I Have A Dream

One of our many pumpkin carvings.  Drew is a great scooper.

One of our many pumpkin carvings. Drew is a great scooper.

I used to love looking ahead at the months, holidays, days off, etc.  I wrote every tiny event on my calendar.  I think it gave me a sense of accomplishment.  I would say that most people have plans for their lives.  And they might be similar to my plan: graduate college (check); get married between ages a – b (check); have a stable teaching job (check); have baby one at age x, baby 2 at age y, baby 3 at z, and then adopt a child or two; retire asap; rock on the front porch until the kids put me in a nursing home; fly away to heaven at a ripe old age in my sleep.  That was it.  I know; nothing grand, but it was exactly what I wanted to do.  Life didn’t go as planned.  Now, when I hear someone discuss their plan I have the urge to start a lawn mower, turn up the radio, or fly a jet overhead.  Why should your life go as planned when my life didn’t?  When your plans are trashed, the last thing you want to hear is someone else’s plan that consists of what you wanted.

It has been a difficult week for me.  It’s really sinking in that the ‘best days’ of my life are behind me.  Some people refer to high school as the best days of your life; others will say college, or when they first left the nest were the best days of their lives.  Thank goodness those weren’t true for me.  I was living in the best days of my life, from my first date with Drew right up to June 25, 2012.  I don’t expect to ever be as happy as I was with Drew, here on earth.  I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to spend that time with him—to know true love, to give and receive it.  I know not everyone has that chance.  However, compared to those bright, sunshiny days, the future looks dim.  I can’t look forward to milestones like most moms.  Every event that I would’ve been excited about with Ruby will be a bittersweet one because her Daddy won’t be there.  Yes, there will be joy, but there won’t be that glow of happiness that usually accompanies young motherhood.  And ultimately, it breaks my heart that Ruby won’t know the me that I was when I was with Drew, until we’re all together again.

God’s plan is not my plan.  However, He does promise that all things work together for good for those who love Him.  I don’t expect to see it all worked for good until I’m on the other side, but it does provide a peace knowing that’s the direction God is taking things.

So, needless to say, I no longer have a plan.  I don’t know what God’s going to do with my life.  Rather than having a plan, I, like the famous Martin Luther King, Jr., have a dream.  I call it a dream instead of a plan because I have no idea when or where it will happen; it’s just what I look forward to.  My dream consists of blinding lights, deafening trumpets, and Jesus thundering through the clouds with open arms.  And behind Him are the Saints (Christians) who have gone before us.  When I see my Savior in all of His splendor, I will also see Drew.  Isn’t it cool how God planned that?  And then I will be lifted up (weightless for the first time!) and join the heavenly armies.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Free Writing

Drew and I could barely see the game through the clouds floating by.

Drew and I could barely see the game through the clouds floating by. Fall 2011

It’s virtually impossible for me to take naps during the day, and it’s not because Ruby won’t nap.  She does more than her fair share of sleeping during the day.  When I feel like a nap, I coach myself before lying down.  Think happy thoughts…thoughts about what Drew’s doing in heaven; who he’s talking with; what tasks he’s been assigned; what our reunion will be like when it’s my time to go home; and all of the wonderful things associated with  heaven.  My thoughts always begin there, but won’t stay there.  My mind wants to go back to my darkest hour– to the moments in the truck, during and after our accident, the longest ambulance ride, and to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.  My brain replays every image until I’m forced to give up the idea of a nap, and I crawl out of bed, or roll off the sofa.

The thoughts started coming one night, and I felt like doing something about it.  Being the Language Arts teacher that I am, I decided to free write.  Free writing is when you just write what you’re thinking or feeling without concern for spelling, punctuation, or grammar correctness.  The idea is to take out the hesitation that causes writer’s block.  My students usually like free writing because it’s impossible to mess up (an easy ‘A’).  Below is my free writing/free form poetry/whatever you want to call it.  I wrote it as an ‘oh yeah?’ to the evil one.  Some lines, especially in the first part, might not make sense to anyone but me.  They don’t have to.  I’ve lived each line and know very well what each word means.  I found this exercise freeing.  I encourage you to try it sometime.  Caveat: the first part is dark and depressing.  That’s when Satan is under the impression that he’s won; but, no fear, Our Jesus has overcome, and you’ll see that if you keep reading.

Hell is my world out of control

in slow motion,

It smells like smoke, gasoline, and rain.

It feels like sticky blood tangled in hair.

Hell is my baby immobile, wedged

Between angels and demons,

bloody breaths.

Hell is a strong, calloused hand reaching for unseen glass,

It’s leaving.  an unanswered “I love you”, a stroke of the arm,

Hell is a pair of eyes unable to open,

a solitary, endless ride tied to a wooden plank.

Prayers unanswered.

Hell is hopeless separation


Where dreams are stolen and love buried.

Heaven is reunion.

Heaven is a treasured laugh and smile,

a long awaited dance.

It is everything new, flawless, perfected.

Heaven is a child climbing with no fear;

exploration without caution.

Heaven is Lion and Lamb at peace.

It is a gift from our father; the end of all evil.

A beginning to eternity.

An endless hand-held stroll, an effortless song.

Heaven is Drew and Ruby together, with me.

Heaven is home. Love. Tangible.

Heaven is hope answered, dreams realized.

Bodies restored, lives shared.

Undeserved but longed for.

Unimaginable but real.

Heaven is a reason to live and the hope of dying.

The Realization

A kiss on top of the Tour de Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, for you non-French speakers).

A kiss on top of the Tour de Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, for you non-French speakers).

I called the dermatologists’ office in the Spring and scheduled an appointment for a full skin evaluation to take place in July.  Pregnancy had done strange things to some of my moles, so I wanted to get them checked out.  I wasn’t dreading it like I thought I would.  The thought of someone closely examining my naked body was more bearable because, after all, I was with child, I was supposed to be fat.  I knew that if I didn’t have this done during pregnancy, I would probably never get around to it.  I was proud when I told Drew about my scheduling the appointment.  Drew’s response was most likely, “Good for you, Al.”

The appointment was about two weeks after Drew’s funeral.  I thought about cancelling it, but, again, I knew if I didn’t go through with this now, I would never reschedule.  My mom was sitting with me in the large waiting room.  I was working my way down the patient form when it came out of nowhere.  Two simple words that I used to happily breeze through:  marital status.  I wasn’t prepared for it. You don’t think about it, like you don’t have to think about your name and address.  This time I had to read the options.  The very last one was widow.  Maybe because it’s the most rare and least thought of, or maybe because it starts with a ‘w’.  I’m so thankful that my mom was there to cry with me.  The rest of the form was just a giant blur on a clipboard.

Out of all the titles I’d hoped to have one day (wife, mom, teacher, aunt, grandma), widow was never one of them.  I still feel and, in my mind, am very married.  However, ‘widow’ is what society classifies me as.  At least it allows me a check from Social Security.

“Confessions of a Widow”  I know, it doesn’t sound like something I would write, but being widowed wasn’t something that sounded like me either.  Thanks to Amy McDowell for the title inspiration and to April Holley Riley for the technical work and persistent push for me to join the blog world.  This blog is for me.  It gives me the voice I wish I had when someone stops me at Publix and asks, “How are you doing?”  Rather than lying and saying ‘fine’, or making them feel awkward by saying ‘terrible’, I can say, “Check out my blog.”  This also allows me to talk about Drew as much as I want to without worrying about boring someone.  (If you get bored here, hit the back button or exit, and I’ll never know.)  And finally, this allows me to keep family and friends up to date on the comings and goings of me and Ruby.   I say this blog is for me, but I pray that somehow it ultimately brings glory to God and opens people’s eyes to the heaven He has waiting for us.