Saturday, November 10, 2018

Holiday Dread (hint: There is light at the end of this tunnel)

I've already begun to dread the holiday season...Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.  Grief rolls back into my life like a heavy fog.  I have to remind myself to walk with my back straight - I feel myself slump off and on all day long.

I know there are other folks like me out there.  The constant parade of commercials depicting families joyfully celebrating; the music that seems to never, ever end;  these remind me of what I've lost. 

I could make a list of my losses, but that's not the point of this post. 

What I've realized is that the dread of the holidays is much worse than the actual celebrating of them.  I find so much joy in our families.  Kenny's brother and sister-in-law will be nearby this Christmas, and we'll be able to see them much more often in the years to come.  My extended family gets together at Thanksgiving, and we always have a great time.    Christmas Eve services at our church comfort us in ways we have not always appreciated. 

Yes, I feel down right now, but putting myself out there to celebrate those I still have, and the joy of what is to come will ease that burden of grief. 

I'm thankful for my blessings - too numerous to count.  I'm joyful knowing that the people I love are near, and the ones I've lost are safe. 

There is light at the end of this tunnel of grief. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

To my HD Facebook Friends

The grief and sadness of losing and missing Lacy hits at odd times.  I think I'm doing well, have moved past some of the worst of the pain, when a song, or a memory hits me and I'm weeping.  I've learned to let my tears flow.  The tears seem to heal the pain, and if I let myself feel the loss, I'm able to move on with my day once the worst of the sorrow is over.

We never get over our loss, but we get accustomed to the loss, and the hole in our hearts is not quite so tender.

I have so many Facebook friends who are experiencing that loss right now as their children, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, siblings are dying from Huntington Disease.  As I read their posts I feel afresh the pain of losing inch by inch the person you love.  I remember how burying a child is impossible to fathom, even as you sit across from the closed casket.  I cannot imagine the pain of losing nearly everyone you love to this disease - sometimes your spouse and all your children.  

These courageous survivors still love, still work, and still pray for a treatment and a cure.  

To my HD FB friends: You are not alone.  I'm walking with you even if we are half a world away.

Friday, June 8, 2018

That Day...Edited!!

Note to readers:  I have edited this post because I realized I did not include the meaning I felt upon seeing the fallen pictures.  My edited comments are in italics below.   

May 28, 2018.

The day was beautiful.  Sunshine and green leaves and grass everywhere, perfect for a trip to Decatur and Falling Springs Cemetery.

I'd bought flowers for our immediate family graves:  Lacy, Mom, Dad, and my infant brother, George Edward.

My brother, Dave, came with Kenny and I.  We drove the 20 minutes together to Falling Springs and placed the flowers near the resting places of each of our loved ones.  I never feel that they are "there" but I am so grateful that we have a place to go and reflect on their lives and the love we shared with each other.  The little Nativity I had put on Lacy's stone was still there after 6 months.  We moved it over and placed our small offering of love and remembrance next to the tiny creche.

I brought a prayer to read at the gravesides; a prayer of thanksgiving and acceptance.  Then we made our way back to our car and headed home.  We felt peace as we left Falling Springs and a bit of wistfulness for the past, but no regrets.  The memorials are there for generations and long after we are gone, someone will come along and say the names of our people out loud.  Perhaps they will know us, likely not, but they will acknowledge the loss of lives that meant so much.

The rest of our day was relaxing and fun.  We spent time with family in the early evening, and came home to a surprising scene.

On our wall in the living room, we have two pictures arranged together.  One is the first picture we had taken of Lacy when we adopted him.  He is three, almost four, and has on a little suit I made for him.  His blonde hair is curling around his head.  The other picture is the last picture we had framed of Lacy.  He has much shorter hair, is sitting in his recliner, and has scars on his forehead from his many falls.  His signature half-smile is evident.  We love it because it is so "Lacy."  Both pictures had come loose from the wall.  One was on the floor and the other hanging precariously by a wire.  Nothing was broken.  Kenny and I looked at each other.  Of all days...

Somehow this seemed to mean something.  I believe it was a sign - that Lacy is ok, he is happy, and we can be assured of seeing him again.  It is probably just a coincidence, but I felt a sense of joy and peace, as though we had been given permission to put bookends on the story of Lacy, and move on to whatever God has for us until we are reunited in glory.

Though it was just a random event, I felt one of those "God winks" as I looked at the pictures.  Of course we will put them up again and they will be a reminder of a season of gifts, challenge, hope, joy, and loss.  A reminder of the 33 years we spent with Lacy Alan Goff, and the gift of letting go and walking on that God gives his children.

Monday, April 30, 2018


Four weeks from today will be two years since we lost Lacy.

I keep getting reminders on my Facebook feed of the last few weeks of Lacy's life.  The last year, I took a picture of him every week.  I wanted to make sure I could remember him, and the good - and bad - times we had together.

I feel a sense of dread about May 28.  I am thankful that it falls on Memorial Day, so we will not have to go to work. 

I am also thankful that we took every opportunity to spend time with him.  The last time was 5pm on May 27, 2016.  Nine hours later, he was gone.

As I drove away from the nursing home that evening, a scripture popped into my head: 

...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection... (Philippians 3:10)

That power has sustained us for nearly two years.

Monday, April 23, 2018

So it's April...

I know I said I would be writing more this year, but just haven't had the heart.  It seems I start a post only to feel that it's just too banal.

What do I write about now that the reason my blog came to be was the journey the three of us - Lacy, Kenny, and I - were taking through this unpredictable life?  Our Lacy has gone home to be with Jesus, and Kenny and I are here trying to discover what life without Lacy is supposed to be.

I keep thinking...Lacy is in the rear view mirror.  He's getting farther away every day.  Time is healing our wounds, and we are finding new interests and thinking about the rest of our lives, but the ache never goes away.

We've found a new interest - Audio Theater - specifically the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater.  This is old time radio with an audience.  Our group performs plays with just scripts and barebones costuming.  Like Reader's Theater.  Kenny and I have been in four plays now, and I am directing Treasure Island for performance in June.  We have a great partnership with the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale.

Kenny and I have been going to counseling to work through our grief, and it has been very good for both of us.  Not only are we dealing with our grief in a healthy way, we are also taking time to work on our own emotional and mental well-being in general.  I'd recommend this for anyone walking through the valley of the shadow.  So much comes to the surface when dealing with grief and it helps to be able to talk to someone who can offer suggestions to lay aside the guilt and regret that naturally comes with the loss of a child.

In my personal spiritual life, I've been journaling. I try to write every day, even if it's just a little bit.  I'm also in the process of writing a devotional study of Psalms 139.  This is a chapter that has meant a lot to me personally for many years, and has given me peace when I have to confront hard times.  I think it will take me a while.  I have felt for a long time that I had to have it all together to write something like this, but I think the point is that I'll never have it all together this side of glory and that's part of the process.  I don't know this will be something I'll try to publish, or just to do for myself.  Time will tell.

In the last month, I've been thinking a lot of what it must be like for Lacy in heaven.  Especially since I went to see the movie I Can Only Imagine, I've been thinking of that moment when Lacy was suddenly freed from all the chains that bound him here.  I think Lacy was one of the rare people who probably just settled in - happy to be home at last and eager to tell Jesus all about his joy.

If you are like me, you sometimes wonder what it's really like in eternity.  We catch quick glimpses here and there, but nothing that can be grasped and examined.  Without that tangible proof, how do we really know?  I was reminded this week of Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Our faith is the proof, the tangible proof, of the promise of eternal life.

I am so comforted by the words of the Psalmist:  O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.  You scrutinize my path (or my journeying!) and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Psalms 139:1-3)  God sees me and He knows how I feel, how uncertain I am, and He knows my journey - where I've been and where I'm going.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A New Year

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and I've made a resolution to post more to this blog.  But what should my focus be?  I don't know, but I'll find out as I begin to put pen - or keyboard - to paper.

This is our second Christmas season without Lacy.  It is harder than the first, because now this is final.  My greatest fear is forgetting him - his voice and his personality.  My heart aches when I realize how long it has been since I held his hand or hugged him.  I miss his voice and his love.  However, even when I feel this way, a memory will come to me, or I'll be reminded of a funny story, and I am comforted. 

Kenny and I have begun to explore interests we had put off for many years.  We are both getting involved in community theater, and we are becoming more involved in church and volunteering.  We are looking at retirement in the next (very) few years.  We are traveling and planning travel.  In July, we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Canada. 

At last, I am ready to re arrange Lacy's room so that it is not a static memorial to him.  I want to distribute the pictures and artifacts around the house, and create a more neutral space for our guests.  While I can go in his room, shut the door, and see Lacy everywhere, I'm ready to scatter those sacred objects around our house now. 

There is still a sort of survivor's guilt that wells up.  I'm alive, living, moving on, and Lacy is getting smaller in that rear-view mirror.  Still, he's always with us because he's always in our hearts. 

There will  never be a time when I won't feel that lump in my throat as I think of my son.  I'll live with this grief for the rest of my life, but I will still reach for life, and try to live in a way that honors Lacy's extraordinary capacity for joy, for life, and for happiness. 

See you soon on the computer screen. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Fire Swamp

Buttercup: We'll never succeed.  We may as well die here.
Westley: No, no.  We have already succeeded.  I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp?  One, the flame spurt - no problem.  There's a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that.  Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that, too.
Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.s?
Westley: Rodents Of Unusual Size?  I don't think they exist....

Grief is like the Fire Swamp in the movie "The Princess Bride."  Just when you think you've figured out the lay of the land, a new challenge appears.

I thought the year mark would be a turning point with grief, but it's just a new challenge.

I've found lately that this is common in the journey of grief.  There is a sort of shock in the first year and this allows you to emotionally and physically ease into life without the one you love.  Now,  as we are about half-way into the second year without Lacy, I find myself tearing up at the drop of a hat.  A memory comes and it's raw and sometimes filled with regret.

Recently, a friend asked me if Lacy had gone through public school.  I explained that when we adopted him, we almost immediately got him into an early intervention program.  Then, on the advice of the therapist, we put him in a local day care.  I thought back to those days, and realized how hard it was to give up time with my little boy for the sake of his development - and looking back I think it was not the best choice, but it was what we thought was best.  Harder still was the fact that I had to depend on others to take him and pick him up from the day care since we had only one car and Kenny worked about 25 miles away.  In return for Lacy's transportation, I held "Little School" in my home for friends' preschoolers.   Should I have kept Lacy at home and included him in "Little School?"  I don't know.  I do know that in spite of promises to bring my little one home, sometimes he was forgotten at day care - the only one left - and I had no way to get him.

I realize that I could have asked my in-laws to help.  They would have been glad to pitch in, but I felt so afraid - afraid my child would be too much for someone else to handle.

All these thoughts and memories came in split seconds, and I found myself wiping tears away in front of my friend.  She apologized over and over,  but I reassured her and begged that she not stop mentioning Lacy.  I don't want to lose him or the memory of him, I explained.  The pain of memory is a small price to pay for being able to remember and talk about a child you have lost.  

We don't get over the loss of our children.  We will never get over it, but a greater loss would be if no one ever mentioned Lacy, or remembered happy times - which we've done as well these last few months.

Lacy lived and touched the lives of so many people, even those he never met.  I'm thankful for friends who ask about him, or share a memory;  friends who are willing to walk through the fire swamp of grief with us.