Sunday, August 14, 2011


Special thanks to guest blogger Matthew Croke for filling in while Kim is at Camp Widow...we appreciate you Matt!

I hate to think I need bad stuff to happen to put life in perspective.  Haven’t I already tortured myself enough, trying to understand painful life lessons after my wife’s passing?  After three years, haven’t I come out on the other side a better person?

On the three year anniversary of Lisa’s passing, my parent’s basement flooded due to record rainfall in Chicago.  The very same basement my three girls and I moved into a year ago, after we sold our house.

A basement, where I specifically did not clean up before the weekend, as I was going to give myself a break to focus on the emotions of her passing.  Thus, toys, books, and clothes that on Friday night were on the floor, by Saturday morning, floated around the basement, like lily pads on a pond.

I place three fans throughout the basement to dry the floor which just hours ago were inches deep in water.  More memories are taken away from me as an entire collection of children’s books are ruined, water pouring out of them like a soaked sponge, as I lift them from the bottom shelf to the garbage.  Lisa use to read these to our girls. 

Today it seems personal. How much more headache is life going to throw my way.  I thought I was getting better feeling the world is not picking on me.  Today I am being bullied.  I can feel the anger build in my stomach.

I take a break from clean-up and go upstairs to get a glass of water.  I drink it fast as if I can, as if I’m trying to douse the fire that is roaring in my belly.  My Mom calls from the living room, “Matt, the news is on and they are showing the flood.”  I walk in the room and the first image on TV I’m greeted with, is an older man on oxygen cleaning his basement which is damaged far greater than ours, “What can you do?  You gotta clean up and rebuild.” he says, his shirt as wet from his perspiration, as his pants are from the flood waters.

His words throw a blanket over my anger inferno.  “The world isn’t picking on me” I say to myself, “I am looking for a fight.  Everyone is hurting tonight in my area; I’ve just made a choice to make it all personal.”  This is not how I want to live.

I go back downstairs to throw more soggy furnishings in the garbage.  While I’m at it, I decide to do a little internal cleaning and throw away some soggy anger that needs to be put by the curbside also.  When the clean-up is done, both places will be a healthier environment to live in.


  1. Oh Matey, I feel for you.
    My garage and downstairs area repeatedly flooded due to groundwater seepage between October last year and January this year (most of Queensland was flooded at some point during summer).
    I think this was the low point of my grief - to have so much sadness already and then to have more piled on top....
    It's hard not to see it as the universe really sticking the boot in....

  2. Beautiful. Everyday a choice.
    Thank you for the reminder.

  3. My husband Dave once commented during his 6 month battle with cancer that despite what was happening to him, there were always others that were worse off. (He was commenting on the earthquake in Haiti.)
    When I feel that life is treating me unfairly (again) it's hard but I try to fall back on that. When my home maintenance is overwhelming me, I try to be thankful that I have a home.
    There are ALWAYS others that have it harder.
    I don't want to become a bitter angry person.
    Life isn't fair, but it's all we've got.
    Thanks for this.

  4. So sorry about the flooding. Thank you for writing this. It's hard not to take it all personally, indeed. I really understand feeling like God is picking on you. When I think I believe in God (not often), I think I'm being punished - I was raised Catholic. Explains a lot.

  5. Matt- thanks so much. I have been there so often in the past 2 years. I hear you- It's a choice that we make every day. Do we continue to plod forward or do we give in to anger and eventually bitterness? Thanks so much for this great reminder.