Pictures

I have lots to say tonight, it seems. Truth is, I’m growing rather fond of this whole blogging thing.

In preparation of the viewing times and funeral service, I’ve been going through the scads of digital photos that Stephanie have. Each time I sat down to sort them and gather them all together, I spent most of the time being okay. But, as the time goes on, I start really focusing on individual pictures as opposed to groups of them, and I find myself falling desperately head over heels in love with my wife again and again. Then comes the bittersweet, and I ache for that love lost. I can’t describe how beautiful she is to me, and I worry that I didn’t make it plain enough to her. Maybe I did, but I wish I could make it clearer and plainer.

It probably wasn’t smart for me to be looking through pictures at night, as night is the worst time for the pain. I find myself lying in bed desperate to find a dark alley in my mind where thoughts of her can be avoided simply so I can spare the tears and fall asleep before it comes flooding in. But we shared so much – everything, really – so there’s nowhere, no thought that is safe from thoughts of her. It’s ironic that I spent all my marriage thankful for everything we shared and how much of life we experienced together, and now it’s the thing that plagues me in her absence. I guess you can’t have one without the other.

Sigh. Speaking of bedtime…

45 thoughts on “Pictures”

  1. Oh Brad, Know that the things that bring such sadness to your heart now will one day be happy and cherished memories for and to share with your children. God is still using you through all of this Brad…hold tight He will not forsake you.

  2. I’m sorry it’s so hard right now. The nights are the worst, it’s just when your mind is alone and grief can slip into moments previously shared. Eventually the photos will be a blessing that reminds you mostly of the good, and not the aching bad.

    Blogging is just a diary with feedback. Normally when you write, you feel better, but alone. This makes it less lonely I think. Eventually you will be glad to think of the love and memories you shared, but right now it is torment. Eventually the pain does lessen and the loveliness of memories returns.

    I hope you are able to fall asleep tonight without much problem. Still praying for you.

  3. This blog reminds me of a line from a book I read a long time ago. It has always been one of my favorite quotes as it has rang true many a time in my life with my battles with depression.

    “Night is the hardest time to be alive. For me, anyway. It lasts so long, and 4am knows all my secrets.”

    The one quote has actually helped me get through a lot, believe it or not. It always served as a reminder that I was never alone in those moments, and that I was normal in my rough nights.

    It breaks my heart still to know you and your family are going through all this. I wish there was something more I could do for you all. But I am still praying for you and your family. I know every prayer is heard and I know God will see you all through this. -hugs-

  4. Still lifting you up to the Lord, you mighty man of God. So glad you have given me the chance to grieve with you. Wish there was more I could do to ease the burden.

  5. Oh Brad, Know that the things that bring such sadness to your heart now will one day be happy and cherished memories for and to share with your children. God is still using you through all of this Brad…hold tight He will not forsake you.

  6. Still here…still praying for you. Im one of those strangers who, geographically can’t introduce myself to you but I continue to hold you and Stephanie’s loved ones up in prayer. I was happy to see a picture of your beautiful Stephanie – to put a face on the one who you all love so dearly.

    What an incredible work of God that something – this blog that you created as a simple tool to update people – has reached thousands, impacting so many lives. And its work is not done. A couple points you made that touched my heart: my dad, in hospice care at a local veteran’s hospital at the end of his life 6 years ago also was a “teacher” to medical students so they could hear a heart affected with aortic stenosis (which he died of as surgery wasn’t an option at his age and weakened state). Another way of passing it along, just like you allowed for those neurology students. And also, after he died my mother and I both experienced incidents where there wasn’t an explanation except possibly the hand of God at work to comfort us.

    God is at work all around us, so I pray for open eyes and hearts for you to receive that comfort and peace that passes understanding. Also for the strength to face each day, week and month. At tomorrow’s celebration of Stephanie I will pray for God to be glorified and celebrated, and for their to be laughter amongst the tears.

  7. Dear Brad, It was nice putting a face with your name. I was blown away by how many people were waiting, just 10 minutes after the viewing time started. What a tribute to Stephanie. Tomorrow is going to be rough. Hold tight to your children and all of your memories and God will do his part to hold you up. I’ll pray for Peace for you and the strength to get through the days, weeks and months to come. Please continue to blog. There are a lot of us waiting to see how you are doing. Miracles do happen, sadly, God needed her in “His House” Hold onto your faith. Love to you and your family

  8. I remember when my parents when home to be with the Lord that night time was hardest for me too. During the day there are lots of distractions and I was so busy taking care of things that had to be done, but at night, the loss seemed to sink in and that’s when I would cry myself to sleep.

    Pictures are good to have and I would suggest to even display some of your favorites where you see it all the time. At least that was comforting to me. Blogging is also a great outlet to pour out your feelings and you see how much support you get from blogland. I’ll be at the funeral tomorrow. See you then. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

  9. Brad, It was beautiful to see all the photos of your wife today. I loved how each picture of her morphed right into the next one…and some of us noticed how her face never moved…from one picture to the next. Really great selection of pics. LOVED the ones where she was gazing at each of you…

    I got to thinking about how your kids are going to learn about heaven. They are going to learn that it is where mommy is, and Who she is with. They may even not grow up to fear it, as many of us had to grow up! I have to admit, I really haven’t taken a discussion there with my own kids. I think they think Heaven is the sky! Your kids will have this beautiful picture of Heaven and I think that is a gift from God through Stephanie. Prayers continuing from our house to yours…

  10. I can’t even imagine the loss and pain you are feeling. I know you know she is in a place too beautiful for our words. I know in that sense you are happy for her, and that you know this time away is temporary and small in comparison to eternity, but the heart just can’t accept what the mind knows in the same way right now. My family is praying for yours.

    I have been though times so dark I have wished that I could actually feel God’s arms wrapped around me and holding me tight. The thing is, in time sitting at his feet felt VERY real. In time It was almost like he just decided to stop carrying me through that dark lonely valley and instead flew us out of it and placed me on a mountain where I could finally get clarity and be free from it. I still don’t have all the answers as to why I was taken down that path since it was due to the sin of another very close in my life, but I know He will use that part of my life to help others and further his kingdom. It was a very painful time in my life, and it will result in times of pain still from time to time over parts of my life, but I now would not go back and change it, because finally I get to see the miracle out of it too.

    I am aware that my path and pain are different from yours, but I trust God has his arms around you and as time goes on you will continue to find that. I know he hurts when your hurt, and you are his son, so I know he is there with you through it all that he holds you and your children VERY close right now. In time I trust that he will fly you out and set you on a mountain top too. Moving forward doesn’t mean it won’t hurt from time to time though, but he is there. What a great testimony your love for your wife is. I have to say this in itself is such a miracle. I have come to know that God is love. That in this world with so much hurt, and so much hate inflicted pain, there is still love, because there is God. Humans, we have flawed love, we can’t love properly without God in us. It seems that you and your wife had such an amazing marriage because you both knew how to tap into God’s love. You didn’t love through rose colored glasses, you loved though the eyes of God.

    I only hope that when my time comes, my loved ones will be able to speak of me in the way you speak of your wife. I hope I will be leaving a legacy to my children that your wife left to your children and you are continuing to add to that legacy.

    Enough talking, because I know nothing I can say can be of much comfort right now. We are praying for you and our family. I am sure she is also watching and asking God to give you all added comfort at this time too. Another amazing thing about love, is when it is real, it doesn’t end, not through time, not even when one passes. She still loves you all.

  11. Dear Brad,

    As you can see, the nights are awake times, even months later. It was six months ago today I held Uncle Doug in my arms when he took his last breath–and now you will be at Stephanie’s funeral and I cannot be there and still cannot believe I could not come.
    But I know that there is nothing that comes to us that does not first go through God’s hand and heart and that makes it all miracles as you are discovering. Always, beauty from ashes. Always Love Everlasting and mercies new every morning. I remember how good it felt to have someone ask something of me when all were working so hard to be there for me. Brad, would you pray for me for the tears I do not cry? The Holy Spirit told me it was okay to ask you- that you would understand on this day what not being able to cry would be like. Thank you,hon. love, Aunt Jackie

  12. I will rise when He calls my name
    No more sorrow, no more pain
    I will rise on eagle’s wings
    Before my God, fall on my knees
    And rise (c. tomlin)

  13. As I daily read your blog, I am always reminded of another “blog” of sorts that as well dealt with the death of a wife. C.S. Lewis, in A GRIEF OBSERVED, shares his “mad, midnight moments” as he goes through exactly as you, Brad. Down the road I’ll provide you with a copy. Your blog is equally as powerful as his. A current day Lewis. Thank you.

  14. Brad, unfortunately, I have not been able to read your blogs this weekend, or attend the viewing services. However, your family has not been far from my mind or prayers throughout the hours. As I am catching up this morning and realize the time – 10:30 a.m. – I know this is a hard time as you are saying a formal earthly good-bye with so many who loved your wife. You are in my prayers right this moment. What a gift God has given to know you’ll see her once again and this is not a forever goodbye! Many prayers from my church family will be lifted up for you in the following days and weeks as well.

  15. The photographs at the service were beautiful. I guess it’s another one of those miracles that we take for granted and pass off as just coincidence. You and Stephanie did a wonderful job of recording your life together and now you will always have those photographs to cherish.

  16. Brad,

    You couldn’t have made Stephanies memorial service more beautiful and memorable.

    As you work through the coming days, we continue to be here as you need us.

    Know we love you, we miss her and our hearts ache for you and the kids and both of your beautiful families.

  17. “I can’t describe how beautiful she is to me, and I worry that I didn’t make it plain enough to her. Maybe I did, but I wish I could make it clearer and plainer.”

    Brad, take a moment and look at the photo of your family that is your Facebook profile picture. That big smile that is on Stephanie’s face is there for a reason – she knew.

    Even though I have never met her or talked with her, looking at the smile on her face it’s as clear as day to me. Stephanie knew you loved her….and that smile says she loved you too.

  18. I came over from Karen Zemak’s blog and wanted to send you love and prayers for your very difficult road ahead.

    I lost my dad when I was seven years old, and I will tell you that has forever changed who I am. Love those children hard and be honest with them in your feelings, love, and conversations–both today and in the future. God will see you through the rest.

  19. Hi Brad,
    I’m so blessed to have met you in person yesterday. Like Heath, I wanted to give you some perspective on one of your previous posts-“I can’t describe how beautiful she is to me, and I worry that I didn’t make it plain enough to her. Maybe I did, but I wish I could make it clearer and plainer.” You have chronicled beautifully the love you had for Stephanie on the pages of this blog. If you were able to express those thoughts so well, to a group of family, friends and even “virtual strangers”, I have no doubt that you expressed your love even more clearly to her. Every picture shows the radiance she had in Christ, made even more beautiful by the love the two of you shared. Never doubt the love you had for one another, nor the doubt that God continues to have for you and your precious children. You will continually be in my prayers in the days and months to come. Kathy Biddlestone

  20. I must comment on your post: “I can’t describe how beautiful she is to me, and I worry that I didn’t make it plain enough to her. Maybe I did, but I wish I could make it clearer and plainer.” It is crystal clear to those of us who are praying for you (and yours) from afar how very much you both love each other, and your children. It is also crystal clear to read in Stephanie’s posts on FB that she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, how much you love her! I would personally give up years of my life, to have for just 5 years the magic that you and Stephanie shared. She was a lucky woman to have found you! You are a lucky man to have found her. A true match made in heaven. Please rest assured that she knew – she knows – how much you love her.

    Please know that even though the activities have quieted down, that you and yours remain in my prayers – every day – and most especially at night. Said prayers are actually quite comical – “Dear God – please bring comfort in any way that you can to Brad, Brady & Halle – you know, the family who lost Stephanie in Ohio – I know that I never met them, but…”. Perhaps that can offer you a bit of a chuckle if nothing else.

    Brad, thank you for helping those that were straying from the Lord and bringing them back into His glory. I’d like to offer you a big heart-felt thank you!
    God Bless!

  21. I have been praying for you. I am so sorry for your loss. I am concerned for you however. I think it is wise for you to continue to journal about your journey through grief. I want to encourage you to think about not posting your journal on-line. I think it has the potential to hurt you, either through inappropriate contact with other women at a time when you are most vulnerable or you might be hurt as time goes on and others stop reading and commenting on your blog. I think it would be wise to “circle the wagons” and let God and your closest family and friends minister to you.

  22. Brad,

    WOW! Please know that some random mom in Pearland, Texas is praying for you and your family. I loved buying hairbows from your wife for my little girl and I just got on today to search for some more and found all of your info. I am sitting hear crying for your loss! You will be in our prayers. Blessings to you and your family!

    Bunny Denton

  23. Brad I find it funny how much your wife and I have in common and Im sure had I still been in Cleveland she and I would have hung out and for sure done scrapbooking and cooking together and Im sure our daughters would have gotten along great. I encourage you to please keep the photos going as hard as it might be for you it will be important to your children….and it will in time be important for you too……We are thinking of you and praying for you and the children. Love the Kunkel's

  24. I am exactly like her w/regard to pics. You are making her proud. My husband is not a pic person but he does it for me and I have told him if something happened to me you and the kids will have all these memories captured (and vice versa). I thnk it is important when your children are young that they have something to go back and look at as they will not always remember. You are still in our thoughts and prayers.

  25. Though it will be hard, it's important to have traditions for your kids and I know for you, too! Send out those pics so we can all remember to pray for you each time we see your beautiful faces!! God will continue to bless you, Brad! Praying for you continually!

  26. Brad I find it funny how much your wife and I have in common and Im sure had I still been in Cleveland she and I would have hung out and for sure done scrapbooking and cooking together and Im sure our daughters would have gotten along great. I encourage you to please keep the photos going as hard as it might be for you it will be important to your children….and​ it will in time be important for you too……We are thinking of you and praying for you and the children. Love the Kunkel's

  27. Brad I find it funny how much your wife and I have in common and Im sure had I still been in Cleveland she and I would have hung out and for sure done scrapbooking and cooking together and Im sure our daughters would have gotten along great. I encourage you to please keep the photos going as hard as it might be for you it will be important to your children….and it will in time be important for you too……We are thinking of you and praying for you and the children. Love the Kunkel's

  28. I am exactly like her w/regard to pics. You are making her proud. My husband is not a pic person but he does it for me and I have told him if something happened to me you and the kids will have all these memories captured (and vice versa). I thnk it is important when your children are young that they have something to go back and look at as they will not always remember. You are still in our thoughts and prayers.

  29. Though it will be hard, it's important to have traditions for your kids and I know for you, too! Send out those pics so we can all remember to pray for you each time we see your beautiful faces!! God will continue to bless you, Brad! Praying for you continually!

  30. pictures are so precious, makes those great memories real! You have been blessed Brad, even though it is so painful now…..God give Brad a sense of peace during the holidays, and that special JOY that only you can supply, Amen.

  31. pictures are so precious, makes those great memories real! You have been blessed Brad, even though it is so painful now…..God give Brad a sense of peace during the holidays, and that special JOY that only you can supply, Amen.

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