Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hindsight is 20/20

Yeah, I know. I used a bad cliche as my title. It just fits so well.
I should also warn that this qualifies as another self-centered post. It has a side of insightfulness though (I hope).

I am currently home for Thanksgiving. This is the first time this entire semester I have been home for a good reason. This whole semester has been one of so much change that I can't help but think back to Fall 2010 and of what/who was important to me back then. I'm watching my whole life change before my eyes, and I have to say, it's not bad. In fact, it is mostly a good thing. It's all in God's work.

This is where the hindsight comes in. Let me take you briefly along my own personal mini-journey.

Last fall, I was a freshman in college majoring in Political Science (law school was my only academic goal) who had just suffered my first major life disappointment and was estranged from the church.
I know I come back to this a lot, but it's only been recently that I have started to understand why I was cut from marching band.
[I'll keep the summary brief. I came from high school as the head-drum-major-first-chair-in-wind-ensemble-lead-alto-in-jazz-band, only to be cut from the AUMB. I let this define my entire first semester. I didn't understand why this horrible disappointment happened to me. I didn't understand why I missed out on Auburn's national championship season. I couldn't justify any of this in my mind. I still couldn't get over it when I found out that I couldn't be in band this year due to a scheduling conflict.]

Currently, I am a sophomore (junior) in college majoring in Communication Disorders and minoring in Political Science (law school is still an option) who is happily not in the AUMB (although I love all my friends who are) and is involved not only in church, but in a campus ministry as well. I tell people this a lot because I KNOW that it is true now: God did not want me to be in marching band.

Now that I look back, God gave me a gift I wouldn't trade for anything because I'm not in the AUMB: time with Pawpaw. Last Thanksgiving, as everyone was driving back to Auburn for Iron Bowl band practice, I was sitting next to Pawpaw on the couch watching TV with him. Two Saturdays ago, while the band and football team were at UGA (getting killed on the football field, I might add), I was riding home with Daddy to see Pawpaw for the last time.
That is worth so much more than a free trip to Glendale, Arizona.

I say all this to not only help myself through this journey of mourning, but also to tell anyone reading that "it" is all in God's plan. By "it" I mean anything that may be going on in your life. It may seem like the end of the world now, but in a year, it may be a gift.

Maybe if you're lucky like me, with the help of good friends, family, and a little bit of time, you'll come out on the other side thankful for the obstacle God put in your path.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Calm After the Storm.

I thought of the name of this blog when I was trying to fall asleep last night. I feel so clever for coming up with it.

It first (and least importantly) refers to me ignoring the bad weather that came through Montgomery and Auburn on Wednesday. As I left Auburn, I heard on the radio that a tornado watch was occurring in Montgomery. I, being an incredibly stubborn person, ignored this warning and continued to drive straight into the oncoming storm. As I neared Montgomery, the reports were getting worse. I told myself that if I started to get nervous (weather doesn't generally scare me), then I would pull off. Out of absolutely no where, I hit a wall of rain and wind like I had never experienced before. Other cars were pulling off the road because we couldn't see where we were driving. I could feel my car moving from the wind. I followed the line of lights, all the while thinking I was going to die in this storm and praying to God to get me out of the storm. Luckily, I was close to an exit and hid out in a Walmart until I got the all clear.
Lesson learned. Never again will I challenge the weather.

The second purpose of the title of this post is in reference to the time my family is currently in. Pawpaw has passed on into heaven, his body has been laid to rest, and family and friends have all come to pay their respects. The storm that was cancer, hospice, and the funeral has all come and passed. Now that all of it is over, here we sit.
We had two days of a whirlwind of funeral happenings. After his military funeral (which is the most moving thing I have ever experienced), everyone was invited back to my house to eat and be together. As time passed, people began to leave. Eventually, even my mom's closest friends who had helped us all along the way through this process went home. We were left at our house, just the immediate family.

I felt this sense of emptiness at this moment. Even I, who has been around the least of all of us through the last few months, felt how quiet the house was. It was over. Pawpaw is gone and his funeral is over. All that we have left now are memories. I didn't know how to proceed at that moment, and I still am not sure what happens next. This type of loss is nothing that I've ever experienced before. We have reached the calm after the storm, but how do you move on? My mom told me before I left to come back to Auburn that the mourning process was just starting. It is one thing to mourn with the support of many friends and family members in an event that is thrown in memory of the deceased. It is entirely different to mourn as life goes on. As I've discovered over the last 24 hours, it is also extremely difficult to mourn around people who are focused on Thanksgiving food and college football and aren't in the same place as me at this moment.

I realize that there is nothing that can help make the mourning process simple or quick. I'm just learning what it feels like to experience a real and definite loss.

Regardless of all of this, I am not angry that my Pawpaw is gone. I'm thankful that he's with Jesus in paradise.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coming to Terms.

I've been trying to write a post for over a week now. I started writing a couple of times earlier this week, only to delete all of them while I was still writing. I've been trying to get away from the personal, Dianna focused posts and write one of a less selfish focus, but that's not what I need to do right now. You can stop reading now if you would like.

I went back to Alabaster for the first time in months on Friday. I did not go home for a birthday dinner, for a "get away," or even to spend time with my parents and Leah. I went home to see Pawpaw. I did have an awesome birthday dinner with my family, including my grandparents on the other side of the family, but that's not the focus.
I left Alabaster on Saturday afternoon after spending the morning with my mom. My time spent with Pawpaw was brief; he was not feeling well at all and could barely stay awake. So I went back to Auburn and spent Saturday night trying to take my mind off of life back in Alabaster.
I woke up on Sunday, my birthday, to a picture message from Leah. Apparently, Pawpaw woke up that morning and wrote messages to most of the family. In the picture, he wrote a message on a dry-erase board to me and Leah. It was short, sweet, and exactly what I needed to hear. That's how Pawpaw always was though.

So I've spent this week trying to come to terms with whatever it is that I'm feeling. On one hand, I'm thankful to be in Auburn, surrounded by amazing friends who love on me everyday. My family has assured me that it's fine that I'm here, that there's nothing to feel guilty about. But I do feel guilty. I've missed the last few months of Pawpaw's life worrying about tests, papers, work, and my social life. I know that that is exactly what he would want for me, but I can't shake this feeling.

I am, however, completely at peace knowing where Pawpaw will be when his life does end. I don't want him to hurt anymore. It is the best thing for him to leave this world and go into the arms of Jesus. Cancer never wins when someone goes to meet Jesus. It won't win with Pawpaw, just like it didn't win when Carson died.

I've come to terms with the idea that I'm completely okay with it if Jesus decides to take him right now. As much as I would like for him to still be here come Thanksgiving break so I can steal a few more days with him, I want him to not hurt anymore even more than I selfishly want him here.

So that's where I am. My family is currently in a stage of waiting. Hospice has set no time frame, but we don't predict him to be with us much longer.

God will take him when it's time. I have no doubt about this.

"For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we lie or whether we die, we are the Lord's."
                                                -Romans 14:8