Friday, December 31, 2010

One Year

One year ago today, at this very moment in time, Dan and I were snuggled in our bed. We turned on Sports Center and then laughed throughout the show "Mic'ed Up." I had never seen the show before. They play snip-its from football player's conversations on the field. Our favorite, that morning, was Brett Favre. Apparently there was a ref making terrible calls. In a very calm voice, Brett told the referee, "You know what man? Why don't you go ahead and take two weeks off.....then quit." We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

While still in the bed, Dan's phone rang. It was Billy. Dan answered with a huge smile on his face, because he loved "HIS BILLY." It actually turned out to be Heidi on the other end, and Dan and Heidi made fun of each other (situation normal), then eventually talked about our evening plans. The four of us were going out to dinner in Baltimore.

We snuggled in bed some more and Dan eventually decided he was going to go to the gym. After countless attempts to get me to come with him, he decided he might as well put some music on his iPod, since I wasn't going to be there to conversate with. We had just purchased these iPods and Dan started messing with his. He made a video of the dogs, and then of me. I hate being recorded, especially as pretty as I am in the morning, but that made Dan want to do it even more. At the end of the video, I put my hand up toward Dan to block the view, and said, "Don't you have somewhere to be?" How could we ever have known, how right I really was.

Dan got up to put gym clothes on, and I got up to start rummaging through my closet. I pulled out two outfits for the evening. As Dan was walking down the hall toward the stairs, I stopped him, and held both outfits up. I didn't even have to ask, he knew what I wanted him to do for me, but instead he said, "You look beautiful in anything, wear what you want." I said, "Dan, just tell me." He replied, "I like them both, you be the tie breaker." At this point he had already headed down the stairs, and had the front door open. It was freezing outside, and Dan had on gym shorts and only a hooded sweatshirt. He looked up at me, and said, "Bye Honeyahhhhh." I rolled my eyes. He flipped up the hood to the maroon Nike sweatshirt and shut the door behind him.

That was the last time I ever saw my husband alive.

Six days later, January 6, 2010, they lowered him into his final resting place.

Today, I am remembering my Dan, and everything he was. His legacy lives on through me and everyone who loved him. Am I scared to face another year without my husband? Yes. Do I fear that I will never love as deeply as I did for him? Yes. Am I reluctant to fully enjoy what life has to offer me? Yes. Am I going to continue to lean on my friends and family for support when I can't walk down this road on my own? Yes.

Am I going to let it stop me from trying? No.

My precious friends and amazing family have been brainstorming and planning and loving me so much. They want to be there for me today, on Dan's "Angel-Date." The truth is, they have been there for me since this very date last year. Sitting on my kitchen floor and crying with me. Sleeping on the couch and crying with me. Feeding me, clothing me, taking care of me when I couldn't. Then, watching as my wings began to heal little by little. Smiling with me again. Running with me. Laughing with me, and then repeat. I am not sure what I can ever do to repay the fierce love I've been blessed with. But again, I am not going to let it stop me from trying.

I don't miss Dan any more or any less today than I have since one year ago. Although, today, I want to make him proud. I'm not going to spend the day in bed with the cover over my head ignoring the world. I started the day with this blog, I am going to walk out the door and go for a run listening to DMX and Tupac...just like Dan would have, I am going to have some coffee with Heidi and Billy, I am going to call my sister and listen to my Lilly-Bug laughing in the background. I will visit the cemetery. I will lean on all my girls, and love them as hard and unconditionally as they love me.

My heart will also be with my friend Jill, as she celebrates the life of her mother this morning at a memorial service. May God's loving arms wrap around both of us today, as we remember two lives, very well lived.

Make the resolution this year, to tell the ones closest to you that you LOVE them. Hug whenever humanly possible, and live with no regrets. I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

This Morning

Yup, it's still December, sigh. And actually it's December 25th, Christmas morning. I haven't been smiling a whole lot this month, however, I smiled when I saw the snow this morning. The light feathery flakes as they blew by the window and the thought of how big my Lilly-Bug's smile must have been when she opened her gifts from Santa, also brought me joy. There was also something else that made me smile, reflect, and hope.

As I let the boys out the back door this morning, I saw a small sparrow that was hoovering and trying so hard to fly. Gunner spotted the injured bird right away and ran toward it. The bird at this point was on the ground and Gunner was nosing it. I ran outside and yelled, "LEAVE IT!!". A shocked Gunner, looking at his crazy mom in her camo fleece pants and no shoes, immediately left the bird alone. (Luckily Marlo never saw the bird, or this would be where the story ends.)

I got the boys back in the house and frantically searched for something to scoop the bird into. I at least wanted to get the bird out of harm's way. There were going to be no birdy-murders in my backyard on Christmas morning, this I was sure of.

I put shoes on and headed back outside to the rescue. As I approached the bird I saw the scared look in it's eyes. The look of fear broke my heart. I scooped it up in the glass decorative tray (the only thing I could find) and just as I lifted it, the bird started to fly. It didn't fly fast right away, it hoovered like a humming bird, right in front of my face. I swear the bird was looking at me, taking me all in. Then just like that, it flew high into the sky. I could see that one of it's wings was not working as well as the other, but this bird still flew, and the bird still sang.

I can't help but think it was a sign this crisp December morning. A sign with a lesson to be learned. Just like Martina McBride's song, "And with a broken wing, she still sings, she keeps an eye on the sky....and with a broken wing, she still sings, man you oughta see her fly...."

I am broken. I am deeply wounded by grief and loss, yet I can still sing and one day, with the continued gentle "lift" of my friends and family, I will fly too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They Said It Best

~Ah! You can die, the world can collapse, I have lost the one I love. I must now live in this terrible solitude where memories are torture. ~Albert Camus

December has threatened, taunted my every day. The December of two thousand nine, and now the December in two thousand ten. December 31, 2009 torturing my every memory with the smells of the hospital, the faces of my family as they entered the room. The room. The hospital staff had us wait there, until the doctor himself came in and asked me questions. Does your husband have tattoos? Where are they? What shoes did your husband have on when he went to the gym? My answers. "Mrs. Shriner, something tragic has happened. Your husband suffered a massive heart attack. We worked on him for a good long time, but there was nothing we could do. I am so sorry."

Am I here? Who's banging the table...that's the heart beat in my ears. Is it New Year's Eve, we have a dinner reservation to keep? If I dig my nails into my arm, I will wake up. Why am I bleeding, people don't bleed in dreams. I can't breath. I need my husband. Something awful has just happened, and I need to speak with my husband...

From that moment forward, the only speaking Dan and I have done, has been me, talking to him, across our worlds.

~Why do our faces search the empty sky? Is there something we have forgotten, some precious thing wandering in strange lands?~Arna Bontemps

Nine days ago, as the first of December descended upon me, I rose for the day with a heavy heart. As each day passes, and the temperatures grow colder, so does my perspective:

Wow, what a year. You look tired. Your face looks older than you are. You survived the year, even though you didn't want to, and at times begged not to, you survived. You completed the half marathon you and Dan signed up to do in April. You began to write, smile, joke, and laugh again, sometimes without faking it. You ran a half marathon in October and another this month, 4 days ago. Three in one year, Dan would be proud. You are working, making friends, keeping friends, and welcoming new love around you as well as new lives into the world. Good for you. So, What is the reward? Oh right, another year to endure without your husband.

When I went to the "Minute-Clinic" at CVS the other day, the doctor had to check my blood pressure six times. It was so high the first three times he checked it, he thought that his machine was broken, so he took it by hand. Still high. He sat back in the chair and asked me what was going on. I bet he's sorry he asked. As I walked out of the room that day, he took my hand. He looked at me in my eyes and said, "You have a very nice persona about you, Tiffin. I will be praying for you."

Thank you Lord, for I know that you place these prayer warriors strategically in my path, to help carry me down this precarious road. Forgive my cynicism, for I find it hard to be joyous with the hollow loss of my Dan echoing so loudly in my heart.

~Of all duties, prayer certainly is the sweetest, and most easy.~ Laurence Sterne

The sun is going to continue to come up every day. The Earth will continue to turn, and the moon will rise at night. It will do this on Dan's "Angel-Date" and the first of the year after that. I will continue to have times when I know I am going to be OK, and I will have moments when I can't pick myself up off the floor. I will also continue to share my journey, and appreciate the allowance to do so.

~One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book. Give it, give it all, give it now.~Annie Dillard

I want December to speed away, and leave me be. I want the days to grow longer and the click of my heat to stop sounding on. There are many "wants" on my list these days but above all, I want the courage, the strength, and the wisdom to get me through.

Allow me to not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. For, it is because of Jesus Christ's birth and then death, that I will be able to see my Dan again, one fine day.
~Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion, a hint of the resurrection.~Arthur Schopenhauer