It was October. November would come, and that would be it. The first anniversary of the end of the “Brainstorm.” The first anniversary of when I became a widow. The first anniversary of …well, let’s not drag that out. You get the idea.
Chad and the kids came to help me get ready for the winter, and that was good. I had made a big list, and we got most of it done.
But the most important thing was that Chad gave me some good advice.
I was concerned about some investments I had. Based on Chad’s (and my financial advisors’) recommendation, I had put money in less risky accounts than stocks. I knew it would cost me some money to do this, but it seemed like a reasonable step. But the summer investment reports were dismal. I was losing about $10,000 a month.
Roger taught many financial classes and counseled many couples. I could just hear Roger say, as he had said many times before, “You are the only person who will take care of your money. Keep tabs on it, and watch it closely.”
I thought I was destroying all of his hard work to build a nest egg for us. But then Chad said, “If you take it all out and put it in a savings account, you will have a huge loss. Just let it sit.” I knew he was right, so I tried real hard not to panic!
We also talked about what I needed to do to get the house ready to sell—when that time came.
And then we remembered that in October of last year Chad had come with the kids to help stay with Roger while I was at State of Grace concerts. Roger was coherent then—but not too much. What a difference a year made!
My memories were getting sweeter.
I had read Revelations 3:14 one day, and it made me think of my favorite sermon that Roger had preached. It was on the church of Laodicea. I could hear his voice in my mind, and I could remember the illustrations. I missed him so much. A piece of me was gone, and there was still a hole in my heart. But it was a sweet memory.
One evening I went to a Collingsworth concert. We took a Salem church bus and it was a great experience. I sat next to good friend Kathy on the bus, and we enjoyed talking to each other.
We ate at Ryan’s in Champaign, and I had another “first.” It was the first time I had been there without Roger. The last time was with Roger’s brother and sister-in-law Bruce and Jody. My heart was stabbed again—but it was just a tiny hole.
Then on the way home I kept remembering how Roger used to be in charge of events like that one. He would organize them, sit with me on the bus, have prayer before we left, and pretty much managed everything. That too, was a small, but sad memory for me. One reason was that I guess I missed him being in charge. The other reason was that life can go on without us. Roger used to say, “You think you’re indispensable? Just put your fist in a bucket of water and then take it out. Do you see the hole that is left? Well, that is just about how important you are!”
I did jury duty during the month of October, and I loved it. One juror was interested in the book that I intended to write. She said to get back with her when I was in the publishing stage.
I learned a lot about human nature, including spiritual applications about the jury system. I was thankful for the life that I had growing up—and even thankful for the life I had then—even without a husband.
And I learned that the world has a lot of filthy-mouthed people. Women included.
By mid-October I felt like I had almost turned the corner. I was busy transcribing music for people, recording music for Scott’s choir, and just helping people when I could.
I still felt alone—there was that corner of my heart that was gone. I ached for Roger. But I enjoyed helping people.
Another Disney Trip
I traveled to Florida with Scott’s family, and it was great. We drove to Chattanooga, left Savannah with Jessica’s mom, and then flew from Atlanta to Disney. I loved seeing the park through the eyes of a child.
We walked a lot. We laughed. We rode rides. We mini-golfed. We ate. But again, in that little corner of my mind, I thought we would have had so much more fun if Roger had been there.
Being Positive and Helpful
You will recall that I had one hip replacement done in the summer. The other one needed it, but even with the pain I was determined to walk as much as I could. I figured physical activity would be good for me in more ways than one.
So after 1.5 miles of walking, but still feeling despondent, I went to Ladies’ Night Out at church. I brought some delicious apple dumplings, got rave reviews, and still came home downhearted.
But then there were the good things:
- Myrtle called me on a Sunday morning and asked if I could pick up Linda, who lived near me, and take her to church. I did, and it felt so good. I told Linda that all I have left is time. I wanted my time to count for something. I had determined that I would do something nice for someone each day, and she was the one for that day!
- I worked on transcribing music for good friend Vickie. It was an ongoing project that I was doing to help her get her husband’s original songs in print. She was a widow, too—about a year before me, so each time we chatted or met I learned something from her.
- Jeff (the guy who tore down my garage) called and asked if he could leave some rock in my driveway until he could go get another load. I felt honored that he would ask me—it was a nice thing for me to do.
- Even though I would walk 1.5 miles, I would still feel tired and blah. So one day, after walking, I went to the Harristown retired staff lunch. It was good.
It was at the end of October. I just felt so blue. It was raining, and after I got my oil changed, I heard Unchained Melody on the radio, one of Roger’s favorite for me. He loved singing it to me. I cried on the way home.
I was curious: Was it lying when you don’t tell people how you really feel? The guy at Jiffy Lube was so kind and upbeat. He asked me how I was, and how my day was going, and if I was getting a lot of things done. I said, “My day is ok, and I am getting some things done.” So it was the truth, I guess. But how do you honestly answer those questions? I was actually on the verge of tear at that point. People often don’t really want to know how you really feel, do they?
So, the tears were falling again. I wondered if it was something cyclical, something that happened, but would just get less frequent. Would it ever stop?
One night after State of Grace rehearsal, one that I felt on the verge of tears with each song we sang, I found an email from Roger’s sister, Elaine. There was a song attached, a beautiful and fitting one, called “Well Done.” I listened, and cried. I came the closest to crying myself to sleep as I ever had. I cried and cried. I just could not get over this death. I was trying, but it was so hard.
Here’s my email to Elaine
Elaine. I just listened to this. I cried and cried. Today has been such a hard day. Really hard. And I don’t know why. I’m so despondent. I cried most of the afternoon or just stared out the window.
This morning I got up, read the scripture. Meditated. Listened to just Vernon McGee. Walked 1.5 miles on the treadmill. Went to a lunch with retired teachers. And I still cried. I’m just so blue
Maybe it’s because subconsciously I am coming up on November-the month he died. Your dad died November 7th. It was raining today. I’m tired from the Florida trip. I don’t know but I don’t like being sad. Maybe that’s why it bothers me so. I’m not usually sad.
But I miss him so much.
Anyway the song was beautiful and it fit Roger so well.
And I’m still crying. Thanks for sharing. It means a lot to me. Love you.
Here is her reply to me
It is my belief that our bodies experience anniversaries of things that have stressed us or shocked us. You are still working through this as are we, although you experienced the most and are reacting the most. You lost half of yourself and are still regrouping. I hope the song was a comfort too besides a way to release more tears. It was for me, a time to smile a bit as I remembered the things he did in ministry for others. Glenda, he was your knight. He knew you second only to God. He loved you, was strength for you. He helped you remember your center when hurt. He schooled you in those things and God knows because of your life together you have much more of that strength in you now. He taught you by the way he lived, by the way he trusted His God. I wish it were different.
This verse: Be still and KNOW that I AM God. I once read Be still meant be still, cease striving. Give your body rest. You admitted you are weary, know that its ok to still grieve, there is a part of you that will always grieve. I love you with all my heart. e
That encouraged me.
The next day I had lunch with a dear friend, Judy, and it was one of the best times I have had with her. We had both lost loved ones in the past year. She had followed my blog and solidified my view that yes, people grieve differently and at different times.
When I wrote that I often became embarrassed when I cried in public as I spoke about Roger, she said that she was just the opposite. She was able to talk about her sister to other people without tears, but when she was alone, and something would trigger a thought or memory, the tears would flow. Then, so she wouldn’t stay sad, she would claim scripture and determine to be thankful for what time she had with her sister. That was a great outlook!
The Last Day of October
That absence. It’s as though part of my heart and soul is gone. Elaine was right. We were one flesh, and now I was missing part of me.
On Halloween I was at home. Alone. Ready to hand out candy. That was another first for me. Simple, right? I just had to open the door and hand out the candy. Because I was the principal at the local grade school, we usually had lots of young trick or treaters. Everyone wanted to get candy from the principal! As the years passed, the younger children didn’t know who I was, and often we were not at home when the trick or treating began. Last year, I was gone to a concert, and I remember leaving candy for Floyd and Phyllis to give should anyone come to the door. They only had one kid.
I was wondering how many kids I would have that first Halloween. And it was raining. And I was remembering that in two weeks I would mark the day that we decided to stop Roger’s treatment. And I was blue again.
And next month brought the anniversary of the end.
Maybe that was what was bothering me.
OBSERVATION: It does get better–I think.
OBSERVATION: Grief actually does blind-side you–When you least expect it.
HELPFUL HINT: Keep breathing, keep living, keep doing.
HELPFUL HINT: Keep investing in your friends. They give a great return on the investment.