Waiting.

May 18, 2014

Waiting.  We're always waiting for something.  Some of us are waiting for new job opportunities or promotions.  Some of us are waiting for our favorite artist to release a new album.  Some of us are simply waiting for our dinner to be ready.


But some of us are waiting for something much deeper; something we may never really receive in this lifetime.

Answers.

There is the girl waiting for answers as to why her husband of 6 months was taken from her due to illness.  Why him?  Why her?  Why them?

There is the girl waiting for answers to her questions about her boyfriend's sudden death.  A sudden death that she walked in on, finding the love of her life with a gun in his hand.  She knows it was an accident but there are still answers she wants.  Answers she needs. 

The daughters, sisters and brothers of the man that was violently gunned down by the police.  What was going through his head when he died?  Why did he not abide the police peacefully?  Why did it have to happen that way?

The children in foster care longing for answers from their parents.  Why can't they take care of them?  Why won't they fight to keep them?  Why do they have to be in the care of people that are not blood relatives?

The couple that desires nothing more than to be parents, to have a child of their own.  Why do they have to wait?  Why are so many others around them able to conceive so easily?  Why not them, too?

The family that has just laid their 5 year old son to rest.  Why them?  Why him?  Why would God let this happen? 

The girl that longs to be loved as much as she once was by her boyfriend that suddenly lost his life from leukemia; she keeps getting so close to love before it is snatched away.  When will it be her turn? 

We're all waiting for something.  We're all waiting for the answers we may never get.  I constantly wonder why we all have to wait.  Sometimes life makes no sense, and we're grasping at the walls searching for answers.  I'm tired of waiting and I know you are, too.

Tonight I pray for all of you that are waiting for answers.  Take heart and remember that God is sovereign over all things.  Including the waiting rooms in our hearts.
 

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 

Enjoying one moment at a time; 

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 

Taking, as He did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it; 

Trusting that He will make all things right

if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life 

and supremely happy with Him

Forever in the next.

Amen.

 

--Reinhold Niebuhr

I'm tired of your stupid lists. No offense.

March 11, 2014

Trying to figure out your identity as a blogger, in a heavy blogging society, can be a little bit of a challenge.  For a year, my blogger personality was to write about grief.  Now that I've been focusing on moving forward, I've been trying to figure out what exactly it is I want to be to the blog world.

One type of blogger I've been avoiding becoming is the "list" blogger.  Don't get me wrong, I have written out a list or two in the past and they can be easy to read and understand, while also being helpful.  However, I feel like every time you log on to Facebook or twitter or even a news site, there is some list staring back at you.  (Please note this excludes lists from Buzzfeed.  Buzzfeed is perfect in every way.)

"6 ways to show your husband you respect him."  "10 ways to keep your marriage in tact." "25,000 ways to find the perfect mate."  Our fast-paced culture has gotten so fast-paced that we think everything can just be squelched down into 10 (or 25,000) easy steps.  Since when did life get easy enough to condense down into a bunch of numbered pieces of advice to live successfully?

About a month ago there was one post in particular that was circulating around my Facebook newsfeed.  "10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry" (10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry).  I avoided clicking on it for several days because I had a feeling I was not going to particularly enjoy it.  I also felt that I did not need some random man telling me who I should or should not marry.  Eventually I gave in and read the blasted thing.

I hated it.

My favorite type of man  listed was titled "The Addict."

5. The addict. Churchgoing men who have addictions to alcohol or drugs have learned to hide their problems—but you don’t want to wait until your honeymoon to find out that he’s a boozer. Never marry a man who refuses to get help for his addiction. Insist that he get professional help and walk away. And don’t get into a codependent relationship in which he claims he needs you to stay sober. You can’t fix him.

 To find out he's a boozer.  Woof.  Insert rage.

Calling someone with an addiction problem a boozer is offensive.  Saying that because someone made poor physical choices in college that they will likely sleep around on you when you're married is offensive.  Being a Christian and making accusations about people that may have truly turned their lives around, or are working on it (as we're all works in progress), is offensive.  Imagine how an alcoholic, that has been sober for 10 years, will feel when he reads that description above.  An alcoholic and an addict are always alcoholics and addicts even if they're clean and sober.  

I realize I am taking this article extremely literal and that it was probably meant to be more lighthearted.  But guess what - lists are literal...and the issues listed are not lighthearted.  We have to stop trying to condense life down into simplistic lists, living by them and worshiping them.  We have to remember that life, love and relationships are complicated.  It's not as easy as just "walk away."  We have to stop pointing fingers and make hurtful and unfair judgments.  

Show more grace; spread less hatred.

Here we are.

January 5, 2014

Here we are, folks.  The ultimate final stretch of the first year of grieving.  January 11th is now sitting in plain sight, refusing to be ignored or unseen.

I've had many distractions lately with holiday gatherings, trips to see family and dates with cute boys.  It has all been welcomed with open arms, but now the distraction dust has settled and I am ready to face this moment.  Reality hit me in the face in church today, as my sweet friend prayed over me and the week ahead.  Commence breakdown number one.  I foresee tears every day this week and I am okay with that.  I'm ready to dive head first into this last moment.

I'm finding the emotions, feelings and realities of sweet Richard's death are loud and clear as they've come flooding back into view.  It's like I'm back in the hospital with him all over again.  I can remember vivid details of every day of the week leading up to his death.

Sunday: the first day in almost two weeks that I slept in instead of getting there first thing in the morning.

Monday: the day I went to my doctor to talk about my emotional roller coaster.  I cried in her office and she suggested a low-dose antidepressant.

Tuesday: the day Richard got upset and offended because I made fun of the show we were watching.  The day I decided he wasn't a good patient.  Of course, we later apologized to one another, understanding his situation was making him incredibly cranky.

Wednesday: the day that sweet Richard felt all of the sudden better.  He showered on his own for the first time in weeks and had a new burst of energy.  The day he wanted to wear the watch I got him for Christmas and I told him we should wait until he got out.  He was only a little loopy on this day.

Thursday: the day he hallucinated on and off.  He'd wake up laughing, in mid conversation.  Who knows who he was talking to in his mind.  The day I cried and prayed over him while he slept.  The day he was diagnosed with leukemia.  The day he was moved to the oncology unit.  The day he had very little life in his eyes.

Friday: the day he was moved to critical care.  The day he was incoherent, on a ventilator, at least 5 pic lines coming out of his body.  The day he was on dialysis.  The last day I ever saw him.

Crying as I write this, I have to say that I am so glad the year is coming to a close.  I can't believe it's here.  I can't believe it's been an entire year.

I anticipate a hard week, but I know that I will be covered in prayer and love by the precious people the good Lord has placed in my life.  I continually stand in awe at the people he's placed around me.

I anticipate an emotional week that will be wrapped up in a last minute trip to the mountains with two precious friends.  A soul vacation is what we will call it.

Richard and I spent a lot of our short time together hiking in the mountains.  I feel a retreat to a cabin is the perfect place to end this year.  A time of quiet, prayer and rest.

I can't wait.

I was bowled over with freaking emotion, people.

July 24, 2013

Several people already know what I am about to type out, but it's just so fantastic that I feel like it needs its very own post.

Two weeks ago I woke up with a calm and quiet heart.  I drove up to Monte Sano State Park and sat at the scenic overlook.  I prayed and reflected and praised God for all he'd chosen to show me in the last year.  I did these things because it was the six month mark of my boyfriend's passing.

Before I left my house that morning I decided to grab the handful of letters I have from Richard.  I rifled through the box I keep them in, grabbed them and left.  After my quiet time at the overlook, I came home and began my day.  I was packing to go to Tuscaloosa for an entire week, leaving later that day.  So I would pack some, fold laundry some, work some, clean some etc.  At some point I decided to put my box of keepsakes back on the shelf.  In the midst of trying to find Richard's letters earlier that morning, I had pulled out several pictures, one of which was a photo booth strip that we had gotten back in November.  As I was putting everything back in the box something on the photo booth strip caught my eye.  In red print, at the bottom of the strip, read the words "Use the below code to log in to see your pictures and video."

LAKDHFLADJFLAKDFJALKDFJADS;FAJDSFLKAHDGFLAKDJSF

VIDEO?!?!?!

I started mumbling to myself and scrounging for my computer to type in the website that was listed.  The wheels in my mind were turning as I thought that I was going to be PO'd if it was just like a slide show of the pictures.  And then I finally log in and OF COURSE I HAVE TO PAY FOR THE VIDEO.  Best $2.49 I've ever spent.

And then I got to watch the video I was hoping for.  A video of us in the booth, interacting with each other, figuring out our poses for each picture, not saying a whole lot but laughing together.  It was perfect.  It immediately sent me into a frenzy of emotions.  I literally laid on my unmade bed and laughed.  Then cried.  Then laughed.  Then sobbed.  Of course after I pulled myself together I posted that sucker on facebook so others could share in my joy.

I was so in awe that God allowed me to notice this particular message on the 6 month mark of Richard's passing.  I know some of you may not agree that this was the Lord's doing.  But it was.  It so was!  I don't believe a lick in coincidences because coincidences are just not fun.  Where is the romance, the hope, the intrigue in just a coincidence?  But to think that the Lord decided to give me a nudge of encouragement and the special gift of seeing Richard alive and well on that specific day.  I was bowled over with freaking emotion, people.  That photo booth strip had been on my fridge for MONTHS up until recently.  I looked at it all the time and never once noticed that print.  Sure, I'm unobservant, but I believe it goes much deeper than that.  I was blind to it until God was ready to reveal it.

Friends - I urge you to take a look at the "coincidences" in your life.  Take a step back and spend some time seeing how your life has unfolded.  I hope you know, or will someday come to know if you're not quite there yet, that there is a divine intervention happening in each of your lives.  Of course half the time it doesn't make sense as it is happening...but it will.  A loving God is fighting for your heart and your soul and your attention and he is going to great lengths to make you see him.  Even people that have the deepest of faiths are human and get distracted and put God on the back burner.  So he uses something as simple as red text on a photo booth strip to bring us back to Him.

Open your eyes and hearts and minds.  Don't be afraid to believe in something that you can't always see.  That's what faith is all about. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

6 things I've learned since the death of my boyfriend - a themed post.

July 7, 2013

It's extremely hard to believe that we will be embarking on the six month mark of Richard's death this coming Thursday.  I've said it before regarding other time marks, and I will say it again regarding this one: it feels like so much longer, and just like yesterday all at once.  The journey to get here has been long and sorrowful, yet healing and hopeful; however, I can still recall every single detail of the days leading up to his death just as if it were yesterday.

So now what do we do? 

Six months is generally a milestone, right?  We often celebrate when babies turn six months old, when we've been married for six months, etc.  But it is certainly hard to picture celebrating the six month death of someone, isn't it?  It doesn't quite seem natural but it is something I will attempt to do.  A celebration of Richard going to his eternal home and no longer having to deal with the horrific things of this world.  It will not be an outward celebration filled with cake, balloons and noise makers, but a different celebration altogether.  A reflective, sorrowful {yet joyful} inspection of Richard's life and how he and his death have affected myself and others around me.  Even through tears or sadness I will rejoice that the Lord brought him into my life and allowed me the opportunity to know him.

So, in honor of our six month mark...a themed post.

6 Things I've Learned Since the Death of My Boyfriend:

1.) If you feel compelled to express words/thoughts of sympathy, whether you know the person or not...whether you know what to say or not...do it.  We do not always know what to say or how to say it, but I assure you, saying something as simple as, "I am so sorry to hear what has happened.  I am praying for you," goes so far.  I've had friends and strangers alike say this to me and each and every comment has been received and appreciated and it has changed the way I have and will approach tragedy.

2.) Being vulnerable is not always a bad thing.  We are often told that being vulnerable is never a good state to be in.  When we are vulnerable we are easily influenced and easily taken advantage of; but it is also a time when we are easily moldable and willing to surrender.  If we are being vulnerable with the Lord and his will for our lives, it is not a bad state to be in.

3.) We should do a better job of attempting to be kind everywhere in our lives, including on social media.  When a mother has just found out that her son has been diagnosed with cancer or when a wife has just lost her husband, the last thing they want to do is hop on social media, possibly in an attempt to distract themselves for a bit, and see hatred, dissatisfaction with worldly things and frivolous complaints.  Of course it is impossible to know what every single person on your newsfeed may be going through at the time we post something, but I do believe we should try to be more cognizant.  Spread as much public love as possible and save frivolous complaints for friends.

4.) If you surrender your plans and ideas to the Lord, he will bless you tremendously.  It is much safer to pray for things acknowledging to the Lord that we wish them only to be granted if it is His will.  When we surrender our control, the pressure is off of us.  God takes that pressure from us and lets His will be done.  It feels like magic as things fall into place and we see that God is working in our lives.  Often times understanding his ways or reasoning is difficult, but when we let go and realize the Lord is in control and he will take care of us, things become clearer.

5.) Keep your eyes and your heart open for things that are unexpected.  I never imagined I would have a boyfriend that unexpectedly passed away.  That, of course, was never in my plan for my life; but the things that I have learned and received throughout this journey have been indescribable (althooough attempting to describe them has been the whole point of this blog...).  This situation has been completely unexpected, yet it has taught me to keep my eyes and heart open for I understand that God isn't quite done with me yet.

6.) Life is too short to hold grudges, bruises and scars forever.  Give those over to the Lord and let them be healed.  Forgive.  Stay cautious, but attempt to forgive.  Life will be gone in the blink of an eye and we may be left behind with barrels of regret.  We cannot control how another person will act, but we can certainly control our own actions.  Do your best to forgive and continue to live.

 

If you don't mind - please say extra prayers for friends and family of Richard this week.  Love to all.  You are more appreciated than you'll ever know.

"...it was my boyfriend's. He died in January."

July 1, 2013

My sweet and fantastic friend, Heather (hey friend!), encouraged me today to write a blog post.  "Girl, tell us how you're healing," she said. 

I realize I've been pretty MIA in the last few months.  Relay for Life came and went and I kind of fell off the face of the blogosphere (is that even a word?).  But it's mainly because I've been really focusing on healing.  Processing and rolling through life one miracle at a time.

It has been very rewarding to see how God continues to grow me and my faith during this time.  He's changed me, and certainly continues to change me, continually.  The main thing I've noticed is that my perspective has changed.  Overall perspective.  Things are not so black and white anymore.  I attempt (attempt) to not be so quick to judge these days, and instead try to assess a person or situation for what might really be going on.  Maybe there is something deeper there that cannot be seen at first sight.

I find myself sitting back and observing a lot more than I once did.  I have never, ever been a quiet person.  My grandmother nicknamed me "motor mouth" when I was a child for crying out loud.  I've always enjoyed attention and making people laugh and just being around others in general.  I still enjoy these things, but I am much more content to sit back and listen and take things in.  It's a nice feeling, really - not feeling the need to be in the middle of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

I no longer feel the need to blurt out to every stranger that my boyfriend died at the beginning of this year.  This I am probably happiest about.  I used to find any and every excuse to talk about it.  To tell someone, "Oh, you like the shirt I am wearing?  It was my boyfriend's.  He died in January."  You can imagine how shocking this is for people to hear.  For a STRANGER to hear.  Sometimes I am so awkward.

I am finding myself ready to be pursued again.  Ready for another shot at the sincere and genuine love that I was shown by Richard.  Ready for another man to think I'm the bees' knees.  I think some people wonder if it's too soon for me to jump back out there again.  And I tell them that I don't think it is.  Richard showed me a glimpse of what sweet love can look like and I just want more of it.  I think it's completely normal.

But most importantly - my faith continues to grow.  Please don't hear me say that I have been a perfect servant of the Lord and have loved every plan he's made clear to me.  I've gotten upset a few times at him.  Not understanding what he was doing with friends, living situations, possible opportunities, etc.  WHY NOT GOD?  SEEMS PERFECT TO ME.  I've thought that a lot.  But even throughout these thoughts of anger and sadness, I know in the back of my mind and deep down in my heart that the Lord is protecting me from something that I cannot see. 

I've recently started an online book study with a few friends.  We are reading the book Anything, by Jennie Allen.  A beautiful and accurate quote from it, that completely enraptures me: No matter the suffering she would have in this life, she was praising God for a chance to participate in eternity.

Perfect.

Grieving, healing and growing daily in my God.  Love to you all.

"He's gone."

February 11, 2013

It's been 31 days.  31 days?  31 days.  It does not seem real, yet it seems the sincerest truth I have ever had to face. 

I suppose it's time to write out a story that I've replayed in my head and to friends time and time again.  It's not something I look forward to typing out, but it is something that is necessary I think.  I can't let these details slip away, because as painful as they are, they are a part of the story, a part of the healing process and a part of Richard's legacy.

Two days after Christmas Richard was taken to the hospital by ambulance due to severe chest pains.  Chest pains so severe that he could not get himself off of the couch - not even with the help of his mother.  He was put in a room on the cardiology floor where he stayed for exactly two weeks.  Initially the doctors found a bit of pneumonia in his left lung which they attributed his chest pain to.  However they kept saying, "there is another infection there, though, and we are going to run some tests to figure out what is going on."  For two weeks he endured poking and prodding, multiple blood samples taken and every other unpleasant thing that results in a hospital stay.  He had daily fevers and was constantly fatigued, tired from medication and tired of answering constant questions, his white blood cell count rising everyday.  He had his crabby moments, definitely, but was able to stay in a pretty positive mindset a lot of the time.

It was an exhausting two weeks.  I've personally never been through anything like this and never realized how emotionally and mentally tiring hospital visits could be.  I would go up to the hospital almost everyday from 8 am until about 1 pm, working on my computer or phone from the semi-comfortable chair by his bed.  His mom would come up after lunch once she left work and take the afternoon/evening shift, his sister visiting as well.  I would usually go back up at night after I had spent some time at home with my dog.  The evenings were full of a lot of his mom and I talking and poking fun at him from time-to-time, out of love of course.  We watched a lot of episodes of NCIS and Shipping Wars.  We spent New Year's Eve together, the 3 of us nested in the tiny hospital room.  He wore his party hat for approximately 2 minutes.  Enough to get a picture.  The last picture I have of him. We took occasional wheel chair rides around the floor, going down every hallway that we were authorized to go down.  I spent a lot of time crying next to his hospital bed, frustrated that we did not know what was going on.  Frustrated that he was sick.  Frustrated that he was crabby sometimes and there was not much I could do to help.  He did such a good job of being sweet to me though.  As best as he could.  I would cry and he would hold my hand and try to calm me down.  As stressful as those days could be, I'd love to go back to them.  Just to see him again.

Two weeks went by and on Thursday night, January 10th the doctors finally diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia.  One of the most aggressive strands.  Of course it was.  Richard never did anything half-ass, remember?  That night they moved him to his own room on the oncology floor.  The oncology room was big and sterile and cold.  Not like the tiny room that we had been cozily crowded in for the last two weeks.  It did not feel welcoming.  Probably because it knew we wouldn't be there for long anyway.  Early Friday morning Richard was moved to the critical care unit.  His body could no longer handle the extremely high white blood cell count.  (A normal WBC is around 10,000 - when Richard died his was 170,000...remember - nothing half-ass).

I saw him Friday morning at 10:30 for the first time.  His mom, my most recent partner in crime, and I met outside the doors and walked in together.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  I just know I wasn't expecting what I saw.  A shell of Richard.  A heavily sedated, on-a-ventilator, puffed-up-from-fluids Richard.  I immediately burst into tears as his mom explained to me everything that was going on.  We visited with him for about 20 minutes, talking to him and about him, receiving no response back.  We were back again at 1:30.  And back again about 3:45 to wait around for the 4:30 visit time.  I had originally not planned to be there for that visit as I had to teach Zumba that night.  I took a chance and asked some of the other instructors if they would mind subbing for me and thank God someone agreed.  I guess I had a feeling that I needed to be there, though at the time I did not really recognize the feeling.

At about 3:50 the nurses called his mom up.  I waited impatiently in the waiting room for her to give me an okay to come up too.  I hyperventilated a little bit, called my mom and told her what was going on, said that maybe he's awake and he just wants to see his mom right now.  Several minutes later his mom texted me and told me I could come up.  His sister was on her way to the hospital, right behind us.  They took me into the consultation room where his mom was, red-faced with tears.  I cried instantly, because I knew.  But even though I knew, I demanded that someone say it aloud.  Finally one of the nurses stated, he's gone.  Sobs escaped my mouth, along with the word, "what," over and over again.  I simply could not believe that he was gone.  I texted my mom through my tears, saying I need you here.  I listened to his mom directing his sister to where we were.  At that moment I left the room as I wanted for them to have their moment together.  I was led into the room where he lay.

And there he was - my sweet boy.  Completely free of machines, IVs, tubes and pain.  It had been a long time since I had seen him like that.  I stared at him, touched his arm, held his hand.  Was happy that he hadn't shaved in two weeks because he was able to form a nice-sized beard.  He always told me he was going to grow his beard out like one of the guys from Duck Dynasty (I always pleaded that he not).  His mom and sister came into the room and there we stood - 3 women that loved him so severely that I swear all of our hearts burst out of our chests and fell onto the hospital floor.  I think that we all left pieces of our hearts there in that room, too.

The rest of the story is not that important.  I continue to recall the fact that I really never, ever thought Richard would die.  I never thought it would end the way it did.  I continually think about him laying in his hospital bed, looking at me as I cried, telling me it was going to be okay, that he wasn't dying.  It's all so ironic now.  I think back to how he allowed me to help bathe him with a rag, warm water and gross hospital soap.  I washed his hair and his upper body, and I left the room as he did the rest, his shoulders and chest too sore to lift his arms.  You've really crossed some boundaries here, you know, he'd said. You gotta do what you gotta do, I had told him.  I am so glad he let me into his heart as far as he did.

Missing him a lot tonight, and every night, but especially tonight.  Wishing he was sitting on my couch with me, watching an episode of Friends, shaking his head at me as I giggle at everything Chandler says.  Wishing he was here to cuddle with and wishing I had his shoulder to cry on.

But my hope and faith in the Lord continue to grow.  God has blessed me with the absolute greatest friends and family.  I am constantly overwhelmed with love from them all and am forever grateful for the roles they play in my life.  Just as I will be forever grateful for the role Richard played in my heart.  Kudos to you if you've read this post all the way until the end, as I know it is long.  But Richard deserves long posts and many words, for all of the kind words he lent me.

"You will not marry this man."

February 4, 2013

We've all heard stories from people that claim to have heard God speak to them, right?  I've always thought that seemed cool, to know for a fact that He spoke to you and it was clear as a crystal, blue day.  I've never been one of those people with a story like that.

Until now.

Forgive me as I type this out if this is not a completely developed thought.  The truth is that I haven't really thought too deeply about all of this until pretty recently.  I recall the details of my God-heard moment but I believe I pushed it out of my head after it had happened, simply assuming it was just a fleeting thought I conjured up.  However, now it all makes sense.

I think it was back in October.  I was lying in bed, well on my way to a peaceful slumber.  All of the sudden I had a loud and clear thought.  Loud enough in my head that it jolted my eyes open.  Now it was not in a deep, booming voice - not in a voice that one would think that our powerful God would sound like.  No, it was in my own voice, just like any other thought.  Except that it wasn't coming from me, to me.  It was coming from someone else.

"You will not marry this man."

My eyes flung open but I stayed very still.  What? I thought.  Where did that come from?  Are you sure?  But I love him.  I can see myself marrying him.  As my thoughts argued with that statement, nothing else seemed to come to me.  Just confusion.  It didn't last long.  I eventually just waved that idea out of my head.  I had fallen head over heels for Richard and I had just recently come to the conclusion that I could, indeed, see myself marrying him.  I didn't have time for all of this nonsense.

Fast forward to today and it all seems so obvious now.  I have no doubts that this was God speaking to me.  Giving me just a subtle nudge.  Planting a small seed in my heart to prepare me for what was to come.  Not that I would have ever guessed that this is where things would have unfolded, but He was trying to warn me.  Of course I didn't listen.  We never really listen do we?  I look back on it now and I think...whoa.  How cool.

I hope you don't think I am crazy.  I just can't see how it could have been anything else.  Another thing I used to think about a lot, without really being able to understand it, was that although I could see myself marrying this boy, I never felt like it was going to be a long-term relationship.  I remember it kind of being a nagging feeling I would get, but I did not get where it was coming from or why it would pop up.  I'd picture our wedding, our life together, being able to spend as much time with him as I wanted.  But deep down I knew it wouldn't last forever.

It all makes sense now.  I'm glad that I didn't really pay attention to all of it, because then I could have missed out on so much.  But then again, God was never telling me to leave.  He knew I wouldn't leave.  I was too in love.  Too committed.  He was just trying to prepare my heart for what would happen.

Awesome and painful blended together.

Just be on time.

January 30, 2013

I love telling the story of how Rich and I met.  It all started with Zumba.  Right?  I mean, of course it did.

When I moved back home about a year ago, I left behind a wonderful group of friends at the University of Alabama Rec Center, where I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a Zumba class every week.  Once I moved home and got settled, I set out to find a gym to teach at.  I went to Bender's Gym in Madison, my last gym of the day, where I just popped in to see a manager.  No manager was there, but a staff member let me fill out an application to pass along, and I went on my merry way.

That same night I got a phone call from a Rich Gaiser, looking to set up an interview for this Zumba gig.  I found him charming on the phone as he asked me about myself, what my occupation was, etc.  I found myself turning on a little flirtatious tone, feeling kind of weird about it, because I literally assumed this man was 40 years old (due to his deep voice) and married (due to his charm and assumed age).  I also pictured him to be extremely tall and balding.  Don't ask me...this is just what I was picturing.  So we set up a time for me to come in to meet him and the group fitness coordinator.  "Just dress casual.  And just be on time.  Seriously...be on time."

Yes sir. 

So I arrive two days later, to meet this assumed 40-year-old, baldish man.  I call him, as instructed, because I could not get into the gym without a pass code.  As I walk up to the glass window, cell phone to ear, he answers.

"Rich?"

"Yea."

"Hi, it's Katie.  I'm here."

"Okay, I'm over here to your right."

Then picture me peering into the window, eyes cupped around my eyes to block out the glare from the sun, looking around the gym for someone to let me in.

"No..to your right."

Picture me continuing to peer into the glass.  Like an idiot.

"Haha, no.  Out here to your right."

I finally turn to my right, to see this cutie walking toward me from down the breezeway.  He was NOT 40, he was NOT balding...and well he wasn't exactly extremely tall either.  But taller than me :)

He laughed.  I giggled.  I probably flipped my hair.  I was attracted.  And apparently so was he.

He let me in and had me sit at a table as he went to grab the group fitness coordinator.  I sat down with the two of them and answered questions about myself.  He asked me legitimate interview questions like, "tell me something you believe in and why."  I won't lie - I was thinking...is this serious?  It's just Zumba, dude.  He later told me that I was the only instructor that he's ever interviewed.  Because he thought I was cute and he wanted to figure out if I was single.  I still don't know if I believe him, but I'll take it. **UPDATE: Emily, the group fitness coordinator, confirms that I was the only instructor he ever interviewed.  Thanks for making me smile, Em :)**

I'd say that then the rest is history.  But it's not, really.  He interviewed me in late April and we did not start dating until July.  I didn't even come back to the gym (minus a little dance audition I had to do.  And not for him.  Get your mind out of the gutter.) until June as that is when my time with Bender's started.  It took a lot of social media interacting.  Then a lot of coming to the gym early to hang out with him in the office.  Then him asking me if I wanted to go to a dinosaur expedition at the VBC (duh, of course I did), and then cancelling on me.  And then me finally telling him that we needed some face time because I had a lot of questions for him.  And then finally getting coffee.  Then getting to the coffee place an hour before they closed, only to move to a bench outside and talk for another 2 and a half hours about nothing.  That.  That is when the rest became history.

I miss him everyday.  I missed him especially tonight when I went to a yoga class and there was a man there walking around in the tiniest shorts I'd ever witnessed in public.  They were as close to boxer briefs as you can get without them actually being boxer briefs.  It was awkward.  He would have thought it was funny.  And he would have been proud of me for even going to yoga because I always complain about being sore after Zumba and he always told me I needed to stretch more.

I think back to how he told me to "just be on time," more than once.  And I can't help but smile and think about how he was brought into my life at the perfect time.  At a time when my heart needed saving and my mind needed opening.  God's timing is always perfect.

Missing his laugh and his love tonight.

Text message for a rainy day.

January 29, 2013

"Been exhausted all day but can't seem to stay asleep.  So I've been praying and reading my Bible.  And making a gratitude list.  I want to thank you for being you.  I've never been this happy in life.  Even with life being full of ups and downs right now.  You're so strong and compassionate.  Your beauty overwhelms me sometimes and your desire to gain the most from life is invigorating.  God radiates through you and I'm ecstatic with knowing I get to be a part in such a journey.  You are the love of my life and I sometimes forget to convey that message.  I love you. :)"

-text message from Richard Gaiser, December 2nd, 2012

 

Are you serious?  How lucky am I that I got to experience love like this, even for a short time?  This text message moved me so much that I took a screen shot of it to save for rainy days.  What a sweet, romantic soul that boyfriend of mine was.  I thank God every single day that He was brought into my life.  We only knew each other for eight months and dated for six.  And those six months were beautiful, challenging and rewarding all rolled into one.  They were real.  They were sincere.  They were hard.  They were good.

Today was hard, but it ended well.  I am so grateful for the beautiful friends I have in my life for I would not make it through without them.  Going to bed, focusing on the positive and thanking the Lord for what he allowed me to see through my relationship with Richard.  I am also giggling to myself a little because he would probably be mortified to know I have shared such a text message.  But seriously...how can a girl not share that?

Missing my wishing-to-stay-under-the-radar kind of boy. 

And the process begins.

January 27, 2013

It has been two weeks, two days, 7 hours and 20 minutes (give or take) since I found out I had lost my boyfriend forever.  And by forever, I mean...forever.  This was not a break-up.  It was not a difference of feelings or emotions or opinions ripping two people apart.  It was death.  Death by a cruel and aggressive disease that does not discriminate against anyone.

Death is such a complicated and mysterious concept.  It is hard to wrap your mind around and is difficult to fully swallow.  Like a big, ol' horse pill.  Even bigger than the nasty protein pills that my precious, fitness-loving boy loved to consume.  And because of this, everyone deals with death and loss very differently.  I have not yet figured out how I will fully deal with it, but right now I can tell you it's a lot of chocolate consumption, a lot of crying and a lot of reminiscing with friends and family. 

Because my Richard was such a lover of the written word and of emotional expression through writing, it seems fitting to work through my processing his death through the same way.  These posts may be light and fluffy on some days and they may be dark and dreary on others.  I am attempting to embrace my feelings.  Letting the sorrow come as it must.  Even crying in public restaurants if I feel so compelled.  I am finding myself clinging to the good things as if they may slip through my fingers, falling down a drain, never to be seen again.  I think that my process will be a lot of private journal-ing, as well as public blogging.  We shall see where it takes us. 

Life is very short, friends.  We never know when the end is near.  However, one thing I am certain of, and the one thing I find peace in is that the good Lord called our Richard home.  He had finished the task that God put him on this earth to complete.  It was his turn to go home.  Now we must figure out how to move forward without his physical presence. 

It's going to be a bitch.