Friday, January 17, 2014

4 Years

It's been four years today since Brian died.  Thankfully, the details of that horrible day have softened a little bit in my mind.  If I choose to go back and remember it, it's pretty sharp and still cuts me to the core, but time has helped me add some distance and I no longer have flashbacks, nightmares, or persistent thoughts about the horrors that unfolded before my eyes and upon my life that awful day.

In a way, it doesn't sound like a long time.  Four years really isn't that long in the scheme of things - not to a normal person with a normal, happy life.  When life is good, time goes quickly.  It is true that "time flies when you're having fun."  But when you're a grieving widow who's reeling with shock, hurting beyond belief, dreading upcoming holidays and occasions, and who is fearful and unsure about the near and far future, every day seems to drag on for an eternity.  While the past couple years have gone by relatively quickly, the first year felt closer to a decade in time than one year.  It's only lately that I've started to feel capable and ready to plan far in the future again.  I don't know that I've planned anything for more than six months in the future since Brian died -- and that one thing I did plan that far in advance was my wedding.  I'm still not the future-planner I once was.  I'm too leery of unexpected change, too timid to dare to presume that I (or anyone else) will still be alive and well that far ahead.

Yet so much has happened.  I moved, I changed jobs, I picked up another (!) cat, I moved again, I bought a condo, I went to Europe, I had a breakdown and went back to therapy, I bounced back, I struggled to fit in, I made amazing friends, I ran a couple more half-marathons, I irreparably injured my ankle on a Mexican waterside (thus insuring I won't be doing any more full 26.2-milers), I traveled to Mexico three times, I went to Bonnaroo twice, I have made mistakes, I met a few celebrities, I took up golfing, and my online diary of grief has been viewed over 100,000 times.  I literally could not have imagined any of this four years ago.  At that point, all I knew was I was lost, I was shocked, I was devastated, and I knew life would never be the same again.

Yet, on that day, I also knew that life would go on.  I remember distinctly thinking, "I'm still breathing. I'm going to keep breathing.  I'm going to wake up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  I don't know what to do with this, but I know my life is going on."  And from there, I just had to take it hour by hour, then day by day, and week by week, and finally - month by month.  I'm finally able to think ahead and to dare to dream about what will happen years from now, what life will look like when I'm middle-aged, when I'm old.  It's something a lot of people take for granted, this ability to dream and plan for a future.  It's the thing that has taken the longest to build back up in my life.  Some combination of fear and the cold reality of possibilities has kept me from daring to think long-term and to build toward an uncertain future.

Brian was quite a planner.  Not only did we always have a packed social calendar, but he was diligent about his professional and personal goals.  He had a target income he wanted to hit by 40, and a position within his company.  We started seeing a financial planner before I had even finished my schooling with the idea to set our long-term goals and take the steps needed to achieve them.  I was like that to a lesser extent, but loved the structure of this way of thinking and happily participated in these discussions and plans, and we started socking away money into our IRAs and 401(k)s.  Once he died, I was like a sailboat in a windless sea, drifting about deflated and without direction.  I literally wrote about how I moved to Austin because "that's where the wind took me."

Today, in Brian's honor, I resolve to get back to my forward-thinking, future-planning ways.  I know that life is uncertain.  I also know that the things I want in life aren't going to happen if I don't plan for them.  If I don't dare to dream it, I won't achieve it.  It's time to start dreaming, goal-setting, and forward-thinking again.  I've let the wind take me where I needed to be, and I'm ready to use this place in life as my new launching pad.  It's time to draw up a road map to the future I want.  It's time to dream big again.


  1. Thank you for your post. I was 39 when I lost Dawn Marie, that was three years ago on January 12th. It's tough starting life over again without your partner, your lover, and your best friend.

  2. Dear Wendy,

    I love your blog! I am so very sorry for the loss of your Brian and please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
    I work for Jewelry Keepsakes, an online retailer that specializes in memorial jewelry.  I was wondering if you would have any interest in doing a product review.  We have so many great products that I honestly feel can help people that have experienced loss.  Getting an honest review not only helps us maintain the integrity of our products and shows us what is working and what we need to improve on but also lets us provide the best products we can to those that are grieving - and that matters most of all.  I have a particular fondness for our photo engraved keepsakes as they honor those that are living as well as those that have passed (I have three of each of my children).  I would be happy to send at no charge any keepsake of your choice.

    The links to our site and to our photo engraved pendants are:

    I am happy to answer any questions you might have and the best way to reach me is via reply to my email.  I also have a company email where you can contact me and that is

    Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Best Regards,
    Hallie Schumaker
    Jewelry Keepsakes

  3. Hi Wendy,

    Just touching base to see if you had given any thought to a review pendant. TX is warmer than MA! :)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Dear Wendy,

    Hope you are well! Checking in to get your thoughts on doing a product critique. Please let me know if you have any questions!

    Best regards,

  6. God has been the difference in my own life during times of loneliness, heartbreak, and pain. I know too well what it means of not getting encouraged by others and the hurt that comes from that. I've found that only God always offer encouragement and hope, much better than any human can offer. I can only imagine how it feels to be widowed. I have the taste of having a soul tie broken- I've gotten dumped in the past and it's hurt me so much in the past. The Bible teaches that a sexual relationship (whether marital or premarital) results in the man and woman becoming one (a soul tie). I believe that even emotional involvement (without having sex) also creates soul ties, but to a lesser degree than a sexual soul tie. Rejection and abandonment are all painful things. King Solomon said that everything in this world is vanity, everything is meaningless- a chasing after the wind. Eventually whatever we gain in this world (relationships, success, wealth), we lose them all at some point. There is something you can never lose though- God. God surpasses everything in our lives. Our thirsting for things in this world (especially human relationships) is evidence that we need something greater than those things to satisfy us because everything except God will end up failing you in some way. God has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God can't die on us and leave us in a state of loneliness. God won't cheat on us, dump us and go off with someone else. Whenever you feel lonely or feel that you're missing something in your life- realize that God wants to fill that void in your life. So many times I've been ignorant about the Bible. We're trained from our birth to live by our senses- thus we look to perceive God with those senses. Most of the time, we can't perceive God with our senses as He is a spiritual being. God has wanted me to develop my spiritual senses and rely on His word (the Bible) to experience Him. I've learned to always see God's word as alive, powerful, and relevant for each day. When I've failed to see that in the past, it's robbed me so much joy and peace. I've learned to look at the Bible as a powerful and active gateway/portal to God. We can try to occupy our minds with so many different things in this world to try and fill the void in our lives or suppress the pain, but all of those things will keep us still hungry and thirsty. God has promised us that if we reach out to Him, He will give us rest, quench our thirst, and satisfy our hunger. If you haven't done that, I hope you will give God a chance. I further hope that God will use you to go and reach others with His word, just like He has used me to reach out to you. Many people in this world are hurting just like you. Many are just looking for a simple act of kindness or a word of encouragement (words are powerful- they can heal and motivate or when used in an evil manner destroy others) which they don't receive from others. Ultimately, many even end their own lives because they feel hopeless and want to end their pain of torment- all because they've failed to see God was nearby all along and they failed to perceive Him with their spiritual senses. God loves you more than any human in this world! He wants to be your companion today and take care of you and your family's needs. I hope you see and explore His love for you today through the Bible- the Bible is the secret source for unraveling peace and joy for you when you can't find them in this world. I can't give you physical copy of the Bible right now, but you can freely access it online at ( May God bless you, heal you and strengthen you and your family. Continue to write and help others for His glory. Claim God's promises to you from His word today. Humans will likely fail to encourage you when you really need it, however, God won't fail. All you need to do is turn to His word. It is available 24/7 whenever you need it- to experience God.

  7. Please read these verses when you get the chance- Isaiah 55:11-13; Jeremiah 49:11; Psalm 146:9; Psalm 68:5; Revelation 21:1-7; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Isaiah 2:22; 1 Corinthians 7:29-35.

    If you accept God's way of salvation through Jesus Christ, you will have a future hope because a new earth and new heavens will be created. God will make us new also. All pain, sorrow, and death will be gone in the new world that is to come. You will forget the sorrow of your widowhood in that new world.

    Isaiah 54:4-6 (NLT):
    "Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband;
    the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
    He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
    the God of all the earth.
    6 For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
    as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
    says your God.

    Isaiah 65:17 (GW):
    I will create a new heaven and a new earth.
    Past things will not be remembered.
    They will not come to mind.

    Revelation 21:1-4 (NLT):
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

    3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”