I stopped by Mark’s office yesterday to pick up the last two boxes full of his personal effects. I thank God that I haven’t been rushed , it’s taken me several months to accomplish. The first few times were the hardest, being in the space that was personally his own for 20 years. Everything in that room screamed “Mark”.
I didn’t sort much of anything, except what was TPWD’s versus what was his. I don’t know what the boys will want, so I’m going to store it all. Down the road, in a few years, hopefully, the three of us will able to go through the boxes, picking out what is worth saving and what is not. I just don’t feel qualified to make that decision for them.
The decision is much like the one I made on the fly after Mark’s second surgery in the hospital, the day before he died. Both boys wanted to see him—badly. They realized, in their own 8 and 9 year old way, that their daddy was gravely ill. I didn’t want them to look back in 5 years, blaming me for not letting them visit him, even while in such a precarious state. I rationalized that if he made it (and I prayed so hard that he would!), we could look back as a family, and remember how sick he was, and how he miraculously recovered. If the unthinkable happened, and we lost him, it was at least a time where they could see him one last time, and feel his warm hand on them, see his adoring eyes looking at them both, and have maybe some closure down the line. The chaplain at the hospital at the time discouraged me from allowing them to see him….I am so glad I didn’t let her sway me. I did the right thing. They got to touch him, kiss him, tell him how much they loved him. And he told them the same, even though he could not speak with a ventilator in place.
I’ve made most decisions by the seat of my pants—or at least that’s what I joke. But I’m not telling the whole truth. I have prayed seriously about most major decisions since he has died. Some more than others. But all in some form or fashion. God’s certainly alot better at these decisions than I am. And he hasn’t failed me yet.
I look at the calendar and it’s been 11 months tomorrow that he died. I miss him terribly. It’s not so much a feeling as it was at first, like my arms had been cut off. It’s more of a wistful sadness, as I realize that this is my new reality. I’m heading a family of three. All of the shared responsibilities we tag-teamed on, are mine. And mine alone. I’m getting roof estimates. I’ve taken a broken basketball goal apart and hauled it to the landfill. I’ve contracted workers to remove my broken jacuzzi, to break up the concrete surrounding it, to dig out the wisteria behind it. I water my thirsty yard once a week, moving the soaker hoses around every 30 minutes I agonize over rising health insurance costs, and wonder what I should do. All of these are things I would’ve passed off to my more capable husband. I have so much to do, I don’t think I will ever get caught up.
But in the midst of it all, I find time for fun with my boys. For example, this afternoon, I took them and a friend to see “Men in Black 3.” There’s no better place to be than in an airconditioned theatre whenever it’s well over 100 degrees outdoors. It made us a bit sad at the end, where Will Smith discovers the circumstances in which his dad died whenever Will’s character was very young. There were a few tears shed on our way home. AJ and Ben can truly empathize with others who have lost what they have lost. I think it will make them even more compassionate young men.
Going back to Mark’s office. I didn’t know how I would feel as I pulled out of the parking lot. Another big chapter closed as I left. Now, I really don’t have any reason to be in that building. His coworkers have been so good and supportive of the three of us, and I know I’m welcome there anytime. But his position has been interviewed for, and will be filled probably within the next two weeks. I’m okay with that. It is time that the crew has another supervisor, someone who can lead them. No one will ever do it as well as Mark, I have no doubt. I pray that the best person to try is chosen.
How do people get through something like this without God? I’m serious. Without hope for heaven, without the Holy Spirit by my side, without knowing that Jesus is walking beside me, petitioning God for the extra help that we need, I would be in a sad sorry state. With God, I feel empowered, even on my worst of days. There is nothing He can’t do, and if I continue to trust Him with everything, my family will continue to heal and thrive.
And we’re doing just that. Smiles through tears, sadness tinged with joy, blessings overflowing still in sad circumstances.
God is doing great things through us. We are unworthy, but grace covers that unworthiness. And we still have much to be thankful for and happy about.
We.are.going.to.make.it. Praise God!