Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pieces of Me

I think people handle grief in different ways and stages. The first few months after Michael died I was openly able to write about my feeling and my thoughts but then I went through a period where I didn't want to write about what was going on. I didn't want to share my personal thoughts with everyone . I think I was going through a stage of not acknowledging my pain in order to "forget" about it. The truth is you cant forget about it. You can't push it away. You can't pretend it never happened to you. Because eventually you are forced to again face the reality of your life. Its been almost 9 months and I am now in a new stage of grieving. I am able to participate and function normally. I am able to enjoy things around me finally. Does this mean I am healed? Absolutely not. But it means I am continuing to progress on my journey. It means I am aware of what has happened and am accepting (most days) and understand that at 30 years old I have a lot of life left.  I have been able to do a lot  of things in the past 9 months that have taken a lot of courage for me. After Michael died, I moved back in with my parents. There was no way I could live in this big house that was bought for a family of 4. I originally thought I would never be able to live in this house.  It was painful to imagine being alone there after it had been so alive with love, laughter, and sweet memories. Moving back into our house was one of the hardest things I have done since Michael has died. The house doesn't make me sad anymore. This house makes me feel proud.  Proud of what we worked so hard to have. Buying this house was one of the greatest moments of my life. Even though I have found peace in living in our house, I still cannot change certain things. I have yet to move Michael's clothes. They are all still hanging in his closet and in his dresser. I sleep in his shirts still, but that is all I can do. I can't take his stuff down or move it. I know one day I will be able but I haven't reached that day yet.


I have been through many milestones since Michael has died. Sometimes I find it amazing that I am still standing. I've been through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, My 30th birthday and our 2 year anniversary without him. Some days I question my existence. Some days I question way I am forced to live a life that often feels empty. I know God doesn't make mistakes. I wish I could explain that to my heart. I wish I could know this is all part of His master plan. I struggle accepting this. I am doing the best I can. I have been able to move forward and I am learning to enjoy life again in small ways. But part of me always feels empty. I wonder if I will feel this way forever...I wonder if I will always be broken and in pieces. One thing that I have learned since Michael died, is that life is short. I don't want to spend the rest of my life hurting. I don't want to not experience life and all the wonderful things it can bring. I make a conscious decision every morning that I wake up, that I have to make the most of each day. I want to live again. I want to feel alive again. I can not say enough about my family, friends, and coworkers who continually support me. I am so blessed in so many ways and I try to focus on that each day. There are days I go through the day and have happy days. There are days that I come home and crawl in my bed and cry for hours. I know that I'm in a much better place than I was a few months ago. I continue to strive for a happy life again. I know I have a lot to live for. I know I will be happy again. But I know that part of me will always be scarred and will always miss him. I know part of me will always ask "why him?" I don't know why I was chosen to deal with this. But I do know that I am strong. I know that I can survive this no matter how hard and how painful. I know that I am here for a reason and I keep pushing. I remind myself of how far I have come and I know I still have a long way to go...


"Don't be afraid, Just believe" -Mark 5:36

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Struggles

Sometimes I think I shouldn't post my thoughts online. It opens myself up to being vulnerable, being judged, and being criticized.  Lately I have been thinking about just deleting the whole blog and going back to the old fashioned way of writing in my notebook...which I do anyway. I pick and choose what I post online because some things are just too intimate and personal to share. It is hard to share your inner most thoughts with your friends, family, strangers and then those few who just read to "pick me apart." I have many reservations about sharing, but when I am doubting myself the most...someone will come to me and tell me how my words have touched them...have inspired them...and changed how they look at life. How my words have made them open their eyes to how quickly life can be ripped away from you. I do want to be able to help someone if I can. And that is what keeps me posting to the public. There are many people who have their own struggles and if they can draw inspiration for my story...then allowing myself to be so open is worth it.



I wish that I could say that I have been made "better" by what has happened. But I still struggle a lot with the "bitter" of what has happened. I have made a lot of mistakes since Oct. 16. I have been angry with God and I have just shut down on days and refused to believe what has really happened. I am not the same person that I was before Michael died.  I write about keeping my faith and trusting in God but there are days that I question my faith. I wonder how God could let a man die that had so much to live for. I wonder how God could take a daddy away from two boys that needed him more than anything. I wonder how God could take a son away from a mother who would have given her own life for him to live. I wonder how God could take away a husband from a woman who gave up everything for a second chance at love...all to have it taken away. I struggle with being strong. I am only human and I am far from perfect. 



One book I am reading says, "It is natural to have questions when unwanted and unexpected loss comes into your life. The more traumatic the loss, the greater the questions." It also says that it is ok to have questions but to realize that God is the only one in control of anyone's life. The sovereign God is higher than all, and His ways are beyond comprehension. You have two choices: You can either give up or you can keep believing in God even when it doesn't make sense. "Faith means something when it is exercised in the darkness."
The path of life that you travel is different from what you expected, but He will guide you. Your greatest spiritual growth comes through your questions and trials. You may not like the situation, but often you must accept it and seek growth, not stagnation. "God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10)   - This is from a book called "Through a Season of Grief" by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard.  This book has been very helpful to me and I would recommend it to anyone going through a loss of a loved one.


The amazing thing about God is He knows I am not perfect and I sin but yet he still is able to forgive me for these sins. I do have trouble understanding why things happen in life. But I have to lean on my faith and understand that I am not in control of this life...God is. 





I am working on things to help me accept this life. One that I never imagined I would have to go through. A life that would feel so much pain and heartbreak.  I have been through counseling, I read, I have befriended those who have suffered a great loss. I try to use different resources to help me anyway possible. I am doing the best I can. Sometimes I fall and have a hard time getting back up. But I get back up.



 I am still here.  I am still managing to survive each day. I know I have a long way to go. I know this journey will be a long and difficult one. But God decided that I was strong enough to handle this and I have to keep pushing forward each day.

The hardest thing I have ever had to do is to continue to live each day without this man. He was my everything. I pray a lot and if you are a praying person please keep praying for me.


"Lord God, I cannot pretend that everything is fine, that everything is good because it's not. But I know that you, God, are good. Forgive me when I limit You, doubt You, and expect You to fail me. I am so small compared to You, yet You love me more than I can comprehend. I am truly in the dark, and it scares me. In my fear, I lash out wildly. Shine Your light in my heart. Lead me along this new path. Amen" 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Frustrations

St. Patty's Day is today. Yesterday was March 16, which means 5 months since my world was ripped apart. I have been surrounded by a whole lot of emotions lately. It has been 5 months since I've had Michael here to help me make hard decisions and to re-confirm me when I needed him. Lately I have been struggling with doing some things and I need his guidance. All I have left are the talks we had before he died. That's all I have. But I have hours and hours of talks with him. We didn't have secrets. We didn't keep stuff from each other. We were like two people who were made from one. Always in rhythm and always in sync. Before he died, we had many talks...the "what if" and how we would do certain things. Michael Thomas was adamant about how he wanted his belongings delegated.  especially when it came to things that belonged to him. He did NOT want certain things to go to his children at such a young age.  For example, his guns. I know which gun he wanted which child to have. But it was VERY important to him for them to get these things when they are old enough to understand guns, old enough to be responsible and old enough to prove they can take care of them. Michael did not want his things going to someone else to keep and then give to them... he trusted me and he wanted me to give them to his boys when the time was appropriate. And he again was adamant on them being a certain age and for his boys to get those things from me then. There are several things that he specially talked to me about and how he wanted it handled if he were to die. I am choosing to HONOR my dead husband in his wishes when it comes to his children and what he wanted them to have.  I am not being "spiteful" as I have been called.  I am honoring Michael's desires on how and when to give certain things to his children.










I'm frustrated in many ways. I'm frustrated because I can't talk to the boys and let them know what is going on with Michael's things. I frustrated because for 2 and a half years I was with their daddy, I was with them, and I have SOOO Many memories to talk to them about. I was the one who can share those memories that they had with their daddy. But I can't because I have not seen them. It has been 5 months and I can't understand for the life of me, how keeping me away from these children is helpful. Why would you not want your children to have these memories and stories from the last 3 years before Michael died. I am the only one that has most of these memories as it was just Michael, me and the boys making these memories together. So why not let me help keep those memories and stories alive with the boys?? I am having a really hard time not being allowed to talk to or see these children. I have so many things I want to tell them about their daddy, and help them remember the times they spent together. I want to talk to them about their daddy...but I can't.
 




I am frustrated and find it disturbing that I can not even share pictures, memories, stories, or have talks about Michael with his boys. I'm sure they feel I abandoned them. I was just not their stepmother, I was a friend, I was their snuggle bug watching Sunday morning cartons, I was there for them in whatever way they needed me.  To be cut out of their life is so disheartening to me. I can not understand how taking away LOVE and SUPPORT from those close to Michael, and close to the boys, would be beneficial to their lives.  They are confused because not only did they lose their daddy, they lost half of their whole world, and everything associated with Michael, when he died.  After he died, I could not see them. So to them, they must feel that I disappeared and didn't care about them. That is the furthest from the truth you could possibly think. It breaks my heart knowing how much their little lives changed when Michael died. I loved those boys unconditionally and I had to "disappear" after he died. It hurts my heart to think how confused and upset those boys felt. They lost their daddy, their stepmom, their home with us, their friends that they met through us, and they lost a normal relationship with their Grandma.




The TWO people closest the Michael have been cut out of these children's lives. Jewel has been able to see her grandsons TWICE in 5 months.  Each time at the park for an hour or two "supervised". The boys just got their Christmas presents a few weeks ago. TWO Months after Christmas!!  Jewel lost her son, and now she only gets "supervised" visits with her grandsons once every 2-3 months at the park. Can you imagine the hurt and frustration she must feel. She can't even have a real relationship with them. Michael knows what is going on. GOD knows what is going on. And anyone that has ever been around any of the situation knows what is going on.





It is frustrating that adults can not put personal differences aside and let everyone love on these boys. 




I am frustrated. I am asking for prayers. I am asking for prayers for everyone effected by Michael's death. I am asking that God help put these boys first and let them be able to have all the love and support they can get and deserve. They deserve to be loved by everyone.


"Dear Lord, You know the desires of my heart. In my confusion give me peace to know that You are in control of all life and You do not make mistakes - Amen"

I miss these little guys so much!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life as I Know it is Over

I was looking through an old notebook and found something I had written on Feb. 11, 2013. It's crazy how much my life has changed in one year. Last year I was applying for jobs in Hartsville, and we were looking at houses for sale in Hartsville. I was anxious and nervous about possibly changing jobs, changing towns, changing houses, and changing my life.  Michael did not want to move back to Hartsville. He liked our life in Cheraw. It felt like a fresh start for him. He was excited to be in a new place in his life. But I watched my husband work 7 days a week, having to drive 40 minutes each way. I watched my stepsons having to get up earlier for school so they could ride to Hartsville with Michael when he would go to work. I watched Michael not being able to be as available for his boys because of his work schedule and us living further away. I watched 3 people who were at a disadvantage and only 1 who it was convenient. So I decided we were going to move to Hartsville. Michael knew I was happy in Cheraw, he knew I didn't truly want to move. But I knew that by taking a vow of marriage, you agree to take care of each other and best serve each other. When I got married, I didn't just gain a husband...I gained a family. To me, this meant that I not only needed to do what was best for my husband, but also what was best for his children.


It is crazy that one year ago I was making a conscious decision to change my life for the man I loved and his children. And now, here I am and have lost all 3 of the reasons I moved. I can't help but play the guilt game about Michael dying. He didn't want to move and I pushed it. He didn't want to sell his F-250, but yet I pushed it because it was constantly costing us money or needing to be fixed. I feel guilty about him dying because he was driving a smaller truck, coming back from my parent's house, driving down a back road to our new house. If he still had his F-250 would he have lived? If we still lived in Cheraw, would he still be alive? He wouldn't have been on that road that night. I wonder about every scenario and sequence of events and play it over and over again in my head. One part of someone dying like this is replaying the "what ifs" in your head.  Part of the healing process is learning to let go of these "what ifs." I haven't been able to do this yet. While I have gotten stronger in many ways and have progressed in my healing journey...I still have thoughts of being responsible for Michael's death.  Even though ultimately it was only him in that truck, only him driving, and him wrecking. I have not once gotten mad at him for wrecking, instead I find ways to be mad at myself.


Every Wednesday night around 9pm I start replaying that hellish night. The 16th of every month I am forced to recognize he has been gone another month. The worse moment of my life happened on October 16, 2013. The moment life as I knew it was over. A lot of days I ask "why did this have to happen to me?" There are so many people who are selfish, hateful and undeserving and yet this had to happen to me.  I have had a lot of self pity and drowning in my own sorrow. I've done about everything I could in an attempt to drown out the pain. And in the end, I just had to make a decision to get myself together. I had to start making an effort to come back to the land of the living. I am trying everyday  to get through the day with a smile on my face and the strength in my heart.  I think I am doing much better at hiding the pain I am now.


Bob Dylan has a quote, "Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain." Going through this experience will really make you take something like this to heart. How many people do you encounter that are smiling and seem fine...that many be going through their own personal battles? It should teach us all to be a little kinder and a little more loving. You never know the pain that is behind someone's smile. I know my life will forever be changed. I will never look at things the same. I wish I could let people see into my heart and mind so they would learn to take value in the important things in life. I guess that is one reason why I write this blog. I am hoping that if I can  reach one person and help them to change their outlook, then it is worth opening myself up and being vulnerable to expose my raw feeling on life and death.  I'm still trying to find my place in this big world, but I am not giving up. God has His reasoning and time for everything He does. I just have to keep the "faith."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Denial

Michael and I would always joke about people who were in denial about things. I would say "De-nile, not just a river in Egypt." And he would always laugh at my corny stupid jokes and usually add some smart ass comment that would validate my joke. Well, now I am the butt of my own joke. Because for the past few weeks I have been living in denial. I haven't been able to write in 3 weeks, partly due to the fact that I have tried to avoid any feelings that made me face reality that Michael is not here. I know he is not here. I live with this void everyday. I live with an emptiness in my chest where my heart used to be. I live with the agony EVERY SINGLE DAY. My brain knows he is gone...it's my heart that some days doesn't accept it. Unless you have lost someone extremely close to you, I don't think you can explain what the pain feels like to anyone else.


The holidays are over. And I am glad. I didn't want the year to end. I hold on to things and I wanted to hold on to 2013 forever because Michael would never live to see another year. I still have all of our cards, letters, pictures, and keepsakes from when we dated in 2000. I started the "Caroline and Michael" box back then from a Timberland Boot box (which I still have the boots) that Michael bought me. The box is so old that the glue holding it together doesn't even stick.


My favorite thing about this old box is the quote I have taped in the left corner. It says "True love endures; if it does not, then it was never true"   We were just a couple of young kids in love and I was young and wasn't ready to get married and Michael was. With a ring almost identical to the one I have now (except as Michael said "alot smaller because I was alot broker"), that I never even knew about at the time. I had college and he had a job. And we were at different places in our lives. Separated by time and circumstance.  And then I got the call, "Are you sitting down? Michael is going to be a daddy". And I knew as soon as those words came out of his friend's mouth, what was coming next. I didn't have to hear another word or ask another question. But I asked "When?"  And the response I got back was, "In a few weeks." I knew he would do the right thing and get married. Michael told me, "Caroline, I want to try to give my child what I didn't have growing up." Time and Circumstance ultimately separated us. There is a Kenny Chesney song "A lot of things Different" that came out around the time all of this happened. But now it hits so much harder. "People say they wouldn't change a thing, even if they could. Oh, but I would. Oh I, I'd do a lot of things different." I would have changed my life if I would have known then what I know now. I would have never left him behind.  But the thing about life is you can't go back and change things. And as crazy as life was for me and him...we just accepted that we were just not meant to be together. It wasn't meant to be. This was the path WE had chosen and we respected our choices even though it meant we were not together.

Fast forward 10 years and we get a second chance at a once in a lifetime love. God had given us a 2nd chance. He told me after we were back together that his child saved his life. He said he was in such a bad place from us not being together, that his child saved his life. That was God's way of making him a man in his eyes. He said "I would have ended up in jail or dead the rate I was going." I don't know why things in life happen the way they do. Is it fate or do we control our own destiny? I never believed in fate until Michael and I started dating again. I knew it was God's work to bring us back together. I believe that with my whole heart and anyone that knew either of us would tell you the same thing. God blessed me with this man. He blessed me with a man that told me when I broke up with him "Nobody will ever love you like I do." And he meant that. And he spent every chance he could trying to prove it to me.

So while I still am in denial about the man of my dreams dying... I choose not to talk about all the pain I feel everyday. Everyone knows I'm in pain. Anyone that was ever around the two of us could tell you about the kind of love we had. It was pure and strong and almost out of a movie. The movie "The Notebook" was one of our favorite movies...because we believed in love. We believed in 2nd chances and we believed in each other. I just want to remember the kind of love we had and never forget his love for me. I was reading through some of the cards he had given me in the past year and just wanted to share.

Our first Valentine's Day as Husband and Wife

On the day we got married

On our First Anniversary

He is gone and I miss him more than anyone could try to imagine. But he ALWAYS made sure I knew how much he loved me. I smile through my tears because I had the opportunity to have my heart complete at one time. Now, It is shattered into a million pieces that I don't know how to put back together, but I smile knowing Michael died a happy man. He was in love, he loved his family, and he was proud of the things he had accomplished.
So yes, I am in denial that this man has been taken from me. "De-nile is not just a river in Egypt"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another Day

Tomorrow will be 2 months since I lost Michael. It's hard to believe how much my life has changed in those 2 months. I pulled out his cell phone tonight. I haven't cancelled his service yet. I don't know why but I can't bring myself to deactivate his phone. I can sleep in his clothes every night, but when I look at his phone it breaks me down. It smells like grease, like a shop. He was always working and always had his dirty hands on his phone listening to music. Even if he was home, he was always working on something. In his shop, he had a chainsaw in pieces across the table. It is still there, in pieces from where he was last tinkering with it. There are constant reminders everywhere like this of how my life changed literally overnight. Maybe sometimes I try to numb the pain by not looking at certain things, like his phone or going in his shop. Even things in my house I can't change or move yet. My art room I have not touched anything since he died. There is an empty diet coke can and a bottle of water that is open from where I was painting a few nights before he died. He worked like crazy to build me that room.

 I was so excited to finally have a place to paint in our new house. That room will always be close to my heart. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of him. I couldn't wait to paint it and put the stripes on it. I had Michael tape it up for me and he told me to wait a day to let the first coat of paint dry. But I couldn't. When I get something on my mind, it consumes me. And I was so excited I just had to paint the walls. He laughed at me when I pulled the tape off and part of the paint pulled off. He knew that if I wanted to do something, he just had to let me do it and there was no sense in trying to tell me different. So now I see the spots on the wall where the paint pulled off and I think of him. I look at the hard work he put into that room and think of him. He worked so hard to get it finished for me so quick. He was so great at everything he did. He would do anything to see me smile. He loved me so much. Some days it takes everything in me not to question God as to why Michael had to die at 33. I can get mad and ask "why??" but it doesn't bring him back. Nothing will bring him back. Part of me died with him on that night. There will always be a hole in my heart from him dying. 

Since Michael has died, it has changed my life in so many ways. I used to be afraid of dying. Now I am not scared. I know that if I died, I would be with him. And that makes me happy to think that I would be reunited with him. I hope that in time, this will allow me to live my life to the fullest. I see this as a blessing because so many people are afraid of dying, and I used to be one of them. Now, I'm not.

I learned that life can change in the blink of an eye. And it's not always fair.  Bad things happen to good people. But some people go through life and never experience what true love is. And I have. As painful as each day is with him being gone, I am one of the lucky ones. I know what it is like to have a man love you with all his heart and soul. I know what it is like to be in love. And I know that I will cherish this everyday of my life.
 
 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Choosing Life

The weather today has been cold and rainy. I did not get out of bed until 4 this afternoon. I think my body just becomes so exhausted from the lack of sleep during the week. Most people look forward to the weekends. I look forward to Monday. Monday-Friday, I feel some sense of purpose. On the weekends, I am left with the hollow emptiness of Michael being gone. At least during the week, I stay so busy with work, it helps to fill a void.

I have been reading a lot about losing your spouse. Sometimes I long for words to describe how I truly feel. I really connected with some of the things I'm reading right now.

"When you lose a mate, you lose part of yourself. It's as if you've had an amputation of an arm or leg. I think that you don't fully recover, you adjust."

I know its only been 2 months, but I never feel I will recover from this incident in my life. This has forever changed me. I try to be strong but some days I miss him so much, it is all I can do to make it through the day. When I feel weak, I turn to scripture. These have been inspirational to me.

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29: 11-13)

"Even in your old age and gray hair I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4)

"I am the LORD, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)

"I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me." (Psalm 31: 14-15)

"Trust in the LORD with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

And this one really stuck with me:
"I have set before you life...now choose life." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

To me, this is so powerful...God is telling me that he has given me this life and I must be strong and persevere. God has given me THIS life. I am His work. He knows the plans for me. So many things I do not understand about why I have to go through this pain and this anguish...But I have to trust God.

The book I am reading states, " It's often said that when you're dealing with hardship and hurt in your life, and great pain, you can either become bitter or you can become better. Challenge yourself always to let God do a work through you so you can become stronger and more effective."

I pray that God will make me a better person from this. I pray that God will use me in a way that will help others. I pray that I will be able to become a stronger, more faithful person.

I know that the love Michael and I shared will always be in my heart. He would want me to be strong. I know that with God and Michael by my side...I will get through this.

I am thankful everyday for this man and for this love. And although the pain in my heart is so strong, I am so glad that we had the chance to be reunited and we both had the chance to experience such an amazing feeling. You are always in my heart Michael. I love you.