Saturday, December 29, 2012

another season of change...

It sure is a bitter cold day today in South MS... (for my Northern friends, don't laugh!)  ;)

I am sitting by my large window soaking up the sun WHEN it decides to shine!  My cat, right beside me, has decided it is the warmest place in the house too.  I just haven't been able to get warm today.  If you know me personally, you know if I am not having a hot flash, I am cold.  Due to the extreme nerve damage I have, my body temperature is always like 10 degrees colder from my waist down.  I literally have to use heating pads, hot socks, hot water, etc to get warm.  A blanket may keep the wind away or protect from the cold air, but it won't warm me up. So, unless there is a heated seat or a microwave in the close vicinity, I won't be leaving my house today.

As I type this, my husband is out gathering more firewood... he is such a doll~!  :)

I have been praying for all of the elderly people who don't have someone to gather firewood or build them a fire... who don't have adequate heat their bodies need to survive.  I have also been thinking of all of the poor animals who are not sheltered in the cold weather.  The homeless, the sick... I know there are parents walking around with their children praying for miracles.  I pray for that too.  For miracles, for sunshine, for warmth in the air, love surrounding them, for shelter, for love and mercy.

We all need love and mercy, and we need to be gracious and generous in giving it too.

I have had to give myself plenty of mercy and grace this month... recovery from surgery has been difficult and  usually December is packed full of parties, sights to see, bells to ring, shopping, eating, travelling here and there to take in all of the Christmas decorations we can...the list goes on~!

Well, this year, it was not quite like that... it was different.  Physically, I was in a different place and we all know that when we are in a physical place of change, pain or healing, it has the potential to change your plans... Albeit, I would normally just slap some lip gloss, mascara and a cute pair of shoes and just go with it whatever the circumstances, but I couldn't this time.  I had to stop doing everything and completely focus on the 'need to do' list, not my 'want to do list.'  It was so hard!  Still is!

Coupled with healing from my surgery, I have also been suffering with some really difficult problems with my legs, especially my left one and my left foot.  Not sure why, but when you have nerve damage and the injuries such as I have, an explanation of any of it cannot be found.  This has limited, very much, what I can do, how long I can walk, stand... and I don't like it one bit.  I have found myself all month up an hour, in bed for 8... and so on.

Talk about changing life and the month of December for me~!  And for my family!  I really had to search my life, my heart and decide exactly what I knew I had to do for my family, for my boys and for RW... I did that and if I could do anything else, that was lagniappe.

I even had an unfolded basket of laundry in my bedroom the night of our Christmas party and went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink twice!  Woah, that is huge for me!

However, all but two traditions were still followed and kept... we even managed to make a few new ones too, at home... (we missed the Christmas Parade and didn't get to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa, like we do every year... BUT, my big brother, dressed as Santa and made a house call especially for us!)  How awesomely sweet is that?

Our lil' Will also had the flu and a bacterial infection during this time... he had some pretty rough days.  Thankfully he is all better now and back to running around like crazy~!  (big mama grin!)

I am still being patient with myself... and asking that of others.  It is critical for me to learn to take care of myself so that I can take care of everything and all of the many blessings God has entrusted me with.

So, today, I say I am sorry I only sent out seven Christmas cards (and with no pictures in them either, gasp!)  and I say I am sorry if I couldn't attend your party or event... and if I did, please know that I made great effort to be there, even if I only could stay a short time.  And to those of you that are waiting for your chocolate covered pretzels, they are ready!  :)

We put all kinds of crazy pressure on ourselves to do this, to do that, and expect to perform full throttle, like we have done in the past ( at least I know that I do!)... but friends, don't disservice yourself like I was doing... don't give yourself demands to meet your own standard of excellency without knowing the risk you are taking both mentally and physically.  Trust me, there is a risk.  Taken it... many, many times.

I can look back at the month of December and sure it was not what I thought it was going to be... I wasn't SuperWoman who was able to check all of my "to-do's" off of my list... and (breathe) I had to know that was okay. What mattered were the smiles that I saw every day... the moments I didn't miss, the moments I was very present in... and knowing that God gave me every ounce of strength to make it through those moments He knew I couldn't miss!

God knows our heart... he knows just  what we need and the importance of it all!  Every year, I get an ornament for each of our boys engraved with their names, the dates, and then I also get a family ornament with "The Weatherly's" the date and all of our names...well due to my lack of ability to stand up, I was not able to shop much this holiday season, and I didn't get to the ornament place to have them made.  This troubled my heart so much, it really did.  There was no "Matthew~2012" on our tree... UNTIL Christmas morning when I opened my presents from RW & the boys... there they were ... three little penguin ornaments, and the family ornament with names written, not by a professional on the other side of the counter, but handwritten by the sweetest man I know... my husband.  He knew my mama heart... and he purchased the ornaments and a sharpie... got his best man- handwriting and wrote the names and dates on each one!  (melted my heart, totally!)  God used RW to fill my heart with joy that Christmas morning... did I need those ornaments?  Yes, even God thought so!  :)  I thought it would be the first year that I wouldn't have special ornaments made for Matthew and the boys, but oh they were the most special this year!

I had been completely discouraged because I felt I had let my family down by not being able to do everything I usually did... and that is when the biggest gift came, the ability to trust God with separating the what I needed from what I wanted or what I thought "I" had to do... Humility is a beautiful gift because it won't stand in the way of accepting grace and support from those God has put in your life to lift you up or to get those special ornaments when you are unable to!  This is what is so beautiful about family.  I am so blessed to have families, on all sides that encourage, love and support, through it all.

I am now sitting by the warm fire... listening to RW and Nate play basketball on the back deck... the cat has also decided this is now the warmest place in the house!

I can be honest in saying that I don't like the slow down time... the 'rest' time, the uncomfortable change, but I will admit, I have seen much more beauty in moments than I have in a long time.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a season for everything... wow, how well we know that!  Everyday I am learning that part of surviving this season of my life is accepting this season... accepting that I may need to sweep half of the house in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, perhaps even the next day... and giving myself mercy and grace needed to do just that.  And loving who I am through it all.

Maybe you need to give yourself some mercy and grace or perhaps maybe you need to extend that to others during this season of life... if you are looking for a place to start, loving yourself and others will probably lead you in the right direction.  :)  

Sending great love and wishes of peace, love and mercy for you and your families as we draw a close to 2012.

Love to all,


Saturday, December 15, 2012

surviving loss, do you wonder how?

The tragedies that are raging across our country and  within our schools, hospitals and in our homes bring me much sadness for those affected, for those whose lives were lost and those that are left behind to continue life after loss...

Before Matthew passed away, I said far too many times "I couldn't make it through that if that happened to me" or "how will they face tomorrow?" anytime a child passed, someone was seriously ill, fighting disease or life situations that were imminent to end tragically or that had ended unexpected and tragically.

Then the unexpected tragically happened to me and my family.  Life halted... stopped... and it has never been the same, never will be.

I write about this today because I have had this conversation with myself, with others and with God.  How do we go on after we lose our  child?  Accidentally, tragically, unexpectedly, illness... whatever the cause... how do we go on?

I don't think we "go on"... I don't think we ever "move on"... I certainly know we "never get over it."

In the ugly face of loss, we become so desperate not to live, but rather to survive... living is far too hard... and as a parent that has buried her child, guilt that we are living and they are not is also a cruel source of fuel to throw into the flames.

We choose survival modes... some cling to Jesus, faith, drugs, alcohol, addictions of any kind that will numb the mind... But we cannot do it alone...  We will run to whatever coping mechanism we can because survival instincts come into action.

When someone is drowning, they fight the current, trying to hold their head up, gasping for breath, clinging to anything that may keep their head above water.  Even if they don't know how to swim, their bodies go into motion to survive.  Instinct.

Drowning in a raging river with rocks, trees and icy waters is how life after loss "looks like" or feels like to me.

There are far too many days that it would be easier to let the current take me...

Truth is, some will never make it out of the current... and those of us that do, will often get thrown back in, because when you suffer the loss of your child, you are always in that river.  You never know where the river and the currents will take you.  And the current remains long after the river is calm.  The current is silent and can take you right back in, anytime, anyplace.  Jesus is the only thing in my survival kit that didn't slip out of my hands, that never left.  When I couldn't hold on to anything, Jesus held on to me.

I have analyzed  this river of 'grief' so much over the last 7 1/2 years.  I have lived it.  I have shared it.  I have despised it. I have walked in it.  I have spat at it.  I have cussed at it.  I have denied it.  I have accepted it.  I have run away from it.  I have embraced it.

I have had people tell me, many people, that they don't know how I have made it... they don't know what they would do if they lost their child.

And this is why I write today.

I didn't know what I would do either.  I said I wouldn't make it... I said I couldn't make it... I said I wouldn't want to live if I lost my child... and you know what... some days I still say that!  And every day I am in complete awe of God's grace that I am still here...every day.

BUT... I look back and I have  made it... it has been the most horrible and tragic times of my life... but I have made it.

I didn't ever live like I used to... I never "moved on" instead I got through one moment at a time, and that is how I still survive today... one moment at a time.  I will never "get over it."  I never want to. I live now, but I live differently.  I live knowing that if I survived the worst day of my entire life, July 23, 2005, when we buried our son, I can survive anything.  I live knowing that when tragedy comes,  near or far, that God's grace is enough to get anyone through the day, the weeks, the months, the years.

I have survived the years because of my faith in Jesus and knowing that I will see Matthew again.  It wasn't my strength that carried me through the days... the months, the years.  Certainly, I would have never survived that on my own.  I still could not survive on my own.  I don't want to try that either.

Some of you may know people who have lost children and they get up and go to work, they may barbecue in the summertime, perhaps even Christmas carol during the holiday season... They may look like life has gone on... but friends, there is a place in their heart that is permanently changed, forever etched in the deepest part of stopped when their child took their last breath.  They are in that river.

Do you wonder how life has gone on?  Do you wonder how they have been able to live after loss?  If so, you are one of many... I know I used to say that all the time.

Oh how my heart hurts so badly for all of you who know loss... and for those  that will.

In these days, these tragic times when so many children died at the hands of evil, do you find yourself asking how will they go on?  How could they go on?

Life after loss becomes about survival, not about living.  We will cling to whatever we can to breathe... for as long as we can, until we physically cannot fight any longer.  Some will sustain it, some tragically won't.   This is the brutal face of grief.

Life has forever been stripped away from so many.  Those left behind holding the shattered pieces of what life once was, should be and will never be again,  have been thrown out of the raft into that icy river where the current is raging.  They will not  live the way they used to.  Ever.

Everything is different.  Everything.  The water is not "just fine."

Life after loss becomes about survival, not about living.

You never know when tragedy will affect your family, I pray that it never does.  I also know that even though you may say you could never make it through something, that with God you can make it through anything.  I believe that.  I live it every day.

There is great hope in clinging to Jesus... We cannot do it on our own when tragedy hits.

I pray all of these precious people will find the hope in Christ that will give them peace that surpasses all understanding... I pray that in theses times of such sorrow and survival that love, encouragement, peace and comfort will be the lifesavers in that raging river with them... Jesus has never left the river that I am in... from the still waters to the raging current, He has always been there and I know He always will be.  I know He is there with them too.

That is what I will think upon in the days to come...
Thank you Jesus for being with these families and for holding all of our children until the day we can hold them again.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.


Monday, December 10, 2012

My Hallmark Moment...

Two weeks ago today, I had surgery that would keep me from my super mommy elf powers and spreading holly and cheer throughout the lands...

And yesterday I was severely disturbed because I  had not yet been to the cemetery to decorate Matthew's special place and put his tree up there.  THIS IS DISTURBING TO ME, and if you have a child that has a special place like this, you will probably understand this.

I can have decorations in every room, trees decorated, stockings hung, (5 of them), and homemade ornaments hung from the chandeliers as they are drying and preparing to be passed on, BUT if I don't have Matthew's special place decorated, I am NOT done!  My heart actually hurts to not have been out there yet... something's missing... and it bothers me.

Both of my boys were asking when they would be able to hang the outside decorations and lights, and when we got home yesterday, we had about  an hour in a half with daylight left, and I had already made the firm decision that we were heading straight to the cemetery to decorate.

I literally feel like I let Matthew down if I don't have his special place tended to for each season, and although I know that is not possible... it is the only thing I have of "him" to "tend to, to take care of."  So with that said, I have been feeling guilty because his place isn't festive yet... I don't ever want someone to pass his place and think he isn't loved, taken care of, or that he isn't missed!  These are emotions that are part of life after losing a child.  It matters to me, this matters to me.  So with a heavy heart missing Matthew, I had to honor his memory at that moment through his brothers... I had to let life happen and know it was okay... I looked at Matthew's tree in our home, his stocking, the ornaments with his name on them and I thought about how much I missed him and then I thought about heaven... what it must be like at Christmas there and how much his brothers would want him to see the lights where we live!  And I also thought about how amazing it would be to see his smile... I felt a tug on my heart and as I looked outside at the boys playing, I saw 2 beautiful smiles that I know are direct reflections of a special little boy in heaven!

It was at that moment I made a decision that I knew would be the right one... It was still very hard, but I knew it was the right one.

I told RW to get the lights and the reindeer out of the shed and let the boys decorate however they wanted to outside... I told him there would only be enough daylight to go to the cemetery or let the boys hang lights... I walked inside sad, because I knew it was another day in December when my baby didn't have a tree out there... my heart hurt.

I began to work on the ornaments as the boys did their thing... when it was dark, the boys called me outside and Will sang "Feliz Navidad" as he danced in front of the most special light display every!  They didn't decorate the house, the pool, or the hang the traditional Weatherly outside decor... instead, they decorated Matthew's garden and hung lights on his tree!  It was a Hallmark moment!  I hugged and kissed each one of them and my heart was happy, happy, happy!  Yes, we were missing Matthew, but he was as close to us at that moment as he ever was!

Today, it is raining, so there will be no decorating the cemetery again... but I can look outside and see Matthew's garden full of lights and love...

I know my boys made a sacrifice by decorating the garden instead of the rooftop... and that the reindeer are not where they usually are...  and that means more to me than any gift they could ever wrap.  Talk about humbling... I walked into the house with such sadness in my heart and when I walked out, they had done this for me... and for Matthew... and for our was right... it was just right!  It was perfect!  It may not look spectacular to those passing by, but to this mama, it is the prettiest sight I have ever seen at Christmas!

Seeing those smiles beam as they stood beside the lights of Matthew's memory garden and looking at RW knowing he understood at that moment how my heart felt as his eyes filled with tears and mine did too, I genuinely felt like I was in a Hallmark commercial... you know the kind that make you cry!  I will never forget this moment!

If you are looking for a magical moment, perhaps a Hallmark memory of your own... you won't be able to find it at a store!  Those gifts / moments are given from the heart... and with a little creativity and lots of love, I bet you can make magic happen in your home too!

Grateful today for my Hallmark moment yesterday!  Grateful to my boys (all of them!)  for making it happen!