Over the last six months or so, I have been asked many times (and encouraged many more times) to write a book. To turn the stories in this blog I write into a book of some sort. I have never really responded to any of the questions before, but the truth is… I am writing a book. It is almost finished actually. But it isn’t filled with blogs that I have written about my wife’s last few months or the posts I wrote about our life for the two years before that, it is a book that covers a life time.
On Monday, we got home from spending some time out west in Wyoming and Montana. It was a trip that has been planned since last winter. But I didn’t plan it… my wife did.
This past February, with snow on the ground outside her window at the little house by the Gaither pond in Indiana, Joey looked at the beautiful view from her bedside, and remembered another view that she loved. And then with her three sisters gathered around her, Joey told stories about our trips out west to the Big Sky Country. She showed them pictures we had taken during some of the adventures our family has had out there over the years. And then she asked me to find a way to take her three sisters and their families out west for the first time this summer.
Like most men, when Valentines day or a birthday rolls around, I would scramble to find ‘just the right gift’ at 5 pm on my way home from work, or walking through Walmart or Target the night before. It’s embarrassing actually. For me, and for a lot of guys I think.
This past weekend, Indy and I went home to Indiana…without Joey.
It was the first time that we’d been back there, since my wife’s passing in early March. I was excited and nervous about the trip at the same time. Part of me wasn’t ready to go back. Not yet. But another part of me knew it was the right thing, and believed that it would be healing for us. And it was.
The last thing on the the list Joey gave me, of what she wanted at her funeral service… when the time came. And we both knew that time was coming soon.
“I’d like for someone to sing the hymn Leave It There at my graveside”, Joey said. And then she stopped and added, “no… not someone”, and she looked at me and smiled, “I want Bradley Walker to sing it for me”.
I filmed our lives for two-and-a-half years. I don’t know why, I just did.
Like writing this blog, something told me that I needed to capture that time of our lives on film. To have it forever. To be able to remember it and share it with others. I had no idea how important it would be.
I keep my guitar pics on my desk in a little bowl that our oldest daughter made and gave me one Sunday in May when she was probably five or six years old. It’s pink and handmade of pottery, and in big grey letters on the outside it says “Happy Mother’s Day Dad”.
We spent this past weekend in Kentucky at a camp called 'The Center for Courageous Kids'. Indiana's best friend Scout has been coming there with her little brother Ash and her Mom and Dad for the last couple of years... so this year Indy and I came along. I'd been hearing about the camp for awhile - not just from Scout's family - but also from people at Indiana's school and many others. It's primarily a camp for children with special needs and their families, but once we arrived, it was easy to see that this place was that and much more.
One morning a week I meet a few of my buddies on our neighbor Gabe's porch for coffee.
Gabe is Indy's best-friend Scout's daddy. He's also a close friend and has worked with Joey and I for years on all of our music videos, tv specials and film projects. He was also the "old-school" host of our weekly television show.
April 4th. It's hard to believe that it's been a month already since Joey left this world and made her journey to the next. In some ways it feels like only yesterday, and in others... it feels like forever.
Easter is Joey's favorite holiday. It always has been. Not because of Easter baskets or bunnies or candy or eggs, but because today celebrates the day that Christ has risen from the dead. Joey loved sunrise services, and the Lords' supper and the newness of life that Easter brought to the world. She would get so excited about the day coming and would talk about it for weeks, months sometimes. I'm embarrassed to say that my favorite holiday is still Christmas. Partly because of Jesus' birth, but also for a million sentimental reasons and trees and carols and the 'feeling' that's in the air that time of year. I still have a lot of growing in my faith to do I guess.
Joey had every intention of home-schooling Indy as she grew up. For many reasons. But life has changed that plan. I have written before about our desire to live our lives with "high hopes and low expectations"... but during the month of January, when Joey and I decided we needed to start researching what and where the next-best option for school for Indy might be...we had no idea that God would lead us to a place called, of all things... 'High Hopes'.
The first time I came to the place Joey was born and raised in was in April of 2002. It was my first trip with Joey to her hometown and to meet her family. It's also the weekend that we got engaged. We had been dating for two months. But when you know... you know. And so what is there to wait for.
My wife's greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven. The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior.
Seeing our names listed on the Grammy nomination certificate we received recently, I found myself thinking a lot about the ‘plus-sign‘ in-between our names and why we chose not to use a ‘&‘ sign or a ‘and‘...
There is a right time to say goodbye. Today isn’t that day.
Joey’s best friend Julie has been here for a week and was supposed to leave this evening and fly back home to Oregon where she and her husband Joe live. But this morning as I sat beside my wife, and Julie started packing her things… Joey’s tears began to fall.