I’m sober now.


It only took 19 months.

But now I’m Andrea again, no longer a walking talking cloud of shock and grief and excess weight.

The immediate shock and stun of loss has worn off and now I feel more like me than I have since he died.

Except my sober self is more grieved than ever.

And I’m realizing sober grief is even harder than sudden grief.

Now that I think clearly, and the pain is less sharp–

The pain is actually deeper.

The pain is more painful.

Now I can fully see, fully realize, fully grasp everything I’ve lost.

All the losses.

My husband.
My lover.
My best friend.
My partner.
My future,
My entertainer.
My encourager.
My biggest fan.
My accompanist.
My handyman.
My champion.
My IT Guy.

And our home
our neighborhood
our city
our home
our apartment
our grocery store
our yoga studio
our farmers market
our pharmacist
our diner

the church we left behind
the friends we left behind
the life I left behind.

My entire life.

My whole life.

My whole existence.

I had it all. I had it all it all it all.


And now I try to look at my current life–


And I see how I just have nothing.

No semblance of a life.

No church. No husband. No community or deep set of friends. No career or vocation. No sense of place. No home. No city of my own.

I feel very very out of place.

And very very much missing the rich beautiful life I had twenty short months ago.

Maybe I’m whining, or maybe only now am I able to feel the deepest grief I’ve ever known.

It’s as if the first 19 months was place-holder grief until the REAL grief settled down.

Year 2 is harder. Life is harder. Grief is harder now.

I’m so sad.

I’m more normal. I’m more myself. I’m more vibrant.

But now I’m more deeply sad, more deeply grieved. It’s like heavy armor that rests on you ceaselessly.

It’s all so much worse now, it seems. Because now I really get how much I had and really grasp how desperately I want it all back.

I used to believe everything happens for a reason.

Now I just desperately want my old life back.

(Which is impossible to get.)

I’m stuck making decisions about my future, when all I want is my past.

And so I’m stuck.

Angry life isn’t going my way, and yet paralyzed to change my life because the grief is still so heavy.




Sometimes I think to myself:

All I have is books and cats and stuff.

That’s it.

That’s all I have in this world.

Stuff. And cats.

No husband. No children. No home of my own.

No career or vision or guidance.

I have my family.

Yes, and I am so grateful for that.

But I think about what is just mine.

I feel downgraded.


And nonexistent.

I remember I have me, though.

I have myself.

And I’ve always remembered I have God.


I have myself.

I have my thoughts, my prayers, my dreams.

And I realize that is a lot of stuff to contain.

And with BJ dead it is all up to me to contain it.

No one sees me.

No one knows me.

And all that is inside me is a mystery.

All my deep thoughts and songs and poetry.

All my books to be written and dreams to be manifested.

All my secrets.

It’s just between me and God.

I have nothing but myself

And God.

(And books and cats and stuff.)


I feel overwhelmed by the depth inside of me.

I feel overwhelmed by the stories I want to share with you.

I want to tell you stories of God and Holy Spirit and Zimbabwe and my marriage and BJ’s death and the election and dating and what matters and orphan care and soul care and my favorite books and my future.

I have so much to tell you so I stay silent.

And keep the deep depths just between me and God.


Part of me just wants to fall in love and tell the New Person all the secret things.

(Part of me wonders if I’ve already told you too much.)

That’s how it was like with BJ.

I had him to tell all my secret things.

I didn’t fret when I didn’t blog or write or share my dreams and thoughts and ideas.

I just told him.

And he carried my depth and he held me and helped me and listened to me.

And now with him gone, I think:

To whom do I tell my deepest thoughts?

Is it even appropriate to tell the internet your deepest thoughts?

You people are wonderful but you don’t love me deeply and madly and intimately like BJ did.

Can I trust you?

I don’t know.

And I don’t have BJ to ask.

(He gave the best advice.)

I feel like I should store up my feelings until it’s safe or far away enough to share with you.

Or until I find a New Love to share my soul with.

So all I can do now is talk to God.

That’s all I got.

It’s me and God.

And yet I freak out when I tell God it doesn’t feel like enough.

I want a human love, too, God.

I love you,

But I want a husband love.

Soul love.

Holding-hands love.

A love I can kiss.

And cuddle.

And take care of.

And have babies with.


I’ve told you too much.

But I’ve already written it, so I’ll post it.

My thoughts don’t seem real unless I actually hit the “Publish” button.

And selfishly, I want a record of this journey.

So against my own advice,

Here I am sharing some secret thoughts with you,

Knowing that I’ve already shared them with God.
Wishing I could share them with BJ.
Hoping for someone to come along to share them in the future.

And deciding to go ahead and share it with you.


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 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



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–


The right thing.

The counter-cultural thing.

The brave thing.




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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