Friday, December 30, 2011

My Choice

I have a friend who's life, unfortunately, parallels mine in many ways.  Her husband passed away a few months before Krista and she has a couple of children still at home she needs to raise on her own.  Because of this and many other reasons, she is someone that totally "gets" my situation.  We've had many discussions about our trials and how we've dealt with them and I've learned a lot from her as she has been one step ahead of me in her journey.

Yesterday we started talking about whether or not we would have chosen this life if we had known our spouses would pass away while still raising children at a relatively young age (yes, 46 is still young).  We discussed this for a while and I couldn't decide one way or another.  I've had a wonderful life with Krista, she's been my best friend for decades and I still love her with all my heart.  But, the pain of her loss, the aching to feel her near and the longing to be with her again has been much more than I could have imagined.  I accept that there's a reason for her passing and I know it's for the best but that doesn't help me like it or want it if I had the choice.

Early this morning before I woke up for the day I had a dream.  Typically I don't remember much of what I dream about but I remember this one in detail.  I had traveled back in time to when we were in high school (yes I even have geeky dreams).  It was when Krista and I had been dating for a while and our love was just beginning to grow.  Krista was there and was so happy to see me and I was amazed at how beautiful she was. She looked just like she did back then and the love that radiated through her smile was just the same as it had always been.  Yet, she didn't know that I was from our future.  I looked at her and realized that she didn't know how our story would unfold, our trials and struggles and ultimately her returning to our Heavenly Father much sooner than hoped for.  I also knew that if I told her it would affect her decision to marry me and I could potentially lose all of the good times, the hard times and those tender times when all we could do was to cry on each others shoulder for comfort.  I knew if I told her she would want to spare me of the pain and heartache I have experienced by her death.

Here was my time to choose.  Would I tell her and jeopardize the decades of joy with her and the eternities to come or would I keep quite and accept our lives as I knew they would unfold?  Instantly I knew what my choice was.  This was my sweetheart, I would walk through hell and back for her.  I would endure all that would be asked of me including being without her for a while for the hope of eternity with her.  Yes, this is the path I would choose.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One, or a Breath of Fresh Air

I know I haven't posted much lately.  For me that's a good thing.  I tend to post more often when things are getting harder.  Lately I have found comfort and peace in the support of others that as we say "get it".  Before Krista passed away I thought I had an idea of how painful it would be to lose her.  We had been through many trials together including losing our only biological child a couple of months after he was conceived.  It was a painful time and we felt a real sense of loss.  Despite what I thought, I had no idea just how deep the pain can be and how sharp the longing to be with her would become.  And to make matter worse there were few people I knew that fully understood.

A couple of months ago I found and joined a group of LDS widows and widowers on Facebook.  I immediately found relief and comfort in sharing my feelings with those who "got it".  They could empathize with my pain and I with theirs.  We had the same fears, worries and desires for our future and the future of our children.  It was as if I had spent the last 10 months holding my breath and now I was finally able to breathe.  I wish I would have found them sooner.  It has helped me better understand the charge we are given to "mourn with those that mourn... and comfort those that stand in need of comfort".  That has led me to think about our trials and how it would be a shame to waste them by wallowing in the depths of despair rather than using them to empathize with others who have been asked to walk the same path.

Yesterday was one year since Krista passed away.  To avoid it being a day of sorrow I filled it with activities for me and the kids that would help us remember Krista the way she would want us to and to make it a day we enjoyed.  We started the day with going to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast, I know it's not the healthiest choice but I knew Jake and Emma would love it.  After that we went to the Dallas Temple and checked out the walking tour book.  That's a book that tells about the Temple, how it was built, what it's for and it's importance in our lives.  You take it with you as you walk around the Temple grounds and at certain places you read from the book.  It worked out well as Jake and Em were able to run and jump and play as we learned about the Temple.  They were much more involved in it than if they had to sit still and just listen.  When we finished the book we were at the fountains at the front of the Temple.  This is where we have taken pictures of the family each year on both Jacob's and Emma's sealing days.  As we sat there I told Jacob and Emma how important the Temple was to our family.  It's because of the ordinances performed in the Temple that we will be with mom again.   As I was telling them this the distinct impression hit me that Krista was there with us.  I started to cry, not out of sorrow but happy tears.  I told Jacob and Emma that mom was there with us and they both confirmed that they felt her presence also.  I know she was there with us on this important day and was happy with us and how we were doing.

Then we went to the LDS bookstore.  Lately Emma has been reading during our family scripture study so we needed to get her a set of scriptures.  Emma happily picked out the scriptures she wanted and a nice purple case to keep them in.  While we were at the bookstore painting artist J. Kirk Richards was there embellishing a print of his work and signing his prints.  I had wanted a new picture for our Christmas decorations for a while so I looked at a few of his works.  He has different styles of painting from realistic to more stylized work.  One of his prints grabbed my attention.  It was titled "Song of the Heart".  It was a painting of a choir of Angels.  I knew right where I would hang it.  Krista loved nativity sets and her favorite one is a Willow Tree version that we have had for a few years and have added pieces to it each year.  It has sat in a nook off of our entryway for over a year now as I couldn't bring myself to take it down after Christmas last year.  I realized that picture would be perfect hanging above it.  So I bought it and had the artist autograph it "In memory of Krista".  I just need to get it framed now.

After that I took the kids to Amazing Jake's.  It's like a Chuck E. Cheese on steroids.  It took over both floors of a defunct department store at a mall near us.  They have food, games, rides, go carts, bumper cars, laser tag, mini-golf, rock climbing and more.  It's the kids favorite place to celebrate. We were there for a couple of hours and the kids had a ball.  It was fun watching them have so much fun on a day that could have been spent mourning our loss.

Before we finished the day with Christmas light sight seeing, we went to an Evening Song concert.  Krista and I sang with them for 8 years before Emma was born.  After Emma we became too busy to do it any more.  The choir was also part of Krista's funeral and sang many of her favorite songs.   Ever since we stopped singing with them we started a tradition of making it to one of their Christmas concerts every year.  It just happened to be in our favorite venue this day.  It was nice to see our old friends and hear them sing some of the songs we sang with them and also many new ones.  During one of the songs we had sung with them many times (Dormi Jesu) I could hear Krista's voice singing with the choir.  It was wonderful to hear her voice again.  I didn't tell anyone about it, just kept it to myself figuring it was a blessing just for me. But then after the concert, one of the altos that had sung with Krista for many years came to me, with tears in her eyes, and told me that she could hear Krista singing with them during the concert.  It was nice to receive a second witness to what I experienced so I wouldn't have to wonder if it was just me being crazy.

The previous night during my prayers, before I went to bed, I asked the Lord to bless me with dreams of my sweetheart.  A couple months after her passing I had two dreams of her.  They were special and sacred experiences that imparted comfort and direction to me in my time of need.  Ever since then I have wanted more.  I figured this of all nights was an appropriate time to ask to be blessed with another one.  I wasn't blessed with what I wanted, I was given much more.  In one day I felt her presence and her approval and enjoyed listening to her beautiful alto voice one more time.  I'm so thankful for the love our Heavenly Father has for us and His wisdom to not give us what we want, but to give us what we need.