Chapter 9–I Just Might Make It

IMG_6508I just re-read Chapter 8, and it sure was depressing.  I write each chapter from my notes and memory, and I guess because I was just coming out of a really low time, those emotions carried over into that narrative. The good news is that I’ve had several great weeks, and I actually feel like I am going to survive. Hopefully, this will be a more enjoyable read, even though my notes show that times were still difficult during that first year of heartstorms.

I had wanted to do something nice for my good friend Kathleen for her April birthday. Our schedules didn’t permit a celebration then, so I had planned a June trip—a trip to somewhere she hadn’t been before, which, if you know Kathleen, was a difficult task.  She had traveled extensively as a marathon runner and a Lincoln expert, and there was hardly any place she had not been!  I wanted to do this because I appreciated her.  No ulterior motives.  Well, there was one.  I knew we would laugh a lot!

We went to Jefferson City, Missouri and checked out the sites.  We even took a detour to look at Daniel Boone’s home and cemetery plot.  The trip was fun and refreshing.

Then Scott’s basketball team came and scrimmaged several area teams.  It was neat to see Scott coach against his long-time friend and teammate from HS, Josh. The team spent the night at our house, and it was fun being a hostess to those teenage boys and the coaches. I was busy. And things were good.

My hips continued to hurt, but at least I knew that there was something really wrong with them and I wasn’t nuts! July 1st couldn’t come soon enough.

I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to look at pictures of Roger.  There were so many pictures of him that would pop up on my Facebook page, sick or healthy, with genuine smiles or vacant stares.  I just couldn’t look at them.

Early in June I was driving home from town and heard a song on the radio—Heroes of the Faith (written by Roger Bennett)

I began to sob and sob.  I cried out to God.  I cried to Roger.  I told him I missed him.  I told him I needed him.  (I had just made some financial changes in investments, and I really needed his brain!)  I asked him if he really did greet Jesus first.  Did it hurt when he died?  What was he doing then?  Was it all really true?  I think at this time I acknowledged my struggle with my faith.  During this time I asked myself a lot of questions.

And then again there was my identity struggle.  Who was I—really?  This seemed to be an ongoing issue with me as a widow.  Then I saw a comment from singer Ben Everson’s blog regarding his throat issues.  My eye caught this phrase:  It has been defining my quality of life. Voice diagnosis

Here is a portion of the entry.

I thought I took it all pretty well.  But as I typed to my kids back at home tonight and told them we had to work together so that I could sing again we all cried together. It was quite a moment. Although I know in my head that my voice does not equal who I am before God, it has been my defining quality all my life. To be threatened with losing that isn’t easy. I’m trusting it will draw me closer to the Lord in the days ahead.

I guess I wasn’t alone in my state of mind when I suffered my loss.  I needed to learn that loss didn’t need to define my quality of life.

And then just at the perfect time when I had so many questions, this email came from GriefShare.

Limited Answers
Day 192
Here is the challenge: Do not use your suffering as a time to discover if you believe in God, but focus instead on discovering what you believe about Him. In times of suffering, God does not change, but what you believe about Him, what you understand about Him, may.
You will likely have questions to which you will never receive answers. It is human.
“I was real angry because I couldn’t get answers,” says Dora of her daughter’s death. “I now realize that there really is no logical reason why my daughter suffered. It is what it is, and to say that she suffered and died for my betterment or for our growth does not make sense. So I’ve come to realize that I’ll never get an answer to that question.”
As a human living on this side of death, you will not receive answers that truly satisfy you. The only satisfaction will come when you accept Jesus as Lord of your life and live each day seeking to walk in His Spirit.

June 12, 2015

My first anniversary without Roger was approaching.  It would have been 44 years. What should I do on that day?  The kids didn’t want me to be alone, so I decided that I would ask my two good friends, Carol and Della to go with me to Joliet.  We would make a day of driving around where I grew up, went to school, eat at the place I ate with my bridesmaids the night before I was married, and see the church where we were married.  It turned out to be a great idea.

We met good friend Gaye (she sang at our wedding) at Merichka’s restaurant for lunch.  Ah, the home of the world’s famous Poor Boy sandwich did not disappoint us.  And when goofy old women (ok, we were not all old—just me!) get together, we do goofy stuff.  I actually felt like I did as a teenager “tooling” (that’s what we called cruising back in the day) the loop in downtown Joliet.

Laughter.  Tears.  It was healing.  I can’t emphasize how important it is to seek out and have good friends.

Gaye shared a quote from another friend of hers.  “Love is just a word, until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”  Maybe that was why I was so weepy that week.  It was our anniversary, and a piece of my heart had been ripped out.  I was incomplete.  I was missing part of me.  Indeed, that’s what a good marriage is.

I saw another quote from a woman who had lost her husband.  She held his hand as he took his final breath. “It’s a memory that I will never un-see.” So true.

Then I went to Chad’s to have some fun as well as stay with the kids while Chad and Stephanie were on a trip.  Lisa came from Wisconsin, and it’s guaranteed that there is never a dull moment when she is around.  We baked, went to a park, sat on the porch, played in a trampoline place, and played games.

It was a good time.

Journal entry for June 16, 2015

June is not as joyous as I thought it would be. I am so weepy this morning.  I think it is because I am in this “this time last year” mode. I looked at pictures today from last year’s Salem’s retirement. Then there was our trip to Michigan and Wisconsin.  That’s when it all started. Our lives were changed forever.

At Chad’s we let a fire lantern go in the sky last night in memory of Roger—just like we saw the people do across the street last year as Roger and I sat on Chad’s front porch. They were letting the fire lanterns go because their Grandpa had died with a brain tumor, just like Roger. And now Roger was gone.

 It’s sunny out, but it’s raining in my heart.

And then I had another “first.” Lisa, the grandkids and I visited the farm in Indiana because Roger’s sister, Eva, and some of her family were there.

First time back to the farm without Roger.  Alone.  Family all around, yet alone.

The farm holds so many memories for me.  I can’t list everything; it would be an entire chapter of its own.  But if you, like me, married into a family who truly loved you, (no matter that I was a city girl married to a country boy) be thankful.  Count those blessings and keep them in your heart. One day you will be grateful for them, for even though the memories bring tears, they will help sustain you through dark times.

I teared up a lot that day and wore my sunglasses as much as I could. I went to the barn and saw where we had carved our names on the barn door. Roger and Glenda.  We did that when I joined the Weldy family in 1971.

I sat on the porch and watched the activity of the next generation of Weldy descendants play kick ball, ride bikes, do the slip and slide.  But in my mind’s eye I saw a time 30 years earlier when it was Roger and me watching our kids and their first cousins at Aunt Elaine’s “Cousins’ Camp.”

The porch, the fireworks, the watermelon—those were such sweet times.

Lisa, Micah and I went into the “little house,” where Roger and I lived after we moved back from Greenville, SC.  Chad was born there.  The old cook stove was gone, the furniture given to someone else, but the cast iron kitchen sink was still there, and the cupboards were still the same.


This is Roger’s older brother, Doug.

But the scene that made me cry the most was when Roger’s oldest brother Doug appeared.  Roger favored him the most in looks and voice.  I was taken aback at hearing him talk and watching him explain something. Could it be?  Was Roger here? No, but perhaps a part of him was.  That piece of DNA that made the five Weldy kids, those “Five Little Peppers,” as Roger’s mom used to call them, who they were–I could hear and see it that afternoon.

The next day was the First Father’s Day.

OBSERVATION: Friends and family are invaluable. (I’ve said that before)

OBSERVATION: The sun will come out tomorrow.  And if it’s cloudy, just be patient. You might have to wait a day or two.

OBSERVATION: Doing something for someone else can help your sorrow diminish.

HELPFUL HINT: It’s OK to laugh. It’s OK to cry. (I’ve said that before)

HELPFUL HINT: Be honest with yourself and God.  Admit you have questions.

HELPFUL HINT: Cherish all memories–the ones you have from yesterday and the ones you are making today.