I always struggle this time of year. I believe it’s a combination of a lack of vitamin D, and just difficulty that has occurred this time of year in my life. I’m feeling extra down right now. I don’t have the desire to put extra into my kids. I don’t have the desire to get out and do things that I KNOW would make me feel better. And I struggle to get up early to have my much needed time with Jesus and quiet time before my kids get up. I have to force myself to get up and do things. Things get done, but not with the great zeal and joy that I would like (and that I felt just a few months ago). Between the anniversary of my brother’s death and his birthday (recently), my grandpa dying ON Thanksgiving day, tons of traveling, everyone being sick (again and again), lack of routine, and possible changes coming up (yet again), I’m just feeling pretty blah.
My brother died just a little over three years ago. While it wasn’t just a few weeks ago and it’s not “fresh,” there are times when it seems that way. You see, the way he died is what haunts me so much of the time. And I wake up in the middle of the night after having dreams about him… wishing that I could have just talked to him one more time… sharing with him how much he was loved. Then, I wake up and remember that there’s nothing more we can do. That he died by using a rifle to his head. In my parents’ house. While my mom was home. And my mom had to see him in that way, including slipping in his blood.
In this moment, that day seems like yesterday. I remember the phone call from my mom (while both kids were in my car). I remember her screaming “Joey blew his brains out!” I remember walking into a house in which the blood was fresh on the walls, floor, and window (I didn’t see the room, but I saw things on the window from the outside, and I saw the stuff that was pulled out of the room… including the kids’ books and toys). I remember the smell of the “cleaner” that was used to clean the room. I remember the sounds of Servpro sanding the walls and ceiling and taking out the carpet. I remember spending hours looking through pictures and uploading music to a CD for his funeral. I remember reading and contributing to his obituary. I remember having to make a lot of phone calls to get everything squared away for his funeral. I remember being 7 months pregnant and struggling to find something nice to wear for the funeral (including finding a coat that fit that would match because it was supposed to snow). I remember my little ones dancing in the snow flurries, not having any real idea of what had just taken place. I remember them staying with my good friend Sandy, and knowing that they were being taken care of with lots of love. I remember receiving a really awful email from my brother’s ex-wife two weeks after he died stating that we just wanted the money from his life insurance (after loving on her at my brother’s funeral, despite what she had done to him because we’re called to love). I remember feeling hate towards her. I remember calling my pastor, not knowing what to do… not knowing how to feel. Not knowing how to move forward. I remember deciding not to go back to work because my body wasn’t handling the pregnancy well after such a difficult time. I remember feeling so guilty because I couldn’t give to my family or my kids at school. I remember moving on with life, but not really. I remember having to try to pick up the pieces for my parents and my family. I remember having to be “strong” for everyone else.
I remember moving a few weeks later into what I would call “my dream home” (at the camp) only to never be able to appreciate it. I remember the birth of my third son (at home, with my amazing midwife team!), feeling that it was somewhat of a relief from the difficulty that I had just experienced. It was an amazing experience that I’m so thankful for! I remember going through nights of no sleep, remembering all that I had just been through. I remember all the struggle that I had with nursing… the pain, the frustration, and difficulty. And I remember the days of depression that followed. I remember needing so much time away from the kids so that I could breathe… so that I could process… so that I could pray… so that I could cry… so that I could write. I remember listening to JJ Heller’s Painted Red CD over, and over, and over, and over because her words were my heart.
How does one get past the gruesome suicide of her only sibling? Well, I don’t think I will ever get “past” it. I truly believe that God helps me to forget most of the time because the reality is so much to bear. And I believe that God helps me to remember sometimes because I don’t want to forget… I need to cry… I need to grieve… and I need to remember that he is with his Creator and Savior.
God doesn’t make mistakes. God knew the moment that He made Him what the ending would be (though, I’m sure it’s not what He wanted for Him… He is sovereign and knows all things). I’m just thankful that I had him for the time that I had him. I have some great memories of our childhood together… we were so close. He loved me. He protected me. He wanted the best for me. And when I got married to my best friend, he let me go.
Joey wrote this song for me right before I got married. I look back now and realize that I didn’t appreciate his heart near enough… and I didn’t see quite how heavy this song was. I didn’t realize quite how much he was hurting.
Do you remember not so long ago
When it was us against the world when the world left us alone
And I could never shield you from all the hurt you’d know
And I could never show you things inside I just can’t show.
Do you remember how I would linger on that ledge
And how you would always be there just to pull me from the edge
And could never repay you, in forever or a day
‘Cause now I see how God has brought a smile to your face
And now as you find safety in his arms
I look into your eyes and find my way to God
And as I see my little sister turn and walk away
I know that for forever will we have our love today
I’ve lived every day just trying so hard to be
The one you used to know, the one you used to see
‘Cause knowing I’m your brother is good enough for me
With every single battle fought I feel the hope returning
It’s not so often that I feel a happy day
But this won’t turn to sadness and this won’t turn to pain
And I know life’s not easy, ‘cause I can see your pain
And when other friends may leave you, I’ll be there in the end
On top of all of this, I struggle with the expectations that I put on myself. Much of the time, I can handle it… and I honestly have joy in doing all that I do. But right now, I don’t have the desire to do all that I want to do. I struggle with letting that go because I’m such a black and white person… it’s either all or nothing. So, I’m searching for a balance. Please pray with me through this… everyone who has known me for long knows that this is the hardest thing for me… balance. I want to eat healthy because it makes me feel good, but it costs so much (which we don’t have the money at this moment), and it takes a lot of time and energy. I want to make sensory boxes for my boys, to spend quality time with my kids, etc, but I just don’t have it in me right now.
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart.