Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Despair Of Anger

Two years before Jim's unexpected passing, he looked at me and said he'd like to get a dog, in particular a Golden Lab. I was thrilled. I love animals and we'd always had either cats or dogs or both since we'd been married. But in the eight years since our last animals had gone one by one on to animal heaven, Jim had said, "No more." When I inquired as to why, his answer was that I treated them like children rather than pets. "It's too hard on you when they get sick or die," he said. "I can't stand to see you in such misery." 

He had me pegged pretty good. So how was it that he'd changed his mind? I asked. His answer stunned me. "I don't feel like I can be your protector much longer," he said. "And I don't feel like I can guard the house."  I had noticed his evening routine was becoming more hit and miss than it had ever been in our entire married life. For all of those years he had made his nightly rounds, making sure the garage doors were closed and locked, same with the front and back doors to the house. He turned on the security lights, closed any open windows, and shut the drapes or blinds. He'd done it ever since we'd said our "I Do's."

Even as the Parkinson's disease progressed to the point where Jim needed a walker on good days and a wheelchair on bad ones, he continued his evening check to make sure the house was secure. Sometimes he'd already have gone to bed only to get up when he remembered he'd not checked things out. When I told him I'd do it, he commented that it was his job. Besides, I was too short to be any sort of threat to a intruder. 

I always laughed when he said that. I am a little over five feet tall; Jim stood six feet and even stooped with the Parkinson's, he was still a formidable presence and his upper body was strong, even if his legs weren't as steady as they used to be. I figured it was all that exercise he did everyday plus the three-mile walks he prescribed to so religiously. It was so like him to keep going forward. I have always believed that his determined spirit and faith in Christ is what kept him functioning with an incurable disease that took him long before he actually became bedridden.

We wished to adopt a shelter dog, but Golden Labs just didn't show up. Then one day I checked the Humane Society website just for the heck of it and discovered there were two Golden Labs. One was a purebred; the other a mix of Golden Lab and German Shepherd. Both were only two years old. We hopped in the car, hoping they'd she'd still be there. The purebred was already spoken for; the mixed breed wasn't. And while she was definitely shy with Jim, much preferring me or the attendant, Jim didn't care. So it was that we brought Bonnie home.

She destroyed our newspapers, a couple of paperbacks, the shearling on Jim's and my Ugg slippers, three throw rugs, my bed of Japanese iris already in bud, and on her down time, dug a hole under the fence nearly big enough for her to get through. The gardener found it and blocked it just in time. She barked at anyone who dared come to the door, walk on the sidewalk, or ride a bike on the other side of the road.

She slept by the front door and wouldn't budge, even though we wished her to sleep in our room. Jim had gotten the guard dog he'd wanted. Well, not exactly a guard dog. Just a noisy barker, alerting us to anything that moved anywhere outside. We were alright with that because she was sweet and gentle and quiet as a mouse the rest of the time. And she was smart. Little did we know how intelligent she was. It took many months for us to discover the real reason God had sent her to us.

Author's note:

In my mind, I'd lost not only my husband, but my protector, my confidante, my lover, and my best friend. Perhaps I was the only one besides the Lord who understood why so much anger built inside me. I tried telling those closest to me about the volcano I was becoming, but  even those who listened didn't hear what I was saying. And rather than trying to understand, they offered gentle lectures on how a Christian should be thinking and acting in the face of loss and it finally dawned on me that since none of them had ever walked in my shoes, they could not begin to comprehend what I was trying to tell them.

The few who heard my rants and raves tried to give advice rather than just sitting and hearing me out--which is what my heart wanted them to do. I didn't want to be told the  typical condolence messages: "He's in a better place now," or "You should be happy he is no longer diseased and debilitated," or "You should be grateful he went fast," or "It may take some time, but you'll be fine." In my book, all those were fighting words. And the more I heard them, the angrier I got. I didn't want words. I wanted someone who would sit on the couch and cry with me. 

One young man Jim and I had known for several years, and whom we thought a lot of, called two days after Jim's graveside service to remind me that I had missed my birthday and we should have a party. I was aghast and barely knew how to answer. Still in tears most of each day, I thanked him for thinking about my birthday but that I didn't wish to celebrate. A week later he phoned again. "Are you better now?" he questioned. Doing my best not to let loose a diatribe of rage, I said I didn't think I'd ever be better. He reminded me again that I'd missed my birthday and a party was due. I told him there would be no birthday that year and to please forget about it.

Acquaintances phoned, asking "How are you doing today?" What I wanted to do was scream at them: "How do you think I'm doing today, you idiot?" Instead, I pursed my mouth tight, asked the Lord to give me grace, and told them I was doing alright but that I was still crying most of the time and that I thought it would take years to work through the grief I was feeling. The usual comment was, "Really? Years? I got over my mom's, dad's, cousin's, aunts, uncle's death in a few months." 

You know what I wanted to shout at them? "You didn't sleep with them or snuggle up to them or create children with them or sit on their lap and cry when someone told a huge lie about you at church and then passed it around as truth. You didn't hold their hand when you were scared or passionately kiss under a star-filled sky or zip your sleeping bags together on camp outs. You didn't flirt with them or tease them with your eyes or fight with them, knowing that when it was time to make up, it would be good." I wanted to add, "I've buried my parents, four aunts, three uncles, a sister-in-law and a child. Trust me, we are talking about two different worlds as far as grief is concerned."  But that isn't what I said. Instead, I blamed myself as being a slow learner, unable to process hard things in a quick manner and that it would probably be a long time before I was ever "fine" again. 

In my heart, I could hear molten rocks beginning to bubble, adding to the smoke plume already visible to my inner self. Six months after Jim's death, it was time to do something about my hair, for I'd pretty much ignored it for a long time. When I sat down in my hairdresser's chair, she commented that I certainly was due for a cut and color. "No color," I said. "Let it stay gray. I've no one to look pretty for anymore, so who cares?" She asked how long it has been and when I said, "Six months," her comment was, "Oh yeah, I thought it had been a long time."  I bit my lip to hold back tears. A long time? It felt like yesterday.

Nine months after Jim's demise, I received a long email from someone I'd been close friends with since we were both in our early twenties. It was the most devastating email I'd ever gotten. The woman whom I'd always considered to be my best friend announced that I had behaved badly toward her for the few days she'd stayed with me before Jim's graveside service. She remarked that I'd treated her as though she were a maid rather than a house guest. She went on to say that in the six years since she'd moved to another state, I'd called only four times, and never just to see how she was but for a prayer request. I was a bad friend and had always been moody and she just couldn't handle it anymore. She concluded by saying I was self-absorbed, thinking of no one but myself and while she'd said nothing for years, it was time now to speak her piece.

The volcano blew. My mind reeled with emotions. "Why now, God, I sobbed. "Why now when I'm already so far down I am having trouble just seeing the top of the pit?" What felt to me like her betrayal of our long-time friendship was the final straw. During those six years she'd mentioned, I'd devoted every minute to my husband, wanting to spend as much time with him as possible because I knew Parkinson's was progressive and I could see with my own eyes that the disease was taking a toll on his body.

In all honesty, I'd phoned no one to see how they were doing or just to chat. Not even my two sisters whom I love dearly. I waited a few days to calm myself, then emailed her an apology, explaining that I had almost no remembrance of the three months following Jim's death and that I was truly sorry for anything I'd done or said that was unkind. Would she please forgive me? What I received as an answer was that she needed time off from being in touch with me, at least a year, and would I please not contact her anymore.

That evening, I threw myself across my bed and sobbed. Not with grief, but with anger so encompassing I felt as though it would choke every breath out of my being. I could not think to pray. Words eluded me. I laid myself upon God's mercy, able to say nothing more than "please help me." I eventually cried myself to sleep and when I woke in the wee hours of the morning, I felt completely spent. Yet inside was this tiny glimmer that an answer was coming. Exhausted as I was, I changed into bed clothes and crawled under the covers. The last thought before falling asleep was that tomorrow would be the Lord's time to set me free from all encompassing anger. Little did I know that God was after some things in me that needed to be resolved before the release would be effected. But right now I needed to sleep, so like Scarlett O'Hara, I determined not to think about it until tomorrow.

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." Psalm 50:15

Monday, September 26, 2011

The One Who Survives Must Tell The Story

One of Jim's nurses gave him this
as a gag birthday gift, her way of
saying he was so rich he should
have no worries. We all laughed.
Six months before his death, Jim and I were having a conversation about our finances when he casually told me he'd been praying for a long time that the Lord would take him home soon. I could barely believe my ears. He'd said it as casually as one would comment on what a nice day it was. We'd had such a happy marriage, I couldn't fathom any  reason why he wished to leave me. I put down the sock I'd been knitting and moved onto his lap. "Why would you ask such a thing?" I questioned."  Are you sad with your life or the way the Parkinson's has advanced?" He shook his head no and put his arms around me.

"I see how much money goes out of our savings every month to pay the nurses who take care of me," he said. "The last thing I want is to leave you with nothing to live on when I'm gone. So I've been asking the Lord to take me soon."

I cried. I stroked his dear face. I hugged him close. How like Jim to put me first. It was so typical of how he'd always been. The fact that he'd rather be dead than leave me penniless was exactly something he would think and say. I told him I'd rather have him with me and end up so poor I'd have to move in with one of our kids when he was gone. He smiled--as much as a Parkinson's face can smile. He hugged me tighter but said nothing more. As far as he was concerned, the subject was closed. He never brought it up again.

I'd first met Jim when he was twenty-one and fresh out of the Navy. My family had moved from Minnesota to southern California and my folks had purchased a house in a new development in Carlsbad--right across the street from a family named Keith.

I was sixteen and a junior in high school. And while I'd noticed the boy across the street, I'd not paid him much attention because I knew he was much older than me. I found out later, after we were married, that Jim used to sit in the big recliner in front of their livingroom window and watch me when I was outside. One day his dad questioned if Jim had noticed that cute girl across the street. The oldest one. Jim had agreed that I was cute, but still in high school and too young for him to date. I will always love his dad for saying, "Your mom was fifteen when I took her on our first date. Go ahead, ask her out."

He did. To Disneyland, no less. My mom said no. Dad said Jim came from a good family and it would be alright. I never knew how dad convinced mom to let me date a boy five years older than me, but I was allowed to head off to Disneyland the next Saturday.

I figured if Jim had seen
me in Saturday chore
clothes, hair in pin-
curls and a bandanna
around my head--and
still insisted I was "so pretty"

I ought to keep him forever.
We dated for six months before Jim told me he loved me and questioned if I loved him too? I stood there with my mouth open, not knowing what to say. I liked him alot. We'd had good times together. But love? For heaven's sake, I was a high school kid who played clarinet in the band, wore cotton socks with my loafers, and bounced around like a typical teenager. I'd been having the time of my life dating someone who could take me nice places and surprised me with fancy restaurants rather than the local drive-in. I liked him a lot and told him so. And then I told him I didn't know if I loved him. I'd have to think about it. He was alright with that and told me to let him know what I decided.

After that, Jim was at our house every chance he got. He'd walk across the street on weekends to see what I was up to and inquire if  I might like to see a movie that night. He popped in to ask if I wanted to go to the carnival that had come to town or maybe I'd just like to take a ride. On school nights, he called every evening, knowing full well I had a fifteen minute talk allowance. He'd seen me at my best on date nights and at my worst doing weekend chores: no makeup, in my grubbies, hair in pin curls and he still insisted he loved me. Somewhere along the way, I'd decided I loved him too and finally told him so.

We got engaged. My folks liked Jim but even so, I still had a year of high school left and there would be no wedding until after  graduation. I wasn't thrilled. Once I had decided I loved Jim, I wanted to get married so we could be together. Speaking to mom was like beating my head against a wall. Dad was little better. About three months into our engagement, I suggested to Jim that we elope. He thought it was a bad idea and tried to talk me out of it. He said that while his parents wouldn't care, mine were sure to be hurt and angry and he could understand why.

I'd honestly given the subject a great deal of thought. I didn't want to have my mother's wedding. Being the oldest, and mom being the social butterfly she was, I knew what it would entail. I simply didn't want the stress of my desires against hers. Better to face the disappointment my parents would have if I eloped. It was a good decision on my part. My dad was alright with our being married. Mom was more than upset, mostly because she said everyone would think I'd had to get married. And even though Jim and I both assured her that she had no worries, she walked off toward the kitchen, handkerchief at her eyes, mumbling that that wasn't what all her friends would think.

By the time this photo
was taken, Jim and I
had two kids. 
People said our marriage wouldn't last. I insisted they were wrong. I'd dated enough to have made some decisions on what kind of husband I would look for when the time came. I'd also gone with Jim long enough by now to know his kindness, his gentleness, and his dry sense of humor that could put me into gales of laughter. I knew his shy, soft-spoken ways, his slow smile that always seemed to creep across his mouth, and that his love for me was as real as mine was for him. When we finally said our "I Do's," in front of the minister at a small chapel in Yuma, Arizona, Jim was twenty-two. I was seventeen. And despite some arguments here and there and an occasional downright disagreement, we both considered ourselves happily married for the next fifty-three years.

Author's comments:

In writing this story, it has occurred to me that in order for the reader to even partially understand my grief at losing Jim and the agonizing anger that built up in me for months after his funeral, it is important that you know a bit about the man I loved for what amounted to most of my life. And while I would never say to another widow that my pain has been greater than hers, what I can say is that we who have lost the love of our lives completely understands what each of us is going or has gone through--regardless of the circumstances of our loved one's death. 

As for me, I have buried both of Jim's parents and both of mine. Jim and I buried our first child, who died shortly after birth due to a lung defect which, in those days, could not be repaired. The pain of losing my folks was difficult to bear; the horror of having my first child die and never being allowed to see her, hold her, say goodbye, or be released from the hospital in order to attend her funeral, is still a raw nerve in my soul. As devastating as all of those losses were, I came through them because I had Jim to hold onto. He was the rock in my sea of loss, for he had always given me understanding and honor as directed in 1 Peter 3:7 and I was grateful for it.

Did I feel guilty and ashamed over having anger infuse my heart? Yes, but the emotion was so powerful, it built and built over several months until I felt like a volcano about to erupt. It began with my being left behind, alone, feeling like half of my heart had been ripped out and too rent to heal. I was also angry over having had to watch Jim die so unexpectedly right before my eyes and the debilitating video loop of that scene that liked to play in my head at every time of day.

That's where it began. But it wasn't where it finished. And while I continued to ask the Lord to lead me through this dark valley where I could see no light, and while I continued to ask forgiveness for my anger, it didn't go away. At least not for very long. I didn't know that what I was feeling was normal and that God understood. I also didn't realize that God was teaching me something about Himself that I could learn no other way.

In all the years I'd been a Christian, I'd experienced the peace that passes understanding in tangible ways. In my mind, that peace was something the Lord gave in selected incidents--such as the time I went into emergency surgery with little hope of coming out alive yet had utter peace within my soul and spirit that whatever happened, I would be alright. Was it possible to live in that peace all of the time? I thought not. But God wanted to teach me how wrong I was.

"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have
 no might He increases strength....Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with the wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."   Isaiah 40: 29-31

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Grief of Regret

Engagement party. Jim
got a bat; I got a rolling
pin. Everyone laughed.
Three years before his unexpected death, Jim nudged me awake in the wee hours of the morning and said "good-bye." Fuzzy-headed with sleep, I couldn't comprehend what he was talking about. He patted my cheek and said, "It's been a wonderful fifty years. We've gone places and seen things and had a wonderful time. I've always been glad I married you."

Wedding Reception
I asked if he was alright. He shook his head yes. Then it dawned on me. "Jim, do you think I'm dying?" He answered yes and said he wanted me to know how happy he'd been in our marriage. I informed him I was fine. He must have had a bad dream. His reply? "Oh, good. I'm glad you're O.K." He turned over and went back to sleep.

Looking back, how I wish I'd had the presence of mind to tell him how blessed I'd always felt to have him for a husband. How grateful to God I'd always been for giving me a godly mate when I hadn't even been asking for one. Looking back, I wish I'd said a lot of things that night. Sleep was gone from me anyway. Why didn't I carry on the conversation?

I didn't think about that night again until Jim was gone. Then, when I felt most like I'd been kicked in the gut and thrown into a deep, dark hole, the grief of regret knocked on my heart, rupturing it even more than it already was.

The worst part was, regret had brought all its friends along: depression, anger, anguish, terrible sadness, disorientation, helplessness, forgetfulness, easy distraction and trouble focusing. I can honestly say that in those first few weeks, God cushioned me in what I've come to call my shock-bubble. I knew others could see me and while I saw them, I understood little of what was said and I remember almost none of it.

I considered that shock-bubble would last until all the ceremonies were over and family had gone home. To my surprise, the Lord kept me sheltered from the cares of the world for a good three months. My kids tell me things I did or said that I have no recollection of. I don't argue with them. They are not liars. I accept that I was in a fog most of the time, with no recall even to this day.

Jim carrying our oldest
granddaughter the same way
he'd always carried her
mother: on his shoulders.
As long as Jim was outdoors,
he was content. It was
his nature.
While inside my shock-bubble, I felt free to emote, knowing the Lord would not condemn me. I recall some emotional outbursts that were so intense, they imprinted themselves on my heart. I recall the deep sadness that engulfed me and lingered so long I determined I would feel like that the rest of my life. I also recall that twice I lay on my bed, screaming at the top of my lungs at how unfair it was that Jim should be with the Lord and I'd been left behind to pick up the pieces and go on without him. I know I had a complete meltdown at least once. Mostly what I recall is the exhaustion. It was an unexplainable tiredness that went into the marrow of my bones and which no amount of sleep could alleviate.

Mostly I remember begging God to remove that gut-wrenching video loop of Jim dying that kept playing and replaying in my head, making me feel as though I were going crazy. Maybe I already was. I later learned that I had shut down to the reality of my world because I couldn't figure out a way to deal with it. I didn't know how to be alone because I had no experience with it. I'd married Jim right out of my father's house. In all my life, I'd never been by myself.

Despite my sometimes hysterical outbursts and silent sadness, I knew the Lord was there, right beside me, allowing me to grieve fully and that it was alright with Him. The other thing I knew with certainty is that Jim was no longer stooped or shuffled when he walked or unable to make his feet move at his command. He was no longer dependent on someone to care for him, push him in the wheelchair or take him for walks so he could get out into the outdoors he loved so much.

Up until the last year of his life, Jim
was able to shuffle around with his
walker. We both loved the mountains and
kept a trailer there as a quick get-away. Once he was confined to a
wheelchair, his nurses had strict
instructions to get him outside for a
walk at least once a day.
We had talked about death, the two of us together. We'd make our wishes known to our children. Yet between Jim and I we'd always had a plan of going together, for one of us could not stand to live without the other. So much for the plans of men. Anger grew in me till I thought it would consume me. And while I was happy for Jim, I was sorry for myself. Most of my friends misinterpreted it as my being angry that Jim had been taken from me. But that was far from the truth. The anger was at being left behind. It grew to the point it became a monster in my soul. And I knew I'd have to deal with it if I were ever to heal.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall
be comforted."  Matthew 5:4

Author's comments:

Because I couldn't find a grief recovery group close to my home, I bought book after book about recovering and asked the Lord to help me know what to do. I was experiencing such a wide range of emotions and especially forgetfulness, that I actually thought I might have developed Alzheimer's, the disease that took my mother. 

I am so grateful that the Lord led me to just the right books at the right time. I learned that I wasn't crazy, that forgetfulness and being unable to focus were normal for what I was going through. I learned that sudden loss takes such a toll on us that sleep is all the body wants and that it is best to follow the body's leadings without feeling any guilt.

I discovered that I wasn't the only widow who felt as I did--that it was pretty much common to all widows, given we are each an individual with our own time clock for dealing with disaster. I learned that feeling numb all the time was a given; that I should ignore those who told me to pick myself up and get on with life. I read that I would get well in stages and that I would have to go through each stage in my own way and time. I finally understood why I could read my Bible yet not comprehend the words I'd read nearly all my life was due to shock. I discovered that I should not feel guilty about avoiding those who phoned or came by, wanting to know all the details of Jim's sudden demise. I also discovered that keeping my draperies closed and not answering the phone unless it was immediate family was normal for someone who was walking through the loss of a loved one.  

I read that time doesn't heal all wounds. The pain of loss will diminish but the heart will always remember. I found out that there were drugs available to help me through this dreadful time, though I chose not to take them. I can't stand not being able to think clearly and I didn't wish to hamper having a focused brain return to me. I learned that I must give myself all the time I needed to heal. I had already figured out there were no quick fixes for me. I would have to travel the road so many widows had traveled before me and with God's help, I would come out on the other side wiser for having gone through the journey.



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Instant Widowhood

No one gets up in the morning and says to herself, "Today I will become a widow." That's why it's such a shock when it happens.

Even though my husband of 53 years had spent nearly 20 of those years battling Parkinson's Disease, he showed no outward signs that death was imminent. Not to me nor the live-in nurse I had hired to care for him nor the neurologist we'd seen just a week prior.

Yet on Palm Sunday of 2010, Jim sat up on the edge of the bed, vomited, passed out and died--in less time than it takes to tell it. And while my brain acknowledged what was happening, the whole scene seemed surreal. Like a nightmare from which I'd wake to find all was well.

But that isn't what happened. Because I'd witnessed the whole scene, the video played and replayed in my mind and heart so that it seemed I lived through that agonizing moment over and over again with no reprieve--even during sleep. And while I didn't recognize what had happened to me for many months into this journey, I had gone into shock to the point that everything seemed out of focus. I was confused and dizzy at the same time. I found it impossible to think or function.

Decisions were impossible. If not for my daughter and her two grown girls to make every arrangement, I would have been lost. I discovered, to my horror, that I could no longer drive safely and handed the car keys over to my sister who had arrived by the end of the first day--mainly because no one would ride with me and told me so. I was dangerous behind the wheel, or so my family said. I knew they were right. I had gone out on the second day to buy groceries and got lost along the way. What makes it so ridiculous is the fact that the store is less than a mile from home and one I'd shopped at for untold years.

Because Jim was a Korean War Vet, I wished a military service for him and although we gave the Navy little warning, they came through with flying colors and in just two days, produced a color guard and a bugler. The service was small, just immediate family. Our pastor gave a wonderful message and led us in some of Jim's favorite songs. I had asked him to read John 1:6-12, one of my husband's favorite scriptures. He spoke of Jim's love for his God, his country, his family, and the legacy he had, not just to his family, but all who knew him well.

My kids wanted a memorial at church and I agreed--as long as I didn't have to do anything but show up. My son and daughter combined forces, long distance, and orchestrated a lovely service that took place two weeks after the graveside service. I was honored that all of our family showed up as well as so many of our personal friends and more than a few of Jim's friends who had worked with him for so many years before he had had to go off on disability and eventually into retirement.

If you are a widow you know that the grief doesn't end with the burial or the memorial. Family goes back home; friends cease to call. The world continues to turn on its axis and life goes on. Life went on for me too, although I didn't wish it to be so. After begging the Lord to take me too and getting nowhere, there came a time I decided I'd best get on with grieving and heal so that I might continue with living. I knew it was what Jim would want me to do.

Herein is my story about that journey. It is the hardest road I've ever had to walk. Along the way I learned that I was not the only one who had lost of the love of their life and been forced to begin again--alone. This is also a story of faith and discovering first-hand that the Lord really does walk with us through that dark valley. No other way could I have survived.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."  Psalm 116:15

Author comments:

In all my searching, I could find no other widow writings that resembled the one I wished to write. Many books I read concerned finding a new spouse; others are about picking yourself up quickly and getting on with life. Neither of those subjects represent me or the widows I know or have spoken with. 

Those who study the subject of widows and widowers say that those who have been in a long and loving marriage grieve about three years, and while the pain eventually dims, the heart never gets over the loss. One widow told me that she'd gone to a grief group, only to be told to find a new man and get into a relationship as quickly as posssible. It didn't have to be a permanent one. She never went back. I understand why.

Another widow told me she'd been ostracized from all the friends she and her husband had hung around with for so many years. The other wives had mistakenly decided that now that she was single, she'd come after their husbands. Better off to banish her. What a sad commentary on our world today.

What I'd like to share with my readers is not only the pain of instant widowhood, but the gentle way the Lord dealt with me, allowing me to fully grieve with meltdowns, endless sobbings, and all the other ways a widow handles losing the love of her life with no warning. What I wish to debunk is the notion that Christians either don't or should not grieve. Our God is merciful, allowing us to move through the grief stages as quickly or slowly as is our nature. I'm a slow mover. A slow processor. The Lord knows my frame better than I do. He lets me take all the time I need.

That is what I want to share. Please comment, for what you say will help me fashion this book to not only be my story, but inspiration for my readers to always look forward while still holding dear that which we've lost.