Sunday, October 28, 2012

the race that is set before us

      It feels a little like a deployment right now, or the time he served in South Korea on an unaccompanied tour for a year. I've done the "single-parent" thing before - but always with a goal ahead. There are no paper chains hanging on our doorway to count down the days this time. So even though it feels somewhat like he's just in the desert, there's a different weight to everything I'm doing. As a military spouse, and kids of an active duty service member, the four of us know ALL about adjusting: A new base, a different culture,a friend's moving, a deployment, a return, a change in DoD policy....etc. You could say we've been in some state of adjustment for 16 years.
      that's the common thread through every one's kind words. It's going to take time / It will be an adjustment.
      Our first adjustment, since we've been home, is that the kids and I need some time to learn to live together again. For 10 months, too long, Sarah ran the house while I divided my time between home and the hospital. I didn't attend many of their activities, barely cooked, and seldom did laundry. They started attending school outside the home. All these HUGE adjustments they navigated, mostly without me - quite a change from having me as the one constant all their lives. They're struggling with sadness, without a doubt, but also a little friction with me. We'll take things slow and we will learn again. We talk a lot. I listen a lot. We're honest, and it's painful. We're prayerful, and it's healing. We'll adjust. We don't have a plan yet. We feel a little lost, but we have a knowledge and in that is a stability that brings peace. We know that there were not things left unsaid. None of us wonder if anything could have been different, or if there were things unspoken that cause doubts or questions in our minds. We know how much he loved us, and that we meant everything to him on this earth. We don't have to wonder if he knew that we felt the same - he knew. We had no secrets. There is strange kind of strength in that type of knowledge. One that will keep us moving forward, however slowly, with or without a plan. Something that will help us stay focused. That will help us cross hurdles.
oh, the hurdles.
the "firsts"
some we see coming, a few take us by surprise and buckle our knees.  We savor some as a sweet memory, while others we close our eyes and press through, just praying to come out in one piece.
We hit the ground running when we returned to Germany on Tuesday, my kids went back to school on Wednesday and (to my surprise) Noah had his first band concert Wednesday night. He played not only in the band, but in a jazz band and a jazz trio. With tears, I clapped loud enough for the both of us, Rob and me. Both sad and encouraged that without warning, I made it over my first hurdle. Other little ones, like church or a movie night at home, we've made it though - others are coming: holidays, the Indian restaurant, figuring out the driving schedule, and dividing myself as a single parent. Little or big, they're all hard.
      We are not hopeless in our grief and our uncertainty of the hurdles to come. For we ALSO have the knowledge of a sovereign God. If we believe that God is sovereign, then it is impossible to look back over the last year, the last 5 years, our lifetime, and not see God's hand at work. In the absolute sovereignty of God there is a freedom to accept the impossible.  Acceptance is not without sadness. We miss him every second. Yet, through that sadness is an understanding of being part of God's plan, learning to step-out in faith where there is no path. without a plan. and so our mantra has changed, once again, and we recite - sometimes through tears, sometimes through smiles, "God is sovereign, God is sovereign,
God is sovereign...."

Friday, October 26, 2012

this is where it begins

      The thought of Christmas approaching makes my breath catch in in my throat. Thinking that far ahead - it's against my policy right now. One foot in front of the other. One step. then just one more. and remember to breathe.
      The days have been filled this way - a step at a time. Sometimes the steps bring weird moments of joy, and other times intense and overwhelming sadness. I can't recount the days, sometimes I feel as though I've slept through them. Going through the motions.
The time spent in the states for the funeral went quickly, we were only gone a week. We stayed at Rob's mom and step-dad's house, in the same hometown where Rob and I grew up, went to school, met, and were married. It is also the same hometown where Sarah was born. The kids and I toured the town and I showed them the places where their Dad and I once tread. Schools, churches, childhood homes, old jobs, etc. It was comforting being able to share those things with them, but at the same time heart-wrenching because I could see him EVERYWHERE. Trying to teach me to drive stick, working 2nd shift, drinking coffee at our favorite hangout..........
      The visitation and funeral brought so many familiar faces: family, friends, co-workers, strangers...... The Patriot guard was there, they presented me with a plaque. They stood outside with flags during the entire time we we were at the church, escorted our procession to the cemetery, and stayed during the ceremony at the graveside. Pastor Sadler, who was our Pastor here in Germany for almost 5 years, performed the service and it was beautiful, very fitting and well-worded. He knew Rob well and it showed in his words. The ceremony at the cemetery was a full-honors military burial, which I have never witnessed before. It was well-done by an honor guard from Scott AFB in Illinois. It was a very moving tribute for our hero, the Air Force may not have defined Rob's life but he fully believed in its core values and served his country willingly, proudly, and with dignity. The reception was nice, held in the church that Rob went to as a child, and that his mom still attends. For me it was a very surreal experience watching different areas of my life converge. There was family, of course, but also friends from High School, friends from my time and Whiteman, and friends from my time in Germany.
      The hardest part of the week was knowing how much Rob would have enjoyed hanging out with all those people, showing his kids all those old haunts, or running in the neighborhood where he grew up.
We got back to Germany on Tuesday, adjusted well, and today was the memorial service at the chapel hosted by Rob's squadron. It was very well done and Rob was posthumously awarded the meritorious service medal. The people that spoke all recounted Rob as quiet, sincere, loyal, and hardworking. An article ran today's local base paper written by Rob's commander and it said a lot of what he spoke about at the memorial. you can read it HERE
 Since we have been back my dog has gotten ill, my computer died (no kidding, it won't even turn on), my washing machine is making a weird noise, my AFN decoder quit working, AND a rock flew up and cracked my windshiled. It's reassuing to know that, yes - still a Murphy. Don't worry, we'll be okay and we have a support system in place - but I wanted to post some pictures taken back in WI and can't because my main computer is not working, so I thought I would explain why.
     Tomorrow, with all services and memorials behind us, we start the insurmountable task of continuing on from here.
What will that look like? How will we do that? stay tuned.....................

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20th, 2012

through caring bridge and this blog we have let our struggle be very public, so while it may seem strange, I am going to post some pictures from the day of Rob's funeral in WI.  I've written about it on Rob's caringbridge site , and I wanted to share some of the things that meant so much to us.  To celebrate his life.  To mourn our loss.  To share our grief.  Tina, from Natural Freckle Photography, came and donated her time and resources to spend the day capturing most of these images these images. 
(above) Outside the church, the Patriot guard stood watch and posted flags.
(below) after the service as the crowd leaves the church to form the procession 

(above) - during the burial service at the graveside the military guard gives the 21-gun salute while the patriot guard riders stand watch.
(below) Krissie being presented with the flag and the kids say goodbye before the casket is lowered.
my brother Rolf, hugging Sarah, with his girlfriend, Suzy, standing close-by.  At the reception following the cemetery Rolf and noah performed a song, Come Sail Away (styx), together (pictured below.)

At the reception we requested that everyone wear jeans, T-shirts, and converse since that was the outfit Rob was most often seen in.  We brought Rob's converse and placed them on the stage at the reception - then we all lines our shoes next to his.  

These are most of the lovely ladies that traveled from all over the country to come be with me and the kids.  I met all of them through the two Air Force bases we've lived at and they were all such a blessing and a comfort to come and be with me.  I was also blessed to have a large number of friends from my home-town (mostly from high school) come, but I don't have any of those pictures.  If any of you read this blog, PLEASE send me some pictures!! 

On Sunday, the day before we left, the kids and I went back to the cemetery to say goodbye.  We took this picture of the area where Rob is burried. It is the same cemetery that Les Paul, a Waukesha native, is laid to rest.  I think Rob, a guitarist, would have thought that was pretty cool.  He (Les Paul) died in 2009 and though we had heard that we didn't know where he was buried until after the funeral.