Living well

“Mom, was I only 8 whenever Dad died?”

That question came out of left field earlier this week, as Ben and I travelled from school to home.  His brother, at football practice for another hour or so, was absent from the car.  It was just the two of us.

“Yes, Benny, you were.  That was a little over three years ago.”

“Well, Mom, that just really sucks…”

“I know, Ben.  And unfortunately it will suck every day for the rest of your life.  You and your brother don’t have your dad physically alongside you anymore.  But you know he’s with you, don’t you?”

“Yeah, Mom. But it still sucks.”

Then, not a day later, Andrew (AJ), out of the blue exclaims, “I just wish I could hug Dad one more time.”

I know, boys, I know.

As great as we’re doing (and we are, thank you very much, God), we still have these moments.  We always will.

My dad’s been gone for 10 1/2 years.  I miss him every day.  But I was lucky to have him for almost 41 years.

In comparison, AJ and Ben were merely 9 and 8 when Mark died.

I gave up on asking God “Why?”  years ago.  Some answers are just not here for us to find, this side of heaven.

There’s a greater plan for my boys, one that God is orchestrating.

The day their dad died, for all practical purposes, a big chunk of their childhoods died along with him.

With no way to prevent it, I decided, instead, to embrace it.

Our family motto?  100% transparency.  In everything I do for the family.  That’s how we roll.

No question or problem or issue is off the table.  I made that commitment to them shortly after their daddy died.  Come to me, you can ask me anything.  No judging.  No repercussions.  No uneasy shifting in my chair when the tough questions arise.

I will tell you the truth.  And, if you ask something that I don’t know, we’ll search for the answer together, as a team.

They feel comfortable with this arrangement.  Believe me, as the teenage years come down the pike, I’m getting more questions and inquiries every day.

Forced to grow up in July of 2011, AJ and Ben have wisdom and experience beyond their biological years.

Their faith, their empathy, their love for me and for each other (whether they admit it or not!) amazes me.  Thinking on a whole different plane than most kids their ages, they seem to be settling in to a comfortable routine with school and extracurricular activities.

I told folks, after Mark died, they had a good start.  It was my job not to screw them up.  And I really wasn’t joking when I said that.

By the grace of God, I’m not…at least not today 🙂

And at moments like this, on the day before what would have been their Dad’s 59th birthday, I remind myself to be thankful.  We are healthy, we are happy, and we are living well.

It’s how their dad rolled.

Three lives well-lived.  It’s the best way to honor their daddy.  I know he’s proud.

Thank you, God, for healing.  For sweet memories.  And for the privilege of being Mom to AJ and Ben. 

p.s.  Please help me out, God, when we get to the questions about puberty.  Amen

The re-invention of Nancy

I haven’t blogged in months.  The last entry, posted in May 2014 extolled the wonders of the new love I had found.

Guess what?  I’m now single.  And darn happy about it.

Not three weeks after I published that post, I came to the realization the man I’d been dating, that I loved, was NOT the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Without going into details, suffice it to say he was jealous of a dead man, my late husband.  He was never going to be okay with my mentioning my first love, with my posting pictures of my boys and their dad on social media on special days like Father’s Day.  He wanted to control who I saw, where I went, and who my friends were.

Looking back, I ignored many red flags, thinking my love would be enough.

But when the rubber met the road, I knew I had to cut my losses, save my sons and myself, and end the relationship.

“When it was good, it was very, very good.  But when it was bad, it was horrid.”

A year ago, I opened myself up to dating for the first time in 28 years.  I was a vulnerable widow, sad and lonely.  I was taken advantage of.

Since the end of the relationship  I have worked on me.  Spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I have finally figured out who I am, apart from Mark Howell.

Apart from any and all men, for that matter….even Andrew and Benjamin.

I’m happy, truly happy, for the first time since July 30, 2011, the day which forever changed the course of my life.

I’m not who I was.

And praise God, I’m not who I’m going to be.

But for now, I kinda like who I am.

Believe me, I’m not perfect.

I have questioned God the past three months, asking why in the wide world of sports would He have allowed a seemingly-perfect man into my life, and into the lives of my sons, whenever he was most definitely NOT  the right man for me, for my family.

Haven’t we been through enough?

A close friend asked two important questions:

“Are you stronger than you were before you met him?”  and

“Did he show you that you could love again?”

To both, I answered a resounding “yes.”

Her follow up statement rocked me to the very depth of my soul: “Then he’s served his purpose for coming into your life.  Now thank him, and move forward.”

So thank you.  For showing me that I can be loved, and can love.  For reinforcing what my late husband knew all along–

I am one badass strong woman,

capable of being the head of household, making decisions for my family, with God’s help.

I finally realize that I. AM. ENOUGH. 

If there’s not another great guy in my future, in God’s plan for me?

That’s okay.  I had one in my life for over a quarter of a century.  Some women go their whole lives without that.

I will survive.  Actually I’m doing quite well.

I’m wiser, happier, and more sure of who I am and what God wants me to do with this, the rest of my life.

You may have come to me, practically with a red bow around your neck.  But looks and packaging can be deceiving.

I wish you nothing but happiness.  I hope you find peace, and someone that will love you in the way you really and truly deserve.  I pray for you every day.

Sincerely, Nancy

Look out, world.

The reinvention of Nancy is going nicely.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

p.s.  “Lovebug” is keeping her nickname 🙂  Lovebug, out ♥