One Year Ago….MGO*

*MGO stands for My Grief Observed. These are the posts I’m writing as I struggle with my dad’s death.

A year ago last Friday we had just arrived in town to celebrate Christmas with my family.

A year and two days ago my dad was admitted to the hospital.  He had been having some unexplained symptoms for a month or so, but the doctors thought his problem was orthopedic or perhaps a pinched or damaged nerve. When he started throwing up while we were getting ready to go to church we knew that we were dealing with something much more serious. His family doctor agreed and told Dad to meet him at the ER.  The neurologist at the hospital ordered an MRI of Dad’s brain and saw “something.” I think this was the first day that I Googled “brain tumor.”

A year ago yesterday my dad had surgery to remove the “something.” After his surgery, the neurosurgeon sat with my mom, my brother, and me, and I heard the words “glioblastoma multiforme” for the first time. I didn’t Google it that first day. Dr. Nanda had told me more than I wanted to know.

I don’t intend on keeping a morbid account of every anniversary of every step of the journey we’ve traveled this last year. I only mention them because when I stop and remember the chain of events, I can’t believe that only a little over a year ago, my life was so very different.  I think about the me I was before cancer joined our family. I think about my family the way it was when my dad was here with us. So much is changed forever.

Several times I’ve wondered what I would have done differently if I’d known then what I known now. What would I say to the girl who was so excited about spending Christmas with her family? I’m not sure what I could have known that would have helped me navigate through the days that followed. Even had I known, I think I still would have had to “muddle through” last Christmas much like I’m muddling through this one. But we will muddle through.

Last Christmas my kids wrote a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve asking them to please deliver all of their presents to LSU hospital so their Papa could see them open them. And he did. We gathered together in a dreary, germy hospital room and had Christmas. I dug deep and overcame my avoidance of all things nasty and spread sheets on the floor for Santa to leave the loot. We traipsed over to the hospital in our pajamas Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought. Precious friends brought us a Christmas dinner and we served it buffet style on the empty, extra bed in my dad’s room. Was it ideal? No. Was it surreal? Yes. Was it what we wanted? No. But we were together. And you know what? Perspective is everything. This year we’ll be in our comfortable home, but my dad won’t be there.

Call it making the best of a less than ideal situation. Say it’s doing what you can with what you’re given. Attribute it to choosing to be happy when it doesn’t come naturally. But the fact of the matter was that Christmas came whether we were ready for it or not. It’s coming again this year whether we’re ready for it or not. And once again, we’ll all dig deep and count it all joy even when we don’t feel particularly joyful.

You know, that first Christmas didn’t seem ideal from our vantage point. Who wants to have a baby in a barn in the middle of a road trip? But I know that this Christmas, like every Christmas, like every day we live, has been written for us before we were ever born. Some days may seem like chaos or bad planning or just unfair, but I believe that God is intentional about every day he purposes for us to live.

I can’t go back and tell “the me that was” what to do, but I can offer you a word from someone who’s been to dark places this year. As you gather around your Christmas trees this year, look around at the precious faces of the people you love. I know many of you will be missing people you love like we will be, but make the most of the moments you have with the ones who are with you. Say what you need to say and don’t miss out on the opportunities of togetherness that this season affords.

And if your Christmas is “less than ideal”? If  you burn the pie crust or can’t find a Zhu Zhu pet in time…if you don’t get a decent picture of everyone around the tree because someone always has his eyes closed….if the “assembly required” takes all night and you don’t get any sleep on Christmas eve….if you didn’t get every corner of your house decorated perfectly…if you run out of Scotch tape before you run out of presents to wrap…..if you can’t be with the ones you love this year……dig deep and muddle through. Be intentional about what matters and let go of the rest. Search as if for treasure to find the peace and promise of Christmas that can only be found in the One we are celebrating.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.



Filed under My Grief Observed

22 responses to “One Year Ago….MGO*

  1. Beautifully said. Bless you dear one.

  2. Amy…that was so beautiful. My eyes are leaking and I’m muddling right alongside you this year. It’s tougher than I thought it would be…

  3. Joe and Linda Perry

    Your words and remembrance of the days that God helped you through are a blessing. We are thankful our paths crossed in this life and look forward to countless conversations in eternity. Our hope and future rest in Christmas. Thank you for sharing.
    Love you all,
    Joe and Linda

  4. Pete Rumsey

    As I walked down the path through the year I followed Jerry and how He kept his faith. We know that our days are numbered before we are born. Some good and some bad. I pray that your family will understand that Jerry is with Jesus his first Christmas in heaven. What a birthday party they are having…He on earth please pray for the Veckery family here in Anderson, their son just passed away from taking to many pills. He was one of my grandsons friends, so this time I also have a very heavy heart for your family and mine. It’s hard
    sometime to understand the why’s but be assured the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in Heaven knows best. Also please pray for the USA. Without prayer we are not going to make it much longer. Love and Merry Christmas

  5. Laura Culpepper Stever

    Amy- My Dad just passed away on December 5th so I am trying to adjust to what I have been told is the “new” normal. Your words are encouraging and something that I needed to read. This will be a tough year but as I pray for strength to get through, your family will be in my prayers also.

    Merry CHRISTmas!
    Laura Culpepper Stever

  6. Jack & Jane Hucks

    Our prayers and thoughts are with you during the loss of your Husband, Father, Grandfather and our friend Jerry. We don’t understand sickness and death to good people, but we know it is coming to each of us. May our GOD continue blessing you with all his love and comfort. Your Friend, Jack and Jane Hucks, Spartanburg, S.C.

  7. Claudette Smith

    I have not had the honor of knowing you since your family left New Pisgah but I admire you for your continued faith and wanting to make this time of year special for you children even though you are missing your Dad. Both Charlie, my husband, and I thought the world of your Dad while he was at New Pisgah. I have lost both of my parents and the loss is so great that some days it almost knocks you off your feet. I was able to have my parents much longer than you had your Dad and I am so thankful for those years. Please know that there are many people that think of you, your family, Chris and your Mother often and include all of you in their prayers.

  8. You really captured what is on my heart. I’m sure there are so many others out there who are also trying to figure out how to “muddle through.” You expressed it perfectly here. Treasure each moment, the beautiful, the funny, and the not so great. Praying for you as you face one of many “firsts”.

  9. So true…I love how you write and what you write.

    “Be intentional about what matters and let go of the rest”… well put.

    Thinking of you this Christmas.

  10. Elizabeth

    This is beautiful, Amy. It made me cry. But it gave me a lot to think about. I am determined to remember all you wrote and not take a second of this week for granted. Love you!

  11. Kathleen Hoffmann

    Amy, your words are so beautifully written. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you to write them, except to say that I too lost my father close to Christmas over 30 some odd years ago. I was only 16 years old, but even today, I still feel the loss.

    My prayer for you and your family is that God will grant you peace and joy, and strength to help you through. Let us keep the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts and on our tongues. May God Bless you and yours this Christmas and always!

  12. Amy,
    This was so beautifully written & reminded me of the great sense of loss I felt when my mom died a few years ago. She had just turned her life over to Jesus 2 months before God suddenly called her home. The first holidays are the hardest, & the empty space never goes away. But knowing that your loved one is with God & that you will 1 day see them again is such a promise to cling to! I look forward to 1 day meeting your dad!

  13. Ed Ward

    Well said. Our Christmas experience last year was very similar. May you continue to feel His comfort and peace. I will also contiue to pray for you and the rest of your family. I will always be thankful for the influence your dad had on my life.

  14. Praying for you and your family, Amy. It’s been a hard year for many that I know and love. We will be muddling through with you without my father in law here. I will try to make the most of each moment we have together as a family this year.

  15. Scott T.

    Just wanted to let you know that your words have touched my heart this morning. You are sharing a real living testimony of strength that your faith is sustaining. Tonight, my family will exchange gifts, love and laughter. I have a brother who has chosen to be absent from our lives for the past 3 Christmases. He has caused great pain and taken years off my moms life by not dying to himself to have a relationship with her. Tonight, amongst all the love and laughter, there will still be the pain for her of knowing he’s just afew miles away, (and alive), and she cant touch him.
    Why do I say all that, you may ask? I say it because tonight, as we sit in our circle, You have inspired me, to light a candle in the middle of the circle, representing my absent brother and his family, I will open Caring Bridge and read your post and challenge my family to pray and reflect on your post, and ask God to help him realize that ONE biological mom and dad is all God will ever give him, and once they are gone “then” will be too late.
    As mom mom grieves tonight, I can only imagine the grief that will overtake him once she is out of reach to say, “I really do Love you mom, I’m Sorry.”
    Amy, As I read your post, I was inspired by the phrase we’ve all heard, “Your test will one day become your testimony”. Thank You Amy, for your obedience in sharing your testimony, Its amazing how God is still using Jerry to touch my heart and life! Satan only thought Gods ULTIMATE WARRIOR was gone! Your testimony is proof that your dads legacy will live forever! Thank you Again, Your family is on my heart and in my prayers as you “muddle through” this heavy season of your life. I can only imagine your innerbeing and I know there are no words that can change this season of life, or its consequences, but I do want to encourage you to remember, “Tho this sorrow may last for the night, JOY comes with the morning!” Nightime will not last forever, it may seem long, but keep the faith in knowing, the sun will rise again soon and your joy is right there with it. The person you were last November will be a weak one, compared to the strength God is building within you through this time!!!
    Stay strong, you are being used in ways this Christmas season that will strengthen families by your testimony, which in return will bring God the Ultimate Glory! Hug your mom and Chris for me!
    Keep the Faith, and Have a Merry CHRISTmas as possible through this season!

    Scott T.

  16. Tears in my eyes with you. For you. Thank you. I love you!

  17. this, Amy, is…

    I can’t even find the words.

    Beautiful doesn’t cut it.

    it’s … perfect.

    and I’ll never hear ‘a merry little Christmas now’ without the accent on NOW ever again.

    well done, sis.

  18. Eileen Mizzell

    Amy, this is EXACTLY what I needed. I know this was not about me at ALL, but thank you for writing it out, and then sharing it publicly. I WILL be intentional and appreciate every face, smile, surprised look, shred of wrapping paper, and the not going to sleep on Christmas Eve….

    I hardly know you, but you are loved!

  19. beautiful.

    prayers and blessings for you and yours this holiday season.

  20. Perfect and beautiful.

    I know it seems silly and maybe strange to some. But last year after not having much money at all to get the kids much, we ended up the loving the simplicity of “less is more” and in keeping with that this year, I find that the fewer presents there are to open the more time we have to focus on the precious people in front of and around us and on the One who gave up heaven to be born in a dirty barn for you and me. Ours was a different MUCH MUCH less painful “muddling through” last year but it was a change in perspective for me and reading your post and you sharing your journey is a HUGE encouragement to me be even MORE intentional than I was. Thank you for that.

    Praying for you (& Mer) as you work your way through the “muddle”….

  21. I don’t even know what to say, Amy. Sometimes muddling through is good enough. Bless you as you muddle through all these firsts. xxxooogretchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s