Categories
Family Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Husband – Warrior – Brother

Terrell Whitener

WSN-MO: A Few Minutes with Terrell Whitener

During a recent reflection period, my thoughts turned to just how I have ended up where I am at in life. As a very grateful and appreciative man of my station in life, these reflection times usually end up as an exercise in gratitude and not a time for regret.

Many times, these sessions end up being a catalyst for a future article, and this my brother is one such article. At the conclusion of this exercise, I came away with three defining roles that have contributed significantly to my status as a widowed man. I started as a husband, moved to a period of being a warrior, and now reside proudly as a member of this brotherhood.

Let me begin with my role as a husband. In my life, I have had the pleasure of achieving many things. I say this not to be boastful but from a place of gratitude. Professionally I have benefited from the guidance of wonderful mentors, talented staff, the providence of the right timing, and a small modicum of talent mixed in. But one of the greatest benefits that I had was the counsel and support of my wife, Robyn. I have said many times on these pages that no one ever believed in me more than Robyn did. I am sure that my seeming hire wire act of risk-taking drove her crazy at times, but she wore it well.

The warrior aspect of my life manifested itself when Robyn’s health challenges occurred. Over what was nine years of concern with the last 18 months serving as her primary caretaker, we waged what I felt was a winnable war on her health, both physically and emotionally. I was dogmatic about her care and equally dogmatic about her happiness. I felt this was the least I could do for the woman I loved. While I relish the trips we took and the comfortable life we built, I would burn it to the ground if it got in the way of taking care of my Robyn. Like most marriages, we had our moments. But I have come to realize we had a “mature marriage,” one that was not without flaw, but one that always found its way to do the right thing for each other. Sometimes you must let the person have their way even though you disagree but support them and be there for them despite the outcome. That was the bedrock that forged the strength that held us together the last 18 months of our marriage. But alas, I was not victorious in winning the war to keep Robyn alive. Despite my best intentions and my best efforts, I did not have the final say. But boy, did I try. That my brothers, I can accept.

Last but certainly not least is the brotherhood aspect of my life. I spend a lot of time sharing my experiences with creating a life after loss. Sharing that story has found a comfortable place in my life. Like many, I am often lonely. Unlike many, I have not found true love again. But I have a great and comfortable place in the brotherhood. I have biological brothers and my kindred spirit brothers that I am sharing this article with today. I am so grateful for both sets of my brothers. They give me a soft-landing place from time to time. They provide me an outlet to share my grief and loss as well as my hope for the future.

So, there you have it. Husband, Warrior, Brother. All roles in which I comfort. Like many who will honor me by reading this article, we all will find a way of defining our existence, or at least I hope so. As always, I welcome your thoughts and responses. And as always, I want to let you know that I appreciate and want nothing but peace for each of you. Until next time.

____________________________________________________________________

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. You can reach Terrell at his newly redesigned website thedebriefgroup365.com. There you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Moving Forward

Hard choices? Make them.

Jim Winner

WSN: Some winning thoughts by Jim Winner

Last winter, I wrote an article about spending an extended time at the condominium Joyce, and I bought in Naples, Florida. You might recall it spoke a lot of loneliness, fear, adjustment, and trying to survive the first winter.

Fast forward to today. Life is good. I am in a healthy place. I consider myself blessed in that I get to spend my winters in Florida. I am a completely different person than I was a year ago. I’m no fan of dreary Indiana winters and am already looking forward to the sunshine, ocean, and all that comes with a Florida winter.

I’m looking forward to some experiences I’ve never had before. I knew I wanted to go back to Florida. I also knew I wasn’t looking forward to returning to Naples.

I have family further up the Gulf coast in Bradenton. I also have several old and new friends around Sarasota. After looking at several areas, I decided to sell the Naples condo and buy in the Sarasota area. Joyce loved Naples. She liked the dining and shopping, the beautiful neighborhoods, and the proximity to everything. I like a more laid back, “old Florida” lifestyle. I’ve always dreamed of a place close to the water. I spent several days last week looking at properties nearer to family and friends. I’m happy to report that I found a place I liked. It’s a condominium on the extreme south end of Siesta Key, at Turtle Beach. It’s cheery, and it’s light. It fronts on the Little Sarasota Bay and is 1/4 mile from the Gulf of Mexico. I made an offer which was accepted the next day. I am soon to become its owner.

Could I have kept the condo in Naples and try just to figure things out? I suppose so. Was that what I wanted to do? No. I made a very intentional decision several months ago that this is now my life to live. I am accepting my role as captain of this journey. I say that with the ultimate respect for the life Joyce and I shared. The truth is that life is over. The life that I live now is mine to embrace, savor, and enjoy.

Each of us traveling this road needs to make choices. The choices facing each of us are different. Yours may relate to keeping your home, whether you move to be closer to family, where your children go to school, what you will do with certain things, etc. My point is that we need to be sure of the choices we make are the choices that best serve us. Don’t try to live your life based on what you feel others would want you to do. This is your time. This is not the time to be worried about how the choices you make will cause others to feel. Of course, we must act responsibly and do things that are morally, fiscally, and socially acceptable. The truth is, we are all in a new season of life. A season meant to be cherished. A season meant to be lived to its fullest.

Brothers, the only direction is forward. Stay the course. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

I hope you choose joy today.

Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Loneliness

THE ALONE MOMENT

LArry Ahrens

It first hit me in the grocery store.

After Susan’s many months of illness, I was consumed with the day-to-day of the situation. Then she passed.

A few weeks after the dust settled, I’m pushing the shopping cart in the supermarket, and it finally struck me that I’m shopping for me and me alone. That’s what I’ve started calling the “alone moment” when you realize it’s just you now.

The “alone moment” can occur often, and I’ve come to expect those moments as part of the grieving process. They are constant little jabs to remind you that the life you had is over.

What we’re all left with is fighting through the “alone moments” and confronting the new life we now lead. I see in this forum that many are uncomfortable with the feeling of loneliness. Here are some things I’m doing to push back on this emotion.

Your Family and Friends Are Rooting For You

You may not realize it, but everybody that loves you is outwardly or secretly rooting for you to find happiness and fulfillment. The people that love you are watching you. Not in a judgmental way, but they are hoping to see you come through it all at some point. People who genuinely care about you also know that this will take time.

I’ve learned that you can’t underestimate this kind of love and support.

Put Something On The Calendar

My late wife was a travel agent. One of the many things she always said was, “Let’s always have a trip on our calendar.” It’s SO true! Once you’ve planned some kind of trip or scheduled an event, it lifts you. Half the fun of planning a vacation is in the planning.

Looking At All Your Options

Being alone is not the option we wanted. But it’s now the option that we have.

In Fred Colby’s book “Widower To Widower” he writes, “My belief is that, for us to move forward, we need to know that we do not have to leave anyone behind.” That’s excellent advice. I’m always going to carry my wife’s love and memory with me as I go forward doing things that I want to do.

Having said that, what I’m about to share sounds counter-intuitive. One of the things I enjoyed doing when I met Susan was aviation. I had picked up my pilot’s license a couple of years before I met her. But I gave it up for love. She was genuinely concerned about me flying and one day looked at me with those big green eyes and asked me to give it up for her.

Without going into all the details, there are several things now that I would like to do and experience. Breaking 90 on the golf course is one. You probably have deep down inside a few things you want to try.

Once you find yourself considering all of your options in this new life, then I promise you will feel less lonely and more like seeing the real you again.

__________________________________________

Look for Larry’s column every other Thursday. You can write Larry at larry@gostudio34.com.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Healing Moving Forward Uncategorized

All Dressed Up and Nobody to Love

Terrell Whitener
If you have followed my writings over the years, you may know that I am a glass half full type of person. Long ago, I learned to own what yours to earn and move forward with life. The year 2020 has been unlike any other I have experienced in my 63 years on this earth. I probably have spent more time reflecting on my life more profoundly than any previous year. There is perhaps no other aspect that I have reflected on more than taking a deep dive into the current “state of my own private union.” Let me explain that statement. As a person who works from home, still follows strict social distancing protocols, and lives alone, 2020 could have created many challenges. First, I am pleased to be employed. A little over a year, I was “unretired” by a great opportunity that came my way. Returning to the workforce gave me a nice balance of intellectual challenges and social interactions with others. Returning to work also made the time that I spent solitarily at home far less than without the opportunity of going to the office. Then came COVID. Just when I had a new rhythm to my life, I am thrust back into solitary confinement. I am very thankful that over the years, I have made my home a place that is appointed with most of the amenities I need to entertain myself. While I miss seeing family and dining at restaurants, I am not having as tough of time adjusting as many people I know are having. I have taken a deeper dive into listening to more music, turning off the TV, participating in zoom chats and meetings, and have even indulged in ordering my groceries online. But as human nature goes, I often wonder what it would be like to have someone to share this more intimate of times. I am, however, very happy to report that I have not jumped into a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. I am so very happy for those of you that have found love again. I will continue to live vicariously through you until my lightning bolt falls out of the sky! While standing by in wonder, I have also grown to appreciate the relationship I am forging with myself. I have engaged in a deeper level of self-care, more generous than I have provided for in years. I have contributed to a soon-to-be-released book, and I have spent more time dealing with my health. I have discovered I spend too much time on social media, but I have learned to live without attending baseball games. Any travel plans have been placed on hold, but I have resolved to check travel off my bucket list as soon as I can safely do so. I attend church services online, and I have created a very primitive home gym. I cannot help but wonder what it would have been like sharing this time with my Robyn. It would have been tough on her, as she was a very social person, and while she loved me, she did not like me underfoot excessively. It would have been a challenge, to be sure. While the title of this article is All Dressed Up and Nobody to Love, it may have started with thoughts tinged with a bit of melancholy; it has been transformed into a story of empowerment and discovery. I have realized in this process, that despite the obvious love that I have for family and friends, I have discovered a new love, myself. Meanwhile, while fate takes its time in revealing itself, I am going to continue to concentrate on growing with my new love, me! As always, I welcome your feedback. I also continue to be grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all. Until next time. __________________________________________ Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com; there you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.
Categories
Finding Purpose Moving Forward

Widowers, Wounded, Warrior, Waling and Walking

Widowers, Wounded, Warrior, Waling and Walking

Desire

Purpose

Often, our gift to this world–the thing we are here to do–is the thing we tend to fear or dislike the most. Scary how that works. I wanted to be a writer. Here I am writing a blog, not a book.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I used to ask pretty much everyone I knew. For Suzanne, it was a criminologist or a forensic scientist (long before becoming fashionable or used as source material for TV shows, movies, and real crime dramas).

Suzanne was many things in her lifetime. Her bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s in criminology never really contributed much to her career. Fate intervened. She assisted on a “criminal profiling research project” at the UK’s Home Office before we got married. It was the first and last time she ever worked in the field. She worked as a relocation agent, a case manager for the Crown Prosecution Service, as a baker, an advocate for surrogacy and adoption, and as a catering manager.

Suzanne was a wonderful friend to so many. She was a very open and gregarious person. Her smile would light up a room when she walked in. But she struggled with a purpose in life until only a few months before she died. She found yoga. She trained and qualified as a yoga instructor just days before her final diagnosis.

My Purpose

In the months after she died, I struggled to find meaning and purpose. It took me a long time, but once I found it, I really dove in.

The struggle to find purpose and meaning in life is real. So many of us stick it out in dead-end jobs, struggling to make ends meet. We have had great relationships, but our spouse/partner is dead, so now we struggle to find new people to share our life. I am on a new path. A journey of discovery, and that means being open to the infinite possibilities available in any given moment.

My role now is to pass on the lessons I have learned as I continue to walk on this journey. A Native American legend describes two paths we can choose to take through our life–a red path and a black path. The black path is the road most of us take (and the one both Suzanne and I traveled for most of our lives). It’s the path that requires little thought and even less “presence.” The red path is the path of consciousness, presence, meaningful existence–living from a purpose.

As Frost described it, this is the path less traveled by:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

______________________________________________

Jeff Ziegler insights can be found every two weeks here on WSN-MO.

You can write him at Jeff.ziegler@ymail.com

Cell: +1-415-623-8772 | e-mail: jeff.ziegler@ymail.com

LinkedIn Profile URL: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffziegler

Categories
Family Finding Purpose Pets

Dogs and Love

Dogs and Love

In the year after our twin daughters were born, we got a golden retriever puppy we named Charlie. Everyone always says they have “the best dog ever,” but in my opinion, Charlie indeed was. When the girls were young, they could pull on his ears, his tail, his fur, just about any part of him, and he would never complain, growl or groan.

Charlie became a fixture of our lives. He was a part-time babysitter, part-time guard dog, part-time walking buddy, part-time entertainment, and part of the reason why we constantly had to clean the house.

Charlie crossed the rainbow bridge in 2012 at the ripe old age of 13. He had “good innings” as one of my best friends described it. But after having put him down, because he was in pain and was suffering from numerous ailments, I could not stop feeling guilty about it. For the longest time, I questioned whether it was the right thing to do if I had prematurely cut his time with us if I had somehow let him down.

While we had Charlie, we also gained a Monty and Murphy. Monty, an English Cocker Spaniel, was a Christmas present for the family in 2005, and Murphy was my 40th birthday present from Suzanne.

In the month before Suzanne died, we said goodbye to her little buddy, Monty. He was 13-years old and had been diagnosed with cancer and kidney failure. He was forever getting small growths on his body (so much so, over the years that I had taken to nickname and call him “wart dog”)… but he was her constant companion through the first two bouts with cancer, the surgeries, and the treatments.

Losing Monty was a big psychological blow to Suzi as she was entering her final battle. We also had a cat named Harry, an 8-year old grey tabby, who had to be put down less than a week after we lost Monty. It was a time of great grief and loss, along with the treatments Suzanne was undergoing, not a lot of time, energy, or head-space for grief.

But it wasn’t until long after Suzi died that I was able to grieve the loss of our precious fur kids as well as her. Yes, I see people post things about losing their pets, and for some, it’s like losing a child (especially for people who have never been able to have children). So their grief and the grief they feel about losing a fur-kid is no less than that of what we feel when losing a person.

The unconditional love and affection that our pets offer is a source of both comfort and joy in our lives. When we love a pet, we can learn to love ourselves and our people better. There is a mug that my daughter has with a quote that says, “I can only hope to be the person my dog believes I am.” And yet, we are. Our dogs see us that way, all we need to do is open our eyes, and we can see ourselves that way.

Since Suzanne died, I adopted a young pup. His name is Kohl, and he’s a bit of a handful. He’s a nearly two-year-old German shepherd/lab mix who was found wandering the “mean streets” of LA as a tiny pup, sent to a county shelter before making his way to a German shepherd rescue (where I found and adopted him).

His companionship and unconditional love and gratitude for having a forever home have been a huge part of my healing process. Maybe it was the fact he was abandoned when he was so young and needed so much care and attention. Perhaps it was because I was feeling abandoned and needed someone who could love me unconditionally, as Suzi did.

Whatever the reason, I found a kindred spirit in my new best friend. The problem is, my old best friend—my nearly 12-year old chocolate lab, Murphy—has suffered a little at the hands (paws?) of Kohl (far too much ear tugging, some serious roughhousing, and general tormenting). Still, we look at each other, knowing that there is so much love in our lives for each other. And that is what I sensed was needed in my life at that moment. Today, I have a new person in my life who loves and is loved by my fur-kids, my human kids and by me.

Getting the chance to love again, and being shown the way through the unconditional love of a pet, has helped me heal. It has helped me open my heart back to the possibility of loving and being loved by a new person, and to my fur kids, I am truly grateful.

In solidarity.

Jeff

______________________________________________

Jeff Ziegler can be seen every two weeks here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at Jeff.ziegler@ymail.com.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Healing Manful Emotions Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

I feel good, is that ok?

Jim Winner

Today is a cool, clear, and beautiful Indiana summer day. As I write this, I am sitting in my courtyard, listening to the birds sing. The flowers are in full bloom, and kids wave to me as they ride their bikes by my house. It all feels right. I feel good. But wait. Is that ok? Is it alright to be happy? Should I feel guilty because I feel good? I know that answer. So do you. But if you’re like me, sometimes a little reminding is in order.

During Joyce’s illness and prognosis, she had many opportunities to share her hopes and wishes for my life after she was gone. Those of you who have had these conversations know they are extremely difficult, hard to listen to, and even harder to accept. But accept them we must, because that reality is here. I would dare to say that each of our wives had the same wish for us. That wish was simple. It was for us to keep living. I remember the day Joyce took my hands, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Keep living. Don’t stop being happy”. As I look back on that conversation, I marvel that even in her final weeks and days, she was worried about me. I know many of you who are reading this are nodding in agreement because your wives said the same thing to you. For those brothers whose wives passed away suddenly, you know they also had the same wish. You were happy with your wife. Their wish was for your life to continue. They wanted you to find your happiness. They wanted you to keep going.

I do not believe that anyone can bring us happiness. Our happiness is our responsibility. If we aren’t happy with ourselves, it’s not reasonable for us to ask someone else to make us happy. Not only is it unreasonable, but it’s also a recipe for disaster. As I continue my journey, I have come to understand that there’s room for grief and happiness at the same time. Those two words are not mutually exclusive. The grief process we go through relates to what was lost and what never will be. At the same time, the quest for happiness involves what is and what is yet to be. Friends, the good news is there’s room for both.

I endeavor to choose happiness every day. Please know I don’t say that flippantly. I am mindful of how much time I spend watching the news. I am intentional in the tone of the conversations I have with my friends and neighbors. I always wave back and stop to talk when I see those kids on their bikes. I invest in the rebuilding of my life. I choose to smile even when I don’t feel like smiling. Dale Carnegie once said, “If you act enthusiastic, you will become enthusiastic.” I believe that is especially true for how we deal with happiness.

We all have people and things that make us happy. Make time for both. Maybe yours is time with family and friends, walking, reading, cooking, building things, or playing a round of golf. Whatever allows you to focus on something positive, and in the future, I encourage you to do it. Thank God, we can look to the future without ever sacrificing the memory of the past. That’s a real blessing.

I hope you choose happiness today.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Moving Forward

Poker with Friends

Poker with Friends

These last couple of months, while we have been sheltering in place here in California, I have had the pleasure of joining in on a zoom call and playing poker with a group of friends I have known for many years. These aren’t just friends; they are my fraternity brothers from my days at UC Santa Barbara (which ended four years before I met and married Suzanne).

Some of these brothers knew her. Most did not because despite being close in college, we all went our ways—and I lived abroad for nearly 20-years after college, so I did not see many of them (other than on Facebook) for many years. There were exceptions, but not many.

Seeing and spending time with “the boys” has been refreshing. It has made me relive some of my youth—remembering all the awful things we used to do, like drinking, cussing, teasing, etc. But it has also been an excellent opportunity to reconnect more deeply. To bring together brothers who shared experiences in college that shaped us into the men we became.

I have been able to play every two weeks for the last two months, except for when my new partner came out from Kansas City to visit two weeks ago (after travel restrictions to California were lifted by her work). It has helped to keep me sane at this time when I have not seen or able to connect with people in person.

At times during the games, we do get serious and start chatting about deeper level emotional and spiritual things (while we are playing)—of course, that’s in between the teasing and the banter. And it seems that so many of my brothers keep asking me about finding passion and purpose in their lives.

The thing is, in my life, and my most recent experience as a widower, I’ve seen so many people make the same mistake I used to make: stay in dead-end jobs with low pay solely for the sake of “security,” wasting years of their lives doing something they just don’t love. To me, that’s just backward.

Why do we waste so much time sticking with stuff we don’t genuinely care about? Is it the money? Is it recognition? Is it the health benefits? Is it truly for “security?” I just don’t know.

Of my fraternity brothers, I am one of the very few that is genuinely “self-employed.” And I love what I do. No, I don’t get health benefits, and I don’t want or ask for recognition. Nor do I have much security. But I do get to do something that I am genuinely passionate about and care about. I get to serve and help other widows and widowers.

And I wonder why we aren’t all doing something that we truly love? And I think of all the times I wish I could have been at home with Suzanne, working on something I was passionate about and loved to do instead of wasting all those years complaining and moaning about dead-end jobs and long commutes.

I’m considering putting together a free program on how to get unstuck from the thinking that is holding us back from being happier and living our purpose and passion. Would this be of interest to any of my fellow widower brothers? It seems to resonate with some of my fraternity brothers, and let’s face it; you guys are my fraternity now.

If this seems like a good idea, then please DM me with your thoughts or message me here in the group. Or, if you have any other ideas for anything better, then please let me know!

In solidarity.

Jeff

______________________________________________

Jeff Ziegler can be seen every two weeks here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at Jeff.ziegler@ymail.com.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Healing Learning new skills Maintaining a Home Moving Forward Uncategorized

“A rose by any other name”

Jim Winner

Joyce was always my biggest cheerleader. Many years ago, she encouraged me to become a Master Gardener. The process was a great experience and I learned a lot. Joyce loved our garden. She was proud of my work, and I delighted in creating a beautiful space for us. In the past several weeks, I’ve spent countless hours in that special place. The work of cleaning, weeding, planting and pruning has been good therapy. I enjoy my time in the garden.

At the end of March, I gave my roses a hard pruning. I removed the dead or weak branches and left 5 or 6 of the strongest canes on each plant. I mixed in some new amended soil around the base of the roses, added some feed and nutrients and began the waiting process. As I look at the roses today, I see plants that are healthy. They’re growing, reaching upwards, and if I do say so myself…are looking pretty good.

Like my roses, we all got a hard pruning when our wives passed away. We didn’t ask for it, but a big part of our life no longer existed. We found that part of our life was removed from us. The longer we were together the more of us got pruned away. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? A part of us dies with our spouses, but a large part of us is left to renew, recover, regrow and restore.

After a pruning, no rose grows back to be the same plant it was. Canes and new branches grow in different directions. The shapes and sizes are different. The plant may produce more or less flowers depending on many environmental factors. Pests or disease may thwart and impede the health of the plant. With the right care and attention (and a little bit of luck) roses can come back after hard pruning to once again be healthy, vibrant, and full of life. So, can we.

Compare our journeys to these roses. We have endured a difficult and dark winter season. We have had to suffer through our own hard and undoubtedly severe pruning. Here is the good news. We survived. New growth can and does begin to emerge. Hopefully, the deep roots we have shared will keep us strong and hold us steady. Our loved ones, while no longer with us, will always be a part of who we are. They will always help to shape us. Perhaps our feeding and nourishment comes from this group of men. Certainly, our friends, our families, our faith and many other sources of support and resources are available to us. Keep yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually fed. Stay positive. Keep the pests and diseases away. With time, we can all grow again. We won’t be the same men we were. Personally, I hope to become a better man.

No, I’m not saying any of us are as pretty as a rose…and like a rose, I am sure we can all be a bit prickly and thorny from time to time. It is my hope and prayer that you will join me in believing that even the hardest unwanted pruning can create meaningful and healthy new growth for all of us. 

May we all bloom, dear Brothers.

Categories
COVID-19 Finding Purpose Giving Support Health Moving Forward Service

Growing through it

Jim Winner

Good morning brothers! Our nation continues working hard to get through the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m proud of all the front liners serving us all so well. If anyone reading this is a front-line worker, you have my heartfelt appreciation. I also hear people talk about how much they want their old life back. I hear people say, “things will never be the same.” I hear people say how out of control they feel. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone but me? If they’d only ask, I’d be glad to tell them they’re right. They will never get their old life back, life will never be the same, and no, they never were in control of very much. WE know that.

I think it’s very interesting the pandemic is coming right during the Easter season. Like most of you, I find myself being home a lot more. I have time to think about what’s important to me. I have time to think about how I want to be different after this all ends. By the way, it will end. I’ve seen more of my neighbors (from a safe distance) in the past two weeks than I have in the past six months! I’ve had good phone calls with friends from long ago. I’ve been much more aware of the need for community, and the importance of people in my life. I’ve been able to focus on taking care of me. I don’t want to lose any of that. It gives me hope that things won’t be the same. They may be better. We, collectively, may remember what’s important in life. I hope so.

In the Christian faith, this is Holy Week. This is the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. Tomorrow is what’s known as a good Friday. It’s the day of His crucifixion. We mourn that death. Three days later, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate His resurrection. We are reminded of our hope and promise of life eternal. I am comforted in my faith knowing that one day I will see my wife again. That’s a reason to celebrate.

This will be my first Easter without my beloved Joyce. Our house would have been decorated with all things Easter. She enjoyed family gatherings, coloring eggs with the neighbor kids, and lived her life as an Easter person, full of faith, hope, and love. I know many of you are going through your first Easter without your wives. I encourage you to have hope that you will continue to grow during the grief process. If Easter is a part of your belief, I know you will rest in the hope that you will see her smiling face again.

Wishing you all continued health and healing! ( wash your hands! )