When I began to write a blog for today, I still couldn’t write something beautiful and creative. I know why, it’s because I am STILL struggling. I can’t lie to you and act like everything is ok. I can’t walk in to church and fake a smile so that everyone doesn’t notice. I still can’t understand how a person died that we love. I can’t change my Facebook picture because he is there smiling at me. I will never understand why our friend died.
This week a newborn baby passed away, his mom and dad are devastated. No one knows why, only God. They are also struggling.
I know that God has me in His hands and that’s what gets me up each morning and helps me fall asleep each night. For now, please read the blog below that I shared on September 29th.
I’m not going to sugar coat anything in my writing this week. It may be the ugly truth, but I’m gonna throw it out there for you.
I am struggling.
On September 14th, my husband did a wonderful job sharing his thoughts in his blog “From a Caterpillar to a Butterfly”. I intended to write a blog that night, but I couldn’t muster the strength to. I had received a phone call early that morning from our dear friend Nancy that her husband Barry had suffered a stroke and would never regain consciousness.
We have known Barry, Nancy and her two children for over 30 years. In the last few years, they had traveled from their home in Michigan to visit our home in Nebraska. We have gone through many things with this family, including a lot of laughter and tears.
I had to break the news to my dad that day – on his 60th birthday. I wasn’t sure what to say, but when I actually repeated the words out loud “Barry isn’t going to make it”, it became real. My parents were in complete shock. They intended to leave that day for a small vacation, but all of those plans suddenly changed.
We didn’t know what the days or months following would bring. I don’t think anyone knew if Barry would live another day or would he leave us weeks later. As I woke up the very next morning, I had received a message that Barry passed away in the middle of the night.
My parents and I knew exactly what to do next. We got ourselves together, made plans to get help with children and animals and then 48 hours after he passed away, we began a 12+ hour drive to the family we have known so very long. During our trip, we didn’t turn the radio on. The three of us chatted about our lives and remembered Barry and what joy he brought to our life. Together, my parents and I even made a blanket for Nancy to comfort herself during her grieving process.
As we reached the funeral home, we felt the grief of those in the hallways and we heard the pain in the voices of those around us. The smell of the flowers overwhelmed my senses and I began to think about past funeral services I’ve attended. Then we saw our sweet Nancy near the casket of the man she loved for so long. Nancy glanced up to see my mom and they embraced. I wasn’t able to hold my pain together much longer and the tears began to fall. Nancy grabbed my dad and I and we surrounded her with a hug that I just can’t put into words. We were reunited again, but for circumstances that were out of our control.
Barry looked so handsome in his casket. I’ve never been able to say that someone who has died looked so good until now. I moved away from the group and just sat on a couch alone. I stared at Barry in his casket for a long time that day. I listened to other in the room carry on conversations that seemed unimportant. I couldn’t understand how people just kept talking about things besides Barry.
I wanted to scream “This man has died! He left his wife here! He won’t get to walk in the door again with her EVER! Does anyone else understand this!” Then I started telling Barry to wake up, to breathe. I begged him, I asked him nicely, I told him that if he doesn’t wake up he is going to be cremated soon. Why doesn’t he just open his eyes??!! God, why don’t you help him wake up? He’s only been gone for 4 days. You brought Lazarus back to life, why can’t Barry come back?
I am struggling.
I’m trying to understand how a man that loved many people, a man who loved the children that he didn’t help create, a man that encouraged those around him died. How can this happen?
During his funeral there was a beautiful window above the casket that let in the natural sunlight. While the pastor spoke about Barry, there was sunshine and beautiful billowy clouds that passed by the windows. The pastor also shared that only 4 years ago, Barry committed his life to Christ. I began to rejoice and my cheeks lifted a tiny smile. As the committal ceremony began, the clouds thickened and the sky became dark. Barry was honored with a military funeral and the pastor played “Taps” on the bugle.
We stayed in Michigan for less than a day before making our way back to Nebraska. When we said our goodbyes to Nancy and her kids Kim and Brad, I kept myself together. I knew that if I cried anymore on this trip, that my body wouldn’t be able to take it.
I closed the door of the car and as we drove away the tears began to fall. I couldn’t speak and my parents noticed right away. I haven’t felt this pain since my niece passed away 8 years ago. My Fibromyalgia began to rear it’s ugly head. The pain took over me and the only thing I could ask my parents was to stop for coffee. As my tears dried, I asked my parents for some words they would use to describe our friend Barry. Here are some things we loved about him:
He was funny, analytical, never acted quickly, he was patient, kind, humorous, helpful, encouraging, slow to anger, never judgmental, thoughtful and innovative. He loved to bowl and enjoyed teaching others as well.
Barry wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He’s in Heaven now and we aren’t. In the end, he didn’t need to live here with us, He was supposed to live in Heaven with God.
I am still struggling. I would rather him be here. I’m not angry, I’m just selfish.
How many times do we walk in to our church or our work and act like everything is fine? I felt the need to tell you whether you know me or not I’m hurting. I didn’t want to pretend, I wanted you to see the real me today.
If you’ve read some of my past blogs, you know that there’s usually a song that I tie to my blogs. The following song I listened to over and over again on the long journey home.
Make me brave Lord,