(I know it has been a long time since I wrote here at My Blessings From Above if you are still here and reading, thank you. There have been big changes in my life in the past 7 months. My plan is to get back to posting regularly. Probably not daily, but maybe once or twice a week..I hope you’ll stick around)
You read the year right….May 19th 1984. The day two young people stood before God, family and friends and vowed to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.
I was almost 22 and Larry was 23…we were young and looking back did not have a clue about what those vows truly meant. On the surface we understood them, but you know being young and in love and ready to conquer the world we knew everything and had it all together. Ahem…..not quite!However you could never have convinced my almost 22 year old self of that! Fast forward to today 31 years later and here I am alone on what would have been our 31st wedding anniversary.
A little bit of back story for those of you who may not know. Almost 7 months ago on October 24th, Larry had a massive heart attack and passed away. Just like that. He went to work early that morning and by 3 pm I was at the hospital listening to the emergency room doctor utter the words no one ever wants to hear. “I’m sorry Mrs. Gerrells we have done all we can for your husband”. NO! NO! NO! This was not happening to me. I didn’t get to say goodbye! We have two boys to raise! They were 13 and 9! They needed their dad! I needed my husband! I’m only 52. How could this happen? It was all very surreal. I had just earlier that afternoon returned from taking my dad to his first week of radiation for his recent diagnosed lung and brain cancer just a week prior. This just could not be happening! But it was and it did. There was nothing I could do to stop it. It was like being blindsided by a bus. I did not see that coming! We were parted by death.
Oh that I could reverse time….go back just a little bit. Just for a minute. So I could say goodbye, tell Larry that I loved him just one more time give the boys just a little more time with their dad. But it was not to be.
So here I am in 2015 on May 19th remembering my wedding day and wondering how I got here. My situation is not unique…I am sure there are many widows my age and I am certainly not the first woman to become a widow.
Still…it seems a bit unfair…but God never promised fairness or an easy life. I’m no different than you are. I’m not so special that bad things should never happen to me. But still…it is unfair. Unfair to my boys who need their dad. Unfair that I don’t have my husband…..however life goes on….as I have seen in my own life. We have been moving forward, each day just a few little steps at a time.
Let’s go back to 1984 for a minute to our wedding day. It rained in the morning, but by noon the sun was shining. (the wedding was at 1) I got dressed at our church parsonage along with my bridesmaids. My in-laws were separated at the time and my mother-in-law swore she would not attend the wedding. She did and between her and my father-in-law we had an interesting couple of minutes at the church. At one point during the ceremony the entire wedding party sat down. I went to sit down and could not. Larry was standing on my train of my gown and I said as much in what I thought was a quiet voice and the entire church heard me announce that he was standing on my train! There was some laughter over that!
The car we used was my Uncle Sam and Aunt Elaine’s. When they dropped my cousin off at the church (she was my maid of honor) the car would not shut off. So when they returned later for the wedding the car ran during the entire service!
During reception my mother-in-law caught the bouquet and Larry was kind enough to shove cake in my face! I wore cowboy boots with gold boot tips under my gown and my grandma made sure everyone in attendance knew it! I spent quite a bit of time showing guests my boots!
After the reception we stayed and helped my parents clean up the hall we had rented as there was an event there the next day. There is a picture somewhere of me in my wedding gown pushing a broom! Don’t all new brides sweep up after their reception? After we left the hall we spent a romantic evening at the grocery store getting some items to take with us on our honeymoon. We were poor and in love and had a frugal honeymoon planned! We spent our honeymoon at the beach in Wildwood, NJ. It rained while we were there…we didn’t care. We walked the boardwalk with umbrella’s which of course I got my hair caught in.
We had a great marriage. Was it perfect? NO did we fight? YES! But you know what I married a great man. I really did. He was flawed just like me. We loved each other in spite of our flaws or maybe because of them. I told him numerous times that I don’t know why he put up with me because there were times I could not put up with myself. But Larry did. Always. He always told me he loved me. Even when I didn’t deserve it.
Larry was kind and giving, generous and faithful. He would help anyone in need and always took time for people. He left me a note just about every morning of our married life. He was a pure romantic and loved happy endings, especially those sappy predictable ones. He was also very stubborn-I don’t want you to think he was perfect, but he was perfect for me. I like to think our personalities complimented each other. He put up with my crazy sense of humor.
There are so many things I miss about him. He laugh, his smile, his sense of humor. His yelling at hockey and football games on television. (I tried explaining to him many times that they could not hear him, but he seemed to think they could?) His unfailing love for me, in spite of me. He was quick to forgive (I can’t always say that about myself) and quick to compliment. He always complimented and encouraged me. I swear I could have worn a bag over my head or cooked a horrible meal (I can recall a really bad meatloaf I made!) and he would always say it was wonderful! Larry was a hand holder. I miss that. Oh how I miss that! One thing I thought about the other day was that he never called me Michele, he always called me Shell. I miss that so much and no one calls me Shell much these days. Isn’t it funny the things you think about and remember.
Larry was an awesome dad. He loved his boys so much. He was worse than I was the day both of them came home. He sure loved a happy ending!! And Justin and Kaden made his life complete!
I think of him a thousand times a day. Remembering…..
We were married for 17 years before we started our family, that in itself is a story but I’ll save that for another time. I think of things I want to tell him. What I have learned, what the boys are doing and what is going on in our lives. I miss his comforting presence. I do journal and write down my memories and current feelings.
We had 30 years together, that is a long marriage. I thought we would see our kids grow up and see those milestones so many families have. Their children graduating from grammar, high school and college, seeing them get married and start their own families. Growing old together. It was not meant to be. I don’t know why. Only God knows that.
So here I am today, May 19th. 2015….we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Kaden’s 10th birthday. Justin is graduating 8th grade and summer is coming….so many milestones we have celebrated with out Larry, in just about 7 short months. My beautiful cousin Carolyn passed away 2 months to the day that Larry did on Christmas Eve and my dad is fading away in a nursing home from this cancer that is taking his life. My boys have suffered so much loss in these short months since last October, with more suffering to come, and the changes in the world since Larry’s passing are staggering.
My boys are learning to live life without their dad and I am learning that I can do things I never thought I could do. My heart is broken for myself, but especially for my boys. They need their dad. But life does not stop for my wants…it goes on.
I am so thankful for the continued support of many dear friends, my church and fire company families, I could not do this without that support. There have been some men who have placed themselves in my boys lives to give them what I cannot and for that I am more thankful than they will ever know.
So I celebrate alone. Remembering a good marriage and a wonderful man. I won’t forget him or our time together. Even though I wanted much more I am blessed with the time I had. Many people don’t get 30 years or decide their marriage is not worth it anymore. I will do everything in my power to help my boys remember their dad and to teach them what he wanted them to know.
I have to admit that when I see a couple together young or old I am envious of their relationship, their obvious love for one another. I miss that so much. But I try to remember that I was (and still am) so blessed to have had a wonderful marriage.
One last thing, I do have hope…hope in Jesus that someday I will see Larry again. We will be together again in heaven. In the meantime I guess my work here not done. I have boys to raise and God to trust in.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity