All Things Work Together For Good

All Things Work Together For Good.

All Things Work Together For Good

“All things work together for good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.” For a long time after Phil was killed, I shuddered every time I looked at this verse or considered the words. How could something so awful, so nauseatingly awful, be good? How could it be that God did not intervene that day as evil rained down in that room? How could I justify the many prayers and beliefs that I carried (and still carry) when I prayed for Phil’s safety and then it didn’t happen? Not only was Phil not safe, he was assassinated in the worst way possible. Lastly, how can it be that from the worst day, the ending of all of the dreams I once held, that so many unexpected blessings have come my way?

I prayed for Phil’s safety and I expected that those prayers would carry him home to me. I believed that my faith and the many prayers would cover him in safety. Surely the verses that talk about asking in faith meant that Phil’s safety was a given. I had faith, didn’t I? My assumptions shattered that day. My faith is still in integral part of my life, but I had to consider that verse and I had to rethink my beliefs. Isn’t it true that every man has the choice to choose? Could God have saved Phil? I do believe that he could have, but that he gives people free will. Phil’s assassin chose evil. He had a choice and he chose to destroy others. I also believe that the whole story isn’t the story here on earth. All I know is what I know on this earth, but the real story is what comes next.

Yes, grief hurts—a lot. Given the choice, I would choose my old life in a heartbeat, but it isn’t a choice and living in the shadows of that want or that life will effectively end my life. I need to keep moving forward. I am moving forward.

Since minute one, I have done what feels right for me. Maybe my journey isn’t the journey others would understand or embrace, but it is why I can get up in the morning. I really didn’t think about what I was doing, I just put one foot in front of the other. I made choices. The first choice was to fall into my faith. How could I claim to have faith if in my darkest hour I turned from the faith I claimed? I chose to fall into my faith and it has made all of the difference. I may not understand the evil actions of one, but I do know that there is more to the story than that event. I also chose to run and in that choice I found my footing, my happiness, and my way forward. I chose to return to work five days after Phil was buried. That choice led to me getting the focus away from all that was lost and it got me out of my pity party to begin the slow process forward. I chose to use Phil’s education benefits even though I had a ton of education and it gave me a way to focus my energy and it gave me a way to start acting on my values of living again.

These choices have led to a life that I can barely recognize as my own. It is far outside of the realm of possibilities and dreams I could ever imagine. I have become a better version of myself and it is humbling to see how God has used my story, my heart, my words to change awareness of military issues and to impact change in our military world. I have never seen or thought I could have success at this level. How could it be that from the ashes have come this strength and this broken beauty of a fire that blazes within. I don’t understand it. I just do what feels right and I have seen more attention and recognition of my efforts than ever before. To say that I have had amazing blessings enter my life is an understatement.

While I would certainly give up those blessings and successes to have what I once had, it doesn’t work that way. Happiness is a choice and I choose happiness. In shifting my paradigms, I can indeed see how from the ashes, all things are working together for good and according to his purpose. I don’t have to understand the events of that day, I just have to do what feels right and trust in myself and the faith that carries me.

All Things Work Together For Good

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Signature Strengths

Signature Strengths.

Signature Strengths

People have signature strengths—those strengths or tools in one’s tool box that they do not have to think about. Since I was 15 and took a personality test for the first time, my top five strengths are hope, zest for life, spirituality, physical, and love of learning. I don’t have to think about waking up and leaping out of bed ready to go. I am always excited about the day. It can be very annoying, but I simply have always been chipper. I have taken these tests over the years for work and the results are always the same even in my darkest days. I have always believed that happiness is a choice.

Having said that, do I have dark hours, days, times? Yes, but not often. Yesterday, someone cared enough to worry about me. It took me aback. It took me aback because yesterday marked the four year mark since the worst day of my life. In four years, I have moved beyond being consumed with many bad moments and the pit of despair that I had to really work to claw my way out of to where I am now. Where am I?

I do have hard moments, but they are not as frequent and they do not consume me like they once did. I even cry once in awhile, but I am not fighting for happiness any more. Am I lonely? You bet. Do I still wish that Phil hadn’t died? I will always wish that, but my paradigms have shifted to one of gratitude for the 23 years we had. I do not have to fake my enthusiasm or positive frame of reference and rarely do I have to fight for it because it is simply part of my make up.

Grief does not follow a trajectory. What is interesting to me is that the happy days sometimes cause the most pain because I want to share them with my best friend. I long for the laughter and the shared life. I miss the physical closeness with someone and I miss the soft place to land, but I am not languishing in tepid waters. I am figuring it out. One bad day, one bad moment, one bad week even, is not who I am or what I stand for.

Those moments of grief are my reminder as to what was lost to my life. While I blog about my journey, it is only part of the story. I truly believe that happiness is a choice and that where I once had to fight for it, now I know that if I ride the waves, it will take me back to the harbor of hope and zest for life.

Light a Candle

Light a Candle.

Light a Candle

Light a candle tonight. I have shared this before, but I am asking you to stand with me and the other 8 families on Monday. Light a candle with your actions, shine a light and take a picture for me…..Let’s greet our angels. They are my heroes. I stand for them….for my Phil. I will be running a marathon next weekend at USAFA. I am going home and I am going home to the Academy. I am not slinking away or avoiding the place we were the happiest. I am also continuing my quest of random acts of kindness this week. . My light…..my light is that. What is your light? I will run with faltering tired steps the path set in front of me. I choose to celebrate my life because my hero….my heroes wanted that. Who is in?

Ooh, That Smell

Ooh, That Smell.

Ooh, That Smell

I carry a stench, the rotting odor of one who has been touched by death.  I carry the putrid smell of one who has lost so tragically and so horrifically that no words can soothe or gloss over the details.  After four years, one would assume that I would be looked at as more than my story, but I am left to wonder if I will always be someone set off, broken, or a titillating story to most people.  While I recognize that these days leading to the 27th will always cause me to take pause, this year I am cowering in a very real way.  I am ready to shut down and run away.

I had come so far.  I even began to actively engage in wanting to date again.  It was exciting for about one second.  What is it about me?  I get very little attention and the attention I get is not what I want.  I feel attraction and want, but I cannot be with a married man.  I can’t be the tartlet option.  I felt a connection with someone just to find out that he felt it also, but that he is engaged.  I call it the trauma connection.  We both have had major trauma in our lives.  The problem is that I do not want that to be why I am with somebody.  I do not want my trauma or tragedy to bring people who want to fix me or “make me feel better.”

I am shutting down because it is horrifying to be seen as someone who needs to be fixed or a plaything on the side.  It is crazy awful to be considered attractive and unapproachable due to events beyond my control.  I am not interested in being fixed or fixing.  I am just interested in being better with someone than apart, laughing until my sides hurt, experiencing life together, and growing old with someone.  I want someone to be proud of me and to see me as a person to show the world versus hiding the stinky widow.

While I am not going to run away, I fight for that one, I am closing off my heart.  There are no choices.  Perhaps it is the job I do.  Perhaps it is the transparent journey, but I am about so much more.  Who knew that becoming a widow at 49 would mean that my life as someone who can be the best friend, the lover, the helpmate, all of it, would be over the moment Phil died.  I want to believe it is possible to be seen as someone who is more than the sum of what happened, but my job and my lifework involve  telling my story.  Perhaps that is the problem, but I cannot quench the blazing fire.  I am well aware that I have a small window of opportunity to work (retirement looms).  I am well aware that I am in a unique position to change my big Air Force in small ways that can help those coming after me.  I am cognizant of the fact that my training is unique enough that our future leaders are seeing first hand the importance of resiliency.  I just can’t have a life with it.  I carry that smell, that cloying smell, of a girl who has seen too much and lost even more.

Widow Lessons Learned

Widow Lessons Learned.