Most people who know me know how much I love cardinals. I have loved them as long as I can remember. I used to watch them from the window of my Grandma’s old farmhouse and I still remember the awe I felt. Even as a child they gave me a peace and reassurance that I cannot properly put into words. On my hardest days they seem to appear. I might be driving down the road and I will see them sitting on a fence or flash in front of my moving car. They might fly out of the trees and brush as I am riding the horses, or land somewhere on my property when I least expect them to. Each time I see a cardinal I feel at home. I have shared with everyone on here my love of cardinals and how I see Michael and I in them here. The past couple of days have worn me out because Frank is leaving in less than one hand and my back has decided to give me trouble. I haven’t been outside until today because it hurt too much to walk, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to experience nature during my emotional highs and lows. All I have had this week is pictures and ceramic figurines…they are by no means a replacement for the real thing, but they are still calming in their own way. Oh…and music. Music has always been something that has held my hand through tough times.
Life is hard, for all of us. It is brutal. So…I want to share some images and music that pick me up and push me forward. God blessed me with a singing voice that I don’t use often enough, but I often appreciate the art of others. I hope that if you are having a hard time, some of what helps me will help you. At the very least maybe it will inspire you to find your peace.
When I met Michael I felt like I had known him all my life, if he were here today I know that he would say the same thing about me. When we met nothing before us mattered…there was a lot that we could have let matter, but we didn’t. That is not to say that there weren’t moments that we let things creep in, because we did, we weren’t perfect. But, at the end of the day the only thing that mattered is that our fingers intertwined as we fell asleep. I don’t know if everyone will be as fortunate as I have been in my life. I have loved. I have created beautiful children. I have experienced a soul mate. Michael and I had a connection so deep that nothing could sever it. Nothing ever will sever it. I truly believe, when I see those cardinals or listen to different songs, that Michael is nudging my heart and my soul. Michael is pushing me forward when I might not otherwise take a step. That might be counterintuitive to how you believe, and that is okay. It is just what I feel.
We all go through times that are hard. I am not the only one in the world that has been touched by pain. We each experience pain. Mine is the loss of Michael in our lives and knowing all that he is missing. At one time in my life I thought, “This is as hard as it is going to get.” I guess in one aspect I was right, but in others so wrong. I was right because the pain was so suffocating and acute after losing Michael that I couldn’t see past it, it was as hard as it was going to get in that moment. . I was wrong because what is past that pain is the continual upheaval of a Daddy that can never throw his sons a baseball. A Daddy that cannot dance with his little girl at her wedding. A Daddy that is both here and missing all the time. It hurts daily, especially when things become a matter of fact in our life. I also experience what many military wives, fiancés, girlfriends, parents, and siblings do…the pain of goodbyes. You would think that it would be easy after all that I have been through…but it just isn’t. I feel like a part of me is missing when Frank is gone. He is the other half that I never knew I would need. We don’t do everything the same. We don’t always agree on how to do things, but I feel as complete as possible when I am with him. Even more than what I am missing, the kids miss out on a Dad. I have to pick up that role again of being both parents, and that is exhausting. I’ve said it before, but it is a different animal when you are missing two people, when your kids are crying for two people. I am afraid all the time that I will lose Frank. His job frightens the daylights out of me. There I said it…it frightens me and I hate facing the monster that is his job. I am a selfish human and I want FRANK to hold my old, wrinkled, paper-thin hands 40 years from now. Goodbyes are never easy…they actually seem to get harder.
This one seems even more unfair than most. Frank only got 10 months and 3 weeks stateside. He spent 4 months of that time in another state, and the rest in a school that monopolized more than its fair share of his time. This summer will be the third summer that we spend without him. I am grateful for the time that we did have together. I know how bad it can be. I know that it can be worse, but I also know that as a family we deserve better. I look forward to better days, because as much as I am afraid I believe we will have them. I have to believe.
This is for the goodbyes:
Frank loves the Merle version, I love the Garrett version. This I guess could be a sad song for some, and it is in a way. I chose to share this song because it means a lot to Frank and I. It is how we both feel when he leaves.
I also experience physical pain, which is sometimes nearly unbearable, but something I always get through. Sometimes I wish I could just get a new back. I can take the pain, but some days I cannot hide it from the kids. The worry I see in their eyes is hard. I don’t want them to worry about Mommy going away too. It is just my back, it will stop hurting. It will go back and forth, but their precious hearts don’t realize that. I know…no matter what happens…that things will be alright for them. I have faith that it will be alright for them.
The cardinals, the music, the strength to get through the separation, ultimately come from one source. God and God alone. I feel Michael in my soul. When the cardinals flit by, when a song plays. Frank and I make it through each separation and our love dares to deepen and grow. None of it is because of us.
(These people can SING!!!!!)
I sincerely hope, in this crazy, crazy world, that you find peace. At the very least dare to love. Love God. Love the world. Love the people who have been placed in your path.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8