A bottle of shampoo

From my widow's voice blog this week:

The minute I found out Jeremy was dead, time has never again made any sense to me or straightened itself out.

It's amazing how I can feel like seconds have gone by since I've last seen him, while at the same time feeling like it's been an eternity since I've heard his voice. Days get confused, milestones and memories start to overlap and get confusing, and worst of all - when time stops for you, it continues on for the rest of the world.

Lately, I've been feeling so far away from the day Jeremy died. Not him, but that day - so much life has happened in between since then that it feels light years away. I keep having flashbacks of that day while feeling so far removed from it. Like I've gotten used to this day to day without him that sometimes I hardly remember where I was before. It's a horrifying feeling.

But then I step in the shower and see a giant bottle of shampoo - one still remaining from the few that were bought mysteriously and stocked in my house after Jeremy died, and I realize that it wasn't that long ago he was still here. Or I walk past his binoculars on my dresser that still carry the scent of him and remember that he was just here. Or I see Faith wearing the shirt that Jer picked out for her that still fits her and know that not that much time has passed. Or I hear Caleb recall stories of his daddy because it wasn't that long ago.

It's a hard truth to face to know that time will continue to move forward with Jeremy. That each day we all get a little further from him, less people will think about him, and we will continue to grow and change without him. My only solace in that is knowing that one day further from him also means one more day closer to him. And no matter how far away he feels, and no matter how much time doesn't seem to make sense...he was just here.


Q & A: Part 1 - Where are we now

Thank you everyone for submitting questions - Steve and I were both overwhelmed by the response and grateful for the opportunity to share our story. Because there were so many questions, we decided to break them up into categories. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to answer all of them. If they are related questions or the same question, they are bulked into the same answer. If our answers bring up more questions for you, feel free to ask. We are committed to being open and transparent so that God can work through our lives.
This week, we're answering "Where are we now" questions.

1. Where are you living? Are all the kids with you?
You stated recently that you are combining houses...are you moving down there or staying here in Michigan?

I think I remember reading that Steve lived out of state from you. So, did you move to where he was, or did he move to you in the house you just purchased? And, what about his job?
How did you decide where you would live, and how to blend the families in general?
Vee: We combined houses and are now living in my house in Rochester Hills, MI. Steve moved up from Indiana with his girls since I had more adequate space for our large family. We’ll talk a little bit more about how our family is blending in the ‘family questions’ section, but the short of it is that things are going really well and we’re really happy with our new crazy, wonderful, loud, always messy, loving family.
Steve: One of my long-time best friends works at the church where Vee attends and had been urging me to move here for quite some time.  So, just over a year ago, I had applied for a position with the church in hopes of moving to the area and getting a fresh start in a new surrounding. As Vee and I began to talk, it was clear that Michigan was a great place for our new family and a place that I felt God had been calling me to for quite some time – little did I know it included a relationship with a wonderful woman and an amazing new family!
As far as my job goes, I was sad to leave the people and co-workers in Anderson.  I had worked with many families for a number of years, but I know that God will provide another opportunity for me here in the Rochester Hills area, so I continue to pray that He brings along the right job that is both fulfilling and works well for the needs of our family.
2. Have you been working at the daycare you were at when Jeremy was alive? If not, do you work somewhere else, or at home being a mommy?
What are you doing now? Are you a stay at home mom or are you still teaching?
Vee: My last day at the daycare was the day that Jeremy died. It was also my last day teaching at the preschool. When Jer and I found out we were pregnant with Carter, we had talked about me finishing out the school year and then taking time off so that I could be home with him, like I was for my other two. As long as I’m able, that will continue to be the plan. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with the kids so far.
3. Has it been a difficult transition going from a small family to a much larger one in regards to finances?

I am curious how do you financially do it with such a large family? I stay home with my children because daycare where I live is very expensive and with two babies in diapers, the cost would eat up my entire paycheck. I know though the loss of your husband you had such awesome support. Now that you’re married, how do you both blend finances?
Vee: First of all, I don’t think I was starting with a small family! Any family that has more children than adults, in my opinion, is a large family...and then when you have more kids than arms to carry them in – that’s trouble! I am used to the chaos that comes with 3 children under the age of 5 and have learned how to make that work. That said, I imagine that our finances work just like everyone else’s. It’s definitely tight right now, but we find ways to make it work. We joke about how much toilet paper, paper towel, milk, and bread we go through – we’re at the grocery store stocking up on these things the most! Since Faith now has two older sisters, I didn’t have to worry about shopping for her much, and Carter has clothes handed down from Caleb, so that’s helpful. We try to find ways to cut costs and make extra income (meal planning, haircuts at home, hosting a garage sale, the little bit I make from this blog). I can’t say we’ve got it all figured out already, since it’s still new and we’re still adjusting, but we’re committed to going through our FPU program together and working as a team with our finances.
Steve: Well, the biggest transitions that I have noticed is that I have to take out the trash 2 times a day… everyday… along with our recycling bin, there is NEVER toilet paper in the bathroom when I need it there, and if we forget to lock the bedroom doors at night, there are 10 beady eyes peering at me as I slowly open my eyes in the morning J  Honestly though, the transitions have been largely easy! Cost of extras (such as going out to eat, babysitting, etc) are WAY more, and so we try to plan meals and eat at home as much as possible.  I have been committed to taking Vee out on a date at least every other week for just the two of us, so there is a little cost there, but really just seeing where we can cut corners and not spend money where we don’t have to.  Caleb has joined the efforts in saving money and has graciously agreed to stop wiping his bum after going “number 2”… so I guess that’s less t.p. we are using J  

Part 2 of our Q & A will be "getting to know Steve." I'm excited for you all to get to know this man that I am crazy about!


What would you like to know?

You may not all realize this, but I've censored a lot of my life over the last twenty months. Sure, I've had soul bearing moments and gut-wretching realizations through my own writing, but I've always weighed a lot of what I've had on my heart. Some words too dangerous to mention, some too angry, some too personal - but never at the sacrifice of my own truth. Maybe watered down a little sometimes, but real. And the moment I realized that this blog wasn't just for me anymore, I was much more aware of how to real but also meaningful with whatever I said.

I say all that to say the same has also been true for my relationship with Steve. I realize that my blog is more focused on my grief - which is ongoing and still relevant - but I know there are a lot of people reading, in the same situation in life, or just curious about a lot of different things. And I recognize that at such a big transition in our lives, we would love to opportunity to share our story, our love, and what God has been doing in our lives in a way we haven't before.

SO....Steve and I would both like to open this blog up for questions, directed for either one of us. Honest questions, tough questions, questions about our family, our unique relationship, and/or questions about grief - I know there are a lot of them out there. The only questions I will not answer are distasteful ones that are meant to bash either of us. And we all learned a few weeks ago how my amazing husband will handle anything like that :)

If there's anything you'd like to know - here's your chance.

Ask away.


Would you?

Between the business of getting our house in order and having 5 children, it hasn't left a whole lot of in-between time for Steve and me. We steal moments throughout the day but our one-on-one time is really just before bed or in the car. Luckily, we drive a lot, so we get the chance to connect. Some of my favorite memories of Jeremy are from our long car rides: dreaming together, laughing, learning about each other....those moments are so special to me. I try to soak them up with Steve too. Sometimes we read together, sometimes we dream together about what our future will look like, what our hopes are for our children, where we want to be, etc.

We love to play 'what if' or 'would you rather' or make up random questions like 'what would you do if you won the lottery?' just to pass the time and for fun. So, it was no surprise at first when Steve randomly and innocently asked me "If you could know how and when you were going to die, would you?"

Without hesitation, I answered with a hearty YES.

But maybe I answered too quickly.

This is a loaded question for me. As a widow, my perspective of life and death has drastically changed. I no longer fear death, and I still long for Jeremy and ache for the day when I'll get to see him again. Not only that, but I long for a place void of hurt and pain, loss and death.

The months after Jeremy died, I remember wishing I could know when I would die, so I could know how long I had to bear through life and to give me something to look forward to. But, as every widow will come to hate and embrace at the same time, life goes on. You're still standing and breathing, and you're not mad about it anymore. Still, I wouldn't mind knowing when I will die: to prepare myself and the people I love, and to give a goodbye that I was robbed of with Jeremy.

I told Steve that the only thing that would make me regret finding out was if I learned my death would be slow and painful. But then again, how many people get to do this when they find out they have a terminal disease that they know will take them slowly? Would it change my every day life? Would I live differently? I'd like to think I try to live every day to the fullest, but even I would have to admit that it might change things. And maybe the point is to live life in a way that you wouldn't have to give a goodbye if you didn't have the chance to; that the people you love already know what you would say.

All week, this question has been stuck with me. Would I find out? I am one of those people that does not like to be left out of things...I don't like not knowing, no matter how hard the truth is. There was NO WAY I was going to wait to find out the sex of my children when they were born if I could find out and prepare sooner. That's just how I am. And even though sometimes I regret this piece of my personality, I don't have the ability to not want to know.

What I determined is that I'm glad that I can't know, and that it's not my decision to find out or not. Even though I answered quickly with seemingly convicted assurance, the more I think about this question, the less sure I am about my answer.

What about you? I anxious to know, especially in this arena of widows/widowers - if you could know how and when you were going to die, would you?


wedding pics

I know I have been pretty MIA on my blog lately. Other than my weekly posting at Widow's Voice (which you can read every Thursday here) I haven't taken the time to sit down and catch everyone up or organize my thoughts much. Don't worry - I still have A LOT of them! But between being a newlywed, trying to organize two households into one, and raising 5 children, time seems to get away from me pretty easily.

I have had some requests to post wedding pictures, which of course, I am happy to do! I have a million to sort through still, but I will post some of my favorites that I had put on Facebook - the rest will have to wait til later! I will try to be more diligent about writing, cause it really is a great way to maintain my sanity...but until then, please enjoy these beautiful pictures!


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