Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Keep or Not to Keep

I have never been a sentimental person.  At times it has frustrated my husband over the years, especially because he is very sentimental.  He keeps every little thing.  He has all kinds of momentos from high school through now, from jackets and yearbooks to ticket stubs and name tags from conferences.  Ugh.  I toss it all.  I have literally nothing from my school years except a very few pictures.  No jackets.  No horse show ribbons.  No ticket stubs.  No play bills.  No yearbooks.  No cheerleading or pom uniforms.  No plaques.  No trophies.  I just didn't keep them.  They were not important to me.  On the rare occasion that the children have gone through his things, it's been fun, but even then I did not regret not keeping my things.

And, if I'm being completely honest, it's caused me more than a little frustration when I have to move the mountains of paper, stuff, and junk, yet again, that seem useless to me.  I've thrown away more than one conference name tag and consoled myself that no one is the wiser.  πŸ˜¬

But it's different now.  When I look around at William's things, I'm torn.  I wish I had taken more pictures, more video, but I don't know what to do with the other things.  I feel a great sense of guilt that some things could be used by someone else, but they sit here, doing no one any good.  Yet, I can't seem to let them go.

Of course, some things we passed on pretty quickly.  Like his cochlear processors and Roger kit.  They were such a blessing to him, I just knew someone else had to benefit from those.  And he would have wanted to bless someone with those.  Well, actually, he would have given anyone anything if they needed or even wanted it.  I did keep one processor, though.  I know it's silly.  I have absolutely zero use for it and it makes me feel a little guilty.  But when I open my drawer and see it there, it brings me comfort somehow.

Most of his toys were shared by the other children so they are largely still being used, but I am keenly aware of him as they outgrow them and move on to things more age appropriate.  Some of the things that were expressly his or really loved by him I either put in my drawer, one of the children kept out special, or they remain untouched.  I don't think anyone has ridden in the police car since he left us.  Maybe I have not made enough of an effort to let them know it's okay or maybe it's hard for them, too.

On Sydnee's birthday, the weather was so nice we had the patio door open.  Wallace was looking outside and started crying, out of the blue.  He cried most of the night and was just not himself.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said that when he sees the stars he remembers William and how much William loved to look up at the stars.  We would lie on the trampoline or the hood of the car and just look up and I would describe the sky to him.  I'm not sure how much of it he saw, but I think he could tell there was something there.  He always said it was beautiful.

I don't think the trampoline has been put back up since he passed either.  In some ways, I feel like he just left.  Like yesterday.  How can I be expected to get back to "normal" life already?  But then I look and I realize it's been 15 months.  FIFTEEN MONTHS.  Fifteen months that I have not held that precious boy in my arms or sang him to sleep at night.  Fifteen months since I stopped living, too.  I type this and I think, how can 15 months have gone by without my children enjoying the trampoline?  How can I have let FIFTEEN MONTHS go by without taking them swimming or horseback riding or running around with the police car?

I am just now starting to do some of the things that I used to do.  Just recently have I stepped back into the role of overseer of my home and even that is not as full-fledged as I once was.  I know I'll get there.  But sometimes it feels like with every step forward I leave him behind a little.

So I find myself clinging to his things.  Like...

...his green backpack that he carted all his therapy tools in.  The other day, I found myself so frustrated, I dared not speak when Knox left it outside.  It's now been confiscated and put up in my room.

...his Cough Assist machine, which was so useful to him and SO hard to get ahold of.  I know it could benefit some child and I should donate it.  I want to donate it.  I just haven't been able to bring myself to step into his doctor's office.

...his wrist weights that I made for him to try to help his tremors.

...his soccer socks.  Oh, how he loved those socks!  I bought them to go under his orthotics to protect his legs, but he loved them and insisted on wearing them all the time, even to bed.  I remember striking a deal with him once that if the temperature was over 98° (or something like that), he would not wear his socks.  In the summer, he would get up in the morning with his big grin and say, hopefully, "Mommy, I think it's less than 98° today."  Now I have several pair of soccer socks that sit in my drawer, untouched.

...his medical records and x-rays.  Seriously, what to do with those?  It just doesn't feel right to toss them but it also doesn't feel right to hang onto them for nothing.  Literally, boxes of paper.

...his wheelchair.  We donated his orthotics and PT equipment, but I kept his wheelchair.  I don't know why.  It's not like I'm going to use it.  I know it could benefit someone but I can't seem to let it go.

My heart hurts as Wallace outgrows the clothes that William wore only briefly.

My heart hurts when I walk through a store and see a toy that he would have loved - like an ambulance, police car, or fire truck with lights, sounds, and sirens.

My heart hurts when I buy gifts for the children, like for Thanksgiving and New Year's.  I just could not bring myself to not buy something for him.  I know that's weird but I just couldn't leave him out.  But, of course, it makes no sense to buy him something, either.  So I did what felt right.  I bought gifts that he would like and gave them away.

Maybe someday I will know what to keep and what to give away.

Maybe someday I will not feel like moving forward leaves him behind.

Maybe someday I will not feel guilty for hanging on to his things.

Maybe someday I will not feel guilty for giving his things away.

Maybe someday I will learn to navigate this new life with grace and ease...

But today is not that day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Stand Up

It strikes me how difficult it is to raise little children along with adult children.  For all of these years I have been engaged in teaching to the littles and I sometimes feel like I'm repeating the same few years of life over and over.

But it's good, too.  To always be viewing life through the eyes of a child.  Sometimes it is the simple things that bring us the most comfort, joy, and peace.

Our family likes to memorize a different hymn every month.  January's hymn is, "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus."  While several of us knew it already, many of the littles didn't so it was chosen.  I have loved going over it again!  So often I find that the best verses are the ones regularly left out.  My favorite verse of this hymn is verse 4:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor's song.
To him that overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.


I love singing this everyday!  I find it difficult to get through this verse without tears because it is so full of truth and promise.

This earthly struggle will not last.  Though it seems long, it is but for a moment.  We fight today, as we must continue to do, until the victory is reached and we are with the King of Glory for eternity.

Not only does it remind me that my striving will not last, it also reminds me of the glorious fact that my little boy has overcome.  I look forward to seeing him in his splendor...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy 18th Birthday, Sydnee!

Another adult in the home... How does it happen so quickly?  Yes, the days are long but the years truly are short, indeed!  All the more reminder of why we must be diligent to redeem the time!

Sydnee is so much like her father, always laughing, always joking, always the life of the party!  She was pleased and surprised by her minion cake!

And her new Douglas Bond book... ALWAYS a hit around here!

Sometimes things get a little crazy around here!  It looks like they were playing a game of "Who is the craziest?"

Is it you?

It must be you...

Or maybe you...
When you think it's someone else...

But it's really you...

Fun times!  Love this crazy family!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Life of Job

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10

I love Job.

I have found much comfort in the book of Job over the last couple of months.  I've immersed myself in it.  I'm reading it aloud to the children at night (they picked itπŸ˜€), along with a couple of commentaries and a children's book on Job.  It's been interesting, educational, and uplifting, all at the same time.  I love how interested they are in Job's life and the questions they are asking.

I think one thing that some Christians forget is that grief, though different for Christians, is still very real.  Of course, we grieve with hope and that makes it bearable.  Hope, because Jesus defeated death and all Christians will one day be reunited because of Him.
But we still have the sorrow of being without the one we love.  We still hit milestones without them.  We realize that life here is different than eternal life and how we knew them might be different.  William will never be the little boy sitting in my lap and hugging me again.  That part of his life, and mine, is gone forever and it is hard to let go of.

I've learned a lot over the past 452 days.  My faith has grown.  So has my sorrow.

There was a time I lived in what I call a "naive" faith.  Not that my faith wasn't real.  It was very real. But I had an easy life.  A comfortable life.  I enjoyed the world, perhaps too much.

I now understand what it is to truly long for eternity.  This world is not my home and I am glad of it.  My eternal perspective has become more acute.

I think so often we see people who are continuing life, continuing routine, participating in daily activities and we forget that they're hurting.  It is possible for me to go about my daily business without one person seeing the grief, but it's still there.  Church, home life, school,'s all still happening but there is not a single moment in any day when my heart doesn't ache with longing to hold my sweet William again.

That's part of why I continue the blog.  I wanted a place to be real.  Sometimes Christians look to others for comfort only to find judgment or condemnation about how we should be responding.  I get that people do not understand, nor would I want them to.  I try to show grace, though admittedly sometimes it's easier than others.  But I also don't want to hurt those who are grieving even more than they already hurt.  When others see me living "normally," I do not wish to give the false impression that the sorrow is gone.  That the pain is not there.  Or even that I am strong enough to bear it.

My love for the Lord has grown through this process of grief, not because of me but because of Him.  I realize I have fewer answers than before, but my faith might be even greater.  He has grown it.  He IS growing it.  There are so many things I don't know, but I hold to the things I DO know.

I know He's good.

I know He loves me.

I know He loves William.

I know William is with Him, in more fullness than I could imagine.

I know He can handle my questions and my sorrows.

I know He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

I know He will see me through whatever path He calls me to walk on this earth, until He brings me home.

And I know that one day He will turn the ashes to beauty. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The First Week

Well, I made it.  

I actually made it through 2016.  

Without him.  
Only God knows how.  Or why.

I miss his face.  His hugs.  His voice.  His smile.  I miss everything that was William.

New Year's is a big holiday for our family.  It's an occasion of reflecting back on what we did with the time God gave us during the past year: did we redeem the time or was it wasted?  It's also an occasion to give thanks for that time, that wonderful gift that God gives each of us.  And it's an occasion to look forward, to make plans, to think about what we will do with this great gift as God continues to give it. 

I have to admit, much of the time God gave me last year was wasted.

This turn of the year was more difficult for me than the last one.  The turn from 2015 to 2016 was such a fog, but this year I was more acutely aware of how life has changed, never to be what it once was.

I did have a good time with the family during all the hustle and bustle, but I also spent a good deal of the day in tears.  I have been on the verge of tears ever since.

Saying I miss him almost makes me angry.  It isn't sufficient.  It's interesting how words lose their meaning.  I tire of the words "miss" and "grief" because they are so inadequate.  To continue to say I miss him, while entirely true, seems to minimize the actuality of life.

Grief is brutally painful.  Losing a child is not something that can be fixed.  It doesn't go away.  I know I must somehow learn to carry it.  I think I am beginning to learn.  Not to be rid of the pain, but to work through it anyway.

To accept.

We rang in another year without his beautiful face.

I am a year farther away from the last time I held him in my arms.

Someone survived...I just have to get to know her.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ringing In the New Year 2017

Wow! It doesn't feel like 2017 should be here already! 2016 held so many memories for our family: Abby won the trainer's challenge, Selah was baptized, we went on 2 family trips (Ohio & North Carolina), I went to DC, we all turned a year older, and we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of William flying home to heaven. This first year has been very difficult. We continue to miss him and are grateful for the memories we have and for the new ones we created together. do the Ockers ring in the new year? With lots of family fun!

Mommy and Daddy got everyone a gift that had something they needed, something they wanted, something to help them grow spiritually, and something fun.

I LOVE the shirts the boys got!

Mommy and Daddy also got group gifts for everyone!

The boys love the spy kit they got and have already wired the kitchen several times! :)

I can't exactly remember what was going on here. Let's just say that Sydnee and I bring laughter to the party! :)

Sarah, you are officially crazy :)
Maybe it had something to do with how excited I was about our group gift...
The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings DVDs!

Our family started a new tradition last year called Ornery Ockers Odditorium. Everyone secretly buys a gift and wraps it. Everyone draws a number with #1 going first. #1 picks a gift to open. #2 can then decide to steal #1's gift or open a new one, and on the game goes until all of the gifts are opened.  The younger children draw names.

We have traditional food/drink that we do every year and this year Abby also made some delicious caramel lava cakes!

Mommy got these fun glasses for the little kids

My sweet, adorable brothers in their new matching pajamas!

Happy New Year, everyone!

posted by Sarah