I Can’t Drive 65

When strong emotions catch me off guard, it still surprises me.  I’m not sure why.  I know it’s expected with grief.  I guess it’s because I like to think that I know how I’m doing and I try very hard not to put myself into a situation that I feel like I won’t handle well.  So when I’m overwhelmed with sadness that seems to come from nowhere, it only compounds the emotions.  I’ve never thought of myself as being “unstable,” but grief sure has taught me otherwise.  Grief is the great “humiliator.” 

Chad and I needed to drive to Greenwood the other day.  I never really gave it a second thought as we started driving in the Jeep.  We usually cut through the country to get to the interstate and as we were approaching the entrance ramp to I65, that’s when the fist lump in my throat suddenly showed up.  My mind suddenly replayed what felt like hundreds of scenes all at once of trips to and from the hospital.  Suddenly, I felt all of that weight and pain and I lost it—just because we were on I65.  I realized that I hadn’t really gone that way, since Sarah had passed.  I’ve been avoiding it I guess.  After she died, driving home was the absolute worst.  I’ve never cried like that before.  It was all so raw.

 Before cancer, we had driven that road so many times, but during cancer, it was like I could put the Jeep on autopilot and it would just take us to Riley.  There were trips where we were so scared about what we were going to learn, once we got there.  There were trips where we were so hopeful- that we were going to be victorious over the cancer.  Most of the trips took a lot of courage for Sarah.  Mentally, she was so strong.  She would crank up the worship music and we would sing our hearts out the whole way there.  Coming home after long stays, were always the best.  She’d usually ask for fast food from somewhere.  She was excited to see the Culver’s being built at the Franklin exit.  I remember thinking, as I drove her to the hospital the last time, she may not get to see it finished.  She didn’t.  How am I supposed to drive by that Culver’s and not have that memory every single time?  That’s grief and trauma working together in my head.  Somehow, I need to capture those thoughts before they attack me.  I’m still working on how to do that.  A couple of weeks later, I tried driving I65 by myself.  I still cried.  It may have been worse than the first time.  However, I refuse to let it master me.  I may choose to drive a different route sometimes, but eventually, I need to just “go down that road” and let myself feel and release those emotions.  I don’t want to have areas of my life that I avoid because the trauma is to painful. 

EDIT…Less than 24 hours after I wrote this blog, I did it!  Little did I know that a friend would be needing me to take them to Indy for an emergency situation.  Although, I’m sorry that my friend needed a trip to the eye specialist, I’m not sorry for the opportunity that I had to conquer this challenge.  God knew when I was writing this blog entry that He was going to work out just the situation that would require me to drive I65.  I know it will probably take more trips and especially, if I’m alone, it may feel differently, but I’m celebrating this emotional victory.  He’s always up to something. 

What about you?  Is there an area that you avoid because it’s connected to your grief?  Did you recognize that early on in your grief journey or did it surprise you?


Nothing comforts my heart as much as reading scripture.  The Bible is full of promises for us to claim as our own, if we are believers.  According to Dr. Everk R. Storms, of Ontario Canada, writing for Contact Magazine, he spent a significant amount of time counting them all and concluded that there are indeed 8,810 to be exact.  There are different types of promises found in scripture:  Man to God, person to person, angel to person, etc. 7,487 of those promises are from God to man.   That’s a lot of promises!

When do you make a promise?  When you do, is it something that you take lightly or does it carry weight?  For me personally, when I make a promise, it’s significant.  A promise is something that is usually held for a special moment of building confidence or trust into something that another person may deem as uncertain, or insecure.  As the girls were growing, I tried very hard to never make a promise casually that couldn’t be kept, because I knew it was laying a foundation of trust for us to build on– for the rest of our relationship.  If someone breaks a promise, we usually don’t forget.  It’s painful and teaches us that we can’t completely trust that person. 

How much more should we value the promises of God?  Each one is like a gift that we can hold and look forward too.  He knew that we would need reassurance. He knew that we would feel insecure. So, He has woven His promises through-out scripture so abundantly to give us strength, power, joy, and courage- to keep on going.  It’s impossible for Him to break a promise. It’s important to note that there is usually a prerequisite to the promise. So, be sure and search them out. Usually that prerequisite aligns us with His heart and will.

Today, as I read the red letters of Jesus and read again some of the promises that He made to us, I’m reminded of just how well He always knows exactly what we need, especially as it pertains to grief.  As I study the time that Jesus was on earth with His disciples, much of what He told them was to prepare them for the grief that they would feel when He left them.  He was preparing them for a separation after His death on the cross and even after His resurrection because He ascended back to heaven.  He knew that the separation would be hard for His disciples and He wanted to prepare them.   His promises in John this morning were so fresh to me.  Right before he was arrested and taken for crucifixion, He said these words:

“The world will greatly rejoice over what is going to happen to me, and you will weep.  But your weeping shall suddenly be turned to wonderful joy(when you see me again).  It will be the same joy as that of a woman in labor when her child is born-her anguish gives place to rapturous joy and the pain is forgotten.  You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and NO ONE can rob you of that joy.”  John 16: 20-22

Did you catch those promises?  Weeping turned to joy? Not just plain old joy, but a “rapturous joy” the kind of joy that makes us forget our pain that we have had to endure.  Knowing that, makes our grief somehow a little easier doesn’t it?   He compares it to childbirth…or for you guys, it’s like when you know you have to have surgery or a medical procedure on your physical body to fix something.  You know you’re going to endure some pain for a bit, but eventually, you will be better than before.  Our pain is temporary.  The pain of grief is temporary.  I find so much comfort in Jesus making a point to even tell us that.  It’s a promise that strengthens me and makes my grief manageable today.  Tomorrow, I may need to read it again or find another promise, but I’m so thankful that they are there for us to claim. 

What promise is giving you strength today?    

A Positive Valentine’s Day

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.  We’ve been living our best COVID life, you might say.  Chad tested positive and so our household had to be under quarantine.  It didn’t affect my routine a whole lot, but poor Libby and Chad aren’t use to being stuck at home with me for that long.  Thankfully, we have the best family and friends that checked in on us and delivered supplies when we needed them.  Our symptoms were pretty mild, mainly manifesting in some head cold type of symptoms.  Eventually, we all loss our sense of smell, which is still so weird.  Libby and I never officially went and got tested.  We just assumed we were contagious and stayed in.  If we were going to be stuck at home, it was as good a time as any, I guess.  The pattern of snowfalls that we were stuck in made it easier to just “want” to be at home.   It made me thankful that last year wasn’t nearly as snowy, since we were driving back and forth to Riley so often. 

Often times,  I don’t let myself look at my Facebook memories, but on Valentine’s Day last week, I let myself look.  I honestly couldn’t remember where we were a year ago.  My Facebook memories kindly reminded me.  Sarah and I were in the middle of one of her longest hospital stays.  Her tumor had grown and we were trying a different kind of chemo.  They were preparing us for a very drastic amputation, if something didn’t change.  It would have been a “forequarter amputation” which basically means they were planning to remove her arm and shoulder all the way to her collarbone.  The memories came flooding back.  It was a hard Valentine’s Day last year.   We were worried sick about what was to come and how to prepare for whatever it was going to be.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I wonder if an amputation would have prolonged Sarah’s life, but I also have to admit, I think it would have sucked the life right out of her.  She didn’t want to lose her arm, but I didn’t want her to lose her life.  However, knowing how aggressive her cancer was, even with an amputation, her cancer probably was spreading.  I know we’ll never know for sure.  So, I’ll just have to trust.  I know that it played out exactly like God wanted it to.  If you know the rest of the story, than you know that her tumor miraculously began to die and shrank back to the point that the surgeon was able to do a complete arm resection surgery.  He removed her original tumor and she had 100% clear margins after all the pathology reports came back negative for cancer.  Her tumor was donated for research.  I guess you could say that there are parts of Sarah’s DNA that are still alive in a lab somewhere.  Weird to think about, but hopefully, it will help lead to the end of osteosarcoma in the future.  

So, this Valentine’s Day looked a lot different.  There was still no romantic dinner or date night with my husband-thanks to COVID.  However, it was way better than last year for all of us, including Sarah.  When I start to feel sorry for myself because I don’t get to be with her, I just stop and imagine her- whole and healthy-smiling, somewhere in heaven.   I’m so glad she doesn’t have to live in a bubble here.   I’m so glad she’s not at risk for COVID, or more cancer, or any other disease, or sickness that this broken world can give her.  Nothing can ever hurt her again. I miss her so much every day. Ultimately, I feel that God loaned Sarah to us for 15 short years and I’m thankful that He allowed her to sing, play piano, and continue to be her joyful self around us, until it was time for her to go home to be absolutely perfect.  Grieving with hope makes it so much more bearable.

This Season

I’ve always liked the spring time.   My love for gardening and flowers as a young adult just intensified my love for this time of year.  Seeing the green shoots of spring bulbs bursting forth towards the warmth of the sun is so exciting.  I often find myself looking daily at the ground where some of my favorite perennials lay buried beneath the recently frozen dirt, inspecting for any sign of life.   Seeing the grass turn green and all the colors exploding just lifts my spirits and energizes me.

As we saunter into the summer, I enjoy the longer days and the warmth of the sun and full of non-stop activities.  I know Indiana is not always the most comfortable place to be, but from a plant lover’s perspective, it’s a pretty good growing season. I’m thankful for the variety of plants and species that we’re capable of growing.  I love rolling down the windows and enjoying the sweet smell of the corn fields on July summer evenings. As the leaves on the corn stalks begin to fade and dry, there’s something in the air that tells us that change is coming.

As fall slowly begins to come around, the change is kind of hard for me to take.  As the landscape changes from green to brown, it makes me melancholy to see the empty fields, empty trees, and empty gardens.  As I’ve aged, I have gained more of an appreciation for the season of autumn and all the pretty colors, but honestly I get really sad about my plants and flowers dying and the cold that creeps in during the evenings.  I do enjoy warm sweatshirts, boots, and pumpkin spice and it has helped bring some joy to this particular season, but the change is hard.  I do love the reflective time of gratitude that many of us finally take after a summer of busy plans.  It’s a great way to prepare our hearts and homes for what the winter brings.

As winter makes itself known, with gray landscape scenes and the occasional blanket of white snow, we search for cozy-cozy blankets, cozy homes, maybe a cozy holiday gathering.  The branches are bare and the ground beneath our feet is frozen and often icy.  As temperatures dip and the winds blow, we do our best to keep the cold out–from creeping into the cracks.  The dark seems to come so early and last so long.   We long for the sun’s rays to shine and give us warm spots to bask in for a bit.  Around the end of January, I begin to dream of beaches and sunny destinations, as I worry about my favorite plants and young trees that are outside.  I hope that their roots have grown deep prior to this season, while they lie dormant waiting to awake.  

Regardless of the time of year, my spiritual life often correlates to one of these seasons.  Unfortunately, just like my favorite trees and plants, we need to cycle through these seasons to grow in our faith.  Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons where, just like summer, things are good, we are thriving.  However, just like the air in August, we can sense that change is coming and if we are wise, we’ll take precautions and offer gratitude for the ways that God has blessed us in the past. Remembering His faithfulness prepare us for what is coming.   It strengthens us for the cold season of winter that we soon find ourselves in, when we feel hard and almost dead on the inside.  If we can just stay close to the cozy warmth of the “son,” He’ll remind us that spring is coming.  We just have a bit more to wait until the ground softens and the warmth of His sun shines on our souls and awakens our spirits with a new energy to grow.  Finally, we reach our spirits towards His life giving light and bloom once more.  

What season are you in right now?  Whatever season you may find yourself in, I pray that you’ll find the joy somewhere and know that it won’t last. Even if you’re in a “summer” season, hang on- cause change will come. When it does, what will you give thanks for and how will you prepare for the winter? Grief definitely is a season of winter.  I’m holding on to the hope of spring though and I’ve been blessed with some cozy times of comfort with The Comforter. Even in this season, there is so much beauty. So, if you’re in the “winter” like me, take heart-springs coming! When the time comes, you will awaken, grow and bloom again. I just know it.

Want some more inspiration? Check out this song! Always been a favorite of mine.