so much death

Death.  So much death.  What do I mean by that?

Well, when we first lost Grant, it was all I could think about for a very long time.  Every thought I had in fact, revolved around that one predominate reality, the new reality.  But as time went on, and my mind, body and soul started to accept the fact that he was gone, it made room for other thoughts. I was able to try and start “normal life” again.  In fact, that’s what the entire last year has been.  Me trying to figure out what life looks like now.

But what I am discovering is death.  Death is everywhere.  When Grant died, he didn’t die alone.  The Alisa I once was, died with him.  The man I married and had known for 30 years is gone. The way our family interacted, changed forever. The way life was, died with Grant. Every night at dinner, death is there in the empty chair.  Every holiday death does not fail to appear as we celebrate around the gap. Every relationship we had, is forever changed. Yes, the way life used to be, died an that fateful day with our precious son.

That may sound morbid. It might make you wonder if I need help, if I am stuck in the grief process. I don’t think I am.  I truly believe, that when someone dies, so much dies with them; they do not die alone.  And the more time goes by, the more you discover that has died with your loved one. But you see, as painful as this is (and it truly is more painful than I even know how to adequately express because I am bound by language) this doesn’t have to be a morbid thing.

Every time I discover another death, as a result of Grant’s death, it makes me long for Heaven more.  It makes me love Jesus more for conquering death in the end. It stirs love for the things that are still here with more fervor and passion than I knew was possible. And it makes me grateful for every small moment, and relish things that were unseen before death took its tole.

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year number 2 is a strong opponent

It has been so long since I have posted.  There have been many days that I have come to my computer, opened the dash board on my blog and just sat staring at the screen.  I had every intention of writing when I sat down, but many times I just can’t seem to make myself write.  I don’t trust what my fingers will type.  I am sure others will think I should be further along than I am.  I fear my ramblings may appear to be a lack of faith or irreverent…so I sit and stare, and try another day.

But today, today I came across this.  It is from Bo Stern’s Blog, the author of “Beautiful Battlefields.” It is one of my favorite books I read last year, and I have been following her blog since I discovered it.  She is a precious wife and mother, who is caring for her husband, while he is dying from ALS. You will never meet a more Godly woman or encounter a stronger faith.  This is what she wrote yesterday…

“I’ve wandered to my keyboard today, wanting to write out some sort of something.  Emotions, memories-in-the-making, fears, failures, frustrations, wins, wounds.  Maybe I feel a little behind in my processing or maybe there is no such thing. Maybe we’re on a  new stretch of road in the journey and my head is spinning with all the ways I feel inadequate to shepherd my little flock through this unmarked place. I don’t know, exactly, all the things happening in my head, but I do know I am loaded up with thoughts and just a little nervous about what might flow out of my fingertips.

And yet, I’ve committed to authenticity – as much as I can muster and as much as I feel the world outside our window can handle. So, here I am, landing hard on the grace of Jesus today and using my words to share some random thoughts that really may be only for me.  Feel free to jump off the train right here if you’d like.”

When I read these words, it was as if she could see into my mind, my heart, my soul.  I felt as if I could have written them.  I want to be authentic, but I want to be genuine in a way that honors the Lord.  And that is sometimes hard to do as I trudge through this year, year number 2. Year number 2 is proving to be as hard as year number 1, but for different reason, with different struggles, new demons lurking in the shadows preying on our weakness, our weary hearts.  But there are also different discoveries about the Lord, things I never knew, depths I could never have imagined.  So I must keep writing, I must.  I will try…

But today I leave you with this song. It’s on repeat, as are the tears that flow while I listen, as I try to connect the truths of these lyrics to my heart, mind, and soul, regardless of how I feel today…it is well with my soul!

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not everything i want

I haven’t been writing much lately. I know I should, as it helps keep the truth front and center.  But I just haven’t had it in me. It’s been a long 2 months, a hard 2 months, and we are weary. My birthday without him, the one year anniversary of the last time I spoke with my precious son, the one year anniversary of Grant’s death, Mother’s Day minus one, his little sister’s birthday without both big brothers, Grant’s birthday (he would have been 26), and Father’s Day, with the gap so glaring…all to walk through within a 6 week period of time.  So hard.

I was reflecting on all of the above when these lyrics flashed upon the screen at church on Sunday…

“Christ is enough.  Christ is my reward. Christ is enough for me. Everything I need is in you.”

When walking through extreme pain, it causes us to evaluate everything we believe, every scripture, every promise, every sermon, every christianize. We ask ourselves how does this or that stand up to what has happened. So I found myself doing that again as I sang this song.

“Christ is enough.  Christ is my reward. Christ is enough for me. Everything I need is in you.”

It was so easy to sing that song when I had everything I wanted. But can I sing it when things aren’t as I want them to be? Is Christ enough in the dead of night when sadness robs sleep. Is Christ enough when you want to pick up the phone and tell your first born how much you love him, but know that will never be again in this lifetime? Is Christ enough on June 12, 2014, when we should be celebrating his 26th birthday but instead we struggle to breath.

Yes, He is enough, because Christ is everything I need. Jesus is not everything I want. I don’t want this; living the rest of my life without Grant, missing out on everything we had hoped for him, dreamt for him. I don’t want the pain that comes from losing him, learning to live without him here, the struggle of trying to figure who I am as a mother of 3 instead of 4. But I know now, more than ever before, because I have been forced to live it, everything I need is in Christ. Not everything I want, but need yes. So, Christ is enough.

And so I sing…“Christ is enough.  Christ is my reward. Christ is enough for me. Everything I need is in you.” No, it’s not everything I want, but it is everything I need.


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no where else to turn

This tragedy has made God bigger, more real. It seems like the opposite would be true. It seems like tragedy would drive a wedge between God and I, make me question His existence, question the reality of my faith! But I have more faith in God today than I did 14 months ago; seems weird, I know.  It seems weird to even me, and I am living it.

God took my son. And I would turn somewhere else for comfort if I could just to spite Him. But you see, this has taught me, shown me beyond a shadow of doubt, there is no where else to turn! I have looked, I have tried to find comfort in other things. But there is no where else to go. God is real. I have never been more certain of this in my 35 years as a Christian.

So God is bigger today, more real than He’s ever been. You see, when you’re left with no where else to turn, it’s then that you realize there is no where else to turn. I must turn to God or be lost.

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on the edge

Only one thought away. Only one memory away. I live now on the verge, the edge; the verge of tears, on the edge of emotion. If you were to watch me walk through my day and interact with others, you may not even notice I am a woman leaving on the edge.  I am learning to make my way through life, the new normal. Everyday takes courage to live, but everyday there are reasons for joy and gratefulness and I look for those and try to celebrate those daily.

But at the same time I live on the edge, the verge of tears. It is concealed as I go about my day, but it’s never gone completely. I can be doing something or having a conversation with no tears in sight. And then it happens. I remember something that happened or I think of something that will never be, and the tears are there without warning and in an instant. Will it always be like this? Is this the life of a bereaved parent? Learning to live around the gap while balancing on the  edge of it without falling in?

Or as time moves forward, as my time here grows shorter and reunion grows closer, will I be able to dance around the edge with the joy of anticipation? I long to dance Lord, give me the faith to dance around the edge of the gap with the time I have left here. Grieving with hope…

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the perfect hug

Another dream. I awoke and let the reality sink in one more time. It’s been over a year now, and yet, the reality still gets stuck in my chest sometimes and makes it hard to breathe. I could hear my breathing as my eyes adjusted to the morning light, “He’s not alive, Alisa, it was just a dream.”

As with most dreams, I don’t know where we were, but I hadn’t seen Grant in awhile. As we walked towards each other his face lit up, he reached for me and pulled me in. His arms were wrapped tightly around me, my head on his chest. As he held me I was thinking, “Wow, this is so unlike Grant.”

You see, we used to call Grant the awkward hugger. None of us doubted his love, and he conveyed it in so many ways,  but physical affection was not his thing. He hugged me, because I loved to hug. But you could always tell it was something he did for others, and it always made him feel awkward. It was endearing and still makes us smile.

But in my dream he was hugging unabashedly, no awkwardness, no anxiousness for it to be over. He was hugging me, tightly, longingly, and relishing the embrace of his momma. And I was thinking, even in the dream, “What’s gotten into Grant? This is so unlike him.”

I was even thinking the same thing as I was awakening from the dream, reminding myself it was just a dream. Grant was gone, and he didn’t hug like that, so what did the dream mean? Did it mean anything or just a mother’s wishful thinking?

And then as the sun rose up over the horizon it hit me. In my dream Grant wasn’t alive. He was in Heaven. The awkwardness was gone because he was hugging me in his glorified body. No more awkwardness, no more being uncomfortable with the physical affection. In Heaven, Grant has been perfected in Christ. All the weaknesses we carry with us here on earth are gone in Heaven.

I realized I was hugging Grant as he is in Heaven. And it was a perfect hug, without reservation, or awkwardness. I also realized as I lay there in bed, Grant doesn’t want to come back. He wouldn’t leave Heaven even if he could. He would not leave the glory of Heaven and choose to come back to this fallen world, to the brokenness here, the sorrow, the pain, the awkward hugs. He has been perfected in Christ, He walks with Christ and His Heavenly Father. He walks in glory, in perfect peace, and in perfect unending joy.

That dream was a vision of things to come. Grant and I will have that hug one day. When we are reunited in Heaven, he will be there to greet me. As we walk towards each other his face will light up, he will reach for me and pull me in. His arms will wrap tightly around me, my head will rest on his chest, and it will be the perfect hug between mother and son.

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the short list

Two weeks ago yesterday our family was forced to live through our last “1st.” It was the 1st year anniversary of Grant’s death.  Here it is 2 weeks later and I am still trying to come out of the fog.  1 year behind us.  Now what?

Most of the books I have read say the 2nd year is as painful as the first, but for different reasons.  The shock has worn off, everyone else’s lives have returned to normal (long ago) and yet, you’re still left with the pain, the questions, the anger, the longing.  I pray year 2 is not as hard as year 1, not sure my weary heart and soul can take it.  Lord give me strength…help me to redeem the pain and turn it into something beautiful.

As I sit here tonight and write I can’t help but think back on this last year. Truth be told, it consumes my mind and is almost always running in the background. So was it just pain? Did I learn anything? Yes, I did.

Some things I have learned this year…the short list.

When life doesn’t make sense, when everything in the world seems broken, I must hold onto the promises of God. There are over 6000 of them!

If I want to know how much God loves me, loves Grant, I must look to Jesus hanging on the cross.

What should we do when hope let’s us down, when hopes are dashed, when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would. I’ve learned we can curse God, we can call him out, call him a liar, believe Him to be a fake and a phony. Or we can take the blame ourselves and Give God a way out.

But what I know of God prevents me from believing any of those things, doing any of those things. So what I am left with is mystery. All that I know of God and all that I don’t know of God must live together in my heart and soul. I have learned I must make room for both, I must be comfortable with the mystery of God, the mystery of His ways.

I have learned I must rebuild hope. I can’t live without hope.  I will wither and die. And I have learned I can hope because I know this isn’t the end of the story.

And I have learned, Hope and true joy, doesn’t come from thinking about happy moments on earth, but Holy moments in Heaven.

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1 year ago today


24 years, 325 days, was not enough time.  But in the end, we have infinitely more days together than apart…broken hearted, missing you, grateful.  Life now, will always be lived with opposing emotions…

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glenn’s response

My hubby responded publicly to my “spoon” post.  He reads every post, and never misses an opportunity to encourage me and to let me know he has read it. But this time he left a public comment.  I was undone, it was precious, and I wanted to share it with all of you.  Also, I didn’t want it buried in the comment section. His sweet, life giving, soul nurturing words, needed their own place on the wall.  I love you more than life Glenn Brian McCormick!

“We will dig together for the rest of our earthly lives even though we have no hope of completing the task. The mountain is too big because of our great love for Grant; there is a direct correlation between the quantum of our love for Grant and the size of that mountain. The good news is that even though that mountain will ever loom before us in this earthly life, one day our grief will be over. One day we will be reunited. And as you have said in other posts, those days, the ones after we are reunited with Grant in Heaven, will vastly exceed the number of days we spend apart from Grant. I can’t wait for these days to seem like a hiccup, breath, or fleeting moment. Until then, we will press on together.”

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a spoon full at a time

Pain doesn’t come in pounds or ounces or gallons. You just feel like you are standing before a mountain that you are going to have to move one spoonful at a time. It is a task you can never hope to complete. A mountain that you can never hope to finish moving. But as you stand surveying that mountain of grief a loved one steps forward with a hug that communicates clearly. You can almost picture that person stepping up to your mountain of grief with a spoon and saying, ‘I cannot move the mountain for you  but I will take this one spoonful full of your grief and deal with it myself.’

The English word “comfort” comes from two Latin words that together mean “with strength.” The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” because He strengthens us and enables us to handle the challenges facing us. The Greek word translated “comforter” means “one called alongside to help.”  The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” We are His arms, His legs, His hands and His voice. 

With every touch in, by everyone of you this last year,  you have taken a spoon and helped me dig a tunnel thru this mountain of grief. Every time you have lifted us up in prayer, another spoonful. Every card, every text, another spoonful of dark damp earth, tossed aside, helping me to make a way thru to the other side.

We should never doubt the importance of compassion. When the torment of one person leads another to be moved, and changed, by the distress of someone other than himself, it is an evidence of God’s rich love and mercy for us all.  When you share my tears, it’s another spoonful. When you read this blog, you take merciful steps towards me and I know I am not alone digging my way thru the ominous mountain.  When you walk bravely into what I am feeling, then we together begin to bring down the power of despair, a spoonful at a time.

I love you all and there will never be a way for me to adequately express what you mean to me and how much you have helped me on my journey of grief!  Each step taken, each touch in, by every person taking it, is a spoonful of dirt removed from my mountain of grief, and gives meaning to what appeared meaningless.

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