Restoration

The end of this month marks the two year anniversary since the accident that forever changed our lives.  That one accident forever changed me, to the core, it broke every part of me.  So many days have passed since I received that one fateful phone call, and yet at times it seems it was just yesterday.  I am lost on trying to recall September 5, 2013 a random day before our lives changed, but it was all so normal, there is no differentiating those weeks before Nick left us.  You expect when life is about to change so abruptly, so imensely that you will have some premonition.  But I guess that is why loss is so tragic, for it is never expected or prepared for.  Life does change in an instant for the worst at times and for the better at others.  My change for the better was not so instant, it was gradual, it was painfully slow.  Since then I have been remolded into someone that I often wonder if Nick would even recognize.  I have learned to forgive, to truly forgive and to let go.  I have learned the value of relationships over every thing else that this life gives us.  I have learned that when we are most deeply broken,  it is then that we find God closer to us then he has ever been before. 

 
For almost two years now, the boys and I have faithfully walked the path that was set out before us.  It was not the road that we choose.  There was darkness, there was rough terrain and jagged rocks that would tear us at every turn,  But this journey has also been dotted with the light of friends and family that never left our side.  They carried us in prayer and were there to hear our deepest cries.  They were the lights that God sent to us, to lead us through the valley when it was too dark for us to take another step.  I would have never survived without the love of a certain few and for that I will forever be grateful.  I know without wavering that God has a plan for us and I know in full faith that he will see it trough.
 
So in two months, I will start a new chapter and I will marry the man that is one of my life’s greatest blessings.  A man that was undoubtedly chosen by God and placed in our lives at his perfect timing.  A man that so nobly leads our little family into the future, while honoring Nick Guillien and life that we had.  I thank my God for Chris multiple times a day and for the new and open way that through tragedy I have learned to love.  Yet, this new and beautlful adventure we are about to embark upon does come with a fear of its own.  Even though I will soon be a wife again, the word widow, sits at the back of my mind and haunts me with a fear that it will one day find its place in my life again.  But God did not give me the spirit of fear, he gave me a spirit of courage and of love, he gave me a promise of hope and of a future.  So I pray away my fear and I joyfully move forward into the future that he has blessed me with.  A future that will hold countless blessings, memories, and smiles, but inevitably it will also bring unexpected trials and unforeseen heartbreak.  But I choose whatever the future will bring, to have this one generous, strong, loving, humble, kind man to hold my hand through it all.   I choose that for the rest of this life, however many days it shall be, that I want to have Chris by my side for all of it.  And so our new journey begins.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

One Year

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This Saturday, September 27 it will be one year since the accident.  Three hundred and sixty five days since the unthinkable happened in our lives. We have survived an entire calendar of firsts as a family of three.  Emotionally our climb … Continue reading

TRUST

The old adage, the truth hurts is all too often, true.

This morning Dunkin comes up to me and says, mama, I no longer miss daddy every day. Tears immediately filled my eyes. As I told my son, I still miss your daddy every moment of every day, but I am glad for you that it is no longer painful like it was at one time.

The statement he made, was true, it was raw honesty from the mouth of my five year old son. A little boy that has experienced more loss in his short years than many do in a lifetime. A little boy that at times, has been the only reason his mama dares to brave another day.

Yesterday evening, I was singing a song and I looked at Dunkin and said, “God can and will move mountains for us!” Perplexed he questioned how big mountains are and how God could move them and why he would want to move them. Then sitting beside him on the couch I sat down to explain the figurative mountains that God can and will move in our lives. I asked if he could remember how bad it hurt in the days after daddy died. How we could not even begin to see life without him and how every moment was numbingly painful. With tears starting to stream down his cheeks, he nodded his head in agreement, recalling how bad that time in our lives hurt. I went on to explain how it no longer hurts that way. That God took that mountain of pain that was in our hearts and has gently worn down the edges of that mountain so that the pain is no longer as big or as sharp. The tears continued between the two of us and his little voice cracked as he said “but I still miss him.” And yes Dunkin we still miss him and the pain is still there, but God is moving our mountain and we can and will win this fight of grief because God is fighting for us, right along side of us. Because with God my son, nothing is impossible.

The truth hurts, hearing Dunkin say he no longer misses his daddy every day was painful, but in many ways it was an answer to so many prayers. For all those times that I cried out for God to heal my sons heart, to take this pain from him. God answered that prayer, to lessen his pain, to reduce his suffering.  And so in that moment that truth coming from a childs mouth made me thankful for all of the biblical truths that we cling to.

But even with the deep faith and trust that I have in the Lord, the truth still hurts.

The truth is I miss Nick, I think each day of how our lives should be. I miss everything about that man and the life that we had to gether. The truth is the encroaching first anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever is unbearably painful. And there are moments when I don’t want to continue down this long road of grief. The truth is this loss hurts more than I could have ever imagined.
The truth is I am now pulled between two lives. The simple life that we had built so quickly for ourselves in Texas, surrounded by friends that were divinely appointed for that season. The truth is that being back in Iowa and trying to rebuild a new life, in the same place where our dreams shattered is more difficult than I could have imagined. There is a delicate balance, that I have not yet mastered, between building a new life for ourselves here and not tirelessly trying to rebuild the life that we had with Nick.
The truth is I am worn, I am tired, and this point of our climb is rocky and steep with no place for rest. But it is the truth found in God’s word that keeps me going. The truth that I know he will not fail. The truth that he is a good and loving God and that in all he has a plan for my life, for my sons life. The truth that our pain here is temporary, but the rewards of our faith will last an eternity.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glorty that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Daily Bread

I sit here this morning thinking that last year, at this time, I never would have imagined having just one month left on this earth with Nick​​. That thought pains me, if I had only known . . . .
But honestly I would have never wanted to know our time together was going to be so limited.
The reality is our time with everyone that we love is truly shorter than we would ever want it to be.
So I find myself finally humbled with the today, the daily bread that God has given me. Thankful that I awoke to another ordinary morning. To kids needing breakfast and showers before the biggest one goes off to school. To a house that wears evidence of yesterdays adventures and three dogs bounding around us, the thrill of a new day.
I don’t want to know what the future holds. For knowing would steal joy from the lovely moments that life will bring. And knowing the bad, would only make me blind to the good. Blind to God’s mercies and grace present in the moment. Thank you Lord for only giving us one day at a time and equipping us with the enough strength and grace for the moment.

Matthew 6:11. Give us today our daily bread.

Our Wedding Anniversary

Screenshot_2014-08-19-06-31-16Today would have been our 8 year wedding anniversary. This photo of us kissing right after we walked down the aisle as husband and wife has become one of my favorite pages in our wedding album. What a beautiful day that was, we had a great life together. I never would have imagined it all would end so quickly. I MISS YOU! I am so thankful for our two amazing little boys, my little pieces of you on this earth that I get to hold each day! Thank you for leaving such a legacy! The life that you lived left us surrounded by family and friends, that have become priceless to me! The sting of missing you is no greater today than every other day that we have lived without you here. But there is a greater sense of how life should have been. I love you, always! And I cannot wait till the day we meet again! XOXO

Diagnosed

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a diagnosis that I never imagined would be hung upon me. After all, I have never been a veteran, I have never been in a war. Post-Traumatic stress, me, no. But this was the diagnosis that I would be labeled with that would explain so much of what I have been experiencing the last nine months of my life.

My life in Iowa had become a haze, not a life, I had become numb and I had shut down.  A protective mechanism, the choice to stop feeling was the only way I knew to save myself. Unknowingly at the time, I began to distance myself from the people closest to me.  I began shutting out the people that cared and I started living my life shut in. Life had become a battle for survival, simply trying to survive the painful events of the past that I was reliving almost daily at the sights that surrounded me.  There was so much that would trigger these intense emotions.   Emotions that would leave me panicked, fearful, suffocated and anxious, trapped. Feelings that are beyond what I can put into words, feelings so intense I thought I might die. Or maybe, I merely wished for death so the pain, the crushing pain would stop.

There were the triggers that were part of my everyday life, the ones that I could not avoid. Every day when driving down Highway 163, the highway where the accident took place, I would think this is the last piece of earth that my husband laid eyes upon. Often, I could not stop my mind from venturing to the terror that I considered he may have lived in those last few moments. It was in everyday coming home, seeing his truck sitting in the driveway. I never once thought that he would be inside waiting for us, safe. But each day I relived the day that he did not come home at four. Relived the phone call that changed our lives, relived the sights, sounds and smells of September 27, 2013.

I remember standing at the Tulip Time parade, in May, surrounded by family and friends. Dunkin and Danick enjoying the hustle and bustle of the crowd, Dunkin anticipating the parade about to start. But the start of the parade was led by the police vehicle that was parked at the hospital that day. The sight of the flashing lights took me back to the day that vehicle greeted me in the hospital parking lot, lights flashing. In that moment I was no longer standing in the presence of family and friends at the parade, I was transfixed back to another place in time. Reliving those moments of horror. In a matter of minutes, every fear, every anxiety, and every emotion conjured up and relived in that moment, eight months later. I wanted to run but there was nowhere to run too and my legs were frozen. I wanted to cry, I needed to scream but no tears could be found, my voice silenced by the panic that enveloped my being. I was dying on the inside, I was desperate as I continued to relive the implosion of the life that I once had, but no relief could be found.

I chose to remove myself from the triggers that were so noxious not even knowing at the time why I felt such a dire need for change. My reaction to certain places, people and items in Iowa had stopped all forward movement of my life. The triggers are fewer in Texas, but they are not absent. A yellow hard hat sitting on the dash of a truck as we pass by takes me back to the day that his yellow hard hat rested on his casket and to thirteen yellow hard hats held across the hearts of linemen standing in front of their bucket trucks paying their last respects to the man I so dearly loved.   But here, I am able to find some serenity, a familiar in the unfamiliar, and a sense of peace in the unknown. It is forward movement, even if ever so slight. Here we no longer live a life shut in, afraid of the triggers.

I have known for a while that my grief was not normal. I could identify the stage of grief that I was in, but I knew that my grief was complicated although I could not identify how. I was not able to see the signs of PTSD as I was living it. The diagnosis brings relief as now I know the reason for my angst. But it also brings with it a sense of vulnerability that I have not allowed myself to feel before. If I were depressed, I could take a pill to assist in balancing the chemicals in my brain. If it were anxiety that I was experiencing I could take a pill that would assist in reducing the intensity of these feelings. But with PTSD, there is no magic cure.   It takes cognitive behavioral therapy that will take time and due diligence. But it has made sense of the feelings that I was struggling to overcome. I do not know what the future holds, it is not mine to know. But I do have hope that there will come a day when life after our loss will be less painful. That there will be a day that I will dream again and that home will once again be a place of security and comfort. But now is my time for rest and healing.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

A Letter

Hey Bubba,

 
Well, we survived our first thunderstorm without you here.  You know how much I hate storms at night.  There are so many firsts that we have made it through on our own since you have been gone.   It has been over six months now since you went home.  Being left here, is hard, but I know you are right where you belong.  It was too soon, far from our perfect timing.  I can recall every moment from those days in the hospital to the days and the week after loosing you, like it were yesterday. Yet, in so many ways, life has continued to move forward and so many changes have come that it seems much longer than six months since our world came crashing down.  I know you are watching over us every day and there are so many moments that I can see you smiling down on us.  There are also those moments that I can feel you pushing me in new directions and encouraging me to welcome each new challenge.
 
I thank God every day for giving me you and for blessing us with two sons!  Every time that I look at them I am reminded of the amazing man that you were. 
 
Dunkin is growing up so fast and what a blessing he is!!  We had Kindergarten round up last week and although I am thankful that he has the ability to learn and grow, there were a few tears at the thought of our baby being gone five days a week this fall.  He participates in Cross Fit three nights a week, that group has been a blessing!  His coach is wonderful and it is so much more than a physical release for his aggression.  They teach the children life skills and values that run much deeper than the physical exercise.  I see you in Dunkin’s strength.  For a little boy, he is a power house, physically strong just like his daddy.  I also see you in his heart.  He is a kind young man with a heart for others!  His actions and words bring me to tears at times. Last week he helped a little boy with CP and leg braces make his way up the slide at the fun factory.  And when I told him Annette’s daddy was dying of cancer he said “My daddy will be there to tell him good morning and welcome home.”  I am so proud of him and I continue to see more of you in him as he grows!  Dunkin and I reminisce and the memories make us smile!  Thank you for so many wonderful memories!
 
Danick, thank God for Danick!  My little blue eyed blonde baby boy that looks so much like you!!!!  I see him interacting with other people, loving others and I can’t help but think of how excited he would have been to see you come home at the end of each day!  You would have enjoyed him so much!  He is such a happy little boy, all the time!  He is our comic relief, his smile can make me laugh through the tears!  I see you in him, in his physical appearance, but in his demeanor as well.  I am so glad that we choose to name him Danick,he is your names sake.  He now has two teeth and three words, “mama”, “bye” and “bubba”.  He calls Dunkin “bubba” and it makes my heart happy to hear it!  It is pretty wonderful to hear “bubba” being called out in our home again!  I can’t believe our baby will be a year old in two weeks and even more so I can’t believe the changes that have come in those 365 days.  So glad that we had Danick!  Our boys are the only piece of you left on this earth and I am so thankful for them!
 
I miss you every day!  But I continue to make every decision and to live every day to make you proud.  Nothing is the same without you.  Every aspect of my life has changed in your absence.  There are days that I feel so overwhelmed.  The to do list is just as long, but you are not here to share it with.  Most days I know I am not enough, but I am trying.  There are some hard questions that lie ahead and I wish that I had the answers for them.  I have been praying pretty hard for answers!  I worry about our parents, and I worry about your dearest friends.  We all miss you, but I am reminded that you meant something different to each one of us.  You brought so much to all of our lives, but your absence has left such a large hole.  Thank you for all of the blessings that you brought into my life!  Even though you can’t be here, you left us surrounded by some truly amazing people!  I cannot thank you enough for the life that you lived, the man that you were.  Thank you for caring so well for us through your life and through your death.  Thank  you for the legacy that you left.  And thank you for bringing someone special into my life, you knew how much I missed being able to smile. 
 
I know that you are watching over us everyday and cheering us on from afar.  I know you are not truly gone, that you simply moved to the other side. 
 
Love Always,
Me

Back

The hospital, a place where I used to feel right at home.  I took great pride in being a nurse and I loved my patients and my co-workers. My career as a nurse was such a huge part of who I was. 

Being in the hospital at one time brought me a sense of purpose, these halls were once comforting and invigorating.  Now walking the halls of the hospital, I see the hurt of so many individuals and families.  My walk of confidence and purpose in these hallways has been replaced by steps of hesitation and fear. 

Our youngest son Danick was admitted to Blank Children’s Hospital yesterday for viral illnesses that were causing him to have respiratory distress, high fevers, lethargy and dehydration.  When his pediatrician made the decision to admit him to one of the hospitals in Des Moines, I knew it could not be Mercy.  I was not prepared to walk the halls of that hospital again.  However, I was not prepared when entering Blank for the nurse asking if Danick’s father would be coming to the hospital, while offering a wristband for him to wear.  Nor was I prepared for the tears that would come when asked such a simple question.  I was not prepared for a sleepless night beside Danick’s crib in a chair identical to the one that was my bed for nine nights alongside Nick in the TCU.

In the last year I have spent too much time in the hospital, vigilant at the bedside of those I love the most.  And although I had a few moments of anger and weakness last night as I reflected upon those many hours, I choose to feel blessed.  Blessed by all of the friends and family all over the world who truly love and care for us; that graciously shower us in prayers.  I am grateful for a God that has given me hope in the darkest days.  So even though I walk these halls with hesitation, I know that God is walking beside me and I choose not to fear. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Boxes

After losing Nick, one of my most difficult tasks was in packing up all of his belongings and putting them away. The shirts, shoes, hats, a baseball glove, were just material possessions, but they were symbols of the life that we had together. The life that I once lived. But out of every item that I had to pack up and put away, the most difficult possessions to fold and place in a box were our motorcycle leathers. Our Harley Davidson coats and chaps had been with us through our entire 8 year journey together. Literally, the ride of our lives! Taking those leathers off the hooks where they hung and folding them with such gentleness, as if they were fine linens, was a moment when time stopped, similar to the way it did on October 6. Our lives had been forever changed, the man that I shared so much with on this short journey we had together would never again be putting on those leathers. It was a finality, the ride of our lives had ended and was reduced to folded leather in a box. As I placed our helmets beside each other on top of our folded coats, it was the closing of a chapter, the ending of our love story.

In five months, there was just one belonging of Nick’s that I just could not pack up and put into storage. That one item being a possession that he had owned for a very short time, but in that time it had brought him such joy. That one item had given us several precious hours together as a family the month before the accident and those memories will forever be cherished! The one possession that I could not just put into a box, was Nick’s compound bow.

August 19, 2013 we celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. Unlike most couples, Nick and I headed out to Buck Hollow Sports to delve into a new hobby as a family, archery! Bows and arrows in hand, we spent that evening in the front yard as a family, loosing multiple arrows, laughing at each other’s mistakes and growing together in a new sport. Nick’s quiet, patient and gentle demeanor made archery a great sport for him! We enjoyed our time learning together and we had such big plans to hunt as a family in the future!

Sunday morning I took Nick’s bow out and shot it. Yes, the draw length was a little too long, but I was so joyful to have the strength to pull the weight! Yesterday morning I took Nick’s bow back to Buck Hollow, where Boyd will be putting on new cams and string to make the length right for me. So, this is the bow that I will shoot this year. The bow that brought one man a new enjoyment in life, if only for a short while. The bow that gave a family a new adventure to pursue together. The bow that will now bring this woman joy as every draw will remind me I have the strength, to pull the weight.

Take your bow and quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Genesis 27:3

I felt the case that will carry this bow needed to be a tribute to it’s story, here it is:

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