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Dinner for One

 

I am cooking tonight.

 

Cooking isn’t unusual for me – I try to cook dinner for my kids several nights each week, and we have our big family dinner every Sunday, so cooking is regular. But tonight, I’m cooking alone. Tori and Tess have things going that adult kids tend to have.  Josiah is at church.  I am alone.  And I don’t mind being alone – in fact, after a busy, people-filled day, the introvert in me is happy to sink into an evening filled with solitude and good food.

 

But, the thing is, I can’t stop my mind from running ahead.  It keeps racing out of the here-and-now, to a day not so far away, when this will be my normal.  Tess gets married in January. Tori moves into her own place in February.  Josiah goes to college in 2 & 1/2 years and is gone a whole lot even now.

 

I look at the six, fat bratwurst browning in the skillet and remember how my grandmother squirreled so many leftovers away in her fridge.  She just couldn’t learn to cook for one and I’m not sure she ever really tried.

 

I try unsuccessfully to deflect the feelings I’m unprepared to process.  I am fifteen years younger than my grandmother was when she was widowed. It seems I have a long road ahead, and that road is apparently filled with a lot of leftovers, which makes me wonder if I’ll hate being really and truly alone.  Almost as soon as that thought bubbles up to the surface, my mind starts racing for solutions which include, but are not limited to:  1) Have friends over for dinner  2) Have homeless people over for dinner 3) Stop eating dinner.

 

But I love to cook. It’s therapy for me.  And Steve loved to eat what I cooked.  It was therapy for him. I would give about anything for the chance to  keep making moussaka and curry and shepherd’s pie for that guy for the next thirty years. But plans change and people go and then we have decisions to make about why we do the things we do and what it would mean if we stopped.To stop cooking would be to hand more of my life over to the greedy abyss that is ALS and I just will not, cannot do it.  It doesn’t get to win this one.

 

Dinner is ready. Sausage, maple glazed butternut squash, roasted broccoli, and way too much of it.  But it is delicious and I feel warmed and fed in a world where so many will go to bed tonight alone and hungry.  The minute I lose sight of that, I’ve become the very thing I swore I would never become (starts with a v and ends with ictum.)  Again I’ll say: ALS doesn’t get to win this.  It doesn’t get to slap labels on lapels. Not without a fight.

 

So, cook I shall. For many or for me.  For life.  For love.  For Steve.

 

It’s just the right thing to do.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

October 21, 2015 - 10:32 pm

Katrina Monaghan - How about cooking dinner for other widows?

October 22, 2015 - 5:01 am

Debbie K. - I love to cook as well and use the leftovers for my lunches during the week. Love reading your post.

October 22, 2015 - 8:58 am

Kim - I remember several years ago when my life changed drastically, it felt so powerful to still claim what remained and what was my normal. And one of those was good ole southern cooking. I was a party of “0ne” but God blessed me with unexpected guests in all sorts of ways!! I once read that grief is just love with no place to go…. Pour that love in cooking and everything and everyone that remains in your life.

October 22, 2015 - 1:32 pm

Dani Meyer - Love this post and you Bo! You are welcome to come cook with me and help me wrangle these two wild toddlers at the studio anytime you like <3 <3

October 22, 2015 - 3:10 pm

Terri - Bo Your words again touch so deeply in my heart, and at the same time give me chills. You have such an anointing to write and share your journey with such truth and wisdom and grace. I have gone thru the valley of empty nesting, and it was a very Deep and Dark place for me. But God did some amazing work in me during that season~ mostly making me see that “He” is my all. I want you to know you encourage me and enspire me and have shown how God is there in the toughest of times. Blessings! From your sister in Christ ~Terri

October 24, 2015 - 4:44 pm

Jody Collins - Thank you for letting us in on your self-talk and your triumph, Bo.
Yes and amen.

October 25, 2015 - 11:27 am

Molly - I’m feelin you on this one. This is the exact post that I had seen coming from far. Praying grace, strength, courage, joy and hope for all such moments. I like the idea of cookin for others…..homeless or friends. Or cook away and then share with someone who is in a hard place in their life. I know that’s what I would do! Love you and thanks again for sharing!

October 26, 2015 - 3:15 pm

Shari Norris - I am relating to all you have written about eating alone. Since my Steve died of ALS 2 1/2 years ago, I have had my kids and their families living with me one at a time for various reasons. the 1st one for 9 months, then the next one for 4 months. Now my youngest daughter and her husband are buying a home and moving out. I will finally be alone for the 1st time. I’m not sure how that will be. I still cook for everyone every Sunday, 18 of us now, and I love it but what do I do during the week?

October 27, 2015 - 7:26 am

Meg - Your house always smells so good because of your cooking! If you find yourself with to many leftovers I’ll make the drive to your house and make astonishingly quick work of those leftovers. Moment of honesty here, it’s not even 7:30am and I’ve eaten breakfast twice. Praying for Jesus to fill your kitchen, and be present in the sights, sounds, taste, and scent of good food.

November 5, 2015 - 6:55 am

Debbie - Bo,

Your strength is amazing, I know the pain of loss. I was at a conference that happened shortly after Steve’s diagnosis and have followed your blog since then.

You have touched my live more than you will ever know. Your life radiates your love and trust in God.

Thank You, and may God bless every meal you make.

Two Months

 

Two months today.

 

Two months since Steve went home.

 

Two months of the deepest, darkest heartache I have ever known.  It has been a wonder and terror to me.  (Dramatic words, I know, but I mean them.)

 

Two months of groping through inky black nights of fear and strangely dim summer days.

 

Two months of miracles.

 

Two months of surprising discoveries, both internal and peripheral, that have awakened me to new angles on the character of God and the ways He has woven my heart together.

 

Two months of wondering if He would, again, today, be enough.  Be real enough.  Be peace enough.  Be provision enough.  Be close enough.

 

Two months of finding that He is the Yes to all questions of want.  He is always the Yes, even when my heart is no, or maybe, or prove Yourself first and then I’ll trust.

 

Two months and I am still standing and still astounded. In awe. Undone by His ways.

 

I ran into this prayer today and it sang my heart:

 

God of all our times:

We have known since the day of our birth

that our primal task is to grow to basic trust in You, 

to rely on You in every circumstance,

to know that You would return when You are away, 

to trust that in Your absence You will soon be present, 

to be assured that Your silence bespeaks attentiveness and not neglect, 

to know that in Your abiding faithfulness, “all will be well and all will be well.”  

 

We do trust in You: 

we are named by  Your name,

and bonded in Your service.

We are among those who sing Your praise

and who know of Your deep faithfulness. 

You, you however, are not easy to trust:

We pray against a closed sky; 

our hopes reduced to auto-suggestion; 

our petitions are more habit than hope;

our intercessions are kindly gestures of well-being. 

 

Sometimes,

because Your silence and absence, 

Your indifference and tardiness are glaring among us. 

We are drawn to find lesser gods, 

easier loyalties,

many forms of self-trust…

that do not even fool us. 

 

On this Friday of remembered pain and echoing deathliness, 

We pray for new measures of passion, 

for fresh waves of resolve, 

for courage, energy, and freedom to be our true selves…

waiting in confidence, 

and while waiting, acting our life toward You

in Your ways of forgiving generosity. 

 

We pray in the name of Jesus who trusted fully, and 

who is Himself fully worthy of our trust.  

Amen.     {Walter Bruggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth}

 

 

With hope,

 

Bo

September 18, 2015 - 2:44 pm

Sue Bartlow McFarland - Grief is like swimming in the sea….sometimes, it’s calm and you feel like you can stay afloat…othertimes, the waves come crashing down on you and you’re not certain whether you’ll be able to rise back up to the surface…just keep yourself anchored to the Rock of Ages as He will lift you back up when your strength is gone.
God bless you as your travel on your grief journey.

September 18, 2015 - 3:06 pm

Sue Powell - “The Father is closest to the child He is carrying”…You.As long as you need Him to,and He won’t get weary or heavy laden,sweet sister-friend.Keeping you,Josiah and family,close in prayers..as I see that in a few days,you will have a ‘First Birthday’,after the loss of your beloved Steve…praying for extra Grace for that day,as Kara Tippets said it so well;”Don’t imagine yourself in the future,because that is you without the Grace He will provide for that time and circumstance”…Love and Hope,Sue

September 19, 2015 - 6:38 am

Steve Merki - “We are drawn to find lesser gods . . . that do not even fool us.” Powerful . . . And true.

September 19, 2015 - 2:36 pm

anita - Bo, you’ve quoted from one of my favorite books of prayers and indeed to one of my favorite prayers in one of my favorite books of prayers 🙂 Over the past few years when my own words in prayer fail me, a written prayer read over and over will often return my voice to me.

You continue to be a daily fixture in my prayers…even when I don’t have words.

September 21, 2015 - 7:16 am

Shanda Wordelman - Bo, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I have been so blessed by your books and what God is doing in you and through you. I want you to know that you really are making a huge difference. Your pain hasn’t been wasted. I am praying for you right now.

September 22, 2015 - 12:55 am

Aida - Happy Birthday, to the BEST and Beautiful BO in the whole wide world!!!

It was a full day and I didn’t get online until after midnight…alas, this is belated!

I love you!!!!!

September 29, 2015 - 8:24 pm

Rachel Hallett - I was brought to tears as I read your past few blog posts. I took the summer off of reading all blogs, so everything hit me fast. I can’t believe what you have been through, and your unshakeable faith through it inspires me even on my worst days of being a caregiver for my husband. It is beautiful what love can do, and what it can pull through. I will keep you in my prayers.

October 8, 2015 - 8:58 pm

Jewl - Thinking of you. Saying a prayer for you. You’re in the hard. The adrenalin of managing crisis, even a long-term one, gives way to an even longer marathon, and the road seems to stretch endlessly before you, and you feel alone, so very alone, despite the so many who love you. This is where a lamp to your feet and a light to your path brings needed focus. To do the next thing. This is where your expectation that Steve will be right around the bend begins to blend with the rational thought: that bend is not here on earth! He’s really gone. And so many others seem to have gone too. How very empty. The old doubts and worries creep in, so you lean even harder, and find Jesus to be even stronger, closer. Take care. Jesus is watching over you. You don’t blink without Him taking note. You’re never alone. He understands it all. He’ll carry you through. He’s on your side, by your side. So REST.

October 15, 2015 - 11:55 am

Caren Taylor - Dear Bo,
I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now, and have read your book, Beautiful Battlefields twice. I haven’t written you yet, but I pray for you often. When I got on here today, my first in about a month, and saw that you hadn’t written since then, I immediately cried out to our Father for you. I love you for who you are, sister, and I will continue to pray for His love and comfort to enfold you and for His loving arms to guide you through. Hang on, warrior. His armies are greater than the world’s and in the end, no matter what, we that are His will win.
Much love from an unknown sister/warrior.
Caren

Fall Into Peace

 

 

I have had a remarkable week.  It has been as full and beautiful as the preceding six weeks were desperate and ugly.  Some of the reasons are easy to identify –  I survived a minefield of paperwork and red tape, the administrative necessities that accompany death.  The headaches have finally been relenting. I went back to work, which I love. All good things, but not good enough to account for this stunning increase of peace.

 

Peace, I’ve discovered, doesn’t actually diminish grief and that’s okay because I’m not looking to be free of grief.  I think the Bible is clear that sorrow tethers us to the presence of God in a way that few other things can.  Grief is my journey right now.  It’s the weight that reminds me that I was the luckiest girl in all the world for 30 years, 5 months and 16 days. Healthy grief is good for me; I’m not going to pray it away.  I am, however, quite desperate to be free of fear – and that’s the power of His promise of peace.

 

Today I feel peace.  I feel beauty in the season and the weather and in the switch to a fall wardrobe and in my heart.  I’m not going to worry about how I’ll feel tomorrow. Today is enough for today.

 

 

With hope,

 

 

Bo

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 9, 2015 - 10:42 am

Sue Powell - “Don’t imagine yourself in the future,because that is you,without the grace that He will provide for that specific time and circumstance.” You are loved! Shalom and Blessing’s,dear Sister-Friend. Sue4Him :)xx

September 9, 2015 - 11:24 am

Susan David - Amen…peace in the midst of the storm is awesome and powerful!!! Love you Sis and so proud of you and who you have become. Greater things are yet to come!

September 9, 2015 - 11:48 am

Gail Orr - Grief honors that which was lost, it is a blessing to have had such a gift, such beauty, that to loose it breaks the heart and leaves a hole. How blessed we are that we have one that comes along side of us and tends to us so carefully, that He numbers our tears!

September 9, 2015 - 12:01 pm

Darleen - Love!!

September 9, 2015 - 12:20 pm

Debbie Strassman - Hi Bo….My husband John & I were baptized this morning & I saw you sitting there & it made me smile. We feel so blessed & loved to be a part of Westside & we couldn’t thank everyone enough for giving us the gift that we received today. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. Please know you & Your family have been in our prayers for quite some time & btw I absolutely love reading your blogs!

God Bless

Debbie 🙂

September 9, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Dianna Salciccioli - Bo~ so thankful you are feeling sweet peace. So thankful. 🙂

September 9, 2015 - 9:43 pm

Barb Krumwiede - So beautifully stated, as always.

September 17, 2015 - 8:54 pm

Jewl - This is so descriptive and right on: an older person’s take on grief: http://www.thatericalper.com/2015/08/16/person-is-asking-for-advice-hn-how-to-deal-with-grief-this-reply-is-incredible/ Blessings, Bo.

On Morning and Mourning

 

Last night was my longest night since Steve went home. Just the longest, hardest night.

 

Tossing and turning, reminding myself at 12:23 and 1:37 and 2:15 that the sun would rise, that morning would be faithful to break through mourning, that it could not be otherwise because it is the law of nature and the law of God’s mercy.

 

I’ve read a lot about people in grief who want to stay in bed indefinitely, but that’s not me. The dark silence is deafening, suffocating.  Not every night, just a few nights. But on those nights, the long term reality of Steve’s absence is palpable and powerful.

 

I keep looking for a strategy to avoid moments like this so that I can get on with this process and make some progress.  Then I remember: this is the process and this is progress.

 

This is grief.

 

It is weighty and consuming and it isn’t heavier than the love of God, but it’s the second-heaviest thing I’ve experienced.  I know that it can’t separate me from His love, but I do feel it pulling at my ankles sometimes with a strength that is surprising, wanting to drag me away with my hope. And if it were up to my muscles or intellect or emotional fortitude, grief would win without even breaking a sweat.

 

But, God.

 

He is strong and stronger still.  And every time I am rescued from the deep abyss, I am stronger, too – not necessarily in my ability to strategize and fight, but in my ability to rest and trust.

 

This is a big week ahead. I have a long list of things that need to be done and decisions that need to be made, and on Friday – the ALS Fancy Dance!  It’s too early to declare that it will be a great week, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that I’ll be stronger at the end of it than I am today.  That’s the ground in which I’m planting my flag on this Monday.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

August 24, 2015 - 10:26 am

Celeste - I love you, Bo! I love all the ways God has shown his faithfulness to you and all the ways you have shown your faithfulness to him. The way you let us into your life and your journey has been a source of encouragement and challenge, hope and joy! I pray God’s peace for you in your new season. I pray that He will wrap you up in his arms and remind you moment by moment that you are his. I cry with you, but I don’t know your pain. <3 God Bless you, dear Bo.

August 24, 2015 - 11:16 am

V. Jean Godfrey - This so describes my feelings right now.

August 24, 2015 - 11:25 am

Julie - True words spoken here. It is a long journey to be sure. Hang on warrior you will make it. There is light at the end of this tunnel and joy on the other side. I promise.
There are a great many things in your life worth fighting for!

When my spirit grows faint within me it is YOU who watches over my way! Psalm 142:3

Much love!

August 24, 2015 - 12:47 pm

Donald Dunn - I am available to drive the van on Friday night. Just need to know where to meet and what time. Blessings, Don

August 24, 2015 - 1:08 pm

Nat Gitnes - It has been 3 years since my husband left this world. I can say that most days are good, but then without warning, Grief comes to surround me again. What I have learned…just abide in it knowing that Jesus is with me there and I will soon walk out of it with Him holding my hand and cheering (play on words) me on once again.

August 24, 2015 - 1:40 pm

laura - Bo,
I am praying for you right now in Greenville, SC. I am so sorry you had a sleepless night. You are so right though, it is the process. Thank you for sharing your journey. It means the world to this southern girl. You are an amazing woman!!! Keep your chin up and looking towards heaven.

Love,
Laura

August 24, 2015 - 3:06 pm

Angie - Hang in there, Bo. The Son is rising in your mourning. He always does.

August 24, 2015 - 3:54 pm

Christine - I haven’t had to traverse the same kind of loss, Bo, but can I tell you… you are a light for anyone going through the rough stuff of life… with your grace and honesty and full-to-the-brim-with-His-faithfulness-in-life words, even when it’s hard.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart…

August 24, 2015 - 5:59 pm

Cynthia Fox - You said it so well, “But God”. Continue resting in Him and Christ will continue to bring you through. Grief has it’s way to show up unexpectedly but we do indeed make progress as we continue this journey.
Your in my prayers continually.
Cynthia

August 24, 2015 - 10:55 pm

Kathy Gilbert - Like

August 24, 2015 - 11:17 pm

Edie - I’m praying for you dear Bo. You portray His faithfulness to the world with your faithfulness to trust in Him. Love you so.

August 25, 2015 - 12:10 pm

Tania - You are an amazing woman! I Pray God to bless And heal your heart.

August 25, 2015 - 12:24 pm

Molly - Yes, please do keep us posted. I believe HE IS STRONGER, and trust HIM to prove it to you.

August 25, 2015 - 10:13 pm

Jewl Westphalen - I’m so sorry, so sorry, for you in this. Such a profound loss…

Even still. Dance the night away on Friday. He’ll be cheering you on.

August 27, 2015 - 7:56 pm

Jewl - I’m so sorry, so very sorry for your profound loss. May the Savior show you how He is near, and may Steve’s love over the years carry you through the dance.

The Choice

 

Every day, I am faced with a choice to see life as beautiful and full or empty and unfair. I don’t think that will ever change (I don’t actually think it changes for any of us, no matter what our circumstances.) The only thing that changes is how easy or difficult it is to make the choice and how willing I am to make it, regardless of how capable I feel.

 

This morning, it’s easy. I feel peace and wholeness nipping at my heels. I feel held and sustained and excited about what the day holds. Tomorrow, it might be hard again. Or in two hours it might be hard again.  All I know for sure is it will be hard again.  I have no control over that.

 

The choice, however, she’s always mine to make.

 

 

 

I Praise Your name, for Your unfailing love and Your truth;

for You have placed Your name and Your word over all things and all times. 

On the day I needed You, I called, and You responded 

and infused my soul with strength.  

Psalm 138:2-3 The Voice

 

 

 

August 17, 2015 - 9:21 am

jacquelyn strayer/straywolff - Thank you for that scripture. Shared it.

August 17, 2015 - 9:34 am

Kathy - Thank you dear Bo.

August 17, 2015 - 7:10 pm

Jewl - Have you seen Beth Moore’s promo for War Room yet? Get your tamborine ready, even while in Egypt! You will have times when you praise your God even more because our sorrow brings us close to the Comforter and all He holds in heaven, and other times you will and have already felt dumped on the shore of the sea in grief, just gasping to breathe, let alone cry for help. In both times you have already decided the basics: God is good. He will carry you through hard. What relief to know those answers!
I’m so glad you had the courage to ask your friends for help for “that night!” Their work is beautiful, and that pillow is beyond amazing! ☺
With a prayer for healing for headaches and peace throughout.

August 17, 2015 - 8:56 pm

Christine Duncan - May each day be bathed in good things to choose from, and may He grant you the strength to choose them.
Your words today, Bo, are so filled with graciousness… I must confess my soul drank them in, like quenching a thirst. I too have the same choice… wow!
Thank you.

August 23, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Cindy Carlton - A friend from church told me about your blog today. My mother-in-law lost the battle with ALS June 24, 2015. This was such a huge loss. She was, like so many people who are diagnosed with this horrible disease, was full of life and very independent. We got the diagnosis June 2014 and spent 40+ days in the hospital May-June 2015. She had a trache put in over Memorial Day weekend. She had been on a ventilator since early spring. She was weak and required 24 hour care. I watched my father-in-law continuously care for her. The day before her funeral would have been their 40th wedding anniversary. We miss her everyday. I look forward to your future posts. God bless you!!