Dream on

The dream world has always been a funny topic for me.

I dream A LOT. Almost every morning I remember my dreams, usually more than one. They're sometimes crazy weird, sometimes scary, usually in some way incorporates things I've been thinking about throughout the day or weeks. 

Only recently have I discovered that I sometimes mumbled in my sleep (nonsense), giggle when I'm dreaming about something funny, or shake and breath differently when I'm afraid. Jeremy was such a deep sleeper that I don't think he ever noticed if I did these things (although I caught him talking in his sleep a few times, which was always hilarious). Steve, however, is one of the lightest sleepers I know and wakes up every time I move a muscle. He's had to wake me from a few bad dreams - I seem to be having quite a few lately.

Oddly enough, I've been dreaming about Jeremy a lot over the last few weeks. After he died, I dreamt about him often, constantly begging God to let me see him in my dreams. But it was never in the way I wanted. He was distant, never came close enough for me to touch him, but would give me these deep looks of pain and apology that would leave me aching in the morning. Then, gradually over time, my dreams would just come every once in awhile. I don't know why he's been coming back in my dreams so much recently. Perhaps getting past the 2 year mark was a big milestone and I was thinking about him constantly. Perhaps like the rest of my dreams, it's manifesting an understanding I can't work out when I'm awake or in real life. I don't know. 

What I do know is that Jeremy is changing in my dreams.

Has any other widow(er) had this happen? I feel like I always have this sense that no matter what the dream is about or where we are, I can feel him in real time - like he's opening my eyes to something. I've never been hokey about dreams before, but after Jeremy died, I knew there was purpose in me seeing him there. 

At first, he wouldn't come close. He would stay far away and apologize or I would beg and plead for him not to go from a distance.
Then, he finally got in close enough that he put his arm around me once. But the closer he got, the weaker he seemed and I always dreamt of the injuries he endured from the fall after his heart attack, or I would worry about his heart. Or I knew that he wouldn't be staying alive long and I needed to do or say as much as I could before he left.
Then he got closer and intimate enough to hug me and tell me he was so happy for me when I found Steve. And there was no pain, just that beautiful smile of his. What a gut-wretching blessing of a dream that was.
Throughout the changes in my dreams, though, I felt him grow. I felt any anger he ever had gone from him and he always seemed at peace, even if he was sad he couldn't stay with me. He matured somehow in my dreams, like the essence of Jeremy but in the form that God created him to be. It's hard to explain.

Lately, he appears in my dreams like a lot of normal characters in my dreams. He'll be along side me for an adventure, or trying to protect me from something, or won't do anything specific, but I know he's there.

Maybe someone else out there knows more about this area than I do, but I would be interested to know how the widowed community or anyone else for that matter views dreams of their loved ones, or what they think about the evolution of Jeremy in my dreams. Either way, and in no matter what form, he is always a welcome presence that I ache to see in my dreams. I love getting to see his face, and feel him living, even for just a moment and even if it's not real. It feels real. Those are the dreams that if I wake up prematurely, I try desperately to close my eyes and finish, just so I don't have to say goodbye. Just so I can squeeze one more second of time in with him.


Be thankful. Or don't. It's ok.

I remember Thanksgiving two years ago, just a couple weeks after Jeremy's death. Well, when I say I remember it, I actually don't remember much about it other than I was deep in the pits of despair and grief. But what I surprisingly remember was the the sense of responsibility I felt to voice being thankful in some way. I remember putting up a status on Facebook about trying not to dwell on what I lost and trying to focus on what I could be thankful for.

But the truth, I was not thankful for anything.

I'm not so blinded as to not understand that I had things to be thankful for. But I didn't feel thankful. I couldn't image my life being any worse. I was even pissed that I was still around to suffer through the days without the love of my life. Why did I have to express thankfulness?

Because that's what we're supposed to do...

This holiday tends to start a chain reaction of responsibility and expectations for grievers through the end of the year. It sucks. Sometimes empty. It's hard to feel thankful when the person you were most thankful for is no longer there.

Knowing things could be worse doesn't take away the pain of losing someone. Knowing we have much to be thankful for doesn't lessen the injustice of what we've been through. Sometimes the insinuation is enough to make things worse.

Here's what I know: don't worry about the expectations of others or even the expectations we tend to put on ourselves. It's OK to not get into the hype and hoopla of the holidays. Don't feel pressured to please others or keep up with traditions alone if it hurts too much. It's OK to take a break for awhile and keep things simple. It's OK to feel angry, sad, or irritated with others for getting to celebrate what you have now lost. It's OK to do things YOUR way.

Here's what else I know: If you do feel thankful, that's OK. If you feel blessed that you've got a second chance at life even in the midst of losing something so special, that's OK. If you're in a place where you can look at your blessings and appreciate them in a way that only grief will let you, that's OK.

Don't let others dictate where your heart is at. This holiday season, be true to you.


Clean cut grief

November 9th came and went.
2 years lived without Jeremy passed, just like that.

Like every other milestone date, the week leading up to it was much harder than the actual day. We honored Jeremy by getting together with friends at his memorial stone at the college for dinner and then went to see Skyfall, which coincidentally (or notsomuch) opened on the 9th. Jeremy loved the James Bond series, as do I, and we had talked about anticipating this movie when the last one came out. I knew that if he were still here, we would have gone together opening night. It felt fitting to go, and was a great way to honor him.

Except, I woke up the next day and felt bad again. Aggravated is more accurate. Irritated at myself cause I expected to feel better, not worse. Then, annoyed with the world (and myself again) for assuming I should feel better now that I've gotten through an anniversary of my husband's death. One day is fine for grieving and remembering, but the next day life must go on.

I couldn't let go. Grief isn't clean cut, it doesn't follow my schedule. Jeremy had felt so close to me the past couple of weeks because my heart had been in sync with the last moments I shared with him - I couldn't just wake up the next day and forget.

I happened to get to spend the day with Jeremy's mom and sisters, which was just what my heart needed. But, I simultaneously felt myself hurting again for all the things Jeremy was missing out on with his family - things we had prayed for, and so many changes happening. He wouldn't have missed it for the world. And yet, just another reminder that he's not here and life continues to move forward. As it should, even when you don't really want it to.

I settled in to the fact that I'm ok with not being ok sometimes. I'm thankful for an incredible husband who gives me space for grief when I need it and wraps me with understanding and presence when I need it, and never makes me feel bad for grieving. I've wanted to blog so many different times this week, and I honestly just haven't had the time...but grief has been close to me. And that's ok.

So, I start a third year beginning without Jeremy here to see it. I still can't bring myself to honestly believe he's gone sometimes, but the trail he left behind is too big to ignore. So I follow, and pray that this year will continue to bring hope and healing.


A song in my heart

2 years.

Ugh. You'd think I would be getting used to this by now, but there is something so utterly wrong about those two words when they're in the context of death. The death of the man I loved more than anything. The death of my dreams. The death of a girl who would never be again.

This week I have felt the distance. I have felt the length of time. I have also felt the still very raw heartache that comes no matter how much time will pass. At least a hundred times a day, I'm trying to remember what I was doing exactly 2 years ago, trying to hold on to all the pieces leading up to Jeremy's death.

Don't get me wrong, I've picked up a lot of pieces. My grief is no longer inward and isolated (most of the time), and I am able to smile when I see his face. I am thankful for the opportunity to still make Jeremy proud in this life and carry on his legacy through his stories and the lives of the three beautiful children he brought into the world. But there are some parts that just still hurt.

One part I've noticed this in is singing. Singing was what brought Jeremy and I together (we met at an audition for an Acapella group in college) and it was something we were both passionate about. The night before he died, we had been at rehearsal for an instrumental worship service he and I were going to lead two days later. We never got to sing that night together and I can't remember the last time we were on stage singing together before that (in was likely the week or two before that, I just can't remember specifically). This kills me for some reason.

This weekend, I was able to travel with friends to lead worship at a youth rally in Kentucky. It's been such a long time since I've been able to do that, I forgot how much I missed it. How much it ignites in me. How much I feel Jer's presence (and God's presence) when I go. But for some reason, I can't bring myself to get back up at our church to sing. It's too hard. Because Jeremy should be up there leading worship, and I should be standing next to him. It feels too different without him there.

That same night after rehearsal, we drove home for what would be the last time together. Tired and stressed from a 14 hour day for us both, way past the kids' bedtime, and ready to crawl into bed and call it a day, Jeremy reached over and grabbed my hand...

"I love to hear you sing. And I love getting to sing with you."

I will never forget that moment. It's a moment that I now look back at with foresight - a gift that Jeremy gave me to continue to pursue that passion even when it was hard, even when it hurt. I sang for him until I could sing for me again. 

Now I sing for us both, and I carry Jeremy in my heart whenever I do. Because he's a part of me, and now he's a song in my heart. There will be no singing this week, for my heart is heavy with the memory of my last moments with him 2 short years ago.

But the song is there, and it will return.

P.S. I would like to ask you all to pray for Jessica Woods, who became a widow today after her husband, Ryan, lost his battle with terminal brain cancer. They are a young family with young children, and they have lived an incredible story that will touch your heart. Please visit http://www.grassrootsconspiracy.com/blog/ and read about them and send some encouragement to Jessica and her family.


death colored glasses


I found an old post I wrote on my personal blog that has given me a lot of new meaning...

Everything is different now.

Everything I do now has a different meaning, a different pain attached to it. Every movie I see and song I hear has a different meaning now - and they all seem aimed at making me miserable and reminding me of what I've lost. Every smile and laugh is masking hurt and despair. Every thought I have has attached to it a dreadful afterthought. Everywhere I go I am marked with a Scarlet letter, only it's a giant W on my forehead for everyone to pity.

Looking at the world through death-colored glasses makes everything dark and gray. It takes so much more effort to see anything, to want to see anything. It makes it hard to find joy in the little things. Instead it makes me want to wallow in my own self-pity. The only problem is, the world won't stop for me to wallow. No matter how much I've begged it to.

I hate this. I deserve a moment to stop and process. A moment to figure things out. Shouldn't everyone know what an incredible man the world has lost? Shouldn't everyone stop what they're doing? Nope. The world keeps moving without me.

I've survived my first Christmas without Jeremy, somehow, without my consent. Even saying that makes his death seem so distant when it was still just weeks ago. I'm not ready to jump all these hurdles so soon. Or at all, really.  I didn't really face it until today how much I am dreading New Years. I knew it would be tough, but I was trying to face Christmas first. Now, I am getting sick to my stomach thinking about it. Facing a year Jeremy will never see, never be a part of, absolutely kills me. The first year memories will be made without him, the year his son will be born without ever meeting him...

The year I am forced to wear these damned glasses everywhere I go.

I'm dreading every second.

As I am quickly approaching the two year mark next week, I found myself reading this a few times, feeling the pain of these words. Obviously, my glasses have turned a rosier shade since then. It's not nearly as raw, however, it's interesting to me how true this post still is. Death has saturated every piece of my life. It's evident in the decisions I make, the traditions I keep, the way I carry myself. 

Only, I don't dread these glasses anymore. In fact, I wear them proudly. These death colored glasses give me a unique perspective that most people will never get to have. They show the true colors of life, they help me see my priorities, and they constantly remind me not to let what I've lost be in vain. Some things are darker, yes...but others things I see more vibrantly and clear. The misery I found in songs and pictures are now tearful smiles, thankful to have the memories at all. I still mask a lot behind a smile, but the smile becomes more genuine every day.

Once you see the world through death colored glasses, you can't go back. And that's ok because there's strength and peace and yes, even joy beyond the horizon. And you get to keep the glasses as a reminder that you loved and were loved and that life can be rosy again.


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