Before And After…

This Monday, October 10th, would have been my late husband’s 50th birthday. He passed away almost 16 years ago, just a few weeks after he turned 34. The old saying about how time stops for no one, really is true. A lot has happened in the years since his death, much has changed.

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Sometimes on special occasions or during certain events, I am reminded of the hands of time. My husband, a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, didn’t know his NASCAR hero died in the last lap of the Daytona  500 in February of 2001. He never watched in horror, as the Twin Towers fell, and thousands perished on that fateful day in September. He wasn’t there when our son was baptized, or when he graduated from high school. He didn’t vote in the last few elections, and never got to see his grandchildren be born.

For those of us that have lost a loved one, a strange thing happens. Life becomes a series of, “before’s and after’s”. Remembering what happened before that person passed. And, what has happened since?

Thinking about Kennis today. Looking at pictures and noticing his lopsided grin, that lives on in our son. Reading the words his daughter posted to me, about missing her Dad. At certain times, the embers of remembrance are stirred until a bright flame breaks through the darkness. A time comes when one starts celebrating the life that was, instead of mourning the death that occurred.

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However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–       1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

 

 

 

Like Sand Through The Hourglass…

 

 

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Like sand through the hourglass….so are the days of my life. (Hmmmm, I think I may have heard that phrase somewhere)

I turned forty-eight yesterday. Getting older hasn’t really bothered me, per se. I mean, what’s the alternative, right? I’m not upset about being just two years away from FIFTY, but I do find it rather shocking. The other day, some classmates from high school were talking about having a thirtieth reunion this Fall, for the class of 1986. In my mind, the eighties were last week. Does that prove I’m aging?!

 

Is my life perfect? No. Whose is? We all live in a world that is full of great joys, and intense tragedies, highs and lows, ups and downs. One can’t get away from that. The truth is, each different season of life is special and unique in its own way. I really would not want to go back in time. (Well, a good friend of mine posted a picture of the two of us when we were twenty-one. Although I like the wisdom that comes with age, I wouldn’t mind still having the bod of a twenty-one year old….) In the midst of the every day, I find myself stopping and appreciating. There is a lot to be said for being in the moment, and going through one’s life with eyes wide open. Out here in rural Ohio, I often find myself driving down back country roads to get to my various destinations. I admire the green, green, grass, the bright blue sky,  the open space, the black and white cows that are trying to nibble on the other side of the fence, and the hawk circling high over a field. I think about my family that loves me and whom I love right back, a husband who makes me laugh, kids who are now young adults, the comfortable house I live in with land to roam, and my (fairly decent) health.

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It has been about five or six years ago since I first read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. (you can read my posts here and here) Her book spoke to me about what it means to be truly thankful for all the ways that God blesses. I will admit, it is a struggle some days to see the blessings when all I want to do is be a grump. When the cat pukes and I have to clean it for the umpteenth time, or the flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds, and the dog digs up my last surviving bush. The days when my children grow up and become more and more independent and I realize my opinion isn’t as important as it used to be. Broken dishes, broken promises, and broken hearts. Some days I force myself to stop, breathe, and start counting out loud, all the ways I am thankful, and all the ways I am loved. God is so good. Even on the hard days.

One day it truly dawned on me (pun intended), that I most likely, have more days behind me, than I do ahead of me. It is highly unlikely that I will live to be one hundred. You want to know something? I’m okay with that. That might sound weird, especially in a society that is so driven by youth and beauty. My days are just as important to me now, maybe even more so, than when I was in my twenties. I know I appreciate them more. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life’s questions, and on many days I am struggling to understand just like everyone else.

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Today I am able to say that life is good and I am happy.

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Challenge #7, The Best Party Ever

It was a turning point year, the year I turned forty. My husband, kids, and I were celebrating my special day with my mom and my sister and her family. I’ve always enjoyed birthdays with family. My growing up years, as far back as I can remember, was always celebrating birthdays with family. The traditional birthday cake, ice cream, and presents. Is there really any other way to commemorate the completion of another year?

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This particular year, the year I turned forty, was not so unusual, and yet it was. Turning forty was a mile marker, a special birthday, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to be a forty-something.  My husband acted a little anxious, and seemed to be rushing the party along. I was enjoying myself, why make it go any faster? Suddenly everyone was tired, so we said our good-byes and started home. As soon as we got home, my husband suggested me go out for coffee (which was a normal “date” for us). I thought it a little odd that we just got home and he wanted to go back out, but I was clueless. It wasn’t until we were several miles down the interstate that I started to wonder what was going on. He said we are just going for a drive. I questioned, where? He responded “a birthday surprise”. My husband had “kidnapped” me and was whisking me off for a weekend get-away to Asheville, N.C. to start my 40’s off right.

We had so much fun, and it was made even more special because of the effort my husband had made to have the kids taken care of, suitcases already packed and sneakily put into the trunk of the car, and having reserved a beautiful room in a gorgeous location.

That day turned out to be one of my most memorable birthdays….the best party ever.