It’s been a day. 

Just one of those nights. After the kids have gone to bed and the house is eerily quite. I never turn the TV on anymore it seems. I can hear the train in the distance. But mostly just the quiet. 

That’s when the tears come. When the grief hits so hard. 

I’m so overwhelmed by any decision I have to make. When did I become so helpless? I sat at my kitchen table for almost 2 hours crying while typing out a 3 sentence text message. There is a widow in my small town with a very similar story. Widowed young with 2 babies. Now her kids are in college. I want to talk to her and ask her questions. I have so many questions about my future. 

But I don’t know her. Why is it so hard to ask for help? But I sent the message and pray she is willing to talk to me. 

I feel the need to be close to someone who has actually experienced this awful pain. It’s so isolating. I want to talk to someone who isn’t so emotionally invested in every decision I make. This town is so small, and people love me so much. It’s a wonderful thing, but I also feel like it makes people’s advice and opinions too emotional and biased. Even people who I know LOVE me so very much and can really empathise with me, still don’t have a clue what it’s really like. They don’t have to sit in a silent house with the weight of the world and the void left by their loss. Those wonderful people still can’t really put themselves in my shoes. Our brains don’t allow it. It’s too much to fathom. 

I also am trying so hard to maintain a relationship with my mother in law. She is one of my “pieces of Kyle”. But she lives 6 hours away and is very involved in her activities and I feel like she is drifting away. Maybe it’s too hard for her to be close to me right now. She has lost a husband and a son. I can’t imagine her pain. But I do wish she would share that pain with me. 

This week, both of my children have had an issue at school. Myla is daydreaming and not focusing to the point of the teacher needing to talk with me and Hamp has been throwing temper tantrums at daycare this week. It’s just too much to have to deal with by myself sometimes. That’s when I start to get overwhelmed, which in turn makes me start to get angry at God. In times like that, I have to force myself to slow down and breathe. And pray. Pray for peace and a calm head. Pray for guidance and direction. 

One more day until this week is over. Hallelujah! 

Hope for the hopeless

I wish there was an adequate way to describe grief. It’s so consuming.  It’s hard to sound authentic when I say this, but I am literally thinking about Kyle and his death almost every waking second. Even when I have a client in my chair at the salon and we are making small talk, He is still in the back (or sometimes front) of my mind. I’ve become very good on the receiving end of a one-sided conversation, seemingly participating in the conversation when my mind is elsewhere.

   It’s so suffocating. I feel like I literally can’t breathe sometimes, and other times all I want to do is scream and cry. Sometimes when I just look at his photograph, I get this tingling feeling all over me and for a split second it feels as though the walls are closing in. I still have night when I am on my knees on the floor crying out in grief pain.  How can I still feel like this after almost 6 months? Furthermore, how in the heck has time even continued so far as to even become 6 months?!  I try to reflect on what I have been doing with myself for the past 6 months, and I come up with nothing. I haven’t done anything except survive. I’m exhausted, weak, sad, desperate, and lonely. I’m surviving in a home surrounded by our memories. This was our dream home! We had so many plans left unfinished and dreams left unfulfilled. I’m raising our children alone. Which is quite frankly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Single parenthood, compounded with grief and loss is almost unbearable. I second guess every single decision and even the thought of future decisions. I have spent almost half of my life with that man, and I have no idea how to be myself without him. He was my best friend, safety net, encourager, protector, lover, my everything. It’s times like these when I wonder how anyone can possibly survive this. How I survived this. How I am continuing to survive this. Whether I will be able to continue to survive this for the rest of my years on this earth. I feel like a shell of the person I once was. Every moment for the rest of my life will be the after. After his death. 

    God has truly wrecked my life and brought me to my knees. Why would He do this ? Why would He take away our rock, my love, my soulmate? People say things like “we can’t question God.” Well, I believe that is wrong. We can question God. And we should. We should have an open dialog and conversation with Him. Because through our questioning, we can find hope. I am so thankful to have my faith and hope for my eternal future. I have said over and over- I have no idea how anyone survives grief without God. I know that God has a master plan, and that life and death are not random events. And in His book, the oldest manuscript of history on earth, it states that through knowing Him and by faith in Him, we will have eternal life in His paradise. That’s what I want! I want to be in His perfect paradise with those that I love. I’m ready today! For those lost souls who don’t believe that what the Bible states is true, I pray so hard for your broken heart. There is hope for the hopeless! God does not want us to suffer, and His children will not suffer in vain. Currently I’m reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It is extremely intriguing and by page 18, I was crying. It’s going to be a good read. 

      I still can’t believe it’s been nearly  6 months. I wish time would stop. Every new day takes me farther away from the last time I saw Kyle. He is getting further and further away from our memories. I hate it. But after listening to a sermon by Levi Lusko, I realized a truth. It’s been 176 days since I saw my husband on this earth. But that makes me 176 days closer until I see him again in heaven. One day closer. 

Parenting as a new single mom 

My new role as single parent is literally the hardest thing I’ve EVER done. Let’s be real… I know I’m not the first single parent in the world. There are millions of moms and dads who do it every day. But, since I’m new at it, I’d like to put it out there that THIS SUCKS. Especially when it is a roll that you are forced into. Now, in my opinion, divorced parenting is not the same. There are at least some times, if not every other weekend, when you finally get a break. A break from the weight of parenting. Weather that may be actual time off and freedom for just a few days, or financial support, at least there is some help. I have no help. Yes, my mom helps me pick the kids up from school everyday and helps with homework. But it is me, and only me, wearing the battle gear and am on the front lines of this parenting war. It’s so unbelievably hard. 

 Myla’s teacher text me today about an ongoing situation at school. She is very smart, flies through her work, and then becomes distracted and also a distraction because she is restless. I’ve yelled, threatened spankings, actually spanked her, and grounded her, but I can’t seem to get through to her. I feel like I am CONSTANTLY on her about behavior. Sometimes I talk so down to her, I’m ashamed at myself. I find myself constantly yelling and arguing to the point of defeat or tears. I love her spunky personality, and I’m so afraid of breaking it.  I talked to my grief counselor, Mike, about the dynamics between Me and Myla. He pointed out the obvious- my stress level + grief + exhaustion play into the emotional side of parenting. I’ve got to find a balance and some single parenting + discipline reading material. 

It’s hard when you don’t have anyone at home to back you up. Tonight before I came home, I sat in my car and cried. I asked God aloud to help me to parent in an Godly way. The way that Kyle and I had intended to parent together. I asked Him again to give me patience and to help me to keep my cool. I asked Him to guide Myla in her daily decisions and choices in the classroom. After that, I came home and was actually able to have a clam conversation about her behavior. Thank you, God! When you call out to Him, he will answer you! 

I have to set more clear boundaries and consequences for Myla. But I also need to set some for myself. My new “rule” is to not be on my phone at all from the time I come home until I get the kids into bed. That way all of my attention is on them.  Tonight was a little chaotic, but I did it. I think this is going to be a great habit to enforce. 

Prayed for me and Myla and my parenting are much appreciated! 

5 months

It’s been 5 months. WOW. 5 months ago, the world as I knew it exploded in my face. 5 months ago, I woke up a wife and went to bed a widow. 5 months ago, my life was all about me and my goals, dreams, and desires. 5 months ago, I was blindsided. 5 months ago, my children became fatherless. 5 months ago, I saw my husband for the very last time. 5 months ago, I was whole.

I took the above picture of Kyle’s belongings a week after he died.  When I went to the school where his soul left his body, I was given all of his possessions stuffed inside of one of his shoes. His big shoes. His size 17, enormous, expensive, ongoing source of jokes, shoe. Everything that was on his earthly body that he left behind.  His shoes, his iPhone, a can of Wolf Wintergreen Longcut, some money, his watch, his wedding ring, sunglasses, whistle, and the play sheet that was in his back pocket. He was to play his first game as a Yazoo County High football coach the very next day against his former team, Yazoo City High. The money was the change leftover from the $40 he borrowed for gas and breakfast that fateful morning. My last memory of him is of him peeking over the shower asking to borrow it.

My last good memory that I hold so dear was from 2 nights before Kyle died (that Monday night before).  We had a painter in the house painting our fireplace and vaulted ceiling, and  Myla had 3 baby teeth pulled that afternoon. When I got home, the house was a wreck and furniture all out of place. Myla had 4 separate visitors to check out her dental work, I was trying to get supper ready while my barely 2 year old cried at my feet. I was in a terrible, and frantic mood. Kyle came in from work and could immediately sense my frustration. He gave me a big, huge bear hug. I hugged him quickly back and then tried to move out of that position to continue all of the tasks at hand. He wouldn’t let me go. Before I could protest or get mad, he said “hang on. I’m just slowing you down. Everything is gonna be fine, just slow down”. It was just what I needed to relax and not stress about everything going in inside my house. I almost cry thinking about that. Kyle always knew exactly what I needed. He knew me so well.

I think about Kyle’s earthly possessions. He took nothing but his soul with him that day, and all material possessions were left behind.  The thing that will outlast my husband is the impact he made in so many young lives, not his watch, his shoes or his iphone….what was unseen, positive and lasting. Over time and decades his personal items will decay, but the impression he made and the kind, gentle nature that he lived will outlive any earthly thing.

This is a hard reality to face. I look around my home, and it’s so earthly. I realize now that I have so many faults, and I am working on myself every day to be a different Jamie.

I found this verse that portays this so perfectly:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures of heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”                 Matthew 6:19-20

I pray that when the Lord comes to get me or when I die that I am not found guilty of storing up my treasures here on earth but that I was a faithful servant of God, working to store up treasures in heaven.  I have sinned immeasurably, but through His grace, I have been saved and must now use that gift to live a servant’s life. I want to go where my Love is. I want to be in Heaven with my people, not with my earthly possessions and pride.

dream a little dream of me

I finally dreamt of Kyle again last night.  It’s weird, but I have had very few dreams of him. I want to dream of him so badly! They are so vivid and perfect.  I can see his face so clearly.   Maybe I haven’t had dreams because I go to bed exhausted and sleep so hard.  Maybe I just don’t remember them.  Maybe God protects my fragile heart by only allowing me to see him in small fragments.

In the first week or so after his death, I dreamed of him every night. But there was tension in the dream.  We were either separated/divorced/broken up or something of the like, and I was constantly trying to get his attention.  Sometimes he would get irritated with me and tell me “it was for the best”, and other times he would ignore me and go about whatever it was that he was doing.  It’s almost as if the dreams symbolized our earthly separation. He is fine and dandy, while I am acting like the crazy ex-girlfriend trying to get him back.  So strange.  I haven’t had a dream of him in weeks though.  Sometimes I stare at his picture on my nightstand, hoping that if he is the last thing on my mind, I will see him again in my dreams.

Last night I finally saw him again.  This time we were together, but I knew he was sick and that he had a heart condition.  The doctor gave him a certain date that he would live to, and as that date approached, I woke up.

Dreams are strange.  I am putting a journal and pen beside my bed from now on so that I can write them down in the morning while they are still fresh.  I hope to see him again in my dreams tonight.

Myla has told me of several times when she has dreamed of daddy.  He is always either singing or dancing in her dreams.  Oh, I hope she has these happy dreams forever and that she will remember her daddy so vividly!

Our prayers for 2016. Did God hear us? 

Last year, at our end of the year Sunday School party, we were asked to write down a prayer for 2016 to be read at this year’s end. Kyle and I had a really hard end to 2015, and these prayers reflect our pain. Kyle was in his 2nd season as a Head football coach at a local private school. The 1st season was great, but the 2nd year, well let’s just say it was not pretty. They only won one game- Game #8 out of 10. He was fired shortly after the season ended.  Private school culture is “complicated”  behind the scenes, and personal gains of others take precedence over what is sometimes right.  I took his firing very hard – I’m a 2nd generation alumni, and I felt like that was “my” school who did him wrong. But anyway, enough about that for now…

When I first read our prayers from last year, I was so sad, a little angry, and couldn’t help but to ask God “why?”. Why did we have to have 2 hard Christmases in a row? Why did we have to endure those tough times? Why was Kyle’s last year on this earth one of the hardest? In one short year, we went through job loss, we both lost our grandmothers within a month of each other, and then we lost Kyle. Why is God putting us through so much?! I can look at this now and realize that even in losing Kyle, God was answering our prayers. He was preparing us. If Kyle wouldn’t have been fired, he wouldn’t have found a new job back in public school, where he was happy.  We wouldn’t have had insurance, or his state retirement benefits. God set all of that in motion! God knew Kyle had a bad heart, and he lined everything up to protect us. During our time at the Private school, he and I developed so many true, loving friendships with parents and players. Those people have been by my side through Kyle’s death. God was building us a flock during those years.  He was pushing us closer to each other and closer to Him. We spent a lot of time praying, and growing stronger. Through our difficult year, I know Kyle grew even stronger in his walk with Christ. I have not one doubt in my mind that he burst through the Heavens and net our God. Now it is my turn to cling to the cross until my family is reunited in heaven.

The above cards were our prayers at the end of 2015.  #goodbye2016 #onedaycloser #beautyfromashes #isaiah61

 The day my world was broken 

*The day after my husband died, I journaled what I experienced on that day. Some of this is from those raw, early moments *  I want to share the details of that day, mostly as a cathartic way of working through this trauma of grief…

August 17. A day forever marked, forever a death day. The day was a normal unassuming Wednesday in August, 4 days into the fall school year. That morning Kyle peeked over the shower door to tell me goodbye and that he loved me and asked if he could he get some cash from my purse for gas. I told him to have a good day and he told me that he loved me. That was the last time I ever saw him alive.  I took the kids to school, and went to work. As normal as a Wednesday can be.

Around 9 am, I got a call from the secretary at Kyle’s school that “coach Wallace fell out in the gym”. I could tell she was a little rattled, but I didn’t hear “alarm” in her voice. She said that I needed to come out to the school. I honestly thought he had fainted, and needed me to come drive him home. I left work, and headed to his school which is about 20 miles from town. I called my dad and asked him to pray for Kyle, and that I didn’t really know what was going on. I then called my sister in law, Jamie and asked for prayers too. I was about 10 miles from the school when the secretary called me again to update me. She said she didn’t know any details, but that the Bentonia Volunteer Fire Department was there and  they were still doing CPR…

Wait. What?!  CPR?? Did I miss that in the earlier conversation? I had no idea it was that serious. I put my hazard lights on and started flying down the highway. When I arrived at the school, I was immediately escorted to the gymnasium where Kyle was. I can remember the teacher,Melanie, with her arms around me as we walked, telling me that they had to cut his shirt off and don’t let that scare me. When I got to the gym, I saw Kyle on the floor (on his back, center court), the Bentonia volunteer fire department doing chest compressions, and a few teachers huddled together off to the side. One teacher grabbed my hand and told me to get down there with him and to yell his name. She said ‘maybe he can hear you and will fight’. It’s strange, but it was almost as if I new the second I walked into that gym, I knew he was gone and no amount of yelling was going to bring him back. But I did as I was instructed and what my heart wanted me to do. I screamed his name. “Please Kyle! Come on, Kyle!” I begged him to wake up.

I held his left hand as I yelled, but I remember looking several times across his body at his other hand while they were still doing CPR.  It had begun to turn pale. His color was leaving his body and I knew he didn’t have oxegyn. During this time, the paramedics arrived and someone pulled me back, so that they could put the defibrillator on him and  shock him. I think I saw that happen twice. They pulled me up and made me leave the gym. I sat in an office for a few minutes in total shock. Teachers were in there with me , bringing me water and crying. I just sat there, staring. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. But I felt faint and sick. I knew this was it, and the whole experience seemed like I was watching it from above as it happened like a movie. A few moment went by and a man (I think the coroner) came in to tell me that they had done everything and that they were so sorry. I remember asking him what he meant. “What do you mean? That’s it? Y’all are done?”  It didn’t occur to me at that time that they had probably been doing CPR for at least 30 minutes, if not longer.  I called Kyle’s sister Casey (a physician in Nashville) first. She answered the phone crying. She had already found out from their brother, Brock,  that Kyle had had some sort of cardiac episode.  (From when I called Brock’s wife on the way to the school). Then I called my mom. She told me later that in an earily calm voice I said “momma, Kyle just passed away”. I don’t remember if she asked me any questions, and I think I told her to call daddy.

They said I could go back  in the gym if I wanted.  I walked back in, much more slowly than before, to see his body covered by a sheet. I knelt beside him and pulled the sheet back, and tried to soak up every last second of life and warmth in his body. I kissed his face and his eyelids and smelled his hair. I stuffed his large fingers in between mine, so that I could feel what it felt like to hold his hand one more time.  Holding hands with Kyle always “hurt” just a little.  My hands are small, and when his fingers are intertwined with mine, it stretched my fingers apart.  I wanted to feel that feeling one more time.  All time was in a vacuum, but what felt like just a few minutes, I suddenly I felt a heavy weight fall on top of me while I was still on the floor over Kyle’s body. It was my Dad. On his knees beside us, my father cried for me and for my husband . He said “Big Guy” and “Son” over and over. My pastor was there within minutes also, and was praying over us. Then My dad prayed over me and Kyle’s body on the floor of the gym. It was hands down the closest I have ever felt to the Holy Spirit in my life.

Shortly after we prayed, we all got up and went to the front office. Kyle’s older brother Brock and his wife Jamie had just gotten to the school. Someone brought be Kyle’s belongings, and Brock held his brothers shoes and Cried out in complete desperation. I remember  feeling so sad for Brock as he banged his brother’s shoe on the table. I took Brock to the gym, but Kyle was already on the ambulance, headed to the state hospital for autopsy. Brock never got to see his brother that day. In a quiet state of shock and disbelief, we all began heading back to my house, which would be the beginning of several days of a foggy, jumbled haze of chaos, grief, love, and sadness as we mourned my husband in the days before his funeral.

After the funeral at some point, someone asked me what I felt or imagined happened as Kyle’s soul left his body. I close my eyes, and I imagine that gymnasium FULL of angels. I see sparkling gold heavenly beings, surrounding his body and escorting him into heaven. I see Angels left behind to hover above me and his earthly body as I cried out his name. Can you imagine a more glorious sight than when a Christian is called home? The Heavens opened up wide for him, and there was a heavenly chorus surrounding him as he entered through the gates. I believe Kyle was gone to Jesus as soon as his knees hit the ground. I don’t think he felt any pain and he was immediately overwhelmed by God’s splendor. Kyle had finished his job here on earth, and God took him out of the game. I am so thankful that I know without a doubt that Kyle was a Christian and is now in heaven. I’ve got to get there too, and I am going to laser focus my sights on being with my husband again for all eternity.

Thank you, Lord for your grace. Thank you for the people you have put in my life to carry me through this grief. Thank you for taking my husband into your arms. And mostly, thank you for allowing me to share 15 years of love with him.