Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Feeling of Feeling

It feels like one of those days where I want to empty out the disorganized mess in my brain, kind of like when you look around your house and see the clutter but you just don't know where to start.  Maybe that analogy came to me now that I just watched Kiley dump her peas onto the green shag area rug....that'll be fun to tackle later....

Now where was I?  

It's Christmas again.  The first one where Kiley recognizes who Santa is, getting presents, advent calendars, pretty dresses, decorating the tree, and making gingerbread houses.  Not surprisingly though she still doesn't understand the significance of why Dada isn't here this year.  I wish I had better resources than just trying to navigate this process with my best motherly intentions.  But when a child loses a parent before they are old enough to even understand what a parent is, it challenges what we hoped our children would have grown up learning about families.  Kiley's concept of a mommy and a daddy confuses me just as much as it must confuse her.  Why is this little two year old calling me Daddy when she isn't getting her way?  Why does she call for Daddy when she's scared?  Why does she look at me with that "Todd face" and say "Daddy go home".  I'm learning with her.

And in that learning I have also accepted that I don't fit in a box.  You can't tie it up with a pretty bow and slap a tag on it.  I'm going to be sad....but more importantly I'm going to be happy.  And I am.  I'm happy that after all that we've been through that God brought to us a man who has the strength to walk beside us on this journey, accepting this life we live and sharing in it with us.  Life could have been so much simpler for him that's for sure!  

The idea of a traditional relationship is what we all want for ourselves- I would think that a man would hope for the same.  Meet a girl, fall in love, get engaged, married, kids in a few years, etc.  Well that's all kinds of backwards in our case....he found a widow with a toddler and a lot of baggage.  It will always amaze me that God brought him into our lives, when the harsh reality of dating and disappointment could so easily have been the case.  Thank you Lord for blessing us with Alex, for reassuring me that you have great plans for all our lives, and that I get to experience love in so many ways.  From the love of my family and friends, the strangers who reach out from all over the world, my beautiful daughter, and my own ability to say this: 

I love a man in Heaven- I always will.  Todd Weaver gave me more in 6 years than I could have ever imagined for myself, our daughter being the best part.  But I also love a man on Earth, his name is Alex.  I used to question those couples that "just knew" know the ones I mean.  I couldn't imagine how they were so confident in their relationships so quickly, I thought they were wreck-less and unrealistic.  It was something I didn't understand.  I get it now.  

This love doesn't replace what I had with Todd- I don't want it to.  Todd and all that we had- and some of what we didn't have- was a part of my life so that I could cherish those memories, learn from them, and grow.  One of the beautiful things about Alex is that he gets that.  His being in our lives is a gift- he is his own man different in so many ways from what we had, never replacing, but broadening and building on where we've been. 

When I saw Alex after his fourth eye surgery this past fall my heart could not ignore how much this man meant to me.  He had been forced to come home early from deployment because of the serious likelihood of blindness in that eye had immediate action not been taken.  The nature of his job carries very specific vision requirements. His own life plan had been turned upside down.  Something in me knew I was going to be there from that day forward.  For as devastating as this experience has been, both my own and now his, we lean on God and each other knowing that our plans don't have much to do with God's plans.  And it is His plan to put these challenges in our lives, building our character, creating the experiences that give our lives meaning and value.  What kind of a life are we living if we can't come out of it saying we learned a thing or two.     

Christmas is just a few short days away.  Holidays aren't ever going to be "easy" but this year I'm thankful that through it all I have been blessed with hope rather than despair.  The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated, the magic of Christmas is not lost in this house.  Alex, Kiley, and I are on our own journey and Todd's spirit will always be with us, experiencing the milestones to come right along with us.  Ups and downs, days of doubt, right beside me through the storms, divine conspiracy.  We've got this Alex...GGMY.