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Monday, August 18, 2014

Remembering Scott -- The Heart Walk


The Heart Walk is coming up -- just six weeks away.  If you have lost someone to a heart condition or stroke, or know someone who has been affected by a heart condition, heart attack, or stroke, you have a personal reason to walk or to donate.  Last year was the first year that I chose to walk in Scott's memory.  Quite frankly I imagined that I would only do it one year.  I don't particularly enjoy being in large groups of people and after seeing the numbers for how many people show up for the Heart Walk each year I certainly didn't think that I would  be interested in doing it again.  To my utter surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the Heart Walk.  It is an extremely well organized event and it certainly didn't feel like there were as many people there as the numbers showed.  BUT, the main reason that I thoroughly enjoyed the Heart Walk was due to this group of people:

This is the majority of the team that showed up to walk in Scott's memory.  When we came together as a group for one purpose -- to remember Scott and his heart -- it brought a sense of unity.  I'm not sure I can adequately describe what it meant to come together as a group.  As much as I know in my head and heart that I am not alone in grieving Scott's loss, walking together in his memory allowed me to see with my eyes that Jaelyn and I are not alone.  If walking in Scott's memory causes you on one day to think about your own health and resolve to take whatever steps necessary to preserve your health, then that is one positive from this situation.  I do not want to see anyone else go through what Scott, our family, and our friends have gone through with Scott's loss, which was entirely preventable with the most basic of tests and treatment.

I am including below the link to my personal Heart Walk page.  There is a link to the team page -- if you would like to join us this year, follow this link and then click on the link "Join Team."  We are walking on September 28th at the Avon Park in Lebanon.  If you are unable to join us but would still like to donate in Scott's memory, or in memory or honor of someone close to you affected by heart disease or stroke, please click on the donate link on my page.  Every little bit helps.  Our team goal is for 20 walkers this year and $1000 in donations. 





Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seconds



It is almost two years since Scott’s death.  When I stop moving and am still, those raw emotions, feelings, and physical reactions surrounding Scott’s death come flooding back in.  How do those without a hope and strength in Jesus Christ survive and “get through” a loss like this?  Some days, even two years later, it is only by God’s strength that I can function and move forward.

 There are still many more moments when this all feels surreal rather than real.  Is there a moment in time when it will move toward feeling real?  It is no longer my first thought – “Oh, I need to tell Scott about this.”  Now it is, “Oh, I wish I could tell Scott about this.” Or, “I wish I knew what Scott would think about this.”  It all feels so unfair.

 In two weeks it will be the second anniversary of Scott’s death.  In facing that, I am coming to realize that the dreaded “firsts” are not necessarily the hardest.  The “seconds” reinforce that this is reality and not just a horrible dream.

 Just a few weeks ago I realized that I have been arranging my pillows each night to take the empty place where Scott used to be so that I still fall asleep each night as if I was cuddled up to his side, with my head on his chest and my arms around him.  I had been sleeping like this for months before it hit me what I was doing – then I cried.


 There is a gigantic Scott-shaped void in our lives.  It has started to scab over, but every so often something happens or a thought hits that rips the scab off without warning, leaving it raw again. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Worry and Anxiety



Although I believe in God and have faith in His Word, one of the things I have struggled with spiritually since Scott’s death is worry and anxiety.  In talking with others who have experienced tragedy in their lives, I have come to realize that this is a common problem.  Because I have experience unexpected tragedy in my brother Jason’s accident and then death 12 years later, as well as Scott’s unexpected death, my mind is hyper-aware of the fact that life is not in my control and something can happen at any moment to tear away someone that I love dearly.  Sometimes the anxiety and worry hit for no apparent reason and my imagination can run rampant.  Other times I find myself worrying about the future.  Sometimes it takes a long time for me to hear God reminding me to trust Him, that He is in control.

In recent days, God has brought it to my attention that this is an ongoing issue for me.  I have spent much time thinking and praying about it.  So often a simplistic answer is offered – just think about something else, think about something positive, or simply – stop worrying.  Those of you who have been there know that the only simple answer is God, but in saying that I realize that the process of trusting God is not easy and it is not a “cure.”  Simply by saying that I trust God does not erase my worry and anxiety.  I believe it is a journey – a journey of continuing to draw closer to God, continuing on a daily – or hourly or minute by minute – basis to deliberately put it back in God’s hands, praying for His wisdom and guidance, and trusting that He will help you move forward on this journey.  (Just for clarification, I believe that medications and counseling are God’s provision if needed and not a sign of weakness.)

Has my worry and anxiety disappeared?  No, but I am hearing God’s voice more quickly reminding me to pause, pray, and put it in God’s hands.  Sometimes a quick prayer is enough to bring peace and other times it is ongoing prayer that gradually brings peace.  I need to remember not to give up and not to get discouraged when I do worry or get anxious, but to continually return to God in prayer.  I’m thankful that God will never give up on me and will continue to work in me.

“We have a Savior who has never once failed us.  He never will fail us.  He has loved and led and guarded us all these years.”  -- Amy Carmichael

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not Once

This morning I was reading in Romans.  Two words caught my attention – faith and believe.  I was caught by the fact that the words appeared to be used interchangeably in talking about coming to righteousness in Christ, yet I didn’t think that they meant the same thing.  After pulling out my dictionary to look both words up, I realized that their meaning is very similar.  Faith is the structure, believing is the action.  Faith is the physical bridge to God, believing is stepping out on that bridge and moving toward God, trusting the bridge (faith) to be true and solid. 

God’s faithfulness is beyond human comprehension.  We are incapable of faithfulness in every word, deed, and thought.  We do not deserve His faithfulness, yet in His mercy and grace He freely gives us what we do not deserve.

In thinking about our grief journey since Scott’s death, almost two years ago, I realized that I have had faith that God is true and would provide for us.  Only in moving forward am I demonstrating a belief that God is true and will provide for us.  And God has provided financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  He has brought people into my life at the right times to provide a word of encouragement, a spiritual reminder, and a blessing in a new friend.  He has provided the right teachers at the right times for Jaelyn and conversations at the right times with the right people with the right words.  God’s timing had always been right on time – never late and never early.  He has provided what we needed at exactly the right time.


I do not understand why Scott had to die so young and I may never know.  But, I do know that God has been faithful and blessed us beyond measure as we grieve the earthly loss of Scott and struggle to move forward.  He has provided us with strength to move forward when it seemed impossible.  He has brought  happiness and  joy back to our lives and our spirits over time, even when it seemed like that would never be possible again.  Every time I see Jaelyn laughing, relaxed, and having fun, I thank God with all my heart for His healing power and His faithfulness to us.  Not once has He failed us, not once has He left us alone, not once has He failed to provide for us, and not once has He failed to bless us.

Please take a moment to listen to the song below, it says it so clearly.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Down Days

Today is one of those down days.  It is beautiful outside, yet I lack the energy or the motivation to do something outside, much less inside.  I suppose that waking up with a severe headache certainly contributed to feeling down today.  Thankfully it has mostly subsided.  I find myself taking the time to think back over our vacation – this was the first one (other than trips to the cabin) since Scott’s death. 

We were so busy going and doing that I didn’t have much time to think about the moments that I marked in my memory, moments when Scott’s absence was so obvious and painful.  A majority of those moments were times of missing Scott for Jaelyn.  Playing tennis and pool with her -- both games that Scott was good at and I only know the basics -- and missing Scott’s patience in teaching her how to hold and improve her swing with a tennis racket or how to hold a pool cue and line up the ball to the pockets brought sadness to my heart.  I think the fact that our vacation was at Massanutten – a place where Scott and I have been quite a few times on vacation, both before and after Jaelyn’s birth – made it more difficult.  Maybe this is why I looked for things to do away from Massanutten’s grounds.  It was easier to do things with Jaelyn that we had not done before as a family, rather than to do the things that we had done with Scott in the past. 

During vacation, I thought a lot about all the changes in our lives and the Bradley family’s lives since we were last at Massanutten in March of 2011.  First of the major changes was my mother-in-law’s stroke, followed by Scott’s death just five months later, and our nephew leaving for college in Massachusetts just two days after Scott’s funeral.  So, with “all” the family at Massanutten, we were missing Nando and Abby (in Boston), and Scott, and trying to help my mother-in-law do as many of the things she enjoys doing as possible while being wheelchair bound.  We have adjusted and continue to move forward, but the pain of the loss and change still remains. 


Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of fun on vacation and got to do a lot of different things – it wasn’t all sad moments.  I simply think that those sad moments are hitting me today.  I am thankful that the down days do not come frequently and, by the grace of God, I am able to rebound and pull myself out of those moments with God’s strength.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father to the Fatherless

So, yesterday was Father’s Day.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this day brings such mixed emotions for Jaelyn and I.  I am beyond grateful for the wonderful father that I have.  He has been there for me whenever I have needed him.  He has never hesitated, even now, to let me know if he thought I needed correction or redirection.    Anytime I need or want help with a project, help with getting something repaired, need advice, or just need a hug, I know that he is there and will help or support me in any way that he can.

Yet, as you can imagine, I grieve for Jaelyn that her father is no longer here to fill that role for her.  Scott was a wonderful father to Jaelyn.  He loved to spend time with her, share his love of the outdoors and sports with her, and play with her.  This loss has been a huge loss for Jaelyn.  I see so clearly how she craves that father figure.   She may not consciously realize how much she craves it, but it is so obvious when you see her with the special men in her life. 

I am thankful that God has allowed and provided my dad with good health, that he lives close by, and that he has a close relationship with Jaelyn.  Time with Grandpa has become very special to her.  It is very clear when my dad is away on the days that Jaelyn is at their house, that his absence makes a huge difference in her attitude. She is more grumpy with everyone around her and clingy with me.   Dad has tried to do regular “date” nights with Jaelyn.  We haven’t used that title with her, but after watching her get ready for the second evening of just her and Grandpa doing something special, it was clear that this conveys the specialness of those times for her.   Jaelyn changed into a dress, did her hair special, and put on her Sunday sandals.  

Please, men, if you know of a fatherless child – whether by death or absence – don’t discount the importance you might have in that child’s life.   Women, if you know of a motherless child – again whether by death or absence – don’t discount the importance you might have in that child’s life.  God intended us to have a mother and a father for a reason.  Look around you, are there children without a mother or father?  How will these children grow up to understand God’s given roles for men and women and how each should be treated without role models to look up to?

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Salsa

There are a lot of thought floating in my head this weekend, calling out to put on paper.  So, this is my second post today – rather than combine my convoluted thoughts into one post.

This weekend I had a picnic with friends at my house.  One of our friends asked me to make my salsa for the picnic.  There was such a mixture of feelings when I got his email with the request.   Scott asked me to make my salsa more than any other recipe or food item I have ever made for him.  I had not made it since before his death, until this weekend.  I wasn’t sure I would ever make it again – it is so connected with Scott in my mind.  Scott would always help me make it – chopping the onions for me since I can’t chop onions without crying my eyes out—and was always my taste tester. 

I took a short-cut when I made it this weekend and bought pre-cut onions and peppers at the store.  I truly thought that I would cry my way through making it.  I didn’t cry, but Scott was very present in my thoughts the whole time.  When I finished making it and it was time to taste test it (I don’t have an exact recipe and it is never the same twice), it was really hard taste testing without his opinion.  I finally just let it go and walked away before my emotions could overwhelm me.  It didn’t taste good to me at that time, but I think it was my memories and emotions getting in the way.


I have found myself wondering when the firsts will end.  It is exhausting at times anticipating or getting blindsided by the first time of doing or having something happen since his death.   It can often be a punch in the gut, especially when I am blindsided by it.  Just last Sunday, for the scholarship presentation, when Pastor Marc introduced me as Scott’s widow is a perfect example.  I don’t know why I didn’t think about how I would be introduced, but it was the first time, even twenty-two months after Scott’s death, that someone had introduced me as Scott’s widow.  I have filled out forms, checking the box widow, so it isn’t that I haven’t lived the word.  And honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted Pastor Marc to introduce me any other way, but it is still a shock to my system when little-big things happen like that.