Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Ray

Loved Ones,

When Ray was sick I had this burning sense of purpose for the email to all of you.  As I went about tasks, I was thinking about the message, it was always on my heart.  Likewise today my heart is burning to share with you.

It is, I feel, one of the true tributes I can offer Ray, to remember him here for those who knew him.  On Facebook, to educate those who didn't.  So that all the things we love about him live on.  In some cases, live on anew.

I think of Ray so often.  Like he was when he was alive, he is truly the good angel on my shoulder.  There are few people who are so generous of spirit - kind of heart - giving of time - filled with joy!

That was our Ray!

I know I will never be the same having had him as an example.  I pray for more energy to try harder to be like him.  So that by some small way in me, my children will glimpse a fraction of the person their dad was!!

I thank the many people who by their own generosity of spirit, show my children the ways that Ray impacted them and the qualities that he was!!

Just by its very nature, the task of being a widow gives me less of these traits!  I reflected the other day, that perhaps this is the task of today's widows, to recover not the physical riches, the emotional ones that are lacking due to the nature of loss.

We have gone to many masses this weekend in Ray's honor.  Not coincidentally, one of the Scriptures this weekend was from Ray's funeral.  And it reminded me that it will always be a bit cloudy, our understanding of God's plan.  But that there will be a day where there is no more sadness and death is swallowed up forever.

Joy will reign.

If I focus on earthly pain, there is no end.  But if I focus on this fact, there is a way through.

To God be the glory.

Happy Birthday Ray.

not alone and not afraid -


Isaiah 25:6-9

"On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—  the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.  In that day they will say,“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him;  let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day Ray

Loved Ones,

Thoughts of Ray are all around us.  This spring the girls have missed him so much, especially Lucy.  I think they are all so used to life without him but sometimes his absence is a such a hole.  There is a program at school called Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students).  The girls have declined offers to have someone "sub" for Ray but they miss having him there.  Lucy told me she dreamed that her dad came back and was a Watch DOG. The Father Daughter dance this year was similar, we had many tears of grief that Ray is just not able to do this with them, we know he would have loved to do this so much.

For the past five months I've been trying to decide whether to take the girls to Europe this summer.  I've studied and googled, I have almost the whole trip planned, tickets on hold, it's just hard to make the decision, that is always hard for me.

We were in church tonight for the Father's Day mass, the decision was all I could think about.

This whole trip is such a connection with Ray.  The only person I've ever traveled with is Ray, we went to Paris and got engaged and managed to fit in two more Europe trips before kids.  It is magical and it is him.  Like pennies burning in my pocket I feel a burn to get the kids to Europe.  It's the thing I most wish we could have done with Ray that we didn't do.

I was thinking in church of all the things that remind me of him with travel, even just coming into Dulles Airport when we had just gotten engaged.

The travel prices I have been watching for months dropped last night and the flight that I found went through Dulles.  It felt so comforting to see that, so similar. The exact same experience Ray and I had.

And why wouldn't I go -- do anything to connect with Ray.  He would be so thrilled for us to go, so glad for the connection to him, never mind the wonder of the actual experience.

It's hard to go alone.  Not that I am not used to that!  There are just so many things to worry over, the long flight, the expense, the worry of the kids ages.  I could simply make so many excuses.

These thoughts were swirling and as we went up for communion the song Taste and See started playing.  Gosh, that song reminds me of Ray!  He used to sing "sit and scoot" as the girls would scoot down the stairs just to that same tune.  It was so sweet and I just think of him.

After the mass the girls and I were talking about it and I was trying to tell them the connections to Ray and we drove by a green Saturn!  The Shimkus-mobile we used to call Ray's green Saturn.  The girls turned around to look and the the license plate said "Fitz."

Oh Ray.  We are thinking of you.  We got your messages!  We wish you a Happy Father's Day.  We sure do miss you a lot.  We'll keep thinking of you and seeking out the things that make us feel closer.

This day can never be the same without you.

not alone and not afraid -


"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God"
I John 3:3

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Five Years

Loved Ones,

Today is the five year anniversary of Ray's death.

I've been reflecting on Ray so much.  I am always amazed by Ray's attitude during his illness.  When Ray was diagnosed with cancer, with a few exceptions, he consistently had the worst possible case scenarios.  Yet he endured all that without complaint.  Not without sadness.  But without complaint.  I admire this so much -- such a testimony to his faith and spirit that he could bear this heavy load.

We gathered at mass Sunday with Ray's family and mine in Ray's honor.  Our reading talked about how it wasn't enough for Christ to be a servant.  He was to be a light for the nations.

I feel that way with Ray.  He was God's servant, but that wasn't enough.  His example, his light, his witness was to be a story for others.  A guiding light.  Something to look up to.

I feel that way about him.  Whenever I think to complain I think of him and I try desperately not to do it.   Not that Ray was super human!!  But he was good.  He was good like that even before he was sick and after watching him when he was sick, I just feel like to honor his memory, how can I complain?

I have already been given so much!  Five more years!  Five more years than Ray!  Each hour, each day, each week with my girls a blessing to me and something I wish he could have experienced.  I know he must savor this from heaven!  But here.  To hug these girls here.  To see these moments here.

I know so many of you are thinking of him because you're calling me or emailing me.

When the girls were leaving that last time, I asked Ray if he had anything else to say to them and he said, "Remember me."

Today and every day we remember you Ray.  We remember your light.  We remember your uncomplaining spirit.  We remember your unshakable faith.

In your honor -- we won't complain. We will live each day like everything could change tomorrow -- because of you - we know it can.

We will do our best to work our hardest for the things that have the most value.  Our faith.  Our family.  The causes and cases that strengthen others and pass on love, kindness and value.

And Ray.  We will do our best to rid the world of cancer.  To spare others from what you endured. Another young friend of ours was recently lost to cancer and his father made this observation at his funeral.  He contrasted the 58,000 Americans that were lost through Vietnam to the over 600,000 Americans we lose each year to cancer -- asking why we are not protesting in the streets.  Preach it Mr. Battle.  Over the years we have done a lot of advocacy for our fellow cancer patients and families.  Each year we hope that advocacy turns into actual progress for patients.  I will say this, we will not stop until it does.

And so.  A memory.  A rallying cry.  An example for the ages.

Ray, we miss you.  We remember you.  We will not stop.  And we will savor each day, loving the blessing of life, wishing you were here to savor with us.

not alone and not afraid -


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam  and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall;  God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.  The Lord Almighty is with us;  the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Psalm 46:1-7

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Anniversary Ray

Loved Ones,

Today was supposed to be our first day back to school but the cold weather gave us a few more days of break.  The girls cheered!!!  When I was putting Lucy to bed last night I told her that today was our Anniversary.  She was so excited!!  When she woke up I was on a conference call but she ran into the room and said, "Happy Anniversary!"

I am so glad to remember this day even with Ray gone.  Through the years we've done different things to remember.  Ray and I always had chocolates and champagne!  The girls and I look at pictures or watch the video.  I am so glad to continue the celebration of our love and commitment.

Of course we wish so much that Ray was here to dance with us!  I am sorry that the girls will never get to see that side of him personally.  He was such a great dancer!

A friend posted a quote on Facebook a few days ago and I just wanted to cheer.  It was something so beautiful about how our life is for others - that contributing our very best effort for others is such an honorable way to live life.  That was RAY.  No complaining.  No worrying about his own happiness.  Doing his best at his job, at his life.  Living and loving others.

So in your honor Ray I was planning our lobby day and our hill briefing on stomach cancer today on this day. And I will be at School Board later tonight working hard!

You will always live on in us.

not alone and not afraid -


"For me to live is Christ..." Phillippians 1:21