Procrastination: to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.
I used to be a world-class procrastinator. “I’ll put that off until tomorrow…I can put that load of laundry in the dryer in the morning….let’s wait to pay that bill till the 10th of the month…..” You get the idea.
But since becoming a widow almost one year ago to the date, I’ve reinvented myself. There are new habits, a new attitude, a moving from introvert to extrovert, from loving wife/2nd in command to bread winner/1st in command. My procrastinating days, I thought, were behind me.
So, if that’s true, why can’t I bring myself to pack my suitcase for my Kansas trip tomorrow? The boys have their things together. My stuff is piled all over the bedroom, suitcases partially filled with leftovers from my KY/NC trip last week. Folded clean clothes cover the bed. I know what I need to do….I just cannot bring myself to do it. WHY?
I know why. Somewhere, deep within my soul, I would rather not go. I’ve been dreading the one year observation of Mark’s death for months now. No place would be easy for me to be on July 30th. But being on the land that he loved, that was supposed to be our home in a mere year? It is cruel, ironic, and sad, all wrapped up in a neat tidy package of “I don’t want to face the facts.”
He had a deep, intense love affair with Kansas. Good thing I wasn ‘t the jealous type 🙂 The land that has been in his family’s name for well over 100 years is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s planted with native grasses. It has a pond on it. He had so many meticulous plans for us there. And it’s hard to let those dreams go.
Oh, I’ve tried. I have emptied my hands and my heart of those plans, and I have surrendered my life and the lives of my boys to God. Where God wants us to go, we’ll go. What God wants me to do, I’ll do. What God wants me to say, I’ll try to say. But God, do You really need me to be in the place he loved most on this earth on the day that hurts me the most?
If I just don’t pack, I can stay here, right? If I stick my head in the sand, just like the ostrich I used to be, can I pretend that I haven’t lost the love of my life, the father of my two boys? If I close my eyes and listen really really closely, I can still hear the sound of his voice, the lilt in his laugh. I can see his eyes look at me with more love than I ever deserved. I can picture him on the floor of our den, wrestling with his sons, with squeals of laughter radiating from our home.
Lord, I really don’t think I can do this. The last time we were at the farm was Thanksgiving. It was a tough trip. I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head until July 31st. Then, the first year will be history, and maybe, just maybe, I can turn the page and close the chapter.
I’m surprised at the hot, bitter tears that trail down my face today. I’ve been doing pretty good these past few months. But all of the memories of a year ago come stampeding through my mind, knocking me off balance. I had a sure footing just a day or so ago. Is this normal? Ha, now that’s a laughable question….if there’s anything I’ve figured out in the past year, there is no normal way to grieve.
In my heart, God has been working to heal me, as a battle scar forms over the part of my heart that loves Mark. In some respects, I feel like that part of my heart has closed up, that the doors have been locked. What I have inside for him will never not be a part of who I am. Just like my safety deposit box, which holds important papers, vintage baseball cards, and our wedding rings, my heart holds all of the memories and love that we shared.
I’ve decided that life is just a big test. It’s not about us. It’s about how we react to our circumstances, pure and simple. Life going pretty well? Then we just glide along, tending to take things for granted. God may or may not be a part of the puzzle. But when life isn’t perfect, when things like death and sickness and depression and vindictiveness enter in–that’s when the rubber meets the road. If you dig in your heels, and grab hold of God’s hand, you’ll weather the storm. I don’t want to think of the alternative.
I know I have to go to Kansas. This is not an optional trip. Mark’s siblings are at the old farmhouse, doing a major sort/reorganization of what Mark’s mom doesn’t need at her new home. The boys and I need to be with family. We’ll meet with a realtor, who will manage the house for his mom for renters in the near future.
That means it might be the last time we get to sleep in the drafty old place. I’ve been travelling there for 25 years, sleeping upstairs whenever it was so cold my antiperspirant froze on the dresser. It’s been so hot upstairs that a constant fan and open windows didn’t slow down the sweating. But Mark loved it, every square inch of it. And because he loved it, I do, as well.
I’ve put off packing long enough. The tears have dried, at least for the moment. We’ll take that Toyota truck he was so proud of, and we’ll point it towards north in the morning. We’ll say a prayer before we leave the driveway, and we will truly use God as our co-pilot.
And whenever July 30th dawns, it will be alright. It has to be. I’ll wake up in the home Mark loved so much, and be surrounded by his sons, his siblings, and his mother. Together we will get through whatever the day has in store.
This year has been the most difficult of my life. Yet, in the midst of the difficulties, I have found myself closer to my God than I ever dreamed possible. I think I will just see how much closer I can get in the next three days.
If a loved one is nearby, within hugging distance, go right now and tell them how much you love them…what a difference they’ve made in your life….how your life has been better because they are in it. Don’t waste time disagreeing and procrastinating.
We covet your prayers as we make this journey, both spiritual and physical, to Kansas. I pray we are ready to turn the page and close the chapter. I know that God has a new story for us to write.