Setting out on a journey of prayer

May 30, 2015 | My Jottings

As summer approaches and the sun rises so early in the mornings now, often the birdsong wakes me. I looked at the clock this morning after I pried my dry eyes open and was surprised to see the time was 5:51, and the sun was already brightly streaming through my bedroom windows and the birds were singing their praises.

I scuffed to the kitchen in my Acorn slippers, fed Edith and Millie and let them out, began to get breakfasts ready, and sat for a few minutes at the kitchen table to look out toward Lake Superior. I could tell the humidity is lower today because the Lake is a deep, sapphire blue, rather than the silvery grey it appears when moisture hangs in the air. There are lilacs blooming all over our neighborhood, along with apple trees in our yard, and the pinks and purples and whites are so lovely. They make me wish I had a long lane bordered on both sides with blooming trees like in Anne of Green Gables. And I wouldn’t mind riding in a wagon pulled by a slow horse, with Matthew Cuthbert either. What a grace-filled man was Matthew. He reminds me of my Michael.

Things are quiet here this morning. Both of our Fosters are out having fun with friends, bowling, seeing a movie, going out for lunch. Sara is loading my Subaru Outback with dozens of her breathtaking floral creations for a wedding later this afternoon. So, I thought I would sit down and write a little bit about what a gift it is to have some time each day to sit with Jesus. You could call it a quiet time or a prayer time and those would be right, but since Michael has moved to heaven and a few hours in each day have opened up for me, I am asking the Lord to help me fill those hours in a way that will please Him and change me.

I read a book recently that was so encouraging, so inspiring, so practical, I must recommend it to you. It’s called The Book of Not So Common Prayer by Linda McCullough Moore, and I think it’s my favorite book on prayer I’ve ever read. I’ve longed to be a woman of prayer for years and years, and do pray, every day. But not in the life-changing ways I always sensed were possible. Ms. Moore shares her own story of how she longed to pray like Brother Lawrence, communing with God all throughout the day, no matter how menial his tasks or what was going on in his life. Her book is about how transformative her decision was to pray four times a day for fifteen minutes. Obviously one might have to make some changes in order to facilitate this kind of commitment, but her story was so beautiful I knew I wanted to try.

I’m still learning, and there are days when I might only spend one period of time in prayer, much less four. I took hope from the book because the author is so honest about her own struggles with waning prayer times over the years. But she kept coming back, kept wanting to connect with the Lord more than she had been. I appreciate that she emphasizes it’s not the rigid following of rote praying four times a day. It’s a relational meeting with God, bringing one’s self to Him over and over again to give Him praise, ask for His help, tell Him all about our sorrows and joys, to learn to listen for His still, small voice, and to trust Him to help and change us.

I have always had a small pile of things around my comfy bedroom chair for my quiet times, but lately I have a lot. My Bible and a gratitude journal have been part of my time with the Lord for years now. But in the last two or three months, I’m experiencing so much joy and anticipation as I have added some other helps.


Before I tell you about each one, I want to say — I have all these books because I need so much help, not because I’m so good and godly. Quite the contrary, I am often not the woman I long to be, so feel I probably need more assistance and mercy than most people. The sin and destruction in my ancestral family line runs deep and dark, and I have seen the evidence in myself. I ask God frequently to destroy those generational fetters, and show me how to walk in freedom, and to pave new roads of humility and wholeness and joy for my children and grandchildren.

So, the big navy blue book is my Bible, given to me by Michael and my children many years ago. If I could only have one book out of all you see above, it would be this one. I am one of those fringe Christians who believe that the Bible is God’s Holy Word, full of power and very alive to achieve God’s purposes in us. I never knew how to want to study God’s Word until I started attending Community Bible Study in 1998, but since then He has put an anticipation and hunger in my heart for in-depth study and I pray it will be there until the day I die.

The brown book is a lined journal where I write down and number the things I’m thankful for, focusing on how each one is a gift from God to me. I’m in the 4400s now, and this discipline has been one of the most life-changing, happy things I’ve ever done. I am not sure I would be in my right mind if the Lord hadn’t led me to begin an almost-daily practice of giving thanks. Psalm 100:4 tells me I can enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving, and I can step into His courts with praise. Those are places I want to be every day, and I try to picture myself in His magnificent courts as I give Him my thanks and praise. And, yes, I do thank Him more than once for things, and also for seemingly small or insignificant graces.

4098 — A good night’s sleep last night, Lord. Thank you! 4321 — Heat that comes into each room at the touch of a button. 4406 — The way our children honored Michael and honored You at his funeral. 4472 — The baby geese at the cemetery, staying close to their parents and flapping their little underdeveloped wings — you do all things well Lord! Thank you. Such beauty.

The striped book is a daily devotional by Shauna Niequist called Savor. I’m enjoying it very much, and when I’ve gone through this one I’ll choose another.

There’s a book by Phyllis Tickle called The Divine Hours, and the concept of reading already printed prayers is new to me. Catholic and Anglican believers will be more familiar with this practice. I am drawn to this more than I would have thought, because you know what? There are some days when I know I need to pray and just don’t know what to say. I often pray “Help me Lord. Thank you Lord. Help my children Lord. Do something Lord!” and I know that God hears and answers. But I want to say more. I want to pray the Psalms. I want to intentionally, expectantly pray some ancient prayers and make them my own. And often times, up to four times a day, I reach for The Divine Hours and cry out to the Lord with something already on a page.

You can see part of a white book with Michael’s laminated newspaper obituary as its bookmark. Some dear friends recommended The Heidelberg Catechism and spoke of the riches they’re finding there, so I bought my own copy. I am going through it very slowly, and it’s filled with scripture and truths that are strengthening my soul during these weak and grieving days. I may only read a lesson from this book twice a week, but it feeds me.

Can you see the swirly, blue and green paisley book? I write some of my prayers there. Sometimes I cry my prayers, sometimes I read centuries-old prayers and make them personal, sometimes I bow my head and pray silently, and many times I write out my prayers to my heavenly Father. I also use this book to ask the Lord questions, and I might come back to it weeks later and see that He answered me. I love that. I write down who I’ve prayed for and what I’ve asked. Sometimes I write the names of my children down, their spouses, their children, over and over again, and I pray for them as I write those precious names in black and white.

And you might be able to see the dark red book with the gold cross? That’s a hymnal. Often during one of my daily prayer times (usually in the afternoons) I find a hymn, sing it out loud and make it my heartfelt prayer. I’m not a good singer but I can carry a tune (not that the Lord cares about that), and with my bedroom door closed, I look up, tears streaming, and sing out my heart’s cries to Jesus. Some recent hymns have been “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (while picturing His protection for me and those I love), “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” while believing that He is literally tuning my heart to sing His praise, and this morning’s song was “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”


I have a new physical malady that has reared its very unwelcome head in the past week, and I hate it. Even though I’ve made a doctor’s appointment, from what I know and have read of it, there are no clear cut answers. It’s not life-threatening, but it’s hard for me to bear. This morning I sang these words, and they ministered to my soul:

“O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood, just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!

“Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease, just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace!

“Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!”

And I guess that’s what my journey in prayer is all about. I long to trust Him more and more. I want to bring myself many times a day to His feet, and cease from sin and selfishness, and draw from that deep well of love and grace with my name on it.

What do you think of that idea? That there might be a deep, clear, pure, refreshing, well or pool of grace, strength, and mercy that He has filled for only you? And one for only me? That it’s there each morning for us to jump into, to completely submerge ourselves in, to splash around in, and be cleansed and refreshed? I don’t know about you, but I like that idea. If you were out walking in a beautiful forest with no one else around, and you happened upon a lovely pool with a sign posted on the bank with your name on it, written in handwriting you somehow knew was the Lord’s, would you jump? I’d like to think I would, but in all honesty I do sometimes forget that this is what the Lord offers me each and every day. But on the days when I jump in and splash around? Oh my….

I guess that’s enough for today. The dishes in my kitchen sink are calling my name. A load of laundry awaits.

But I won’t forget that the Lord also is calling my name. And yours!

I’ll be back to my comfy bedroom chair in an hour or two, asking Him to help me and change me, giving Him the thanks and praise He deserves. But only, ever, with His strength alone.

Many blessings on your weekend, dear friends…

Grands Galore

May 27, 2015 | My Jottings

My two oldest daughters have each had a child since the last family picture was taken, so it was time for new family photos.

Here’s my oldest daughter Sharon, her husband Chris and their family.


And here’s my middle daughter Carolyn, her husband Jeremy and their family.


So much squishableness in one spot!

Words that inspire me

May 25, 2015 | My Jottings

Happy Memorial Day! We had a gorgeous weekend and woke to a steady, needed rain, but I’m sure this dampens (hahaha) the plans of many campers who’ve come north to enjoy the lakes and trees of our great north woods. I can picture many families either sitting in their tents or cabins hoping this passes, or packing up a day early to return home.

In our house, the gray day makes us feel cozy and content, and we have a cheering fire in the dining room fireplace, soft Irish music playing, and a full day ahead to do whatever we like. I plan on wearing my terribly ugly but wonderfully comfortable sweat pants and sweat shirt, will write a letter, fold some laundry, write in my gratitude journal, and pray for those I love. And sip tea. And for dinner we will have the last of some delicious curry-filled Mulligatawny soup my friend Carey made.

I thought I’d show you a picture of something new that hangs on our kitchen wall. It’s a gift Sharon gave me for Mother’s Day. Recently I coerced her into listening to (on CD) one of my favorite books ever, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I’m not sure she has found the book as breathtaking as I did, but she had a beautiful quote from the book put on canvas, and I love it.

“Oh, Thou who art! Ecclesiastes names you the Almighty; the Maccabees name you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians names you Liberty; Baruch names you Immensity; the Psalms name you Wisdom and Truth; John names you Light; the Book of Kings names you Lord; Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Holiness; Esdras, Justice; Creation names you God; mankind names you Father; but Solomon names you Mercy, and of all your names, that is the most beautiful.”


(Note: I am a Protestant, so am assuming a couple of the books listed above are from the Apocrypha.)

I have been pondering the attributes of God for several months now, and even have a chalkboard wall in our dining room listing the ones I can think of, preaching to myself every single day. Whenever I see a new facet of God in Scripture or within my own experiences, I write it down. Our chalkboard wall currently looks like this, and you can also see a past drawing here.

I have to agree with Mr. Hugo. Out of all of God’s magnificent names and traits, the one most dear to me is His Mercy. I could not have lived without it then, cannot be without it today, and could not possibly face the future without His mercy.

How about you? Out of the names of God listed above, which one means the most to you today?

For His Mercy Endures Forever

May 21, 2015 | My Jottings

The cemetery where Michael’s body was laid to rest is about two and a half miles from our house. He and I have taken our grandchildren there many times to feed the ducks and geese that swim the two large ponds there. Our granddaughter Clara and I have seen a gorgeous, dusky periwinkle-colored blue heron there two times, standing still in the reeds on the edge of the pond, one leg bent backwards, head down, listening for a fish. The cemetery has headstones dating back to the early 1800s, and we have always enjoyed walking there, and pondering what the lives of people might have been like, based on their headstones and what’s engraved on them.

I’ve been driving up to the cemetery every couple of days to see if Michael’s headstone has been installed yet, and on Tuesday I happened upon the workman who was completing the job. The sod that will be planted on Michael’s grave will go in next week. Here is the view from the little road in the cemetery — it looks out over one of the ponds and of the distant hill where many old graves sit under the shadow of beautiful trees. Spring has come a little late in our northern part of the country, so the trees are a little sparse looking.


Here is the other side, and I removed our birth dates from the picture so weirdos who lurk on innocent little blogs can’t steal them. Boo.


A dear friend asked me recently how it felt to see my name on a grave stone and I told her I felt strangely content and hopeful. Conversely, to see my beloved husband’s name makes me feel sometimes bereft and untethered. I am comfortable with all the emotions I’ve been feeling since losing Michael, though. I want to walk right through the middle of this grief holding my heavenly Father’s hand, and experience everything He has for me. I am not afraid of sorrow.

I chose a tall pine tree because Michael was a Minnesota outdoorsman to the max. He loved to hunt and fish, camp and hike, and he commented on the beauty of our area constantly. There are other head stones in this cemetery with fish and deer on them, but that just didn’t seem to be the right choice for us.

And I chose to have a simple cross in between our names, because the love and keeping power of Jesus is without a doubt why Michael and I stayed married for almost 34 years. We never had any hugely catastrophic upsets in our marriage (although Jesus would have been up to the task if that had been the case), but we both could be such hard headed people. As a matter of fact, whenever this song came on the stereo, Michael would grin at me, put his hand on my leg, and sing along, as if it were his theme song. Ha. I know that our mutual faith in Christ was the glue that held us together during times when either one of us might have wanted to be done. And oh, how thankful I am for that Gracious Glue! I will thank God for as long as He gives me breath for allowing me to be Michael’s wife, and for having his love. Are any of you out there struggling in your marriage? If at all possible, humble yourselves and pray together, and resolve to speak kind, building things to your spouse. Even if you don’t feel like it, or he/she doesn’t deserve it in your opinion. Ask God to help you speak one building, encouraging thing each day to your spouse, and just try it as an offering to the God who gives you life and a mouth to speak. I don’t offer this advice from a lofty, accomplished spot or pretend to know all the answers, but I know many of the beautiful times Michael and I had were because of prayer and humble kindness, mostly on his part! No one ever regrets being kind and humble. I wish I could say this has been my way all of my life but it has not. I’m still learning and want to change.

And I chose Psalm 106:1 for the scripture on our headstone, because Michael loved to praise the Lord, and because I believe I owe my mental health to keeping a gratitude journal and giving thanks to the Lord. Praising and thanking — they’re both there in that verse. And the most important part is of course that God is good, and His mercy will never, ever end. I can’t think of better news than that.

Finally, here’s one of the last pictures taken of Michael and me together. Sharon took this and I have posted other shots from the same session, but this is my favorite.


It has been 14 weeks now. I suppose there will come a day when I’m not counting days and weeks anymore, but instead will mark the years since Michael’s passing.

No matter how many days the Lord gives me, one thing is certain. Any time I think of my husband, a smile comes easily to my face, just like the one above. There might be tears streaming at the same time, but oh, yes….there will always be a smile.

Thanking Him today,

A Fitting Casket Spray

May 18, 2015 | My Jottings

When I started this little blog several years ago I never once thought “A Fitting Casket Spray” would ever be the title of a blog post. But death is part of life, and Michael’s death and absence and legacy will be part of my days forever, so here I am sharing another part of his funeral.

I’m so grateful that all our children took part in their own wonderful ways, in contributing to those last days of Michael’s life, and to his funeral service. I still think about how beautiful it was.

Sara made her dad’s casket spray. She has been a floral designer for many years now, and of course it was appropriate that she would be the one to create something to put on Michael’s casket that would honor and represent him. We have a workshop area in our basement Sara uses to make all her floral arrangements, and I could hear her down there off and on for two days, making Michael’s spray.

Michael was a man who loved flowers. He enjoyed getting flowers more than any woman I’ve ever known. He also loved evergreens. He was a rock collector, especially of agates which can be found all over Minnesota. And he had been hunting deer almost every November since he was twelve years old. (Although during the last three-four years of his life he started feeding deer instead of shooting them for food. He loved watching the deer that came to our yard every day. I have never pretended to understand the whole deer hunting culture in Minnesota, but oh well….) So Sara filled Michael’s casket spray with flowers, rich foresty greens, ferns, deer antlers and rocks Michael had collected. She also included Scottish thistle as a nod to his ancestry.

The spray was breathtaking, and this slightly grainy photo taken with my phone doesn’t come close to doing it justice:


You can click to enlarge it if you like.

Another one:


After the funeral and meal were over, we drove to the cemetery and our pastor led our family in a committal ceremony at Michael’s grave site. We prayed together, cried, sang the song “Because He Lives,” and said goodbye. Before we all drove home on that day, we each stepped forward to take a flower from this arrangement Sara created.


I have dried Scottish thistle blooms on my kitchen windowsill that remind me how much beauty can be found in the death of someone who loves the Lord.

“Your Jesus t-shirt and your underwear…”

May 13, 2015 | My Jottings

Michael has been gone now for over three months, and I don’t think a day has gone by without me thanking God for how He helped and blessed our family during such a difficult time. The many evidences of His presence and love make me marvel still. I will get back to my “regular” blogging eventually, but I want to continue to share here parts of the funeral that still bless me today.

I posted the words to our daughter Sharon’s eulogy a while back, but I’d like to share the actual video now. Just as I have watched Jeremy and Carolyn sing “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place” too many times to count, I have watched again and again to see my oldest daughter give this funny, touching, unforgettable message for her dad.

It still makes me laugh and cry, which is exactly what I want to do, every single day.

I hope you are blessed as you watch! (You’ll understand early on what this post has to do with a Jesus t-shirt and some underwear…)  🙂

Click here.

How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

May 11, 2015 | My Jottings

Michael’s funeral was held on Friday, February 13th, 2015, at our church. I know it was my own husband’s service, so of course I would be blessed by it, but over these last three months I have thought back to it again and again and thanked God for every person, every song, every word.

I didn’t know that one of my dearest friends and SAGs, Gail, had brought her camera and was videotaping much of the service. Later her husband Mark put all the separate clips on a DVD and brought it over to me. I sat here in my office and watched each one, laughing and crying all over again. What a gift!

Our daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy (parents of five!) were the first to sing at the funeral, and I’m sharing their song with you today, at the end of this post. Every Christmas Eve, at my request, Carolyn and Jeremy sing for us the Irish Traditional Version of Psalm 84, or “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” and every year I sob as they sing. It’s just one of those songs of scripture that touch something so deep in me I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. I knew when Michael died and we were all planning his funeral that I would want Carolyn and Jeremy to sing it. I’m grateful they agreed, because I know they wondered if they would get through it without crying.

As I sat in the front row and took it all in, thrilling to my daughter’s beautiful voice, the words to this song took on a new meaning to me. Because surely, as Michael was suffering with Parkinson’s for the last many years, and then dying during the last week of his life, his soul was longing and fainting, for the courts of the Lord to see, as the psalm says. What an appropriate song this was for Michael’s life and funeral service.

I’ve included the words here, so you can follow along if you like, and the video is below.

How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place — (Psalm 84)

How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me
My soul is longing and fainting
The courts of the Lord to see
My heart and flesh they are singing
For joy to the living God
How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me

Even the sparrow finds a home
Where she can settle down
And the swallow she may build her nest
Where she may lay her young

Within the courts of the Lord of hosts
My King, my Lord and my God
And happy are those who are dwelling where
The song of praise is sung

How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me
My soul is longing and fainting
The courts of the Lord to see
My heart and flesh they are singing
For joy to the living God
How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me

I’d rather be a gatekeeper
And only stay a day
Than to live the life of a sinner
And have to stay away
For the Lord is shining as the sun
And the Lord is like a shield
And no good thing does He withhold
From those who walk his way

How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me
My soul is longing and fainting
The courts of the Lord to see
My heart and flesh they are singing
For joy to the living God
How lovely is thy dwelling place
O Lord of hosts to me

Thank you for stopping by here, as always. I pray you experience God’s love and peace this week,

Monday, February 9, 2015

May 7, 2015 | My Jottings

Sharon, Sara and I took turns getting up with Michael on Sunday night and early Monday morning. Carolyn had gone home with baby Miriam and asked that we text her when the end came, no matter what the time. I believe I got up at 1:00 a.m. to turn Michael, moisten his mouth with cool water from an oral sponge, give him a dose of liquid morphine to help ease his awful, labored breathing, kiss him and stroke his burning hot skin, and climb back under the covers to rest until the next time. Sara’s turn was at 2:00 a.m., and Sharon’s was at 3:00 a.m. And as I mentioned before, we weren’t actually sleeping in between times — lightly dozing might be a better word. Michael had lived through Sunday and we didn’t think he would. Every prayer I breathed now was that God would take him home.

Sharon got up to minister to her dad at 3:00 a.m. and around 3:05 I heard her whisper to me, “Mom! I think Dad is going….” I jumped up out of bed and leaned close to Michael on his right side, and Sharon was on his left. Yes, that ghastly, chest-compressing breathing had stopped, we thought. But then in about 20 seconds Michael inhaled deeply again, and this breath was different than any others had been; it was a remarkably long, quiet, lung-filling inhalation, followed by a long, whisper-quiet peaceful exhalation.

And that was his last breath on this earth.

At 3:07 a.m. on February 9, 2015, my beloved husband went to be with his Jesus.

I wished I could have seen his spirit leave his broken body, the precious vessel I’d loved and depended on and clung to for almost 34 years. I have heard of many credible people who have experienced out of body experiences when they were dying, explaining how their spirits seemed to rise out and above their body, and how they could look down and see their body below, on an operating table or at a roadside accident. Obviously some have lived to tell about this phenomenon when their physical lives were saved and their spirits returned to their bodies.

At the moment of Michael’s death I thought of this, and there in the dark as I laid my head against his chest and the tears fell, I looked up toward the ceiling above him and waved goodbye. I don’t know if he saw that or not, but I’d like to think the huge angelic escorts who were carrying him to heaven paused long enough for him to see his grateful wife waving at him from down below, and that somehow he knew that my heart was going with him.

Sharon and I woke Sara up, and for a while we sat with Michael’s body, and I think we were all just so grateful his suffering was over.

Oh, how much he has taught us, even (or especially) in the midst of 11 years of the ravages of Parkinson’s disease. No one has taught me more about praising the Lord than my husband. His life was a ministry of praise. He even praised God when he was crabby! His life also spoke volumes about trusting acceptance — he did not complain. He never wanted to be the center of attention and was not a self-focused man. He knew how to love people and treat them kindly. He was a giver. He was a hard worker. He believed in Jesus and his life reflected that beautifully. And I feel blessed beyond measure to have had his love.

The hospice nurse had told us that when Michael died, we didn’t need to feel any rush to call the funeral home. I was grateful for that “permission,” because I was not in a hurry to say goodbye to his body. We were finally able to recline his bed a little (this had not been possible before as he would immediately begin to have more difficulty breathing), and we covered him and arranged his pillow, and laid down to rest a bit ourselves, even if sleep wouldn’t come.

Carolyn had received our texts right after her dad died, and she texted me back at 3:25 a.m. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I am so grateful. I love you.” The love, thoughtfulness and presence of my children during this time is something I will never, ever forget, or stop marveling about.

When the sun came up on Monday morning, we were all experiencing a mixture of relief and grief. What a wondrous blessing that Michael’s suffering had come to an end, and his real life, the one that would go on forever and ever, had just begun. But our lives here without him had to go on. And he was such a treasure in our lives, we knew the void he was leaving would be huge.

For about two hours before the men from the funeral home came to take Michael’s body away, Edith and Mildred laid close to him on the hospital bed. Later on, Millie actually got very close to Michael and sniffed his mouth carefully, surely detecting that life had gone. IMG_1801-2I took a picture of her as the morning sun was coming in the window behind him, as she sat close to him, ears back, very still and quiet. It seemed like she knew her kind master was gone, and she didn’t want to leave the body that had petted her and fed her and coddled her for years.

God gave our family abundant grace as we spent this day making all the necessary preparations. Sharon went with me to the funeral home to make plans for Michael’s funeral, which was scheduled for Friday, February 13th. Many of us sat together in our living room, writing his obituary with contributions from each person, and the laughter, unity, tears and gratitude we all felt were priceless. We pulled out picture albums and began to sort through hundreds of photos, so we could decide on which one to use for the obituary, and which ones Sharon would use in the slide show presentation she was planning for a tribute at the funeral.

Unbeknownst to me at this time, four of my friends began to plan for the huge meal that would be served at church after the upcoming service on Friday. I still can’t think about the time and hard work such an undertaking required, without tears coming to my eyes.

It felt surreal to pick out one of Michael’s suits, a shirt and a tie from our closet to be brought to the funeral home, to actually write the date of Michael’s death, to choose songs and receive calls, and to see that empty hospital bed in our room.

Late Monday night after a very busy day, I let the dogs out as I always do and got ready for bed. When I walked into our bedroom and was reminded that I would never see my husband again on this earth, a powerful wave of grief hit me. I climbed up into that hospital bed where my Michael had finally met his Savior, turned out the light, pulled the covers up to my chin, and wept. Even the dogs sat very still on the king-sized bed, watching me as if they knew who I was crying for.

The hospital bed would be picked up by the medical supply company the next day, but on Monday night it seemed like a very sacred and beautiful place to me, almost like an altar, and there I slept, my first night as a widow.