can answer them for us. We need to do whatever feels right to us and whatever is best for our family. Don't allow people on the outside to pressure you into doing something you don't want to or can't do. Allow your children to be a part of this process.
 My husband died in August, so Christmas was just 4 months away. Our family tradition had always been to cut down our own tree the day after Thanksgiving. We would then return home to decorate the tree while playing Christmas CD's and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. We would all wear Santa hats during this time. That first year, I couldn't bring myself to open the Christmas box. It was just too painful to think about the day we packed it together after what would become our last Christmas together. So, I discussed it with my kids and we decided to do something a bit different. We also decided on keeping some things the same. We chose to buy a small tabletop tree already adorned with lights. Since my husband was an avid New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan, we chose decorations with those logos for the tree. We all got new stockings as well which brought some excitement for the kids on what was a bittersweet day. Instead of our traditional Santa hats, we bought ones with the sports teams' logos on them as well. As we erected our "Daddy Tree", we put on our hats, drank hot chocolate, and played his favorite Christmas CD. We hung lights around the room. We laughed and we cried, but we were happy with our choice. We were able to gracefully blend some old and some new traditions together to help us get through such a painful "first".
 As for how we would spend the actual day of Christmas, we decided to do something we had never done before. We packed ourselves up and headed south to spend the holiday with my sister and her family. We had never left our house before for this particular holiday. Now that we were with my sister's family, they made us a part of their Christmas traditions. That first Christmas without my husband was a huge emotional roller coaster. It was filled with laughter, love, and tears. I still maintained some of the traditions we had with our kids, but I embraced the new ones my sister brought. It was also so nice to be with people who love us so much. It is one we will never forget. 
 The kids and I have decided that every year we will put up our "Daddy Tree" in a prominent room of our house. We will also have a real tree to put our presents under. The following Christmas I was strong enough to open up that box.It was nice to hang some of our family's traditional ornaments on a real tree.
 So, as the Christmas season approaches, begin now to discuss with your family the best way for you to endure the holiday. Maybe you will choose to keep everything the same. Maybe you will choose to do everything different. Or perhaps, like me, you will find ways to graciously blend the two. Whatever you choose, I wish you and yours the best. Remember, it is okay to be happy and it is okay to be sad. Allow yourself to experience this holiday season in whatever ways help you on your grief journey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

86,400 Seconds...

 Time can be a funny thing. Some days we don't even realize how quickly the time passes. What about the old adage, "Where did the time go?" or "Time flies so quickly." As we grow older and add children into our mix, time can escape us without us even knowing until we look in the mirror and see a gray hair staring us in the face! Or perhaps we realize 20 years have passed when we get an invitation to our high school reunion. Or maybe we realize time flew by and life is short when we attend a funeral for someone our age! What if that someone is your spouse? What if at the end of their life, you realize 20 something years went by like the blink of an eye...
 Once you are staring death in the face up close and personal, you see just how precious every moment is; every second really does count. And you think to yourself, "Where did the time go? What would we have done differently if only we knew today would be your last?". The thing about life is, you can't rewind the hands of time to change one thing. All we really have is today!
24 hours
1,440 minutes
86,400 seconds
That is it. That is all we have. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised the next moment. All we have is RIGHT NOW! I wonder if we really grasp that. Can our human minds truly comprehend this truth? I am not sure we really can begin to understand it until death is at our front door. Even then, we sometimes allow time to slip through our hands, unnoticed and without purpose.
 So what would you change about the way you live if you knew that today was your last 86,400 seconds? How would you spend each one? Would  you spend them worrying about money? Or fighting with a loved one? Or complaining about this or that or so and so or such and such? Would you spend them carelessly, believing that you don't need to worry about the end of your life because it is so far away? Would you spend them recklessly by texting and driving or experimenting with drugs? Would you spend them hurting someone else? Perhaps you might spend those last moments reaching out to a friend in need? Maybe you will spend them at the homeless shelter serving food? What if you spent them in the arms of the one you love most?
 If you are reading this post: YOU ARE ALIVE! YOU HAVE BREATH!
Make each one count!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time Reveals...Not Heals...

 It has been said so many times by so many people, "Time heals", especially when someone loses a loved one. Today I got to really thinking about that very simple statement. Since it has been some time since my beloved husband passed away, I find there is no truth in that statement. In fact it is not a true statement at all, but a very empty promise. You see, it has been 757 days since that tragic day that Erik died, and I can tell you that in that time, I have not healed. Hear me out please! This is the definition of heal: "to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; freedom from ailment. To bring to an end or conclusion." When you see the word heal in its true meaning you can begin to see why that statement is incorrect. Grief is a journey that has no end. I will never be free from the pain I feel from the loss of Erik. I will never be restored to the way I was prior to his death. 
 I have found though that instead, "Time reveals". The definition of reveal is this: "To make known through divine inspiration." Wow! And that is just what I want to share with you. It is through His divine inspiration that He has revealed to me His grace, mercy, and love through my suffering. He has begun to reveal to me my purpose here on earth. It took a great tragedy and a broken heart for this to happen. God uses the sufferings we go through to reveal His glory in us. This is what the Scriptures say, " For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18. I can read that with a confidence and a comfort, knowing that my sufferings have a greater purpose. 
 Time has revealed so many things about myself; who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming. Time revealed to me the ugliness of my sin that once gripped me and made me a person that today, I am ashamed of. Time revealed to me the true character of Jesus Christ and what it means to be a follower of Him. God has used this time to allow me to minister to others who are gripped with the pain of losing someone they love deeply. Time has revealed to me the bigger picture of this life and just how short and precious it really is. We can tend to take life for granted. We can even take our loved ones for granted. We can be so caught up in our happiness that we don't realize how that can all change in just a blink of time. 
 God has not promised a life free from sufferings. In fact He says just the opposite of that. We find throughout the Bible that God tells us that we will suffer just as Christ suffered. We will have trials and afflictions. But according to the New Living Translation Bible notes, " Our suffering can make us more sensitive servants of God. People who have known pain are able to reach out with compassion to others who hurt. If you have suffered, ask God how your experience can be used to help others." Isn't that so cool? Perhaps if we can grasp this truth and allow God to reveal this perspective to us, we can better walk through our journey of grief. 
 I will never be completely healed from my pain caused by Erik's death. That pain will only end when I die and go to Heaven. But I can continue to allow God to reveal great things to me so that my journey is a little easier to bear. If you have recently experienced a loss, I encourage you not to hold onto the empty statement that " time heals". Don't allow that to cause you to stumble or remain frozen in your grief. You must move forward and allow time to reveal things to you. And as you have these revelations, allow God to use you to help someone else who is also going through sufferings. If you are reading this and you know someone who is currently on a grief journey, I implore you not to say this empty statement to them. In fact, I implore you to say nothing at all. Just be there for them. Just sit and listen to them grieve. Reach out and embrace them. Hearing this statement can frustrate those who are grieving. Pray for them that God would reveal great things to them on their journey. That is the best gift you can give them. 
 It is truly my prayer that God would use my sufferings to encourage others. I want my life to have purpose; His purpose. 
 Time has not healed me, but time has revealed to me that with His help I can learn to live with the pain. In the weakness of my sufferings, He is made strong in me. And so, even Erik's death has a greater purpose that daily God reveals to me little pieces of that truth. In those moments of revelation, I am comforted.

Friday, August 24, 2012

731 Days

It has been 731 days since Erik left his home here on earth to reside for eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ. 731.... I didn't even think I would be able to live 1 day without him...but here I am...I have lived 700 days longer than I ever thought possible. So how did I make it this far? It has only been with the strength that I have received through Jesus Christ. That is the only way that I can explain to you how I have carried on. I can only give Him the glory for the story that is being written. It is only through Him that I have found purpose and meaning and the will to go on. Has it been an easy journey? Not at all. It has been a long journey with many bumps along the way. And the journey is not over. It won't be over until I too am called to my eternal home. But by His grace, He has provided for me and for my children. He has taken the brokenness and the ashes and is turning them into something beautiful. Something that only He can receive the credit for. I praise Him for that provision. I praise Him for all the amazing people that have been a part of this journey. I praise Him that He is the God who heals. There is a jar in Heaven with my name on it and He is gathering all my tears and putting them inside. He is restoring to me joy everlasting. I have been blessed beyond measure. To have been blessed with love once is amazing, but to find it twice is a miracle. Those words echo in my mind. Words typed to me today by my one and only sister. How true are those words. Sorrow is a very personal journey. No one experiences this loss the same. Time will not erase the pain, but it will only make it easier to endure. Erik will be missed by me until the day I die. But I will press on. I will cling to the Truth that sets me free. I will trust in the Only One who can truly bring me through this horrible pit. Life is so short and so precious. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised the next moment. We only have right now. Make it count. And if you don't know the Giver of all life... He is waiting to embrace you. You are only here because of Him. I will praise Him with all that I am and all that I have...even through grief and sadness. He works all things together for good and I will believe that! Psalm 73:1 begins with these 4 words, "Truly God is good..." Yes He is!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Hole

Just below the surface of a broken heart lies raw emotions that are dormant...waiting to come alive....

 Many things can stir those emotions and bring them up to the surface. For my kids, it was the amazing bereavement camp they attended this past weekend that seemed to stir up a lot of different emotions. Not for them I might add,  but for myself and Norm as well. Grief can be an ugly thing to have to face. There is no way to sugar coat it. What my kids feel is real and raw. I can't fix it, take it, get rid of it, or carry it for them. That in itself can be very hard for me as a parent. We don't want our kids to hurt. I don't want my kids to be without their daddy. But they are. He isn't coming back. It is not like a movie. We can't hit the rewind button. We can only go forward from here. Learning how to do that is a process. Grief is a journey. What I am about to share in this post may be hard for some to read. It is hard for me to write. It is even harder to live. But I have always believed that God is using our story for His glory. I pray that it only encourages others and points the way to Him.
 It seems that camp stirred up a lot of different things for each of us. For Ryan, it stirred up more of his anger. He has been the most angry since Erik's death. Totally understandable! But I want to help him learn how to overcome the anger so that it doesn't overcome him. I don't want him to grow up to be an angry man, husband, and father. Anger is like a cancer that can slowly eat away at you. I don't have all the answers, but I am trying to learn how to help him on this journey. I am angry too. I am angry that God allowed Erik to die so young. I am angry that my kids have to grow up without him. I am angry that Erik is no longer on this earth. He was such a good man! A good friend, a good worker, a good husband, a good father. When I see how his death has hurt my kids: I am angry! But I must learn how to not let my anger rule over me. It takes time. It doesn't go away with the snap of a finger. One thing I have discovered is that grief is never-ending. It will never go away. It will always be there in some form in our lives. It is a hole that can never be filled....
 That brings me to my next point:"The Hole". The empty space that remains where Erik used to be. Valerie is the one who came up with this picture. She is wise beyond her years. She never ceases to amaze me. God continues to use her in my life to help me on my journey. No matter what it is we are doing in this life, Erik will never be there to be a part of it. That reality breaks my heart. Allow me to share hear from my Face book page:

Wrote this song and/or poem as I ponder something Valerie said to me recently. When talking about her new life, now that her precious daddy is gone, she talked about there being sad in everything. And then she said that there was a hole in everything without him. In her words," We can go to Canobie Lake Park, but Daddy isn't there to have fun with us, and we can laugh, but he isn't here to laugh with us." Those words just about shattered my heart. I hate that my kids must endure this pain the rest of their lives. The pain I feel in my heart for them is so overwhelming. Grief is a journey that is full of ups and downs and bumps and bruises. It doesn't get easier, you just learn how to live with it (if that's possible). I never thought this would happen to my family....

There's a hole in my heart
It's been here since you went away
Nothing seems to be able to fill it up
Just have to learn to live with it every day

We can laugh
But you won't be there to laugh with us
We can play 
But you won't be there to join us
We can cry 
But you won't be there to hold us
We can learn
But you won't be there to teach us
We can live
But you won't be there to see us

There's a hole in everything
Nothing's as it used to be
There's still a me but there's no you
How can I ever make it through?
There's a hole in everything I do

  The truth is, the hole will never go away. At games, graduations, weddings, funerals, amusement parks, birthday parties, Superbowls, movies, whatever: Erik will NEVER be there to experience it with us! He won't be in any of the photographs. He won't walk Valerie down the isle or hold her in his arms for their dance. How do you get through that? I am not sure. I don't have all the answers. We will face those milestones as they come. We will face them together and with God's help. That is all we can do. 
 The days following camp have been hard on Dan as well. Last night he just couldn't stop crying. My heart aches for him. He is so sweet and caring. His heart is so tender. He has been having a rough streak in baseball and it has really taken a toll on him. He has also been struggling with school. Academically he is doing excellent! But the garbage and filth that surrounds him there is really bothering him. All the swearing from kids and kids teasing him for just being Dan...really upsets me. You see in 7th grade I guess it isn't "cool" to be nice to girls or to autistic kids. I am so proud of who Daniel is! I am proud that he is nice to everyone! I pray that God would shut the mouths of the lions in his life for him! 
 It has been a rough road for my kids. They have had so much change in such a short amount of time. So much is different now. I know that they miss their old lives. I know that they miss Erik every moment of every day. They always will. Now we are faced with learning how to deal with what is in front of us. Allowing God to use us for His glory. Remaining who we always were in Christ before this happened to us. It has not been an easy journey. I am thankful that Comfort Zone Camp was able to stir up all these emotions so that we can embrace them and learn how to deal with them. 
 I am sad for "The Hole" that still remains. It is in my heart and in my life as well. I have never stopped missing or loving Erik. I never will. There will always be a hole in my life without him. This is my journey on learning how to live with that....

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Window in Time

 It is interesting to me to see this beautiful story of mine unfold. It is neat to be a witness of the small little pieces that begin to fit together to make the puzzle whole. There is a part of my story that I have never shared before. I was reminded of it yesterday as I sat and visited with a dear friend who was used by God to be a part of this beautiful story! Her name is Jenn and she is a faithful and obedient woman of God. I say this because, if she was not obedient to God when He placed on her heart what He wanted her to pray for me, perhaps a different story would be being told. She was obedient when it did not make sense to her and when she had no idea of the beautiful story that was about to take place in my life! Allow me to share her part with you now.
 Shortly after hearing the news that Erik had died, (even before the funeral people!) God told Jenn to pray that a man would come into my life for me to love and be a wife to! You see, Jenn just knew in her heart that I was created to be a wife and God kept confirming that to her! That is what I do best and love the most! She is so right!!! After Erik died I was so lost and so sad. I LOVED being his wife! I loved serving him, caring for him, and loving him. It was my deepest passion! So Jenn was troubled for me. Even though to her it did not make sense or feel appropriate to pray that prayer for me at the very beginning of my grief, she obeyed God and did it anyway! Yesterday as her and I were talking and reflecting on this, she had a huge revelation from God! It was an incredible moment in time that I will never forget! She was telling me how weird it was for her to be praying that for me because she knew at the time I would have been angry and would have refused to believe that there would ever be another man in my life for me to love. And just then it hit her! There was only a small window of time for my heart and then it would be closed forever and I probably would have driven off the road with my kids in the van. You see, during the early stages of losing Erik, that is exactly what I wanted to do. I felt that I could not go on another moment. I couldn't take watching my kids suffer such deep pain. Even when Norm was first in my life, I struggled with these thoughts. Jenn was overwhelmed at this thought, as was I. To the world,it probably seemed very sudden that I was seeing someone new. But to God, it was perfect timing! He knew what I needed when I needed it! 40 days after Erik died, Norm came over to my house for the very first time. I felt something that very day. I was so scared by what I felt and I couldn't understand it. But you see!!!! God knew! He knew Norm and I were destined to be together! He knew that meeting him and falling in love with him needed to happen when it did! 40 days!!!!!!! To those of you who are Bible scholars, you will see how significant this number is! Looking this up online I found this about the number 40: It is related to a time of testing and ends with a blessing! Wow! Think about that for a minute! Jenn had no idea what God was doing in my life! She had no idea that 40 days after Erik's death her prayers would be answered! 
 So the revelation Jenn had yesterday about a "window" into my heart was so very true! A 40 day window I guess you could say!!! That is why right away God pressed in hard on Jenn's heart to pray for me! A lesson we can all learn from this: if God places something on your heart to pray no matter how strange it is: PRAY IT! You may be just the vessel God is wanting to use in their story!!!!!! Thank you Jenn for being a HUGE part of my beautiful story!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cleaning & Healing

 Cleaning can be exhausting physically, but did you know it could also be emotionally draining as well? Since I moved into my new house here with my new husband, I haven't really unpacked all my things. With so much going on, it just got put on the back burner. But the clutter continued to pile up and I had had enough! So, this past week, I started tackling the clutter and the boxes. I wasn't expecting this time to be one of tears though. But, you forget about certain things until you come across them in a box. In those boxes were pictures of Erik and of a life from long ago. Papers written on, pictures drawn from my kids. Books I used to read to the kids, Bible studies I have gone to, Marriage conferences Erik and I attended, home school books I once used, and so much more. I started cleaning on what would have been my dad's 72nd birthday. I found so many memories of him too. Some things would just send me into a crying heap on the floor. Some things took me by surprise. At the end of the first day, I was emotionally spent. When Norm came home, he embraced me and I just started crying. He is so tender and caring. He poured me a nice glass of wine and gave me a nice back rub!! What a great way to end an exhausting day. 
 Day 2 of cleaning brought with more emotions, but I feel like I was better prepared! It was more papers than pictures I discovered as I cleaned out drawers full of stuff! I filled a large box full of trash! Funny how we tend to hold onto things! But each time we clean, it seems to get easier to throw things away. Of course the hardest things for me to come across are bills from Erik's death or things related to the funeral. It is still so hard to believe he is gone! And getting rid of home school books and the desks my kids once used was also very hard for me. The thought that I will never teach them again is too hard to think about sometimes. I miss the days when we were all together all day long! My life is just so different now.... not that different is bad... it is just different.
 Discovering these memories made me very thankful for so many things. Thankful that we did the things we did. Thankful that I saved all those precious moments in time. It also made me thankful for where I am today. I have truly been blessed beyond measure! I have a wonderful new husband that wants to experience those memories with me. He wants pictures of Erik to be hung in the house for all to see! That means so much to me! He is just so loving and caring! I know deep in my heart that we were created to be together! We complete each other! He is a great man and I know Erik would be so happy that he is the man God chose to love and care for us! I am also thankful for the 2 young men that are my step sons! They are such a great addition to my life and to my heart! I am honored to be their step mother and to be able to love them and care for them also. 
 So with my cleaning, also came a stage in my healing. I was able to look at my past, but also able to SEE my future. I know that God had a greater purpose in taking Erik home to be with Him. I know that God always intended for Norm and I to be together. It is just the way the story was written by God! He is the Author and Finisher of life! That means more to me now than it ever did before!!!!!! So I will cling to that in the hard moments of life. 
 I challenge you, my reader, what is waiting for you to "clean out"? Is there a room in your house or your heart that needs some de-cluttering? When we begin to remove the clutter, we are better able to SEE more clearly what God is doing in our lives! Maybe today is your day! Be blessed!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stones of Remembrance

 Talking with a dear friend yesterday, an idea really struck me. She was talking about how when Joshua was traveling, God wanted him to set up stones to remember what He had done. Sometimes we need reminders because we can really get lost and caught up in all the negative things in this life. When you are in the midst of troubling circumstances, it can be really hard to focus on the good that God has done in your life. When you have continued hardships, it can almost become impossible to remember the good.  It is good for me to get together with friends and talk about  my story and all that God has done. It really helps me to remember the amazing things that God has done in the midst of my pain and sadness. To see how far He has brought me. To see the amazing way that He chose to heal me and the kids. It makes me love Him more. It makes me appreciate Norm even more. What an amazing gift from God Norm is to my life and the life of my kids. I am so thankful! I also look back and remember how God used some really amazing people to minister to me through my journey of grief. Today I want to place them as stones on my blog as a remembrance and a memorial:
* Russ: for dropping everything (including 3 days of work) to be with me and the kids. Your presence meant more to me than you may ever know. I am so glad that you are my "brother"!
*Selina: For driving an hour in the middle of night just to come and hug me! No words necessary!
* Kim and Scott: For just being there! For driving me to the ER...for hugging me just cuz, for popping in to make sure I was okay... I felt safe knowing you were right next door!
*Th: Where do I begin... for getting on a plane to be with me! For answering the phone, holding me close, wiping away my snot and tears, suggesting Waterboy so we could all enjoy a laugh..for being the BEST sister EVER!
* Sue: shopping, cooking, the use of your camper... your love touched my heart deeply!
* Leanne: helping Sue with the above! :) And your hugs!
*Ma: It may seem small and insignificant to you, but the times you came and just cleaned up my house, played a game with the kids, and the money you send; these all mean so very much to me! Thank you!
*Cheryl: No hesitation to get on the plane and spend a week with me! Couldn't have made it through without you! I love you my BFF forever!
*Melissa: You amaze me! Your presence at just the right time... holding me in your arms... you know exactly what you did for me! Thank you for being Jesus here on earth for me! I love you so very much! You saw the rawest part of my grief...
*Deanne: coming a long way after not even being in my life for a long time... and cutting my kids' seemed small, but it was HUGE! Thank you again!
*Patrice: Thank you for remembering Erik's birthday and sending me that card! I will never forget it!
*Marsha: your cards, your love, your prayers....
*Cheryl: Your continued support.. letting be real with you.. I love you my dear friend...thank you for always being a phone call away!
*Stevie: Where do I begin "Bestie"?? Your continued support has carried me through this journey these past 20 months! Your hugs, your honesty, your love, your smile... I love you more than words can ever say!
*Kristen: Our weekly "dates" were such an encouragement to me in the beginning of my journey. I looked forward to seeing you everytime! You were a breath of fresh air to my hurting soul! Even though our dates are no longer weekly... God is still using you in my life! I love you girl!!!
There are more "stones", but that is for another time to remember! These were the stones at the top of my heart today! It feels so great to list them here! My biggest stone is about to come home from work! Talking about him today, and our story, only made me fall in love with him all over again! I am truly thankful that God placed Norm in my life!
 Take some time now to write out your own stones! You will be amazed at the renewed joy it will bring to your heart!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life Experiences

On my way to taking Valerie to school this morning, she told me about a paper she had to write in school. It was  about an experience that changed your life. You had to talk about how you adapted, etc. I was a bit surprised when she told me that she didn't write about her daddy dying. She said it would have made her sad all day and she didn't feel comfortable writing about it. She chose to write about our move to Pelham. She said she wrote about throwing things away to adapt to her new room, going to school, etc. What she said next really makes me think. She said that a lot of kids didn't have anything to write about it. Truth is, at the age of 10 most kids don't have a huge experience that has changed their lives. Valerie has had MANY! Not just one life changing experience, but several. What amazes me the most is how strong she is. How she truly has adapted to these changes in her life. She is such an encouragement to me. She is much wiser than a typical 10 year old. We have conversations and I feel as if I am talking to a woman. Interesting that her name means "strong". Coincidence? I think not! God knew when He placed her in my womb who she was going to be. He knew all the life experiences she would face. I am certain she will have many, many more life changing experiences. I stand in amazement at how she faces these challenges. Even the day after Erik died she was strong. As I lay there in the fetal position crying, she came and sat with me, opened up her Bible and read Psalm 138 to me. God continues to use her in my life on the journey I have been on since I encountered my biggest life changing experience. Time and time again I am left speechless at her wisdom. I am learning so much about life from her! I am so thankful that she has allowed her life experiences to grow her and not to utterly crush her. She has such a positive outlook on life. One that I am trying to grasp for myself. I know that God is going to use her in a mighty way throughout her life. I know that she will be able to encourage many as they face challenges that devastate them. Today I write this to encourage you (and myself) to think about how you adapt to life experiences and changes. Change can be very hard (especially for me). There is a song by Kutless called "Changing World" and one of the lines says "There's nothing wrong with  my changing world, though something's gone, there's nothing wrong with my changing world". That is actually my ring tone when Norm calls my cell phone. It is a continual reminder to me. My life has been changed drastically, but that doesn't mean it is wrong. It is just different now and I have to learn to adapt.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


 I heard a new song the other day by Mercy Me. It is called The Hurt and the Healer. It really spoke to me right where I was at that day. It felt as if the song was penned just for me. It is cool how God always seems to use music in my life. He knows just what I need to hear and how I need to hear it. Through the years He has used music in very powerful ways in my life. Music has helped me in the healing process time and time again. One of the lines in the song says this: "Where the hurt and the Healer collide." That is what is taking place in my life. My hurt is on a collision course to the only One who can truly heal my broken heart. This collision is not an easy one to endure.
 To an outsider it may appear that my hurt is all gone. Sometimes I think that people must think that because I remarried, I must not be sad anymore. Well, unless you have suffered a loss such as this one, you may not understand the ups and downs of it all. Although I have moved forward and fallen in love with someone else, I am still very much in love with Erik. I miss him everyday. My heart still hurts when I look at pictures of him. I ache when I see a dad and his children. I hurt beyond measure when one of my children is sad about their daddy. At times I can crash at the thought of all that is lost. Flashbacks of his death haunt me.
 Grief is a journey to be traveled a life time. I don't believe that I will ever truly be "over" his death. I believe I will always miss him and forever love him. Throughout my life there will be milestone moments that he will not be a part of. I know my heart will ache when my kids graduate and marry. When my first grandchild is born, I know I will cry tears that are so bittersweet. So many things he will miss. My heart aches for my kids and how they will cope with those moments in their lives when their daddy isn't there.
 When I married Norm is wasn't "The End" to my pain and suffering. This story isn't finished yet. If I were to write a book about this Beautiful story, I wouldn't end it that way at the end of the pages. My story may not even end with my death. Perhaps it will continue long after I am gone. Maybe it isn't a story at all, but a legacy. That is something to think about.
 I truly do not understand why God chose me for this. Why He chose me to endure so much pain. At times I can feel really angry about it. At times I find myself saying to Him that I don't want to be like Job. "For such a time as this"....words to Esther... perhaps I may never know why. Maybe if I knew I still wouldn't understand. But for now, all I can do is allow the Healer to heal me. Allow the collision to take place.Yield to His loving embrace.
Click on the link below to hear the new song.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


 I knew this year was going to bring with it many changes. I am certain that there are even going to be changes that I don't even know about it. But the changes I did know about have already come to pass.... I am now a wife again! I have been blessed to be married to the second most amazing man that I have ever met! I am not sure what I did to deserve this, but I know that God must love me A LOT! What a blessing it is to have Norm as my husband and as the step father to my children! He is such a good man! I am truly thankful!!!
 I was also anticipating for Daniel, my middle child, to begin public school. I had actually intended on home schooling him until June and putting him into 8th grade in the fall. Well, things changed and Daniel actually started school this past Tuesday! It was the beginning of a new semester for the kids so I thought the timing was good. Daniel was nervous and excited all at once. I on the other hand was having a really hard time with this! The night before he started school, I cried myself to sleep. I just couldn't stop the tears from flowing. Then on Tuesday, I couldn't stop crying either! As I drove Daniel to school, I could feel the tears beginning to well up. Daniel turned to me and said, "Don't cry Mom.". But it was too late...the tears began to flow. I pulled it together enough to walk him into to the school and to his homeroom teacher's class. As I turned to leave him there, my heart was heavy. I couldn't get out of the building fast enough. I got into my van and just wept and wept. Heavy sobs were escaping from the very depths of my heart. My life as I once knew it was over. I think it was one of the hardest days of my life. I can't explain to you exactly why this day was harder than last September when Ryan and Valerie went off on their public school adventure, but it just was. Perhaps it is because Daniel was the last one home. Maybe some of the tears had to do with the fact that Tuesday was the 24th. Exactly 17 months that Erik has been gone. He died on a Tuesday.... I don't like Tuesdays.... Maybe it was because I couldn't stop thinking about all the great times I had over the years being home with my kids! I love them so much! I enjoyed our days together! I loved the freedom we had to just get up and go on a trip! The freedom to stay in our pj's or do school on the picnic table. How fast it seems that those years went by. Maybe some of the tears were because I never imagined public school as a part of our lives. Perhaps some of my heartache is the fear that I have disappointed Erik somehow. He was so passionate about the kids being home schooled. But life changed that day back in August of 2010. Everything changed. I cannot go back, I can only go forward.
 And so, I am daily trying to adjust to these changes. I am trying to pick myself and move forward. My dear sister said something to me the other day that really struck my heart. She told me that I couldn't keep them all to myself. That they needed to be known by others because they are great people! How true that is! They truly are amazing people! Each in their own ways! This adventure into public school is as much for them as it is for others! I will cling to that truth to help me through this. It is so strange being home without any kids here. It is so quiet. I miss being able to steal a hug whenever I want one. I miss calling one of them to lend me a hand. I miss hearing the sweet sounds of their voices. But it does give me something to look forward to in the afternoon.
 I know that I will be okay. In time, I will adjust. I am learning so much about myself on this journey I have been on since Erik died. I have endured so much pain and change. It hasn't broken me completely. I am being restored. Praise His name forever!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A BEAUTIFUL New Beginning

Yesterday, January 15th, Norm and I became husband and wife. We had a private ceremony with just us and our 5 children. It was very nice. Then, we went out to eat at a nice Italian restaurant. They even sang to us in Italian and gave us a yummy dessert! It really was a beautiful celebration! I am sharing our vows that I wrote since no one could see or hear what took place! I am truly happy! Praise the Lord that there is beauty from the ashes!

                                                              Norman and Samantha
                                        January 15, 2012

 Today something BEAUTIFUL is about to take place! Today God is joining 2 families together. Today we witness the truth of God’s Word together when He says that beauty comes from ashes. That is truly what has taken place between Norm and Sam. It was God’s hand that brought them together after a sudden tragedy. Their union was foreshadowed by the prayers of Erik. Only God knew the future that lie ahead. He knew the brokenness that needed healing. He chose to heal the brokenness in such a unique and amazing way. Only He can receive the credit for this story.
 Today is not just a day for Norm and Sam, but also a day for Evan, Derek, Ryan, Daniel, and Valerie; two families coming together to become one.  Today, 7 lives are about to embark on a wonderful journey together. This family will now be known to all as the Sage/Higgins Family. These 7 lives will learn about life and love together. This will be a family bonded together by the hand of God.
 Norm, do you promise today to love, honor, and cherish Sam as long as you live? Do you promise to be faithful to her always? Do you promise to be willing to listen to her and respect what she has to say? Do you promise that no matter how frustrated you may become with her stubbornness, you will never leave her? Do you promise to take care of her in whatever she needs? Do you promise to work together with her to make your marriage the best it can be?
 Sam, do you promise today to love, honor, and cherish Norm as long as you live? Do you promise to be faithful to him always? Do you promise to be willing to listen to him and respect what he has to say? Do you promise that no matter how frustrated you become with his stubbornness, you will never leave him? Do you promise to take care of him in whatever he needs? Do you promise to work together with him to make this the best marriage it can be?
 Norm, do you promise to love, respect, and guide Ryan, Daniel, and Valerie? Do you promise to raise them as your own the rest of your life? Do you promise to support them in all that they do? Do you promise to keep the memory of their daddy alive always? Do you promise to care for them if something should happen to their mother?
 Sam, do you promise to love, respect, and help guide Evan and Derek? Do you promise to be there to support them in all that they do? Do you promise to care for them if anything should happen to their dad?

 Now that you have each made these promises to each other and to the children, I now pronounce you husband and wife! Kiss your bride!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year...New Family....

As we enter this new year I have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. 2011 was a year of growth and change. It was the first full year that Erik never saw. Such a strange thought. It was a year of learning how to move forward with my life. I made a lot of changes. I enrolled 2 of my kids into public school. I embraced 2 new "sons" into my life and my heart. I said goodbye to my horse, my house, and my old life. I stand in awe and wonder as I look behind me at the year past and all that I have been through. Sometimes I truly wonder how I managed to make it this far. Sometimes it is hard to believe this is my life.
 Today I stand at the doorway of a new beginning. I have much to look forward to in this coming year. Lord willing, I will be able to see it all. I will see my oldest step son graduate high school. I will see my step son and my oldest son drive cars! Yikes! I will see my middle son begin his journey in public school. I will see my daughter start middle school! I also be a bride this year! What else is ahead for me? Well, only God really knows that. I will just have to wait and SEE...
 On Christmas Eve I was able to capture a wonderful moment of my new family. With us in the picture is Norm's 95 year old mother. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever had the privilege to meet and to love. Look at the smiles on all of our faces! God has truly brought together 2 families that have experienced loss and brokenness and is making something new and BEAUTIFUL! This truly is a beautiful story. There really are riches in the midst of pain. I am so honored and blessed to have Norm and his boys in my life. I am also so blessed to have the rest of Norm's family as my own. They are such amazing people! My heart swells as I think of all the good that has come from the tragedy of loss. I have no doubt that God is good and He loves us so much!
 So today, I wait to SEE all that He has for me in 2012!!!