Allowing Others to Serve Me

That is a tough one sometimes. Being the oldest of 5; I think that I know what is best for others. I can be rather strong in my suggestions, and I jump right in there to help them.

But taking a step back, and allowing others to speak into my life, or do something for me is difficult. I know how to ask for help after I have become overwhelmed, but in the asking I still feel like I am the one in charge (?)

For the first time in my life, I am actually finding comfort in someone putting their arm around me to guide me in a direction, and to help me make decisions.

I have surrounded myself with people who have the same belief system that I have, and allow them to speak into my life.

I have a large home, an agricultural property full of livestock. There are floors to mop, animals to feed, trees to trim and grass to mow. So much grass!

The riding lawn mower does not fit me. I really like the push mower, and I spend hours doing it. I can pray while I mow early in the morning before work, and I find it to be great abdominal exercise.

I am also gone a lot because I have found myself to be very active with my church group, and all the activities; like bowling, dancing, and dinners out.

But they have come; true friends. When the car batteries died, when the air conditioner broke, when the front yard flooded, when the pig got out and crushed the PVC pipe to the sprinklers, when the outside lights quit working, when the cable box went out, and when the batteries in the blue ray  remote went out. Don’t laugh, I never touched a remote when Steve was with me. Friends were there.

When my dog Cody was stolen, leaving us unprotected; and the coyotes came to eat half of my chicken flock. Friends came to take the chickens, and sheep to safety until I could figure out how to make things right for them here.

When I thought about selling; my sister came to help me box stuff up in order to stage the place. Now that I am not selling after all, I look at my beautiful home, and give a deep sigh. I like it uncluttered.

When I get a little anxiety about allowing others to help me, I just remember what a blessing it is for me when I help. Then I give them a hug, tell them how much their help has blessed me, and watch for that little light in their face.

The light that shows when you discover the joy of sharing your life’s abundance.

 

 

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Serving Others to Heal Myself

So I mentioned before that I switched churches. It  just did not feel right attending the church that Steve and I went to; without him.

On my very first day at the new bible study, created for singles over 50, I could see how there were many people that were hurting worse that I was. So I plopped myself down at a table of ladies, and began to make friends.

I asked them questions, and exchanged phone numbers with several. I called them during the week, and began to see how I could encourage them. That is how I am taking my mind off of my troubles; by helping others.

I found out that there was a very large group of singles from all over the valley that meets at this church on Monday night. So I attended that, and began making friends there too.

This particular singles group subscribes to the thought of “Friendshipping” rather than dating. That made me feel that I was in a safe place, and did not have to worry about guys coming on to me. I just was not interested. The pain was still to raw. I just needed friends. These friends go out in groups. They develop boy/girl relationships slowly and carefully. I have been dancing, bowling, going to dinner, and movies with both boys and girls in a way that does not make me feel that I have made some commitment or mistake. I can learn to play again without getting hurt. I like it.

I attended the church service a couple of weeks later, and found that the teaching was similar to where I had come from. So I decided that this is where I would call home, and I have.

 

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I Know From Where My Help Comes

I know how to ask for help.

I use my phone, my Facebook page and my knees.

I knew that eating well, keeping hydrated and exercising were of utmost importance during a time like this. I called a different friend or 5 everyday. They just listened. Thank you friends. I spent lots of time with family. But I spent more time on my knees than I ever did before. I prayed myself to sleep, I prayed when I first got up, and I prayed throughout the day. You would not have known it, because it was going on in my head. I needed that kind of comfort those first few weeks. Sometimes it felt that breathing was about the only thing that I could do under my own power. Anything else had to come from Him (Jesus).

My friends, family and patients all tell me that I came through it so fast and so well. They were amazed. I still do not know what they were talking about. Most of the time I do not really think that I heard what they were even saying.

What I will tell you is that when life knocked me to my knees, I chose to stay there. I looked for God in everything, and strained to hear His voice. He was there for me. What I realized is that He is always trying to commune with us, it is just that we are usually too  busy to hear Him. When we say that we sought after God, it is really that our situation slowed us down enough to really pay attention to Him.

My relationship with Him has been sweeter, and richer the last 6 months than it has ever been. It is up to me to keep it that way.

 

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Baby Steps Towards Healing

Before I go on, I just want to say that posting about my experience of losing my husband has brought surprising results.  I wrote out of a need for my own therapy, and a desire to possibly help others. But I had no idea the amazing amount of responses I have been getting. Thank you to all of you who have privately messaged me; to share your own stories of the pain of losing a loved one, and the guilt of moving on. One of you even shared how you feel judged by others for your own strength in moving on with your life. I share that with you; we all grieve and heal differently. But it does not mean that we loved any less.

I knew that I would grieve deeply even before Steve left. While I sat next to his bed, I wrote lists of things that I needed to do; because I was afraid that I would not be able to think straight once it was over.

The first things on my list were to eat the foods that I knew were going to heal my body, and  to exercise. So, I went through the cupboards and tossed everything that was not Paleo. Boxes of cereals, cookies, crackers, chips, noodles and Steve’s beloved twinkies. All gone. I also spent 30 minutes on my elliptical every day.

The second thing was to allow myself to cry. I did not cry with others, so many of my friends and family thought that I was not giving myself time to truly grieve. But they were not there at 2:30 in the morning, or on my drive home from work. Let me tell you, this girl can wail, talk to the wall, and question her own sanity without help, or encouragement from anyone.

The third thing on my list was to write lists. Every time I thought about something that I needed to do or buy; I wrote it down; because I did not want to forget it. I would now be doing all the things that Steve did so well. The simple act of changing a windshield wiper blade was completely foreign to me.

The fourth and most important thing was to reach out to friends, and to make new friends. I was determined not to lean too heavily on any one person. After all, I have lots of friends. Why not spread the burden around. A burden shared is not too heavy after all.

 

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The Aftermath

Steve had paid the bills. I just gave him my portion of the money to do so.

Although Steve created a budget for me from his hospital bed; there were still details that I had to figure out for myself. I was in a fog too, so it was a very interesting time. Changing accounts and passwords. Trying to maneuver the cobra insurance through Steve’s employer was probably the hardest. These things have taken me months.

In the first month; the air conditioner went out, the TV would not work, I ended up having the batteries replaced in 2 of the three cars. I finally sold the two extra vehicles. The irrigation sprung some leaks; flooding the front yard, and I was walking around like a zombie.

I avoided coming home until I had too. Friends and family slowly stopped coming by to “check” on me. That was hard. But I knew that everyone was busy. I had no children at home to keep me going, and the hobbies that I had learned to love had lost their flavor.

I tried to go back to church, but it was too painful to sit alone in the church that Steve and I attended together. So I prayed about where I should go. I knew that in order for me to heal; I needed to serve. The very day that I prayed about it; 3 different patients at work suggested the same church.

So I called the singles department. I said “I do not consider myself a widow, I do not consider myself a single. I am not looking for a man. I just need to serve. My ministry has always been to hurting women.” They said “Come on in”

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How Then Do I Live?

The kids all went home to their lives and families. But I returned to an empty house.

I cannot say that my life was empty. I still had friends and family. But when your life companion is gone; there are hours of emptiness and loneliness. Bedtime is the worst. Waking up to an empty bed is the worst, no wait-coming home from work to an empty house is the worst.

So what did I do? I went right back to work. The day after the funeral. I left the house a mess. I volunteered to work overtime, and I was gone as much as possible.

My gardens turned to weedy messes, my animals were barely attended to. The food rotted in the fridge, and the dust bunnies grew in size and number.

In my still hours though, I turned to God. I have been a Christian for many years, but now I had a hunger and thirst that I have not had in a long time. My prayers were constant and sweeter than I can ever remember. I can honestly say that losing my best friend drove me to my knees, and the peace that I was finding made me want to stay there.

Not only did I feel God’s presence near, but I felt Steve. Especially at night in our room. It was not scary or overwhelming. It was comforting.  Sometimes I spoke out loud to Steve, but mostly I talked to God. If I was not finding so much peace in it, I would have thought that I was going nuts.

The thing that I found most interesting was that I was always just a little afraid in this big    scary house, especially when Steve was out of town overnight. But to this day, I have not  felt one moment of spookiness since Steve has been gone. I still feel comforted and protected somehow. Thank you Steve.

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The Funeral

Steve passed on Friday morning. After that everything was just a blur. People brought food that I did not eat, cards that I neglected to read, and flowers that I forgot to water.

The family was just sitting around staring into space, in disbelief, horror and deep sorrow. We had all lost a man who meant so much to us in so many different ways.

I had opened my home unconditionally to his adult children. Steve’s son and his wife who had traveled the furthest to be here; stayed in my home for an additional few days. The need to be near family was very strong for them, and it brought me comfort to know that they were there.

I knew that my true grieving would come once the house was empty-but we had a funeral to get through.

Though I am not LDS, I live in a community that is heavily populated with the Mormon people. I have networked with them since we moved here. I love Mormons, I love how they live, and how they take care of each other. They refer to me as a “Dry Mormon”. The community also has a high regard for Steve as well, and offered their church building as a place for the funeral. They had their families make the food for the meal afterwards, and they were very generous. There was so much.

I don’t remember much of the funeral itself, the Bishop resided. Friends and family spoke. Music was played that meant so much to everyone. But the thing that I remember most were all the people that showed up on a Monday, with such short notice.

His work mates from Boeing not only came to the funeral, but also came to visit me several times afterwards at my home. I had no idea what an important man Steve was at his job!

Once the funeral was over and the kids all went home to their families. I went home to my empty house.

 

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