Luke the Lion

May 3, 2011

Luke gets to play the lead role in his kindergarten play tonight!  He’s excited, has been learning songs and lines, and is ready for the stage.  Both sets of grandparents will be here to cheer him on.  Thought you’d like to see a picture:

Watching a wedding (no, not THAT one)

April 30, 2011

“Oh my goodness, she’s not here.”

There are moments where Susan’s absence is still shocking to me.  There are times when I suddenly say that phrase to myself, or even out loud.  I have to remind myself that she’s not on some long trip, getting ready to return safely home.  It’s those times that make me realize that, even though we are four months (wow, four months!) away from her death, the totality of this loss I haven’t nearly absorbed.

I’ve been watching a couple of videos this week.  My buddy John loaned me his VHS-DVD recorder, so I’ve been converting some old tapes.  (The kids hardly know what a VHS tape is.)  One is from 1995, our wedding.  Another is from the summer of 1998 – a trip Susan and I took to Maine.

It’s kind of funny that, with all of the hoopla of the royal wedding this week, the only one I wanted to watch was my own.  And this, more to get a glimpse of her again.  To remember not only her face, but how she moved, walked, looked at people, smiled.  Photos don’t necessarily capture those small, important things.  When I look at pictures of Susan, I tend to look not only at her face, but at things like how her arms rest around the kids, or how her hand holds mine, things like that.

I’ve probably watched the vacation one more, though.  We traded off narrating the video for our folks – this magical trip to beautiful Bar Harbor.

It’s amazing what you forget over the years.  Especially when you deal with something like cancer, which, as hard as you fight it, still attaches its ugliness to your life in ways that degrade and debilitate you.  Not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, relationally.  Like a hundred-pound backpack you have to carry every day.  It changes you, as much as you don’t want it to.  There are days when you look up and wonder, Now, who did I used to be?  Who did we used to be?   (Not unlike what sin does to us too, but that’s probably another post)

When I saw that video for the first time in thirteen years, the image of Susan on the screen synced up with what has been in my head.  In other words, this is how I remember her.  The video put a visual to my memory.  Smiling, laughing, care-free Susan; silly, self-deprecating, sweet, honest Susan.  Joltingly beautiful, and completely unaware of it.  It’s in her laugh, her funny comments, how relaxed she was.  The light that radiated from her face.

And sad to say, I don’t think I’d watched our wedding video for at least that long.  We just didn’t watch it every year on our anniversary or anything, but I wish we had.  Seeing the love we had for each other in our eyes, the love that never faded through any of this…it makes me feel blessed, grateful, and proud.  It reminds me how our relationship started, and what it was built on.  We were amazingly in love; we had so much in common, and laughed a lot; there was so much joy there; we respected one another immensely; and spiritually, we were in sync.  We both knew the Lord and wanted the other to grow, more than anything.

In marriages, in relationships, we forget why we are together.  Life happens, kids happen, a tragedy takes place, whatever…and plaque builds up on our hearts.  We forget what brought us together in the first place.  Maybe we should take more time to revisit what brought us together in the first place.  Spending time remembering why we love one another is time well-spent.  Go back to those places that remind us of those things.

I think it’s like that with God too.  We get busy and forget that the primary thing that defines our relationship with God is love.  He wants a joyful, love relationship with me.  But I let life get in the way, tragedy, questions, busyness, whatever – and then I wonder Now, what happened to my relationship with God?

In Revelation 2, the writer speaks to the church and basically says, “You’ve busied yourselves by doing some really good things.”  But then:

“I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”  (Rev 2:4)  

Any relationship with God is rooted in love.  His love for you.  Your love for Him.  There should be a joy, an innocence, a beauty, a wildness to it.

May you and I both discover – or in some cases, rediscover – our first love, in the God who first loved us.


Dancing in the Minefields

April 26, 2011

Well I was 19 you were 21 
The year we got engaged 
Everyone said we were much to young 
But we did it anyway 
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road 
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago 

We went dancing in the minefields 
We went sailing in the storm 
And it was harder than we dreamed 
But I believe that’s what the promise is for 

Well I do what I do are the famous last words 
The beginning of the end 
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin 
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down 
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found 
 
And we’re dancing in the minefields 
We’re sailing in the storm 
This is harder than we dreamed 
But I believe that’s what the promise is for 
That’s what the promise is for 

So when I lose my way, find me 
When I loose my chains, bind me 
At the end of all my faith 
to the end of all my days 
when I forget my name, remind me 

Cause we bear the light of the son of man 
So there’s nothing left to fear 
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands 
Till the shadows disappear 
Cause he promised not to leave us 
And his promises are true 
So in the face of all this chaos baby 
I can dance with you 

So lets go dancing in the minefields 
Lets go sailing in the storms 
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields 
And kicking down the doors 
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields 
And sailing in the storms 
Oh this is harder than we dreamed 
But I believe that’s what the promise is for 
That’s what the promise is for

Andrew Peterson


Random Rundown

April 13, 2011
  • Only two more days until spring break starts.  The kids are ready, and I think I am too.  We’ll visit my folks some of the time, and be here most of next week – no really big travel plans.
  • My dad turned 75 this week, and we’ll be celebrating him with family this weekend.  Happy birthday, dad!
  • I was shocked to find out that Char-Grill is opening in Davidson next week.  If you’re from Raleigh, nothing more needs to be said.  But for the rest of you, this place is really, really good.  One of the best burgers you’ll ever eat.  Susan and I went here a bunch in Raleigh through the years.  Can’t wait to introduce the kids.
  • I turned in a big revision of my book today.  Glad to have that off my plate and on to book #2.
  • I played golf for the first time in basically a year and a half yesterday.  Mostly terrible golf, but great company (thanks Scott!).  I will say, though, that I eagled the par-5 17th at Birkdale…first time I’ve had one of those in years and years.  Chipped in from 50 yards.  Those will bring you back to the course.  I haven’t felt much like playing, but once I was out there, I remembered why I love this sport so much.
  • We have some really good friends.  I’m grateful for those relationships, now maybe more than ever.  You are all holding us up, and we love you for it.
  • Luke was selected to be the lead in the kindergarten play this year – Maliki the Lion.  He is quite excited about it.  Especially because he gets to use a microphone.  I’m sure he’ll do great – hopefully I’ll be able to make it through.  This is something Susan would have absolutely LOVED to see.  I’m sure she’ll be there in spirit, cheering her boy on.
  • I’m doing some counseling right now – first time I’ve ever done that.  I can honestly say that it has been a really good experience.  It’s helped me to know that I have a time when I know for sure every week that someone is going to ask me questions about Susan, and how I’m doing.  I have friends who do this too, but it’s nice to have that time slated every week.  If you ever find yourself stuck and in need of help in an area of your life, I’d highly recommend these folks – The Barnabas Center.
  • Susan’s sister Dana comes in at the end of next week.  We always look forward to her being here.  We’ll do some fun stuff with the kids and she helps take the pressure off of a lot of the daily grind kinds of things around here.
  • A huge pile of laundry has been in the dryer since last night.
  • A friend of ours wrote and told me that one of her memories of Susan is from the neighborhood babysitting co-op we used to be in.  They were sending around a bunch of “get-to-know-you” questions to each other, and one of them was “What do you collect?”  Susan’s answer:  “Dust”.  Made me laugh out loud – she had a great sense of humor, and it helps me not put so much pressure on myself to try to have it all together here.
  • I think I miss laughing with her the most.
  • We see Susan’s parents 1-2 times a week.  They usually come one day a week to meet the kids after school, make dinner, and give me some extra time to get things done.  What a great blessing they are.
  • I’m reminded all over the place that no matter what, God is faithful.  I’d have to have my eyes closed to miss it.

The Boat

April 7, 2011

A couple of summers ago, our family went out on the lake with some friends on a hot summer day.  We had a great time, the kids getting towed and trying knee-boarding for the first time.  I worked a little on my basic wakeboarding skills (which consist of getting up on the board, hanging on for dear life, and collapsing into the water), we ate lunch on the lake, got a little sunburned, and enjoyed our day.

I had a picture appear in my mind today while I was driving.  It was of my family on a boat.  Let’s call it Life Before.  The five of us, cruising along toward a common destination, laughing, having fun, hitting an occasional wave, enjoying each other.  There aren’t many clouds in the sky, the sun is strong and warm.  The world seems safe.  There is no sign of trouble ahead.  Only smooth waters.

What could possibly go wrong?

The next image that came was what I suppose we can call Life After.  The boat is gone – it doesn’t exist any more.  Except, that is, in pieces all around me in the water.  Something’s happened.  It’s been shredded.  The safety that our ship gave us is gone.  I’m in the water, hanging onto one of the larger pieces.  Waves are steady, crashing over my head.  Air is difficult to find.  There are moments where I admit that I just want to let go.  And sink.  To close my eyes and not wake up again until I’m on the other side.  The air has turned cold, so much that when I can breathe, it hurts.

But I don’t let go.

Our children are out there too, in the water, holding on to bits and pieces of boat.  Pieces that look familiar, but don’t fit together any more.  Thank God, I find them near me in the water.  I want to let go, but I don’t, because they are here.  They need me to hold on.  Knowing that gives me enough strength to at least function.  I pull them in, I pull us together, and we grab onto whatever we can.  To the pieces of our Life Before.  To each other.

They are cold, in shock, dazed, scared.  They don’t know where they are.  We don’t have to say it to each other – we all were thrown into the water from the wreck, but one of us is missing.

The boat doesn’t get fixed in a day, or a year.  It never will look the same.  But we are holding onto each other, and the pieces that we find.  Some days we paddle, while others, we just tread.  There won’t be a rescue boat to come by and make things like they were.  We are rebuilding, but it will take time.  (A life-time, I think)

This is the image I had the other day.  I almost hesitated to post it – it seems so depressing. Just know that I’m truly not trying to illicit sympathy with this.  There are moments when it feels hopeless, yes.  But there are more times where God does remind us in different ways that we are going to make it.  And while we weren’t ever promised the luxury liner of a life, there is much to be hopeful about.  I just want to give you a little more insight into where we are these days.  And also, so you can know that there are lots of people around us experiencing all kinds of loss.  For me, it feels like this right now, and for them, it may feel similar.  If this can help you understand the process of grief a little more, then it’s worth it for me to share.

Susan + God

March 30, 2011

So many of our friends along the way have made comments related to Susan’s relationship with God.  So many people along the way have said, “I wish I had that kind of faith.”  Or “I wish I could make that kind of impact.”

Just want to say here, on this gloomy Wednesday morning, that I do too.

I spent some time yesterday reading back through some of her blog posts.  I hadn’t done that in awhile.  There are memories that stir that are so strong I can practically feel them.  They’re as warm as this hot cup of Starbucks in my hand right now.

Today, I find myself missing the way that she was with God.  How she felt about Him.  How she knew He felt about her.  This relationship she had.  I’m realizing, all over again, what a rare thing this was.  Maybe, seeing it every day, I took it for granted.

She had a “thing” with Him, you see.  Even though she shared her relationship with God with me, she knew Him before she ever knew me.  And He knew her longer than that, of course.  She spoke with Him, every day.  She read His love letter to her, she let the words pour into her heart, she stood on them.  She rested in them.  Her first love was not me.  (I was her second 🙂 )  It was her Lord.  He was her first, best, and closest Friend.

And all of this, long before cancer.

She encouraged me in my relationship with God – she inspired me, just like many of you.  I had a front-row seat to something beautiful.  Breath-taking, is actually the word I want to use.

I miss talking to her about what she was learning.  I miss seeing her open up her Bible and sit quietly, taking notes.  I miss praying together at night in our bed.  I miss the tender words she used with Him.  I miss the way that she prayed for me.  Her genuine, authentic, humble connection with God challenged me in so many ways.  She sharpened me.  Days when I doubted God’s goodness, or even His presence, I would just have to look at her, and the doubts would melt.

Her life was, at the end of the day, defined by her intimacy with her loving, gracious, good God.

May that be true of me – and please God, for our children – the rest of our days.

 

 

Time

March 28, 2011

I heard that old song “Time” by Hootie and the Blowfish the other day.  As I sat in the car and relived 1993 for a minute (or whenever that song was around), I also found myself agreeing.

Time…you ain’t no friend of mine…

These last couple of months, time has just kind of messed with me.  Things seem to speed up or slow down.  It’s been almost three months since Susan died.  It seems like yesterday.  It seems like a thousand years ago.  I’ve forgotten things, more than ever before.  I’ve been two weeks late on things.  In one case I was one week early on something.  I have everything plugged into my calendar on my phone, so it’s not a scheduling issue.  It’s a memory thing, I guess.  Or a catching-up-to-the-speed-of-everyone-else thing.

The time we spent in the hospital (20 days, from Dec 13 – Jan 1) seem like…I don’t know what…time spent in a different galaxy, or maybe like time spent in the space ship that travels to another world.  Where time gets compressed and distorted and you get there and you have no idea how long you’ve actually been in the ship.  Everyone’s operating on a different wavelength than you.  (vice-versa, I guess)  That’s how this feels some days.  Like I’m a step slower than everything and everybody.

Part of it may be that people simply move on.  I see that all around me – it’s just what happens.  I don’t fault anyone for it.  And yet, I can’t – or I won’t – do it.  There is no “moving on” here.  That phrase doesn’t fit.  Only ones like “living with”  or “dealing with” seem to make sense.

2 Peter 3:8 says “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Here’s to being able to see, and experience, time like God does.

(The time’s ticking on this blog, by the way.  I don’t know how much longer it makes sense to keep this up here.  I may switch it over to my own at some point.  Which means I need to revive that one, since it’s pretty much dead right now.  I’ll keep you posted on that.)

Bananas

March 24, 2011

My friend Richard was over the other day.  He and his wife Kathy are great friends and have really supported us through Susan’s cancer journey.  They lost their son nine years ago in an awful car accident, and because of that are no strangers to grief.  He told me the other day that their son, Ryan, was absolutely crazy about bananas.  That they couldn’t ever keep enough around the house.  He loved them.  So anytime they saw bananas, especially right after he died, it was this automatic and tangible reminder of Ryan.

I’ve had a lot of those same experiences.  When you come across something, maybe unexpectedly, and it triggers an emotion, or even a feeling of Susan’s presence.  It’s one of the powerful, painful things about all of this.  Sometimes these “bananas” sneak up on me, and I’ll get this strong sense of her.  I love these moments.

Here are a few of the things that have reminded me of her lately:

-homemade country style steak

-any Sugarland song

-watching NCAA basketball

-walking the campus at Chapel Hill

-our 1998 Toyota Sienna

-mowing the grass for the first time this year

-her Life is Good hat

-daisies

-pink pajamas

If you knew Susan, I’d love to hear the things that have reminded you of her lately.

Signing Day

March 16, 2011

This is a fun picture to post:


This is the kids helping me sign a book contract with Thomas Nelson Publishers!

I finally got the completed contract and was able to sign it yesterday and send it in.  I wrote about it awhile back here, so I won’t bore you with re-hashed details.  In short, it’s a two-book deal that will be the beginning of a middle-grade action/adventure series about a boy who discovers he is part angel.  The first one should be out late winter/early spring 2012.

Thanks Martha (Susan’s mom), for snapping the picture.  It was special for me because she also got to sign the contract as a “witness”.  Susan would have been the one to do that, so it was neat that her mom was able to instead.

How Samsung is saving me right now

March 14, 2011

So, I’m doing laundry right now.  I hate laundry.  Always have.  Susan was well-aware of this, and we had a deal.  I mowed the grass.  She did the laundry.  (As I am realizing, I got the better end of that one.  Remember the criminal asylum in Silence of the Lambs?  Several of those guys were in there because they went nutso while trying to separate 9 and 6-year old boys’ socks and underwear from each other.)  ((double-parentheses – that would have made Susan chuckle))

What I will say, though, is that this new washer and dryer we have is actually making it bearable.  The ad for these Samsung babies says they will handle like 17 pairs of jeans at once (not kidding).  So I am putting them to the test – which means jamming as much as I dare in there at once and seeing what happens.  So far, so good.  The old dryer we had – a load like that would take probably 3 rounds of drying.  This one only takes one.  Thank you Samsung!  (And my Lowes friends who recommended them)

Why am I telling you all of this?  I’m not sure – but on nights when I don’t blog here (which has been a lot lately), chances are I am doing laundry, cleaning up from dinner, or some other homemaking task.  (I got a new vacuum cleaner too, by the way.  It is a beast.  OK, enough with the parenthetical statements.  But if you want to talk home appliances and such, I guess I’m your guy.)

Basically I’m just feeling the need to check in here and say that we are doing okay.  Just okay.  I’ve said this before, and it’s been said to me – this is nowhere near a linear process.  I think from the outside in, we may expect people to get better and better and better with each day that goes by.  I can’t say that’s the case.  In fact, as I sit here, it’s been 73 days since Susan died.  And in some ways I think it is just beginning to hit us.  The four of us are having moments of realization that, at different times, have hit us heavily.

“She’s not coming back.  Ever.”  That’s what these moments of clarity tell us.  The finality of death is crushing at times.

Of course, those moments are intermingled with a lot of other good things.  Life is moving, as it always does, and here are a few things we’ve been doing:

-a trip to Raleigh to celebrate multiple birthdays in my family

-I saw comedian Brian Regan live with my sister in Durham – fun, funny night with her

-I went to the Duke-Carolina game in Chapel Hill – forever indebted to James, my brother-in-law, for that ticket

-Also got to see Maryland-Carolina with my buddy John

-took Luke to Duke Hospital again regarding the swelling in his foot – it seems a little better.  They are still stumped, but not overly-concerned.  It is not slowing him down.

-kids are all playing soccer, which makes Saturdays interesting – so far, so good – they’re all having fun

-Lake Norman Community Church is going well – what a terrific group of people I get to serve with

-I turned in what I hope to be the final draft of novel #1 to Thomas-Nelson – getting ready to start the groundwork for #2

-took the kids to the Bobcats-Clippers game last week (notice a trend here?  Darn it, wasn’t going to use parentheses again…)

-enjoyed another visit from Aunt Dana, and looking forward to the next one

And a bunch of other stuff…

So…that’s a little from the Law family home front.  A mixed-up mess of good and bad.  I’ll check in again this week.  Love you all.