A Bittersweet Blessing

Back in 2010, we went on our first cruise as a family. Greg’s parents had given the cruise to us as a Christmas gift. We went with them, along with Greg’s sister and her family. We had a wonderful time and the kids have often talked about going on another cruise. Then in 2012, Greg and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Since then the kids have really talked about wanting to go on another cruise, but with all that was going on in our lives that just never happened.

After all that has happened over the last several months and all that the kids have been through, I really wanted to do something special for them. Something where we could all get away from everything for a bit and just be alone….together. Something that would help us create some new memories. Of course my first thought was a cruise, but I quickly dismissed that idea. I told myself, “I don’t need to spend the money on something like a cruise.” I also worried about what people would think about me spending money on something like a cruise at a time like this. I know that’s crazy and that I should not be concerned about what others think, but I’m just being honest here.

And unfortunately, I’m not alone when it comes to this type of thinking. I have talked to other widows who experience these same thoughts. We feel like we are under such scrutiny sometimes. Why is she acting like that? How can she seem so joyful? Why is she always so depressed? She needs to just get over it and get on with her life. How can she just go on with her life? She must not have loved her husband as much as I love mine; I would just die if anything happened to my husband. She needs to grieve more/less. Why is she spending money on that? She must be in denial. Why is she dressing like that? Why is she still wearing her wedding ring? Why did she quit wearing her wedding ring? She cries too much. She doesn’t cry enough; she’s suppressing her feelings. She talks about her husband too much. She always tries to avoid talking about her husband. Not that anyone actually says these things to us, but it’s just hard. We feel like everything that we do is being watched and/or judged by others. I’m sure that most of these feelings are self-induced. I question everything that I do. What I say. How I act. So, I think that everyone else is doing the same.

Anyway, because of all these things, I quickly dismissed any thoughts of going on a cruise. Until…..the Lord showed me very clearly that this was the very thing that He wanted my kids and I to do. The very thing that we needed at this time in our lives. One day as I was paying our bills online (something that Greg used to always do), I noticed that we had quite a few reward points on our credit card. Apparently Greg had been letting these points build up for quite some time. I decided to look at some of the discounted cruise rates to see what the prices were. Katie had only one week the entire summer that she would be home. I found a discounted cruise rate for that particular week that I could completely pay for with our reward points! So, after checking with the kids, I booked the cruise and we went last week! What a sweet gift from the Lord!

We drove to Port Canaveral last Sunday (Mother’s Day). The ship sailed on Monday and we returned on Friday. We had a wonderful time together just being away and relaxing. It was a sweet time, but there were also sad moments. Sadness that Greg wasn’t with us this time. Sadness as I watched other couples enjoying their time together. A bittersweet blessing. But also a time of joy, as I was once again reminded that my God loves me, He is with me, He is for me, and He will provide for me. Not only does He provide what we need, but He also provides things that we don’t necessarily NEED, but that bring us happiness and joy…like a cruise! And as if the cruise itself were not enough, I was delighted to find out that my best friend from nursing school was on the same cruise! Coincidence? No…..God!! It was so very special to catch up with her and spend some time together after all these years!

Here are a few pictures from our cruise.

Breakfast at the hotel before leaving to board the ship.

Breakfast at the hotel before leaving to board the ship.

Waiting for the shuttle.

Waiting for the shuttle.

On the shuttle to the pier.

On the shuttle to the pier.

Getting ready to sail away!

Getting ready to sail away!

First thing on the agenda...EAT!!

First thing on the agenda…EAT!!

Ready for a fun week!

Ready for a fun week!

The view from mine and Jake's cabin.  The girls were next door.

The view from mine and Jake’s cabin. The girls were next door.

Emilie......formal night at dinner.

Emilie……formal night at dinner.

Katie.....formal night at dinner.

Katie…..formal night at dinner.

Jake...formal night at dinner.  Well, as formal as Jake gets.  He's not wearing a cap, so that counts as formal, right??

Jake…formal night at dinner. Well, as formal as Jake gets. He’s not wearing a cap, so that counts as formal, right??

Katie and Jake in Nassau.

Katie and Jake in Nassau.

Coco Cay....storm blowing in.

Coco Cay….storm blowing in.

Beautiful, even with a storm brewing.

Beautiful, even with a storm brewing.

It got chilly when the wind really started blowing!

It got chilly when the wind really started blowing!

Unfortunately, we didn't get to enjoy the hammocks before the storm ran us off the island.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy the hammocks before the storm ran us off the island.

Our ship...Enchantment of the Seas.

Our ship…Enchantment of the Seas.

So thankful for God’s kindness, faithfulness and provision!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Claudia Voigt
    May 19, 2014 @ 07:46:46

    Oh Sandra! I love this! Thank you for sharing this with us! You are so real & open and it means a lot to me to hear from your heart. I’m glad you went on this cruise. Greg would be happy about it. Praise God for this healing experience for you all.

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  2. Karla Lail
    May 19, 2014 @ 07:56:22

    What an awesome thing to do! So happy for you guys to use your points! The whole self talk thing you mentioned is so real from us on the other side, as well. There’s Sandra, what should I say to her? Should I mention that I know today is Greg’s birthday? Will that make her cry? I don’t want to upset her, but I want her to know that I haven’t forgotten…. That’s why that one time I saw you, I just wanted to hug you and tell you I loved you, because I wouldn’t say anything hurtful. You have enough hurt already without me adding more. I used to just avoid people who were grieving, but now I know that can feel like I don’t care at all. That’s why it’s great that you blog your feelings. It’s a window that we need to see because you are probably typical in what you feel and there are always going to be people in our lives grieving. But you can relax and know that we don’t have you under the microscope, but we want to keep your needs on the radar of our lives. So, Happy Birthday in Heaven Greg and thanks for just being you! Love you and I am praying for you today!

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  3. Linda Sewell
    May 19, 2014 @ 11:43:11

    Sandra, I am so glad that you all went on your cruise and enjoyed it. As I was reading your post, I was thinking how often we let things run through our mind that are not from God. I hope people are not judging what you do. Only you are walking your particular journey. May the Lord continue to give you His truth in your thoughts. “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5b Thank you for continuing to share your journey with the kids and the Lord. I continue to pray for you, the girls and Jacob. I remember having Jacob in my Sunday School class when he was 4 years old. With love and for His glory, Lindawe

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  4. Kim
    May 19, 2014 @ 11:47:19

    Sandra, so glad for you & your children that you DID go. God does not intend for you live in fear of what others think! The pictures are cherished memories of a beautiful family. I do hope I can be the kind of strength you have been & have shown if I were to ever face what you have had to deal with.

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  5. Lori Walker
    May 19, 2014 @ 13:30:27

    It’s like Greg left a gift for you and the kids!

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  6. Dorcas
    May 19, 2014 @ 14:00:23

    rejoicing with you and your dear children…that was a well deserved time away. God is faithful–ALWAYS!

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  7. Cheri Smith
    May 19, 2014 @ 17:25:39

    So happy that you were able to do this trip with your kids. And no one should question or think anything negative about you going. I got tears in my eyes when I read about the blessing with the reward points. How awesome is He! Praying for you guys today. Happy 50th birthday in Heaven Greg!

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  8. Carla
    May 19, 2014 @ 20:20:19

    Sandra, I so enjoyed Sitting and talking on the cruise ship, it was as if no time had past between us, even though we are about 25 years older (I mean wiser). It was beautiful seeing the love you and your children have for one another. Y’all are continuing to create new memories and I’m sure Greg must be so proud. You are such a strong, brave woman. I am so proud to call you my friend. You really do inspire me. I must admit it hurt my heart seeing y’all without Greg. It is just so unfair! I was both challenged not to take so much for granted, and your faith reminded me that we must trust God’s heart even when we cannot trace His hands. You also reminded me that each day is a gift. Your friendship is a gift too. You’re such an awesome writer. Thanks for being so real, so honest, and such an inspiration to so many. I hope we get to spend more time together catching up. I love you my friend :-). – Carla.

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  9. Jo
    May 22, 2014 @ 10:45:10

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story of a fun, enjoyable time for your family. I know Greg would rejoice that your family is able to build some special memories together. You are such an inspiration to me! I have experienced some of the same feelings and some days are very difficult. Your posts do help the grief journey! Thanks again.

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  10. Cherie Maurer
    May 27, 2014 @ 22:18:09

    Sandra, why didn’t you show us YOUR picture from formal night at dinner?? 🙂 I imagine that is as formal as Jake gets! The girls are absolutely beautiful!!!! And YOU, my friend, are BEAUTIFUL!!! I love you much!!

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