Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stuff.. how much of our lives to we spend wanting stuff, changing our stuff, buying stuff, envying others stuff. Mike would fall into the category of "minimalist stuff enthusiast" for sure. When we married, EVERYTHING he owned fit into a two door Geo Metro and that included a large TV. Even so, all of Mike's stuff is still here. Mike is not. I wish it was the other way around.

So after Mike went to heaven, some of the stuff that I really wanted to clear out quickly was his medical stuff - wheelchair, iv poles, medicines, etc. I didn't (and still don't) want to remember Mike sick. I want to fill our lives with memories of him laughing, healthy, and doing what he loved. The story I am about to tell can only be a visual of how God truly does move on this earth and has a plan for things far beyond our vision, our imagination, and even our national boundaries.

After Mike passed away, I had in my refrigerator thousands (literally) of dollars worth of Neupogen and other drugs. At one point, I saw on a medical insurance bill that the Neupogen was billed at $1,000 per shot and I had 15 left. Neupogen is one of those miracle medicines that has come along to increase the white blood cell production in your blood. That is very important to a cancer patient. Chemotherapy can kill white blood cells and without white blood cells even the common cold can kill you. I tried for a long time to give them away to people that might be able to use them. I was not going to throw them away. Every time, I would come up empty and they just sat. At church, I ran into Dr. Armstrong who not only treated Mike twice in the emergency room, but also leads a Medical Mission Trip to Africa each year. We actually have things in common like our daughters play the oboe together in band and his wife led the summer musical that Elizabeth was in two years ago. We don't run in the same circles, but cross paths all the time. Anyway, I asked him if he could use some of Mike's medical supplies. So he came over one afternoon last year and went through all the medications and supplies with me. We dumped some and he took others. He left the Neupogen and went about researching if they could use it in Uganda and then how to transport it 20 + hours and keep in cold with all the other medical equipment and supplies he took over there. He was able to take them and Dr. Armstrong told me he would take pictures and get them to me. I didn't need them. I knew God had a plan for them. I had tried so hard to give them away here, and things seems to fall into place so quickly and easily for them to go to Uganda.

Today, Dr. Armstrong called and said he finally had the video and pictures for me. I was grateful, but honestly had forgotten about it and wasn't expecting what I saw. I literally cried when I saw it. in the video, when he hands the neupogen over and they talk about the milligrams and the eyebrows of the lady raise up... now that is "stuff" that is more than stuff..

Paul Harvy would always say "now for the rest of the story" and it would be cool to tell you about a patient that used it or something like that. But Faith is believing in what you don't see. My faith tells me God used it for a His glory.

I BEG of you to click on this link and scroll down to the bottom of the page and watch this video and then comment and tell me if it moved you the way it moved me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

And it's here... One Year

One year tomorrow. One year. What I wouldn't give for one more moment with Mike. To say that we miss him doesn't even come close to expressing the yearning we have for him everyday. I still don't understand how Mike got cancer so fast and so deadly. Even though it has been 2 1/2 years since Mike got cancer, it doesn't seem that long. It is one of those moments that defines your life. Marriage, birth, salvation, cancer, death....

I have to laugh at my last blog. I felt so strong and so ready to just go. Then the regression happened. Honestly, Valentines Day was the worse. I wanted to shrivel up that day. Our church has been focusing on marriage and that is a heavy blow as well. The last few weeks, my emotions were as out of control as ever. If someone happened to mention Mike, marriage, ask how are you, the tears would just flow over. It really is just a constant pain, sometimes dull sometimes sharp, that you just learn to live with.

Yet, it occurred to me that as much as we miss Mike, it is like a LONG deployment. It never occurs to Elizabeth or I that we will never see him again. It is just going to be a long time before we see him again (God willing). This may sound weird, but that is comforting. I can't imagine grieving without the hope of eternity with Christ. Heaven is a real literal place. No, it is not floating on clouds. It is vibrant and full of life. Honestly, I don't fear death because Mike is there. Christ is there.

One year later, the paperwork is almost put to bed. I was able to get the VA to adjust the DIC payment (they forgot to add Elizabeth) and now all I am waiting is for DFAS to catch up to that. That should be handled shortly. So, really all i's are dotted and t's are crossed...

One year later, it feels very lonely sometimes. It is hard. I am still good at the "everything is great" face. I still love and drink in every moment when people visit or call or write.

One year later, Elizabeth is good at the 'everything is great" face, probably better than me. She is excelling at school, involved at church, doing great in band, and developing closer and closer friendships. She is also working it out with God, which brings me the greatest joy and peace. She misses her father more than probably I even know. He had a way to stretch her, challenge her, listen to her, engage with her that I can't match (nor could he match my ways with her either). But Mike is her foundation and that will never leave her. I thank God for that.

One year later and I wish there was a big red EASY button to push. For me and Elizabeth, I know it is going to take more than one year to be ok or "get over it" as some might think. But in my mind, Mike's loss is more than your average. He was so much more. He was Mike, my beloved husband and the "best Dad ever created" to Elizabeth. And because of that, Elizabeth and I have decided not to mark tomorrow. We are not going to mark his death, but celebrate his life and his legacy by living as we normally would.

One year later, now what? I still don't know. I still pray for wisdom, for a job that fulfills me, for parenting skills, for health, and to continue to know Christ in ways that I have never known.