Posted in Death&Dying, Grief, Inspiration

Anytime, Any Place: Journeying Through Grief

I drove a familiar route to my eyebrow touch up appointment this afternoon, passing two special places. IHOP and Bucharest Grill.

Neither are my favorite places to dine–well, IHOP used to be–but after November 2017 they will forever be in my heart. That was the weekend Kevin and I attended our first Weekend to Remember hosted by Family Life Today Ministry. I can hardly put into words how excited I was to be there, how perfectly God aligned everything so that we could attend. That’s a story for another post.

Nevertheless, the event was in the Renaissance Center, downtown Detroit, which is full of dining options. There was no reason for us to have to leave the venue to get something to eat. But that was #myKevin. He always did things “his” way.

Having a limited supply of portable oxygen with us for the weekend was of no concern to him. He wanted to get out of the hotel, into his truck, and into the streets so that’s what he did. Here’s what was involved: filling up 4-5 portable tanks, me pushing him in a wheelchair through the hotel down to the valet to retrieve the car, then driving to wherever, getting back into the car, back to valet, wheelchair ride for him (drive for me) back to our room. The words on the page don’t do it justice how tiring this was. It was totally against what I had in mind for our weekend. I expected the most walking we would do would be from our hotel room to the workshop sessions, just a floor below. I figured whatever food we wanted we could grab in between sessions or have delivered to our room via room service. I was willing to pay that cost for us to have relaxing weekend.

Relaxing? Hmph. Kevin wasn’t having it! But I was always the one accused of not being able to sit still. Anyway, we left the hotel 3-4 times over that weekend. It was ridiculous! I was furious in the pit of my belly but I said nothing. We were going to have a good weekend. I was determined.

Back to the restaurants.

IHOP was our first stop on day one. Bucharest Grill is where we went for lunch on the second day after the morning sessions. Regardless of how irritated I was–and boy was I–there was peaceable joy in my heart being in any time and space with him. As life does, I had no idea that would be the last time I’d go to those particular places with him. Now that time is forever etched in my mind. Not the irritation of it but the memory of sitting across from him enjoying a meal. The memory of him connecting with our IHOP waiter over a mutual interest they shared. The memory of watching him walk out of Bucharest Grill with our food in hand as I waited outside in the truck, probably praying that we weren’t late getting back for the afternoon session. Lol.

I know there are memories all over this city awaiting their time to fall upon me. Anytime, any place. I’m ready for them, my box of tissue just a reach away.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Death&Dying, Faith, Grief, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Comfort in the Midst of Grief

It’s Saturday night. Ten o’clock but my clock is set for eleven in preparation for daylight savings time. I’m laying on the right side of the bed–my side of the bed–with a cup of warm lemon ginger tea on the nightstand in the special cup given to me by a dear friend in my first days of settling into my family’s temporary home.

If Kevin were still with me, I’d probably still be in bed or laying on the couch, in for the night. Even before sickness invaded our lives, we weren’t a couple that engaged in too much night life. Though he was the life of any party he went to, he was really a homebody, where he could be himself. So sitting up in my bed, binge watching the Murder She Wrote marathon on the Hallmark Channel is not out of the ordinary for me on a Saturday night. However, tonight  the volume on the T.V. is turned down low as I sing along with some of my favorite R&B jams playing on the Whitney Houston station on Pandora radio.

Kevin loved to listen to me sing.

“Girl, I love to hear you sing,” he’d said since the first time I sang with him in my car. I was singing Tamia’s song, Last First Kiss. He said that was the day he knew I was a keeper.

It was no accident that I was listening to that song when Kevin got in the car. We’d been seeing each other for a couple of months by that time and I had fallen so hard for him. It’d been quite some time since I’d felt so strongly about a man.

No lyrics ever rang so true as those did for how I felt about him then and throughout our relationship:

“When it comes to you I wouldn’t change a thing…I wouldn’t even change the things I could change. ‘Cause babe you’re perfect, perfect to me, simply means that you’re perfect for me…”

I never mistook Kevin’s feelings about my singing. He said he loved to hear me sing, not  necessarily that I could sing particularly well. The love he had for me made my singing  music to his ears. He was the one with the real singing talent.

Now, alone in my bedroom, turning pages of photo album filled with pictures of us, I’m singing my heart out, comforted that Kevin is resting well. Comforted by the love that we shared, the love that will always be in my heart.

Posted in Christianity, Death&Dying, Family, Husbands, Marriage, People, Relationships, Uncategorized, widow, Wives, Women

My Grief Journey—45 Days In

What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.

Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.

My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.

The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?

It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.

As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.

Nope, epic fail.

It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.

This is my grief journey.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

(C)2018 LaCharmine (L.A.) Jefferson

Posted in Caregiving, Death&Dying, Family, Relationships, widow

Happy New Year Somehow

Less than a month ago I was contemplating my end of year post. I didn’t want to follow the usual course of declaring what I’d planned to do in the new year. Instead I began compiling a list of what I was leaving behind in 2017.

Stressing over weight loss

Lack of confidence

Indecisiveness

To name a few…

But the night of December 17th changed all of that. After a day of church, movies with my son, and an evening stretched out on the couch watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, I fell asleep easily on the couch feeling that it had been a good day.

Then at about 11:30 that night, not long after I’d fallen asleep, the fire alarm broke through my restfulness. I leaped from the couch and came upon a torch-like flame blowing from my husband’s oxygen tube in the hallway of the kitchen.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. From there everything went so fast.

My husband was standing in the doorway of our bedroom. Not panicked at all.  He calmly told me to get the fire extinguisher. I did. I pointed it toward the flame, squeezed the lever and hardly anything came out. I didn’t waste anytime with it anymore. My son was there too. Both of us tried to extinguish the flame to no avail. I thought I saved the day by carrying the burning cord onto the porch, throwing it in the snow, where eventually that flame went out.

But, apparently, something else was burning. When the fire department arrived and I stood outside hoping that they arrived in time to get our dogs out of the house, I saw a flame coming through the other side of the house. Obviously, the firefighters were as cautious as I was about entering the house with oxygen inside. Still, I thought we’d only end up with some smoke damage in the back of the house.

Not so.

Within a few hours I’d lost my home, my two dogs, and my husband.

My husband’s scarred lungs and heart couldn’t handle the smoke inhalation and trauma of the night. He suffered cardiac arrest, I believe, before the fire department even arrived, which was within 10 minutes of me calling. From one hospital to another, he never regained consciousness.  He was never able to tell me what happened, what caused the fire, if he even knew. He was never able to tell me that he loved me. Not that night. But luckily he expressed his love to me all the time, even when the frustration of his illness got the better of him and he wasn’t so nice. I never doubted for a minute that he loved me and appreciated me for being there with him during this challenging time in our life.  And he knew I loved him.

Now I’m beginning a new year without him. Totally didn’t see that coming. Nothing in my plans for 2018 included him not being apart of it. I had bought into my own optimism that my husband wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. God knew better.

My husband departed his earthly body in a hospital room with myself, my children, and his two daughters by his side. I know he didn’t want to leave. But when the Lord says its time, it’s time.

My heart is broken. I miss my husband. Still I was able to receive Happy New Year wishes and express the same because I know healing and restoration is coming my way.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.