Thursday, September 22, 2016

Now They Know

Tonight we had a nice family dinner eating left overs my mom gave us to take home after I picked the kids up from her house after work.  I'm teaching Musical Theater now at Orange Grove Middle School part time so the kids take the bus home to my parents and stay there until I am done at school and can swing by and scoop them up.  They love going over there and spending time at Gee Gee and Poppies house.  I love it because my mom helps Hannah Rae with her homework and is done by the time I get there :)  Big win for this tired mamma!  They get loved on, spoiled, and fed.  I am extremely grateful my parents are willing to do this for me every day after school.  I am at peace knowing they are going home to family if they aren't going home to me.  I know how lucky I am to have this situation and that it's not the case for many working parents.  Because of my parents help with Hannah Rae and George, I am able to do something I actually went to college for and do "me" for a part of my day. 

By the middle of dinner, Hannah Rae said something about missing daddy, which is not uncommon and I told her I miss him too and she still had to eat her dinner.  I wasn't trying to be insensitive.  You see, Hannah Rae is slower than a sloth when it comes to eating dinner and we talk about Joshua all the time so she wasn't going to trick me into taking a walk down sad lane to avoid eating (I'm on to her).  I just wanted her to eat.  

Once Joshua comes into the conversation, it naturally evolves into questions about Heaven and why can't their dad be here with us etc.  I have learned to answer these questions to the best of my ability with as much truth as possible while remaining vague at the same time.  Tonight, I was faced with the more mature questions and did not realize our dinner conversation would take this turn so quickly.  

Hannah Rae began talking about how she wished her daddy could come down from Heaven for breakfast and then go right back up.  As if she knows that's where he is and that's where he is supposed to be, but she would like just one free pass and would return him and she chose breakfast.  I love the way her little mind works and just smiled at her.  I reminded her daddy is always with her, she just can't see him.  He's always in her heart and that she can talk to him whenever she wants and Jesus will relay all of her messages.  Then George said he couldn't wait to get to Heaven so he could see his daddy.  I quickly replied with, "let's not get ready too soon OK buddy?  Mommy would miss you." We then decided that we are going to let Jesus know we all want to go to heaven at the same time so nobody is "missed."  I'm sure Jesus would appreciate our handling that decision for him :)

Somehow I don't really remember how, it was established that you had to die to go to Heaven.  Once that was clear, the wheels were turning and asking more questions.  Ones I never answered before and hoped and prayed another child at school or adult wouldn't tell them first.  I was used to the "why did daddy have to go to Heaven" and "why can't our daddy be here with us" questions.  These are answered with an honest, "I don't know" or sometimes a, "it was his time to go to Heaven and Jesus wanted him earlier than we would have liked."  Tonight George asked me the harder question to answer.  He asked, "how did he die?"  I just stared at him in shock that he verbalized what I wondered if they ever thought about.  I wanted to be the one to tell them and I was grateful in that moment that it was me they asked so I could answer it the way I felt right.  I thought to myself, "here it goes."  

I told them he died in a car accident.  I let it out.  What felt like a secret was out.  George's little face was so sad and he asked, "what do you mean?"  I told him that he was a little baby when it happened and that daddy went straight to Heaven after his car hit another car.  I could tell they were worried if he was hurt or felt pain so I assured them he didn't feel anything and Jesus took him right away to Heaven.  George and Hannah Rae both asked "how do you know he wasn't in pain?"  I told them that people got to the car right away and said daddy had already gone to Heaven.  They asked me if I saw him when it happened and I said "no."  I have a feeling they are under the impression that his physical body floated up to Heaven and it was gone by the time people reached the car.  

I finally told my kids how their dad died.  However, I didn't feel like I could tell them that they were also in the back seat of the car.  That would be too much, for me and for them.  What I just told them was heavy information for a 4 and 6 year old to handle and I could tell they were still processing it.  One step at a time.  Kids are so resilient though and have this amazing capacity to focus on the good in life.  Hannah Rae liked the idea of her daddy immediately going to Heaven and not feeling any pain.  This sweet girl stood up and enacted her daddy being an angel and flying up into the sky.  

The crazy thing is, I felt a sense of relief.  My feeling of relief might seem odd, but it felt good to share the information that I had kept sealed tight from my kids.  Like another layer of an onion being peeled away, I felt closer to letting go of what feels like a secret from them that they will eventually have completely peeled away in time.  They are young and should only be expected to handle what is appropriate, but I also want to tell the truth, at the right time.  They were able to ask the question unprompted so for me, it was the right time to answer.  They asked if I "saw him," but not if they did or where they were.  That will indeed be our next hurdle and I pray that again, I am the one they ask so I can be there with them for the answer.  Praying, I can continue to build trust with these two little blessings I have and my kids can always have the faith of a child. 

Goodnight :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

chik fil a

as i'm sitting with george on our mommy/son date at chik fil a, he randomly starts asking me questions about girls being called "women" and boys being called "men." i had no idea where this conversation was going, but encouraged him as he was talking to use a whisper voice because he has one volume. loud.

then out of nowhere he states, "people say we don't have a dad!"

my eyebrows went up and i had the look on my face of, "pardon?"

at that point, i also felt like i needed to introduce myself to everyone in chik fil a because george had basically welcomed them all into our conversation with the level of volume he was using in our one on one conversation.

i asked him who told him that and he said, "uhhhh, nobody."

knowing that it obviously came from somewhere, i assured him that yes he does have a daddy, he is just in heaven and not here on earth with us. no matter where he is, it doesn't take away the fact that he does have a daddy and his daddy loves him very much.

then i pressed again, "so who made you think you don't have a daddy?" he responded by naming two of his little classmates from school. i further explained, "oh well they are super lucky because they have their dads here with them, but you are also super lucky too. your daddy is special because he can watch over you all the time and see you taking care of mommy from heaven. regardless, you still have a daddy"

georges sweet response was what got me. he was truly understanding the importance of what i said about him being my helper and good for mommy that he confessed.

"well mommy, i'm not always good"

this i know. news flash. he thought he was stating a fact that might rock my world, but i so appreciated his genuine honesty and just smiled at the concerned look on his face.

"i know buddy, but you're only 4 and you try your best and daddy knows that."

just like that he said, "ok may i go play now?"

a day in the life... :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

podcast with "pastors with no answers"

Recently, a good friend of mine and Joshua's, asked me to come on his podcast and talk about what it's like to be a widow in my 30's, where I am in my healing process and how I reconcile it all with God.

Joey is not just the pastor of the church I attend or the guy from the "BadChristian" and "Pastor With No Answers" podcasts. He is the husband to my dear friend Pricilla and the guy who has been picking up my kids every Thursday for the last four years just to spend time with them and take them to school. I am forever grateful for him and his family. For his wife to be selfless and support him leaving his family super early in the morning (they have four kids!) to come help mine is a blessing. She gets her kids ready for school and out the door alone every Thursday so mine can have time with him and give me a break. That's crazy! Hannah Rae and George look forward to Thursday's when "Uncle Joey" comes and scoops them up. Although they see Joey on Thursday, Pricilla is just as much a part of the blessing, it's just behind the scenes.

We have had countless conversations about the death of my husband and how it impacts my life on a day to day basis.  I think you will find our conversation on the podcast to be a genuine reflection of our morbid and not always understood sense of humor. I appreciate Joey and his brother Jared for inviting me on to talk about my life and hope it brings people out there a sense of hope and encouragement.

There are two episodes 21 and 22

Sunday, October 11, 2015

One of those nights

Nights like tonight make it hard for me to hide my tears as I put my kids to bed.  Hannah Rae walked into my room after we had already said our bedtime prayers and said, “I miss Daddy.” I hugged her and told her what I usually say when this happens; “I miss him too hunny and he misses us.”

This time I followed her back into her room and as I tucked her in, I had to ask the question “what made you think of that?” She randomly started telling me how when she was trying to put this little art project together earlier today she didn’t think she was doing a good job so she crumbled it up.  Okay, I thought, but what does that have to do with you missing daddy, I asked.  Then she told me as if it happens all the time, “because he said I was doing a good job and I didn’t think I was so I crumbled it up. 

L: So you saw daddy today? He was with you when you were making that?
H: Yea, he thought I was doing a good job, but I wasn’t so I crumbled it up.
L: Oh, so he was with you while you were doing that? Well I would listen to daddy then, if he thinks you’re doing a good job, then you probably are and he was encouraging you to not give up.  Do you see him a lot?
H: Yes.
L: When?
H: He watches me.
L: Oh? Where?
H: Yea, when we go into buildings and stuff or go places far away. He saw me when we went to that big building with the fish. Aunt Kathryn and them were there, don’t you remember?
L: The aquarium? (This was years ago btw)
H: Yes!  He saw me there.
L: Does he talk to you?
H: Yes
L: What does he say?
H: He says he loves me and he misses me.

Trying to hide my tears in her dark room, I then explained to her that it was a special gift that she was able to see her daddy. I also mentioned, “hey maybe let me know next time you see him and tell him that I love and miss him too.”

I found it interesting that the phrases she kept using were, “he watches me or he saw me.” She has casually mentioned Joshua being somewhere and interacting with her since the accident on numerous occasions (don't worry I write them all down.) Tonight, she said he watches her to make sure she is okay. Mainly when we go in big buildings or when we travel. She started naming other times/trips she has seen Joshua and said, “he saw me when we went to the mountains to see Trammell's friend and I was riding the bike down the hill.” I was in amazement that she was able to recall a trip from a year ago where she remembered him being there with her. Her memory is so clear and specific about the different times she has seen him.

After I told my mom and dad what had happened at bed time my mom reminded me of the time a week after Joshua’s accident that Hannah Rae was at the kitchen table with my parents and looked into my bedroom and shouted, “daddy!” they were like, “where?!” and Hannah Rae pointed to the bedroom where I was lying in bed and she said, “in there over mommy.” 

Anyways, the night went on with me trying to get the kids to be quiet, get back in bed and go to sleep, but I could hear Hannah Rae crying again. I thought she was scared because that’s usually the case and George had already come into my room multiple times to tell me Hannah Rae was scared that she saw a dark man in the room. I thought nothing of it and told him they should be more scared of me at this point if they don’t go to sleep! So when I heard her crying a few minutes later I came in and she was sitting up in the bed saying “I miss daddy, I want daddy” over and over.  I was thinking, ok she is seriously still thinking about this. She was genuinely unsettled and upset.  So I sat down on the floor and told her I would sit until she fell asleep, but she kept talking. Something was honestly bothering her little mind.

H: I miss daddy, I didn’t get to see him.
L: I know sweetie, yes you did. 
H: But not when he was a baby. (I wasn’t sure what she meant by this. I was trying to understand what she was saying, but she was crying so it was a little difficult)
L: When daddy was a baby? (I think she might have said/meant when SHE was a baby)
H: I only saw him when he was an adult, but not a grandpa.  I didn’t get to see him until he was a grandpa.  You’re not supposed to go to the sky until you’re a grandma or grandpa. (I was amazed she was trying to communicate that Joshua was young and didn’t live as long as you are “supposed” to)
L: I know sweetie.  You were little, but you had almost 2 full years with daddy before he went to heaven.  Sometimes Jesus takes people earlier than we expect.  God must have really wanted daddy so he took him sooner than we wanted. Isn’t it nice that Jesus allows you to see daddy though.  Didn’t you say that you get to see him?
H: Yes but it’s usually when I’m crying.
L: Can you see him now?
H: Yes.
L: Where is he?
Then she pointed to the ceiling above the door. It was quiet. She stopped crying. She kept her focus on the same spot.
L: Is he talking to you?
H: Yes
L: What is he saying?
H: I love you
L: He is telling you he loves you?
H: And you. (such a sweet moment)

At this point I had already crawled in the bed to hold and console her while she cried about her daddy. We both lay there crying and she quickly fell asleep snuggled up to me.
I looked at the spot she pointed to with tears of sadness and anger. Angry because Hannah Rae has to have nights like this. Angry because I really don’t understand it all sometimes. And helpless because I can’t fix the void her and George will forever have in their hearts where their dad is supposed to physically be here on earth for them. I’m on this continuous roller coaster of emotions. Some good days and some bad days. Tonight was one of the bad nights.

The pain I feel for my kids in the absence of their dad breaks my heart more than anything. I tell them things no child should have to be told. I have conversations with a 5 year old that are way beyond her years as she is able to comprehend that you are supposed to go to heaven when you are older, not young like her dad.

They don’t know that their dad was killed in a car accident. They don’t know that they were both in the car too. They don’t ask if he is dead or how he died.  They just know he went to heaven to be with Jesus. Hannah Rae has made only one reference to March 18th, saying “the car broke” and nothing more. I didn’t want to engage that conversation. I have no clue what she thinks happened. No idea if she connects the day her dad died with the day the car broke. One day we will have that difficult conversation. At some point they will learn the details. At 3 and 5 years old, tonight was enough for me to have to handle for a good while.

With all that being said, I actively choose joy every day. Compartmentalize my emotions in order to function on a daily basis and focus on all the positive blessings in my life (I have a lot:)). My family and close friends have heard me say I can’t allow myself to “go there” mentally every day (which would be easy to do) because I have to manage 3 lives, not just one. I am still here and my kids are obviously still here for a reason. Life is a gift and I choose not to waste it. I have learned that I have to keep moving forward, not "move on." Don't ever say that to a widow. Honor and respect my past AND live in the present. As I move forward into my new normal and what my chapter 2 holds I gratefully accept new blessings God is putting in my life.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Catch up

My disclaimer:

I do not blog for sympathy. For me, it is healing. It's a therapeutic way for me to allow friends and family access to what our new normal looks like in Charleston. For Joshua's family back in Illinois, to be assured that he is still a part of our lives, day to day conversations and involved in our bedtime prayers. It's a peek into the sweet, yet hard to hear and watch moments with Hannah Rae and George. We cry, we laugh and thankfully know we will see Joshua again in Heaven. We feel Joshua with us and have been reminded with several awesome stories to tell. The veil between this life on earth and the next has proven to be thin.

Catch up:

Three years have passed and although I have not posted on my blog, I have been writing fiercely in my journal. When I journal, there is a freedom that comes with it where I don't edit my thoughts and ignore any possibility for grammatical errors. It has taken time, but I’m ready to share.

As I continue to share pieces of my new normal, I will pull from my journal, but also leave some to myself. There is a part of grief that remains private to the person. The other part I hope to encourage others who enjoy reading the blog, that there is joy in life even while grieving. Grief is not a period of time with a beginning and an end, but a new course that you are forced to take. It's up to you how you walk that course. I choose to look for the joy, see the blessings and respect my past while attempting daily to look forward. It's not easy and for some it takes time to make that conscious decision. It is in your own timing and you should close off any negative energy that makes you feel guilty for your thoughts, actions or feelings.

The first year, I was in this fog and didn't even realize there was a choice to be made. That's okay. I was in survival mode. Caring for two babies kept me going and busy. Very busy :) I asked myself daily if I was ever going to get it together. To be honest, I still ask myself that question. My kids gave me a purpose in life when I wasn't sure I even had one anymore. The picture in my head that represented my life had been erased. I was now starting from scratch to paint a new picture. While I was just trying to get through each hour, my life picture was a big question mark. I was now thinking “what am I going to do with this new life with just me and two children?”


Sunday, February 24, 2013


i don't even know how long i sat there staring, unresponsive, then crying.  staring then crying more.  i kept thinking, "i can't do this, he's gone, i just talked to him."  i was realizing i'd never see him again, at least not on this earth, his death was so final and it ripped at my heart.  How was i going to endure this life without the love of my life.

i heard people talk, but didn't listen, couldn't listen.  somebody set me in a wheel chair and took me up to a different floor.  they were now admitting my kids to their rooms on different floors from each other.  my mom went with hannah rae because she was scared and the nurses wanted a close relative to accompany them.  they felt it would keep my little girl calm and feel safe if she had my mom with her.  they were right.  i'm so grateful my mom stayed by her side when i wasn't able to.

i was wheeled into an empty room and just remember sitting there with my back to the door and my dad at my side.  the rest is blurry, but somehow i ended up with george in the picu (pediatrician icu).  i had both my babies separated and on two different floors.  my heart was ripping in so many directions.  i wasn't even there when they moved the kids from the emergency rooms to their hospital rooms.  in my lack of consiousness, the hospital staff continued taking care of my babies for me.  when i walked in to see george, he looked so small in that big bed and so scared.  i tried to comfort him, but it was so difficult without being able to feed him.  the doctors asked me to wait to feed george.  his concussion caused a bleed spot they found in his brain from a cat scan.

a chaplain came to talk to me while dad and i sat with george.  he was a nice man and let us know he was there for us if we had questions, but i really couldn't manage a conversation at that point.  all i could do was cry and try to comfort my 6 week old baby boy who just lost his daddy and survived a fatal car crash.  my mind was so full of thoughts, yet completely blank at the same time.  my dad was so helpful in the picu with george, which speaks volums of his love because he's not usually comfortable holding infants.  that night, you would have never known.  he held george and rocked him with his eye's closed as he prayed. 

the nurses kept asking me if i needed to pump, but i had such a hard time even figuring out how to make that decision.  of course i needed to.  it had been several hours since george ate.  i didn't want to be alone or go anywhere alone.  i kept saying i was scared.  i finally went to the bathroom, but i made somebody stay close.  i eventually went to a special room to pump and was absolutely petrified.  i can't even begin to describe how scared i was to be alone at this point.  my sweet mom came in at some point to my rescue and i just whaled and cried to her, asking her to please not leave me alone.  i didn't even want to go to hannah rae's floor by myself.  i couldn't.  i literally had difficulty putting one foot in front of the other, let alone try and find my way to my daughter's hospital room for the first time.

dad stayed with george and somebody took me downstairs to see hannah rae.  it had been a long time since i had seen her.  i walked in to her inside this cage looking like hospital crib with all these women from my church surrounding and loving on her.  my mom was right next to her, as close as she could get without crawling in the crib herself.  i got a chair and sat on the other side of the crib.

when i was with hannah rae, i felt guilty for not being with george.  when i was with george, i felt guilty for not being with hannah rae.  while i was still in hannah rae's room, one of my friends jennifer asked what she could do to help.  i immediately said, go love love on george for me.  i explained how my dad hardly ever holds infants and for him to be up there with george and holding him when he cried was a very big deal.  i wanted dad to have some help.  it was important for me to stay by hannah rae because she was so scared and in a lot of pain.  george didn't really know the difference as to who was loving on him.  hannah rae was very aware of my presence.  i crawled in the cage of a crib and just held her.  the marks on her shoulders were painful to see and the site of her in a neck brace looking scared just killed me.  she was so hungry and thirsty.  finally the nurses let us
sneak her some pudding and she stuck her little tongue out as far is it would go to get to the pudding as fast as possible.  she was already in pain so being able to feed her hunger put her at ease.  she also sucked on this little stick with a sponge on the top that we dipped in water.  that was such a relief for her to have some water, even from a sponge, and pudding.  it made me feel better to be able to make it a little easier on her and see her relax

i kept wanting to fall asleep so that I could wake up and have it all be a bad dream.  I was having this battle inside of my body to be strong and take care of our babies, but at the same time I was hysterical  and began convulsing on the couch in hannah rae's hospital room while she was sleeping.  I don't really remember this part very well, but do remember feeling that I had completely lost control of my mind and body.  my mom and good friend pricilla were on a mission to get me some medicine to help me relax.  I needed some valium or xanex so I could function to some degree.  i wasn't technically admitted like hannah rae and george so the doctor's hadn't really asked if i needed any medication.  however, because i had just given birth 6 weeks prior, my friend called my midwife, who worked at the same hispital and she came immediately to help me calm down.  i still hadn't even had a chance to go to my 6 week postpartum checkup yet.  amelia, my midwife, was so sweet and invested in helping and supporting me through this nightmare.  i felt at ease knowing i had one of my doctor's who knew my medical history so well and so recent looking out for me.  amelia and the lactation consultant figured out a way for me to take certain medicine that would not affect my coumadin (blood thinner bc i had a pulmonary embolism in august) or my being able to nurse george.  i am so grateful to the friends and family that surrounded me for noticing a need that i couldn't articulate and taking charge.  What a blessing to have people like that in my life.

there were people from our small group and church family around the clock and on stand by to help us during our stay at the hospital.  we were completly covered with love, prayer, and support, anticipating any and every need the kids or i might have had.  all my sister had to do was send a text and somebody would come in to help with hannah rae or george.  breakfast, lunch and dinner just showed up.  that my friends is a wonderful example of showing christ's love and watching the body of christ move in amazing ways.  people were doing things that i didn't even know about.  because their car seats were in an accident we were no longer able to use them.  we woke up the next morning and there was a brand new graco travel system (stroller and car seat) for george and a top of the line car seat for hannah rae sitting in the hospital room.  it was unbelievable.  somehow i had a bag of clothes with my medicine, a new diaper bag with clothes and other essentials inside.  it was like little elves dropping off gifts and taking care of us in an amazingly selfless way.  they just did it, with no expectation of being thanked or interest in me even knowing what they did.  i can't say it enough, but thank you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

where is my family?

where is my family?:

my dad calling the hospital made the nightmare begin to feel real. i realized "this is happening." the nurse on the other end of the phone with my dad wouldn't tell us anything. she kept saying, "you have to come down here and identify the children, but the ones that have been admitted are in stable condition." how crazy is it that my family was in a car accident hours ago and i still couldn't get any answers. i was beginning to have this out of body experience and unable to think clearly about what our next step should be. this couldn't be happening to me. i kept thinking please don't let anything happen to my babies. i must have assumed joshuawas fine. as an adult he could withstand more trauma and surely had better odds then two small children. dad kept repeating, "the kids that were admitted are in stable condition." he kept saying this because at this point, he knew joshua hadn't made it, and wanted me to keep thinking about hannah rae and george. as i was getting sick in the bathroom, dad was knocking on the door telling me to get in the car, that we had to go to the hospital.

i had no idea my mom was taken to the hospital by the chaplain from the scene of the accident. to my knowledge, as dad and i were driving to the hospital, she was still trying to get information. dad kept getting phone calls on the way in the car. he was talking to craig(joshua's cousin) and then michael. something wasn't right. dad was giving short answers and had a different tone to his voice. he knew something. he knew more then me. my mind still hadn't let me think joshua could be dead. why wasn't anybody filling me in?


i don't know if my dad even brought the car to a complete stop before i jumped out and ran into the children's emergency entrance. as i ran into the lobby, the nurses were giving me this weird look. they knew why i was there. they knew who i was. they were waiting for me. i still didn't know anything. the receptionist picked up the phone and called back to the trauma area and then asked me to wait by the door. a nurse would be coming to escort me down the hall to the rooms where the "unknown" children were already being cared for. i didn't wait by the door. i opened it, went through and began looking. the nurse found me and guided me in the right direction. she knew who i was looking for. i turned a corner and saw hannah rae, my almost 2 year old, on a bed with a neck brace. she seemed scared and abandoned. i went in and realized, she wasn't alone. my mom was by her side. how did mom get there before me? how did she know hannah rae was there? hannah rae cried for me as soon as she saw me. i told her she was going to be ok, that mommy was there now. i noticed her clothes she wore that day were in one of those plastic hospital bags. as i got closer, i realized she had horrible burns on her shoulders from the car seat straps. i hated seeing her in so much pain and to be so scared.

i was still expecting joshuato come around the corner at this point, saying, "sorry i couldn't call, i'mso glad you are here!"

dad came back into hannah rae's room and said, "george is here too, he's next door!" it was obvious he wanted to put my mind at ease about my children's health and off of joshua for the time being. they had me leave hannah rae'sroom to officially identify george as my son. the doctor's told me he was sleepy when the ems found him and they were happy to be hearing him cry. i later found out they were saying, "sleepy" because he was unconscious with a concussion and they couldn't find his pulse at the scene of the accident. when i saw him for the first time, there was blood in his mouth and his small 6 week body seemed to be in so much pain. they wouldn't let me nurse him, which is so hard not to do as a mother, knowing it would comfort him. they said he was hooked up to an iv and that would be enough for now.

when my mom was walking up folly road she was hearing speculations of what took place. just like the game telephone, by the time the information got to my mom bystanders were saying an infant had died. we now know they were talking about george. it's hard to find a pulse on babies. they did finally find a pulse on george, but by the time my mom got there, the ambulances had already left with the kids. because the officers were not able to confirm anything yet, my mom wasn't sure if george had survived the wreck. .

as i went back and forth between the two rooms, i would periodically ask people where my husband was. initially, i didn't think much of it that nobody would answer such an important question. they would act busy or as if they didn't hear me. some would say they didn't know and my mom just said "i don't know hunny." as i left george's room to check on hannah rae again, i passed by my parents in the hallway engaged in a huddle with officials. i realized they knew something i didn't know and the nightmare wasn't over. they saw me notice them. they caught my eye and looked as if they had been caught. they did not want me to know what they were talking about. i continued into hannah rae'sroom.

something made me cut the nurse off as she was talking to me. "excuse me, i'msorry, but i have to find my husband." i squeezed around her and walked back out to the hallway. they were gone. i looked to the left and now saw them all down the hall behind two big closed doors. i charged down the hallway and slammed into the doors pushing them open and screaming "where is my husband! he's dead isn't he? is he dead? tell me! stop staring at me. somebody answer me. tell me. where's my husband? is he dead? he's dead isn't he?" nobody would say anything. they just stared at me and allowed me to scream in their faces. i hadn't thought about joshua actually being killed until then. i thought maybe he's paralyzed. maybe he lost a limb. i went to the extreme by asking if he had been killed and by the look on everyones face said it was the worst case scenario. the look on my mom's face is forever engraved in my brain. she broke the silence.

"i'm sorry. he didn't make it."

my legs gave out then a groan i've never heard come from me before shook the hallways as i screamed, "no!" i immediately said "i'm going to throw up." i ended up in a chair. i was unresponsive. my mom apologized to the officials for telling me before the coroner got there. protocol wanted the coroner to tell me, as if i'd rather hear my husband had been killed from a coroner then my own mom. soon my friend susannah came to my side. then joey, our pastor, and his wife pricilla came through the doors. i saw them, but just stared in shock. trying to process what just happened.


Friday, December 7, 2012

march 18, 2012

march 18, 2012


joshua woke up in an extraordinarily good mood on this particular sunday morning. he woke up early, showered and then proceeded to try and wake me up by doing that thing where you throw a towel and whip it back real fast. he did this on the bed to get me up and for some reason it just made me laugh. i do not like to be woken up, especially before my alarm, but i'm so glad i reacted the way i did and got up with him. his smile was just beaming as he danced around getting dressed after his shower. it was like it was his birthday or something. it was contagious. i even commented on his extra chipper mood that early in the morning. He woke up before the sun and our 2 year old.

car ride:

we were stoked that it would be the very first time we arrived at church to set up before anyone else. on the way over to church i remember saying, "wow this feels good. getting there early and not feeling rushed. like everything is falling into place instead of being forced." joshua replied with "this is how i want every sunday to be." then he made some silly remark about how it is always my fault we are late for church and this particular morning was of no change in his timeline, but that i got up early enough and wasn't "slow." i lovingly reminded him that i was in the car first ;)

we talked about a21 (awareness of human trafficking in the 21 century) and how he wanted to have a huge fundraiser at our cafe, "how art thou" sometime in august. he kept going on and on about having live music, food, beer and wine. basically a typical joshua event. over the top. never half- assed. he was talking so much, i was starting to think, "OK let's talk about something else besides how art thou etc." i felt the holy spirit living inside me hold my tongue and tell me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. a21 was obviously something joshua was passionate about (one of many topics) and if i had interrupted him it could have broken his spirit. or just changed the mood because of my disrespect and impatience. praise the lord i showed my husband respect and smiled and listened as he told me alllll of his ideas with excitement.

joshua was on mission to use the cafe in all kinds of ways that would glorify god. a21 just had a special place in his heart. he would think of our daughter hannah rae and not be able to stomach the thought of it happening to her. no surprise, but he also designed awesome t-shirts to sell and give back to a21 last year.


so we arrive and nobody is there. still can't believe we are there before our amazing early bird set up/breakdown team. we may or may not have been a little impressed with ourselves and our punctuality followed by efficiency at getting the cafe ready for kidscoast (children's church).

he helped me move our fridge like a sweet husband would do for any female requesting help, but did it with a smile for me because he was happy to provide assistance. he prepped the main cafe area and i continued to clean up the office so we could turn it in to a classroom by 9am. i was enjoying working beside him and serving our campus together. it was intimate. just the 2 of us and our 2 kids in our cafe that transforms into a church every sunday.

once people began arriving we got lots of funny looks as to why we were even there so early with a 6 week old and almost 2 year old. joshua loved being able to re-arrange and prep the cafe the way he wanted to that morning. we were both in such a good mood for that hour and i remember feeling "on top of it" and "prepared."

before round up our pastor, joey, mentioned we needed volunteers to put together our marketing signs for our easter services. we planned on handing them out to folks so they could place them throughout charleston. joshua took joey's request seriously and immediately began working on the signs like a keebler elf. i'll never forget when joey came up and jokingly poked at joshua's intense behavior to get all the signs done in time.

if something needed to be done, joshua would do it. love that about him. he would give the shirt off his back and offer the other cheek as it says in the bible. joshua was way more in tune with his mission in life, purpose and relationship with christ then i ever gave him credit for. I can look back with such a grateful heart, knowing i was blessed enough to be his wife and that god knitted our hearts together. even if it was for a short time. he showed me more of the kind of love christ has for us then i had ever understood before in my life.

as i got things together and prepped for the church service to start, joshua came up to me and wrapped his arm around in front of my face holding an iced latte with a sweet message. he knew i needed some caffeine and went to make us both one to sip on during the service. he always had the love language "gifts," which if any of you have studied before...people tend to exude the gifts that they themselves appreciate. with that said, joshua was always a sweet little "surpriser" and gift giver. my love language is acts of service, but i never complained that joshua always gave me his love language of gifts. it was always so thoughtful and appreciated on my end.

we sat together in the 9:00am service and held hands the whole time. his hands were bothering him so i offered to rub his hands for him. on any other day i'm sure i would have just settled for a sweet hand holding session. the lord knew better and encouraged me to show joshua as much love as i could that morning.

i had to leave close to the end of service to feed george. joshua came and found me, sat with me and asked me what i wanted to do that day after i got off work. he specifically said, "i want to do what you want to do today." my answer? go to the dog park with costa and have a picnic as a family with our dog and kids.

our usual routine was that after the first church service, joshua would take the kids home for a nap while i stayed and finished out my work day at church. i followed him and helped him get the kids in the car, got my purse and walked back towards the building after saying goodbye to joshua. as i walked away my body involuntarily turned around and caught eyes with joshua. it was like a slow motion movie scene with his arm and head out the window, his hair blowing and that huge joshua smile. we had a moment where our eyes just met and froze. looking back, i did in fact think, wow that seemed like a snap shot moment in life i would never forget. one of my friends brian was sitting by the door and i remember looking at him and smiling, thinking, my husband is so handsome and i love his smile and i can't wait to see him in a couple hours. brian later told me he witnessed that moment joshua and i had as we parted ways. i appreciated brian sharing this with me because your mind can play tricks on you. it validated that the snap shot moment was real. he saw it, watched me turn to see my husband for the last time on earth and joshua slowly drive away.

right about the time of the accident i was entering joshua's check for tithes that day. it was his very first official paycheck from our cafe, how art thou. in fact, it was his first pay check in 11 months after leaving his previous job at saic. my heart swelled when i realized he slipped that check in the tithe box. i remember telling michelle, who was counting with me, whose check i had just entered and that joshua really did give the lord his first. not to brag that he tithed. but that i was so lucky and proud to be married to a spiritual leader like joshua, who would give his first, knowing it didn't belong to him anyways. made me love him even more.


my dad was getting work done in the cafe after church and offered to drive me home. i explained that joshua was coming back to get me shortly and we would be going to the dog park.

"i'll just wait for him," i said.

i decided to give joshua a call just in case he was going to be a while and see if it would be easier for my dad to take me home. he had just finished skyping with his family back home in illinois and was leaving as soon as he could get the kids in the car. that was our last conversation.

shortly after i hung up the phone my dad left. i was alone. a random storm came through james island and it was pouring outside with incredibly loud thunder. i began hearing sirens.

i sat there in our cafe waiting for joshua. mom called to tell me that dad had to turn around. police had closed the roads because of a really bad accident. she kept saying, "it is really bad, they closed folly road." since dad couldn't get through, he was going to grab lunch and come back to the cafe, where i was still sitting by the window. i felt the need to cut our conversation short and call joshua.

in my mind i thought joshua had to be close and probably missed all the accident traffic. he left a while ago. i was thinking about the timing. if my dad had already gotten that close to home, then joshua would have been here by now. worry set in. i called him several times. not a surprise when he didn't answer the phone. he had a 6 week and 2 year old in the car. he probably had to stop somewhere. he was really late. i started texting him and leaving voicemails. i told him i loved him and i was worried because there was a really bad accident close to our house and he hadn't gotten to the cafe yet. looking back at my phone weeks later, when i was frantically calling and texting joshua, he had already been killed. i kept feeling this need to talk to him and tell him i loved him, but he had already died.

my dad arrived at the cafe with food and offered to share. i couldn't eat. everything felt wrong and dark. i kept staring out the window like a puppy. looking through the pouring rain for our silver SUV to pull up with my family in it. i began fidgeting and the same phrase went through my mind over and over, "you are not guaranteed tomorrow." why was i thinking that? you aren't guaranteed tomorrow. my body knew something terribly wrong happened but i wasn't wanting to accept it. pacing by the door now, i started to feel sick.

i knew my mom was starting to worry because nobody could get a hold of joshua and she kept calling my dad. then she decided to just walk down to my condo. she thought maybe joshua and the kids were still there. they weren't. ok so maybe they were stuck in the traffic. she was ready to drive and find them. dad and i thought that was silly because she would get nowhere in her car if the roads were closed. she was better off walking. mom got in her car anyways with some food and drinks for the kids to look for my car in the line of traffic. she knew that the kids would be starving. once she got as far as she could in her little prius, she parked and began walking. as she walked, people along the road were talking about what happened. rumors of fatalities, including an infant.

back at the cafe i looked up the news on my i phone and saw that the accident had already been reported by a local news station. the headline said "2 fatalities." i began to loose my senses and entered into a nightmare that i wouldn't be able to wake up from. i got sick.

mom kept walking up folly road and then saw the scene she feared, our stickers on the crushed car. there were tarps up, but as the wind blew from the storm, a piece of the blue tarp flew up. she saw joshua's body bag on the gurney. the police tried to keep her away from the scene as they exchanged questions and answers. the officer gave her a solemn look as she explained who she was looking for from the silver SUV. he realized she was in fact related.

she couldn't get concrete answers as to who survived. she called my dad and told him that it was my car in the accident and she didn't think joshua made it. my dad remained calm on our end of the phone call, not giving any false confirmation of what we feared. he only said we should call the hospital and see who has been recently admitted to the emergency room.