Since the sudden home-going of Terrie on the morning of November 23rd, the most common greeting to me is “How are you doing?” It is not offensive to me, but it is a signal of the person asking that they have a level of concern for me and I appreciate that and marvel that anyone would care about my condition. The extent of the asking has really surprised me and humbles me.
I have been asked to give a monthly report about how my healing is progressing. The thought was that it may benefit others who have not lost a loved one to death. I was not sure if I could do that because, as I have learned and been told, everyone’s grief is different. I am not an expert on the subject. What I write may be completely different than what you have experienced and that’s ok. As God has created us as unique individuals, He has also created us with some relatable common points. It is with that aim that I open my heart to you as I write these words:
Physically… I am improving. My blood pressure is lower; I’m losing some weight which is good, but a rough way to get there; my sleep seems to rest me in less time than previously. I am still waking up around 4:00 am, but I try to force myself to sleep until a more reasonable hour. I have more energy to do the various task one faces daily. I’m trying to drink my two quarts of water a day but admit, I haven’t hit it every day.
“I am walking toward a bright light and the nearer I get the brighter it is.”- Dwight L. Moody
Spiritually… is where I feel I am the strongest. I believe in a BIG GOD and a little man philosophy. If God can create everything, I think that he can take care of me. He can do what I cannot do. It is a matter of faith in Him to do what needs to be done. Romans 12:3 tells us that each is given a measure of faith. Your level of faith may be higher than mine or mine higher than yours. It’s not who has the greater amount of faith, it is that you have faith. Jesus described the minimum level of faith that one needs in Matthew 17:20 saying, “Because of your little faith [maybe no faith?]. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” I believe that God will do what He said He will do. He said if we put our trust in Jesus Christ and surrendered our life to Him, He would give us eternal life. It is with great comfort to know, based on Scripture, that Terrie is in heaven and until I join her someday, that He will take care of me every day. I am not saying if you have struggles that you are not trusting or without faith. I’m saying for me to survive, I have to trust in Him.
Emotionally… here is the part that I don’t think I can evaluate honestly. I am in uncharted waters. Terrie was a constant in my life for forty-five years, which is over two-thirds of my life. I love her as I have never loved anyone else in my life. Our whole love was given to one another undiluted. So it is hard to imagine life without her, but the reality is that I must. I don’t have a choice.
The joy that I have knowing Terrie is well and in heaven with our Savior outweighs my sadness. Looking back, I think Terrie may have started dying about a month before she went. She started using a walker after her father died in 2002. The cartilage in both of her knees had completely deteriorated leaving bone upon bone. Her mobility decreased, her weight increased causing a spirally effect. She walked slowly due to pain and she had a great fear of falling. In the last month, she walked even slower than normal. Somehow I think the two things are linked. I watched her fight against her disability. She would struggle to get in and out of chairs; struggle to get in and out of bed; struggle to get in and out of cars, but she never gave up. Never! I was accused of spoiling and babying her. I admit it; I did try to help her. But why wouldn’t I try to make my love’s life less painful and a little easier? If she hadn’t tried, then charge me with spoiling her, but she did all that she could do. That is all that I would ask of anyone.
What now? I’m trying to get my compass centered and pointing North. I’m told maintaining some structure is important, so after Thanksgiving, I returned to my work. I would work a while and cry a while. Talk about awkward office situations! What are you supposed to do with a big guy like me crying in your office? I’m not crying as often, but the tear bottle needs to empty every once in a while.
I am selling both of our vehicles in order to get just one for me. The other evening about 5:30, I decided to take the van through a drive-thru car wash. The sun had already set, so as I entered the tunnel, I couldn’t help but notice the bright colored lights that they used to keep your interest. I immediately thought of Terrie and thought how much she would have enjoyed them. I made a choice, there in the car wash tunnel, instead of crying about her not seeing them I would smile and enjoy them myself, in honor of her.
Last Wednesday night after church, I went into a restaurant to eat. It was my first time to go alone. I got my food and sat at my table, facing the Chinese buffet line. I figured I could at least watch other people as I ate. To the right of me sat a single mother with a seven year old girl and a four year old boy. I know their ages because I overheard an open conversation between the mother and an older couple who were in the process of leaving the restaurant. The little boy, who had finished eating, did what little boys do, he began moving around. He came to my table, standing beside me and said, “Whatca’ doin'” to which I replied that I was eating supper. He came back with his slip of paper from his cookie and asked me to read it for him. I did and his mother seemed pleased that I wasn’t bothered by it. It showed me that the Lord able to make something to cause you to smile, even in a situation you might not want to be in.
What about the future? I don’t know. The Lord has something planned, which will come one day at a time. I think I would like to be married again someday. It was a wonderful thing for me. This week, I began praying for my future wife if the Lord had one for me. It’s in His hands and time. It may not be His will. I began thinking of my resume: loyal, faithful, sentimental, can be charming and romantic, know 5 love languages and about love & respect, could do laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc., and has been track tested. But this old car will be hard to sell. The paint is not as bright, the upholstery is worn, and the fenders have some dents and scrapes. Did I say anything about a unique sense of humor? That’s got to be worth just a little bit.