The day Amanda died I was in a daze. I remember some things very vividly, some things not so well. I remember sitting in the ER room touching her, rubbing her hair, holding her hand. I remember being concerned the news was spreading like wildfire and we hadn’t had time to call our parents. I remember being so concerned about her husband, her children, her nieces, her brother, my husband. I remember thinking I have to hold it together as much as possible for them. I remember my son saying, “at least she isn’t suffering”. I don’t remember my husband saying anything but making some calls to make sure our parents were told. I remember leaving to go to tell the children. I remember them clinging to us after they were told. The youngest not really understanding.
There are things I remember the few days after – unity of family, people visiting, food, playing children, visitation arrangements, funeral arrangements, flowers, and no answers. Hours of a line at the funeral home. Overflow at the funeral. The outpouring of love. No answer as to why.
I still have so many questions unanswered. I should have asked them at that time. Instead I was worried about upsetting people too much. I didn’t want to make things worse. So, I kept quiet.
I remember before we even buried Amanda people were beginning to say things that had the hair on my neck stand up. God spoke to me, He was very vivid – put on the whole armor, guard, pray, keep watch, the evil one likes to destroy during the time of death. I talked to my husband. He had the same feelings. Strange thing about people, we handle things in totally different ways. He is a peacemaker (People have a hard time believing that about him!), I am more direct and bold. He kept quiet; I warned and asked for promises. I really am not sure which of us was right.
Certain conversations stick out in my mind vividly. Conversations in the yard at the tailgate of truck, on the ride to the funeral home and sitting in the den are just a few.
During the time after the funeral I did some very wrong things. I took on the jobs to make it easier on everyone else. Things like writing hundreds of thank-you notes. If you don’t know me, let me tell you something about myself – I go overboard. Amanda used to tell me that all the time. I couldn’t use the thank you notes from the funeral home. No, I had to have special ones printed. Then I couldn’t just write a simple thank you, no – I tried to individualize each one with a special note. It took me months to write all of the thank you notes. My “spare” time in the evenings and on weekends was spent at the kitchen table writing notes.
I also took on the flower “job”. The flowers left after her husband decided what he wanted, I tried to divide between loved ones and friends. It took several weeks. I had to repot some of them before I could deliver them. Then I repotted all of the plants left. . I’ve had to repot several since then. Of course, as the seasons change I have to move them around. I spent about 11/2 hours yesterday watering and taking care of the ones we have left. Every week I spend time trying to make sure none of the plants die. The ones I planted in the yard died – it was upsetting. Crazy huh?
I also took on the grave duty. I am not normally a person who visits a grave. Amanda’s death changed that. I try to keep it up as much as possible. I especially do not want the children visiting their mom’s or aunt’s grave it is un-kept. I make the flowers for the permanent vase and add details that remind me of her life. Clean off the dead flowers others leave and get the trash out of the gravel. It’s time to change them now. I will put flowers with the colors of the Gamecocks since it is football season. She would like it but more importantly it reminds the children of something about her. Although I want it done right, from time to time, I should call a florist or ask someone else to take care of it – I just can’t bring myself to do it.
I didn’t check on the family as much as I should. I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t want to interfere and I didn’t know what to say. I still had too many questions I wanted answers to and just couldn’t bring myself to ask. Too painful for them, I thought. I didn’t want them to know how difficult of a time I was having. I wasn’t sure I could talk without crying which in turn would just upset them. We did have family dinners. We did take trips together. The kids loved it when we were all together.
Something I did/do right is spend as much time as possible with the grand-children. I answer their questions as honestly as possible. I listen. I hug and kiss. I cook, play, help with homework, go places, pay attention to them and watch TV with them. They take turns sleeping with me when they spend the night. I love it and they think it’s great. My husband is wonderful with them and he is just as big a part of their lives, probably more so. He is also taking more time off work. We have learned, you have to enjoy every minute you can with them now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Enjoy time with them while they are young before their toys get too big to compete with.
I didn’t change a whole lot for a year. Tried to keep things as “normal” as possible for the sake of the children and for the family. I changed some pictures around in the house a while back because someone else thought I should. It was a mistake. I am beginning to put some of the pictures back up. The children want them up and it brings me and my husband comfort to be reminded of the happy times. They ask for things I have that remind them of their mother. I bought some rugs not long ago for the house. Nothing doing but they wanted them! You know what I did – sent the rugs home with them. Sometimes they will ask me to keep something in a special place at my house. I have no idea if they remember or not. But it’s where they asked me to keep it. Just our secret. (Don’t ask, I will not tell J)
There is not a whole lot I can otherwise list as right. Mainly because I’m not sure yet, the future will tell. I do know that temptation is stronger now. It’s the anger, loneliness, sadness, stress, tiredness and worry that have allowed me to be so tempted. It’s keeping my eyes on the wrong thing. It’s keep my eyes on others instead of looking to Jesus.
Jesus said to the disciples at the Mount of Olives “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” The disciples fell asleep “from sorrow”. Jesus came back and told them to “get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation”. (Portions of Luke 22:40 & 46) (NASB) I thought about these passages and how much these passages and the happenings afterward have to do with me. Sleeping from sorrow is a common response. Sleep takes my living away and my relationship with Christ. Yes, I meant living. I have to get up and pray. I need to pray so that I do not fall into temptation. What temptations? For me – tempted to respond with anger (maybe cut an ear off!), tempted to not speak up, tempted to hide in the house, tempted to be spiteful and mean, tempted to wash my hands of everything, tempted to control, tempted to be mean, tempted to …….
I want to recognize Jesus walking with me down the road. In order to see Him, I have to put aside the things which hinder my walk. I have to “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Eph 6: 10&11 (NASB) “ Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Eph 6:14-18a (ESV)
I have printed out the armor of God passage. I will put it in my room where I go in the mornings to pray and study the Word. I am praying I will heed His warnings and stay awake. I am praying I will get up. I am praying God will remind me to stay in a state of prayer. I am praying God reminds me everyday all day long to guard myself. I am praying God will remind me all day long to put on my armor and keep it on. I am praying God will help me to keep my eyes on Him and not people. I am praying for wisdom, God’s wisdom.
I am praying for all of you too. We are not alone, we have to just open our eyes and our hearts. We have to prepare ourselves to fight the schemes, the confusion and the hurt Satan sends our way. God has given us the answers and the means. Jesus was in a stones throw of the disciples at the Mount of Olives. He is within us, if we are saved! WoW!