How long???

How long will I have to watch my boys suffer? 

This is a rough time of the year for us.

The two year mark of losing Mark will be July 30th.  Yes, two years have come and almost gone since two little boys lost their daddy, their rock, their comforter and protector.  Their notion of what a man should be.  Their biggest fan, the one they trusted to always be there for them. 

He’s gone.  And they are left with me.  I am a poor substitute, masquerading as a strong, confident woman who is unafraid of the future.  If they only knew.  I feel like I am “all hat, no cattle”–at least today. 

On the surface, I’ve got it all figured out.  Boldly embracing our future, even without Mark beside me.  Making decisions, formulating plans, starting to feel comfortable (finally!) with all of the responsibilities he took care of.

Underneath, in the deep recesses of my soul, I know I couldn’t do one of these things without God.  I lean on Him.  All the time. 

Sandwiched between the surface “Nancy”(who is supermom, encouraging widow, outdoor writer, and all-round good egg) and the inner “Nancy” (child of God, with knowledge that He will make something good out of the bad we’ve been dealt) is the vast realm of flux I will refer to as vacillating Nancy.

Vacillating Nancy ebbs and flows.  In this subconscious, middle ground of my mind, I can be anything and everything.  I run the spectrum, from great mom, a wonderful “decider” (sorry, W, I couldn’t resist), household diva and designer to poor old pitiful me, someone who doesn’t even want to get out of bed. 

Most days, I’m somewhere in the middle.  Doing what is necessary, but not going the extra mile.  You know those days…where you wash a spoon just so you have something clean to stir your creamer into your coffee.  Where laundry piles up as long as there’s clean underwear in every person’s drawer.

I wanted to be further along in this grief thing by now.  I know there’s no set schedule, no calendar of milestones to hit.  And we’ve been doing fairly well. 

So why do I feel like I’m on a downward spiral? 

It began on Sunday.  The boys and I headed to church for the 10:50 service.  Vacation Bible School was the previous week, but we did not participate.  Chances are, we’ll never participate in another VBS.  Two years ago, while Mark fought for his life after surgery, our boys were in VBS nightly. My mom tended to them while I never left Mark’s side in the hospital.  Smart boys, they knew, every night, as they participated in mundane crafts and singing songs that something just wasn’t right.  Add in the fact that a bunch of kids attended that had most likely never set foot in a church, a schedule that wasn’t followed (they got out late most every evening), and it was total mayhem. 

Let’s just say that VBS brings back a bunch of sad memories we don’t want to revisit. 

We found our seats near the back of the sanctuary.  Great.  VBS kid’s music, performed by the most happy children’s professional choir ever assembled, was piped loudly throughout.  The front area was draped with a mural from VBS.   A quick glance at the bulletin showed that VBS was highlighted throughout, but there was a sermon scheduled.  I thought we could tough it out.

But my heart began beating faster.  My breathing became shallow and quick.  That music, which must have sounded lovely to everyone else, taunted me.  Happy children singing was the last thing I needed to hear.

A.J. could tell something was wrong.  I leaned over and told them I didn’t think I could stay.  They felt a bit uncomfortable as well, so we fled, a mere 5 minutes or so after arriving.  Two sets of friends knowingly hugged me as I cried big old tears while exiting the building.

It was a rough day, but we made it. 

How many more rough days and nights will we have?

Lord, how long do I have to cuddle and hold my boys while they cry themselves to sleep? 

Will I ever get used to being single?  I long to be part of a couple again.

How do I get rid of the self-doubt, the sadness, the uncertainty that creeps in from the vacillating desert that ebbs and flows between who I want to be and who I am? 

How long, God, how long?

I pray, fully expecting God to answer.  He has done so much for my little family in the past two years.  We are healthy.  We are financially stable.  We are loved, have great friends, a church family that cares for us, and are moving forward, living life. 

But we need more. 

We need deliverance from the next week and a half, where memories give us pause and dread. 

We need assurance that we will continue to heal, because right now, we aren’t real sure. 

We need to cash in for a couple of delayed blessings, Lord….You know, the ones You are withholding until they are ready?  You know patience is a virtue, and it doesn’t come easy for me. 

I want one night where we can all go to bed happy, without one of us crying ourselves to sleep.  It doesn’t have to be me, Lord.  I can deal with my tears, but my sons’ tears break my heart.  I feel so helpless.  I can’t do anything but hold them and cry alongside them. 

I do not doubt Your love nor Your willingness to get us through this.  I know You watch over us always, even when we are in the difficult places.  I know that You will not give us more than we can bear. 

But I want my boys to have a little peace.  Please. 

18 The Lord is waiting to be kind to you.  He rises to have compassion on you.
    The Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all those who wait for him.
19 You will live in Zion, in Jerusalem. You won’t cry anymore. The Lord will certainly have pity on you when you cry for help. As soon as he hears you, he will answer you.
20 The Lord may give you troubles and hardships. But your teacher will no longer be hidden from you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
21 You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” 
Isaiah 30:18-21 (GWT)

My hands are open in praise, even as tears roll down my cheeks.  I thank You in advance for seeing us through this. 

I trust that You will deliver us.  I will wait. 

For as long as it takes.

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