Three years…

 

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn and then it was free to leave.”  – Garth Stein

The first time I read this quote it was like a lightbulb with off in my heart. We do not know what our life’s journey will be or when it will be over and our time here is so very short! While Justin’s passing left a tidewave of grief for all who loved him he now lives where there is no sickness, no pain, no sorrow. He was the lucky one that evening 3 years ago.  Feeling the warmth leave Justin’s body and heart finally come to rest was one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful moments in my life. It was so quiet. No more couching and trying to breath, just peace.  

Time passes so quickly yet stands still at the same time. Brock has grown into such an ACTIVE inquisitive little boy. Some of his personality traits are no doubt his fathers. His broad body is his fathers. His blonde hair. Facial expressions. Him being left handed comes from his fathers side. I could go on and on.  This sweet boy I would be lost without. He has no idea that while some days he drives me to the brink of insanity he is my saving grace. He is the perfect gift of two people who loved each other deeply.  

 

Justin is missed dearly to say the very least. I will never “get over” him dying. Something as traumatic and life changing as when he left is carried with me, daily. He is not forgotten but I do choose to move forward, unapologetically. 

Loving someone is scary again, having them love you in return is such a gift and having them love your fatherless child, well that is just indescribable. Brock and I both are so very blessed to be loved again. The path that brought Jason into our lives was God’s timing and it is always perfect.  

 

His Work Wasn’t Done

That is how I feel tonight…his work wasn’t done! 

Our son needed him. I’m angry once again. I hate grief, hate it which only makes me hate it more. It’s such an ugly vicious cycle of an irrational roller coaster of emotions.  I’ve read about the “stages” of grief, studied them and heck I live them daily but to be completely honest they can go SUCK it! For myself I can fly through all the stages in different orders, without warning, for different periods of time when something triggers them. When Justin laid in ICU many people came to see him and pray with/for him. One particular time I remember my Dad during a prayer saying “his work is not done here, he is needed”. It was so very true and still is. The prayer was answered as they always are but the outcome was No, heaven needs him more. I can remember during that prayer touching Justin’s leg and looking at his foot. Brocks toes are like his Daddy’s in how one of them curves over the other. 

When Justin died his other son was 3 years old, the same as Brock right now. I am almost Justin’s age now myself and cannot even fathom leaving my children. Brock would be an orphan. How afraid he must have been to be faced with death in your late 30s. 



His work wasn’t done! 

Green

Not The Way It Was Planned

When you ask Brock what his favorite color is he will say “Green!” He is addimit it is green. His Dad’s favorite color was green.

Coincidence? Don’t believe in them.

These incidences are were God shows us things or in this case where perhaps Justin is shining through to me/us through his son. When my heart has been heavy lately he knows what song to bring on the radio…sometimes on multiple channels at the same time. Brock and I find penny’s laying around places, some say that they are penny’s from heaven. We save some and toss others into fountains.

The other evening while discussing books, chapters and verses in the bible Jason and I downloaded a daily devotional. The verse for that day was Jeremiah 29:11. Just hit me in the chest. That was Justin’s verse.

Coincidence?  I don’t believe so.

Goodness he is missed. His son is so…

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Green

When you ask Brock what his favorite color is he will say “Green!” He is addimit it is green. His Dad’s favorite color was green.

Coincidence? Don’t believe in them.

These incidences are were God shows us things or in this case where perhaps Justin is shining through to me/us through his son. When my heart has been heavy lately he knows what song to bring on the radio…sometimes on multiple channels at the same time. Brock and I find pennys laying around places, some say that they are pennys from heaven. We save some and toss others into fountains.

The other evening while discussing books, chapters and verses in the bible Jason and I downloaded a daily devotional. The verse for that day was Jeremiah 29:11. Just hit me in the chest. That was Justin’s verse.

 

Coincidence?  I don’t believe so.

Goodness he is missed. His son is so much like him it is amazing at times.

Anyone who has had great loss in their life realizes just what a life sentence it really is. Forever your heart will ache, forever tears will fall for them. I see my sweet blonde boy and know he doesn’t even realize the loss he has, his life sentence.

The night his Dad died I remember walking out of the ICU after days of being there and just collapsing to the floor. The physical weight of grief just consuming me. I needed to hold Brock, he has been my strength SO many times. Once he was in my arms I felt strong again. He needed me, depended on me. When left the hospital I remember looking at my then tiny 3 month old son thinking it is you and I sweet boy. You and I.

“Hold onto me and I’ll Hold onto you.”

People are placed in our lives when we need them I wholeheartedly believe. Brock and I both are very blessed to be loved once again. Falling in love with a heart that will be forever broken is hard and confusing but also gives you without a doubt a clarity few know. We laugh, smile and give our love without hesitation because things can change with just one swollen leg in a Walmart. (That’s what originally sent Justin and I to the ER, 3 days later we found out he had cancer) At times I am still brought to my knees in a mess of tears.

Progress…

That is how I would describe the past year, progress. The first year after Justin died felt like surviving. Remembering to breath, wondering if the pain I felt would always be so sharp and all consuming. Just surviving. So many days felt like I had been in a plane crash and waking up to a world I didn’t know. Some of the pieces were there but most things were completely changed. People were missing and gone…forever. Brock’s Daddy was gone. How was it decided all he needed was just 3 short months and no memories of his own as enough? I don’t have an answer for that nor do I need one. It’s not my plan but His. Justin came into my life exactly when he was suppose too and left me with the most precious of gifts, our son. My sweet little blonde boy.

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The beginning of my blog started with recounting and remembering our journey of Justin’s cancer fight and last days. I never finished writing it down and probably never will. It’s personal and private. It’s mine, my memories. The day he died was one of the most precious of my life along side when my three children were born. Justin was so strong and fought so hard. Being alone in the room with him, feeling the warmth leave his body and his heart rate slowed and finally stopped is just indescribable. Life changing in so many ways to say the least.

There are times my heart still hurts he is gone. For myself I am okay he watches us from above but for my sweet boy my heart will always ache for him. Recently picking Brock up at preschool another child ran up to his Daddy saying “daddy, daddy” so excited to see him. Brought tears to my eyes as Brock will never be able to do that, at least not on here on earth. One day it will happen…up above in heaven. What a reunion that will be! >

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Almost two years ago I took all three kids to the zoo. They had a good time but I felt so out of place. We were surrounded by happy families and pregnant women. I blogged about it and how I asked not “why me” but “why not me”. That I must be strong enough to live this life. The visit felt so weird and almost as if I was in a foreign country. I couldn’t relate to anyone there. We were different or at least I was. Over spring break we went back and it didn’t dawn on me until a few days after we went that I didn’t feel out of place this time. Still a lot of happy families and pregnant women but it just felt like an outing to the zoo. It’s progress. While mine will never be the cookie cutter typical family we are a happy little family all the same! I once saw this quote that said the only cure for grief is to grieve. There isn’t a short cut or fix. You have to feel the emotions, live them, let them nearly swallow you up whole at times. You have to grieve. Big losses such as Justin’s will be a life long journey with waves of emotions at times.

New relationships have been formed, some changed and others lost this last year. New love has found me also that is nothing short of orchestrated from up above. Life is good which is something I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to say again. It isn’t always easy and I don’t expect it to always be but I do expect more progress. >

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Just Run

Just RUN…that is what I thought a year ago early in the morning on April 1st. I was sleeping at home and the ICU nurse called Justin had coded. Calmly I got dressed quickly and drove to the hospital. My only thought was PLEASE do not let him die alone. I knew he was going to die but I did not want it to alone. Knowing everything we had been through I know he would not have wanted to be alone either.

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I pull into the parking lot, put my car in park and got out. All of sudden I felt the urge to RUN…I think I was watched over to get to the hospital safely than panic set in and I came back to reality. Just RUN. I ran into the hospital, up the 2 flights of stairs to the ICU floor and through the doors. I was telling myself he was gone, preparing myself. When I turned the corner and looked at his monitors his heart was still beating! I knew his heart would stop soon, it was only a matter of time but was also selfishly SO grateful he had waited.

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The next day and a half are such a blur to me now. His body was failing and tired. We had been told we were praying for a miracle and he needed time. Our prayers were answered but the answer was No, Justin had come and did what he was suppose to do here on earth and was being chosen to go to heaven. I have said it before, he won that day a year ago…he lives where we can only imagine. I believe it is beyond our wildest dreams amazing. If we are lucky we will know one day…

The “why” game can try very hard to sneak its way into my life. I refuse to play. I do not ask why, it will eat my sanity alive. All I know is knowing what I do now I wouldn’t change a thing. Justin changed my life forever and gave me a gift few have the privilege of. I alone saw an amazing man leave this earth last April 2nd. I felt the warmth leave his body…his spirt leave his earthly shell.

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He also left me with our sweet son. While looking through pictures of Justin today Brock was in my lap…he pointed and said “Dada”. He recognized his Dad! He knew who he was. He will never have a memory of his own of his father being only 3 months old when he died. It is such a huge responsibility being the “keeper” of my memories for him. He will only know his father through stories. A huge responsibility and even bigger privilege.

This past year has shown me many things…some amazing people have come into my life. Supported and loved me unconditionally. New friendships made and others reunited. Without my parents I am not sure I would have survived this past year. I can only hope to show my children the unconditional love they have given me. When my children hurt I hurt and I am sure they have hurt with me this past year.

Some relationships have been lost also…friends and family. I make no apologies, do not use Justin as a crutch and unless you walk in my shoes your opinion is not needed or wanted. There just isn’t any room on my plate for you.

My reality now is completely different then I ever imagine it to be…forever altered. Different then most my age. My eyes are wide open and unfiltered where most people’s are. It is a gift I was given by Justin also. Forever he will live in my heart. Being his LAST love is priceless and something I cherish.

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I know Justin sees the plan that lays ahead for us and is helping in the orchestration of our future already. He may have left physically but his spirit is alive and well within.

Grief

Grief it seems like a process to those on the outside looking in. It would appear to most that there is a like a 12 step program for it. Umm, that is alcoholics people not someone who is feeling grief. Grief is an ongoing, never-ending process. It isn’t something you “get over” or something that passes. You carry it with you forever. I never want to get over Justin but will gladly carry him in my heart forever. For there in my heart what we shared is safe.

Grief is also an animal like no other. Yes, I said animal. It can be the sweet little kitten purring at your ankles begging to be petted. This type of grief is gentle. For me is usually when I am thinking of the good times Justin and I shared, our sweet boy, how he used to touch me, how he smelled or how his smile looked. On the flip side is the hungry angry TIGER that you cannot control and is at your throat wanting to taste blood. It is usually irrational which only leads to feeding the anger more. When I feel like my feelings for Justin are being discounted I see red like the tiger wanting blood. Cancer makes me angry. At times Justin makes me angry. Like I said sometimes it is irrational.

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A life sentence is what was dealt out that evening on April 2nd last year. For the rest of my life I will live with the pain of my love, Justin leaving. Why was he taken and others not? Why was it not me? What would I be feeling if it was the reverse and he was here with Brock and I was watching him? Surely I would be proud of him and see our beautiful little man growing. Does he see Brock? God I hope he does and watches over him. I am only one person, one parent here on earth for him. He needs us both. He deserves us both. Brock at only 3 months old not knowing was also given a life sentence. He will never know first hand his Father. In his future he will see other Dads with their sons. More than likely one day soon I will hold my son as he cries tears for the Daddy he does not know and have to TRY and explain why. Much like the tears Justin shed that Sunday evening saying if this is cancer he is going to die. Why my son? One day, hopefully a long time from now I will know why. When I meet Justin again.

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Something else I have been thinking about is I can only do my sentence. I can only do my grief. By that I mean I cannot console you in your grief for Justin. I have enough to carry on my own, alone. I think for a long time I have plastered a smile upon my face and acted like a cardboard person at times to spare others or to carry their grief. Not anymore. This happened to us all, including me. It happened to ME, dammit!  I was there from that Sunday evening in the fall of 2011 when we first heard the word cancer to last spring in 2012 when he died. I was there…just he and I. Alone. Now it is just me. Alone.

I don’t have a life to go back too. My future or what I thought would be my future was buried with Justin last Easter weekend. Please don’t tell me you know how this feels because you don’t and I pray you never do. Does this mean I am without hope for the future? Absolutely not. It is just not the future I thought for myself and children.

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I remember when we were in ICU for those 10 days. We had become familiar with the faces of the other patients families. They were there with us. They slept there with us, ate with us, prayed with us. I would see them come out from those double doors crying. Their person was gone. I remember saying I pray I am never one of “those” people….the crying person because Justin had died. I did become one of those people. Walking out of ICU after his heart stopped beating I remember my arms felt SO heavy, my legs felt weak and then my heart just broke. I collapsed to the floor. That was the first of many times PHYSICALLY I felt grief. I was one of “those.”

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I have found a wonderful, amazing life changing group of people who get “it”. We are all young and widowed. It sucks how we met but thank GOD we did meet!  No words need to be expressed, we just get it. I feel normal with them in a world I no longer feel normal in. One of the first people I met on my grief journey into my new normal was Lyndie. Her amazing husband was chosen to go to heaven a year ago this coming week. He like Justin had cancer, was in his 30s and was an all around good guy. I am sure they have met each other now, shook  their heads at the two of girls down here on some of our ventures. I love her. I watch her and it reminds me a bit of watching the “other” ICU people. I will be her shortly. Justin’s one year date is a month and half away. How is it here already? How will I survive it? I knew the year date was coming…I have a calendar. It wasnt until I was standing at the store and the Easter display slapped me in the face. Easter is coming. Justin was buried Easter weekend. There I was standing at the display of candy and bunnies crying holding a gallon of milk. The year date is coming. Sometimes I want to sleep and get it over with. These days feel like “events” and I hate it but like I said I am SO thankful as I become an “other” this time I am not alone but surrounded by those that get” it.”

 

Starting March 16th is what I call the beginning to the end for Justin and I here on earth. That is the day he went back into the hospital. Brock was 3 months old to the day. Even as I type that it doesn’t seem real or fair. It isn’t fair and pisses me off. I am left holding the bag forever, alone. To say I miss him dearly is a heartbreaking understatement. There just are no words….

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