As the one-year designation approaches since Mark departed this earth for heaven, I'm a bit melancholy and introspective. Guess I can be allowed that, given the year my boys and I have had. I look back at the last week of his life, spent in a hospital, where routine surgery went oh-so-wrong, and signs of sepsis didn't seem to register with either his surgeon (who died of a massive stroke a few weeks after Mark's death) or the med-surg floor nurses.
Oh, to be given a time machine, to be able to go back and "fix" what happened. I would have kept acquaintances from wandering in and out of the ICU whenever he was so sick. He didn't want folks to see him looking like that. Family and pastors only. That's all that should have been there. I failed him by not stopping the influx. It was the beginning of my not setting boundaries and enforcing them.
I look back at myself then, a carefree 48 year old married woman, so clueless as to how good she really had it. She had a loving husband, two remarkable boys, and a pretty perfect existence. I envy her now. I envy the tightly-knit, loving family of four, where laughter was served up on a regular basis--where boys and daddy wrestled in the floor practically every night---where I was loved from the top of my head to the soles of my feet by a man who thought me the most beautiful woman in the world.
All of that changed on the night of July 30, 2011. That "perfect life" went up in smoke, and I was left with AJ and Ben, trying to make a plethora of decisions all on my own. Thank God, I didn't have to make them alone.
I'm a different person now than I was then. I've grown spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. I've learned to stand up for myself and my sons, whenever circumstances made me choose between what I knew was best for us and what was enabling someone else. It's happened more times than I would've ever imagined. It hasn't been easy. I haven't handled some of the situations in question perfectly, and I take full responsibility for the times I've been human.
But isn't that where God steps in? In the midst of my bungling and fumbling, when folks make a mountain out of a molehill, when I make decisions that I must make for the safety and continued prosperity of my family, God tells me it is okay. Even though my methods may be lacking in grace and proper decorum, He knows that my heart is in the right place. He tells me that it doesn't matter what is said about me. It doesn't matter what people think about me. What matters is what HE thinks of me.
I am doing the best that I know how to do. My family is thriving, even in the midst of the big void in our lives without Mark. I know Mark is proud of us. He left a great legacy and big shoes to fill. No one can ever replace him. I can only hope to walk the path that he left for us, which is crystal clear.
And as I sit by his graveside on July 30th, telling him all of the accomplishments we've made since his death, I know he will be listening. For he's been there beside us throughout this whole ordeal. The boys and I have been listing those accomplishments together. Whenever you put it to pen and paper, it is really sort of overwhelming.
We're making it. Not perfectly, not 100% gracefully, not without bumps and bruises. But with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit at our sides. Thank you, God, for your blessed Son, and the Holy Spirit who stays so close beside us--even during the bad times.
I'm an imperfect person covered by supremely perfect grace.
I strive to wear the full armor of God.
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil's evil tricks.
Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world's darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.
That is why you need to put on God's full armor.
Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.
So, stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest.
On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.
And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.
Accept God's salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.
To do this you must always be ready and never give up."
Ephesians 6:11-17 (NCV)
By the grace and favor of God, my family is laughing again. We are adapting to being a threesome. I look at our boys and I love them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. They are amazing. I will fight for them. I will do everything in my power to ensure they are safe, happy, and healthy. I will continue to depend on God 100%.
God is so very very good! I can't wait to see what He has in store for us. For His plan, it is perfect.
p.s. To my pastor, David, and his beautiful wife, Joy....I could not have made it these past weeks without your wonderful counsel, prayers, and wisdom. I love you both!