Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A long time coming...

And its today.

365 days exactly, well actually 366 considering last year was a leap year.

The day started like any other. I had gone to church that morning by myself, since Shannon was visiting Ryan in Virginia. After church I went and picked up my friends very young daughter Abby and we went back to the house for the afternoon of cartoons, dress up, silly play time. When we got to the house, our puppy had pooped on the floor and decided that the best course of action after that would be to dance in it and then all over the house. Grumbling I packed Abby back into the car and we went to Food Lion to get carpet cleaner. I remember Abby walked around half singing "We gotta get carpet cleaner cause Jovi pooped the floor". I called Shannon during this whole ordeal, extremely frustrated that he had spent 3 days doing nothing but having fun in Virginia while I carried out the tasks of reality...tasks like working, babysitting, potty training obnoxious little dogs. When Shannon answered the phone I figured he had just been sleeping, and because I was already so upset I laid into him about all the reasons he needed to come home immediately. More specifically "Shannon you need to come home, this dog has pooped all over the floor and I'm sick of taking care of it". He, still half asleep, said okay honey and we hung up the phone. No I love yous, no I miss yous, just lay out the facts of the afternoon and then say goodbye.

No clue, whatsoever, that this was my last conversation with him. You never know when someone is going to die, if you had any indication of their impending death, you would live every moment with them to the fullest. You would forget silly quarrels and ridiculous situations and you would simply treasure sharing the same air with them for however many seconds they had left. Regret #1...I yelled at him about dog poop.

After I had settled down, I went to a bible study with Abby's mom, Jill. I called Ryan as I passed the mall and remember more vividly than anything him saying "Shannons sick again...with the stomach stuff". I remember at that moment driving over the bridge that passes over Highway 301 and thinking "Great...here we go again". In talking with Ryan he said that they didn't think it was too bad, and that Shannon would probably just be released. I asked Ryan if Shannon was asleep, and he said that he was, and I then said...well if he wakes up will you please have him call me so I can talk to him. Regret #2...I didn't push harder to talk to him.

That night I went to the bible study, not even that concerned. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was extremely concerned, but Shannon had been sick so many times before and why would this time be different...he would get better like he always did. I went home that night, went to bed and was awaken by the sound of my cell phone at 12:30am. It was the Dr. asking me if it was okay if they put in a central IV line. They were having a hard time with his blood pressure, he wasn't doing well at all, maybe you should come up here Mrs. Webb. I said, I will make arrangements and come in the morning. Regret #3...I didn't drop everything to go be with him.

These are the accounts of March 24, 2008 aka the day it all started. This is the only day that I have regrets. Three things I wish I had done differently. Three things that I have gone over in my head countless times. I think of Peter, denying Christ 3 times before the Cock crowed. How he must have felt after Jesus had died knowing that he had been given 3 opportunities to do something different, to make something better, and he did not do it. In the same token I am comforted by the story, by the mere fact that Jesus knew Peter would respond this way. Jesus knew I would respond the way I did. Jesus knew I would have regrets...but just as Jesus embraced Peter after he denied him, He has embraced my heart with regards to these regrets. Life is but a vapor...theres no time like the present...life is too short for regrets. How true this are to me.

The next few days were blurs.

Monday I came to Virginia, by that time he was in shock and put on a ventilator. I sat and watched him suffer. But I remained clear headed, calling people for prayer, calling family to come to Virginia to be with us. 4:30am that night I get a call "Mrs. Webb your husband has taken a turn for the worse". I raced to that hospital room, running the entire way. It was freezing cold outside and I was running as fast as I could. When I got there his heart had stopped but they had brought him back.

Tuesday, the great migration began from North Carolina as half the church and half our family came to Virginia. Every day the Dr. would not give us hope...his organs were shutting down, he needs dialysis bad, the fluid is building up around abdomen, he needs surgery but he is too critically ill.

Wednesday they tell us he's developed a blood issue and there could be complications. He is still critically ill...if he makes it they need to move him to another hospital. More church people, more family. We have taken up residence in the ICU waiting room...all 30 of us, sometimes more. So many visitors...so many prayers. While I am still clear headed I make funeral plans...just in case.

Thursday...it happens. His blood pressure skyrockets and then falls. And when I step into the room after it all happened I took one look at knew he was gone. "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". That was my first thought.

Friday the Dr. says...he seems to be improving, but yesterdays episode has us concerned, he needs a CAT scan and he's stable enough to be moved...hours later, he tells us...He's bled into his brain, he's only living off machines. Start thinking about when to take him off the machines. Make phone calls. Think about funeral. Think about service to honor Shannon before he dies. Think about Shannons son. Think about how lonely I am. Think about dog poop. Think about family. Think about his mom and dads heart breaking. Think about nephews. Think about God...Thank God. Walk from the Dr. consult into Shannons room...shut door, shut curtain...raise my hands and profusely thank God for this life, our life together. Our love. Thank you God thank you God. Never forget how gracious and amazing is the Love of God...the love that carries the love that heals...that night have service for Shannon (where ironically several members of my Lynchburg family happened to show up...people I did not even know then, who I have grown to love now). 12:15am prepare for machines to be turned off. 12:30am machines turned off, we all gather around the bed, I hold Shannons head in my hands and I proceed to remember, remember anything and everything I could about his smell, the way his face felt, his beard, his ears, his cheeck. 12:34...beep beep nothing. He's gone.

12:35am...walk out of the room into the waiting area and tell everyone that Shannon is with Jesus. Proceed to crumple on the floor and brain turns off...I remember being held, I remember going to a hotel, I remember Jessica holding me as I slept. The next morning, the blur sets in...Cinammon Rolls, Car ride with my head in Laura's lap, Red shirt I wore to the funeral home. Blur and more blur. Meeting with people, planning the funeral, picking out his clothes to be buried in, going to the church to listen to the praise team practice for the funeral, have dance parties as an attempt to comfort me.

Tuesday. Have funeral. Ironic word...irony in the fact that such a horrible thing contains the word fun in it. It is not. Standing for hours, hugging strangers, not eating, wishing it was all over. Never once shedding a tear.

Wednesday we buried him. At that point I had entered he zombie bubble and I was numb. Everything a blur. Only one thing clear and that was that God held me in His hand. That my heart was breaking but those amazing nail scarred hands were holding the broken pieces together. In our brokenness do we find our deepest strength.

I have dreaded this week. A year later. The rehasing of regrets. The flood of memories. The realization that he's gone all over again. And in the midst of this I have one clear thought. Honeybuns.

Honeybuns?! In the midst of my pain, God gives me a beautiful memory of a beautiful sister marching into the hospital with a bucket of honeybunds. I look at her and say " I can't I'm trying to stay on my diet" and she says "Sarah I'm your sister and I know whats best for you...now eat the honeybun". So as I sit here writing all this, remembering everything, trying my hardest to find joy in the mundane things of life... God gives me the gift of remembering honeybuns...and more importantly the love that surrounded me then and surrounds me now. This was a year of trying and testing, a year of love and loss, a year of learning and growing. This was my defining moment where I can crumple and fall, or stand and find my strength. I hope that the way I handled this year was pleasing to God. There were times that I have been extremely ashamed and angry, but no matter how tough it seems to get I always find God standing at my door, politely knocking and asking to come in and just sit with me. And in these moments where its just Him and I...I find peace.

Although Shannon is gone, he is not forgotten. The lessons he taught me will forever live on. The love that he shared has spread like wildfire and inspired others to share that same love. And everytime someone practices the love that Shannon showed them, Shannon lives on forever. Oh Shannon...I really wish I had not yelled at you about dog poop. But at the same time, I know that you have been kicking it with Jesus for a year now...fishing in heavenly ponds with Catfish that are probably made of pure gold. You are rocking it out with your Glorified Taylor Guitar in your glorified body. You are chillin with David and Abraham and your Papaw. You are happy, you are whole, you are living your dream. I miss you and will always hold a special place in my heart for you....I dance with joy in my life knowing that you are exactly where you have always wanted to be. And I know that you would be proud of me and happy for me and where my life is going. And even though I yelled at you about dog poop, I know that you really know that I loved you very much.

So happy...not birthday, and death day sounds too grim. How about, Happy Heaven Day....that more fitting of a title for your homecoming.

posted by Sarah W @ 11:51 PM   176 Comments

Saturday, January 31, 2009

11 months later...

this is what my reality looks like...

Psalm 103:1-4
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and
crowns you with love and compassion.
It is unbelievable to think that 11 months ago was the beginning of the end. I have struggled so much within the last week...struggled with my self-esteem, struggled with how I see God, struggled with feeling so alone. I keep hearing the title of the book "When God Writes Your Love Story" and I keep mumbling that the version I'm going to pen will be titled "When God Writes Your Death Story"...I know, that is a little morbid, but it's 100% honesty at its rawest. My mind has run rampant with pure and utter resentment towards the "perfects", people who seem to float through life with nothing but good things going their way. I have harbored bitterness in my heart towards people who are able to easily have a beautiful marriage, complete with beautiful babies. I have felt a brokenness within me, that if not contained could very well break my spirit and leave me the shattered-shadow of a person.
As you can see, its been pretty rough.
Now I realize that its all a mixture of natural human emotion and very specific spiritual warfare...and in keeping that in mind, I know that I have to keep my eye on the prize, that I have to keep praising my God. I look at Job, and he refused to "curse God and die"...he kept his eyes towards heaven. I look within myself and see an ocean of dreams waiting to be fulfilled and my only hope in this, is God. So as I enter into what I begin to believe may be a "tough month", I'm going to stand firm on God's truth that "sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning". I believe God is challenging me to hold on to my dreams and keep them close to my heart...despite present circumstances.
So Sarah Webb...what dreams are you holding on to.
To one day experience living life with the man that God is preparing for me...now I know this is going to be a tough job for whoever you are. You have incredibley large shoes to fill and you are going to have to be an absolutely exceptional person, full of integrity, strength, and love. I realize that I may not fit the mold of a typical person, but trust me when I say that I dance through life with a joy that most of the times is uncontainble. This last year has been a time of testing; testing of my character, testing of my inner strength, testing of my faith...but I promise you, that the sky is breaking and I can start to see the sun shine. And one day, when you look into my eyes, I will set your heart on fire with joy. One day you are going to read this, so I might as well keep going with my dreams. I want to adopt 6 children from all over the world...children who need a mom and dad to love them unconditionally, to give them a good life, to raise them up to be princes and princesses of God...I know that God has prepared me to be an amazing mom, and I'm sure you are going to be an amazing dad, and together we will impact young lives that in turn will impact the world. And as we cultivate our family and grow together in love, I also want a living room that is light yellow with stark white trim, a greenhouse in the backyard full of beautiful, growing plants, family dinners that have endless amounts of joyful laughter echoing throughout our home. These are my dreams, these are the things I hold dear in my heart.
So, 11 month anniversary...I can choose to be completely misreable and sad, and slide back into grieving...or I can choose to hold tight to my dreams, and get buckled in...because once you begin believing in your dreams, God takes you on a wild ride.

I've shed enough tears...I'm now choosing to buckle my seatbelt.

posted by Sarah W @ 11:32 PM   1 Comments

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dream #1 : Swim with Manatees

The first time I ever went kayaking in Florida, I experience manatees first hand, as I paddled my hardest to the channel bank and began screaming "What was that thing!?"









That trip began an eleven year love story between me and those beautiful gentle giants. I did as much research as possible on manatees, collected manatees figurines, and deep in my heart, I began to have a dream to swim with the manatees. And finally, after much waiting, my opportunity came.
Thursday morning came quickly as the alarm rang at 4:50am. I immediately jumped out of bed, bright-eyed and ready to go. I slept in my bathing suit the night before so I wouldn't waste time getting dressed. My stepdad, my cousin and I got into the car and drove 25 minutes to meet up with "Captain Mike". We arrived at the Tour Center, where we were quickly shuffled into a room to put on our wetsuits. Afterwards, we sat down and watched a deliciously 1980s film on keeping the manatees safe and how to swim with them safely. Captain Mike began passing out blankets to us and we boarded the short bus to ride down to the boat.

We boarded the boat and began our 30 minute boat ride to get to the headsprings to begin our swim. The sun had not even risen at that point. It was pitch black dark and still very very cold. 26 degree cold. Kayla (my cousin) and I huddled together to attempt to keep warm with our blankets, but within five minutes I literally could not feel my feet. The guy driving the boat (also named Mike, but not to be confused with Captain Mike) explained to us how to swim with the manatees (horizontal! Never vertical!) and explained how to use our snorkel...he also kept stressing the importance of being quiet, being gentle, utilizing the dead man float, and just letting the manatees come to you.

By 7:00am or so, we arrived to the headsprings and began our journey to the water. Boat drive Mike put de-fog solution in our goggles and put float-aides to help us float better. And one by one we got into the water. Surprisingly, although it was 26 degrees outside, the water was a constant 72 degrees year round, and it felt like bath water. As I floated in the water and let my fingers and toes de-thaw, I decided it was time to finally start my swim. And I fixed my goggles and snorkel and went under water.

And began having an anxiety attack.

Oh yeah, did I explain that I had an intense fear of open bodies of water. No one can prepare for exactly how LARGE a manatee is face to face. Boat driver Mike tried to prepare us, but even his warning (they are alot bigger than you think) could not even prepare me for being face to face with a 15 foot long, 2000 pound underwater mammal. I came out of the water telling them that I didn't think I could do this and that I was starting to freak out. Boat Driver Mike (lets just start calling him Mike) said "theres nothing in the water that can hurt you".

And it hit me. This was my biggest and most attainable dream to date and that I was living it and more importantly I could not let my fear overwhelm my dream. And with this revelation, I went back underwater and began to enjoy myself.

Manatees are alot like mischievious little cats. They love playing with string and ropes, and will interact with you similarly to a cat. One particular mantee that was nicknamed Snuggles, kept coming to me and wanting me to pet him and he kissed my hand. Another manatee came to me and rolled around so I would pet his belly. During our hour and a half swim, we were surrounded by as few as a dozen manatees and as many as 20. They ranged in sizes from 5 feet up to 15 feet. Some were as big as a human (babies) some were as much as a van. They were beautiful....I would swim and look them in the eyes and just melted when their eyes met mine. I pet each and every one of them and enjoyed every moment. Each one was unique...they had algae on their backs, and one had hair on his body, and each bore scars on their backs from careless boat drivers who have hit them. In my head I was singing David Crowders version of "All Creatures of Our God and King"...it was the most magical and beautiful experience I have had in a very long time. And well worth the 11 year wait.

When it was time to leave, it had warmed up to a nice 30 degrees outside. As we got dressed icycles formed in our hair. My hands were so cold I could not even button my pants. I lost feeling in my hands and feet. But despite all of these things, nothing could wipe the smile that was on my face.
So after enduring 26 degree weather, getting up at 4:50am, and conquering my intense fear of water...I lived my dream. So my challenge to you is - what would you endure to live your dream? Never give up. Never let anything stop you.


Don't let your fear overwhelm your dream.


(on a side note - the wonderful people at Walgreens, who are all genius's, did not really know what they were doing as they opened my water proof disposable camera, over exposing all the film and in turn, ruining every single picture I had take of me and the manatees...so I have no pictures of the actual manatees and me...but here are some highlights)

posted by Sarah W @ 10:23 PM   1 Comments

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

As my heart falls apart...

Strength in numbers.

I open and read an email and proceed with reading a blog and my heart simply fell apart.

Let's begin at the beginning.

I was blessed enough to meet E. I was call her E because I'm not sure if she wants her name painted all over my blog. But in meeting E and talking with E, I found an extreme amount of comfort from her words. She too was a young widow, her husband suddenly dying, leaving her with two very small children. She gave me comfort, she gave me hope, she gave me love. It were her words that affirmed me and calmed my fears. She let the light of Christ shine through her heart into my email, and let her radiating love burst through my computer screen. I will always remember the blessing of E.

Today, a friend from school approached me about allowing another friend read my blog. Of course, I was thrilled at this...When I went online and looked at this new friends blog, my heart slowly began to unravel. By the end of the night after she had befriended me on facebook, sent me an email, and I spent a good amount of time looking at pictures and reading her blog...I can safely say that my heart is so heavy right now, I'm surprised it hasn't dropped right out of my chest.

This new friend, another E, lost her husband a few months. And like myself, had been trying to have a baby. My heart broke into a thousand pieces reading her blog. I literally wanted to crawl through the computer screen and hug her. I would've never thought in a thousand years that would be two of us, so similar in circumstance.

And so to you, dear sweet E. My heart aches with the very thought of your situation and at the same it overflows with love. I leave you with this thought...

From Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit

From Isaiah 54:10
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

From Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

From Psalm 126:5-6
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy,
He who goes out weeping carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him

My final thought...From Eccl 3:4
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance

One day E, you will dance again...until then, His unwavering Love surrounds you.

posted by Sarah W @ 12:08 AM   17 Comments

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goodbye 2008 - you sucked

So long to 2008 AKA the worst and the best year of my life.

January - A beautiful month
February - I re-fell in love with my husband
March - He died and I became a zombie
April - I started to slowly wake up
May - I started to get angry
June - I became more angry and lonely
July - I hit rock bottom
August - I found hope
September - I started to see Joy
October - I finally started to find myself
November - I finally began healing
December - I became at peace

So here's to a year of losing and learning.

2009 WILL be my best year ever.

In retrospect - 2008 was a tough year. I have never been loneliner. I have never been happier. Its a paradoxial year where I lost what was most important to me, and gained more than I could've ever expected from such an experience.

Happy New Year....I hope and pray its your best year yet!

posted by Sarah W @ 2:35 AM   2 Comments

Friday, December 26, 2008

It all begins with a dream...

This has been an incredible year to say the least.

in⋅cred⋅i⋅ble

–adjective
1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible.
2. not credible; hard to believe ; unbelievable.

I began this year with the prayer / intention of being content in whatever happens. I did not expect God to literally take my world and turn it upside down and inside out. Through all that has happened throug this year (and things that have poured over from previous years) I have several thoughts that have brought me peace and several thoughts that have brought me to edge of life and questioned my existence and purpose through all of this.

We tried to have a baby for three years with no luck. Looking back that first month coming off of birth control, I realize now I was probably more pregnant than I originally thought. All the signs and symptoms and a positive test...but in the end no baby. This week I thought of that first month and realized that if things had turned out the way I wanted them too I would be holding my Josiah and he would be turning 3 next month. This realization nearly knocked the wind out of me, especially magnified by the fact that almost all my friends will be having babies this year (two are pregnant, one is probably pregnant and I just don't know, one is planning on being pregnant, and one is going to get pregnant-in faith we are claiming). I realized that even through everything I've gone through, my desire to be a mother still lingers in the back of my heart. The desire to be a mother was buried deep within my heart by the process of grieving. I began to feel a insurgence of grief welling up in my throat as I thought about this. I started to feel almost a frustration and anger with God over how this whole situation unfolded before me. I began to mourn the loss of the children I would never know with my husband. My heart became heavy and I started to feel that familiar depression overshadowing me.

What have I done to deserve this journey? Why me? Was is not enough that my life was completely disheveled and uprooted in all ways. I have asked these questions before and answered them quite intelligently in my head, but answering these heavy questions in your head sometimes doesn't make your heart understand it all the same. And in my desperation to find the answers once more, it hit me.

It all begins with a dream...

dream

  1. A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.
  2. A daydream; a reverie.
  3. A state of abstraction; a trance.
  4. A wild fancy or hope.
  5. A condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.
This has been a year of testing and trying, growth and loss. Through it all, the prevailing thought in my head has been "make goals", when in fact the prevailing thought should have been "dream dreams".

Speaking literally, I had a dream where I was married and I felt such a thrill from finding someone and feeling the warmth of their love radiating within my heart. I cannot make a goal to be remarried, BUT I can dream the dream of finding love again. I have had countless dreams where I have given birth to a child and right now I cannot make a goal to be a mom, but I can dream a dream.

This whole thought process about dreams began when someone approached me and said they dreamed about me with another man...normally I would laugh this kind of thing off, but this particular person is known for their dreams, and God working within their dreams to bring encouragement, hope, conviction, or compassion.

So I am gently reminded that life is not about making goals or simply surviving your circumstances. Its about embracing dreams and following them with gusto and exuberance and joy.

And so I leave you with this song...

To dream the impossible dream. To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow. To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong. To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary. To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest. To follow that star
No matter how hopeless. No matter how far

To fight for the right. Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell. For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true . To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm. When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this. That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage. To reach the unreachable star

Don't give up on your dreams...no matter what happens. Hold your dreams, love your dreams, remember your dreams, embrace your dreams.

posted by Sarah W @ 11:32 PM   4 Comments

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So here it is.

I've been out of the blogging loop for a while. Its a very rare thing that I have a picture taken in which I'm not completely horrified. But this was one that I really love, so I wanted to share.

Oh and Thanks Mom for taking it. www.gigihousandphotography.com.

This is my wonderful boss. I have mentioned him in past blogs, but here is a face to go with the title...He might be the boss, but I'm still the Queen of Lynchburg. And throughout the day he is the one that reminds me of that as he replies to my questions with "Yes, your Majesty" or "here you are your Highness". There are some people you know throughout life that leave impressions on your soul...this is one of those kinds of people. I have grown to appreciate him very much and learning all the facets of his personality has been a journey. But, in this journey, I have learned things from him that has helped me to become a better person. He is an amazing friend and someone I respect very deeply.

So Happy Un-Official Boss's Day...though I may not say this to you face often, you are awesome. (And not just on your designated day of Friday).



posted by Sarah W @ 11:05 PM   0 Comments