Define Okay.

He brought me out into a spacious place;He rescued me because He delighted in me.Psalm 18_18.jpg

Last night was rough. A celebration at a friend’s house, which I’d hoped to soak in the happiness of others, caused me to flee when the walls felt like they were closing in all around me. I’d been trapped in this home for over a week with a virus, accompanied with laryngitis, which made me sound like Demi Moore, or perhaps a man who smoked two packs a day for over 50 years. On the mend, I’d discovered I was physically okay enough, but hardly emotionally okay for the venture out.

Discouraged, I made my way home.

You won’t know until you get there that you are okay.

I happened upon the above quote at the bottom of a journal entry from last January. When I read my condition at that particular moment months ago, compared to where I am today, I really am OK. Not an “I’m great” OK. Just OK.

January 11, 2017 (Two weeks before terminal diagnosis)

I had a nightmare.

I see a man to the right of my field of vision. I am not entirely sure who he is, this man who leans against the wall. It is slightly dark and there are a couple other unidentifiable people in the scene who appear more as backdrop props.

I notice something in the man’s mid section as I make my way to him. Pointing at first at the object that is obviously intrusive, but my eyes cannot make out what it is. I lean forward gently into his space and reach for the mysterious object, when he lurches at me and in his power knocks me to the ground.

On top of me, he places his hands around my neck and chokes me.

I wake up. Startled. Breathless.

What in the world? I’ve never been chocked in a dream before.

The next day I ponder and wonder if this dream is symbolic somehow of how I feel as of late about the mysterious spot on scans that the professionals wonder is malignant or not. And, maybe I feel my voice is being choked from being heard? I keep pointing it out, reminding Bill to ask about it, and then he makes his functionary duty calls to get me off his back, but backs off pressuring them for an answer.

People, I refuse to just sit here and do nothing. I hope our oncologist is incorrect and it is nothing, but what if it is something? Do we just sit and wait when they’ve been alive and kicking in that area before? That, and remember that first scan? They thought they saw something and then assured us that it was just a bubble from the incision, and it was actually something.

Who choked me? Bill, was that you? I am trying to help you, and you return the favor by sucking the air from my space? Don’t you see this is hurting me too?

You are, and have always been, my protector. How can you protect me if you leave me here without you? What if a burglar breaks in? I don’t know how to load, let alone shoot a gun. Or what if Armageddon happens after all? What supplies do I need to keep us alive?

You can’t leave me. Do you hear me? I need you entirely too much. I always have.

I know it is irrational to allow myself to travel into tomorrow when we are not there yet.

I am weary on this worry path.

I heard a quote in the movie, ‘The Hollars’, the other night given from a dying mom to her adult son who was scared of his unseen future:

You won’t know until you get there that you are okay.

This morning they announce new scans and new directions to look at this suspect area after the liver procedure is complete. It may be too close to the aorta. Don’t want to knick the lifeline—too dangerous.

Too dangerous to let be either. We will see.

At least people are paying attention.

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When Time is a Curse and Not a Blessing

(49) Journal Entry: June 27, 2017

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I read the following excerpt in a blog post (I believe it was Kara Tippett, but did not record the whereabouts to give appropriate credit…):

“She knew I would not give her her way, but she knew something else–that maybe just time in my arms would lessen the hold that want had on her. She knew that quietly rocking next to my heart would soften her heart in a way nothing else could.”

And later:

“So, as I rock my sweet loves, tears stream down my face, and I beg for the sweet grace to be present in that moment. I pray I could capture in the sweetness that it holds without the suffocating fear of not having the future moments.”

My struggle is with time.

Time in the distance seems suffocating.

Time without him here.

Times of longing for a former time.

Time.

If I drift back, or look forward, I feel the depth of loss and sorrow. I know I only have this moment in time, right here, right now.

If I could only allow the arms of my eternal Father to comfort me in my struggle with my finite hurt.

“Lord help me look no further then right now. Help me feel your comfort, allow your rest, enjoy this present moment for what it is.”

Today, I pick up a dear friend in Austin. Our plan is a quick trip to Waco, before settling into a hotel in Austin for the night. The thought consumes me with anxiety over not being home–with him. When she says I can bring Bill with me, and that she understands as she brought her dog’s ashes with her a long time after her death.

The idea settles me. I smile. Yes, he can come along in my suitcase.

Maybe this is more monumental then just ashes accompanying me on a short trip north. Maybe he will always accompany along in my heart–into tomorrow, and the rest of my days.

I find comfort in this.

My husband and best friend, Bill Barone, passed away from a long fight against cancer on April 29, 2017, at precisely 4:29am. The disease temporarily won out here on this planet, but since his ultimate residence is in Heaven, I am certain he won out.  These writings are a year-long commitment to find my way out of the darkness from his departure. 
Each entry is marked with a day and a date.  The first official entry was on May 9, 2017. 

God Gave Me Someone

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I sit here in a hotel room this morning “cleaning up” a mess on my laptop, and happen upon this writing of the day Bill left us, tucked away in a file folder.

April 29, 2017

I make it through the first day in small increments.

I attempt to push away his face from my mind, the moments before, and all the details that accompany the official death.  But, I can’t. I feel exposed. Raw. People entering my home without invitation, as if I were a criminal. I know this is procedure, and not the people, but the police are callus to my condition, with the exception of one kindhearted woman.

I am so heartbroken I feel like I want to die. Not really die, but the weight of heaviness hurts my insides so badly I just want out of the pain before me.

The adrenaline refuses to relinquish its right to my system, I down a glass of wine in hope to numb it down. I sit in the bathtub, pulling out every kind of trick in my fall asleep bag to enter slumber to escape the hurt. Right before drifting off, I cry out a faint petetion to God,

God, give me something.

Not a couple minutes later, the door to my bathroom opens and Ky emerges. For real? (So one doesn’t have an unnecessary mental picture, there were bubbles involved to act as a partial covering to my nakedness.)

She informs me there are two women at the door who want to pray with me.

I feel my blood boil. I am near sleep and someone decides to come over today of all days?

I tell her that she should go and pray with them. She leaves. I close my eyes again. Not another minute later, Tay enters and asks who the two people are that are walking to the car.

I tell her to go fetch them before they leave, and I get out, dry off, and put my grungy attire back on. I walk out in the other room and see the familiar face of one of the ladies.

Apparently, she had no idea that Bill had passed, but had a strong sense that God wanted her to come over to pray. I tell her it was too late for that.

She wonders if they can pray with us. Of course. I ask if we can pray in the bedroom, telling them of the difficulty being in there, especially since the hospital bed sits in the corner, naked of its bedding that we disposed of in large garbage bags and tossed in the trash. The steel frame sits there, glaring at me.

They annoint us with oil and speak wonderful words into our parched spirits.

I thank her as a realization occurs: I specifically asked for something from God.

And He gave me someone.

I can breathe again.

Hours before he left us, I clipped a small part of hair at his widow’s peak. It was my favorite spot. How fitting to have a name such as this. I hold this small lock and rub it as one would a rabbit foot, and a quirky smile formulates, and I wonder, if maybe even for one moment, I will be okay.

 

My husband and best friend, Bill Barone, passed away from a long fight against cancer on April 29, 2017, at precisely 4:29am. The disease temporarily won out here on this planet, but since his ultimate residence is in Heaven, I am certain he won out.  These writings are a year-long commitment to find my way out of the darkness from his departure. 
Each entry is marked with a day and a date.  The first official entry was on May 9, 2017. 

Finding Strength

(2) Journal Entry: May 11, 2017

Yesterday, Bill’s boss said a coworker commented that I was the strongest person he had met. I remarked, “hardly.” It could have been the after-shock of his death had still not registered beyond the surface, to the turmoil underneath.

I don’t feel strong at all.

I took a t-shirt last night and used it as a pillowcase to breathe him in. Laying beside this inanimate object that has the faintest scent of his nearness, it comforts me. Striving for intimacy from cotton–how’s that for strength?

“Where are you God?  Your intimacy feels absent right now.”

Today’s reading is from the Job on his heartbreak leaving him bare, “Naked from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

Maybe, just maybe, He’s right here with me. I just am not feeling His Presence at the moment.

This is my prayer:

“Either way, I know that You are near to the heartbroken. Keep me from breaking please. I want to bless You through burdens, trials–even in times of silence. I love you Lord. I don’t understand why Bill, why now. But I know he is with You now. Near.”

Maybe I am not as weak as I feel.

Warmth

(Day Five) Entry:  May 14, 2017

The last time I touched your cheek, before they asked me to leave the bedroom and took you away, I felt the cold set in.

The heat had already left your body.

We brought you home today, your remains that is. I rub the box as if you feel my touch. I know you are not really there, but in reality, you are. It comforts the deep longing to have you near.

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I look at the warmth of the fireplace insert as I watch TV, sitting in the chair next to the one you used to reside. The insert you gave me on our last anniversary together was to replace the one the former homeowner pleaded to keep, as it was a remembrance of her dead husband.

I ache so deeply. Last night I cried uncontrollably as I lay on the bed. It may have been the three glasses of wine that released the pent-up emotional toll underneath. I don’t know.

I miss your touch.

Everything reminds me of you. Your loud clap, that would last seconds after the last one clapping, would cause my head to cower in slight embarrassment. This morning I longed to be brought head-low by your performance. Instead my head bends at the grief of your passing.

Two weeks, plus one day. When will I stop counting the days past and instead look forward to the days in front of me? And further still, to the day when I see your face in front of mine, and I slowly reach out and touch the warmth of your cheek?

My husband and best friend, Bill Barone, passed away from a long fight against cancer on April 29, 2017, at precisely 4:29am. The disease temporarily won out here on this planet, but since his ultimate residence is in Heaven, I am certain he won out.  These writings are a year-long commitment to find my way out of the darkness from his departure. 
Each entry is marked with a day and a date.  The first entry was on May 9, 2017. 

“God Please Give Me Something…”

Early on in our relationship, Bill would present me with fancy jewelry for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary.  Usually his taste was a tad “blingy” and I would either return it for something less flashy, or it would make its way to a nice drawer for storage after an acceptable time of wear.

Over time he caught on and figured out my style, or lack thereof.

I prayed this morning a plea from my aching heart:

“God give me something from him…a word…something…please.”

This day has been unexpectedly difficult. I guess I thought since it wasn’t his birthday, I was going to be just fine, and have been emotionally unprepared for the sadness that has risen to the surface to destroy any celebration.

How naive I am.

I know the upcoming anniversary in December is already met with sadness even though it is month’s off on the calendar.  In prep I have a plan in place to battle the anticipated sadness.

But today, God, knowing I was going to struggle when I was clueless, met me on my path.

 

I spot the gold object near my feet as I jogged along the shoulder of the road, trying to keep clear of oncoming morning traffic. At first glance I think it is a gold ribbon.

But taking a play from Moses and the burning bush, I turn and walk back for a closer look.

It was a gold chain.

I pick it up and investigate it for damage, wondering if someone accidentally lost this prized possession.  It is bent up in multiple places.

I unzip my handheld storage/water bottle to place it in there…

When I notice an inscription circling the entire necklace:

I LOVE YOU    I LOVE YOU    I LOVE YOU   I LOVE YOU   I LOVE YOU

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I look at the gaudy, gold object and smile. This would be something Bill would have eyed at a jewelry store, I am sure of it.

The message was exactly what I needed, convinced it was from Bill himself.

Thank you Lord.

 

 

Dreaming to Stay Alive

(Day Four) Entry: May 13, 2017

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Oscar, AKA Bubba

“Bubba, we are going to dream today.” He looks aimlessly around, searching for the man who would sit in the kitchen chair every morning and give him a “love down”, that special rub-down from daddy to doggie.

Now he looks at me and sighs.

He will guide my dreams, and me. This morning while still in bed, I pondered the bigger decisions in life, like where to live and what to do with the rest of my life.

The first message arrives in my inbox–about how I am exactly where God wants me to be.

Yes, I am.

The second one is a post on grief, and dreaming–to continue to dream today.

Grief tries to kill my dream (writing a book) by saying it’s too soon to dream.

If I don’t dream, I’LL JUST DIE.

My passage today is the first couple chapters in Matthew.  It is all on dreams.

Multiple times, through dreams, both Joseph and Magi were directed and guided…

One step at a time
One day at a time

Moment by moment their dreams kept them alive, for if not for the dream, they would have died.

Literally.