In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Take the Bitter, With the Sweet - Update Part II

"Take the bitter, with the sweet, and cry a river over me."  I literally woke up singing those lyrics this morning and for good reason.  Late last night, Spencer melted in sadness before my very eyes last night.  Maci was already in bed, Leah was in the tub, and Spencer was composing a little piece on the piano.  He hollered for me to come and listen, so I took my spot on the couch and prepared for his mini masterpiece.  As soon as he finished he hurried off the bench into my lap and with tears in his eyes, he said, "That song reminds me of Daddy."  We just sat there and cried for about 10 minutes - not even saying anything.  Finally, he said, "I don't like that Daddy died."  I hear ya, buddy - with all my heart.  Half of me was tasting the bitterness of  hurt Spencer was feeling and half of me was washed with the sweetness that he was letting it all out.

Ever since Halloween, I could tell Spencer was really having a hard time with missing Dave. First, we happened to drive by a cemetery on Halloween on our way to a friend's house and Spencer was emphatic about stopping and looking around.  He was almost panicked about not stopping and said, "I think it will help me to remember Daddy, better."  So, we stopped and walked around, as we noted the names and different shapes of the head stones.  Shortly after, we went through his friend's homemade haunted house, which stirred a desire in Spencer to build his own.  I said there is no way we are doing that.  He started to try and convince me that Chuck or Jim could come over and help and I told him that they don't have the necessary skills. (Just kidding, guys). I told him it is just not going to happen.  We all knew why . . . because Dave was gone.  We got home and he frantically started collecting cardboard to try and go it alone in his haunted house efforts.  In that moment, even the lure of pounds of candy wasn't effective in derailing his focus.

Earlier this week was another example of some underlying sadness, I've been seeing. This past Monday night, he brought home a classroom assignment that had a slot for past, present and future.  On the past section he drew a picture of Dave and wrote, "I lost mi dad."  Last year, every one of his journal entries was a picture about Mario Brothers or Star Wars and nothing about Dave, so this kinda seemed big to me.  I asked him more about it and he sharply told me that he didn't want to talk about it.  Talk about your heart just sinking. Ugh!

Even though I am writing these difficult and bitter stories, there is so much sweet depth to who my kids are becoming.  Even last night in the midst of our little cry fest, Leah came in with her bunny towel wrapped around her saying, "I have a surprise for you."  She handed each of us some wadded up toilet paper and said, "Here are some wipes for your tears, and I miss Daddy, too."  Pure sweetness.  There are so many stories I can share that speaks to this sweet depth.

This very morning, Spencer brought his Bible to Show and Tell.  I felt a little like Jay Pritchett on Modern Family last night, when Manny brought a fancy cake to the carnival instead of playing with all the boys.  I mean, most kids are probably bringing Star Wars legos to Show and Tell, but Spencer is bringing the Bible.  I thought about encouraging him to bring the usual, but the Bible is where it is at for him.  Which reminds me of another story about him from about a month ago.

There was a family night type deal at the church coffee shop, where it was just some singing, some crafts and some sharing.  At one point, the microphone was passed to the kids and they were sharing what they were thankful for - dinner tonight, my mom, my fish, my dad, Jesus, the trees, etc . . . .  They were all great things to be thankful for, for sure.  Then Spencer got the microphone and he said these very words, "I'm thankful for my family, for Jesus, and for NEW LIFE in heaven, and that when we get there, we get to stay forever."  I mean, who is teaching him these things?  The way he said, "NEW LIFE," was like he already knew this life can be a little rocky, but life in heaven is going to be fantastic.  The crazy thing is, a couple days later, I super randomly opened up the Bible and read I Peter 1:3-5:

"What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven-and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The day is coming when you'll have it all - life healed and whole."

Spencer pretty much summed all of that up in his delivery of what he was thankful for that night. It really testifies to the verse in Psalms 8 that says, "O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens.  You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you."

Speaking of heaven, one more little story of how my kids are just so much more in tune with things not of this world.  While Leah and Maci are still so young to understand as much as Spencer does, Leah did surprise me the other day. We were in the car, listening to some of Dave's playlist and the song, "After the Storm," by Mumford and Sons came on.  Some of the lyrics are:

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Heavy lyrics for a four year old (and a 39 year old), I suppose.  I didn't even really know she was listening, but at the end, she casually says from her back row seat, "I know what this song is about . . . . heaven."  I don't know if heaven is really what the artists were singing about, but just the fact that Leah would say that, indicates that part of her thoughts, her heart and reality is all about heaven.  

I'm assuming the next few months will be like the last couple weeks, with a thick vein of tension between the excitement of the holidays and the anniversary of our devastating loss.  However, in anticipating the hard,  I am so thankful for the joy my kids have, even amidst their sad moments.  I am in awe at their vision that makes the veil between heaven and earth so thin and I'm so grateful for the glasses they give me, with their heavenly insight, to make that veil thin for me, too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Little Holiday Beginnings Update - Part I

A few minutes in a quiet house!  Halleluhah!  I couldn't be more grateful for this hour that I get to sit down with my kids' Halloween candy and write for two seconds.  I have so much to write about, that seriously, this is going to be a jumble.  Everything is a jumble. I mean if I can just get one homework assignment or one permission slip turned in on time each week, we'd be making real progress around here.  

I am definitely still in quite a season right now.  When I look back over the summer, I almost laugh condescendingly at myself.  Oh, dear sweet Holly, you knew nothing then.  How did I think I was doing pretty well back then, when I am so delicate now?  I wonder what I'll say about November, when I get to next March?  So, this little summary is just how I THINK I am doing.    

These months are interesting, because starting around right now, I have very clear memories of what we were doing last year at this time.  I can recite pretty much all of our weekend plans, starting in October 2012 through when he died.  Like on October 5th, when Charles the dog, threw up all night long and Dave took care of all of it and in my grogginess I thought to myself, "I'm so glad Dave loves that dog so much."  Or on December 1st, when we were at a friend's house and Dave said with a strange look in his eye, "We should play our duet on the piano, Holly." And I said with an equally strange look, "Do we know a duet, Dave, . . . since you don't play the piano?"  (It was this little improvisational deal that makes it seem like you know how to play and then he made everyone in the room try it).  Or like on December 15th, when we went to Anthony's birthday party and Dave left early with the kids, so that I could just finish getting ready by myself.  And that night, we marveled over how amazing it was that we were standing in a room full of friends with which we had such a deep, rich and long history.  I can remember countless insignificant and significant conversations throughout these months last year.  It's like the day he died, I looked back and took a picture and the flash extended to Spencer's Birthday party at the beginning of October.  Having all these vivid memories makes it seriously feel like he was here just last week.  It is fun to have such vivid memories and also so piercingly painful, because it just makes it feel all over again, like, "Surely, this didn't really happen? Rats! It really did."

I do feel like I am mostly doing well, despite the hardness of this season. Although, I don't think the piano tuner would share the same sentiment.  I am back to crying in front of the most random people when Dave's story comes up.  Or the other night, I was relishing some great girl time, with friends that I have known since my first round of being single.  They are so hysterically funny and we were just this ridiculous group of gaggling gals in the back of Panera.  Then, someone asked how I was doing with this journey and I immediately started tearing up.  Three minutes before that, crying was the last thing I would have thought I would do that night, but the tears are just so close to the surface.  So, if I'm dropping Spencer off at school, I don't cry anymore.  If I'm ordering a burger, I don't cry anymore.  If I'm working out, I don't cry anymore, but if I talk about Dave, it's pretty likely that I'll cry, right now, even though I wasn't like that a couple a months ago.  I honestly don't feel like I'm doing worse than I was a couple months ago, I just feel like it's this new season.  A season where my soul is healing, but my missing Dave-ness is off the charts.

Well, this post hasn't been as disordered as I thought it might be, so at the risk of trying to squeeze in too much, I'll stop for now and resume Part II - an update on my three little Aldridges - next week.