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My Vantage Point from Wedding Week

 

It’s a grey, snowy Monday here in our little mountain town. We’ve had a lot of grey this year, which isn’t at all typical.  Our city’s weather resume proudly lists “300 days of sunshine per year”, and I can feel the population collectively scanning the sky for signs of Merry & Bright.

 

I’m not doing much sky-gazing this week.  I’m keeping my head down and my shoulder to the wheel because I’m busy, y’all!  It’s wedding week.  Plus also it’s finish-the-basement-remodel-week.  Plus also Tori-moves-down-to-the-new-basement-apartment week, which means Bo-has-so-many-closets-to-clean-out-down-in-that-thar-basement week is also upon us.  Two big things that are very important to each of my wonderful daughters have converged at the same fixed point on the calendar.  A point on the calendar, by the way, that on it’s own carries such weighty reminders of Steve’s absence. I often find myself wanting to text him with wedding updates or remodel issues and it takes a minute for reality to splash up in my face and remind me he’s really, truly not here.

 

What I’m learning through this is that for any given situation, there are multiple vantage points, multiple realities, and each one is valid. Weddings are a lot of work and money and stress. So are remodels.  So is moving. So are the holidays. Each would be so much easier to do with my beloved here. Grief is hard to carry during already-emotional life events. These are just really real and there’s no point in arguing with them. However, I’m finding that the whole key to whether a day is grim or glorious is in my willingness to find alternative vantage points which allow me to see the equally valid, positive realities.

 

  • I have a home we love, with plenty of room for the people who share my life and my heartache.  All this remodeling business means I can share my home, but have my own space which is just about ideal in every way.
  • Doing all this during the last week of the year means we will all start the New Year with fresh new spaces – and one of us will even start it with a fresh, new name! I adore new beginnings.
  • The people I love most are about to converge upon my home to celebrate with us. For five years, I have wondered how I will survive my first New Year’s without Steve – now, I know for sure I won’t have to do it alone.
  • Biggest of all: my sweet daughter is about to marry the man of her dreams.  He is the man Steve and I have prayed for since before she was born.  Together, they will climb mountains and build dreams and GIVE ME MORE GRANDBABIES! (No pressure, Tess!)  Truly, this is a remarkable gift and it is worth the long to-do lists and the late-night planning sessions and 17 trips to Goodwill to find “just one more glass vase candleholder thingy” (I’ve collected well over 100 over the past 12 weeks.)

 

Multiple realities this week.  Some of them hard, but many of them holy and so, so beautiful.  I get to choose the way I see these things and I know that no one would argue if I wanted to cry  big, drippy tears of self-pity for a minute or a month.  But, I can’t.  I won’t.  I don’t have time! This week of wonder is too precious, too perfect, too important to sacrifice on the altar of a life-is-against-me mindset.  I may (read: definitely will) cry tears of joy and I may cry tears of wishing Steve could see all of this, but I refuse to view this week as bad or unfair or anything but a gift. This is my solemn vow.  Yes to the New Year.  Yes to weddings.  Yes to new life.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

December 28, 2015 - 8:58 am

Dawnette - Thought of you many times this past weekend, and will continue to pray that the wedding will be a blessing to all. Blessing sent your way from Denver.

December 28, 2015 - 10:12 am

Nancy Shaw - Talk about emotional train from one end to the other, God bless!

December 28, 2015 - 11:08 am

Faye Adams - Thank You for sharing you life.

December 28, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Dana - I just want to say thank you. Your sharing gives me hope and confidence that it is possible to survive. Not that I think otherwise, but there is comfort in witnessing someone else’s story (even in glimpses). My husband was diagnosed a little over a year ago. The habitual planner in me has a hard time not thinking too far ahead, which can be a very frightening and depressing place. Reading your posts help that planner part of my brain settle down so that my current-focused brain can handle business and enjoy today. Congrats on the wedding, the remodel, and new beginnings.

Yes to Seeing in The Dark

 

 

Grief is heavy today.  It’s awkward and cumbersome and frustrating and surprising.   Weird that it’s surprising, right? But it is, because so far the holiday season has been pretty much lovely.  It’s been fun to decorate and plan and shop and not worry about how Steve is or where we’re at in the Shadowland.  It hasn’t been overly-emotional or difficult and so maybe I thought I had moved into a new phase or something.  Not “through it” or “over it”, because I’m not yet convinced those phases exist, but maybe I thought I had moved into the “handling it” phase, like I had Olivia Pope’d my grief – all efficient and decisive and in control.  Heh.

 

This side-road of sadness snuck up on me because last week was awesome.  And Sunday was great. It was full of family and really fun.  But Sunday night, I felt the clouds roll in and I think I’ve identified the trigger point and I fear it’s going to sound crazy when I tell you what it was, but I’m telling you anyway because then you can tell me I am, in fact, not crazy.  So, I started on the gift-wrapping and it was going fine, until it came time to sign the tag.  To Josiah.  From…my pen hung in the air for a long time until I found the courage to write it.  Love, Mom.  Just Mom.  To Corey.  From….Bo. Just Bo.  Seeing my name all alone on the card made me feel as alone as I have felt since Steve went home and it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.

 

And that’s when the clouds rolled in, grey and weighty, with a suffocating kind of sadness. Usually they move in and out pretty quickly.  This time, they’ve lingered longer than I’d like – through two nights and two mornings and three coffee meetings and two Christmas movies.  Through driving and shopping and still more gift-wrapping.  I’ve fought it, but not very passionately.  I’ve jabbed at the air a bit, but I don’t think I’ve landed a real punch yet.  Grief makes you tired, is the thing, and sort of wild-eyed so I feel my aim is off.

 

This morning, I woke up and my Year of Yes seemed not just impossible, but invisible. Impossible, I can do.  I like impossible.  The quickest way to get me moving is to tell me it can’t be done.  But invisible? Different story. Today I have felt sorrow-blind, widow-blind and, consequently, Yes-blind.

 

But here’s what I know: I am following the One who can see in the dark.  I am living in relationship with the Light of the Whole Wide World, and though this corner is blind, He sees the entire road.  If I could see, I wouldn’t need Him to lead.  But I can’t, so I do.  I need Him. So much.

 

Because I have no other weapon to wield, I’m saying Yes to Day 143. The only day I can see.  The only truth I know – that He is good and all He does is beautiful.  He will be beautiful to me and in me and through me. Yes to that truth.  Yes to light.  Yes to life.

 

Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows. Isaiah 9:2

December 8, 2015 - 10:20 am

Heidi Rowles Friesen - How do you do it? How do you share such beautiful thoughts the pierce me right to the heart in wake of your difficulty? I need to lean into God’s protective arm more than ever today. I appreciate you so much for sharing in your vulnerability. You have given me a gift today. Thank you Bo.

December 8, 2015 - 11:08 am

Patty - Oh my word, this is *exactly* what happened to me yesterday….wrapping presents and the tag–from mom. Not mom and dad. Just mom. You are not crazy or maybe we are both crazy. My 12yr old was actually doing the wrapping–she brought me the pile and there were all the tags filled out “from mom”, and that pit in the stomach sets in. Now I have to finish the rest of the wrapping, she can’t wrap her own presents! I’m right there with you, Bo. Saying yes and clinging to the hope and truth we KNOW… whether I “feel” it at the moment or not I am saying yes.

December 8, 2015 - 5:17 pm

Kathy Dolyniuk - Oh Bo – this brought the tears.
The phrase “it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.” Yes – a whole new shadow land for them too.
I was 27 when I lost my mom and I look back and see that I was way to young and not ready for her to go so suddenly and violently (suicide). And we did not know God then. But now I know He does keep his promise to be a Father to the fatherless and I will be praying that over your kids and grand kids.

Kathy Dolyniuk

December 10, 2015 - 9:18 am

SCOTT M BARROW - HI BO STERN MY NAME IS SCOTT BARROW FROM A SMALL TOWN WASHINGTON NC. I ALSO HAVE ( ALS ) HAD IT SINCE 2013 AROUND 3 YEARS NOW YOUR STORY ABOUT STEVE WAS AMAZING. IT IS A DEVEASTATED DISEASE MY WIFE TAKES CARE OF ME ALSO . BUT I CAN STILL DO SOME THINGS IT HIT ME IN MY STOMACH AREA & WENT TO MY RIGHT LEG & NOW MY LEFT. MY UPPER PART IS OK BUT IS PROGRESSING. GOD WILL SEE US THREW IT. IM A STRONG MAN SOMETIMES I TELL PEOPLE IM HERE BUT GONE BECAUSE I AM BLESSED TO BE ALIVE BUT ALSO I HAVE ACCEPTED DEATH I FEEL LIKE IM HERE BUT GONE. I AM A CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF CHRIST & BLESSED TO HAVE SUCH A LOVING & CARING CHURCH FAMILY. JUST WANTED TO SAY HELLO & YOUR STORY IS AMAZING. GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY. THANK U SCOTT

December 10, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Jeanne Boyd - Dear Bo,
I’d like to meet you someday, I think. Well, actually I will because we’re both headed–no, promised–to go where both your Steve and my Neil now are.

I can tell you love to express yourself thru writing, and you do it in a way that sounds effortless, but as we have both learned from caring for our husbands, nothing that is truly beautiful or meaningful comes without high cost. But thank you for writing the book about your struggle together. (If I read your story I might want to write mine.)

Neil died 10 years ago in Sept. Yours is fresh. It aleays helps me grieve a little more, to know someone else’s story. I don’t think that’s wallowing in it but getting deeper and longer perspective.

Wishing you a Christmas of tender & beautiful surprises.

Jeanne

December 12, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Sally - Oh Bo, yes the blindsides!! I find myself cruising along, moving on, not sad, just doing and wham. I see his favorite juice in the grocery store that I went out of my way to buy, or his misplaced sock behind the dryer, or his writing in a cookbook, his gym bag in the back corner of the closet. So unexpected and I’m not prepared for the flood of emotions. But once the tears are done I cherish the memories and begin again

December 15, 2015 - 8:08 am

Deb Pence - I lost my husband of 45 years to ALS on August 1st this year.I have been reading your posts and get encouragement from them. When I went to wrap first Christmas gift, I experienced the same wave of grief that you described. Thank-you for sharing your feelings.

December 18, 2015 - 11:06 am

Melanie - Hi Bo, I am also a mother of 4 and this is my second Christmas without my husband. I read your Beautiful Battlefields book last year and it was a tremendous help to me. My husband was 40 years old and he passed suddenly on Sept 11, 2014. Our boys are 14 down to 6 years old and they miss him terribly. I experienced similar things with the gift tags and Christmas cards. Last year I could not send any cards, but this year I managed a few. Then I question if I should have sent them because it looks like someone is missing. Sometimes when the feeling is right and your not being washed over in grief I have to tell myself, “I can do this” He will always be in our hearts and like you I rely on the hope of seeing him again. Merry Christmas to your family and be easy on yourself!

December 19, 2015 - 11:05 am

Victoria - When it comes to grieving, the little things really are the big things. Before our daughter died 23 months ago I wrote the names of our four children on all gifts and cards that we gave to others. Since she died I write ‘and family’ as I cannot bear to not write her name.

December 29, 2015 - 12:22 pm

Ashley - Dear Bo, I was reading your current post on the wedding week, when I saw the little link to “saying yes to darkness” at the bottom of your page. I knew it was the Lord because that is the only word that I’ve been able to use to describe where I’m at. My father has been in a Coma, slowly dying for a year..we hoped for a better outcome but we just weren’t that fortunate. I couldn’t quite put into words how this one year anniversary has made me feel, I couldn’t find a scripture, it was all just dark. Until I read this. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being broken with all of us, we ache with you, you bear a light for us, blaze a trail, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for it. – Ashley

Saying Yes to Snow

 

My year of Yes kicks off with a biggie: snow.

 

I live in the mountains and I love it…in the summer.  Our summers are glorious. But winter snow, while lovely to look at from the couch, creates issues in my single-mom life, which are as follows:

 

  1. Driving in it.
  2. Shoveling it.
  3. I hate being cold.

 

And finally – and here’s a big and intimate one – snow is, for whatever reason, romantic to me.  Steve loved it – I mean he loved, LOVED it. That’s why he moved us here.  He loved watching it fall.  He even loved shoveling.  And every time it snowed at night, we would open the blinds on our window and lay in bed and watch it fall.  So, this year, the thought of snow feels especially cold and especially lonely.

 

However, here’s a thing and this thing is undeniable:  Snow is going to fall in Central Oregon and it’s going to fall often.  In fact, it would appear that it’s going to fall tomorrow.  I cannot say No to snow. It will not listen (and the skiers will want to punch me.)  Since snow is coming regardless, I have been thinking about what I can say Yes to.  Surely, there’s something snow can bring to my life if I will say Yes, instead of kicking and screaming.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

 

  1. Yes to tradition.  Since my kids were teenies, we have celebrated the first day of snow with hot chocolate and buttered toast. Now that some of them are older, we also celebrate by meeting at one of our favorite restaurants for hot buttered rum. These are gifts of snow and relationship. They are gifts of  our history, but they are tied to the white stuff and so I am thankful for it.
  2. Yes to gratitude. Nothing makes my house feel warmer inside, than snow on the outside. I will light a fire in the wood stove and be thankful for shelter.
  3. Yes to memories. It’s tempting right now to keep tender memories of life with Steve buried out of reach and out of touch. I would focus entirely on moving forward if I thought I could get away with it.  But I know I can’t. I know grief is sneaky –   it doesn’t just stay where we put it because we tell it to.  I’m trying to learn to leverage the moments where his absence is most profound and poignant to fully feel and express what I’m feeling to the only One who is able to walk me through those waves of sorrow. This first snow without Steve is a chance to feel his absence from another angle. The kids and I will tell stories about him loving foul weather and we’ll laugh and clink our hot chocolate mugs to his memory.  And I will say Yes to the memories and the bittersweet work they do in my soul.

 

 

UPDATE 11/30/15:  This is Day 7 of Snowpocalypse.  The snow fell and fell and fell (a foot and a half!)  along with the temperatures, which means:  it’s STILL HERE.  What we have now is a tangled mess of icy snarls on the roads.  I’m glad I wrote this before it came, because I had to remind myself of my Yes decision about four hundred times:  As I shoveled and scraped, as I braved the mountain pass to go to an important family event, as one car’s door locks froze and refused to budge, as I rescued Tori from the hospital parking lot where her little car hunkered down for the duration.

 

I didn’t live my Yes as perfectly as I had planned it.  There were moments of fist-shaking and sigh-making, but I DID, I’m happy to say, do better than I would have otherwise.  I embraced the adventure of the crazy Bend streets and the way our city comes together during storms.  I was overcome with gratitude for my car and it’s scrappy, gutsy snow faring ways.  I bought snow tires – a decision I had been on the fence about, but I’m so glad I did it.  I drank a lot of hot chocolate with my kids and watched about a million Thanksgiving episodes of sitcoms.

 

And finally, I took a late-night walk in the falling snow and had a little talk with Steve.  I thanked him for teaching me to love all kinds of weather.  I thanked him for all those years of shoveling with not a single complaint.  I told him I missed him quite desperately, but was doing pretty well considering I’m just a girl with the shakiest-possible Yes.  And in that pretty, white dream of a night, Steve’s smiles fell soft all around me, glistening and glimmering, and I scooped them up and tucked them away for the next Yes.

 

Yes to tradition.  Yes to gratitude.  Yes to memories.

 

Thank you, Snow.

 

With hope,

Bo

 

 

 

November 30, 2015 - 10:22 am

Jalet - Bo and family,
I know you are not brave by nature, but default. I love that your yes is shakey, but persistent. I love that you refuse to let a well deserved grief, overwhelm and bury your snowplow of yes. I love that beauty is sought, not overlooked, impounded or refused, for fear of more grief. I am strengthened by your honest ache, and softend by your wanting to let grief be your partner in growth, not your drowning anchor.
I praise the one who guides your heart to healing and fullness and his ever present, heart-holding, for your understandably lonely empty. Again, your transparency in navigating, is a truth that brings life. Thank you.

Praying for the Hot Chocolate moments in the icey world of brakng and steering tenuously, in the art of grief you navigate.
Jesus, Be Thou Their Vision oh Lord of their hearts.

November 30, 2015 - 1:49 pm

evy - LOVE this…. funny enough, I said YES to snow a few days ago too….and while I have always loved LOOKING at it, I don’t like driving in it-at all! However, this is my yes year too, though I haven’t ever had a yes-to-snow year before 🙂 Yay for both of us, but praying for your heart through your losses that bring you to needing to say yes to it for completely different reasons than mine 🙂

hugs!

evy

November 30, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Heidi Rowles Friesen - Tears… this one brought tears to my eyes. I read your blog religiously but today I let myself feel all the feels that this one brings. Growing up in Bend Oregon seems to beget snow as being an integral and intimate part of life, and reading this is bringing out the ways that I let seasons dictate my responses to situations. But not after reading this. Today I am going to choose to respond in joy, in gratitude, and in hope that seasons come and go, just like Snowpacolypse will certainly melt into some sort of sludgy, sunshiney January and then March and then June. It too will be a memory to be savored. So instead of bemoaning the early darkness and bitter cold and heaps of stress that come with this season, I am going to choose to find ways that I can love it. Thank you so much for posting the before and the after. I needed this one.

December 1, 2015 - 6:42 pm

jane Wililams - … Bo, I’m just a little tired of you making me cry. 🙂 (SOOO kidding!) Because down deep in my heart of hearts I am so grateful for the tears your words fashion so well. Tears that bring the cleansing reminder of Life, Love and a satisfied soul. (Not to mention hope and courage!) Once again, as always, thank you.

December 4, 2015 - 8:35 pm

Jewl - You write beautifully!

My Word for the Year Ahead

 

 

I’ve just finished reading a book that got me thinking, which turned to dreaming, which turned to planning. I started crafting ways that I could live out one tiny-giant word this year. Excitement keeps gaining steam as I think about it, and excitement is a such a strange and welcome emotion in my world right now that I’ve decided I picked the right word for 2016.

 

The word is Yes.

 

For five years, I’ve been following stringent schedules and playing by an invisible set of intractable rules that go along with the situations my family faced: first terminal illness, then grieving. I said Yes to the things that had to be done every day and every night and I honestly had very little Yes-power after that. My life was built around the have-to’s and some of those have-to’s had life-and-death implications which made them very important, but also very difficult and stressful. I remember telling my mom about a thousand times, “I feel like I’m drowning and while I’m drowning, I’m also trying to keep Steve from drowning.” I’m truly not complaining – it was an honor to tread water for him, but something happened to my thinking during that time. It became survival-oriented. Stop-the-bleeding. And in order to do those important things, I had to say a lot of No’s to everything else.

 

Now, however, the Yes’s are mine to say or not say. They are here in front of me like apples on a tree. Yes. It’s a glorious, life-giving word if I’ll choose to see it as such.

 

But the thing is: Life still hurts. That’s just the truth of it. And sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the pain to a world of possibilities. Sometimes I’d like to sink into the sadness of what I’ve lost rather than fixing my vision on what remains.  Keeping right perspective and staying out of the ditch of discouragement is one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

 

That’s why Yes. Yes moves me forward. Yes keeps me thankful. Yes makes me brave. Yes flings joyful question marks like confetti over the landscape of my future. Yes. What if I said it a lot? What if I said it every day? Yes to joy. Yes to hope. Yes to things that scare me. Yes to compassion. Yes to greater purpose. Yes to rest. Yes to all-caps LIFE.

 

What if?

 

The mind reels.

 

And the heart sings (and also shakes a little, if I’m being honest.)

 

Because Yes is a wild and wonderful word.

 

And it is my word to spend freely on the year ahead.

 

Yes.  2016 starts today.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

November 23, 2015 - 8:56 am

Beth Allen - I love this:-) Im going to adopt your word for my New Year too – Thank you once again a word that blesses my heart and encourages me on for a future that is yes!!! Exciting and filled with JOY!!

November 23, 2015 - 9:15 am

Jill - Wow…My husband is a 26 years veteran of the military and he just retired. Through all 14 years of war and constant deployments (which led to uncertainty, fear and grief) I felt like that – just in survival mode. Hanging on. I had to say “no” a lot. No, Daddy won’t be home for your birthday, Christmas, Anniversary etc. Now that we are starting to re-connect as a family and heal from the last 14 years – I’m with you. YES! 😀

November 23, 2015 - 9:27 am

Jennifer Herbert - Thank you for your encouraging messages.

November 23, 2015 - 9:36 am

sandra - YES….an exciting and scary word. Praying for you!

November 23, 2015 - 9:37 am

Christine Michaelis - Oh Bo. I just love this message in particular. My Mom is living through losing my Dad and at 83, after never living on her own in her whole entire life, she has a lot to come to terms with. She is not a believer and I haven’t shared your words with her much because I’m not sure she would take them to heart and see through the “religious” references — but this message, I’m going to copy and paste and make it look pretty as a picture and gift it to her. Thank you for being you and for sharing that with us.
Chris

November 23, 2015 - 10:15 am

Kristen - So good. And apparently you are already saying yes to FASHION PHOTOSHOOTS?! (My mom may or may not have hooked me up with some photos of your fashion badassery.) 😉

November 23, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Anita Williams - I too lost my husband. He died January 23,2015 10 months after being diagnosed with ALS and now I feel so lost but I am trying to push on. It is hard after spending 25 years with him which is half my life and his. I am going to say yes to all possibilities that come my way from now on no matter how hard it may be. Thank you for your message it has given me the encouragement I need right now.

November 23, 2015 - 1:16 pm

bo - Haha! Oh, Kristen, I assure you that was a brave and one-time decision. But I DID say YES to it, so, Go Me! 🙂

November 23, 2015 - 6:57 pm

Edie - Dear Bo – loving your word, so full of possibilities. Thank you for continuing to put your thoughts into such beautiful words. Praying for you as you rise up out of the sorrow and continue to press forward into life. Love you lots, Edie

November 23, 2015 - 8:04 pm

Heidi Krausse - My husband went to be with the Lord 8 years ago after we battled for him 2-1/2 years with kidney cancer. I appreciate your honest insight and walk into the grief recovery process. Thank you for sharing.

November 24, 2015 - 2:14 pm

Cindi Dunn - Bo, I heard Lisa Nichols say (this past summer…at an event I was attending) that you don’t just says “Yes”…you always want to say “Yes, YES!!!” She went on to explain that the first yes just gets your head into agreement with your heart, BUT the second yes is to God’s call on your life…never more appropriate than for you my friend! So, “Yes, YES!!!” Love your heart…love it that you share it with us! Thankful today for you! 🙂

November 24, 2015 - 7:19 pm

Cindy Anderson - I’ve never met you, but feel as though I know you through your beautiful, honest and transparent writings… Thank you for being so true to who God has called you to be! And, fly free in this new season of saying, “Yes” to life!

November 28, 2015 - 9:08 pm

Jewl - “Yes” looks beautiful on all of those apple trees around you! Hoping with you!

December 15, 2015 - 11:32 pm

Karen Sesnon - Hey Bo, been thinking about this post and your word for 2016 since you posted it….I did “yes” during Lent a few years ago at a time when everyone around me was suggesting I needed to say “no” more…it was a good season. 2015 was “Strength” and I didn’t really know why…but it was a good word for the hard days and I think I got stronger in some ways. A week ago a word literally fell out of the sky into my head…and I think I wanted something more sparkly or deep or hip…but when I tell you what the word is you’ll know why I just smiled a little and grabbed it. JOY. Yep. Joy is back. Gonna claim it. There’s a chance I lost it …so here we go 2016. Bring it! <3

Part 2 of Plan A

 

Today marks the last day of the fourth month since Steve went home.  I have been processing by writing nearly every day, though I’ve only updated the blog a handful of times.  I’ve been reluctant to share this part of the journey publicly, not just because it’s pretty raw, but also because I haven’t really trusted my feelings from day to day. Well, no. That’s not right.  My feelings are my feelings; they don’t need to prove anything to be valid.  Even if those feelings don’t last all day, they are legitimate emotions when I feel them.  What I haven’t been able to trust are the conclusions I tend to draw from them because my brain has been so crowded with questions – the noisiest, bossiest questions I have ever faced.

 

Some are general living questions, like: What do I do with the house? How do I use my money wisely? How much should I travel and speak? Or manage my time in general?  Who do I call with questions about my sprinkler system?

 

And then there are intimate, edgy questions, like: When do I move Steve’s collection of golf hats out of the closet? How do I parent kids who are living through grief while I am also living through grief?  Who will take care of me when I get the flu?  Should I keep wearing my wedding ring indefinitely or not?

 

The first month was like living inside a ball of yarn, trying to punch my way out. The harder I punched, the more the tangle tightened. Around day 27, I finally reverted to the old technique for escaping a Chinese finger trap: Relax. Go limp. Stop fighting. Rest. Countless times, I have stopped a runaway train of thought by saying out loud, You don’t have to know right now, Bo. Just relax.

 

I’ve learned a lot in this season of waiting and resting and I’ve mostly been letting life happen.  If I feel like getting stuff done, I get stuff done.  If I feel like binge watching Parks & Rec, I do it. When cooking sounds fun, I fill my kitchen with my favorite food and people. When it doesn’t, I grab a kid or a friend and go out for dinner.   In my very short time as a widow (a word that I’m not sure will ever sound right), I’ve been to more movies than in the previous ten years combined. Instead of three miles a day religiously, I run…whenever I feel like it. It’s like I’ve turned into the anti-Bo, but it’s been really good. I will always look back on these 120 days as an oasis in the back country of the Shadowlands.  I’ve been kind to myself and I’ve learned that the questions don’t go away at the oasis, but they can wait.   This is not a season I would be anxious to repeat, but I will be grateful for it forever.

 

Having said that, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt the unmistakeable movement of a  turning tide.  It’s not that the season of grief is over, or ever will be (it helped a lot when I stopped expecting it to end.) It’s that I feel my heart moving from recovery mode to reconstruction mode.  I remember the first morning I woke up with a strange excitement bubbling beneath the surface.  Is there such thing as “solemn excitement”?  If so, that’s what I felt. I began writing down some new ideas and reminding myself of some old dreams. Then a few trusted friends posed carefully-worded suggestions that I knew were meant to nudge me toward the daring idea that maybe my future had not been buried with Steve.  Ironically, from the day of my husband’s diagnosis, he began telling me that no matter where the road took him, he believed my best days were still ahead.  It used to annoy me so, so much. I would sob and shake and tell him, “I can’t hear you say this right now. I can’t think ahead that far without feeling like my whole life is ending.”  He would smile sadly and pat my head and say, “But someday you’ll be glad I said it.”  And he was right.  I’m already glad he said it. Maybe someday I’ll also believe he was right.  I’m not there yet, but maybe someday.

 

So, today, on the threshold of month five, I am here to say that I am changing. I am growing. I have wrestled down answers to the immediate, essential questions (keeping the house! found the sprinkler guy!)  and am hearing whispers for those that will shape my future (hint: it involves tuition and tests and scares me a lot!)  I am rebuilding on this broken ground and grief is still very present here, but it’s partnered up with hope and they’re dancing – sometimes well,  sometimes super awkwardly – together.

 

Over the next few months, I’ll talk a little more about the answers to some of my questions and the plans that are forming as Part 2 of Plan A unfolds, but for now I want to close out month four with this promise from Jeremiah, which hangs over my desk and has become the only thing I really need to know:

 

I will give those who are weary all they need and refresh everyone who is filled with sorrow. Jeremiah 31:25

 

With hope for all we need,

 

Bo

November 17, 2015 - 8:36 am

Teresa - Excited for you and what lies ahead. (thinking about going back to school?) Will continue praying for you and the family. 🙂

November 17, 2015 - 9:27 am

Karla Jeltema - Love you Bo, been praying unending for you and the kids. I think our souls feel your pain and just want to gently rock you to sleep at night.
Be blessed
Karla

November 17, 2015 - 9:51 am

Rhonda Abellera - Thanks for your amazing words Bo! What an encouragement you are to so many! Many Blessings to you and your family!

November 17, 2015 - 11:44 am

Tamara Tennison - no words. just HUGS!!!!

November 17, 2015 - 3:56 pm

Susie Kay - I love you.

November 17, 2015 - 5:35 pm

Sue Powell - “Thank you”,Sister-Friend…for sharing this ‘hope-filled’,and honest ‘update’ on this part of your journey…*I loved the ‘visual’ of ‘grief and hope’,dancing together;’sometimes awkwardly! As I am a part of The Mundane Faithfulness Community on FB…So many Sister-friends dealing with the grief and struggle’s of cancer,treatment’s,losses,and ‘just showing up’ for others who are going through a ‘hard time’…the Book;”just show up”,by Kara Tippetts and Jill Buteyn,co-written while Kara was still living,is another extremely informative and ‘real’,’raw’,and ‘hopeful’book for everyone who long’s to ‘be there’ for a hurting loved one,*family member or friend..or whomever the Lord might bring into their lives…I know you are a busy lady,just wanted to suggest this for when you might have some ‘down time’,as I believe you will be blessed,*just as I,and so many others,were blessed by your books,written from your heart.You are loved,and I know that Abba will be ‘close by your side’,as you go forward,holding His hand,as He’ll never let go of yours.Sue4Him

November 18, 2015 - 11:37 am

wyvonea Allen - Bo,
be encouraged I can truly relate with your journey. I say to you my sister that you will grow even closer to the Lord than you ever imagined possible.
He has truly become my sole provider, encourager , and friend. I can remember when my husband passed last September 7th. I could not even see myself going on one day without him after 32 years of marriage. We were high school sweethearts.
Yet the Lord God has truly blessed me I now look back and know that it was only Him who carried me these last 14 months.
I too was blessed by the fact that my husband gave me his blessing of living life after he was gone home. I too said i don’t want to talk about it.
Thank you for your transparency i thought i was the only one willing to share, your blog is encouraging so many thank you.
One final thought I want to share with you I have been blessed by the Grief Share bible study, for lack of better words I tell people when talking about this group.That misery loves company, we are all miserably going trough grief but some how us all being together is brings us comfort and support.Through the help of the Lord he is healing our hearts one day at a time. I agree with you this is not a journey I would have chosen for myself, yet God saw fit to call me to it. I know He will see me through it.
Be blessed Bo as you join so many of us in this journey of God’s grace and mercy, truly they do follow us all the days of our life. God is a widow’s provider.
wy

November 18, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Jody Collins - Bo, there is so much hope in these words…..you’re doing things just right, ’cause they’re just Bo.

November 21, 2015 - 11:06 pm

Jewl -

November 21, 2015 - 11:08 pm

Jewl - just a smile : )