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Author Archives: Healing Eyes

Lost Dreams

For the first time I am realizing I have no dreams left. All the dreams me and Andy had together are now gone.

 

We dreamt of having a bigger house and a large garage for all our cars.

We dreamt of having kids.

We dreamt of getting better jobs.

We dreamt of growing old together.

We dreamt of having a cabin in the wood in the U.P. together.

We dreamt of retiring together.

We put all our hopes and dreams on a life together forever.

 

Now

It’s gone…

Just like that there is nothing left of that dream.

 

I am sitting in a beautiful little condo by the Caribbean sean. The wind is blowing, the waves are crashing on the rocks literally feet below my deck…and I am sad..I am crying and clutching Andy’s wallet. His wallet untouched from the final day in the hospital. When I took his final belongings with me and his body went to a room I never saw. His sweatshirt he was wearing is now covering my laptop to keep the salt from ruining my computer. If Andy was here he would be going crazy about the effect of salt on electronics.

 

My dreams are gone… lost in the wind that now beats on the windows. Will I ever get it back? Will I ever dream of a life that doesn’t involve Andy? Right now it feels too soon and somewhat like betraying him to think I should live and dream with out him. Though I go to bed tonight and close my eyes I pray I dream of Andy and he smiles at me one more time. I feel his loving embrace and his eskimo kiss on my nose. If that were to happen I would wake smiling, knowing he is at peace and that I should be too. That is a fairy tale though. Life is far from a fairy tale.

Healing Eyes

Long day on da island

This evening I had a very sudden burst of grief overwhelm me. It’s been at least a week since that’s happened. I saw a man that was skin and bones , literally , not exaggerating. It brought back painful images of Andy’s body being ravished by starvation. His first started the month before we learned he had cancer. He lost 30 pounds in a month! After his stomach came out he began losing more. After his final chemo rounds it just kept getting worse. The month of his death he was so frail. To hug him was to feel bones protruding under his skin. He walked slowly and bent over a little. He just looked sluggish and confused. When your so close to someone sick you see it but you also kinda don’t see it because it’s a slow progression.

I drove home in the dark crying and repeating , “Andy was that skinny, Andy was that skinny”.

I miss Andy. I ache for Andy.

I dreamt last night about him. He was not healthy in my dream. He rarely is:(

Prior to my melt down I had a good day. The kids last day of after school program at the lighthouse. They were extra extra loud and crazy. Little Gracie was up and down on emotions. She has a hard time with anger I notice. Also she craves attention and will do odd things to get it. I think she is testing me to see what she can get away with. I of course am a push over and have a hard time getting her respect. In the end I did get her to apologize to me in return for her fruit snacks. It’s so weird being around kids. I’m getting better though. It’s sad it’s summer vacation now and my practice with kids will lessen:(
There was one point today where Gracie noticed I had my bracelet on still that I made with her. She asked why I had it still. I said it was because I made it with her. This was during her anger spell and she wouldn’t apologize for misbehaving. So then the other girl with us said how awful it was that Gracie was being mean when I just said how important my bracelet was. Then Gracie seemed to understand more that she should be nicer.

I have a lot to learn about kids. But that must be why I’m here. One of a few reasons at least.

Tomorrow I pack my two totes up and move to my one bedroom apartment. I’m pretty excited about that…but also scared I’m splurging too much on myself. But it seems God wanted to spoil me this time and I need to not fight him on it.

 

 

 

 

Healing Eyes

Transparency thru honesty

There was a friend in my life that was very kind to Andy and I. She gave us meals during chemo treatments and offered encouragement to us during our journey thru cancer. I didn’t know her prior to Andy’s diagnosis and treatments. There were many people that offered support to us during those months of hell.

Why is it that during the most trying moments in our lives we can make some of the worse choices in our lives that will stay with us forever.

I just finished this booked called ‘the healing power of Forgiveness’ by George Foster and it really struck home.  There has been hurt caused to a friend that only showed kindness to me.. I have carried this guilt with me for many months.

As this blog has been a tool in being transparent and honest with followers around the world of Andy’s and mine journey through life it seems hypocritical to leave out a part of the journey that affected so many people and molded the grief that lingers still after Andy’s death. The grief of dishonesty. It seems that this world really is a fallen word and than sin is so easy to fall victim to.

Andy and I went so many years facing life’s challenges together and dealing with pain as a couple. We relied on no one else but ourselves, God was not a source of strength we tapped into. Perhaps that makes it all more fitting to realize now that the third loss in our lives, cancer, was what did us in and revealed how impossible it is to endure life’s trials without his help. We really can’t make it thru challenges with out God’s voice to guide us to do what’s right. It might seem like it for years since we do make daily success stories of surviving the odds but eventually it catches up to you.

Those last 2 months of Andy’s life and our marriage were the most difficult and destructive months. The disease of cancer was doing its best to destroy us both. One thing I didn’t realize was that it was killing me too, it was killing our marriage and the very core of its foundation we prized so much. Honesty was what held us together. Complete transparency. Thru infertility we were honest about the pain and expectations of the outcomes. Adoption opened up the door for exploring what our marriage was to the outside world. The disease was now to inflict its final blow on us by causing us to turn on one another. Andy hid his pain from me in order to spare me more pain. Spare me the worry of not taking care of him enough. The feeling of never doing enough to fix his pain was developing. Andy loved me so much and wanted everything for me and it killed him to watch me suffer at his side.

I began hiding things from Andy in order to seek an escape from the pain. Watching him die each day was taking its toll on my body. I was becoming sick to my stomach and the anxiety attacks were increasing. I kept telling myself I was in control but honestly I wasn’t. The search for why God was doing this was starting.. the search for believing in something took hold in my heart. I feared rediscovering that side of me would push Andy away and so I hid that from him. The dishonesty took its first steps in our marriage.

Cancer changed Andy and me. For me the ‘honest’ Sarah slowly died and looked for ways to escape the pain. To find answers. Sometimes I felt the need to sneak around to rediscover who I was. I missed my relationship with God and with Andy. I mourned it long before Andy died. The disease robbed me of the one thing Andy and I held dearly. And that was honesty. Honest about our feelings, pain, hopes for a future together, happiness were all accessible before cancer. But slowly it ate away at that core value of our love. I was not patient towards the end and didn’t wait on God, as a result I got too close to another person and relied on him too much for support I should have been seeking from God. As a result I now carry a burden of guilt towards a friend hurt in the aftermath of Cancer’s poison. I am so sorry to this person and I regret my actions and I ask for forgiveness even though I do not deserve it. She was nothing but kind to us.

To anyone starting or reaching the end of Cancer’s hold on your life I pray that you will seek out support and direction from God. Even if you may not believe or think its all bologna.. I once thought it was and I even ran from his embrace. He so wanted to help me but I was stubborn. So much pain and suffering in this world that can never be taken away, this world is screwed up and sadly Cancer is most invasive disease since it affects both patient and caregiver.

I have reached out to one of Andy’s past doctors and we have become friends. She talks me down when I am in the grips of despair with words of encouragement. Caregivers take on so much guilt of what they could have done. I never realized the effect cancer had on me. I did but I didn’t. It really does damage loved ones..it’s no excuse for our actions, but it does expose our weaknesses. When we are weak we fall…it doesn’t care who you are or how you used to live…Cancer sucks!

I flipped open my bible in search of a verse about Weakness.. instead I found a story about vulnerability. Which makes sense, we are most vulnerable when we are not in God’s hands. Genesis 20:2.  I won’t recite it but I will write the footnotes, which may have more impact. “Abraham had used this same trick before to protect himself. Although Abraham is one of our heroes of faith, he did not learn his lesson well enough the first time. In fact, by giving in to the temptation again, he risked turning a sinful act into a sinful pattern of lying whenever he suspected his life in danger. No matter how much we love God, certain temptations are especially difficult to resist. These are the vulnerable spots in our spiritual armor. As we struggle with these weaknesses, we can be encouraged to know that God is watching out for us just as he did for Abraham”.

I am not perfect. Andy was not perfect. No one is perfect. But maybe accepting that is the first step towards healing from a past we can never forget.

Healing Eyes

Returning to the island (again)

I am putting my ‘island’ clothes back on. Off with the business clothes and on with the lightweight colorful clothes. What a contrast between the two. One is to be portrayed as smart, successful, and businessy. The other is to be comfortable, cool, and relaxed.

Shouldn’t we all want to be the second? That’s probably why when we go on vacation we seek out hot climates to relax. What if you decided to live in that ‘vacation’ spot? Does that mean you will always be relaxed and carefree? No! Definitely not! It seems the complete opposite result, at least when first adjusting. I don’t want to go…I want to go north and snatch my dogs back up and get a cozy apartment with hot water. However, that wouldn’t do Andy justice. I owe it to Andy to push on and see what could be…  He didn’t suffer for nothing, his pain will never be forgotten! Getting past the caregiver’s guilt is my next hurdle. The true test of endurance and accepting this new future.

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Healing Eyes

Exhale…yup still weak

“To suffer passes; to have suffered never passes.  .. But people who have suffered are the very best equipped to help.”

“My grace is sufficient in you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Oh what pain I feel in my heart today.. it feels like a knife is being pushed into my heart and I have great pain in breathing. There is a huge weight on my chest that won’t budge it seems. Last night I got the final cut of the video that my church made before I left for St. Croix.  It was quite amazing to watch and see the words come out of from my heart so freely. I still don’t know who that person in the video was that was speaking. She looked strong and weak at the same time.. as if being held up by some invisible force. Perhaps when we are at our weakest we find the greatest strength.

I think it was one of Paul’s letters to the church that spoke about God’s pattern of reaching out to the lowly and the weak in order to show his power to strengthen us when our own bodies can’t.

Beatitudes: poverty, affliction, sorrow, and weakness can actually be means of grace if we turn to God.  It seems the weaker we feel the harder we may give in to God’s help.

I always tried to do things on my own and have full control of everything.  Andy and I were in control for many years and it wore us down.  In that weakness God found his way in. The crack thru the wall was exposed and he knew exactly how to strike..to push his way in. My weakness of self-sufficiency was the key to breaking me and Andy. Andy was dependent on my strength and when it was tapped dry I collapsed. A lot of things happened in that final month of Andy’s and mine journey.. some was for the good and some was to later cause me immense guilt. Working thru the past over and over in my head I try to validate each choice made and each decision. I find myself dwelling on the past and thinking ‘what if’… ‘what if I did more…’what if I acted differently’…’what if I never gave into God’…’what if I had died instead of Andy’..

This mind set will either suffocate me slowly or if I let God maybe it can strengthen me even more. I pray that this pain would be redeemed or transformed to benefit God’s plan for me on the island and wherever he might lead me next.

 

Where is God when it hurts? The answer is simple.. he is there all along but the pain is in the way.

 

Slowly I am starting to see that there is no coincidence in life. That word is a lie that we use to discredit God at work in the tiny tiny details of our lives.  At this moment I am on a plane flying back to the United States and I am filled with a desire to write down my thoughts. The pain in my heart is still throbbing but as I start writing it feels a bit better. I pulled out from my bag a notepad I had used during my business trip and on it I had written over and over a bible verse I was trying to memorize. Of course it was perfect for my current anxiety and feelings of despair. God really is in the details!

“Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 6-7.

Tomorrow morning I make my final journey back to the island from a week away on business. This business trip sucked the energy out of me and tempted me back to my past life. Above all it has made it hard again to be alone in this hotel room knowing I am to get on a plane again tomorrow to readjust to the island. I feel as if I am Jonah avoiding what I am supposed to do…I know what it is but I am scared to go all in. Which is worse…. not listening and struggling thru the road blocks that now pop up to frustrate me … OR .. listen and see the doors open, the unknown unfold before my eyes but at the cost of being terrified to change.

 

Healing Eyes

Peaceful

I was angry when Andy died.

I was angry when Hope died.

I was angry when Adoption failed.

But this morning as I awake on the island at my friend, Beth’s condo by the Sea…I hear the waves crashing on the rock wall and the wind blow the palm tree on the window. I smile! I smile so wide because the pain is easing. The tears are slowing and my heart is thawing. I am not as angry as I was about losing Andy. I am not as angry as I was for losing Hope. How can I be when I have a new love that is slowly taking hold where all the empty was. The dark pit that consumed me and threatened to pull me under is getting smaller and smaller. Tomorrow I could easily fall back in, or the next day, or the next day after. I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself! Right now I realize how much God loves me…it’s crazy to say after so many years of living my own life. Living for myself and feeling the need to control the outcome of life. 

Let go to live!
Let go to BREATHE!

I have kids now. I was motherless but now I have several kids that like me.. dare I say Love me? Last night at kids club Gracie ran to me and latched onto my waste. Literally! She wouldn’t let go. I was walking around with an 8 year old girl strapped to my waste. It was nice to be hugged even if it still is a bit odd for me to surrender to a love of a child. Maybe it was God hugging me thru Gracie saying it will be ok Sarah. stop worrying about tomorrow or even today…isn’t it enough that you’re here doing what I asked you to? Let me work on your heart and teach you a new skill. Or perhaps its an old skill buried way down that I suppressed…maybe I’ve known how to be a kid all along.

The kids were playing on the field and Gracie and I went down there. Well I mean I walked down there with her attached to my waste. I tried to encourage her to play with the other kids but she refused. She is very stubborn! hmm reminds me of another person i know, Me. The other girls called out my name, Miss Sarah! A very small girl named, Magalina, hugged me:) She always falls asleep during the lesson, perhaps from the heat or maybe its because she is so thin and tiny.

I’m going off island for a week and I am sad about that. I just was getting comfortable and adjusting and now I have to be ‘business Sarah’ again. The look on Gracie’s face as I said I was going away for a week touched me. The look on Carla’s face when I said I would be gone on her birthday made me sad. It’s nice feeling wanted even if it is such a small thing that I bring to their lives. However, I think they like knowing someone loves them and wants to be around. It seems people come in and out of their lives often and they never know who is sticking around long term. I pray that God will keep me here a bit longer to build those relationships up and to learn all their names…maybe watch them grow a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not setting up roots here, but maybe just maybe I am learning some new skills about kids that I can take wherever I land. 

 

Healing Eyes

Working with kids can help mend old wounds.

Andy and I struggled to have kids of our own for several years… dare I say our entire marriage was shadowed by never being able to. I think looking back it might have slowly eroded that child like self in each of us. We had lots of fun together but we desperately wanted to share our love with another mini version of us. When that couldn’t happen we thought treatments could solve the problem. When that didn’t work we turned to adoption. But as our story unfolded that wasn’t to be either. The main thing I am starting to realize is that over the many years I hardened my heart to being around kids…it was such a huge part of Andy’s and mine dream that never came true that we buried the pain over the years. Better to avoid the pain and find other fun things to do or buy. It worked for us…we made it work.

So now what?

Andy is gone and I am alone to pick up the pieces. All that brokenness can be put to work it seems. God has found a way to weasel his way in and light a match inside my heart. It’s a very slow burn but it takes time to change…to change a way of thinking and living..to change perspective on life…

I am starting to look past my own pain and misery by helping others. I don’t know how much of a difference it is but maybe it’s the small stuff that works. We are used to always thinking we have to ‘do’ something and it has to be noticeable to mean it’s working, that we are impacting the world. What if it’s the tiny moments that over time snow ball into something more?

My afternoon was a happy one. Yes, I said it, I was happy. I started by making some mother’s day cards for the kids to color for their moms. Looking past my own heart ache of Mother’s day I succumbed to printing and unjamming a printer over and over to make 10 cards. Later I realized there was a copy machine that made it way easier to duplicate the cards. This coming Mother’s day would have been 4 years since our baby Hope miscarried. She had a wee little heart beat that just gave out unexpectedly in a very painful day before Mother’s day. Sadly Andy never got to hear the heart beat since he missed the doctor’s appointment but he was so happy to hear me share the experience. That day she died Andy and I grieved together.. I’ll never forget the look on Andy’s face when it happened. He tried to go into work that day while I was passed out on the couch but he turned right back around to be with me. That day killed a piece of our hearts…a piece that Andy never really got over until he died, his final words were he would take care of Hope in heaven.

I think it’s a small thing to hang out with the girls while they color and do there homework. I told one of the girl’s I would be up in a minute after I hung out with the 2 older girls. When I got upstairs she had been waiting to pick her colors for her card until I arrived. I was a bit surprised she was waiting for me and very glad I followed thru on my promise. So odd that a kid would want to hang out with me! When we finished coloring we took photos together and the two girls giggled and fought over who was in the picture. Adorable really.

One of the girl’s back downstairs was finishing up her card and when I saw the colors she picked I smiled. She colored just like I would have by alternating colors and outlining the teddy bear…very artistic. But she was shy and thought it was ugly but I assured her it was Amazing.

Gracia coloring her butterfly

Gracia and Perla

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today was enough to know that coming back to the island was a good idea. If I were to die tomorrow I would feel good about listening to the voice in my head that said “Go”.

Helping with Homework

Helping with Homework

Healing Eyes

Being schooled

Anyone can change their life !
Anyone can choose to follow !
But
Can anyone have this awesome jeep:)
That’s right…I have wheels! May not be the cleanest or quietest ride but it’s got character.

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Yesterday at the after school program I helped a couple girls with homework and found out my geometry isn’t very good. I think I need to go back to school ha. Then it was hula hoop contest in the yard. I lost:( I guess I am also lacking in my hula skills but I think with practice I’ll get better.

So…lesson is Sarah needs to learn a lot of old skills. I used to hola hoop as a kid and was awesome at it. I used to know geometry and was average at it. There always is time to learn at any age.

To end my evening I drove my jeep down the coast and went to play bingo! First time experience for me, I didn’t win but it was fun! Pizza, drinks, and fun by the sea:)

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Healing Eyes

Heat stroke

It appears I might have been affected by the heat today which is odd since I wasn’t hanging out in the sun today. I think it’s a mixture of humidity and staring at a computer all morning.

My day today went better than expected. I got some work done for my Michigan job and then let the day unfold as God wanted it to. I ended up getting a ride from a new friend to the insurance agency to check out prices for my Jeep to come. Had some tacos for the first time since coming to the island and bought another crucian bracelet. This bracelet simplifies ‘Gratitude’…which is fitting since I need more of that lately. I have been moaning a lot and complaining soooo it’s time to try harder on that one. So the bracelet will remind me to stop it!

Gratitude: Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude means thankfulness, count your blessings, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. I just means we are aware of our blessings.

The other bracelet in the photo means ‘infinity’. I got that on my first trip to St. Croix in memory of Andy.

Infinity: Reflects the endlessly great feelings invoked by the Caribbean blue sea and the local color of its people. Wear as a symbol of everlasting friendship, love or memories.

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In the afternoon I went to the Good News Bible Club for kids down in one of the projects. It was an interesting experience. We sat on sheets out on the grass under some shade. The kids came and went and were a bit hyper. There was one little girl in particular that wouldn’t sit still so eventually I ended up with her on my lap and trying to calm her and stopping her from hitting other kids. It went ‘okish’. Perhaps I am better than I give myself credit but I still am extremely awkward around kids. I even joined in some of the kids songs which was very very out of my comfort zone. I can’t lie though it did feel kinda nice to act like a kid again, even if I was awkward.

There was another older girl there that was asking some serious questions. She asked what if someone was very sick and in the hospital and they had to bring a preacher in to try and save that person before they died. If that was something people did and if there was enough time to do that. I wanted to scream out, ‘Yes, Yes that really does happen! Andy and I did that very thing…but I held my tongue, it didn’t seem appropriate to butt in’. It’s interesting to see how some kids can be quite serious and others very hyper in the same group. Just an observation from a motherless 30 something widow..but kids are interesting to watch. Maybe some day God will succeed and I’ll be singing and teaching bible studies without feeling awkward..hmm let’s not hold our breaths on that. God only knows!

Healing Eyes

Conversation at Sunrise

I am spending the night next to the Sea! Literally, I can hear the waves crash on the surf and I can smell the salt… and what am I doing… I am bawling my eyes out missing Andy. Guilt is weighing so heavy on me right now of the all the hospital visits I am starting to blur together in my head. This evening I tried to document them all and went back at my calendar to find correct dates and procedures. If I forget the last 2 years I feel like I am losing another piece of Andy. The piece of Andy that fought so hard and suffered so much. The piece of Andy that shined so brightly when facing death. This morning I realized he had such a peace…a wave of peace came over him in that hospital bed that was God’s doing. I saw it first hand and yet it took me months later to really come to grips with it.

This morning I sat on a beautiful patio overlooking the Sea and I was sad. Seriously?! Stop being sad Sarah!

Why is it that when I wake up I can’t be happy and free? Because when I awake I remember I can’t wake from my dream of forever being separated from you my love – my other self. I will forever awake each morning in mourning for you. The loss felt is forever etched in my soul.

While others smile and welcome the day I fear the pain to come.


 

Job 33:

In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
 to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
 to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword.

 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
    with constant distress in their bones,
 so that their body finds food repulsive
    and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
 Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
    and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
 They draw near to the pit,
    and their life to the messengers of death.
 Yet if there is an angel at their side
as a mediator to tell a man what is right for him..


Andy I knew the words to speak to you. You told me before you died I had a way of reaching you. That I always knew what to say. The day you died I felt useless and words seemed desperate to save you from death. I long to hear your voice again – even if for a flash. What joy I would feel – but quickly it would be replaced with agony as I know I never can feel your embrace again or your breath on my cheek.


and he is gracious to that person and says to God,

    ‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
    I have found a ransom for them—
 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
    let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—

“God does all these things to a person—
    twice, even three times—
 to turn them back from the pit,
    that the light of life may shine on them.


Speak no more of woes but take care my child that Andy lives, he lives in your heart and those that he touched with his struggle of life. His pain is gone and he smiles at the sight of you. One day when you wake the pain of separation will be replaced with peace — knowing that Andy is at peace in my arms.

Healing Eyes