Hoping for hope

Today is a hard day.

The pathways in my mind and heart that say that they will be home at some point are more often getting the message that it is not true. The waves. The way is so long. If there is strength for this journey it must come from my Savior. I have nothing that equips me other than that.

So today I rest and cry and feel. It’s not from a great wealth of wisdom, but only because it is all I can see to do.

Romans 5:2-5 runs through my mind, at least the key words of it. Suffering, endurance, character, hope. The order is intriguing and somewhat disconcerting. The hope comes so late in the list. But it is there. Maybe where I am living now is the hope of the hope. Trusting it is out there. Evidence of things not seen.

I see strength in the continuing on. Endurance. Character. Who doesn’t want those things? And the suffering somehow paves the way, makes the space, carves out the way in the middle of the wilderness.


And so I walk. Or I allow myself to be carried if that’s all I can do for today. My wilderness guide knows the way. He has all the provisions I need.

And I rest from the striving and the picturing the need for so much more strength than I have in this moment. Daily bread. Every morning mercies.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:2-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Alone in a crowd

It took me a few weeks to bring myself to the point of being able to even get myself to church, walk up the stairs and choose a seat. The first week home the thought of being in the middle of so many people who love me and want to enter in about sent me into a panic attack. Clue: not ready yet.

The second week I made some motions toward getting myself ready to go. I started the process too late and everything took a ridiculously long time so I didn’t make it. I was fine with that. Decision made.

Week three came and I found myself desiring to be present in church. “I’m ready”, I thought to myself. “I’ve got this. It might be hard, but that’s okay.” I thought being with so many people would be hard, answering questions, having people wondering how I was.

Turns out that wasn’t what was hard at all.

This is the view from church. Photo cred. Joel Carlson

What was hard was finding a spot by myself. A wave of aloneness swept over me. Having Josh and Sam gone or sitting elsewhere in the room didn’t phase me; that was often the case. But Scott, Kaitlyn, Zach and I were side by side nearly every week. Together. I could hear them singing. I watched them take notes or struggle to stay awake. We did it together.

Suddenly, I was alone in a crowd. I was sitting with friends, surrounded by people who care deeply for me, but I felt alone.

I miss taking care of the little ones in the nursery with Zach. He loved the time together and with the busy small people. I miss seeing Kaitlyn with her Bible open, taking notes. I miss holding hands with Scott whenever we prayed or having his arm around my waist as we sang.

But I made it. One more first.

The joy of a good surprise

I had the opportunity to travel to surprise Sam for his 18th birthday. I talked to him in the morning to acknowledge this milestone birthday and told him I’d love to hear from him after the evening’s game. 

I grinned to myself as I laid the groundwork for a great surprise. 

Thanks to the generosity of Glen Sr. a few hours later I boarded a plane and headed to a village I’d never been to. 

I walked into the gym and began to scan the stands for the birthday boy. My eyes found him and I saw he was locked in, watching the action on the basketball court. I waved off a student who jumped up to give me a hug and got myself all the way up in the stands, put my hands on his shoulders and his face right in front of mind. 

I wish you could have seen the look on his face. 

Oh how grateful I am for the chance to just be with him. To sit in the stands together. To feel the absence of Scott on the bench coaching and Kaitlyn with her team cheering. To bring the Blom family tradition of cinnamon rolls to share with the team. To sing happy birthday mostly off key with his teammates on his 18th birthday. 

Together was certainly better than apart. 

And there were those twinges…
A book at the library about mothers and daughters.

Seeing the pictures of friends at marriage conferences or on dates.

Seeing Kaitlyn’s shoes on a friend’s feet, though I’m so glad she’s using them and remembering.

Watching boys’ basketball with Scott not on the bench coaching.

Watching girls’ basketball with the hole of my spunky girl with a curly pony tail.

Watching junior high basketball wishing I could see Zach improving with each game.

Wearing Kaitlyn’s pants.

The mention of 13 year old boys.

Realizing I can’t text Scott to tell him how the game is going or fill him in on a day’s events. 

And I’ll take the joy and the sorrow all wrapped up together because that’s how it comes. I wouldn’t want to miss the joy just because I was afraid there might be tears with it. 

Not good enough


Today I don’t want stories and pictures, videos and voicemails. I don’t want thoughts and trying to find joy. I don’t want to admit that the memories we have are all there will ever be.


I want to read an article about raising a 13-year old boy and have it apply to me. I want to say I’m sorry for being busy and missing things I should have seen. I want to kiss their cheeks and hold them close and tickle and giggle and tell them about my day and hear about theirs. 


Instead, I have to begin the process of accepting. All I can do is picture those things happening. And it makes me mad. Mad that it has to be done at all. Mad that they won’t be coming home. Mad that my boys have to figure out how to live their new stories too. Mad that I can’t make it better for them any more than my friends  and family can make it better for me. Mad that people I meet won’t be able to know these precious people.

And it stinks. There are no two ways about it.

Shoes

Today my undoing was a pair of shoes. 
Yesterday I sorted some bags of things and in them was a pair of Zach’s shoes. I was in a spot that I could just start getting rid of things that won’t be functional for anyone- a hat we bought in England that was unraveling and Zach’s shoes.

And then they sat in the kitchen trash. This morning a wave of nausea would hit me every time I opened the lid of the trash can. I took Scott’s slippers out. I just couldn’t do it.

But the trash was piling up and it wasn’t going to burn itself. So I had a plan. Before my shower today I would just do it. Stop thinking about it and do it. Old clothe, Scott’s sweatshirt, coat and gloves. I burned another bag of stuff first. The fire was roaring in the burn barrel. I threw the bag in. 

It wasn’t these shoes. I can’t find a picture of the shoes. I looked. I just love this picture of these brothers.

And I wept. His shoes. He didn’t need them anymore. Oh I want him to need those beat up shoes. I want him to ski to school and tell me his new big coat is too warm and hug me and help me cook. I want him to need the shoes. But he doesn’t.
There’s something so final about burning. Setting things on the curb to go into a landfill you can still picture your things mostly intact just in a messy jumble. Burning they are reduced to ashes. Nothing. Gone. Not shoes anymore.

There would be no point in keeping them. What else would I do? But the pain bubbled out and the dog came and drew near and I was glad for his furry closeness.

And the reality is if it wasn’t shoes it would be something else. The marriage seminar I don’t need to attend. The song that hits too close to home. The small amount of food I need to make. The fact that our egg consumption does not keep up with our need for kindling (the trays make great fire starter).

But this morning it was shoes.

The first 7th


The date on the calendar says January 7th. One month. How can it be only one month? I am thankful it can be measured in something more substantial than days or even weeks because it seems like a lifetime. 

Does today feel significant? I suppose. I don’t know that it feels harder or easier. In so many ways it’s just a day. A day to walk through, to ride the waves through. 

A basketball game. Yesterday we lived through Sam’s first game. We will need to eat. I have only ideas of what needs to be done and none of the energy required to make them happen. 

This day still has the same 24 hours and some of them will seem long and some short. The normal is so infuriating and so craved, but it will be ever elusive. Normal. Such a strange thing.

The moving picture of our lives was stopped. All that are left are snapshots and they are both all we have and not enough. So we’ll look at some of them today, as we do most days because they are all we have. 

And the hole will be noticed as Kaitlyn should have been playing basketball today and Scott should have been coaching and Zach should have been asking for candy from the concessions stand and filling my water bottle and hanging out with Daniel.

Instead Josh and I will watch while Sam takes the floor, though it is excruciating. And I’ll rejoice that we did one more hard thing and survived. And maybe we’ll find the energy to take an inventory of our food and make a grocery list and begin the process of moving furniture around to create new spaces in this new moving picture we now find ourselves in. 

On this first 7th.

Riding the waves 


The shore of the life we had, the 6 of us is receding into the distance behind me. There is no going back there. Part of me longs to swim or paddle faster toward …well, toward the next thing, suppose. The not this and the not that.

And while there are moments when I want to be somewhere, there are plenty that the rocking and rolling the sinking and floating of the now feels strangely…what…like, all I can do maybe. 

Even last week I had more of a desire for the “next”. Now the shore of what is next looks so far away and I feel unprepared for it anyway, so I’m glad it’s not here. 

I know the analogy falls short, but the numb and the unpredictable of now is all I can imagine. Sometime maybe I’ll pray about this to be used to transform me in ways only this journey can. 

For today I will just be. I have nothing else.

Everywhere 

The memories. The triggers. The thoughts. The sights. The sounds. The reminders.

There is no place safe. The towel bar that once held 2 towels and now one bars stares at me empty whenever I walk into the bathroom and shouts at me every time I hang up my one towel. The chore list that has clothespins for Kaitlyn and Zach. 

The snowpants. The dishes I got from Scott for my birthday a few years ago. The clothes hanging in the closet. The memory foam mattress that seems to have a long memory of 2 and isn’t adjusting well to one. The seat at the head of the table. The mug. The jacket. The shaving cream.

This is how it will be. Never free from the chance that something will bring a memory, a reminder, a smile or a tear with them in mind. I figure I have two options. I can live in fear of the pain of that, or I can keep walking with eyes wide open, knowing there will be pain but trusting the One who holds me in and through the pain. Because really, avoiding, closing my eyes, I don’t think those things shelter me from the pain only prevent me from keeping on with the living. 

And so I walk through the day, not in fear or dread, but in weariness. Numbing weariness. The hugs feel forced. The questions tiring. The thoughts slow.

And I’ll rest. I’ll go ahead and let myself huddle beneath the blankets and drift to sleep, read or stare. The tasks will have to wait and remain on the very long to do list in my head. Small things. Baby steps. One moment at a time.

Here we are

The words I wrote to share at the celebration of life service on December 18, 2016.

Here we are. We’ve walked the days, ridden the waves to bring us to this moment. A couple hours, words, pictures fall so short of adequately representing the lives of three people we loved well. They are such poor mediums compared to smiles, hugs and the presence of a husband, father, daughter, sister, son, brother, friend.

We did love each other well. When Scott would travel I would often remind the kids that the sadness of missing him was really a blessing because it meant we loved him. Being glad he’s gone would be terrible!

And so it is now.

This past week and a half has been full of so many conflicting thoughts and emotions.

Sweet memories. Bitter stabs. Anger. Anguish.

So many words. No words.

Wanting to shout their stories, then wishing I could only whisper them to those who will hold it close and cherish it.

Strength and weakness.

Questions and assurance.

An overwhelming sense of God’s compassion knowing the pain that will be ever present until we can see the whole story clearly. 

Amazement at God’s very poignant and personal provision and kindness.


zach service

Zach was one of the most content and joyful people you could ever hope to meet. He was fully present wherever he was.

The smile and the twinkle.

The hugs- he was so generous with them. He was so tender toward me.

He loved little ones. He had a great ability to have it be about their joy.

He diligently spent time in God’s Word.

I had the privilege of having him home for school during the mornings. Oh what a treasured gift that is to me. There I saw him grow comfortable in his own skin. I enjoyed his quirky sense of humor, nearly constant singing and animal cracker snacks at 10:15. (If you want to remember Zach, listen to the Disney channel on Pandora.)

I saw him learn to work hard. I keep thinking that since this life has an impact on our life in eternity, he must have needed that to enjoy heaven just a little bit more. And I got to be the one to get him ready.


kaitlyn service

Kaitlyn, my sweet, determined, strong, tender girl.

I’m thankful for the glimpse into the woman she was becoming.

She did friendship better than just about anyone.

Her skills of observation and delight in gift-giving.

Her way with words.

Her baking and letter writing.

Her drive to be on time everywhere she went. (“Are you ready to go, Sam?”)

Her no nonsense view of life.

Her love for the outdoors.

Her planning and leading and caring for others.

The twinkle in her eye.

Her sense of adventure.


scott service

And Scott. Oh, I am the most blessed wife.

We did life honest and messy and beautiful.

We lived in the light.

We laughed a lot.

He spoke words of love and truth over me so often.

The sweetness of our marriage- a gift.

He loved well. Oh, so well.

He knew me, all of me and he loved me.

He was the picture of Christ’s love; to be fully known and fully loved. It’s available.

He loved well because he knew he was loved by God. One of his favorite verses, though he said that about a lot of verses this is one of the ones I remember him mentioning decades ago…

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.”  -1 John 3:1

And that is what I will keep coming back to in the moments that will turn into days and weeks and months and years- the miracle that the God of the universe made a way for me to know Him.

His mercies are new every morning.

Life-changer

That’ll be a life-changer…

And all the ways that is true play across my mind like a film. Such random things flash through my mind. Alone. I will be alone much more often much sooner than I had planned. I don’t need to buy slippers for Scott or curtains for Kaitlyn or…what were we even going to get Zach anyway? The food at my house will last so much longer. Christmas will be quiet, eerily quiet. We have too many steaks for Christmas Eve. 

Parenting… I don’t need to figure out how to help Zach learn how to study or how to talk to Kaitlyn about relationships with boys. I have a lot more time on my hands. I relish that though and fear it, but less than I would have even a few years ago.

I have to shift my dependence from Scott to a great, cavernous abyss. I know dependence on My Heavenly Father is always there, and He provided Scott as my go to here. I have no one I can go to like that- in complete freedom, vulnerability and trust. I am a great wife. I’m good at it. He made me good at it, desiring to be the best at it. Beautiful. Cherished. Intimate. Known. Loved. Oh so loved, so deeply loved. He saw the best.

Europe isn’t so appealing. We had planned to go there when we had an empty nest. I see opportunities to be away freely and the potential to invest deeply in our region. Africa? I could visit friends. I so wanted to do that with Kaitlyn. Sam’s senior trip to Gettysburg. We will make that happen. 


Details. Life insurance. Paying off the house. FAFSA. Income. Covering Josh’s flight costs. Paying for Sam’s schooling. Counsel on investing. Steep learning curves. The lodge. Summer trips. Summer. Coffee. Furniture. Bedrooms. My sons. No father. Where do they seek counsel? Vacuum. Void.

Three. Not six. Never six. Some day maybe 5. Spouses who never knew them. Never knew them. So many who never knew them. Too precious to share, too beautiful to keep to ourselves.