Day 40. What I Want You to Know

Over the last dozen or so years that I’ve had social media, I’ve used it differently at different times. I’ve been the oversharer, the political ranter, and the virtual garage saler. More recently I’ve moved to mostly using Facebook for school, church and community things and sharing less about my family and personal life. I feel strongly that there is a lot of our lives that doesn’t need to be shared with the world. Keep your private business and your drama to yourself and things get better faster than if they fly around the interwebs.

But right now, my business is kind of out there. The world knows that Vance died. That’s not private. The entire town knew within minutes and everyone else within days. Some of our friends were in the ER waiting room within five minutes of me getting there. The newspapers and Facebook and the funeral home all published his obituary for the world to see. This life shattering event is not a secret.

And so I have decided that for now anyway, I will not grieve in secret either. No, I’m not going to share everything with the world because some things are still just between Vance and God and me. But there are some things I do want to share with you.

People keep asking me how they can help, what they can do to make things better. I don’t know how to answer that. Because the truth is, this will never be better. Vance will always be dead. I won’t be able to hold his hand, to ask his opinion or pack leftovers into his lunchbox ever again. He won’t be there when the kids graduate from high school, get married or become parents. There will be no more family pictures with the six of us. No casserole or card or hug will change that. That doesn’t mean those things aren’t important or needed, it just means that they can never replace what has been lost. This side of Heaven, that will not change.

And that is what I am afraid that you will forget. That this will never be “easier” for us. We will never “get over it” or “move on.” This effects every single thing in our lives from July 3 on. Yes, it will get different. We will move forward. I am even told that there will come a day that I won’t cry or think of Vance every single minute I’m awake. But that day has not yet come. A week, a month, a year, a decade from now, we will still have a great big Vance sized hole in our lives and our hearts.

That is not to say that we will not be happy. Even in the tears we can laugh and find joy. It’s possible and it is necessary and it is good.

Here’s what I guess I wish you knew. Maybe take this as your answer to “How can I help?” First off, be patient with me. In these early days of mourning life is literally one breath at a time. Normally, I’ve been a planner and a get stuff done kind of gal. Right now, I can’t see past the next hour. I can’t decide what to cook or to eat or what kind of shoes to buy. I haven’t even looked at a headstone yet because my brain is done making choices. I am still in a place where I can only do the things that absolutely need done today. I honestly cannot think past that right now. If we make plans and I don’t show up, I am so sorry. I honestly cannot remember anything.

Some days I can get a lot of crap done. Others, I just stay in bed. The idea of going anywhere is so mentally exhausting that I just can’t. But there is still milk to buy, practice to take a kid to, and appointments that cannot be avoided. So if you see me out and I don’t talk to you, please don’t take it personally. Chances are, I love you very much but I just cannot break down at the bank one. more. time. If I’m inside and wearing my sunglasses, please just keep walking. Take that as my asking you for space that day. If there are no sunglasses, please interact with me as you always have. But pay attention to my body language and the words I use. I may still not be able to “talk about it.”

Your gifts, cards, texts, calls, invitations and messages have been such blessings. There have been so many of them over the last few weeks. I want you to know that I have personally read, heard and treasured every single one. The emotional and physical strength needed to reply to most of them is beyond me. But I do hope you keep sending them. Even and maybe especially when I don’t respond. Because that just might be when I need it the most.

And your prayers. Keep those coming. At times I believe the only thing keeping me breathing has been the prayers of the saints. God is still good. I know this. Don’t think that doesn’t mean he and I haven’t exchanged a few choice words lately. Trust me, I have let God know EXACTLY how I feel about all this. He can handle it. And he just keeps gently reminding me that I am not alone in any of this. That I am loved, both by my creator and by so many of those he created.

Thank you. Thank you for all of the love you have shown us. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. For the hugs when we need them and the space when we need that. This tribe we have built; our families, our LWC and RLC faith families, our new and old friends, our students and athletes and neighbors and co-workers and even strangers; this tribe means the world to me. Your overwhelming support and determination to go ahead and “do the next right thing” encourages my weary soul. Thank you for loving us well. Together we are stronger. Not easily broken.

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