Friday, February 25, 2011

The Fifth Year: A Meeting With The Master Cartographer

My take on the last five years is different than that of my children. I have been able to reflect both on what I have lost and what I have gained, which is a point they have not yet been able to get to. Mostly because I think they honestly believe they have gained nothing in the loss of their father. And for them, perhaps, this is right. But I need to start by being honest.

I miss being married. I like being married. But I do not miss the marriage Dave and I shared. His life was riddled with so many struggles that were both physical and mental. He was never quite the man he wanted to be. And he lamented that. He wanted to so much more than the sum of the path he had been given to travel. Being a part of his life was difficult. But when he was okay, it was really a lot of fun. And I knew he loved me. But I think he was just tired of the fight. It had been his battle for all of his life. And yet he accomplished so much despite the issues he owned; he was a missionary and a college graduate. A husband and a father. All things I think most people in his life would have never expected of him, and I am proud of him for his accomplishments.

He is no longer that weakened person. He is who he always wanted to be. And I am insanely happy for him because I love him. I know this is true. How? When I arrived at the hospital that night, after I was told and then saw his body just to let it sink in…I sat in a room with my father. Numb. And floating in a surreal fog. And I felt him come to me to say goodbye. And words passed through my mind I knew were his; “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for leaving you this way and I’m sorry for all that I did to you. I didn’t mean to.” Besides my happiness for my beloved David, I am happy for us too. He is still a part of our lives and does what he can for us from the other side. My children, and I for that matter, have a built in guardian angel with us. And he is there when he can be, because I know he is busy. There are moments when we know he is near. Ask anyone who has been to one of my kids baptisms J

I know this is the way to was supposed to be. For him. For us.

But it sure made a mess of the map I had all laid out for my life.

Those weeks following David’s death 5 years ago were times of choices and reflections for me. Here I had been given a new map from the Father. I certainly didn’t ask for it, but I felt like the previous map had been torn from my hands and burned. It was simply no longer an option. And the topography on this new map was so vague, and unknown and frightening…a wilderness of choices mostly. So true to form (I am my nature headstrong and a planner), I came up with a plan, somewhat independent of my Father in Heaven, of the journey I wanted to take in this wilderness and chose a destination that seemed positive, even righteous. Five years seemed like a good measure of my efforts, and I would return and report at that time (as it were) on the progress of my journey and whether or not I had reached my destination. But I made a commitment to consult with he who created the map, the master cartographer, about each bend in the road, each mountain and boulder, valley and river I faced. Despite my best intentions, what I truly wanted was the best path. And I knew who already had that mapped out perfectly. Although I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, more than that, I wanted my plans to align closely with His.

Suffice it to say that as my 5 year evaluation drew near, I was questioning my journey. The destination I had pinpointed years ago was on the other side of the wilderness…and included a husband and nuclear family and did NOT include being 35 and living with my parents without a full time job. I was worried that I had gone all “Children of Israel” on the plan and was being forced to wander the desert out of disobedience and haughtiness and lack of faith. I was terrified I had missed my mark because I had been a less then diligent daughter of God and had missed some key turns in the path because I simply was not listening from the inside out, but instead from the outside in.

So I went to the place where I knew I would feel closest to my Father and my Savior, the temple. For they are the Master Cartographers, they made the map I was given. They make everyone’s map, individually and with great care specific to the strengths and weaknesses of each precious soul. I was ready to answer for what I had done with mine.

Feeling like a failure, I went ready to be chastised. To be set right. To be redirected. So I pulled myself away from the world and prayed quietly and simply to try and open my heart to the promptings of the Spirit. I reflected carefully on the last 1825 days of my life and pondered the steps I had taken that had brought me to this point. And I asked what I had done wrong to have been lost in the apparent wilderness still.

And the answer surprised me.

I wasn’t lost at all. I was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be. All the choices I had made were the ones he had wanted me to make (for the most part…the big ones anyway). I was progressing in the manner He had intended for me to progress when he gave me the map. And what was more, I hadn’t actually ever been in the wilderness at all.

I was surprised but satisfied. My thoughts immediately turned towards my future and I sought answers and direction for this yet unrevealed part of my map…a job, a spouse, growing children. What should I do? What path should I take? How do I stay out the wilderness?

The answer was simple and perfect; “Worry less. Live more.”

I do worry. A lot. Almost to the point of obsession and often to the point of sleeplessness. And here was the One who knows me better than anyone else telling me to basically chill out.

It was as if He was saying, “I have taken care of you so far. And every time I have given you a step and you have taken it with faith and courage, you have drawn closer to me and to the destination I had in mind for you all along. Give it Me. Let Me take care of it. You know I will. And just move forward and enjoy the moments instead of worrying about where that moment will lead. I promise they will lead to joy if you let me guide you. Joy is all I ever intended for you from the beginning. Worry less about the future and how to get there. Live more in the moment and relish the peace and joy.”

I felt peace. And the words from a beloved hymn cam quickly to my mind… the verses perfectly summarizing the chain of thoughts and conclusions.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

This is what 5 years has meant to me…”I triumph still if Thou abide with me.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Fifth Year: The Children

Fair warning…you may want to grab a Kleenex.

Last Friday marked a rather significant milestone for me and my children. It was the 5th anniversary of their father’s passing. At the time, they were 10, 5, 3, and 1. Ashlyn and Conner have no actual memories of their dad, just borrowed ones from others or from home videos or from pictures. For me, this day has meant one thing. For my children, quite another. Let’s start with the children.

At the grave sight the day of the funeral.

For them, it is what they have missed. They want a dad more than anything. They have never known a life in memory with a father, and for them it just screams of injustice. It’s never fun to have to tell someone your dad died before you can even remember him. And then to watch all the other kids your age enjoy their fathers and have not even a memory of a moment to draw on. For Conner and Ashlyn, the grieving process has just begun, because it’s finally something they can understand. It comes in bits and pieces and spurts and we try and deal with it as needed. But again, its what they have missed by the simple thing of being fatherless. I figured it up; 1800 goodnight kisses (Unless your Ashlyn who demands 8 per night and then it’s more like 10,000), 2000 bedtimes stories, 30 birthdays, 2 baptisms, 2 ordinations, 250 family nights, 4000 family prayers, 15 first days of school, and 2 daddy daughter dances.

And those are just simple moments.

Things that most people take for granted, precious jewels of time that most of us cast aside because they seem so common place. And yet it is in those simplest of moments that lifetimes are created. And lifetimes are lost.

My children have lost a lifetime.

Maryn wrote this poem a few days before the anniversary.

February 18th

February 18th is my

least favorite day

It reminds me of

horrible things it

reminds me of

my Dear Daddy’s

Death and how

he is no longer

on this earth with

me. I know he is

safe with the all-

mighty god who toke

his last and long breath,

but there I

stand by his beautiful

grave asking him the


These pictures were all snapped by my aunt. I find it significant that this one was on the CD she gave me.

The day after Dave died, I had the job of telling my children their dad was not coming back. Conner and Ashlyn were too young to understand. But Maryn did. I pulled her on my lap, and shared with her the news. Tears began to roll down her cheeks, and she looked up at me as her arms wound around my neck.
"Will he still be my daddy in the resurrection?"
I replied that he would. She pulled me closer and whispered;
"Then I will be okay."

He died that we might live again. That those relationships we build and hold most dear in this life might still be associations we keep in the life after this. The pure and simple faith of a 5 year old who had just lost her father taught me that. It will all be okay. Because He lives, and loves us, it is all truly okay.

Quote of the day

Its been awhile, so here it is: QUOTE OF THE DAY- Paul "Mom, grandma...if you were stuck on a deserted island and could have any three resources, what would you choose? And that doesn't count water or vegetation. And pigs ...pigs count as vegetation."