Although my lack of posting would indicate otherwise, Alexa and I are still hanging in there. I have wanted to post many times, but wanting and doing have not lined up until this evening. A lot has happened since my last post. I have started back to Bible Study Fellowship (a dear lady from our church has been watching Alexa that evening so I can go). Alexa and I are going to church on Wednesday nights again (and Alexa is loving getting to sing each Wednesday night – she looks forward to it and asks when we get to go again). We celebrated Valentine’s Day (both at Alexa’s school and together). We played in the snow. We have read A LOT of books. We have played outside on nice days, played inside on not so nice days. We have played games and built many fun buildings out of Legos. We have gotten together with friends and family. I have been working with our builder and ground should be broken soon on our new house. Work continues on, with many different projects to keep me challenged and engaged (and in prayer for wisdom). Alexa came down with her first sickness in her almost five years where she was prescribed medication (walking pneumonia). We’ve had a few other sicknesses (colds and Alexa may have had the flu).
And, we have walked through milestones. Seven months since Kelsey danced into heaven. Our anniversary was two days ago, providing an opportunity to reflect on the special memories (and funny stories) since March 4, 2006 as Kelsey and I exchanged vows and embarked on our life together. Yesterday marked eight months since Kelsey’s death. I have seen God’s hand in this journey – I can trust He is supporting me. I have seen Him do it, but to say there are not moments when things are hard would be a complete lie. Referring back to a book I referenced earlier, Lament for A Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff, I definitely identified with his sentiment as he wrote (I changed the “him” which he wrote to a “her” as identified by brackets):
Something is over. … A moment in our lives together of special warmth and intimacy and vividness, a moment which I specially prize [her], a moment of hope and expectancy and openness to the future: I remember the moment. But instead of lines of memory leading up to [her] life in the present, they all enter a place of cold inky blackness and never come out. … And now instead of those shiny moments being things we can share together in delighted memory, I, the survivor, have to bear them alone. … All I can do is remember [her]. I can’t experience [her]. The person to whom these memories attached is no longer here with me. … I’m still here. I have to go on. I have to start over. But this new start is so different from the first. Then I wasn’t carrying this load, this thing that’s over.
I am thankful I do not have to bear this alone. Thankful for friends who are so willing to help on days when the normal routine does not work out. Thankful for God’s Word, which reassures. Thankful for devotionals, which point toward the glorious day when there is no more suffering. Last month I read this excerpt from God Loves Broken People, by Sheila Walsh:
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book. – Psalm 56:8
Why would He do that? Why would God keep track of all our sorrows? Why would He collect all our tears in a bottle? Why does the Lord record each heartache, each grief, each sadness in some divine journal inscribed with heavenly ink?
It’s because He has plans for those things.
It’s because He wastes nothing.
He intends to fill our sorrows and tears with His expansive love. This was the glorious expectation of both the prophets and the apostles when each said of God:
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. – Isaiah 25:8
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4
What a start to our 8 year, 4 month and 1 day journey of marriage together on March 4, 2006! I’ll share a few funny stories. The first was the hunt for a scrubby in Dallas the evening after we got married. As we were driving down, Kelsey realized she had not packed what she viewed as an essential for personal hygiene. This was before the release of the iPhone (I know, dark ages), and neither of us had a smartphone, so we tried finding somewhere to get a scrubby using our GPS. We struck out at two stores, then came to another store where I was honestly concerned our marriage may have been cut short. Thankfully, I walked out of the store with a scrubby and no bullet wounds!
The next two stories are from the following day. We didn’t leave ourselves a lot of time to lollygag at the airport – found a parking spot, checked in and headed to security. We got to security and I pulled out my passport and Kelsey just looked at me in horror. “I didn’t think to pack that,” she said. Filled with compassion, I said, “It was on the packing list we both got from the travel company.” She had paid very close attention to all of the toiletry and clothing items, but missed out on one of the most essential items on the list! Thankfully, we found a kind security agent who was willing to let her through after seeing her voter registration card. Near disaster averted. The other is not so much funny as it is just a good cap to the trip down. It was decidedly warmer in Riviera Maya than it was in Norman, OK. So, we get to the resort and walked around the grounds while we waited for our room to get ready. During this tour of the grounds, we were dressed in very appropriate clothing: jeans, and t-shirts, with the ever-so-necessary jackets wrapped around our waists.
The final story happened on day two, and is maybe not so much funny as ironic. Kelsey went out to enjoy the hammock on the porch, but did not have the hammock entirely secured. She ended up landing on her rear on the not-so-soft marble porch. Hurting your pelvis is not apparently something you really want to have happen on your honeymoon. We had a great time at our resort: we enjoyed long walks, LOTS of tasty food, reading, being lazy, great conversation, and meeting some really interesting people. So, all that to say, even on days which are hard, there are definitely some fun memories which do bring a smile to my face!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Thank you for those of you who have stepped in to help out with Alexa in times of need. Thank you for your encouraging words over the past couple days. Thank you for sharing your memories and your moments of sadness as you think back on your relationship with Kelsey. The sadness reminds me that death is an interloper.
Some specific prayer requests:
-- Wisdom: wisdom in making decisions concerning the house, wisdom at work, wisdom in raising Alexa, wisdom in decisions about care and schooling for Alexa during the summer and next year, wisdom in grieving.
-- Strength: there are days when I get home from work and don’t feel like I am up for spending time with Alexa. Pray I will continue to take advantage of those moments.
-- Alexa’s salvation: please pray that God would be drawing her to Himself and that she would be sensitive to his drawing.
I am sure there are more prayer requests, but my brain is fading… I’ll leave you with a few things. The first is Kelsey’s and my love story. We showed this video at our wedding (many people knew one or the other of us, but not both, and we wanted this video to provide a glimpse into how we met). The setup is this: both Kelsey and I were asked the same questions and responded to those. The kicker is that we were not in the same room. While I was being interviewed, Kelsey was in another room, while she was being interviewed, I was in another room. This video is a compilation of those responses.
Next are several photos of Alexa at various times over the past two months.