Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nothing is ours.

If there is one thing I've learned since losing Matt, it's that nothing on this Earth... nothing in this life... is ours. Anything that we think is ours is only temporary. Everything we have is temporary. What we do with those things in the time we have them is what really matters. Make it count. Everything belongs to God. It is heartbreaking to lose the people we love... but I am to the point where I realize everything is His and I am prepared to surrender all that I have for Him. It's all a part of our plan and the greatest gift I have been given is that very realization. I call it "surrendering" and "giving up" because I know in my heart that taking heartbreak with faith, strength and grace will ultimately lead me to what really matters - eternal life after death. That means being rewarded with the indescribable joy that will come from being with those I love again. All of this is temporary.

We oftentimes say, "I just wish I could wake up and this would all be a bad dream." It is. It will happen one day. On the day I die, Matt will be there to say, "It was all just a bad dream." It will seem like a very very long time between now and when that happens. But it will happen.

I start each day reading my devotional and accompanying Bible verses before I step out of my car. Then I try to keep God at the forefront of my mind in everything I do. I try to take everything one week at a time... one day at a time is even better. And one task at a time is even better. I try to focus on the exact present because it's what I have control over. My future is taken care of. The present is what I can control. That's all I can control. So that's what I try to do.

Matt has been my greatest inspiration for strength through all of this. He took the event that changed his life - the car accident that almost took his life 11-1/2 years ago - that left him unable to perform all of the basic functions we perform every day - and he powered through it with strength and faith and made that event something for which he was thankful because he allowed it to change his life for the better. And he was only 17. He took his experience and it shaped the wonderful person he was and he grew from it. He was thankful for it. He was able to thank God for a tragedy because it gave him a new appreciation for life.

So rather than letting the details of the car accident and what he was doing that day get in my way of the big picture, I have been trying my hardest to set all that aside and focus on the things that really matter. The things I can control - one of which is being faithful to God and understanding that everything is His. I want to believe that there is hope for a bright future for all of us that Matt left behind. I want to believe that I will be happy again one day like I was with him. I want to believe that someday God will bring me someone with whom I can share my life and who the kids can call "dad". I am growing more each day in my faith and I know what kind of person I want to be. It's a process.

I think about where I was six months ago and look at where I am now... I don't think I imagined I would be doing this well. I hoped I would be doing this well but I didn't think I would be. It's just amazing what God can do.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Six months.

What can I say? Six months. I can't believe how much has changed in just six months. I've moved twice, our kids have since been to two new daycares (they just started again last week), I've started going back to school to work towards my BSN and I've been attending a wonderful support group every week.

It's wild. Things are good. I went to the cemetery today. Bought some flowers. Talked to Matt. I apologized to him for any anger that I hold towards him. Because I do at times. Not anything super serious but you know... frustration.

Why couldn't you have just been more careful?

It doesn't completely take over my every thought but it's definitely there sometimes. I believe I just have a tendency to feel angry at him because he's also easy to forgive. So that's just how it happens. I'm sure he understands.

I don't really know what else to say. It's getting late, both kids are sleeping and I want to curl up in bed with Hulu tonight so I will conclude with what I said on my Facebook status today. It pretty much sums up everything.

Six months ago today my life took a direction I never imagined. I've been made stronger than I ever realized with the help of friends, family and, most of all... GOD. I live knowing that I will be in my angel's arms again one day. Until then, I know he is always with us and I will have the pleasure of watching his spirit live on through our children. I love you, Matt Hales. ♥

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I received a call on my phone and after I said, "Hello," the first thing he said was something like, "You sound like your old self again." It was Matt. I was... there's no word to describe it. Shocked, excited, surprised... the next thing I remember is we were together again. I was catching him up on everything he missed. He wasn't in that car accident. He just somehow went missing but everyone thought he was in that car. I told him about how I really needed to do a will. Then I said, "Well, now we need to do one although I will probably just have to re-do it when you die but we should really get one." He seemed skeptical and I said, "Think about our kids. Do you know how dangerous it was for me to go each day without a will that could possibly leave them with no appointed guardians?" Well, not those words exactly but something like that. Then he nodded in agreement. It was weird... he didn't really say much. Or at least I didn't hear his voice. Then I asked him... "Who was in your car that day?" He started to panic when he realized that there was a family out there whose loved one was in that accident and they didn't know it yet. He didn't know who was in his car that day. I remember trying to think if it was one of his co-workers who might have taken his car. Then I woke up.

I always had this fear of Matt getting into another car accident. It worried me to death. I always told him to be careful, drive safely, pay attention. And when he took our kids to daycare... triple panic. I was really worried then because if they all died I would be left with nothing. I would tell myself to relax. What are the odds something like that would happen? Now I know that isn't such a far cry from reality. Now I always have this thought in the back of my mind when someone else drives with my kids. If they got into an accident and died on top of losing Matt... I would really be left with nothing. I still tell myself to relax and not worry. But my fear is a little less "irrational" to me now than it was before.

Well, I have class in a few minutes. I wanted to get that dream down. And the night before, I had a dream where I was communicating to Matt in Heaven and he was describing the transition from Earth to Heaven... kind of. He was talking about purgatory. He said you only have to wait a little while. It depends on the good deeds you've done in your life. But it's not long before you see the glory of Heaven. There was something about good deeds "filling your cup". So strange... I don't know. Dreams are weird.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I try really hard to stay focused and, for the most part, I do pretty well. But there are definitely times where my mind wanders about Matt. Like during my psych lecture this morning, discussing naturalistic observations, and there was a photo of a playground on the Power Point. I got to thinking about that being one of the last things we did as a family before Matt died.... where our last family photo was taken just 11 days before. I can't believe that was last summer. It seems like it was yesterday.

Then I have to mentally remind myself to pay attention! It's difficult sometimes. The next topic was about EEGs and MRIs. I think I could somehow relate everything ever discussed in a lecture back to Matt.

I look around at other people and wonder what they're battling. There was a time where, for me, it was nothing. Now I look the same as before but things inside have drastically changed. It's a different world now and I'm starting to notice how people complain about the smallest things that really have no relevance to anything important whatsoever. I know I was like that before, too, and probably still do that from time to time although I try hard not to.

Speaking of distractions, I'm wrestling with biology and I think Chloe is sick and needs to see a doctor so I can't think straight anymore.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

His presence

"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." Matthew 19:6

Even though I'm taking the reigns on my future and putting all my faith in God, I will forever be left as half of what I once was. I can heal but an invisible scar will remain.

The most adorable thing happened tonight while I was putting Noah to bed. Let's just forget about the fact that he NEVER actually went to sleep in the entire 90 minutes that I was laying with him. I had my eyes just *barely* open because he was moving and I wondered what he was up to. I thought he was getting up really close to my face to see if I was looking and then do something mischievous. Then, he plants a peck on my lips and curls up next to me. He has never done that before. I was overcome with thoughts of Matt and I felt that maybe he orchestrated that somehow. Like... "give Mommy a kiss," type of thing. I just felt his presence there and imagined the three of us reading bedtime stories together like before. It was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Why I try my best to get to campus early: Because when I realize 15 minutes before lecture that I didn't print off my outlines, I still have time to run to the library. That was close. I worry about myself sometimes. Oh, but I did get 100% on my first bio quiz. ;) I'm on the right track so far but all of this ionic bond and hydrogen bond stuff is getting a little insane.

About this revelation I had last night while attending the support group... one of the people there mentioned that his daughter said 2011 was a great year. Even though she had lost her mom, a lot of other good things still happened.

Which got me thinking. I guess I still wouldn't describe 2011 as a "great" year. However, it was a very special year. It was the last seven months of Matt's life and I was there to spend it with him. We didn't know it would be the end, but we still made many good memories (the birth of Chloe, for one) and I'm happy and thankful for those seven months of 2011 that ended up being Matt's last. I kind of confused myself when I said that 2011 sucked and I have no reason to celebrate it and yet I was sad to leave it behind. Of course I was sad to leave it behind... 2011 contains my last memories of my "old" life. And that's something to be cherished. Okay, so the first half of 2011 was wonderful. The second half was very dark but very important and shaped who I am today. Just like everything that happens to us shapes the person we are. Most importantly, the second half of 2011 was the period in my life where I feel I truly found God. That should really surpass everything.

Back to the day-to-day... the kids seems to be doing fine in daycare. Although I feel that now Noah is starting to take on his own form of grief and only time will tell where that goes. I have been working through my grief since the day Matt died and yet... Noah is just beginning. I don't even know how it's going to unfold. Same with Chloe.

Anyway, I found a Bible verse I love today (another one):

"Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer." - Romans 12:12

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's permanent

We think Noah is starting to realize... that Daddy is never coming back. He started daycare this week and seems to be having some separation anxiety. He kept crying and repeating this morning, "No dinosaurs, no dinosaurs!" There are dinosaur toys in his classroom and at first, I thought, "Why would he be afraid of dinosaurs? He loves dinosaurs." Tracy said he was playing with them on Monday. Then she pointed out that maybe he is just associating daycare with the dinosaurs and doesn't want to go to daycare. He doesn't want to be left there. However, this morning, his teacher settled him down quite quickly and he was happy to wave goodbye.

Monday was a late night for me - lab until 8:00 - and so Mark and Tracy picked the kids up for me. They got back home and Noah said, "Where's Mommy?"
"At school."
"Where's Daddy?"
"Daddy died."

There is a framed photo collage of Matt displayed in the dining room and Noah said our names; "Mommy, Noah, Daddy" and then said, "Daddy died."

It is so sad.

It's late. I need to go to bed because tomorrow is my up-at-6:00, out-the-door-at-7:00 day (but it's my only class so I have all day to study!). I just wanted to write that while it was still relatively fresh in my mind. This is the stuff that will only progress as Noah gets older.

I have much more to write about regarding a revelation I had at the support group tonight... well maybe not MUCH more. I tend to think I have more to write than I actually end up writing. But still. It's on my list and I don't want to forget.

God Bless

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This is like my job...

Except I'm not getting paid. I'm paying to do it, lol. Tuition and gas because it's a hell of a commute. Lots of time to think which I like though. I need a break desperately. I spent I don't even know how long with biology today. My lecture + my lab + however long I spent studying.

"Matt, remember Einstein Bagels!? Sooooooo gooooood." That's a one-sided conversation that took place in my head today.

I also remembered the way he inhaled candy. Literally sucked air in every time he popped a Mike 'n' Ike or M&M in his mouth. Weird. Weird things I miss.

I came to the library to study psychology and chemistry for tomorrow. I figured I better spend time preparing for the next day... the day before. So I know I have everything done that I need to have done.

This whole being a student again thing has felt pretty natural. I like being back here. And I never went to school while not working (I always had at least two jobs) so being able to focus entirely on my studies is wonderful and will probably help me out a lot. I guess having kids might make up for that though...

I went to my bio lecture professor's office today to introduce myself and I told him my story. I told him I will probably be in his office a lot because I need to get an A! And this is a difficult class. But as long as I put the time in and follow his study advice, I will get an A. I will, I will, I will. He seems like a super cool guy anyway. I can tell he wants his students to do well. My lab professor is incredibly laid back and casual. She's not nitpicky whatsoever and only made us do half of the lab exercise. I love it.

It almost feels like I never left this place. Like a strange time warp. The only difference is, my partner in crime isn't here anymore.

Good things:
- Bio lab is laid-back
- Gilda's Club tomorrow
- Einstein Bros. Bagels
- Devotions and Bible reading before I get out of the car each morning

Not-so-good thing:
- I think my bag weighs more than Noah
- The battery on my cell phone died because I left an app open

Time to read some psychology text.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Today is the first day of my new chapter

Here I sit on campus, eating lunch and blogging. I will start studying after this. But I just had to. My next class is downtown at 4:00... chemistry! I just got done with my psych class which I think will go well. It feels so weird being back here. Of course, I'm thinking about Matt a lot today. This is where we both went to school when we started dating again. It's a good kind of weird.

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD all ye lands" reads the clock tower on campus. Psalm 100:1 I know I've seen that before but... I like it.

I tried to stop by the art gallery where I used to work to say hello and see if anyone there is still the same, lol. It was closed. I will try again after I go to the bookstore. I'm going to finish my lunch, go to the bookstore, say hello to my old co-workers who likely have no clue what is going on with my life these days... and then head downtown to print off chem notes and start reading that.

I chose to wear Matt's cross today. I forgot to put it on before I went to bed last night for the first time... and I had a VERY creepy nightmare involving him. What a coincidence that was. I figured I'd wear it today to make up for that... and because I just want to with it being the first day of classes and all. But that nightmare I had was actually Matt scaring me and it was not a good thing at all. I woke up scared and wished he was there for me to snuggle like the good old days when a bad dream woke me up in the middle of the night.

I'm giving myself until I'm done eating to mess around with blogs. It's my lunch break. :) Tomorrow is my early day; my bio lecture starts at 8:30. That means I have to leave the house by 7:15.

Good things:

1) The Broncos won (that means more Tebow)
2) This salad is amazing
3) My psych professor seems pretty cool
4) New life has commenced

I guess that's it. I hope the kids are adjusting well to daycare. I worry about Chloe more than Noah. She is a feisty one... doesn't take a bottle... wants to be held most of the time... doesn't take a nap unless she's nursing or held... and I worry about how long my boobs are going to hold out without pumping. I hate pumping. But I also hate plugged ducts more (OUCH). We'll see.

Okay, I'm nearing the end of my salad... I am going to read! It's kind of difficult to read with conversations and lectures going on in the background... I need to fine-tune my ability to tune that out. I guess the library would be a better place. Oh well. It's cool.

I was so nervous this morning on my way in. I felt almost as nervous as I did on my wedding day. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I remember what I was going to mention - the headstone photos! They turned out beautifully thanks to Sarah. :)

They can all be seen here.

Life was perfect.

I'm sure I wouldn't have used the word perfect to describe my life the first half of last year but my definition of perfect has changed. It was perfect. I miss it a lot. I miss Matt a lot. I never imagined life would take me in this direction. I'm sure no one imagines that they will lose everything in one fell swoop like I did. It's really quite a shock and that shock carries on for quite some time. I can't believe it's almost been six months. My point of reference for everything now is July 20, 2011 and time has flown by. I start school on Monday. I'm starting a new chapter. It's a weird feeling. I'm kind of excited... mostly nervous. I'm ready though. I have spent the last four months without a purpose. I know that raising kids is purposeful but it's not very fulfilling to me. I am ready to start doing something. So the change that school will bring is a very welcome change.

Matt came to me in my dream last night and told me he couldn't stay married to me. What is that? Is he trying to tell me that I have to move on? I know that before I have written about Matt being my soul mate and no one else could ever come close... but maybe that's not true. Maybe some people have more than one soul mate. I can't tell if that's a blessing or not. I would be lucky to find two true loves in one lifetime I guess. I don't think that happens to very many people. Regardless, it will be a while before I'm ready to put any of those thoughts into practice. I really need to work through my grief in its entirety and get my life back in order. But I do feel that my kids deserve a father and I deserve to be happy again. Of course it will never be the same and by saying my kids deserve a father - I mean one who is here on earth to be that person for them. Matt will always be their father. And by saying it will never be the same - I don't mean that in a negative way but I could never replace Matt.

Speaking of things I've written before, I have not gone back and read my early posts. I cannot go back and look at those words yet. I'm sure one day I will but probably not anytime soon.

I have been able to watch all of the videos on our camcorder. I'm so thankful I have those to show Noah because a lot of them are Matt talking to Noah. It was so nice to watch those over again. It's nice to hear Matt's voice.

Well, I know there was something else I wanted to write about but I blog in between taking care of the kids and, naturally, I forgot... so it will just have to come back to me another time. These posts are so awkward. Things have been pretty crazy lately. I look forward to school starting so I can finally get back into some sort of routine. Many new things have yet to come my way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

This is how I imagine my ascension into Heaven

Yes. And that's the first thing I'll say to Matt. Hah. It's going to be brilliant.

Two random memories:
(1) I knew when Matt used a ChapStick because it would be lowered into the tube and it annoyed me. I never roll my ChapStick back down into the tube.

(2) When we would run out of bowls to use for cereal we would find a comparably-sized piece of Gladware to use for a bowl instead of taking the time to wash out a real bowl.

That's all I have time for. I shall leave with this...

"My safety and glory are with God, my strong rock and refuge." Psalm 62:8

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New beginnings?

I wrote this last night and didn't get a chance to post until this morning.

I'm spending my "new year's eve" home with the kids. In fact, I'm just ignoring the fact that it's a new year altogether. I see no reason to celebrate the passage of time. Big deal. 2011 was the darkest year of my life. 2012 is just going to consist of me being forced to change my life because, well, I don't really have much of a choice.

We began 2011 with bright prospects of the future. I was six months pregnant with our baby girl (that we didn't know was a girl at the time). We anticipated our growing family with delight and oftentimes thought about what the future was going to hold for us. Eventually, we wanted to end up back in West Michigan or in the Triangle.

But, just like that, things changed in a split second. It's the weirdest feeling in the world, to all of a sudden be stripped of every plan for the future... every image that was of us and our family years down the road... gone. It's weird how we take mental pictures of things that haven't happened yet. But I sure do have a lot of them that will never become reality.

I hate to refer to the year our daughter was born as the darkest year of my life but Matt's death overshadows everything wonderful that happened this year. I hope that 2012 brings along some good for a change but it's definitely hard to think about moving forward without Matt. I miss him with all my heart.

Now, I will go ahead and discuss the support group I attended a few nights ago. This place is so wonderful; it's called Gilda's Club. They offer childcare, dinner, activities and support groups free of charge. They have a support group for those who have a lost a spouse and have children living at home. I was told of this by a couple people and was really excited about moving back here so I could start going. Of course, I cried as soon as I started telling my story. Then I just rambled about random things associated with Matt's death and the impact it's had on my life. I was the only one there that night who lost their spouse suddenly but I know there are other members who have lost theirs suddenly that weren't in attendance. Anyway, I look forward to going on a weekly basis. I think it will be a good thing for me to have a place to focus on my grief while I'm otherwise busy with the kids and school.