I blogged at A Widow’s Might this morning. Join me!
I dragged my feet long enough. I think I didn’t want to part with the shirts but I finally did. In November I sent a large box containing some of the shirts Mr Mark wore a lot that weren’t used on the quilts to Bonnie Dean in Illinois. She contacted me through my blog way back when I first started blogging. She let me know what she does as a ministry to grieving people. The kids had chosen what shirt they loved the most. And she was so fast. I got the boxes of bears this week. And the kids love them so much.
Here’s each bear’s story:
On the top row:
Micah’s ( Ferrari gear so he named it Enzo),
mine ( Mr mark’s pj pants) ,
and his mom’s bear ( made from his old Sears uniform that he wore every time he worked on cars for the last 30 years)
The next row:
Erin’s ( Mr Mark climbed Mt Whitney in California and this bear is made from the ‘I climbed’ and ‘my daddy climbed’ shirts ) ,
Josiah’s ( his dad’s favorite Saturday sweatshirt ) ,
Mary Grace’s ( made from the tie dye shirt we made before our trip to Lake Tenkiller years ago),
Caleb’s ( OSU wrestling and Piraña Brothers ) ,
Stephen’s ( one of m\Mr Mark’s most worn shirts)
I would highly recommend this idea as a gift for someone you know or even for yourself.
It will be something the kids will hold onto for many years as a little bit of their daddy. Micah even took it to school with him on Friday.
Memory Bears by Bonnie
It started last night when youngest got out of bed and came down to me. My kids usually stay in bed and don’t wander. Usually. But he came in crying. When asked what was wrong, all he could tell me was that he wished his daddy hadn’t died.
That hurts. We shared tears together. I wiped his and he reached his little five year old hands over and wiped mine.
And then one of the widow bloggers wrote about her first Christmas as a widow and the cry fest that ensued with her young children.
Probably for the first time, a new reality hit me. No one was going to surprise me with a gift this year. Many years I bought my own gifts and then Mr Mark would pull something out of hiding and surprise me. I tried to think what the gifts were over the years.
Several nice winter coats. Many leather gloves. Occasionally (rarely) jewelry. And a Kitchenaid mixer. Some years I spelled out carefully what I wanted. Other years I didn’t. But this year that element of surprise from the spouse is gone.
I do NOT say this to make anyone think they need to buy me a gift. It wouldn’t be the same. But it is my new reality.
These are the things that hit me hard and unexpectedly. And I begin to wonder, is God enough? Is He really all I need? Do I love Him? Do I trust Him? Do I truly believe He is the GREATEST GIFT? Tough questions to ask.
So today was an emotional one for me. I found myself crying at every turn. How does one get out of a blue funk like this? Partly, it has to do with my focus. I can turn my eyes inward and feel so sorry for myself. I can think about all the things this Christmas won’t have. I can make myself a blubbering mess.
But that seems to push me deeper in a funk.
Sometimes a different approach helps. Who can I think about instead of myself? Who else might be feeling lonely this Christmas ? What DO I have this Christmas?
Jenn Hatmaker (blogger from Austin, Texas) posted on Facebook that until further notice, she sucks. So to quote Liz Dyer, until further notice, I cry. I try to be happy. I really do. I try to think about others, I really do. But I am lousy at it. And I just want to stay in bed tomorrow and cry.
I won’t though because I can’t. That option is not available at this stage of my life. Besides, I am not sure it would really make me feel better!
So I will get up and shower. I will get the kids all ready and out the door. I will do what needs to be done. I will keep crossing things off my list.
And I will catch myself smiling once in a while. Or crying. Or laughing.
Because that’s just how life is.
For all of us.
We just keep moving, hoping it turns out to be forward at some point.
So until further notice, I cry. It does not mean I am miserable. It just means I am on a roller coaster of emotions. I have so much to be thankful for. I keep adding to that list I started the week of Thanksgiving. It is the best way I can deal with emotions right now. Look at the truth.
I finally placed the disc of the recording into the player. Finally.
We have come a LONG way from that chilly January day. I remember the feeling, walking down the aisle of our church home with my youngest child’s hand in mine and the other children following along behind. I remember seeing that casket at the end of the aisle. I remember the pews were filled. Friends and family, many who had driven a long distance to be with us, gathered together for this memorial. I don’t really remember any faces in particular, just so many loved ones all around me.
Hearing Pastor Randy choke up as he opened the service, speaking with so much compassion in his voice. Compassion for me. For each of my children. For Mr Mark’s family. I remember each hymn. Each verse. And thankful that Pastor Paul led the singing, even in the midst of his flu and fever!
Bill Schlittler, you will forever be remembered for your witty memories of working with Mr Mark. I think it is so important for my children to hear about his work ethic and his incredible ability to understand tax laws. Thank you for your words. You and Kim will always be people I can call any time with questions or memories where we can share a laugh. See you at the home wrestling matches…
Robert Black, you have blessed our family immensely over this year of grief. Your words about the spiritual heritage Mr Mark leaves for his children were wonderful. My children will need to be reminded of these words. Thank you for your friendship and encouragement. You and Janet and your girls have played a HUGE part in our grief recovery. Your gift of the gospel presentation at the memorial service is priceless.
Thomas Hill, your memories of Mr Mark were so fun to listen to again. My boys appreciate wearing the Pirana Brother gear, remembering all the running you did with their father. Goose will be a name I will always associate with you guys. I hope my children will someday find a friendship like you gave my husband. Your family will continue to be lifelong friends. Stoic, Non-complaining, Steady, Principled, Focused, Loyal, Caring. My kids need to know this about their father.
Neil Stratmeyer, what can I say? You have been such an important part to our lives. We will always enjoy hearing your memories of single life with Mr Mark. “We can take him” will always make me laugh out loud!! If my kids ever get to travel with you to Guate, you will have so much to talk about. We have a long history together, Neil. I will always love you and appreciate your’s and Carol’s involvement with my family. You are our dearest friend.
Chuck Robinson, even though you love OU wrestling, you have blessed our lives deeply. I am so glad to count you among our friends and appreciate the fact that you have connected with my children. You saw the very worst part of Mr Mark and you wrapped your arms around him, spiritually and physically. Your call for transformation is relevent to all of our lives. My children need to always remember the redemption possible through coming to Christ. And the second chances that are offered at the Cross. I will always be grateful for the guidance you provided for Mr Mark and the rest of us later.
Pastor Randy, we have loved you as our pastor for several decades. Thank you for your words about grief. And thank you for walking along side our family through this first year of recovering. You and Connie have loved on my kids and freely given hugs upon seeing them. I am glad to call you my Pastor.
Mr Mark’s family, thank you for singing at the service. My children will want to know all about their musical heritage and the Latin songs he loved to sing. You are the closest blood relatives my children have to their father and the only ones who knew Mark when he was THEIR ages. Continue to share your lives with us and all the memories you have.
I loved the service, the order, the songs, the speakers, everything. Just like my wedding, there is nothing I would have changed about the memorial service.
Except for the idea of NOT having to have the service. But I can only trust that the God who created me has a plan for my life. A plan that doesn’t always turn out like I plan. A plan that brings changes. A plan that involves my trusting fully on Him.
Thank you, each of you, who were there that day in person and in thought. It was a beautiful day at the cemetery, the sun was shining, the air was freezing, and my children were loved on by so many people. We hung out for hours at our house afterwards, eating and talking. Thanks to all at church who prepared food and served it to us. Thank you.
And, yes, I cried the whole time listening to the recording. But it was a good cry, not a miserable cry. I am a different person, a year later. I see things with different lenses. I am hopeful for what God is planning for my future. I am excited about the direction my children are taking.
We have been so blessed by others, even as you were grieving yourself. Thank you for loving us this past year and beyond.
Looking forward with hopefulness at the future.