Gifts from Heaven

I felt so forgotten, so lost and alone
No one stopped by or picked up the phone
I hosted a party, but invited no one
A lot of self pity before I was done

I feel so ashamed now, so humbled to see
That while I was crying
He was preparing for me
A beautiful package all full of love
Sent from my Father, from heaven above

The first was a phone call
I fell to my knees
I realized I'd been selfish
When she said "can you help please?"

Then came a visit so long and so great
A heart of compassion, a listening ear
Some hugs and some books
And even a tear

The bright yellow flowers were such a surprise
A balm for the heart and a treat for the eyes
Dinner with someone who so understands
And is ready with Scripture as much as she can

All helped me realize in this new season of life
I am much different; no longer a wife
Some of my friendships are gone now it's true
The ones who now bless me are still quite new

God knew who I needed to help me today
I want to look forward, to a brighter day
If I keep looking back on all that I've lost
It will steal today's joy and that's too high a cost

I don't need a whole field of bright blooms it is true
The One who created me, He knows it too.
I just need a little vase with those He hand picked
I have the most beautiful, fragrant bouquet
I know He'll work through you just like today

You will keep praying, and loving and such
You keep encouraging, I need you so much
I hope that you all know the depth of my love
Thank you for being my package from above.


This Old Recliner

I have Doug's old recliner in my bedroom, and some days when I need to I curl up in and finger the tie with his Bible verse and let my memories take me back to the past. This chair has a story; which I'd like to share with you.
Doug's lung cancer was discovered because of a persistant cough which subsided after his lung was removed. However, there were times when something would irritate him and he would have periods of deep, loud coughing. We elevated the head of the bed to help; but when it was bad he couldn't sleep at all laying down. One day I looked at the adds on Craigslist for a used recliner for him. I jotted down several phone numbers and this chair is the first one I called on. A pleasant sounding woman named Polly asked right away if the chair was for me or for someone else so she could tell if it was an appropriate size. I explained that my husband had lung cancer and I wanted something he could sleep in when struggling with a cough. I was astonished when she told me that her husband had also had lung cancer and his had gone to the brain. I told her that Doug's lung cancer had also gone to the brain. She said her dear husband had gone to heaven over four years before and she was finally ready to part with his chair. She invited me to come take a look at it and to hear how God had taken care of her and her family while he was sick and since his death.
I arrived at her apartment with tissues in each hand; prepared for a tear jerking visit. It was not. Polly's voice was strong and her faith evident as she shared how God had brought the two of them together; his struggles with this disease; the things she had learned, and God's provision for every day. She gave me suggestions for caring for Doug and offered to help at any time in the future if I should ever give her a call.
Of course I bought the chair. I had to have it more for the miracle of the meeting than for any other reason. I left with a new song in my heart and an amazement that God could use such an ordinary thing as a Craigslist ad to do something so extraordinary!!!
I haven't talked to Polly since. I think of her whenever I see the chair. Two men with lung cancer slept in that chair. Both were loved,both fought hard, both loved the Lord, both died young, both are in glory. I wonder if they have met.
I have Doug's old recliner in my bedroom; no ordinary chair.


Sequoia Trees

At the time of his death Doug was reading the book "Fireproof Your Life - Building a Faith that Survives the Flames". I read it this summer and was intriqued by the black and white photos of and the information about the sequoia trees. I had a desire to see them in person and was able to do that last week, as this picture of me with one proves. I have learned that they can live for thousands of years despite fires because their bark is two feet thick. But they can smolder for 6-12 months. Man has learned that fires actually help the forest as it dispenses seeds into the soft ash where new trees can grow. The author relates that we all go thru trials and testing to prove our faith. Rarely, does a sequoia die from a lightning strike, it sustains damage, but the tree will heal and remain unshaken. Strong winds make tiny cuts in the bark which make it more pliable and resilient. The roots run in a network reaching more than 200 feet in width. They do not reach their height and beauty until 1,500 years and aren't old until 3,000 years. The sequoias drop their lower branches due to wind, fire, or lightning until only the strongest remain to absorb the most sun and rain. I found so many parallels between the giant Sequoias and the Christian life; especially now, as I endure the pain, wait for the healing, and watch to see what God will produce as a result of the fire. I. Cor. 15:58 " Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." A fruitful tree doesn't just take up space; it produces something that benefits others.

Memory Quilt

I made this quilt for Becky's birthday by cutting 15 of Doug's t-shirts into 14" squares. She had given him some of the shirts such as the Providence College one and the trucker one. She has two that match his: WWJD and the Seattle Space Needle. Others were a little worn from so many years of wearing, reminders of our vacations, his love of being a dad, a Christian, fishing and sports. It was bittersweet to work on it; missing the man who once wore these shirts while enjoying the memories of happy days that they each represent. I am so thankful for the idea to use these shirts to make a keepsake I'm sure she'll treasure for a long time. - and I have three sons, so some more quilts to make.....


"One Arm"

People cannot understand what being a widow feels like. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. Today I feel as though I've lost my right arm. As I stand in front of a door, heavy load in my left arm, I struggle to find a way to open the door without my right arm. Those with two hands pass by, give a pitying smile, say a kind word or offer to pray. I know they're so thankful it didn't happen to them. They then shift their load in their left hand and open the door with their right. I wish I could just blend into the crowd, but I feel as though all eyes are on me. I wait for a kind soul to hold the door open for me. Some days there are fewer people and they're all in a hurry. Eventually I realize I have to be bold enough to ask for some help. They go bowling, out to eat, to the art shows etc, but they don't ask me. How awkward it would be to have a one armed person in the midst of a two armed group. And what if the pain of the separation might be obvious; how would they handle the awkward moment?? The severing of my right arm has affected every relationship I have.
It would be easier to stay at home to change the dressings on the still fresh wound. To fumble around without pity and the advice of people who have no clue what losing an arm is like. Everywhere there are reminders of my former life with two hands, and the things I took for granted. Everywhere there are people with two arms; many who don't even realize how much they are blessed. At home I can be leisurely with my memories, and mourn for what is lost without drawing attention. With no one watching, I can practice the art of living with one arm until I am strong enough to try it in public. One day I know for certain that I will learn to function with only one arm in an amazing way. A few faithful friends may remain to celebrate that accomplishment with me. The rest have not remained to be reminded that they could lose an arm as well. Their lives are comfortable and complete with "normal" people and my presence is uncomfortable. To use the phrase "a fish out of water" is an understatement.
I am a one armed person in a two armed world. I am too married to be a single, too alone to be a married, too old to start over, and too young to stop living.
While it would be easier to practice the skill of living well with one arm at home alone; I refuse to take the easy way. I need to push out of my comfort zone. I know that God has plans for a one armed person and so I continue to ask each day what He has for me to do.I am soooo greatful for those who aren't embarrassed by my loss; and who I know love and support me. They encourage me to do the hard work that it will take to heal completely.
Yesterday I went to my first meeting of Widow Persons Services. It is hard to walk into a room full of complete strangers, especially when you're still in pain and so unaccustomed to doing everything with only one arm; but I went because I had heard that everyone there only had one arm. And as soon as I got there, I felt at home.


"She's Not Gone"

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all. she is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
"there, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
by Henry Van Dyke


October 5, 1979 -October 5, 2009

Dear Doug;
Today should have been our 30th anniversary. If things were different our names would be in the paper, perhaps we'd be planning a cruise or have had a party. It would have been an occasion to celebrate. Today there will be no celebration for you are in heaven my love and I am still on earth. Today will be a day for tears and reflection of all that we shared in what seems like such a short time together. Together we buried five grandparents, one brother, both fathers and aunts and uncles. Together we went through difficult pregnancies, raised four children, and were parents to twelve foster children. Together we built a home, designing, shopping and working side by side. Together we started a business, and together we fought cancer. I cannot imagine doing any of this without you.
I've looked thru the album from our trip to Tenn. last October. We went to Gatlinburg on our honeymoon and always said we'd go back. For our 20th we made plans, then cancelled. I am so glad that we didn't go before. It just feels right that we said hello to our future together in the Great Smokey Mountains and we also said goodbye to our future in the Great Smokey Mountains. While we prayed fervently for a miracle, we both knew last year that it might be the last year. I remember when we drove into town; we were so shocked by how much it had changed. We then talked about how much we had changed too in 29 years. In some ways the weeks spent in Tenn. were the bookends to our marriage; the return trip a bittersweet one in which to recall all that had taken place during our life together. The picture on this page was taken by Debra; the realtor at the time share we visited. We didn't want to purchase a time share; we just wanted the free tickets to Dollywood. Debra picked up on that quickly, and was so touched when she heard why we had returned to Gatlinburg that she skipped the sales pitch and showed us a good time instead, taking our pictures as we went. She wasn't worried about the lost commission, she said God gave her the people for the day. She didn't give us our vouchers, we found her sobbing in the arms of a co-worker, so moved by our story. She gave us hugs and promised to pray. She told her co-workers who treated us like royalty. What a special blessing!!We left with amazement that God so orchestrated this chance meeting with someone who had lost her mother to cancer; who so empathized with us. It was so encouraging to be reminded that God is in the details; He loves us soooo much, He goes with us wherever we go, and His plan is to give us hope and a future. We had several times in the last years when God's hand was so obvious to us. That encourages me today as I face the future without you.
I love you Doug and I miss you more than the day you died. I wonder if we would have lived diffently if we had known from the beginning that we had so little time. My new theme is to be intentional. Your death has really shown me how short our life is and how much time is wasted on meaningless activity. These days have to be used to store up treasures in heaven for soon we'll have to give an account. We think we need so much but you were content to be able to eat, sleep, and talk. You were thankful for the little you had and never complained about the much that cancer took away. Thank you for all that you gave us and all that you taught us. Your cancer journey especially was so full of patience, trust, hope, selflessness, and peace. You left such an example for me and the kids to follow. Thank You!!
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings as eagles. Is. 40:31