Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prizes...and a bag of marbles...

I just put up my vacuum cleaner after stepping over it for several days, right smack in the middle of my bedroom. You're probably thinking, "well, whoopee do, Melissa, glad you can clean up after yourself" (which actually would have been a major feat this time a year ago).

I was slow to put it up because it now holds the shattered pieces of the most prized possession Tony ever gave me.

Last Friday was a heavier than anticipated day as it marked the 1.5 year mark. Other milestones had come and gone with little effect, so this one took me by surprise. I finally pulled myself together, even decided I'd "look cute" for the day to perk myself up. I reached into my beautiful jewelry case (another prized gift from my Tony) to get out a necklace, shut the door, and crash.

My jar of marbles fell from the top. My jar of marbles Tony gave me as an engagement gift. My jar of marbles spoken of at Tony's memorial service. Shattered. Marbles everywhere.

I just stared at the glassy mess. I pressed my back against the wall and slowly slid to the floor. I didn't know how or what to feel.

What was I supposed to do now? Tony had clearly given me instructions that we were to throw one marble away every year on our anniversary.  I had faithfully done that for the past two years without him.  Was I just supposed to put the marbles in another jar? But it's not THE jar. Who knows if I'll even live long enough to completely empty the jar anyway. What do I do with the marbles?  Tears began to flow.

I finally got up, walked to the kitchen, and pulled out a ziploc bag. I got on my hands and knees and put the marbles in the bag, being sure every one was accounted for, all 74. I looked down at my hands at one point and noticed they were cut in a couple places and bleeding from the glass. How fitting.  Then, I put on my big girl pants and I swept and vacuumed up the pieces of that jar, keeping just two larger jagged pieces.

My jar was gone; my marbles now intact in a ziploc bag.  And after walking past them, stepping over my vacuum for several days now, several days filled with heartache for another dear friend in the midst of tragedy, I'm finally getting some clarity on what I am to do.

I am to let them go.
I am to let my marbles go.

As I wrote in my last post, I'm memorizing Phillipians 3. These are actually the very verses I awoke to on the one year anniversary of Tony's passing...Phil. 3:12-14 ~
"12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

At first reading several months back, I wondered why on earth would God bring me verses about "forgetting."  But as I studied those often-quoted verses, I learned that Paul wasn't saying that he was not remembering the past or permanently deleting the past from his memory, but instead he was encouraging believers to leave what was in the past behind them, to not let it hinder what God has placed ahead of them.

So "forgetting" what is behind me in this season means beginning to let go.  For as I let go, I am able to "strain" toward my goal, to press on to take hold of my ultimate prize, my Jesus.

And it's quotes like these from Tony (this one written to his best friend over a decade ago) that give me peace that I'm continuing to honor his legacy as I press on.  He writes:

"I am understanding more and more about what Paul meant when he said he was seeking the prize in the race of life.  I get so tired in this race, and the only thing that keeps me going is the hope of the future “prize” and my friends."

So I press on. I hope. I get tired. I keep going. I lean on my family. I'm there for my friends, in good times and in bad.  I allow God to use my story, allow God to use me, all of me.

I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with that bag of marbles just yet, but I am confident that one by one, I will honor my precious time with my husband, as I let each marble go.

Dearly loved, letting go, straining forward,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Table for One

I've been avoiding sitting at my dining room table alone. The sofa was my eating place of choice.  That was until a few weeks ago when my 3 pound puppy learned to jump up on the couch on her own...and meal time was prime time for her to pull out all her tricks.  I've never given her "people" food, but that certainly doesn't stop her from trying to nab something from my plate.

So, eating at the table was my last resort, eating at my table alone.

Why is that such a big deal?  I mean, I'm not the only one who has to sit at a table of one.  I guess it's just one more reality that what was two is now just one.  It's taken me almost a year and a half to put on my big girl pants to sit there alone.

A friend asked me recently where I was in my grief journey.  I think I'm finally coming into acceptance.  That's not to say I won't have times of anger, or sadness, or bargaining, or all those other "grief" stages.  It seems I've come to embrace my "new normal," as much as I still long for my "normal" before Tony's accident, my table for two.

It's hard to believe that a year and a half is creeping up on me - this Friday.  It was this time a year ago, 6 months after Tony's death, when the numbness wore off and the excruciating pain of grief set in. I honestly didn't know if I would survive it.  Yet, I had told the hundreds at Tony's memorial service via my letter that "Please know I'm going to be okay." It's as if I knew then only in vision what I now know in reality now...I was going to be okay. 

I am okay.

Folks who don't see me in my everyday life find that hard to believe.  I still get those sympathy calls, those sympathy emails and messages, those sympathy stares.  It's the folks who continue to try to put themselves in my shoes, to imagine what life would be like if they lost their spouse tragically.  And the truth is, they just can't; they don't know how hard the journey has been for me because they haven't faced it themselves. They don't know what it's like to walk through tragedy and come out okay...all because of God's strength.  They just see it as overwhelming odds, insurmountable circumstances.

And it is all that and more.

But that's where my Jesus comes in. So often misused is the imaginary verse in the Bible that "God won't give you more than you can handle." Oh, yes, yes, He will. But, that's where His power comes in, His strength supernaturally takes over. That's where we learn that we are not in control.  That's where we learn that apart from Him, we can do NOTHING. 

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the concern and continued care shown to me.  I truly believe God  blesses those who care for widows, for His Word continually encourages His people to do so. I guess I'm just ready to not be the one folks feel sorry for, the one who constantly reminds folks of sadness.  I'm embracing the fact that losing Tony is just a part of my story, it's not my entire story. 

So I press on as one, and as I do so, I'm meditating and memorizing Philippians 3.  In verse 12 it says, "Not that I have obtained all of this or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

I'm pressing on in the story of Melissa...Melissa Edge, who I pray God continues to use to create beauty out of ashes.

Dearly loved, at a table for one,