Last Post

Hi there!  The following post is also appearing on my new site, Josiebarone.com.

This will be the final one here though. 😦

If you want to read, and also follow along, I’d love to have you join me over there.

(Just click the title below, and it will take you there!)

Does it matter…Do I matter?

Have a wonderful day!

Josie

 

New Beginnings

Firsts

(By clicking the link above, you will find your way to me.)

Good morning!  I hope all is well in your world.

I am officially posting over at my new blog site, which you will notice doesn’t look much different than this one, and is in desperate need of tech assistance…

I hope to see you there!

Josie

 

Moving Day

Thirteen months today since his departure, still counting time as a mom of a new baby does–in small, yet monumental, increments:  Breathing, making it through a day without crying, smiling, talking in solo verses pair, etc.  Each a significant milestone toward embracing life.

Every part of my being trying to move toward new beginnings with anticipation and excitement, instead of sighing at the look back, or better yet, being okay in the land of the limbo when the two intersect, without falling into despair.

Your calling is calling.

Answer it.

Did I hear this? Dream it? Recognize it? Or, was this a moment of awareness that usually catches me while entering slumber, when that significant something happens as all noise shuts down, left like a blaring light without the curtain of restraint.

The faint whisper of God to His girl, a reminder of something significant He spoke to me years’ before, but is reminding me it is on its way.

I sit here in Tay’s apartment this morning in the midst of what appears the aftermath of a storm, but is actually clutter of her upcoming move. The chaos everywhere sends the OCD in me on high-cortisol alert, aware of everything just a bit off.

I’ve traveled the five-hour journey north for some time. Many times a last minute escape from the reality of home without Bill. Like if I didn’t I would just die from the heartbreak.

Maybe because there aren’t many tangible memories of us here, times together that haunt me with awareness of a life that used to be, but is no more.

Except this small space on my morning run, the place that I receive a call from Bill, the day we discover cancer traveled from supposed remission, into the lung. The day that changed everything.

I was mid-run when the call came.

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Still, this place of respite replenishes my soul, slowly giving me longings to live.

I am excited to have her near me again, still, I will miss this place.

But, like a baby without her pacifier, at first it will be a challenge, but over time hopefully she realizes she no longer needs it.

I am moving on to a new blog residence also. It is time.

Yes the new stories will still mix with yesterday’s memories, but like an adult who looks back at high school with fondness, hopefully the same will be for me in this space.

New address:  Josiebarone.com. (There is really not much there as of yet, but I will give a head’s up when I share next…)

 

 

 

Alter Moments – #Sowkindlegacy

One year ago today I began a journey with God, which started in a place of despair so thick, it nearly suffocated me.

Each morning for eight months straight, I sat at the kitchen table, with Bible, pencil and paper by my side, as I absorbed God’s Word, and poured to paper anything and everything. The first days were choppy, like the thoughts lay trapped underneath crushing feelings, and even though they desired release from the weight, they rose up slowly, and with much effort.

Still, over time, these daily moments altered my life. Or rather, kept me alive.

But there was another writing, one that was written before Bill’s death, to be opened upon his departure, that saved my life in more ways than I will share in this post.

Words speak life, even after death.

They encourage.

They fuel hope.

They comfort.

They inspire.

I have a friend who began a ministry not long ago, titled, #Sowkind. It is a way to pour much-needed kindness into others. I think of the letter Bill wrote as a #Sowkindlegacy, living on long after his absence.

On the one-year milestone, I wrote a letter to my girls. I hope my words encourage as much as the one their daddy left for them.

I hope these words encourage you to build life into those you love before it is too late (I typed it as is…errors and all).

Dear Josie, 

I wanted to tell you that you have made my life worth living. You are my best friend, you and I have been together for almost 30 years. You have been there through all our highs and lows. As a friend you have taught me how to be a better person and caring more for others than myself. You shared with me more than just friendship you shared with me your faith and I welcomed it, because of you I will go to heaven and I will be there waiting to see you again. I couldn’t think of a better friend to share my life with. 

You are my wife, you showed me how to include another person in my space and that space was filled by your love. You made me a husband, one who cared and believed in you. You and I learned how to be parents together or should I say Kylie taught us how to be parents, we learned together as a family to be a family. Through your caring nature you instilled in me a desire to raise our girls with dignity and respect. 

You are my Love. I have been in awe ever since the day we met. Your beauty, charm and humor knocked me over. I cannot describe my love for you, you have filled my life with happiness, excitement and zest. 

I want you to be strong and live a beautiful fulfilling life, please continue to share all your glorious attributes with those you love. 

You have a way with words and you have shared stories with so many others and inspired them, so never ever quit. You will write that book. 

I have never been so proud of someone in my whole life and you will always be in my heart. 

Love you Baby Cakes

Boo

 

 

Let the Adventure Begin

Yesterday brought along a whirlwind of sadness, I guess from the combination of emotions. The quiet in New York, with so many people, yet missing the one that mattered most, along with the accumulation of pent-up feelings–ones I bottled in so to not spill out while on our adventure, came pouring out the minute I found my way home again.

Another day wasted by grief’s crashing wave.

I am tired of grieving.

Today I want to begin 30 days of finding a new me. Or maybe wholeness. Could be because I am attempting Whole 30 eating plan to get back on track before my waistline decides to graduate to another size. A post for another day…

Wholeness, like filling the gaping wound with a skin graft so it can heal.

A question appeared in a post from, ‘Second Firsts’, in which the writer asked a series of questions, one being:

Are you still trying to live the life you used to have?

I sat here for minutes as I pictured the days go by, one after the next, and at first glance, thought, “no, not really.”

After all, I stopped watching our shows at night, even though the red light lets me know it is still being recorded and I am wasting valuable storage space. But I just don’t care enough to stop.

Routines are similar though.

Coffee. Shower. Working out. Actually that should be working out, and then shower.

The TV is off in the morning, yet I sit in the same spot at the kitchen table.

In the evening, this seat transitioned to Bill’s bottom, but I decided to keep it as my own. Not sure why, other than it has a better view of the perimeter of the house, and into the yard.

I meander through the day as I did when he was well, filling time with errands, coffee dates, writing.

Home maintenance. The outdoor chores are now provided by a company I pay entirely too much for, to maintain a yard that used to look meticulous.

Small weeds creep up everywhere, ones that he would Round Up, whereas I pulled by the root. I watch them accumulate. Too tired to touch. Too sad to care.

I feel debris on my feet as I walk around barefoot. No, not from the outside, but on the kitchen floor. There was a time you could eat off the tile as it was that clean.

I grocery shop instead of him. Make dinner. Clean up dishes.

Watch random reality shows, likely to escape reality.

Until I go to bed.

Another day.

Monotonous.

No, I am not living the same life.

Actually it appears I am not living any life.

Just existing on a routine.

Like choosing the merry-go-round, instead of the roller coaster. The horses don’t move. They are stuck in place–circling as they do until the time is up.

No hills. No adrenaline. No adventure.

Before Bill was diagnosed, I woke from a dream of me on a roller coaster, arms raised, smile wide, with words ringing in my ears like a background soundtrack,

Let the adventure begin!

It startled me as dreams often do, causing the heart to pump a bit faster.

I smile at her smile.

My smile.

“Josie, put some adventure into today.”

Something.

Anything.

Adventure (verb):  Engage in hazardous or exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

So I say yes to be a judge for a throw-down, coffee competition. It is a start.

Oh, and I did get a tattoo. On my arm. In plain sight. It was a drawing from the last letter he wrote me before he died.

I may never work at a church again.

Let the adventure begin.

 

 

 

Transitions

April has been hard. No surprise I guess, as are approaching the one-year mark.

One year.

I was so angry the other day, I beat the bleep out of the heavy bag, until I developed a butt cramp.  Apparently my behind is not accustomed to the intensity of anger. She is a softy after all.

I had entered his domain, that being the garage.

Ever-so-slowly, I clear out the clutter of his well-lived life. The man saved everything, from bolts, screws, clamps, old wood planks, to an endless array of cords to items already discarded, sold, or obsolete.

I tidied up the mess.

Organize as I do when my soul feels in chaos.

His suits sit stuffed in an old suitcase on the garage floor–the makeshift purgatory until they can be released from my clutch.

Stuff.

I learned year’s ago my anger tendency is to stuff emotions, as a hoarder does useless objects, until there is no where else to turn. No more capacity. Full.

I woke to a partial verse. It covered me like a warm blanket,

Come to me, you who are heavy laden. I will give you rest.

Heavy laden, for rest. A fair trade.

I’m reminded of the prayer from last May, when in a desperate place of wanting to die with Bill, I gave God a year to rekindle a desire to live.

I said that I wanted to be like George Bailey near the end of, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, who stood on the snowy bridge, rubbing his tear-filled eyes, saying, “I want to live. I want to live.”

Somewhere around the eight-month mark, a transition occurred, without such fanfare as George, when I realized that I too wanted to live.

Shortly after, George entered his home with a new-filled appreciation of what he had. The old home he had irritated over, likely because it served as a reminder of an unfulfilled dream to travel, build large skyscrapers, and live a life of adventure, the one he would never embark as he was forever sidelined to the small town he wished to escape…

It was in this same space the lens of perspective changed.

He realized that everything he ever desired was in this home.

The shift occurred, even though his circumstances did not.

When we purchased this home, months before cancer stepped in without permission, this home was a dream come true.

A year without him here, and I am no longer sure of this.

I read this quote in the book, ‘Falling Free’, that is rocking my world,

Surrender is always the beginning of a better dream.

I lay down my fighting gloves, and release the pent-up emotion to paper.

In less than a week we head to New York, to a city Bill didn’t care at all to visit. We will celebrate his life, and our lives.

We will stuff ourselves with pizza at the original Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. (Every 29th, we bring joy to the difficult monthly reminder on the calendar by meeting at a location here in San Antonio.)

George desired the city, but found his wonderful life in his home.

I desire this home, but without his presence, I may find it elsewhere, knowing my true home awaits when my time here on earth is over.

I’ve decided for the time being, to give him squatter’s rights in my mind and heart, as he refuses to leave, even though he is physically absent.

I also decided to give him back some closet space.

I stuff the now-crumpled suits back in place, and wrap my arms around them and hug them close.

I’m giving grief space to grieve.

And time, knowing that just because we made it to the major milestone on a calendar, doesn’t mean the evidence of grief is gone.

It takes time.

Besides, he just won’t leave me alone.

He lures himself into nearly every thought.

He breaks through the waterproof mascara without permission.

It is both unnerving, and comforting.

 

My mantra for months has been, “I look forward to the day that I look forward to a day.”

I realize as I look at this upcoming week that I am looking forward to a day on the calendar.

My heart swells with joy at the thought.

 

I Want to Go Through, Not Get Through

March 22, 2018

Yesterday played a melody of easy, until an unexpected song entered, and my emotions were captured by the familiarity of heartache, as tears made their uninvited way out of hiding.

Yes, tears. No surprise here, since I still cry almost daily. But most are reserved for private, and these arrived in public, at a restaurant named, of all things, ‘General Public’. We were there celebrating Kylie’s written offer for her new position, and decided to go to a restaurant I frequented with Bill.

I realized when we sat down, the last time I was there, was with him. But I refused to allow my mind to wander off into this arena.

This was a celebratory occasion.

I had a glass of wine. I promised myself I wouldn’t for 30 days, and only three days in I was no where close to the finish line, but justified that as long as I wasn’t home, it would be okay.

I am sure it mellowed my guard a bit. The one I have in place to keep all composure in check, to not let out extreme instability.

We were finishing up our shared meal and conversation.

It was nice.

And then the song. It wasn’t like a favorite of mine, but more of a familiar one.

At first, we looked at each other and Kylie smiled. She knows her daddy’s fondness for Paul Simon.

I’m on my way. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m taking my time, but I don’t know where…

A single tear rolled down the cheek.

And another.

And another.

“Sorry,” I say.

We left.

I tried to get myself together. The calm expression in place, while anxiety stirred underneath.

Sadness knew she’d get her way by night’s end.

We head home. But before, I stop in the grocery store parking lot. I send my adult daughter in to do my dirty work.

I already feel dirty. Worn down. Tired of caving to cravings to kill the ache.

I don’t care.

I just need to numb through the evening.

We arrive home. She leaves shortly after.

I pour one large glass.

And cry.

I need to hear him.

I dont’ want to go there.

I know I will.

I listen to the voicemails. His voice, a combo of soothe and sorrow.

Tears.

Hiccups.

I curl in a ball in his chair, listening to each one. Twice.

The final one, left on my phone almost a year ago today. The pain in his tone.  Fear. Desperation, as he asks me to remember to pick up his medicine.

As if I would forget.

I want to forget.

Not him. Just the pain of losing him.

“How long Lord?”

I make my way to bed. A friend happens to text, asking how I am doing. Her perfect timing doesn’t go unnoticed.

I send a lengthy response, ending with, “I am hoping for fresh hope in the morning.”

I awaken to a headache, as the same song sings along on repeat in my mind.

I make my way through my morning rituals, when I hear a whisper from within,

What do you want?

“I don’t want to drink anymore.”

Hmm.

I didn’t ask for anything monumental, like the grief destroyed, or infused with hope, or even world peace.

I don’t want to drink anymore.

Okay then, don’t.

Stop. Now. Today.

I’m afraid to write the words, only to fail again.

Still, it feels different.

As if Jesus asked the words, like the ones he asked of the man on the mat,

Do you want to be well?

The man gave an excuse as to why he couldn’t get to the magical healing water, when Jesus says something crazy, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

And, at once the man was cured.

At once.

What do I want?

I don’t want to numb my way through my evenings.

What do I do?

Well, I could begin by pouring it out, and by declaring to myself that I am a non-drinker again.

Breathe deeply, Josie.

Let peace enter.

Maybe tea too.

Know I don’t need this to get me through.

Because I don’t want to get through my days any longer.

I want to go through them. 

To live each one to the fullest.

I hear the beginning of a message by Jill Brisco on the widow and Elisha.

The empty bottles he told her to get from neighbors. The little oil of hope she had left. He told her to pour into them. The oil kept coming until all bottles she had were full.

Jill says, “As you go, He pours in.”

Slightly different, but I wonder, now that my bottle is empty, could it be He is ready to pour in?

I poured out. He will pour in. 

Yes!

Lord, fill the emptiness, the loneliness, the deep pain I feel at his passing. Pour in buckets of hope, joy, peace, contentment, and anything else that will create an abundance, instead of the lack I feel in his absence.

 

Flashbacks

(237) Journal Entry: December 31, 2017

Flashbacks.

Bill will never live in 2018. He will only be alive in memory.

For days now I’ve been overwhelmed with flashes of times with him. Driving down the quiet, windy road, when the car slowed to a stop on the gravel, looking forward at the dashboard for emotional stability, listening intently to the words of the doctor’s conclusions on the spot, and his thoughts on how to proceed. Feeling hope slowly fade as we make our way back on the road to a destination I no longer remember, or care.

That same road we took by way of detour for the first surgery attempt to confirm diagnosis, when rain poured and the crossing outside our home blocked us in, as we meandered out of our way to the hospital that day. After we arrived, the rain slowed to a mere trickle.

Lowes. How many times did we walk the aisles and daydream and plan projects? The smell of lumber and anticipation at how and where the wood would go brought a smile to our faces. I saw a couple with the same gaze—walking aimlessly, hand in hand, as I made my way to the items of need and bolted toward the fresh air of the parking lot–the lumber no longer a fragrance, but a stench.

Small moments, significant moments in time have been sweeping me off my feet, or maybe tripping me, trying to bring me down.

He won’t step foot in 2018, as he stands outside of time. I remember his final moments standing, his gate shuffled, until the final attempt to get out of bed had him on the floor, curled in a ball of pain, not able to stand again on his own; it took two professionals and myself to get him up.

I am grateful in this moment, knowing he no longer walks in pain. Or worry. Or sadness.

These moments in time are bittersweet. When they find me, they take me to a place where I can see his face, feel his touch, hear his voice, smell his scent—for a moment I savor the scene, ugly and all, as I feel his nearness.

I look forward to a new calendar, hoping to fill more days with joy and hope and purpose.

I am reminded of the verse about forgetting the former things. Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland…

I want to forget all the pain and loss, and spend this next year with happy memories flooding me with the warmth of remembrance, and filling new moments in the space, ones I will look back on at the end of the year, and smile.

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. 

You Are Not Alone

 

I haven’t posted in a while, and this may be filled with punctuation errors and such as I am on a limited time frame until the house awakens and the presents unwrapped, but this entry is for the person(s) who feel alone during this most wonderful time of the year.

You are never alone. 

(230) Journal Entry:  December 25, 2017

Not sure what I am feeling at this moment, early Christmas Day. The chaos has settled, each dog occupied with a bone, the stockings set out, coffee made, and all three girls snoozing behind closed doors, on this quiet morning.

So, back to yesterday. The drive to church I feel the anxiety rise with every mile. Tears held back from entering the all-out cry by what little will I have, along with looking up at the ceiling, which seems to keep them at bay.

Until an interesting thing occurs–I begin to settle down. My insides no longer wanting to sprint, but stay. I am flooded with embraces throughout the day, each one coming up, holding me extra close, praying for me. I am home in this moment.

Maybe this has been my home all along, this Bibleland, this church.

I make my way to a service (I am working the others), alone. A friend suggests I sit with their family, a large one, near the back. I am one who prefers the front so I save her invitation for if I feel too upset by myself, and make my way toward the front.

I notice a row with only one person on the end, so I circle around the front and enter the row from the other side. I ask the routine, “Are these seats taken?”  She informs me they are open, and I make my way to a seat near her with a comfortable empty seat in between, to keep a safe distance from who knows what, maybe just looking like a creeper since there are ten unoccupied seats.

She leans in, filling the few minutes with small talk, with the routine question in a church as large as this, “Is this your first time?”

“No,” I inform her I’ve been here for some time, and return the question.

“No, I’ve been attending for about a year; I am a widow.”

Four words added to a common answer, perhaps too intimate for initial pleasantries.

When I respond that I am a widow too, her eyes widen in surprise. The next few minutes we fill the gap and exchange husband war stories until the opening credits roll on the screen and service officially begins.

I know this is a moment from God. 2,750 seats and I happen to sit next to another person walking the same path as myself, feeling alone. I wonder if He placed us alongside each other to tell us both, “You are not alone.”

“I see you.”

“I am with you wherever you go.”

“I love you.”

After service we go our separate ways, knowing there is no need to exchange numbers or anything since the connection didn’t seem more than one for that particular moment.

“I am in awe of you God.”

My reading today, which I read yesterday so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed this morning, was in Numbers. All these numbers, with a few names included here and there. Such a blur.

But God. This God lined up two ‘unnoticeables’ in an auditorium full of seats, alongside one another, whispering to our ache, “You are a treasure of infinite value; the only number you are is Priceless.”

I think of my new word for the upcoming year:  WORTH.

Value. He not only whispers my worth, but shows me by way of illustration how valuable I/we are.

So loved.

Praying today is a sweet day, even though we miss this one person so incredibly much.

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. 

Six Months of Slow Change

(173) Journal Entry: October 29, 2017

I woke up with a song playing in my mind, actually a replay of the same tune from a couple months ago:

Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

And if you did, was she crying?

Tell her I’m sorry. Tell her I need my baby.

Oh, won’t you tell her…that I love her.

Sigh.

Last night the tears dropped single file onto the white sheet as I looked at the two of us in the photo by my bedside.

The two of us. Those are the pics I stare at the most. The ones I hold close. How I miss him the most–side by side.

Til death did us part.

I glance to the left of the page to see my reading today has a focus on wives and husbands. I’m irked. I don’t want to be without my sidekick, my other half.

Changes.

It was near freezing this morning. I see small, white crystals on the garbage cans outside the laundry room window. I fear the outdoor plants won’t hold up to Mother Nature’s freezing touch.

The changes are slowly happening, so slow the eye doesn’t witness the transition. Some relationships are fading. Some are only beginning to flourish. My erratic sorrow has stabilized too.  Manageable most days.

Some moments I realize I’m enjoying myself, living outside the two of us. Moments, until I realize something is off, like I forgot my child in the car seat after I’d been in the store a couple minutes, only to franticly make my way back, and pull him protectively close.

Change hurts.

Change is necessary.

Sometimes it is good.

Sometimes it is for the good.

I faked happiness yesterday, the deep void I felt coming on overwhelmed me. I try not to hold back the emotions, but I just want the girls to not associate their mom with loss.

So I smiled. Tucked the pain under the sweater until I went to bed. That’s when the release gave way.

I wore the first sweater yesterday. Cozy. I moved the fall-winter wardrobe up front in my closet. The summer threads I gathered and decided to move out of the closet until needed again. (Perhaps next week; I do live in Texas after all.)

When I realize I have space in Bill’s closet. The only items left are his suits, ties and dress shirts. The smell upon opening the door of the closed space is like perfume to my soul.

I want to play house. Pretend he is away on a frequent business trip. A momentary comfort, and likely a hinderance to my healing to stay in the pretend space too long.

Today is the last day writing in this journal bible. It’s so full of treasures mined in the sadness of six months; it’s difficult to maneuver the hand in a comfortable position to write on.  Difficult to close.

Tomorrow we will journal on a new page on a lined space specifically catered for words.

Yes, another change.

Before I know it, another day will be upon us and I’ll wonder again how I made it this far without him. I’ll look back pages, amazed how much better I am today as I was months ago.

These small moments of change fill me with hope for a brighter tomorrow off somewhere in the distance of time.

Hope.

Hope drifts just far enough ahead, pulling me forward like a magnet just out of reach.

I sit here sipping my holiday blend, listening to a Christmas playlist on Youtube, as the nearby fireplace brings warmth to this special day.

Right now, life is a blend of hurt, with peaks of joy.

I feel him shake his head from above, as it is not yet Halloween, and I break the silent agreement of no “Silent Night”, and all other themed tunes, until after November 1st.

“Don’t judge me Bill Barone,” I exclaim to the silence. I can’t help myself. It is cold and it soothes me so 🙂

Besides, my ultimate Hope resides in the words, of the One who came down all those years ago on a dark, quiet night, to bring hope to a dying and hopeless world.

To another six months…

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. 

 

My Measly Offering is Enough

(Day 167) Journal Entry:  October 23, 2017

I don’t have passion. If I did, I wouldn’t be sitting in the lukewarm water,waiting for time to pass this hopeless feeling that’s refusing to leave.

So I move onto purpose, because if I have meaning, then passion will be the side-car of my endeavors.

11:09am.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

I listen to the rhythm of one second at a time passing on the wall.

But purpose seems to not find a place to take hold, and it slowly goes down the drain with the sudsy water.

So I look inside to my conscious, where I mostly reside these days, and ask her a question, or maybe a petition to God above:

Is it Okay to do nothing?

If the only thing I do today is offer praise to you, maybe even selfishly on my behalf to keep my head afloat, is this measly offering enough?

Be still Josie.

And know. 

God.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

An audible exclamation exits into the still air:

Oh, how I love You Lord.

Tears accompany the water down the drain.

Yes, this is enough.

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Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!” (Luke 21:1-4)

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. 

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.

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 fine, instead, I have 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 still a distance 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 jog 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 is 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.

A Tangible Kiss from God

(Day Three) Entry: May 12, 2017

He is finally home. Yes, he is on the other side of eternity, but he is also here. Next to us. Actually, his remains will reside most often on his side of the bed. Since we’ve been together, he has wanted that side no matter the bedroom layout. So I give him his way. It is oddly comforting and slightly uncomfortable all the same.

I love you. I so love you.

I’ve accomplished more toady than I thought possible only days ago. Filing insurance claims for a vehicle and a person, phone calls, details. So overwhelmed at the onset of this week shifts slightly into a sense of accomplishment today.

Even the septic

The aerobic septic has caused me fear and worry before his death. Its alarms that have gone off in the dark of night when Bill would fix it. He’s not here to fix it anymore. Who will take care of me? Who will protect me?

I see in today’s passage the cause of the widow was not being addressed as people tended to their own concerns and left them helpless:

They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.

God, You will defend my cause, You come near to the broken and weak.  This I know.

The other day I had to call many places to change the accounts from Bill, to me. Each were offered with condolences.

But one was like a tangible kiss from God.

I call the septic company (Lonestar Aerobic Services) and the lady on the other line walked me through the contract, which arrived in the mail days earlier. She tells me she will have an employee come out and walk me through each step so I am acquainted with the filthy contraption. Then, she does the unimaginable. She tells me to send the signed contract back to her and throw away the invoice.

What??? She says they will take care of me for the next year. It is their call to take care of the widows!

This little sentence accompanies the invoice:

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I worry about the lack of communication from insurance companies, the lack of health insurance, the lack of understanding on issues foreign to me.

My lack.

You are my husband, my father. You know my lack and fear and are taking care of me. Always. Even though Bill is with you and not here, You are here.

You are near.

Here I am Lord. Help me. Let me be a help to my girls. I love you. When my chest heaves in grief, hold me close. Wipe away my snot. Let me collapse in your loving arms.

God, You are good all the time!

 

Spectacle of Glory

 

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(Day 104)
Entry: August 21, 2017

Today your majesty will be displayed in a rare solar eclipse for many to witness and marvel at its wonder. For me, only a partial glimpse, and since I don’t have the necessary opticals to see such display without sorting my vision, I guess a quick glance will do.

Why do I need the miraculous to marvel? What I want even more than billboards of glory in the sky is Your intimacy by my side, and for my girls to witness and look upon You with desire and delight, in a personal way.

Last night I crumbled, really had no filter to manage the pouring of tears, they just came, choking, breaking through barriers like a ravaging tsunami hitting a serine shoreline. I couldn’t stop them even when I heard the key enter the opening of the front door. I turned out the light quickly so her eyes wouldn’t witness the devastation of my despair.

I try to block them from my pain as often as possible. They too are struggling. I quickly lay down and act as if I am actually watching the episode of light coming from the wall-mounted display of HGTV wonder.

She recognizes something off, even though the TV is on nightly at this time to lull me to sleep. She stands at the door and asks of my welfare. I assure her I am ok.

Moments later, when I feel I’m safe, the pent-up remaining tears make their way past my temporary ban. When she stealthily enters, and places her hand on my back. And gently rubs in a circular motion of comfort. She asks if she can do something for me. I say, “no.” Her concern was enough.

Her brief touch causes my restless heart some needed rest. Soon, I fall asleep from emotional exhaustion.

Her hand on my back was like the tangible comfort of God in that moment. Not a wondrous display of old, like when the magicians said to Pharaoh after a particular plague of gnats: “This is the finger of God.” Or like the brushstrokes of beauty displayed across the horizon this very day.

Her touch. So small. So miraculous in my brokenness.

The display of love.

Her love for me.
HIS love for me.

I read this from a Sarah Bessey post (from her August field notes), “I want to sanitize my own story here, jolly it up, make it more amusing and less sad, to reduce the complexity of it so it’s palatable and actionable for everyone else.”

Maybe that is the underlying reason why I left this blog site, out of an odd fear to display all the bruises and brokenness rising up from the depths of darkness. Fear if you really saw the struggle, you would try to filter it with kind gestures to woo me back to acceptable behavior. I don’t know.

Today is Day 104 of meeting with God at the kitchen table, just the two of us. It has been quite a journey. I read some of the early writings and wince at the pain of my aching heart.

But love is painful sometimes, isn’t it?

And when love is removed without permission, the gaping absence feels unbearable.

Love never ends, even at one’s ending here on Earth.

Yet, if I look closely, I see His glory on display, if I look through the eyes of my heart. Sometimes God’s intimacy is displayed in small snapshots in the day by day and not always in a spectacular backdrop.

A year ago He displayed His Wonder in such a spectacular way, I wrote about it, ‘May I never Lose my Wonder’, I was awestruck. Yet soon after, the cancer escalated, and there wasn’t anything wonderful. Only darkness.

But, in the midst of this writing journey I’ve noticed His love, comfort, guidance, on spectacular display in this dark backdrop.

And again, I am awestruck.

On my run this morning, I notice something sparkle from below my feet. Upon closer look, I recognize it is a broken lens from a pair of glasses. I smile as I take a pic. This visual is His Glory on display—seeing God through this lens of brokenness.

He’s there, if only I look close enough.

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