January rolls around every year, and it begins a darker period of remembrance for me. That’s just the way the dates of death fell in my family.
My husband Carl’s brother passed away on January 8 decades ago from Leukemia at the young age of 24.
My morbid month began in 1998, when I lost my husband to a freak vehicle/pedestrian/deer accident. For more details, you may check out my blog: The Day the Music Died.
So, this year was more surreal due to two things. The first, was that while mourning the death of Andrae Crouch, a monumental Christian music artist for most of my adult life, I went to my Baptist Hymnal on the shelf. It had been gathering dust. Inside, I discovered a small piece of paper that was written by deceased husband’s hand. As a Minister of Music, he would write down a list of hymn selections for a service to give to the secretary for printing in the bulletin. This particular forgotten list had several songs that concentrated on Heaven and going Home.
Was he trying to tell me something? Like the movie Ghost?
It was like I had a final message. Silly to some, sentimental to others, but whatever your thoughts on the subject it was worth checking out the message. I began posting the lyrics on my blog. The words bring me back to a time that was so important in my life. The music so powerful. I can hear my home church’s congregation singing the hymns, accompanied by a grand piano and organ. Of course, the organist is my first mother-in law, Linda. Now, that’s happy thoughts.
Another reason this January was surreal was that the days of the week fell exactly as they did when my husband died. For some reason, that brings back a keener sense of feelings. As a writer, I polished up a column I had written, but had never published about the day he died. Its great therapy.
As the month ramped up, the death date passed and on the 6th of January I went to work. Out of the blue, I was ‘let go’. I lost my job. Ok, so that may not be so bleak of a thing, but it was a bit disturbing. Plus, as a social creature, I would miss my coworkers. No pity party here, but, man, the blues were beginning to set in.
As I trained my replacement like a good employee, I was eagerly looking for a replacement job. Nothing was coming up.
On my first day of employment freedom, I had a million things I wanted to do because I was not working! But when my hubby requested a lunch date-- off I went to meet him.
Driving to the restaurant, I got my first sharp pain. Dismissing it as gas, or some odd muscle cramp, I made it to lunch, ordered and all the while trying to eat, I kept complaining of the pain that would not die. Finally, I told Carl, pay the bill, I would be outside because I was beginning to cry. I don’t cry.
The short story is that we ended up at the ER, admitted with blockage of an intestine and after suffering terribly for a few days, they performed a surgery to relieve me. A nasty business of recovery was upon me and January wasn't looking so good.
HOWEVER, that’s if you concentrate only on the negative!
Let me rephrase the events of January 2015....The positives:
First, a list with comforting songs to minister to me cheered me.
Second, I got out of job that was causing me a great amount of stress.
Third, I had a point in my hospital stay before surgery that I almost didn't make it. If not for my Guard Dog husband, Carl, I would have not. He counted breaths and when no one was around realized he could not awaken me. They sent in the crash team and a security guard who kept Carl at the door. Later, a nurse told me how close I came. They were about to inject my heart with ‘the shot’.
But finally, I came back.
Before the crash, I had finally given my nurse, Trey, the prize number 10 for pain that I had been holding on to until, writhing in pain, feeling like I was in Transition mode of giving birth, (if you are not familiar with this comparison it’s the part where you wanted to have your baby natural and the last stage of pain kicks in and you think, why? Why didn't I ask for drugs?) I felt the 10 pain!!! Did I care if I was flashing everyone my birthday suit parts? Nope.
Then, peace, finally, I was not hurting. UNTIL, a great thump, thump, thump on my chest from a strong, bony finger and someone calling me Mrs. Williams! As my eyes opened, my young male nurse, was staring at me with the widest eyes and a look of horror, but I was still a little aggravated with him. WHY had he disturbed my sleep?
The blessing is that, I did not die. Coming close only makes you more alive.
Fifth, I discovered the blessing of receiving.
I had friends visit, cook for me, bring my family food, and buy me flowers & books, and a couple of life saving chocolate milk shakes while in the hospital. I was enveloped in love and kindness that humbles me. My family got to experience it as well.
Moving away from my hometown 7 years ago had not diminished the spirit of friendship and church that I had left behind….when I lost my husband; I felt the ministry of receiving in such a major way! It was one of the most powerful outflow of love that I had ever experienced. This was a reminder of how people take care of their people.
I went through the death date of my dad by getting out of the hospital after six nights there and finally going home. That was a good day.
My last documented blessing was the way my three sons took the reins of being left to fend for themselves and they were amazing. Always use to their mom getting them up, they had to set their alarms, get themselves fed and dressed and make their own lunches while the eldest drove them to and from school. They did laundry, dishes, and kept the house in order while Carl stayed at my side.
January finally ended with me at home, surrounded with my guys, the real promise of my fourth son coming for a visit, food provided by others in my refrigerator and flowers on my deck to remind me of the beauty on this Earth.
I feel loved and blessed. I do not have one ounce of fear that if I had taken that final breath I would be gone because I feel such a connection with God. It does not scare me in the least. I am at peace with death.
Now, January’s have a new date to remember, not a death date, but a near death date that I can say, All is Well.
Bring on February!