A Father’s Heart

IMG_8140I’ve never known a man to have such a huge father’s heart as my husband, Joe. His heart for his children knows no bounds.

From the moment the kids were born, Joe relished being a dad. Even from the minute we found out I was pregnant, he could hardly wait until the baby was born. He truly delighted in the birth of each of our kids.

He would come home after a long day of work (and a long drive home!!) and would play swamp monster, take them swimming, play ball out in the yard, wrestle on the floor, on and on. Each night was completed with Joe reading a book – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Polaris Jack, But No Elephants, Richard Scarry. If he got tired of reading the same book over and over, he’d read it backwards as the kids laughed hilariously. If he got tired of playing the same game over and over, he’d make up his own hilarious rules. His greatest joy was being the one to pray a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts. He wanted to be able to spend eternity with his children.

Once in a while, the kids and I would meet Joe downtown Seattle for lunch. We’d have lunch and then go to the Seattle Center and walk around. If Joe wasn’t busy at work, he would take the kids on the tram back to work with him to spend the rest of the day. They loved spending time with their daddy.

As they got older, he helped prepare for and host parties for the kids and their friends, helped our daughter and her friend dye their hair, polished Jason’s shoes as he got ready to go to a prom, taught each of them to ride a bike and later to drive. I couldn’t begin to list the many different ways he spent time and was involved with our kids. He loved being involved in their lives…and they loved him being involved. Always a people person, Joe could always be found in the middle of a group of kids, playing right along with them, making up games. The more the merrier, the more the fun. We rarely had a babysitter, instead taking the kids with us wherever we went. We loved having them with us.

Joe played more games of chess with Jason than I could count. He paid for the kids’ education, bought their first car for them, helped our older son start (and stay) in business, paid off his debts to help get on him feet when he was struggling. He has helped emotionally, spiritually, financially – just to name a few. To say that he was an involved dad would be an understatement…and the kids loved every minute of it. He celebrated each triumph with them and grieved each sorrow with them. To say that he loves his kids so much also would be an understatement.

Joe struggled terribly when Jason died. He was so devastated. I was so worried about him. He went back to work – and Jenna and I went back to school – a week after the accident. I think we all tried to jump back in too early, but we didn’t know any different. Joe had an hour and a half drive to and from work, his route taking him by either the cemetery or the accident site every day. Many days he would come home from work, and I knew he had been crying.

102_0734.JPGJoe told me once that he always imagined our house in Snohomish being filled with our kids and grandkids. He was looking forward to being a grandpa. He could picture it filled with family and friends.

After Jason died, the emptiness echoed around us. Our friends disappeared and left us alone. Our daughter was busy with school, working and taking dance lessons. Our older son had moved out not long after his son was born. He, too, went to school, worked a labor-intensive job and helped take care of his son, Michael. Although we have three grandchildren now and have tried to stay in touch and have a relationship with them, it has been difficult. With long distance relationships, it takes encouragement from parents and effort on all parties for it to work. Much to our sorrow, it just hasn’t happened very much. Let’s just say it’s not the ideal Norman Rockwell grandparent-grandchild relationship. It’s very sad.

Yesterday, our new neighbors (who have bought the property across the street and will be building a house there) came by their property to play in the creek. They are a young couple with two adorable children and stop by regularly for picnics and to let the kids play by the creek. I notice Joe periodically looking longingly out the window at them, wishing he could be a part of the fun. We had to run some errands and Joe saw a sporting goods store that had big balls in bins in front of the store for sale. He went over to look at them, thinking to buy one for the kids to play with. Since we try very hard to not encroach on their privacy, especially since they usually bring friends with them, Joe decided not to buy one. He was very quiet on the way home and I could tell how much he misses being around “young people” and especially kids. He wants to be the grandpa that hangs out and plays with his grandkids. He was just so sad.

We miss getting together with people. We miss being around young people. We miss our kids. We always thought we would continue the fun of raising our kids once our grandkids were born. It just hasn’t happened that way. Our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids live all the way across the country and it continues to be a difficult situation. Jason he is gone. He will never get married. He will never have kids. He would have been a great dad. Our daughter and son-in-law live four hours away. They have made a decision not to have kids, and we respect their decision. This coronavirus thing has made it difficult to see them. Both Joe and I have been horribly burned by people we trusted and struggle with trusting friendships. As a result, we really don’t have any close friends and are alone a lot of the time.

fullsizeoutput_c607We just celebrated our 44th anniversary. I love this man more than I could ever put into words. We have been through ups and downs, many moves hither and yon, difficult things no parent should face, health issues, on and on. We have survived and I love him more today than when we got married.

I heard this song the other day and thought of Joe when I heard it. It’s written in the form of a rhetorical question – Could I Love You Any More? – to which the answer is: I don’t know how I could love him any more than I already do. I love him with my whole heart.

Seven billion people in the world
Finding you is like a miracle
Only this wonder remains

Could I love you any more? (Question’s rhetorical)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, this feels phenomenal)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Could I love you any more? (It’s inexhaustible)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, love is unstoppable)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Wishing happy Father’s Day to my precious hubby. I wish I could take away your sadness and fill the gaps left by Jason’s death. You are an amazing man and I am so thankful for you.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Memorial Day 2020

As we drove home today following a weekend visit with our daughter and son-in-law, we passed a church with a Memorial Day marquee that said:

Instead of mourning their death, thank God they lived.

I have to admit that I struggle with not letting sayings like this really irritate me. To me – and I’m speaking strictly in my own humble opinion – people who spout sayings like this (or in this case put on a church marquee) have no idea what it’s like to deeply mourn the loss of a dearly loved person, especially the death of a child. A saying like this could easily be interpreted as condemnation for someone who is mourning. At best, those saying things like this are horribly misinformed. At worst, it’s a slap in the face for those grieving the loss of a loved one.

Mourning the death of a loved one and being thankful that they lived is not an either/or situation. I am so thankful that Jason was born. I am so incredibly thankful he was born into our family. Being thankful for his life doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn his death or that I don’t miss him every day of my life. It’s an awfully huge assumption that both grief and thankfulness cannot co-exist.

Those who mourn should not to be judged or condemned for not being thankful. The Bible calls those who mourn blessed. Consider the words of Jesus said in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=NIV

Hugs to all of you missing dearly loved ones today.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

 

 

The Wariness of Grief

In one of the homeschool groups we were in when the kids were younger, there was one mom who seemed to me to be quite distant. I didn’t understand it, since her kids were similar ages to my kids and they all were part of the largest group of kids in the entire homeschool group. Her kids and our kids were friends, and her daughters were outgoing and friendly. We all were part of one of the largest homeschool groups in the state of Washington and belonged to a co-op where our kids attended certain classes with other homeschool students.

While we moms would sit around tables and talk while our kids were in classes, this mom would mostly sit in her car by herself. If she did come and join us, she was fairly quiet. She was friendly enough, but there seemed to be a wall between us. One day she told us about her older son who had died in a car accident. It was heartbreaking to hear and hard for her to tell. In my mind, however, I didn’t put together her wariness/guardedness and the death of her child until it happened to me. Grief has changed me and wariness/guardedness is one of these changes.

This article showed up on my Facebook this morning, and I thought it gave some insight into one of the ways in which bereaved parents change. I hope you will take time to read it.

Sadly, experience has taught me to be wary even of people I’ve known a long time. I have been surprised by those I was formerly close to who have hurt me or disappointed me. Or who have disappeared. So, I wear my mask and conduct myself carefully.

The Wariness of Grief:

https://www.compassionatefriends.org/blog/the-wariness-of-grief/?fbclid=IwAR1Ek54UNTCHiyfH8Jyr9wi3gZ0eckKy841iHG1ZEZpW2wRUDZuQa4ugrT8

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Wishes…

I look at the pictures of Jason on my Nixplay digital photo as they rotate in the frame that sits right by my desk at work. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time to hug that precious little boy, tickle that cute little guy under his chin and hear his infectious laugh, play a card or board game with my lover of all games, bake chocolate chip cookies with my beautiful boy, sit and watch a movie, just BE together doing anything.

I love looking at the pictures, but some days the pain of his absence is almost too much to bear. Photographs and memories will never take the place of actually spending time with my precious boy.

I love you, my precious boy. I miss you with all my heart.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

My heart is not immune to the pain

IMG_1352After 18 years, you would think the pain would be less. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s just not. Some days the pain of Jason’s absence is excruciating. Yesterday was the anniversary of Jason’s death. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and cried and cried. I went to work with puffy eyes, doing my best to pull myself together and do the best job I could.

For some reason, today has been worse than yesterday. I’ve been on the verge of tears all day. My Nixplay digital photo frame that sits right beside my computer monitor at work shuffles the pictures I have on it. There are pictures taken recently, but there are also pictures of my precious boy. I have recent memories and photos of things we’ve done, but I have no memories and no photos of Jason since March 3, 2002. Pictures are no substitute for the real thing. Pictures of Jason over the years make me miss him so much.  As I said yesterday:

Whatever memories and photographs we have of Jason are the only ones we will ever have. There are no graduation, wedding, birth of children, family or holiday celebrations or any other memories or photographs we will ever have of Jason past the date of March 3, 2002. The opportunity for additional memories and photographs died right along with Jason, along with his future. In our minds, Jason will forever be 19 years old.

Perhaps it’s the awareness that we are approaching the date when Jason’s absence from this earth will be equal to the time he was here on it. I long for the day when I will see him again.

It’s been a really rough year or so for us – my husband’s heart attack, difficult work issues, money issues, health issues, chronic pain issues that I’m dealing with, and more issues than I care to share. I feel an unsettledness in my soul that just won’t go away. I long for something to go right, a break from the constant struggle to keep my head above water and my heart right. I long to lay down in that pleasant pasture beside still waters to just rest for a while. I have no idea where that is or if it even exists. This rough and rocky road I’ve walked on for so long is getting very wearisome and shows no sign of ever ending until I step from this earth to join Jason.

I look at the pictures from when Jason was alive and realize I really had no idea how really great I had it at that time. I had a vague sense that God’s hand of blessing and protection was upon me and my family, but now I feel like I didn’t appreciate to the fullest how wonderful that was until God removed his blessing and protection from me and Jason died. I had no idea the hell we would be required to walk through when Jason died and in the years since then. We’ve had too many days when it’s just a plain struggle to get up in the morning and keep on going.

18 years. Can it really be 18 years?

I miss you, my precious boy, more than words can say.

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~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

 

Longings

Jason David Carney

July 29, 1982 – March 3, 2002

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I wrote this last year and wanted too share it again. 18 years. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. I miss Jason as much – if not more – than I did on that fateful day he was taken from us, March 3, 2002. My heart breaks with his absence every single day. My arms long to hug him tight. My eyes long to look into his beautiful blue eyes. I long to see his beautiful smile, to hear his musical laughter. Oh, how I miss you, my precious boy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 3, 2019

I’m going to be honest. This is a really rough time of year for me. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Jason’s and Alina’s deaths at the hand of a drunk driver.

“Anniversary” is such an out-of-place word to use when talking about the death of a child. “Anniversary” is usually used in conjunction with a happy occasion. If a person says, “It’s my anniversary,” there is an automatic assumption that that person is celebrating the number of years he or she has been married. It’s a happy occasion commemorated with dinner and gifts and congratulations.

I know people use the word “anniversary” when talking about other things, too, though. 9/11. War events. Floods. Mud slides. Not every anniversary is celebratory.

For the first couple of years, I hated the 3rd of every month, beginning with that first March 3, 2002. It marked a horrifically agonizing, lonely, and excruciatingly painful time – Jason had been gone one month, two months, three months. At the two year mark, I sort of switched to years. Two years, two and a half years, three years. It sort of reminded me of the way I marked the ages of our kids when they were little – giving their ages as so many months and then switching to so many years. Instead of marking the celebration of life, it marked the number of agonizing days we had walked the earth without Jason.

Jason has now been gone 17 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. It seems like forever ago…and yet yesterday. I still tend to rebel against even the thought of it. I remember that day as clear as a bell, every single thing. My heart is still so broken. I miss him so much. Grief lasts as long as love does – forever – and we will forever have a Jason-sized hole in our lives. He had so much of life to live, so much to give. As one friend said, “The world is a darker place without him in it.”

I hope you will take time to remember Jason and Alina tomorrow, the lives they lived and the people they were. We, their families, are the “keepers of the memories.” I’m sure each and every bereaved mother or father would say that one of their greatest concerns is that their child will be forgotten as the world moves on without them.

If you would like to honor Jason tomorrow, you could play a game of chess (Jason’s favorite game), bake and share some chocolate chip cookies (Jason loved to bake chocolate chip cookies), give someone some flowers (Jason generously gave flowers to those he loved), share an act of kindness (Jason was the most kind and loving person I have ever known), be nice to a stranger (Jason knew no strangers), hug your family and friends tight (Jason gave awesome hugs), listen to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” or many other songs he loved.

If you are so inclined, you could take time to write down a favorite memory or two to send to Jason’s and Alina’s families. No matter how long or how many years it’s been, we would love to hear them. Our address is 2154 Emma’s Grove Road, Fairview, NC 28730.

Julie Lindsey, a homeschool mom, generously gave and prepared a scrapbook for Marie and me. She asked us what we would like in them. I had asked that the scrapbook contain photos I didn’t have and written memories about Jason from those who knew him. It just happened to be around the time when people were writing victim advocate statements to present to the court for the sentencing of the young man who killed Jason and Alina, so most of the efforts went to writing letters to the court. I am very thankful for those who wrote to the court and have copies of all of those letters. It was a lot to ask for at that time.

Whatever memories and photographs we have of Jason and Alina are the only ones we will ever have. There are no graduation, wedding, birth of children, family or holiday celebrations or any other memories or photographs we will ever have of Jason past the date of March 3, 2002. The opportunity for additional memories and photographs died right along with Jason, along with his future. In our minds, Jason will forever be 19 years old.

Thank you for taking the time to remember Jason and Alina. We appreciate it.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney