Maybe God Needed a Driver!

This has been quite the weekend!! It began early on Friday as I had to leave work at 9am because I’d worked so many hours. I ran errands and was home by 11, immediately getting to work on my LEGO fidget toys. After a couple of hours I went out walking before my planned dinner with another fairly new widow from church. I chose to walk around our fairly long block. It was 70 degrees so I knew the neighbors would be out. As I got halfway around the block, I saw the neighbor who is always sitting on his porch. When I was training for all of those MS marathons years ago he’d yell words of encouragement as I went by. Late in 2015, Tim started to walk with me. The two men would have this hysterical banter each time we went around the block. I expected that when I saw him on Friday he’d tell me how sorry he was about Tim. But he didn’t. As I neared his house he stood up and started to smile at me. He yelled out “OK Where is HE!!!??” Good grief, “he doesn’t know about Tim” I thought to myself. So I told him about Tim’s death and he plopped back down in his chair and yelled out “NO!!!” really loudly. I felt so bad. I’m soooo tired of telling people!

Another man was on the porch too. I hadn’t seen him before but he knew Tim well. He knew Tim had died but didn’t know I was his wife. He then told me the story about his own cancer and that he was told twice in the last 6 years that he had less than 6 months to live and he had shared that with Tim. Tim had also shared that news with me. I remember Tim being sad about his friend’s terminal illness. I encouraged Tim to spend some time with him and he said he would (and obviously he did!). When I realized who the man was, I instantly had lots of feelings… sadness, anger, jealously!! Why is he STILL here and Tim isn’t????? Thankfully that terrible feeling went away quickly and I felt so bad that I wasn’t happy that the man had lived. But I wanted Tim back!

I shared my story with my friend from church and she too had had similar experiences of jealousy followed by guilt when people she knew had cancer but recovered unlike her husband. At least I wasn’t alone. We had a great dinner and amazing conversation, including talking about the fact that she’s coming up on the 2nd anniversary of her husband’s death and warned me that the first anniversary would be really hard. At least I know what’s coming.

On Saturday I met with my awesome grief support group. Almost everyone was there. It feels so great to have a group that I can say any and everything to. I shared that I was upset that my neighbor who was supposed to die years ago was still here. I also shared some feelings about belonging and finding my way in different groups now that I’m a single person. The meeting was so inspiring and encouraging. The food was amazing, BUT the best part of the meeting was dessert. There were homemade brownies that Yvonne made that were to die for AND ALL of the fixings for ice cream sundaes including hot fudge!! I immediately started to tear up when I saw ice cream because it was Tim’s all time favorite dessert. Lisa who had brought that dessert wasn’t aware of that, but I was thrilled that it was there. We all piled the ice cream and fixings on as if we were little kids, and most of us had a brownie on the bottom of our bowls too and it was the best feeling in the world!! I wondered if Tim was looking down on us, and I instantly went back and put more caramel topping on my ice cream. He would have liked that. I told my group that one of the things I am still wrestling with is WHY Tim isn’t here with us. He should have been having a bowl of ice cream with us too! Of course medically I know why he isn’t here, but I still don’t understand it. I made myself smile by thinking that maybe God needed a driver in heaven. If He does, then YEP he couldn’t have picked a better one than Tim.

Today I drove to Thurmont, MD about 90 minutes from home to have brunch with the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of RVing Women. It was so great to see them again after my first excursion with them in November. More than 35 women from DC, MD, VA, WVA and PA were there at a great family restaurant. We talked about the upcoming trips for this camping season and I am very excited about the plans.I love how welcome I feel in this group. On the drive to and from the restaurant I focused a lot on the question – WHY isn’t Tim here to continue the really cool things we had going in our lives? I came to the conclusion of what I’ve always believed, that we are all on this earth for different reasons and when we’ve satisfied those reasons OR God needs us more, we die. I hope that Tim is now free of all the heart drugs he was taking, and that he’s having his own caramel and hot fudge sundaes in heaven. Tim has missed so much already in the 7 months he’s been gone, including Mom’s birthday last Saturday for which I know he would have made a great meal. But I’ve done the absolute best job I can do in every situation that’s come up.

If Tim’s driving God around in heaven, I know he’s making sure he always has all of God’s favorite things in the car, and they are probably laughing together at Tim’s crazy jokes! Many of Tim’s favorite clients sat up front with him because they considered themselves friends in addition to clients. After spending 36 of my 57 years on earth with Tim, I will admit that we got the absolute most out of our time together and now Tim is serving others. His personality and sense of humor, his love for any and everyone, and his great attention to detail are all traits that would certainly make him a top choice for heaven even though we weren’t ready for him to go. What do you want to bet that if God is being driven around heaven that he’s sitting up front with Tim? I’m thrilled with the amazing fellowship I shared with some of the many people who love me this weekend – it allows me to feel what I feel and to put those feelings into words without judgement!

 

 

 

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Hidden Blessings

I haven’t been writing a lot or even talking all that much, but I have been reflecting on my life during most every waking moment. My focus has been on all of the hidden blessings in my life as I continue moving through the grief process. Yesterday I had an amazing day of blessings presented in very subtle ways. It’s why I call them hidden.

Yesterday was the 7th month anniversary of Tim’s death and I had purposely loaded the day with things to keep me busy. But what happened first thing in the morning really surprised me. A man from work who I have bonded with over family vacation photos over the last few years visited me at about 6:30am in my cubicle. I believe he’s only been to my cubicle once before in four and a half years I’ve worked there. He showed the me the latest photos of the incredible property he’s moving to in the Midwest when he retires soon. To say that it has an unbelievable view of God’s creation would be an understatement. Imagine the most beautiful post card you’ve ever seen. He’s moving there with his son and his family and his wife who is in her early 60’s but has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and can no longer be left alone. It’s worth noting that his first wife died of cancer many years ago, but he’s never lost his faith. Instead of talking about the property and his moving, he talked for the first time ever about listening to God about how he should use his gifts in his new home. Will he host retreats for troubled youth or families of Alzheimer’s patients? He’s still listening for the answer. He also shared a few of the blessings in his life over the years and I was happy to hear them. He then asked me what my plans for the future are with my gifts…. Ummmm, I wasn’t expecting that question. I shared with him that I believe I am already doing the work I’ll be continuing into my “retirement”, and that I’m positive that I’ll be focusing even more with my LEGO hobby, using them to continue to benefit people of all ages in ways that they may not even realize they need. I shared with him my fidget toys I’ve made for dementia patients and he smiled broadly without comment. Then as quickly as he arrived in my cubicle he got up to leave, saying “Don’t forget that we had this conversation!” I most certainly won’t forget and I don’t believe that conversation was an accident.

Then for lunch I walked the few blocks from work to meet Maureen, a great friend from church. She too confirmed the importance of the work I’ve been doing, especially my recent use of technology and apps in my presentations to help dementia patients and the people who care for them. She mentioned that Tim would be incredibly proud of how I’m continuing to focus on our LEGO hobby to heal myself and to help others.

My night ended with dinner with two colleagues with whom I have taught at Webster University for the last 20 years. The three of us were huge contributors to the development of the University’s Security Management Master’s Degree program. One of them brought his wife, who is a network engineer by profession who has home-schooled their two sons for their entire school years. She also volunteers and helps run Nova Labs in Reston, VA, a huge warehouse where kids and adults CREATE beautiful and useful things and tools with a variety of materials. Of course I showed her my LEGO toys and she was fascinated. She commented that the fidget toys I’ve created for dementia patients are amazing in that I already have a niche market and created a product to fill a need, rather than creating a product and then trying to find a market for it as most entrepreneurs do. She invited me to come to the lab and talk about my work with dementia patients to see if the folks who create there have any ideas for things that could help improve the lives of dementia patients and their families. I’m so excited to visit the labs and see the amazing things people are creating there, given that “creating” is one of my all times favorite things to do.

I wasn’t sad at all yesterday. I thought of Tim all day as I knew I would, YET the thoughts were all “guiding” in nature, as if Tim was continuing to confirm that I’m doing all of the right things in my new life alone. I truly believe that my early morning visitor to my cubicle, my lunch discussion with Maureen and the incredible dinner with friends where I learned about an amazing lab I’d never even heard of, were all hidden blessings for me from Tim and from God. It’s always great to receiving confirmation that we’re doing the right things in our lives. I woke up this morning inspired and ready to create! I hope that you find a few hidden blessings in your life too!!