Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July, yea, right....

(Flickr photo credit: by Michael
@ NW Lens 4th of July Parade in Burien, WA)
July used to be an emotional land-mine for me. My wedding anniversary with Bruce was July 1, and honestly? Our anniversary celebrations rarely lived up to my expectations and neither did the 4th. He wasn't much for parades and sparklers and watching fireworks from a blanket on the lawn on the 4th, nor anniversary gifts on the 1st. And although we loved each other and had a good marriage, I usually got my feelings hurt every July. So even as a widow July was loaded with ... shall we say..."baggage."  

After he died, the first time July rolled around a lot of people remembered my wedding anniversary and included me in their July 4th fun and that helped a lot. But the second year was awful. I got a card from my sister-in-law, but no one else said a word. They all forgot. And then all my past miserable memories rolled up into one big wad of self-pity and depression! Here's a bit from my old journal:

I spent the day doing laundry, studying for the GRE, and a little housecleaning. I thought about going to the parade, but my teenage son certainly didn't want to go with me, nor did my daughter and her girlfriend who was living with us. And my oldest daughter was at work. So I stayed home because usually it's even lonelier to be by yourself in a crowd. By evening all the kids had scattered, the house was empty. I played free-cell, remembering how addicted I was to its mind-numbing power last summer, and I kept checking my email--but of course it was empty as no one in the world except me would be in front of their computer on the 4th of July . . .

It gets even worse after that, and I'll spare you the drama, but it makes me wonder--is anyone in front of their computer today? If you are, and you're feeling as miserable as I was during that second year of widowhood, let me encourage you with how I handled it. (We'll skip my night spent bawling my eyes out and wandering over to the medicine cabinet where I couldn't find enough pills on hand to do me in).

Here's what I did:

You know those people who look you in the eye, and in all sweetness and sappiness they say--"If there's anything I can do . . .?" Well, the very next morning I called every single one of them. I said, "Meet me at the park at noon and bring a sandwich."

Four of them were able to show up. When we met, I showed them my journal entry, which, like I said, got worse and worse than the paragraph I just showed you. I had scared myself and I scared them, too! After they read it (and cried), I cried, we all cried! I said through my blubbering and tears, "I'm broken. I'm crippled like that man in the Bible who couldn't walk and needed his friends to carry him to Jesus. I need each of you to pick me up and carry me to Jesus. I need you to pray for me and call me every day for the next two weeks and get me through this." 

Did they call me every day? No! Of course not! But enough of them called, and they called me enough. They were just ordinary Christian women, the kind that would never say a peep at a Bible study. Two of them were divorced, one had enough struggles of her own, one was a brand new Christian, but they were God's ministers to me. The days passed and I got through it because they helped. Had I not told them I needed help, I don't know what would have happened.

So if you're with me today, and you're reading this because the silence in your house is deafening and the loneliness is suffocating, I think God wants you to know you're not really alone. He's placed some good people around you, and at this point, that is how He will minister to you. You might not feel especially close to God, you might even wonder if He really does exist. But He does. He loves you. He has good plans for you. And He has some people around you that need to know you need them. Try calling them, send God an SOS too because He really is listening... and please let me know what happens.

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jer. 33:3


  1. Sometimes you seem to read my mind. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement. Holidays are hard.

  2. Today I'll be at my moms. All the relatives and their spouses. Me, the widow,with my kids. I don't even want to be around everyone. I'd rather be at home in my bed. I'm trying. Its just so hard and miserable and of course no one will understand.

  3. Hi Susan, I can't read your mind (smile, I think I'm glad for that :) ) But I know the Lord can, and it's cool that He connected my words and life with yours today. I'll be praying for both you and Robin today. Holidays are hard, in part because we think the rest of the world is so happy, but I can only wish they were....

  4. Ferree, As you know Matt and I's Wedding Anniversary was June 26th, and My Birthday was July 1st, so it's been a rough coulpe of weeks for me : ( I was supposed to of been born on the 4th of July, so I celebrate all week long. But as you well know those celebrations are not the same without Matt : ( I was so very saddened to read about how every July you got your

  5. Wow, you asked for help and I think this is what widows need to do. My 4th of July memories are just the opposite - my husband and I threw the biggest 4th of July parties every year - our yard was the place to be. I watched the Cody, WY parade with my co-workers this morning and I have to work at 2pm today, but I am really missing my parties back home.

  6. Teri, Cody WY is an awesome place to be! I hope you have a great time in everything you do, and that you can also get to Yellowstone (but maybe you've already been there?). I need to check your blog and see where your travels have taken you lately. Your 4th of Julys sounded like they were full of fun and the best place to be. What a lovely set of memories :)

  7. Hey Carla, Happy (belated) Birthday! These are some jam-packed days for you with your anni and birthday so close. Thank you for the sympathy, too. It's strange how the calendar tended to take me over in the past; perhaps I had some unforgiveness going on. God's grace and mercy healed me though, so I hope I didn't drag any one down with this post today.

  8. Many thanks to WCP for lonely hearts, I'm reading this a little late, just finished watching the fireworks and seeing all the thousands celebrating. My daughter is upstairs asleep and I am sitting with the cat on my lap.... praying "thank you Lord, for America and all you have blest her with" but it still doesn't do a lot for my empty hurting heart of missing my best friend.
    I Don't mean to sound indifferent but holidays aren't as painful for me as just the everyday of ordinary days. The little surprises unexpected, the sweet laugh and gentle everyday hugs. Tom could turn every ordinary day into a special holiday and I this is (just one) of the reasons I miss him so much.

    Today I was humming a song and the chorus lyrics were unto
    the Lord which said "all I have to offer you is brokeness and pain, but you made something beautiful of my life"
    I believe God is nigh to the broken hearted and those in grief. It is the crippled sheep he gives and provides most attention to. It is the crippled sheep he picks up and places upon his shoulders and carries them into the green fields, It is the crippled sheep he places His anointing oil of love upon his head and tends and nurtures it back to health.

    God of the helpless "Abide With Me"
    When other comforts fail to comfort me
    God of the helpless Lord,
    Abide With Me"

  9. Tony and I were married on July 4th, 33 years ago and I miss him greatly. I miss him mostly because I thought we'd really have the best time ahead as we approached retirement together from the mandatory responsibility of a work life. I didn't know then that those past holidays would be our only days to celebrate them. So, I'm grateful that we did, every year. On the first wedding anniversary after we were parted, I drove down to one of our favorite places and as usual, the scenery was awesome, yet it only served to make me feel his absence immensely greater. I would not recommend that plan of action. As I returned for home, a song by Brad Paisley played on the car's radio, called, "Waiting On a Woman", and it comforted me very much, even while the tears came. The following 2 years, I have planned simple activities that make the holiday a holiday for me. By having an awareness that although the loneliness cannot be willed away, it can be soothed and that really offers me hope that I can go on and live a life of enjoyment. I am forever grateful by having met my husband and would not trade my loneliness for having never known the joy received during our relationship. I have learned not to set myself up for disappointment by expecting others to remember what I have in my heart.

  10. Thank you for these wise and tender comments, everyone. I'm so grateful that you're willing to share your experiences because so many will grow and benefit from them. And if you'd remained silent? ... This is far better and blessed.


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