Friday, August 31, 2012

What's In a Name?

Having grown up with the maiden name Heintzelman I was excited to take on my married name  thinking it would be an easier one, and I was excited to share a name with the man I loved.

I loved the notion of being half of a whole and of being united with Matt.

What I didn't understand at 21 when we became engaged and planned our future, was that by attaching myself to that name I had the prize waiting for me of becoming a part of an entire family.

Matt's parents Brian and Vicki took me on like I was truly theirs.  They loved me and poured into me verbally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Early on in our marriage I spent significant time with Matt's parents both with him and even on my own.  We laughed at how funny it was when I would go out to dinner with them by myself if Matt was working or had something else going.  Vicki and I spent weekends together when Brian and Matt would go on biking trips.  Over the last 12 years we have really grown to love each other deeply, Matt's family and I.

Matt has a brother.  His brother Mark is one of the very best men I know.  He is different from Matt in most every way.  Matt loved Mark so wholly and completely.  Though Mark and his amazing wife have lived in California for the last decade we became closer than I would have guessed we ever could at that distance.  Mark and Kath visited regularly and made great effort to establish a strong relationship with Harper.  As a result, I am pretty sure if Harper understood the concept of being stranded on a deserted island and could only pick one person to go with her, she would pick Mark in a heartbeat.  She only has eyes for him.  She adores this aunt and uncle and the cousins they have given her with every part of her being.

When Matt died in April his family rallied around me in a way that only family can.  There was not a distinction made that I was the daughter they were slated through marriage.  They treat me like I am their own.  On that final day at the hospital when it was time for me to go, my dear friends picked me up at the door and took me straight to Brian and Vicki's house.  I don't remember working it out.  It was just a given.  When all was done I would go home to them.

As a haven and retreat, a couple of weeks after Matt's death I went to be with Mark and Kath.  Harper and I were heartsick and being with them was the only logical first step to the remedy.  There is hope and life and healing in that relationship.  When they decided to move home to Kansas City to support us, I was completely overcome.  They uprooted their very lives to be more fully a part of ours.

Since Mark and Kath and the kids have gotten here I have been overwhelmed with gratitude.  I thought of them as being here for Brian and Vicki and for Harper.  I didn't expect that their being here would make me feel such comfort.  I didn't anticipate the dose of peace it gives me that they are just 20 minutes down the road.

Brian and Mark have worked with Harper this summer to show her how to ride a bike.  Mark came with his daughter and took Harper to school yesterday.  You would have guessed Harper had won the lottery.  A few days back I woke up and got dressed.  I walked out to the kitchen.  The dogs were barking, and I looked out the kitchen window.  Brian and Mark were hopping over my fence and coming into my backyard.  Brian was beaming and had his hand over his heart in relief.  They thought my dogs had been exposed to some mouse poison in the basement where they usually sleep at night.  We had all forgotten it was down there.  Brian had woken up in a panic thinking my dogs might have died in the night.  He was coming to check and do what needed to be done.  He was coming to rescue me.  Although right now I am wondering why they didn't just ring the doorbell.

At church a couple of weeks ago Brian and Vicki and I were sitting in one pew.  Mark and Kath and Harper and her cousins were sitting in the pew in front of us.  If you didn't know us you wouldn't have been able to figure out exactly who went with who and how we all fit together.  But you would know it was true -- that we were all there together.  We were smiling at each other over the girls' heads and patting one another occasionally.  At the end of the service they sing a closing prayer.  Everyone holds hands and moves in closer together.  We were lined up -- all close and touching.  The girls danced between us with happy hearts and glad faces.

What's in a name?  As it turns out, pretty much everything.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

one thing remains

I chose to have a song called "One Thing Remains" played at Matt's memorial service.  There is so much hope in this song that it brings me to my knees.

I was reading yesterday and was struck by these words, "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He promised." It's Romans 4:20-21talking about a man with some crazy good faith.

I am praying for that kind of faith today.  God's promise is good: His love remains.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Even though I know it is normal, I continue to be surprised at the lack of rhythm to my grief.  Some days I feel alright.  Distracted always by it, but able to compartmentalize it and keep moving.  Some days I feel numb.  Some days I feel really angry.  Days like today I feel like I just had the wind knocked out of me.  I wake up to a physical ache of missing Matt and it keeps a grip on me all day.  It feels like less of something inside of me and more of it's own separate entity -- where I don't have any say in what it is going to be like; I just have to wait and see what it's going to do to me.

On days like this my heart feels like it's seizing up.  My body feels brittle.  My hair hurts, and my frown is deep.  My eyes don't want to open all of the way.  I feel 100 pounds heavier.  A sense of anxiety completely overwhelms me.  The question, "what am I going to do?" hounds me and the thought "please don't be true" knocks around inside of me.

When this is the case I try to live in it for awhile and then try to distract myself from it because I really can't go on this way.  I won't make it if I do.  So I think about things that make me happy.  Which basically means I think about my girl.  Yesterday Harper tried to teach her 3 year old cousin how to hula hoop.  Harper kept instructing with passion and enthusiasm, "Move those hips! Move those hips!" It was awesome.  Then I try to take a sip of a great drink and move my feet in a forward direction.

This is how it goes.  This is how I feel.  No point to this whatsoever.  I'm just sayin.