A Happy Saturday

I don’t know why.

Maybe it was a residual affect from the steroid shot I had to have the evening before.  Maybe it was that my grief is progressing through the next phase where I feel like living again.  Maybe it was a blessing from God, saying, “Child, you have been through so much these past few years that I am granting you a joyful Saturday.”

Maybe it was all of the above.  I woke up that Saturday morning feeling like a million bucks.  I woke up really early – around 4:00 a.m.  I wanted to try to fall back asleep, after all, I set my alarm for work 5 days a week.  Can’t I just sleep in for a bit on the weekend?  But I was feeling to euphoric to stay in bed.

Sure I still had the same issues I had the day before.  My husband took his own life 7 months ago. I am facing repairs on my house alone, something I have no idea how to handle.  But for some reason, I was euphoric.  And I am going to ride that euphoric horse for as long as I can.

About dang time!

I had forgotten what euphoria felt like.  I lived years having to be the sole provider of the family due to my husband’s disability. And I would do it again, for better or worse – that was my vow.  But living for years with an alcoholic had taken its toll.  Add on top of that, the man was living in severe chronic pain from his body turning on itself, which caused him to turn on me.  I watched my fun-loving husband morph from the life of the party to a bitter old man, who couldn’t be happy about anything or anybody.  I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes, and I finally gave up trying – and didn’t really care anymore.  When he would start his rants, I would simply go in another room.  All I can say is life was downright miserable for all of us the last two years of his life.

I was able to handle all of the responsibilities only by the Grace of God.

So when I woke up feeling euphoria, I figured I better treasure that moment because I don’t know when that next tidal wave of grief is going to hit me.

I leisurely piddled that morning.  Felt like a luxury.  I was facing a day of house chores, but I decided I was going to look dang good doing it.  Normally, I throw on ratty weekend clothes, don’t bother with hair and make-up, have to run to the store for something or the other – and run into

Everyone. I. Know.

I am the Avon lady, at least I should look the part.  Right?

So I picked out clothes I could do my chores in, but ones that wouldn’t make me look homeless if I ventured into the public eye.  It was going to be a humid day (well, that is almost every day in our neck of the woods).  So I had to do something with the wild locks spiraling out of control.  A few bobby pins later and I had a messy updo look that still manages to present ‘I kind of have it together look.’  I figured I came this far, I better put on foundation.  For my age, my skin is in good condition due to my Avon products, but I do have rosacea.  (My favorite skin care is our Avon Anew Hydra Fusion line.  Check it out on my website.)  So let’s dab on a little foundation.  My go-to product is Avon True Flawless Cream-to-Powder Foundation – heavy enough to cover my rosacea, but feels like a part of my skin – never cakey or heavy feeling.  My favorite is Natural Beige (#593-360 if you are looking for something new).  I could have stopped there – but you know – euphoria carries you a long way.  Let’s dab on some blush.  I have dry skin.  I like something creamy on my face, so I use Avon True Color Be Blushed Cheek Color Stick (#578-295 Blushing Nude).  I wonder if I can accomplish a little eye shadow, applied just so, so that it is an enhancement, but looks natural.  What’s in my stash?  Avon True Color Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Quad – Naked Truth (#528-117).  If I put on eyeshadow, I must put on eyeliner.  Now that my face is – how should I put this – is much bigger than when I was younger, my once big eyes have disappeared into my chipmunk cheeks and round face.  I have to use eyeliner so people even know I have eyes.  Have you ever tried Avon’s True Color Glimmersticks Waterproof Eye Liner?  I used Blackest Black (#488-328).  This goes on so smooth.  One of my customers quit using Lancome eyeliners because Avon went on just as well, and is oh so affordable.   Well now my lips look pale, unadorned and sad.  They want attention too.  Hmmmm.  Need to be careful what I pick here because my daughter tells me some of my lipstick is New Orleans Bourbon Street worthy.  Hey!  So what!  New Orleans is where I am from and proud to say it! And I am a product of the disco era where everything was flamboyant.  But still, I didn’t want to look like I was heading out for a night on the town. I just wanted to feel good about myself.  Let’s use Avon 2-in-1 Lip Tattoo Lip Line & Fill Duo, Inked Rose (#494-239).  I have to put a little color on my lips.  Nude lipsticks do not do a darn thing for me.

Well now that the face and hair is all done, a little costume jewelry will be the crowning glory.  I put on my necklace that says “Avon,” combined with a necklace that says “Beauty Boss.”  Then that led to earrings.  My hair was up so I could show off earrings.  I couldn’t find any of my post earrings.  I guess I still have not unpacked those from my move 7 months ago.  But wait!  I belong to the best Avon group ever.  I had just received a pair in the mail from the best upline ever, Karen!  I ripped open that envelope and put some earrings on that may have been a little too fancy for chores – but hey – euphoria – what can I say?  (You need to check out Avon’s jewelry line…..)

All of the above explained in painful detail is to give hope to those newly grieving.  I know you feel you will never think of anything else but this sorrow.  I was shocked I was able to concentrate on something trivial as hair and make-up without thinking of my husband’s suicide.  Those thoughts usually plague my mind almost 24/7.

I sat back and looked at the face in the mirror.  Oh how she has aged – and gotten rounder.  A few weeks ago I had been going through old photos and missing that young, skinny woman with the great hair.  Oh how I would love to go back to those carefree days that didn’t involve bills, mortgages, alcoholism, DUIs, fines, chronic pain, clinical depression. But that face in the mirror today is so much wiser than that face that looked back at me in my younger years.

It is what it is and I am who I am. And I can hold my head up high.

I am going to treat that woman in the mirror right.  She deserves it, and she will preserver.

I am living, I am breathing, and I am functioning in society without all of my husband’s added drama.

This Saturday morning was a blissful moment for me.  This was proof that I am healing.  Finally, a turning point to the good.

I like that person in the mirror!

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

GLORY TO THE ORDINARY!

 

Letting Go of a Dream

It was OUR dream.

We loved to garden together.  That was our ‘good times.’  We didn’t bring any other interference into our garden time.  It was just me, him and Mother Earth – no marital problems – no anxiety – no mental illness.  Gardening was the best times for us these last few years.

Our dream was in our retirement years to have a huge vegetable garden and a roadside stand.  We would can what we couldn’t sell.  We have been in prep mode these last few years, building up to OUR dream.  We gardened, we harvested, we canned.

We called our little homestead a faux farm because it was not sustainable.  Some years we had bumper crops, some years we might have a tomato.  We knew if the apocalypse came and we had to survive on our own land – we would be the first to die.

We chronicled our success and failures on our Facebook page, Spooky Hollow Southern Mississippi.  We laughed at our failures.  We took great pride in our successes.  One year, our cucumber crop was so large, we gave those away as party favors for my granddaughter’s birthday.

We even had fun scooping the poop – so much fun that I wrote a poem of one our adventures on May 21, 2010 (never dreaming that 9 years later – almost to the date – my husband would be dead from his own hand).

“I do not like to scoop the poop. I do not like it sticking to my boots. I do not like the way it smells. And now I do not feel so swell. But Bubba-Man says I do not give a dam. We are here to scoop the poop. We do not care if it sticks to boots. We do not care how bad it smells, because this will make our garden swell.”

Such enjoyable times.

But those days are gone now.  My husband killed those dreams when he killed himself.

I am faced with downsizing.  I have a huge assortment of canning jars and nowhere to put them.  I tried to find places to stuff them, but no such luck.  Then I realized I would probably never have need for this many jars and I must face parting with them.  That thought stabbed me in the heart and actually brought tears to my eyes.

Isn’t is silly to cry over canning jars?  Grief – a miserable necessity.

I know I can still have a garden – a smaller one.  I know I will still can my produce – just not as much.  I do not know if I will ever have a roadside vegetable stand.  But what’s the point anyway?  What I do know is I will not be sharing this experience with my husband.  That was the whole point – him and I – conquering this dream together – sharing this intimate experience that was only between us.

The prize was in the process.  OUR process.  Not his process.  Not my process.  OUR process.

OUR gardening trumped every bad experience in life.  We were in tune with each other, and only with each other.  A true union.

Our gardening experience – this is ‘us’.  No, that’s not right.  This ‘was us’ – this was ‘the good us’.

It hurts like heck letting go of a dream.

I’m not sure if I will ever enjoy gardening again.

 

(Just a note – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter and SIL have a personal ministry of ministering to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  Recently, they fed as much as 24 people, all on a youth minister’s salary.  God provides.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Be sure to check out our other deals. We always have some.  Avon isn’t only make-up.  If you have not seen an Avon brochure in a while, check us out.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

Crushed in Spirit

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

That’s me alright – yes indeed – that is me – the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  How righteous I felt when I heard this verse. The Lord is close to me because I am all so self-important.  My husband’s mental illness sure made me brokenhearted and I sure was crushed in spirit.  I felt so vindicated and so superior.

Then, a small voice spoke to me.  “How crushed in spirit do you think your husband was to put a …… – to commit sui….. – to take his own life?”  (I still have trouble thinking it, much less saying it loud…)  I felt small and petty.  My insides were churning.  He lost all hope and spiraled down into total despair and darkness on the afternoon of May 29, 2019.

I have spent the last few months trying so hard to process my own emotions, no way could I take on my husband’s emotions.  But there it was, a voice creeping into my thoughts to try to see this from his perspective.  He was brokenhearted.  He was crushed in spirit.  He was broken – PERIOD!  I will never fully understand because he is no longer here to explain.

He was always the life of the party, but something dark continuously lurked under his vibrant personality.  What happened to his psyche during his lifetime to cause him to harbor this demon?  Why would his emotions shift at some imagined offense only he saw?  Out of all the good times we had, I suffered anxiety because I never knew when that inner crazed person would make an appearance.  Deep down, he was a good, caring man.  He suffered with alcoholism and this angry demon living within himself, and it got the best of him.  He would cry out sometimes, “I am so sorry!  I don’t mean to act crazy!  I don’t like myself.”  This would leave me wondering, ‘well – why do you act like this?  Fix yourself already!’  I will not know the answer this side of heaven.

He knew he had problems, but he would not seek help.  When he was not feeling contrite about his actions, he was feeling too self-important and thinking someone always wronged him in one way or the other.  Nothing was ever his fault.   Once he decided someone wronged him, he bore anger on that person until his last breath.

I had a moment of clarity in my moment off all too self-importance.  This man was suffering greatly.  I never want to be in that dark of a place.  I believe if he had not been so stubborn, and sought help, he could have lived a fairly normal life and perhaps died a happy old man.  Instead, the anger he died with shed and attached to me at the exact moment he took his last breath.  All I can say is thank you God for allowing me to recognize this flaw and I turn to you for relief.

Saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.”  Jonah 2:2

Many have tried to persuade my husband to seek help.  Was it stubbornness?  Pride?  Righteousness?  Whatever it was – he was wrong – WRONG!  Not only was he flawed, but the system is flawed.  I once tried having him committed after one of his bouts of threatening suicide.  The system said he was fine and released him after a few short hours.

He failed himself by refusing therapy.  The system failed him by not realizing he was incapable of making a wise choice.  Many complain they cannot get help because they don’t have insurance.  We had insurance – insurance that could have paid for his care, so that was not the reason he was turned out of a hospital.  I don’t have the answer.  I was tired of fighting the fight.

I don’t have the answers as to how to fix the system.  My brain is just capable of handling my immediate surroundings.  I have to pray for the people in charge of our system.  I have to pray God uses me to make a positive difference in someone’s life.  I have to pray.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.”  (Psalm 10:14a)

So often I wanted him to move out – but I had nowhere to put him.  I could not turn him out on his own, with no support system – no benefits.  This is the man who supported me when I went back to college – the man who made sure I got to stay home full time with my babies during crucial periods.  We all tried to handle this as a family.  He failed, we failed, the system failed.  At times it was easy to think God failed us.

In GriefShare, we were told our mourning is never an excuse for acting rude.  Well golly – aren’t I being hit with all kinds of zingers this week.  During a conversation recently, a person was adamant I should not feel angry as to what my husband did.  I guess my comment of “Screw You – Dude!” was not politically correct.

How appropriate I am having all these revelations this week – Mental Illness Awareness Week.   But I am not alone.  I walk with God.  I will continue my walk with God, delving deeply into His Word so that I do not lose myself to this world.  God never has, and never will, fail me.  He never abandons me.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.”  (Psalm 10:14a)

My husband was raised in a Godly household.  He was a believer.  I don’t understand why he couldn’t shake his anger, alcoholism, and hopelessness.  Oh God how I pray these inequities are not visited upon his children and grandchildren.

The last few months of his life were pure hell, for himself and for anyone who came in contact with him. He was spiraling terribly and there wasn’t anything any of us could do.  It was obvious he was a train wreck about to happen.  He had been sober for quite some time, but the anger within was raging a full time war – and winning.  The life of the party was disappearing into oblivion.  The chronic pain heaped upon his anger made for an ugly combination.  He isolated himself into his own ugly world.

But God was with my husband always.  I cannot imagine the pain he was in during his last moments on this earth, but I take comfort in the fact that I know in an instant he was in the presence of God – fully restored, pain free, out of the darkness and into the light.

I take comfort in knowing God is always with me, not just because I am brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  I pray, God, that I always see the JOY you want me to experience, despite the trials and tribulations while I walk this earth.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

These verses allow me to rest in the Lord.

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood

My Grief Letter

My Dearest Friends and Loved Ones,

Recently I have suffered a devastating and traumatic loss.  My emotions are all over the place.  Sometimes I am so pained by my loss I don’t feel like I can take a step forward.  Sometimes I am happy not having to deal with my husband’s crippling pain and mental illness.  And always, I feel guilty for being happy that I don’t have to deal with my husband’s crippling pain and mental illness.  I ask for understanding.

I learned a new term in therapy – bereavement trauma.  This is what I am suffering from.  Just what I needed, another layer of grief.  Thank you, dear husband, for adding to the pain of grieving.  I not only have grief from the loss of my husband, I have post traumatic stress from the way he left this life.  I ask for emotional support.

Most of you know my husband of 37 years committed suicide.  Don’t ask me questions such as how did he do this, and did I find him.  I relive his suicide, on my own, much more than I care to admit.  I don’t want to re-live these moments because of someone’s curiosity.  If I want you to know, I will tell you.  I can tell you now, I don’t want you to know.  I understand people are naturally curious.  I am guilty of the same.  But now, due to experience, I know better.  I ask for privacy.

I am having nightmares, so if I act sluggish during the day, there is a good chance I did not have a good night sleep.  I will be struck unexpectedly with anxiety and might have to walk out of the room in the middle of the conversation.  I ask for patience.

I poured my heart and soul into honoring my vows during my husband’s sickness.  His suicide feels like the ultimate rejection – a slap in the face for all I sacrificed.  I ask for your love.

Sometimes I overreact during a situation for which my husband usually handled.  I become a drama queen over minor situations.  I ask you to hold my hand until I calm down.

I tend to lose my train of thought during a conversation.  I ask for a moment until I gather my thoughts.

My life is in transition, and I don’t quite know which direction I am going.  Unless I am about to literally walk off a cliff, I ask for your silence while I think out loud.

I am quite needy right now.  I don’t like being needy.  I don’t like having to rely on someone.  I am used to being strong and in control.  I ask for your compassion.

Finally, I thank all of you for kind words and actions.  I am overwhelmed by your outpouring.   I am truly surrounded by amazing friends and loved ones.  I have never felt more loved in my life. I pray, one day, I can repay, and pay forward, your kindness.

Love, Gretchen

 

(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

YourAvon.com/ghegwood