For me, the easy thing is Grad School.

It sounds weird to stay, but I know for me, for Andrea, the easy choice would be to go to grad school.

The harder choice is rest.

You see, I thrive in academia. I like expectations and I’m a quick reader and I’m a good essay writer and I’m an overall a rule-following, people-pleasing, high strung Classic Good Student.

So if you threw me into just about any grad school program in a topic I’m semi-interested I’m sure I’d do pretty well.

Now it’s not because I’m better or smarter than anyone else. It’s just the education system is rigged to benefit people like me.
(Rule-following, Type A Suck-ups.)

So for me, grad school would be a relatively achievable and successful path. And an easy thing to commit myself to.

And perhaps, most of all, grad school would be an easy answer to give inquiring people.

Can you just imagine it?

Oh dear, sad, widow. You must get on with your life. What are you doing when you return from Zimbabwe?

Oh I’m doing fancy important academic things! I’m making decisions! I’m going to Grad School!

It’s impressive. It’s logical. It’s fancy.

But it’s be much harder to say

Um… I don’t know.I really want to be married. I miss sex. I want to have babies. Oh and I’m still figuring out things. I want to get a job. Probably just part-time to start. I like having lots of time to myself. I want to do more hot yoga.We have this new puppy…

Now it isn’t fancy or special or important.

It even sounds lazy and indulgent and juvenile.

AND YET—

And yet I know it’s right for me.

And I kinda hate that we judge people who choose simple lives.

Can’t we all just walk our own paths and high five each other?

I just feel as though I’ll be questioned for needing more time.

More time.
More rest.
More chill.

I know God has a plan for me.

I know it I know it I know it.

It is good and it is big and it is radiant.

But I ALSO know that that plan includes rest.

Now the plan probably does involve grad school, but I will table that for later.

When I have some peace.

So until then,

Here I go,

Away from my Easy Thing.

And into that

Messy

Scary

Brave Thing.

 
 
 

 
It’s a very interesting time for me.

I’ve been preparing for Zimbabwe and I am unbelievably excited.
But simultaneously there have been some Big Career and Life Decisions that needed to be made before the big trip. The biggest of which being Grad School. And I needed to decide before I left.

And I needed to decide all the things.

I needed to decide if I wanted started in the fall.
And if so, which school.
And if so, how many classes.
And if so, apply for FAFSA.

But all the while I was not sure if Counseling was the precise field I wanted to go in to. And the money. And the time.

And I just wasn’t sure.

And I was just so tired of decisions.

___

This whole year I felt the sinking feeling that I need to “Figure Out My Life.”

BJ’s dead. What now?

I’ve been trying to answer that “What now?” this past year and I’ve done some good things.

But now I feel the pressure of being an adult and moving on.

I’ve grieved for a year. I’ve paused. I’ve rested. I’ve reflected. I’ve cried.

I’ve survived.

But now it’s Year Two and isn’t life supposed to start again?

Thing is, I’m still tired.

I don’t want to be tired. But I am.

And though I know Zimbabwe will breathe life back in to me, I still know I needed more rest.

So I’ve decided to not start grad school in the fall.

And when I come back from Zimbabwe I’m going to do more resting.

I want to do things like get a fun part time job. I want to travel and to visit new churches and write. And maybe I’ll even go on some dates.

I don’t know.

I just know I want to very slowly enter my real life. This new life.

And after all, the weight of starting Big Expensive Grad School in the Fall and making Big Career Decisions just felt so not right.

I felt no peace. Only dread. Only decisions. Only necessity. Only fear.

So I tried to listen to myself and drown out the voices of Comparison and Success and tried to do the brave thing.

And for me, the brave thing is to rest.

Rest, Andrea.

I wrote this poem last fall:

Go Andrea! Do Andrea!
Will, work, sweat, stress!
Fight Andrea! Try Andrea!
Force, forge, fix, get!

Make Andrea. Move Andrea.
Keep on the run!
Exert all that effort–
There are things to be done!

Rest Andrea.
(Wait, what?)
Mercy is mine.
I created it. I embody it.
Don’t you remember that line?

It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Not through doing or going or
Task, toil, and strife,
No acts or achievements
Bring eternally life.

You only need rest–
Just trust and receive.
Why labor in vain?
I meet every need.

Andrea remember–
This is your treasure–
Bury it deep down inside–

No human endeavor
Could equal the measure
My mercy freely provides.

It’s a little Dr. Seuss-y but I like it. It has beat. A pulse. And BOY is it relevant.

And though I feel SO indulgent wanting more rest, I know that is where God has me.

My counselor reminded me

Andrea, you can’t miss your life. You can’t miss your boat. You’re here.

You’re exactly where you need to be.

(Remember my birthday watch?)

So I deferred my grad school enrollment until January.

And I’m going to be exploring other careers and ideas and things.

And I’m just going to try to do the Next Right Thing.

And that is Zimbabwe (YAY!)

But after that–

Rest.

The right thing.

The counter-cultural thing.

The brave thing.

Yes.

Rest.

 
 

 
Friends, I’ve been silent because I’m grieving and grief is hard.

I’m well acquainted with grief and if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned
Grief is non-linear.
Grief is hard.
And we all grieve differently.

And as I’ve been watching the news, I’ve realized that for me, I’m in that “shock” part of grief. I’m numb. I’m frightened. I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. At least that’s how I feel today.

On Tuesday it was BJ’s birthday. I had a really hard day. So when I heard about Alton Sterling I just couldn’t process it. More death? Come on. This day was hard enough. So I had to stay at a distance.

On Wednesday night the tears came as I watched the video of Philando Castile. I sobbed for his fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, because I know what it is like to watch the man you love die right in front of your eyes. I sobbed because I was broken by the injustice. By the violence. By his death. By her pain. By the journey of grief she is about to walk through.

On Thursday night I heard the news of Dallas. I didn’t cry. I just felt horrified. Numb. More deaths. More violence. That’s where my grief took me last night. My grief for our country, for the violence, for the racism, for the deaths.

Friends, I’m grieving.

Tomorrow, I don’t know how I’ll feel. Grief is odd that way. I may be numb again or maybe angry or I may be devastated or hope-filled.

I don’t know. Grief shifts and changes.

So I guess I just want to offer up the thought that, just as I may need to be silent or loud, angry or hopeful, and everything between, all of us are grieving differently in this scary time.

Some of us are angry.
Some of us are broken.
Some of us are hopeful.
Some of us are numb.

But I know there is room for all of us.

And I know God is big enough for all our pain.

In times like this I look to the Psalms. In the Psalms I see both lament and praise. In the Psalms I see room for hope and despair.

And I remember in times of grief,

We should have hope and despair.

We should raise our voices and silence them in prayer.

We should have anger and compassion.

Both / And.

Yes and Yes.

All of the above.

But we should be grieving.

There is a time for everything under the sun.

I think now is our time to grieve.

Sadness, anger, hope and all.

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

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When the day comes,

What are they going to say?

Will they remember?

Will they care?

And how will I feel?

___

I feel like throwing a temper tantrum.

I feel like screaming my guts out
and stomping my feet
and flailing my arms
and letting everyone know just how damn painful it is to be me.

I feel the deep injustice that is losing a spouse.

I feel the deep despair of a future without BJ.

I feel the overwhelming sadness that I managed to live a whole year without him.

___

I’m sick of being misunderstood.

Sick of explaining myself.
Sick of defending myself.
Sick of canceling plans.
Sick of being moody.
Sick of grief.
Sick of pain.

___

I’m sad.

Sad because, of course, BJ died.

Sad because it seems like everyone misses him but also no one misses him.

And I’m scared.

Scared because money must be made.
Bills must be paid.
Futures must be forged.

I have to learn to live with the pain.

I have to live out more years without BJ.

I have to figure out how and what and where and when and if I should date.

I have to start from scratch.

I have to start life all over again.

My friends are getting big jobs and having weddings and babies and engagements and new homes.

But my world ends each and every day.

I’m living in reverse.

I don’t gain, I just seem to lose.

And whining doesn’t make me feel better.

Blogging doesn’t make me feel better.

Nothing takes away the gaping hole of loss.

___

And it’s almost been a year.

June 23
June 24
June 25

and then we’re there.

And he dies.

June 26.

My sweet husband dies.

June 26.

My world ends.

June 26.

My heart breaks.

June 26.

June 26.

June 26.

It’s coming.

It’s coming.

Oh God.

 
 
 

 
Here’s how it goes:



I finally get my butt to a coffee shop to get some writing done

And then, and only then, do I feel like crying.

On the verge of tears.
Mind going fuzzy.
Lump in the throat.

And though I’m here, ready to write,

All I want to do is cry.

(Even though I haven’t cried in like, 5 days.)

Yes, only now,

In public,

Do I feel the budding tears in my eyes.

This is why I can’t get anything done.

BECAUSE GRIEF IS UNPREDICTABLE.

Because after a few good months
And then May being a REALLY bad month
And then June seeming to be a little bit better…

It starts sinking in OH GOD HE DIED JUNE LAST YEAR.

And all you can say is OH GOD.

(And you literally mean OH GOD. OH GOD, PLEASE HELP. ARE YOU LISTENING, GOD?)

And you also say NO.

No.

It cannot have been almost a year since you’ve seen a living, breathing BJ.

NO, God, NO.

OH GOD, no.

No.

You cannot have survived a year without your best friend.

No God. This can’t be real.

What is time? How is time? Where is time?

How has this happened?

How is it June, June of June 26, 2015 fame?

How, God?

Oh God.

And not only do I feel pain and shock and fear

But I have no idea what to do with my life moving forward.

I want a baby in my belly. 



And I can’t believe how everyone manages to stay alive so well.

How so many husbands don’t die.

How so many women have children and families and homes.

I try not to through myself a pity party.

But I also cannot deny the pain.

And so I say

OH GOD

Over and over and over.

 

 

 
 
 
 

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