God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I have not posted a random blog post for a very long time, and there are some very random things that have happened lately. Here's a peek

*I witnessed a chunk of rotting potroast being extracted from someone's lung. The doc pulled it out with some long curved forceps and held it up in the air victorious--just before nearly losing his cookies after catching a whiff of the foul aroma. Poor guy--the patient, that is!

*I put a picc line in an arm that was nearly 2 feet in diameter. Yep. I'm that good :) It only took me one try! That is the largest arm that I have ever tapped. Sad, really.

* Craig recently traveled to Maryland, and I completely lost my mind when I couldn't reach him. I was beyond stressed with life and needed to talk to him, and when he didn't answer his cell, blackberry, or hotel room phone, I freaked. So did he when he returned to his room after a walk and found the security guard and custodian in his hotel room making sure that he was OK. Note to self: Be rational.

* My mom got internet. I thought that this would be a good thing, but now am not so sure. 3/4 of the nights this week (not exaggerating) we've been Skyping until after 11:00. It is good to see her getting the hang of it, but seriously, I miss my sleep! Ok, mom, I know you're reading this what I really mean is the following.

* My mom got internet. It is a great thing. I have gladly foregone many hours of sleep to assist her in finding the very best recipe for popcorn balls. :) I love you Mom! Really it has been fun.

*A few weeks ago my Mom, Sister, and I had our annual apple pie making day. We made 33 pies. MmmMMmm. It was exceptionally fun this year because Madison and my nieces all got involved in helping cut that apples. Those days are a lot of work, but create a ton of good memories.

* Our small group has started back up again YEAH. I love those people!

* I was invited and went to a Point of Grace/Mark Schultz concert. It was AWESOME and on the way back to the car we got to people watch everyone at the Insane Clown Posse..um... "concert?" across the street. Very entertaining. Too bad we didn't stay long enough to watch them spray the 800 gallons of ginger ale over the crowd that they had planned. Now THAT sounds like a good time? Ok, not really, that is just wierd.

I think that is all I have. My mind is still a little preoccupied and can't remember everything, but it has been a crazy month--but November is slated to be quite a lot crazier!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Smile over a tear

As I walked into the church the numbness surrounded me again. On some level it all still seemed like I was living someone else's life and just going through the motions of how I was supposed to feel. On another level I had a feeling that I couldn't put into words for the longest time...(until it was defined for me at a grief conference this week)...like something inside me imploded and left a huge, empty hole that left me gasping for air. Not just feeling a little faint and short of breath, but gasping.

I studied his face one last time trying to absorb every detail. I yearned again to exchange one more "I love you" or one more hug. The face of my father. How could I live the rest of my life without ever seeing him again? Tears stung at my eyes. No, I can't lose it now. I want to honor my daddy by sharing some of my best memories with him at the service, and if I let myself break now, that might not happen. Then it happened. I noticed it and started to giggle a little on the inside. My dad was wearing lipstick! Of course he was, that is something that funeral directors do to the deceased to make them look more "natural" but his lips were the most rosy pink and the more I looked at them the more it struck me funny. He looked like he'd been to a Mary Kay party. Grief is like that, I guess. There is a teetering between sadness and happiness. (I also learned at the grief seminar that this is where the word "Sappy" comes from. Sad+Happy=Sappy. It makes sense, I guess I just never thought about it). I had mixed emotions about the appropriateness of the final viewing of my dad ending in smiles, but then again my dad would choose a smile over a tear anyday, right?

The service was not sad for me. We sang How Great Thou Art and Uncle Duane perfectly blended memories of dad with a message of hope and salvation. Uncle David sang "There is a Redeemer" and "He Hideth My Soul" beautifully and it held much truth. The words that I had put together earlier in the day (seriously, I didn't have much time at all) turned out ok. At the end of the service we sang Amazing Grace. Oh my. It was THE MOST beautiful thing I have ever heard. Mom later said that she felt like she was in Heaven singing right along with Dad. I have never heard a song build like that and Aunt Sandy was on the piano putting beautiful frills and grace notes everywhere. It was lovely. I'm not trying to brag by any means, but this was just the kind of service that my daddy would have talked about for weeks.

Following the service we went to the cemetery for the burial. The weather could not have been more beautiful. As we gathered around the grave the colors of fall surrounded us. The golden corn, the green rolling hills, and the trees with just a scant blush of autumn in their leaves. We read some scriptures and sang the last verse of "When Peace Like a River" to cousin Andrew's saxophone accompaniment. That, too, seemed not so sad. It felt almost like a picnic out there. My mind had tuned out all sadness and was relishing in the thought that God had just allowed us to see just a hint of heaven and how happy dad must be. He gets to enjoy the beauty of God's grace and not have to wake up to a tomorrow of grief and longing.

Somewhere inside, I knew the joy that I felt that day would only last as a memory, and that there were tough days ahead. I just could not have imagined then how hard it would really be. But if God would fill me with joy even for the moment, it felt so refreshing.

Sidenote: There! I did it! I've been struggling with putting my thoughts to words for the funeral piece. I bet I started over at least 10 times, but here, on Saturday night beginning at 11:00 on another night where I can't fall asleep....grrr...it all came together. Yay! Now I can hopefully have a little closure on that chapter! And thank God for auto save. I thought I lost it...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Be Still

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake To guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart And all is darkened in the vale of tears; Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart, Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears. Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay From His own fulness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

When I think about all of the things that have happened or are planned to happen in a short time, my heart breaks all over again and the depths of me wants to cry out "Why so MUCH?" My body tries to pummel my soul into a state of unrest, but, for some reason, this song places my mind in a gentle trance and brings me comfort. The words perfectly illustrate what I need to hear and what I truly believe.
This year has brought more than its share of struggles and loss. The deaths of both Kimmi and my dad are on my mind a lot, but there are other things going on in my life that bring me to my knees daily. Life has not been easy, but somehow through all of this I feel the gentle hand of God lifting my chin and giving me strength for each day.
Sometimes in the midst of loss and sadness we lose track of all of the good things that have happened, too. We have been so blessed even in this. Blessings that I realize most when I can quiet my soul and just be still....
Have a happy Tuesday, all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Visitation

Tuesday morning. It was the morning that we were to go to Bates for the family viewing. The funeral director had warned us that Dad had alot of "structural damage" to his head, so we would need to decide at the private viewing whether or not we would have an open casket. I didn't want to go. I never wanted to see my daddy lifeless, but yet I knew that I needed to. Maybe seeing him would make this seem real--but I didn't want it to be real. I had been trying (without much success) to convince myself for the last few days that this was some horrible mistake, but knew that when I saw his body it would become real to me.
Mom went first. Jeff was with her. I stood back to give her time and was amazed at all of the plants and flowers that had been sent. The stands were already full and they kept bringing more and more in. The flowers were a nice distraction, they somehow gave me a break from realizing why I was really there. Healthy or not, I needed distraction. I wasn't ready. I'd never be ready.
The time came when I approached the casket. My dad looked good. Very handsome. The new tie worked great with the tan jacket and coffe brown shirt. It looked like him. I wasn't sure whether the funeral director overexaggerated how bad his head injuries were or had just done a heck of a job with whatever they do to make someone look like they used to. I studied his face. There was the small bump on his left cheek that had been there as long as I can remember. There was the sunspot on his right ear that I kept telling him he needed to get checked out. There were the winkles under his eyes that we always warned him not to rub when his allergies were bad. There were bushy eyebrows, the smooth complexion. My dad. The ony thing that wasn't right was his mouth. His top lip had a little pucker that I had never noticed before. Looking back at his senior portraits later--you know, the ones you don't smile for--it was there. Why had I never noticed? It occurred to me that I had never seen my dad with his lips together. He was ALWAYS smiling.
That was the beginning of what was to be a long day. The visitation was to start at four. We went back to the farm, had some lunch, and visited with some family. Mom invited me to walk to the mailbox with her, and we laid in her bed for close to an hour opening sympathy cards. Around 3 we took off to go back to Bates. There were several people there when we arrived offering their condolences. The line picked up rather quickly and we stood in awe of how many people's lives my dad had touched for nearly 7 hours. People waited just shy of 2 hours to reach the front of the line. Amazing.
I held up pretty well. There came one point in the evening when I lost it. All of the sudden I found myself face to face with a crabby lady. I don't know who she was, but she was not there for the right reason. Instead of offering to tell how she knew dad she complained that the line was long. I apologized for the wait and thanked her for being there. At that point she glared in my direction and cut ahead to where my mom was, spoke briefly to her and left. Whoa. What just happened? I felt hurt and confused. Did I do something wrong? Tears stung at my eyes and I started shaking. Craig took one look at me and told me that I needed a break--NOW. I went out to the van and stood behind it because it was locked I just cried and let my emotions overtake me for a bit. I missed my dad. I was angry, and hurt, and confused, and somehow this visitation stopped being about my dad, and about her. I wouldn't give her any more of my thoughts that day. I was there for to honor my dad and she could do whatever and it wasn't going to stop me from honoring him any less. I prayed for strength and felt an instant peace. As I headed back inside there was clarity. It just hurt me to know that someone would come there and show disrespect for anyone in the family. It stung because I know that my dad's family was more important than anything to him and if he had seen someone hurt me, it would have hurt him, too.
The end of the line was met with mixed emotions. I was purely exhausted, but couldn't get enough of people telling how they knew my dad and what they would remeber about him.
I laid awake for hours that night trying to write and sort out my thoughts. I had agreed to share some thoughts at the service and couldn't make a sentence. Finally, I shut down my computer and drifted off to sleep. If God wanted me to talk at Dad's service, he was going to have to help me out in the morning, but for now, I needed sleep. I needed to face Wednesday well rested, because that was the day I needed to somehow figure out how to say goodbye.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One month ago today.

One month ago today in the morning I got up to go to work. It was a lovely day--sunny and bright. There wasn't a lot going on at work and by one month ago today in the afternoon I had become very bored. I placed one PICC line and processed orders in ICU to help the staff. I jumped at the chance to assist with an ultrasound guided thoracentesis (that's draining fluid from a lung for the lay person!) and went home early.
One month ago today in the late afternoon I got home from work and found Craig laying all of the landscaping bricks around the house as we had discussed, preparing to trench them in. Then I went in the house and decided to check my e-mail. My laptop was not even booted up when my cell rang. One month ago today at that moment a new journey started. A journey that began with shock and disbelief and is now somewhere between not understanding and profound grief.

One month ago today in the morning my dad got up to go to work. It was a normal day. There was so much to do, and it was a lovely day. One month ago today in the afternoon my dad drove home from work, talked to my mom for a little bit, rummaged through the refrigerator for something to eat and announced that he was going out to clear out the lot behind the barn in preparation for weaning calves. Sure, it was not his favorite job, but it was all part of life on the farm. The plans for dinner out later in the evening had been made. One month ago today late in the afternoon as my dad was hauling his third load of compost to the wagon a new journey began. A journey that led him to the promised eternal life and peace.

Sometimes life makes no sense and we can't comprehend why these things happen to good people. One month ago today all of the tomorrows that I thought I had with my family intact were reduced to dreams and memories. One month ago today, I lost the very best daddy a girl could ever want. Life has changed....I have changed...in so many ways since just one month ago today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One more time.

Dear Dad,

Oh how I wish that we cold sit down face to face. I have so many questions for you. So many things I never took the time to ask when I had the chance. I miss you so much. Tonight is another one of those nights where I am laying in bed trying to sleep with no luck. I keep thinking about life and how it has changed so much in the last 3 1/2 weeks. I see pictures of you in my head constantly as I try to sleep. You standing there against the gate looking out to the cows in the pasture, one foot up on the 3rd rung from the bottom. You blading off the driveway in your big red tractor last winter--you know, when you totally ruined our good sledding hill, right after all of the sled tracks had been made. You looking me in the eye and asking "are you ready?" just before walking me down the aisle at my wedding. And then comes the pictures of the last few weeks. The image that I never saw but somehow created in my mind of the accident scene. The solemn look on your face during the visitation. The lack of smile and character. Oh dad.

I think that it may be starting to hit me a little bit that this is the way life is now. You're not coming back. The very thought brings tears to my eyes that cannot be stopped. This doesn't seem like the way it was supposed to be. You were supposed to be here when my children are born. You are supposed to be here for the family reunion next summer. And for Christmas. And for....everything.

I know that God has a plan in all of this. His plan is not to make me hurt and push me to my breaking point. My God is not like that. He WILL turn this, too, into good. But then part of my wonders how something that hurts so much could ever be good.

There is comfort in knowing that you're without a doubt in Heaven. Even if I had the power to bring you back, I couldn't do that to you. I know that you are so very happy where you are. It is crazy to think that your joy is in the midst of our great sorrow. I'm so happy for you, Dad. Really, I am. I just wish that you didn't have to leave us to attain it. And I wish that we could hear your voice and see your smile and hear your laughter and hug you just one more time.

With much love and a broken heart,

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It felt good to wake up in my own bed on Monday morning. It was hard to get to sleep, partly because I was overly tired, and partly because I was deep in thought trying to absorb what had just happened. I called my doctor's office to try to get my Thursday appointment moved to Monday, which they did without hesitation. Before my appointment I called a friend to see if she would accompany me in my search to find something to wear to the funeral. After my appointment we scoured the quad cities looking for something to wear. That was one of the hardest things for me. I don't particularly enjoy shopping, but knew that I needed to. I wanted something simple, comfortable, and practical. Becky was such a blessing to me as I mindlessly searched through the racks and then would give up and move on to a different store. Finally I found the perfect skirt, followed by a shirt that may work with it. As I exited the dressing room at Younkers wearing my skirt from another store and the shirt I was contemplating, a complete stranger told me how nice the outfit looked. That was it. Sold. I guess that God knew that my brain was shutting down and I needed someone to make a decision for me. Thank you, fellow Younkers customer, for responding! Thanks even more to Becky for being so patient with me! We also somehow managed to find a skirt suit for my mom so that she wouldn't have to hit the stores back home that had such limited selections.
Becky dropped me off at home and I scurried to get things together to take. Craig was back home from his errands by now and I was eager to get back to my mom. In my absence, Mom, Jeff, and Shelli had picked out the cemetary plot and the Casket spray. I really had kind of wanted to be there for that, but knew that they would pick the very best and prettiest for Dad. When we got back to Osky we went to the flower shop so that I could see the flowers that would be used in the spray. There in a 5 gallon bucket sat a random assortment of fall shaded flowers and dried wheat. It was beautiful, but in my mind I was disappointed because it was such a small grouping. In my absent-mindedness I thought that the flowers in the bucket were the total of the flowers for the spray, not just a sample of the variety. Duh. It made us laugh, though, and laughing has always been a staple in our family, so it felt good.
On Monday evening, we gathered with the extended family again to share some memories of my dad. It was lovely. We laughed, cried, and loved. It was hard not to notice that my dad was missing. These were the kind of moments that he loved.
As I climbed into bed that night the numbness of emotion wore off again, and I felt the raw hurt. I decided that perhaps I should start thinking about what I would say at his funeral service, but there were no words. A sentence could not be made. That would have to wait for another day. Morning would come all too soon and with it bring the time to see what remained on this earth of my daddy--in a way I never wanted to see him. Tomorrow would be a day of firsts and the beginning of lasts. How would I handle it???

--sidenote---I am really debating about whether or not I should continue posting my recollection of these events. It is so important to me to remember as many details as possible in those days, and by putting them to words, the memories start to reveal themselves. It feels so good to write, but I don't want my blog to take a morbid tone. I guess right now I owe myself the opportunity to grieve in this way, so read on if you want...