Why I’ll Never Move On in Grief

As the three year anniversary approaches of losing my husband to Colon Cancer, I get asked frequently, “When are you going to move on?” It is a gentle question, often presented simultaneously with hesitation and lack of eye contact, in fear of how I might react. A fair question, nonetheless. Humans were not created to do life alone, we naturally seek companionship, crave the feeling of being loved and cared for. And three years, well, that is a lifetime when days seem to trudge by, and are unfulfilling without someone to do life with you.

I never really know how to answer the question though; other than, “Never.” Yeah, I am never, ever going to “move on.” I can’t. This is my life, it is a story that will forever linger until the day I pass from this Earth. It is a story I keep alive for a child who has, and will, grow up without his dad here to guide him and share memories with. I won’t stop talking about Joe, because when I do–that is when he really dies. To hear his name, blesses my heart and fills it with so much joy, it is indescribable. To honor his life, his memory, his heart, is yet another way to give back to this world that needs more good. I keep Joe alive because I don’t want another young widow in this world; I don’t want any other child to go through their life wondering what their Dad is like, or cry themselves to sleep because they miss him so much. I want a cure to Colon Cancer, and mostly, I pray to God that it happens before the possibility of our son begins to have symptoms of Lynch Syndrome, the hereditary form of colon cancer.

20170904_160902

I often tell people, if you didn’t know our story, and spoke to our son, you would never know his Daddy has been gone three years. We talk about him daily, random conversation, of “Oh, that’s what my Daddy does/eats/likes.” He is proud of his Daddy, and knows him better than science should ever begin to explain a toddler’s memory. I am darn proud of that, and blessed because of it.

daddy-and-p-hands

The double-edged sword though, is it does hurt like hell. I am sure most friends ask me the question of moving on, because they do still see me cry, grieve, and miss him.  They are concerned that because I talk about him so much, it allows the wound to still be so fresh. They are correct–it does. The alternative though? The alternative is a child that forgets about his Dad, and never talks about him. The alternative is a child that doesn’t know unconditional love, beyond the Earth, but eternally. The alternative is me not talking about Heaven, salvation, grace, and forgiveness in the purest sense. And it is a silencer in a world that needs a cure for colon cancer. And when I think about what hurts worse, talking or not talking about him, never “moving on” past our pain-filled story, I realize I can live with the deep cut to my soul and keep talking about a little boy’s Daddy, rather than to forget.

20170904_150622

Moving on never really happens for any of us, anyways. We wish we could, but everything that happens in our life molds us, forms us, allows us to carry on from lessons learned. The love, and the ruthless pain from losing my best friend and husband, will carry with me until the day we get to meet each other again. I may take different steps, I may take a chance at falling in love again, I may live a life full of happiness with a sweet blue-eyed boy who is the exact epitome of his Dad, but I will never move on. Unconditional eternal love ensures that it is stronger than anything else in this world. I am just blessed enough to have it.

XOXO, A Sweet Boy’s Momma

20170826_200655

 

My Fears for the Boy Who’s Daddy Went to Heaven to Soon

Growing up, I heard the chatter that was redundant fall out of every parent’s mouth:

They grow up too soon.”

“It seems like yesterday they were in diapers.”

“Next thing you know they will be in college.”

Words that all parents share, feelings and sentiments we all bask in and wonder about how time passes so quickly. And we all share in the worries and what-if’s of tomorrow.

 

meandphomecoming

I know I am not alone in the second-thoughts, motives, and self-doubts in my parenting. It’s just that the mom-guilt is so heavily burdened by the grief-guilt, some days I feel like I cannot take the pressure. The struggle, the tightness of my heart, trying to control the tears from falling. You see, not only do I fear all the things we share in as we walk our parenting journeys, but I also have other fears. Fears that arise from my son’s daddy being in Heaven far too soon. Fears that I try to quiet, and hush, every single day. But they are real. Grief is real. It never ends. And the more we talk about it, the more we know there are others out there who share in our fears and struggles.

I fear, daily, one day he will forget his Daddy. His memories, the talks we have about him, how he looked, what they said to each other. 

I fear one day our sweet baby will stop talking about his Daddy. Even though that sweet boy has never went a day without talking about his Dad, since the day he was fourteen months old, when daddy joined the angel army with Jesus.

I fear the amount of hours I work will tell our son I didn’t have time for him. Even though, he goes to work with me, coaches on the sidelines with me, I fear he will see a mom that always had to work, and didn’t have time to always get in the floor to play with just him. 

I fear, every hour of every day, I am not providing the male opportunities his Daddy would, if he were here. Even though I spend hours researching, building projects, riding four-wheelers, taking him fishing, explaining how mechanics work–what if it isn’t enough to fill the void of his Daddy being here?

I fear being a mom, I one day won’t have the manly advice to give to him, that only his Dad could. Then what? Do I fail? How do I overcompensate for that? Who do I trust to give up a little piece of my parenting role, to help mold him into a fine young man?

I fear the grief that has overwhelmed my heart since October 26, 2014 will taint our innocent sweet baby. I fear he will resent me for shedding so many tears, and being sad missing his daddy, even in the really good times. 

I fear, every day, that I make wrong decisions, that will affect him a lifetime. The days I’m too tired after work to play, the too-many meals of take-out, and not enough home cooking. I fear I don’t color with him enough, that time is flying by so quickly, I can’t even slow it down. 

I fear he doesn’t have enough male influence, that only men can provide. Will this harm him, create self-doubt, or low self-esteem, as he grows older and needs these influences?

Huggies

I tell myself daily it is all ludicrous. I tell myself that all parents share in these unknown fears, that we are all just doing the best we can do. But what if the fears of a little boy who’s daddy went to heaven too soon, become real?

Fear is a gripping chain I try to throw off my back every day. It is a fight. It is a struggle. Fear never really goes away, it controls. And writing about it, allows us to free ourselves, and each other, knowing we are not alone.

I’m doing the best I can do, I really am.

A Sad Momma of a Sweet Boy Who’s Daddy Went to Heaven Too Soon

Why I Didn’t Want to Be Okay in Grief

It’s been two years, eight months, and fourteen days since my husband passed away from this Earth. I get “the look” quite often, when friends and family realize the Earthly time table that he has been gone, and that I am “still” mourning, grieving, and missing him tremendously. The look, but no verbal acknowledgement that, “Really, it’s been almost three years, and you are STILL grieving this hard. Come on, you have to move on.”

I get it: the look. Quite honestly, I have given the look, and thought the same thoughts when others have lost their loved ones, before I lost Joe. The time table on Earth does indeed lull the pain, take the edge of the gripping sharpness that left me gasping for air in those first days. “That” is what others do not get though–I didn’t want it to get easier, I didn’t want the pain to dull, and I certainly did not want others to ever forget the fight, the legacy, the character of my husband, my best friend, but most importantly the father of my son.

DaddyandP

Porter and his Daddy on his First birthday. The boy has expensive taste–shrimp and steak for this boy, he eats good.

In months that passed after Joe died, friends, colleagues, family would ask how I was doing. Although life appeared to be moving on, as I went back to work, continued working on my Master’s Degree, and continued being a mom to our infant son, the inevitable choking lump would rise to the top of my throat and the tears would burn the brim of my eyes. I attempted to smile, and just nod my head. I wasn’t okay. I appeared to be, because life required me to to continue to be a functioning member of society. I didn’t get to stop working, or stop being a mom that cared for our son. Had I chose the latter, no one in society would have given me the excuse that I was “just grieving.” Everyone would have told me to get a grip, and continue on in life. I still did things with our son, and still lived, making conscious decisions every day to get out of bed, and still have a life full of memories for our son. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t, but I refuse to allow sorrow to navigate our lives.

meandpatbusch

Porter and I LIVING at Porter’s first trip to Busch Stadium, June 2017.

I guess I was afraid that if things started getting easier, less painful–yet still hurting–I would love him less. I felt like as time passed, others would think I cared less, forgot about our love, journey, and the road that led to where I was. Quite frankly, I didn’t, DON’T want to love him less, or forget about the man he was. I certainly never want to forget what a wonderful dad he was, because there is a little boy that only got to experience fourteen months of him being a dad. He deserves to still know the Daddy he has, the memories, excitement, and character of who his Daddy is. After all children on Earth get to experience that every day, I refuse to allow our son to be devoid of that, on top of not having his Daddy here every day.

I read other’s encounters through blogs, books, testimonies that although time dulled the intense amount of pain, you don’t love them less. You just learn to deal with the pain better; that it is more manageable. They are right, though I didn’t want them to be either. I wanted to stay there–that painful place that allowed me to feel the loss so significantly, because…. well, just because. Time did not allow it though. Time only allowed me to realize I’ll always love him, and that I can still be happy, and continue on in life. Time did not promise me moments that I would still cry, still miss him beyond any words, it just promised me to allow me to breathe during those times it still hurt. And somehow, some way, I think Joe made it known he wouldn’t dare let me camp out and feel sorry for myself, or our son. He made me keep going, evident by the opportunities and people he has set along my path.

theoneandonly

Knowing he knew how much I loved him, is the greatest gift through grief.

It may sound weird to some, but when you are walking the never-ending journey of grief, you get “it.” You get that others do, in fact, talk about your loved one less, you do realize that your life is moving on without them–and that hurts. Others see this as a good thing, that it is healthy. But I didn’t want this life without him. I didn’t want our son’s life without his dad here to raise him. Although I know that Joe would, and does, want me to continue to live life to the very maximum, every moment I think of him. I think of his half-crooked smile he would have as our son tries to power his four-wheeler up our driveway. I think of the quiet giggle he would have as Porter begins dancing to his own beat in the middle of a restaurant, not a care in the world at what other’s might think of him. That lump in my throat continues as I think about the lessons in life he will miss out on teaching our son which tools go with what jobs, knowing that my half-attempt at researching all of these things just are not the same.

meandpatstlouiszoo

Porter and I, June 2017 at St. Louis Zoo

Those that are grieving: one day it will hurt a little less. I am almost three years out, and it certainly does hurt less than those first months, days, year without him. I don’t love him less. I still think about him every day. And I still talk about him every day. For those that don’t understand, have grace for those that are hurting. We didn’t get a manual on how to navigate the grief that consumes our heart–in the bad, and even in the good. We just miss them, and are doing our best to get through without them.

XOXO, Kristina

28685701_1826052654361762_5527867990375684559_n(1)

Smith is a Special Education Administrator, Colorectal Cancer National Advocate, Blogger, and Best-Selling Author of What I Wasn’t Expecting When I Was Expecting: A Grieving Widow’s Memoir. You can purchase your copy HERE.

IMG_2979

Because of the Very Worst, Life Gave Me the Very Best

It’s been some time since I have been able to sit down and write. Writer’s block, lack of enthusiasm, loss of creativity, angry that I am doing life alone, whatever you want to call it; I had no words to pour out onto a page. It frustrates me when I get to this point, because writing is, and has, truly been my greatest way to handle grief. However, dates seem to consume my memory banks, and flood my emotions. June always takes the cake for emotions, as I finish up celebrating Mother’s Day in late May, Father’s Day, the date of my husband’s cancer-versary (date of diagnosis), the thirteen days we initially spent in the hospital, which also overlaps our wedding anniversary.

joehopsital

I am often frustrated by the lack of understanding from others when I get to this point. I attempt to preface it all–make plans, do fun and exciting things, go on adventures, be extra reflective and grateful for God’s blessings, but then it hits. I am celebrating a wedding anniversary as one, not two. My husband is in heaven, and our life together was cut short. Milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, all of it, cut short to celebrate together.

That’s where reflection comes in, however. A quote, the only words, someone has shared with me in this journey of grief is at the most forefront part of my mind:

“It hurts this bad, because you two loved each other that much.”

Truth. It really does hurt this bad, because we loved each other that much. And you know what? I loved him as much as I did, because of the very worst. I thought I loved my husband with every bit of my heart, that there was not possibly another ounce of love I could give him. And then the doctors told me he had cancer. The doctors then made me share the news with my husband, while I was seven-months pregnant sitting on the corner of that sterile, white hospital bed. God chose me to take care of that man, who battled for sixteen months, in between countless chemotherapy infusions, blood thinner shots in his abdomen, dressing the largest gaping stomach wound I could never imagine, surgeries, pumping medication refills after medication refills into his declining, frail, thin body to keep him comfortable. He chose me to deliver his son into this world, while Joe was sick, knowing we needed hope and strength from something a doctor couldn’t prescribe to make him better.

my fave

I was petrified. I was angry, anxious, full of fear. I begged God sprawled heavily pregnant on public bathroom floors to change our circumstances, to spare his life and take mine. I bartered with the one who calls all the shots telling Him I could endure the pain, but to relieve Joe’s body. I told God what I thought I knew, and promised Him our son and daughter needed their Daddy, more than they needed me. He didn’t need my half-knowings, He told me there was a different plan. I just begged Him to change it.

Sure I loved Joe in the greatest of times–family vacations, road trips, dinner out, working on a never-ending dream house. I loved him when it was fun, and we were daring: hiking trails, caving, wake boarding, being in love without a care in the world, getting married at sunset next to the ocean. Love is easy when things are good. But in the very worst, when cancer came and robbed of us of a lot of joy and happiness, when cancer filled days with pain, sorrow, questions, and doubts–that’s when I really loved him. And you know what? In the absolute very worst, love is even easier. It flooded my soul like nothing has ever flooded my soul in my life. When we faced losing every materialistic thing we owned, when cancer threatened health and life, when health failed and told me our children would grow up without their dad, and leave me as a widow, love was easy, and it was the very best. All of the bad in this world allowed me to see life in a totally different perspective. A perspective I am forever grateful for, and a better person because of. I’m thankful every day for the gifts cancer gave us–they are too abundant to count. Deep, unconditional, love that is indescribable. Restoration in humanity and my faith. Miracles that cannot be explained, at least from the explicit state of mind; just confirmation that God has way more power than even we think we can comprehend. Answered prayers, community, and prevailing love from friends, family, strangers, medical staff, you name it. We got the very best, in the very worst.

meandhubs

So, as our wedding anniversary approaches, I remember how we celebrate. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary without my husband being able to sit up, use the bathroom on his own, and could barely keep his eyes open after a total colectomy only a few days prior. I sat seven-months pregnant next to his hospital bed, watching his chest rise and fall. It was the greatest celebration of life, knowing I had my husband one more day in this crazy life. We celebrated our second wedding anniversary, on our front porch watching our sweet, chunky, little nine-month-old son playing with his toys and puppy. Joe was too weak, sick and tired to sit up from the chemotherapy, so he laid on the cushions on a porch bench, while I played on the deck, watching our sweet baby and my sweet husband, thankful for all of God’s grace and goodness. Our third? I returned to the beach we got married at, the exact spot, alone. I fell to my knees and cried, asking God why this was the plan. Our fourth–I cried in bed, then remembered Joe brought out the best in me and pushed me to my limits. I went out and para-sailed above the beautiful lake we live on. And our fifth? I will choose to live again, doing something full of crazy adventure and fun. It will push me outside of my comfort zone, raise my heartbeat, and know that the very worst of life, has given me so much good.

Remember the collateral beauty in each moment. They very, very worst has truly brought the very best in life. Even when I hated to admit it, God remains good and prevails His blessings upon us maybe just in ways we didn’t specifically ask for. I am choosing to see all the good, even when my heart hurts on an anniversary of eight years this man has been in my life, five of them being married to him.

XOXO,

Celebrating life–Kristina