This Mama’s Heart

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“Mommy, are you sad?” Clara questions, peering into my tear filled face.

Today, my heart was heavy. I don’t know what triggered it but Clara and I ventured to Kyle’s cemetery. I started crying as soon as we arrived and Clara asked me probably 10 times if I was sad.

She picked a flower and laid it right in front of Kyle’s headstone.  I’ve never seen her pick a flower and give it to anyone before. I think daddy was her first.

My heart still hurts to think of the hole in Kindall, Coen, and Clara’s lives. Jesus does renew all but Kyle is still missing regardless. He’s missing Coen’s baseball season. He’s missing his little girl becoming a teenager this summer. He’s missing his baby girl running into his arms.

He didn’t get to see Clara walk, her first steps were the day after his death. I like to think God gave Kyle a window to see us today. To see his baby give him a flower, run through the cemetery and comfort me. The picture above is how I imagine his face, watching today from heaven.

The dust has settled and it is time to prayerfully begin building a new life.  We aren’t leaving him behind. We are taking all his good traits with us. We will keep quoting Back to the Future, making people laugh, creating new recipes, being generous, and living life by loving on friends and family. I hope those closest to me will give me words of wisdom as they see my decisions ahead. I hope those watching from a distance will pray for us and encourage us.

Above all, I hope. I just hope.

Hebrews 6:19

 

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It’s a New Day

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This morning I cried about Kyle for the first time since the anniversary of his death. Before this, it was crying at least several times a week.

I’ve found so much healing in feeling like I’ve finally grasped the edge of the top of the mountain. I’m here. I survived. I made it through this year. With a lot of pulling and pushing from friends and family. I fall onto the top of this mountain, laying on my back, catching my breath and realizing there is a whole other life out there, waiting for me. This year felt like life was only going to be this mountain to climb. But there is more.

So much more.

I’m journeying without you, Kyle. But not alone.

And I’m likely to run into more valleys.  Valleys of other pains that have nothing to do with Kyle. And valleys that have everything to do with Kyle. And I have some fear about those. I’m afraid of finding myself lost or lonely or broken.

And then I remember.

Heaven. Christ Jesus heals. He’s truth and light. He’s there. Every stinkin’ moment. He never had to offer us Heaven. We brought sin and death upon ourselves. Yet, he offers us hope for a painless, tearless, stress-free eternal joy and peace. I can survive anything here with that hope.

I hope you have that hope too.

It Is What It Is

“Ugh!! Why do you always say that?” Would be my response every time Kyle quoted that silly worthless little phrase. I always understood it to mean, “I give up. There’s nothing that can be done. Let it be.” And that frustrated me because if there was something I was unhappy about, I could ALWAYS find a way to change it.

Or could I?

“It is was it is” has been the theme of my grieving this year. But not in a nonchalant, “I give up. There’s nothing I can do.” Attitude but rather a “this cannot be changed. I must move on.”.  I said at the funeral that this pain will not be wasted. I wasn’t about to get depressed and become a worthless vessel on this planet.

I didn’t care about Kyle’s grave at all. “I” didn’t but I cared how the kids would feel right now and visiting the grave site in the near and distance future. The cemetery was free. And I battled with location but decided it was far enough to not plague them but close enough to visit anytime they want. The casket had to be nice enough to display and that was it.

It’s a body. A physical thing just like my dresser, a car, or a banana. It’s not him. It’s not their daddy. But I see it as a place to gather your thoughts and feel like you are away from the chaos to breath and remember.

His body is gone at this point and by gone, I mean it looks nothing like him. Trust me. I looked it up online. Gross, I know, but knowledge is power and it helped me move forward.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “But our family of 5…. I want my family of 5.”. I hear Jesus’ response, “my heart hurts with you, Kerri, but ‘it is what it is.’”

Worship night two weeks ago was the first time I’d been at that building since the funeral. And it was beautiful to be there for worship. The funeral happened. The chapter closed. This next chapter is worship. With my whole life. With everything. Only Jesus.

I can’t change it. That chapter in this very short book of my life is over. I moved forward. And of course, you regularly take steps back when something hits you that you haven’t thought about before. But in general, knowing Kyle is worshiping God and neither he nor God would want me wallowing and my kids don’t need me wallowing and there is nothing to wallow about!!! I don’t WANT to change it.

Kyle’s in FREEDOM, PEACE, JOY. The only thing to wallow about is that I want to be with Jesus too!

This has been a slow process to get to the place I am for communicating in this post but I’m here. Kyle was a good chapter of my life. Our marriage had hard times. Believe me. More then anyone knows. But there were good times too. And more then grieving Kyle(who’s praising Jesus now!), I grieve the loss my daughters will feel in the coming years. I grieve the hole my son will feel as he remembers his dad. But I praise the Lord Jesus that He alone fills the gap.

Losing their daddy sucks but it may just be the thing that brings them to their knees to praise His Holy Name and I don’t care what it takes to get to that place. I want my children giving their lives to JESUS. And oh, the smile that would light up Kyle’s face knowing that his death may bring them to Jesus.

“It is what it is.” And now I’m living day to day with people who need more Jesus.. With me who needs more Jesus. With my children that need more Jesus. I can’t sit in last year’s chapter. There are too many pages left to write. Too many lives to change.

And THAT is what it is.

Footprints

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It’s a popular poem for a reason. As cheesy as it is, it’s a beautiful story. In the hardest times, he felt deeply alone, only to discover, he was being carried through. And in all my widow “training” this year, time and again, I’m told that there is a tunnel I have to walk through. I don’t have the option of staying on the side of Kyle’s death. I must walk into the dark world of searching for myself.

Only today did this hit me. I’ve been completely limp laying in the arms of Jesus.  I have had no strength this year. I’ve had no courage.  I’ve only been weak and in my weakness, He provided strength and carried me.  And it’s been a dark year.  I discovered how strong my faith is as I’ve walked through this because there has never been a moment where I questioned if God is good. I know He’s in control and I know He’s allowed it all and I trust Him.  Walking through this valley of the shadow of death.

So as I laid in His arms, completely unable to do anything. And we haven’t been walking on a beach with His footprints in the sand. We’ve been walking through a deep dark tunnel. I have spent the whole year feeling distant from God but it’s been a year of greater testimony to those around me then ever before. I’m told regularly how my faith inspires people. But what’s so beautiful about that is that it’s been nothing in me, only Christ. ONLY Christ.

And today… I finally gained the courage to look up into His eyes. It’s like I’ve been brought back to life. I’m not ready to walk on my own. I never will be and I don’t ever want to be. I want my heart fully entrusted to His path. And now that I’ve recognized the strength He’s provided in my weakness, my heart feels unworthy, completely unworthy, and yet He calls me by name.

I serve an incredible God. Beyond words.

 

 

Close

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Some talk to their loved ones that have passed away. Some go to the grave to feel connected. Some do familiar things to revive their memories. Everyone who loses someone does different things to feel normal. I feel closest to you when I worship.

Because I know that is what you are doing.

I cry. I raise my hands. I sing. Badly. But I sing.  I cry some more. And it’s all about Jesus. I know what God has done for me. I feel you close to me when I worship. It feels like that’s when my heart is closest to Heaven. That’s probably why.

And worshipping today was harder than normal. Words barely tripped out between my quiet weeping. And the rest of the day felt the same way. It felt like I was tripping all day. As I went through my calendar tonight, I took note that yes, I remembered your 10 months of Heaven was yesterday. And yes, I was the only one who remembered. And I blame no one for that. I’m just bitterly reminded of how much more I’m impacted daily by not seeing your smile. And then I took note that our baby turns 20 months tomorrow. And yes, I’m going to be the only one who knows. And I’m also the only one who understands that Clara has officially lived longer without you then with you. How sad is that? How painfully sad.

I don’t know *how* I’m supposed to keep going without you. But I am. And I will. I get through each step. I get out of bed every morning. I love on our kids. I make money. I grocery shop. I try to build new dreams. Figure out who the new Kerri is. But it’s lonely. And no one can fill that gap. No one can be my Kyle. No one knows our kids that way you and I do. And in every moment that I get to impact them, EVERY moment, I take all the best and most beautiful things of you and blend them with what’s left of the good of me and try to give them some resemblance of what our lives might be like now.

But everything feels like it is lacking and empty sometimes. So I worship. I worship like it’s the only thing I can do right. I give all my praise to our God because He is good. And I feel you. Because I know you. And I miss you. And you are right there, in Heaven, where I will be worshiping next to you in the blink of your eye.

Grasping the Lasts

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“We are definitely going to their house for the hot dog trick-or-treating night!” we both said in agreement.  Always loving living life with our lifegroup, Kyle and I jumped at any opportunity to spend time with them and hot dogs was just a bonus.

All of the “events” of the year are painful. The first birthdays without him. The first holidays. Our anniversary. It’s all hard and tearful but wow… this past month, the anticipation of the anniversary of Kyle’s reunion with our Savior… now this is pain. Just breathing in everyday and remembering. The pictures. The posts. I’m so grateful for TimeHop because it has truly escorted me through my grief.

I’m reminded daily of what we did this time last year. Not knowing we were only months away from being parted by death. Those would be the last times. That would be our last halloween. And we had no idea. I didn’t know it would be the last time to see Kyle dressed as batman or have his face painted to make the kids smile. These months are bitter. I feel like when Kyle died all my skin was striped from me and I’m raw. So raw. And I’m tired of having firsts without him. Clara didn’t even get to have a Christmas with her daddy.

And as December 21st approaches, I’m not going to cower in a corner although I would fully support anyone in my situation that decided to do that. No, Kyle would NOT have that for me. I’m going to go to hot dog trick-or-treat night if they do it again. And I’m going to laugh. And I’m going to dress up our babies and paint my face and I’m going to stand a warrior for him. And at Thanksgiving, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to eat ALL his favorite foods and take our annual post Thanksgiving meal walk by myself and I’m going to be thankful and breath in the fall air because that was just our style.

Insanity

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I keep trying to write how I feel but…

It’s a mess.

It’s not a pretty, attractive, well written blog entry.

It’s a tornado of uncertainty. It’s a hurricane of doubt. It’s an earthquake of fear. It’s a flood of guilt. It’s excitement and anger and deep sadness. It’s anxiety. Loneliness. Sometimes apathy. Courage and despair wrapped in hesitation.

Every step I take is liberating and debilitating at the same time. THE SAME TIME.

 

I feel inadequate and overwhelmed. And all my feelings are so intimate and deep and raw, sharing feels like being naked in front of a crowd.

It’s needing help that you don’t even know how to ask for. It’s needing prayer that you feel unworthy of.

It’s powerlessly leaping into an unknown world without any tools. Lord, help me.

 

That Bedroom Door

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For the last 5 months, I’ve spent almost every night laying in my bed staring at that bedroom door until I fall asleep. I replay that morning over and over, watching him put his jacket on and head out the door, me quietly saying “I love you” as not to wake up Clara.  I stare at that door and relive it. I relive the police showing up at the door just a few hours later and me picking up Clara in her pink hummingbird PJs to see why someone was knocking so early.

Every single night…

Then a couple of nights ago, I was laying down staring at the door and I pictured Jesus grabbing Kyle’s hand and escorting him out. Walking him out the door, closing his car door as he climbed in, and being there with Kyle for every second leading up to the accident. Then, sitting in the passenger seat and leading him to heaven. Jesus knowing that Kyle would be in paradise with Him within an hour of him walking out the door.

Then… I pictured Jesus laying next to me, on the other side of Clara, sitting in the bed, waking us up gently. Handing me a diaper to change Clara and holding my face when the doorbell rang. He was there with me every minute, knowing I was going to be losing the love of my life within an hour of him walking out the door.

I pictured Jesus with Kindall and Coen, helping Kyle and I put them to bed the night before, waking them the next morning and sitting with them waiting in the room while their Mom talked with some strange voice in the living room.

He was there for every moment. He was there with me before I knew I needed Him. He was there with Kindall and Coen at a moment that would change them forever. He was there with Clara. He walked with Kyle out that door into eternity.

Now, when I lay in bed at night staring at the door with tears, I see the door not as a death sentence. Not as Kyle being separated from Kindall, Coen, Clara and myself for the rest of our lives on earth. Not as something being taken from me but as a gift being given to Kyle. A gift of peace, a gift of no more tears, a gift of complete healing.

A Gift of Eternity.

Gratitude

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Today was the last meal on the Care Calendar which makes me reflect on how grateful we are for all that has been done for us.

I couldn’t possibly list all of the things people have done for us. I just couldn’t. At the beginning, I tried to keep a list so I could thank people later but the list got long and then got lost and then I lost track. But, that doesn’t make us any less grateful.

50 meals. Over FIFTY meals have been delivered to us in 4 months. People don’t understand the depth of this service. Kyle was the cook in the family. He made FANTASTIC, delicious, nutritious food and loved doing it. It brings tears to my eyes every time I see a knife of his, a pan, or his favorite salt shaker, or when I walk into HEB. Those 50 meals were 50 times that I didn’t have to cry. 50 times that I spent an extra hour with my children instead of shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

Cash, checks, gofundme, paypal, Visa gift cards, chick-fil-a gift cards just kept flowing in. I won’t waste a single dollar. I had some walk up to me at HEB and hand me a gift card to pay for my groceries. I’ve had others approach me and beg me to let them know when our next need arises as they want to provide for us. People have mowed the lawn, given us clothes, even the suit and wedding ring that Kyle was buried in was carefully bought by loving family when I didn’t have the heart to shop myself.

A massage? A pedicure? Epsom salts. Christmas presents. Flowers. Flowers. More flowers. Candy. Journal. The essential oils for grief. Teardrop necklace. All of these luxuries that we did not deserve but were gifted.

Tax advice, physical therapy, dental, acupuncture. A sleep trainer voted top 10 sleep trainers in the country donated her time so Clara and I could both learn to rest. 3 doulas offered to stay the night so I could sleep. You’ve offered your skill and talent to us. YMCA and Thinkery memberships and Dance Classes.

Diapers. Wipes. Baby toothbrush and toothpaste. Baby food pouches. Paper towels, toilet paper, water bottles.

You’ve remembered significant days. Christmas. New Years, Valentine’s Day, our anniversary. Clara’s birthday and Coen’s birthday quickly approaching. I’ve even received texts of remembrance on the monthly “anniversaries” of Kyle’s accident.

The letters. The cards. The mix CD’s. The notes. The messages and texts. The free counseling. The loving advice. The shoulders to cry on. The housing offered. Jobs offered. The babysitting. Oh my, the babysitting. One of my brothers was able to fly in. My current Young Living business was a gift. People have hosted classes.

And they continue to reach out. They know. You know. It doesn’t get easier. My living situation now doesn’t strain us financially but it won’t be that way forever. And you’ve provided for us in a million ways and people keep doing it.  It doesn’t get easier but you just learn to live with it. You learn how to play the video game and throw the football because dad can’t anymore. You learn how to cook everyone’s favorite meals of his. You learn to fall asleep without him next to you. You learn to let the tears flow and let the anger flood in and wash away. You learn to lean on family and friends.

Thank you for reaching out. Thank you for praying. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for “caring for orphans and widows in their distress.”. Thank you for never making me feel like a burden when I’ve asked for help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you from the top of my heart. Thank you for things you’ve done that I’ve forgotten to mention or never knew about.

Thank you.