Decisions, Knowledge: Those Processes Move At a Snail’s Pace

snail

These days, everything is hard. This would include the known and mundane things I do. So I’m sitting there on the couch watching TV and I get thirsty. I get Snickers off my lap and get up. I walk over into the kitchen and I stop. I ponder what it is I want to drink. Do I want a soda? Water? Tea? Milk? I’m sure, if someone were watching me, they’d think I’d forgotten what I wanted. But that’s not true. I’m trying to decide what it is I want to drink. What should it be? Hm?!

Well, I can’t really drink milk anymore. So that is off the list. Oh, I could have some almond milk. No, I don’t want that. That’s for my cereal, I tell myself. Oh, I could have some tea. No, I don’t want that, I decide. I had enough of that earlier. I should drink some water. Now I walk over to the counter and reach up and open the cabinet where the glasses are. Oh dang. It’s empty. Oh yes. They’re all dirty. So I reach down and open up the dish washer and dang. They’re dirty still. Dammit, I forgot to turn it on earlier. So I look to make sure I put a tablet in. I did. So I close it and push the start button.

So now what? I don’t want to use the good glasses. I don’t want to break one of those by accident. One of those plastic ones will work. Okay, they’re all in the dish washer too. Oh man. Now I have to use one of those giant size theater cups. I don’t want that much to drink, but that’s all that’s left. So, I put some ice in the glass and open up the fridge to get some water and pitcher is mostly empty. Really? Almost empty? Why can’t the last person fill this damn thing? So I stand there looking at pitcher almost empty. I finally realize that it needs to be filled. So I refill it and put it back in the fridge. But, dang it, my glass is still empty, just a few cubes of ice. Uuuuhhhmm? Oh, I need more ice. So I get more ice in from the freezer and then water from the facet. I also have several little “drink enhancers” I can spray into the water. Do I want that too?!  I pick up each one several times and then finally decide which one I want and spray it into the water. A process in the past that would have taken me 15-20 seconds now takes me 5 minutes to complete. It’s not that I don’t where to go or what to do. I do know that. It’s just that my decision making is .. so slow.

There is always something new to learn in just about everything we see and do. I watch TV, read and listen to sermons at church. I watch the news (sometimes to much), sermons by different ones, programs on the history channel, HGTV and just regular shows like NCIS. I use to absorb it in routine. Sometimes I would laugh, feel sorry or oh, I didn’t know that before. Now I can get stuck or something flies by me at the speed of sound. If I hear, a child is missing, a child was murdered, a soldier has made the ultimate sacrifice or maybe I hear at church that “God is Good.” I have to slow down so I can process it all. Oh damn, a parent has joined my club. Is God really good? Nothing else is heard because I’m still processing what was seen and said. Did he really say that? What did he say after that? It’s already gone by, I can’t bring it back. What was said is all been lost. How can I chase after the words that have already gone by? I can’t. I missed it because .. I listen to slow.

Magazines, books and articles on the internet are good places to learn. You don’t always have to learn when you read. You can sit and read nice novel of pure make believe. It’s all good and fun. I spent a lifetime reading about World War II. I’ve read about what all generals have said from each of the Armies. I’ve read about all the different battles and campaigns. Ones you’ve never even heard of. I’ve read about the planes, tanks and weapons all the men use. I’ve seen them, held them in my hands and even shot some of them on the rifle range. I’ve climbed on tanks, planes, ships and submarines and learned what I can. I’m sure I’ve forgotten more about the war than most men have even read.

I’ve read about computers, radios, radars, audio equipment and many other technologies. I kept up with all them. I did! I knew how to design, keep working, fix and operate them all. That’s the kind of engineer that I am.

I’ve read many novels and read the total writings of many authors over their entire lifetime. Mostly science fiction and spy novels and others too, but in lesser numbers. Hundreds, if not thousands in all. Those are for me.

I’ve read the Bible, many times over. Studied many sections over and over to learn the great mysteries of God. When I had difficulties learning something, I would seek help and sometimes I’d move on. Figuring that section wasn’t for me. Read books and articles on the subject or section I was pondering. I was always hungry for more. Reading and studying as a man dieing from thirst.

You see, I still want to read. It’s not that can’t read or don’t want to read. I have a novel and few magazines sitting right here ready to be read. When I read, I’m not sure what it is I read. So I read and reread what was said. Sometimes the last sentence or paragraph or even back a page or two. Even in the Bible, I have to reread verses over and over again. Sometimes, just give up. I’ve thrown away some magazines because I didn’t know what they said. It’s not that I’m stupid or dumb, but I just .. comprehend so slow .. I’m now afraid to read. Learning from the wisdom they speak of is a chasing of the wind. I’m drowning from the words.

© 2019 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you.

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The Compressing of Time from the Weight of Grief from Child Loss

  • Tic toc
  • Tic toc
  • The seconds, minutes and hours pass away on the clock. 
  • There’s nothing anyone can do: the clock keeps ticking away. 
  • Time… It doesn’t stop for anyone. 
  • Except, except in the death of a child. 
  • The heavy weight of loss drops. Compressing the time down to nothing. 
  • And then..and only then, time starts moving slowly forward. 
  • Tic……. toc 
  • Tic……. toc
  • You’re way behind in time. 
  • Years and years it is. 
  • You’ve barely begun. 

[Galatians 6:2-5 talks about carrying each other’s burden and for you to carry your own load. The original wording implies a better picture of the load. To carry your own load means to carry your backpack and to carry each other’s burden is you helping to carry someone’s heavy trunk. Carrying your own burden makes sense in that picture.]

When your child dies, a trunk, a huge trunk and with the weight of grief that is excessively overwhelming for you to carry, falls right on top you. You struggle to even breathe from that load. In time, you can come up the strength to push it up. Only to have it fall on you again. For many days, weeks, and months you repeat pushing up the trunk. Finally you’re able to squeeze out from under the weight. But months or years have gone by for the rest of the world. Tic………..toc

For them, time has gone by quickly. They’ve had birthdays, weddings, children, grandchildren  Christmas’: time has flown by for them. While you’re been struggling, time has stood still. Bearly moved on. The trunk is overwhelming heavy. To the point you even wish for death because of the heavy weight. Tic………..toc.

In time, but not in the real sense of time, you learn to push, pull, drag that trunk along. Sometimes it easy to do and other times, it just falls right back on you. You climb from underneath it and continue on the best you can. Tic………..toc

In time, you put wheels on. Maybe small ones at first. Later you put bigger and bigger wheels on. Maybe even rubber ones like on your car. On some roads, it’s easy to push or drag it along. Or maybe even you can hop on top and ride along like you’re on a carriage. Maybe even now, time moves on more normally than before, but you’re years behind the rest of the world. Tic………..toc.

But behold, the road is rough and tough. Many hills, valleys, twists and turns you must travel, because real time goes by the clock and you’re being held back by your weight on the clock. At times, you’ll be run over, squashed, can’t see because of the darkness, and drug along by the heavy weight of grief. You’ll get flat tires, lose wheels and the trunk will fall right on top of you again and again. Having the great difficulty of just taking a breath. Tic………..toc. 

For the rest of the world, tic toc tic toc, the seconds, minutes, hours go by on the clock. The days, weeks and months go by on the calendar. The earth spins around its axis and goes around the sun as it always does. Years and years go by as it was set in place by God the father when it was created. But for you, you’re child died just a second ago. The weight of your child’s death compressed your time. Tic………..toc. 

© 2019 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved
Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you. 

What’s so Damn “Happy” about Happy New Year?

Well, well, well… (Sarcasm) It’s that time of the year..AGAIN. You know. Time to reflect on the past year and think/plan for the up coming year. Before my daughter’s death, I never gave it one speck of thought. It was just another day. The only thing I had to remember was to write the next year on everything when I dated them. The paperwork that I had to sign at work and on the checks I wrote to pay for groceries. Before debit cards, I used checks. Remember checks?

So why is it that this day is such a big struggle for me? It never was before. Because my daughter is still dead. That’s right: d-e-d, dead! She’s left this world and gone to live in the Father’s house. Jesus hasn’t gone to her room and said, come out Amanda. Just as Judah grieved for Joseph, I grieve for Amanda. 

How can I reflect on the past when it’s so full of sorrow? My heart has been obliterated into nothingness. Yes, year number three is coming quickly. But, it seems like yesterday to me. How do I make a new heart from nothing? Survive. Yes, I’m a survivor. Not a warrior. I wasn’t trained for this. How could anyone be trained for the death of their child? You can’t. You survive. 

How can I plan ahead for the next year? Survive: (say each line with increasing speed)

  • Breathe in 
  • Breathe out 
  • Second by second
  • Minute by minute
  • Hour by hour 
  • Day by day 
  • Week by week 
  • Month by month 

From the shattered remains of my major award, I drudge along in this new year. 

…New Year…2019…

© 2018 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you. 

Dear Santa

santa.reading

Dear Santa,

..I’m writing you this letter as I’m feeling a little blue, so I hope you don’t think I am asking too much of you. You visit every year and leave everyone such wonderful things, but I’m wondering if you also visit our loved ones who have wings? I know you must be busy, so much to do in just one night, but could you please make an extra trip to the stars that shine so bright?

…You see we have special loved ones -too perfect for life on earth, no presents could we send them to truly show their worth. So could you please leave them all a gift and put a stocking on their cloud, filled full of precious presents from their loved ones on the ground. Please stroke their sleepy heads, tell them their families love them so, that their hearts ache with sadness and their tears just seem to flow. If you could do this for me Santa, their families might be able to smile, even if it is just for a tiny, little while…

So thank you very much Santa for everything you do, after all it is Christmas, up in heaven too ♥

A friend posted this on her Facebook and I asked for permission to blog it. She did but she didn’t know who the author was. To make it clear, I did not write this letter and the author is unknown. Enjoy.

© 2018 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you.

Child Loss: The Real Grinch that Stole Christmas

thegrinchGrowing up. I remember watching, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon every year. When the girls were young, I would watch it with them. We would laugh and feel horrible that the Grinch would steal Christmas. You know, his heart was two sizes too small.

The Grinch would look down from his mountain top and see the people down in Whoville singing, putting up Christmas trees, lights, decorations everywhere and the presents. Oh the presents. He hated Christmas. He planned with his dog Max to steal it all. I remember the silly scene where he put reindeer antlers on his poor little dog and watching him tilt forward from the weight. Then watching the Grinch cut down the horns off until they’re almost gone. Lots of silly scenes with Max: as the sleigh is going down hill he goes under it and hops on the back and rides; as the Grinch is throwing the bags out of the chimney, Max gets crushed by them; then when he struggles to pull the sleigh up hill with it piled with everything.

You know, the Grinch took:

“Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!” 

He stole everything, even crumbs to small for a mouse!

There is one scene when the mean old Grinch is even taking the candy canes from the children asleep in their bed. How mean is that? Even the little girl’s candy cane, Cindy Lou Who. He stink, stank, stunk.

Amanda, my little Amanda, mamma changed her name to Amanda Lou Who after we saw the Jim Carrey movie as she really loved the little girl, Cindy Lou Who. So we called her, Amanda Lou Who for a month or so. She was only 5 at the time. It was so cute. I think she even got the doll as a gift for Christmas.

Christmas has always been such an enduring happy and joyful time for the family. Until one day my daughter, that one day I watch her die in ICU. Over and over I watch that film in my head. Brings me nothing but sadness and sorrow. My heart grew two sizes too small. My strength has left me by 10 times minus 2.

  • There are no more 4 page wish lists.
  • No more gifts.
  • The stocking is empty.
  • The hole in the Family picture.
  • The empty seat at the table.
  • No more talking of memories.
  • Only speaking of memories.

Christmas comes each year and there is nothing I can do about it. I fully know about the hope of Christmas: my savior Jesus is born. The coming hope is something to look forward to and I’d still like to try some roast-beast. But for now, I don’t want to touch Christmas, even with a thirty-nine-and-half foot pole.

© 2018 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you.

The Unthankful Thankfulness of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of the year to be thankful. And I am thankful for many things, events, people in my life and my faith in Christ. 


The first would be the career that I had with the US Army Research Laboratory at White Sands Missile Range. I was a civilian federal worker, worked and served for almost 34 years. I’m now retired. I retired at the end of August last year. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to shift around and find other jobs during my career. I saw others have to move around from company to company to have employment. 


I’m thankful that my job paid well enough that I didn’t have to make tough decisions on whether to eat or to buy clothes, for example. It provided a home to live in, chairs to sit in, TV to watch, food to eat, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in and pillow to lie my head on. Something Jesus didn’t have and many people in this world don’t have. It even provides a good income in retirement that we shouldn’t have to worry to much about it. I’m greatfully thankful for that. 


I’ve had many friends over the years. I’ve laughed, cried and shared my life with them. Many have come and gone. I live in a military city. That’s common. I’m thankful that I got to know them and be friends with them. 


The day of Thanksgiving itself is full of food, family and friends. In my circle of family, turkey is not the favored meat. So we have turkey, ham, steak, chicken and maybe some other meats. With more than enough other foods to eat along with the meat choices. Stuffing, not only just the one seasoned kind, but with nuts and fruits in it. Differing kinds of potatoes and vegetables to go with dinner. Now desserts. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie and maybe even some chocolate cake and not to mention all the extra fixings to go on top of them. Leftovers for days later. All in all, a feast fit for kings. 


I’m overwhelming thankful for the king of kings, lord of lords, my savior Jesus Christ. I’m so thankful he spared his life to save my sinful life. My faith is on solid rock. I rest my faith there. 


However, I’m not thankful for my daughter’s death. I’m not thankful that I had to watch her die. I’m not thankful she had die so young at the age of 20. I’m not thankful that she didn’t get to live a full life. I’m not thankful that I get sent to depths of the Pacific Ocean gasping for air to breathe. I’m not thankful that I suffer so much from one horrifying event. I’m not thankful for my daughter’s death…at all. My suffering is never ending. I miss my Amanda: I’m eternally unthankful for that. 


© 2018 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you. 

The Vanished Prayers of This Grieving Father

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – James 5:16b

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  – Philippians 4:6

Before child loss, I lived the verses above. I believed them with all my heart. I prayed for many things: healing for me, healing for others, that events in life would go smoothly, thankful for food to eat, a good night’s sleep, for forgiveness and many other things and for other people’s requests. I would even pray for silly things like, please give me a speedy and safe trip across town. I’m running late and need green lights. And then remember to be thankful when it did happen or even thankful when it didn’t happen. Teaching me a lesson of some kind. Prayer was apart of my daily life. It was effective and powerful.

Then, the terror, most horrifying event happens to our family: Amanda, our 20 year old daughter dies. That night when we got home from the hospital, sleep eluded me. So I left and went to the couch down stairs and laid on the couch. Thinking I didn’t want to wake Tammy, who wasn’t sleeping either, but appeared to be. I wanted to pray, but didn’t know what to pray. As it happened, I remembered these verses from Romans:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – Romans 8:26 – 27

I suspect I was led by the Spirit pray this way. What better way is there than to ask the Holy Spirit to pray for me in my most dire time. I was in shock at this time as the fullness of her death wouldn’t hit until much later. Not knowing what to pray would be common to me for many months and still continues to this day, 2 years and almost 9 months later. I still have no idea what to pray for, for me that is. My usual prayer now is just one of thanks: thank you Lord for giving me the strength to make it through the day (as I lay down in bed to go to sleep). More of an after thought than a time set aside for prayer.

For others, maybe .. maybe not. Before, not a problem. I would listen to everyone’s request and pray for it in my morning time and would continue for as long as they asked or felt lead to. Now, it’s more conditional–if at all. Lets say the Smith’s (generic name) asked for a prayer for safe travels the next week to visit family and a day of fun at Disney. I would pray that their car work as it should. No break downs. No accidents and that everyone is safe and secure. That the family get along well with their extended family so the stay is enjoyable. Keep everyone safe from harm at Disney and that no one gets sick while on the trip. Now .. Be with the Smith’s while on vacation. Mostly, it’s like. Who cares, they’re going to LA to have fun. Trip forgotten. No prayers at all.

Another example, the Smith’s are asking for prayers for their sick child, spouse, parent, or some other family member. They might need surgery and be in the hospital a few days. What ever the needs are, I would pray for it. No hesitation. Now, it’s like: why should I pray for them? God didn’t show us mercy with Amanda. You know. The pastor, associate pastor, friends were all there. The prayers of all of us combined were not powerful and effective. No mercy was granted. Why is it I should pray for them? My prayers are not heard. Why should I? But then again, should I? I don’t want them join this horrible club of child loss or the loss of a loved one. The guilt goes round and round. Anxiety and more anxiety. What to do? What to do?! Do I ask for healing or not?

I know in my head that I should pray. My before child loss life has plenty of experience with powerful prayer. It bloomed in my heart. It was all natural. The heart knowledge traveled freely to my brain for processing and then back again. My new life, this process has been nuked. There is no connection between my head and heart. It is gone. I’m defeated. My prayers have been vanquished. Some day, one day, hope upon hope, this part of my life will return to me. Then I can live up to presenting my every requests up to God without anxiety so that they maybe powerful and effective. Until then, my prayers have disappeared.

© 2018 Roger Holmack, All Rights Reserved

Feel free to leave a comment and/or click on the “Like” star. This grieving father always needs a little encouragement. Thank you.