Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

More memories...

Here's another entry written by Corey's friend, Jeff Collins. I think this took place back in their high school days.

One day Corey was riding with us on a day of snowboarding adventure. The season was spring. A Twix bar someone had brought had become melted in the warmth of a sun showered car. We gave up on the Twix. Corey had other plans. At his request, we pulled to the side in a construction zone where he proceeded to harvest the also softened road tar that was to be found holding a roadside reflector to the pavement. (I'm sure you've seen these in road constructions sites. They are usually used to mark the lanes before they have painted the center lines. The reflectors stick up straight like little tabs coming off the pavement.) Corey built a sticky little matrix of road tar and adhered it to the Twix bar. After a few miles of this matrix adhering the Twix bar to the oncoming wind side of the passenger's side mirror, the Twix was hardened again and ready for this crafty passenger's enjoyment...Corey!

And this one was written by Corey's friend Cliff Collins (Jeff's brother):

I have so many memories with Corey and most involve some of his impromptu craftsmanship. One day, upon returning from snowboarding at Sugarbush, VT, it began to rain.  When Corey hit the wiper switch...nothing. So, we pulled over to witness the magic that was Corey's ingenuity. At that time snowboard leashes (safety straps) were about 2 feet long. Corey detached the wiper arm from the failed motor, tied the two together with one leash and used another at each side to make "manual assist wipers." We made it, but that's not to say we could see! Fortunately, the ride was quiet thanks to the snowboard binding straps that he had attached to help the doors shut tightly, eliminating that annoying whistle!

And here are some others:

We enjoyed playing softball with Corey. We knew we could always count on him for 3 things:
1. He'd be there.
2. He'd bring the orange drink cooler with Gatorade and cups.
3. He'd always have a positive, caring attitude.
Although he wasn't playing for the Journey anymore, we still enjoyed seeing him at the Grace team games - still with his cooler and great attitude :)

From Shirley who we went to church with at the Journey:
Corey was a great guy; so smart and so very funny. Corey helped bring Randy and I closer to the Lord, especially Randy. Corey gave me a CD that showed us evidence of the existence of God. Randy used to ask, "Why should I believe?" Now he says, "How can you NOT believe?" I'll always hold Corey in my heart.

From Holly at Liberty (coworker):
He is one of the sweetest, nicest people I have known at Liberty. He always had a wonderful smile and will be missed dearly.

One of the best gifts that was given to me after Corey died was from one of his Liberty coworkers, Brian. I had never met Brian but he kindly introduced himself via email just days after Corey passed away and continued his correspondence with me throughout the first year following Corey's death. Sometimes he'd just check in to see how the girls and I were doing or he would send us cards in the mail for different holidays just to let the girls and I know we were thought of and Corey was remembered. He also shared a few photos he had snapped while sitting in the same row of cubicles at Liberty with Corey as well as many stories and things he enjoyed about Corey.

Corey's Recycling Bin photo
This photo show's Corey's - offbeat - humor. (just my speed!) Liberty   distributed a bunch of refrigerator magnets with empowering (and lame) statements such as "if the printer is out of paper, I refill it." About this same time, someone carelessly tossed a used battery into a recycling bin and that somehow caused it to catch on fire. Well, shortly after this episode, a new knick-knack appeared on Corey's desk - complete with miniature recycling bin, an empowering (and lame) magnet & cardboard flames. It was classic Corey. This was actually the first time the digital camera came out regarding your (offbeat) husband.
Special note from Jill:  This recycling bin was later brought home and given to the girls to be used as a bath toy  ;)

Ali and Abi's Daddy
We heard many stories about Ali and Abi. One went skiing with him last winter (and was quite good!). One enjoys being a princess. Both are dancing ballerinas. We heard about how pretty they are. We heard about the fire-works display that he carefully prepared for them for the 4th of July.  (we made him account for each finger and toe afterwards) We saw their photos and drawings on his desk. Corey took much pleasure in being their Dad. He loved to talk about Ali and Abi.
Picture taken in Dec. 2009

Corey's Petri Dish Corey's desk would not quite pass a health-inspection. At any given time, you could find a partially eaten pizza crust, the stale remains of a cheeseburger or green-colored potato chips. Well, that may be a LITTLE exaggerated, but...you get the idea. (He would laugh if he read this) We used to accuse him of intentionally growing bacteria on his desk. He had his pride, though. No amount of ribbing could shame him into clearing the remnants until HE was ready! - a random follow-up: We enjoyed getting him to laugh; his laugh was contagious.

Corey's Health Food' or (as he put it) 'The Last Meal This was taken the day that Corey was moving from our aisle into the "IOC."  As he came back from the cafeteria...proudly juggling the Coke, the cup with Ice, and the ever-present cheese-burger...I halted him, pushed my seat back, and snapped the photo.  It was at that time, that Corey descibed it as the prisoner's 'last meal' in our row.  Despite its red-eye and other imperfections, I like this photo.  The grin on his face makes me chuckle every time I look at it.  I should also add:  a bunch of us 'mainframe dinosaurs' were disappointed when Corey moved to the "IOC."  His presence added a lot to our aisle.  People liked Corey.
Picture taken in March 2010
More from Brian:
Corey's humor: It didn't take us long to discover that Corey had a sense of humor after he moved into our aisle. He could take a 'ribbing' as the young young wipper-snapper. And he could certainly reciprocate in kind. His humor could be directed towards other (playfully), but it could also be directed back to himself - a trait far too uncommon w/ some of the Liberty Mutual staff. His desk was alway decorated with knick-knacks that could make you laugh outright - or, just make you want to play with them (and get addicted to them)...like this collection of little magnetic, metal balls that he was always reshaping.  Corey' s humor was contagious. 

His tender heart: When Corey's dad spoke (at the memorial service) of his tender heart, it was a "Eureka" moment. I hadn't had that thought per-se. Yet I could easily see that. I could easily picture Corey's deep sensitivity and concern for others even as a child. I think that I had just responded to that trait without really recognizing it. It was a part of him that you just found yourself responding to. And liking.
Corey was also private. He would be there for others, but didn't readily jump in to talk about himself. The net result: when he did share of himself, you felt a little honored.

The Theologian: A couple of days before Christmas last year, Corey sent me a link to an NPR show called "The Socratic Method." In this particular show, the central question was: can there be one, true religion? I lay down on my (covered with cat hair) sofa, and listened to the show. Twice. And afterwards, Corey and I had a couple of emails about it.
This was my introduction to the introspective and analytic side of Corey's thinking. And it was probably the biggest eye-openner to me about your husband. I had had no idea of the depth of his thinking and it amazed / impressed me tremendously. In many ways, I think of this attribute as one of his most special. And the loss of that grieves me so very much. I had - and continue to have - much respect and honor for that husband of yours, Jill.

Many thanks Brian! I will cherish these "gems" for years to come and I know they will give Abi and Ali a better sense of who their daddy was as they grow older.  Thanks for being such a good friend to both Corey and to me!

Gone for Biscuits

As a way to honor Corey on this 2-year anniversary of his passing, I thought I would take some time to share some entries from the journal that people contributed to at his memorial service. If you were there you might remember that we had a book available for people to share stories or memories of Corey.

This first one is dear to my heart because the story goes beyond the pages of this precious book. Corey had a group of friends from high school that he enjoyed snowboarding with. Over the years beginning in high school they made several trips to Tuckerman Ravine located on Mount Washington where they would hike 3 miles to the floor of the ravine with snowboards and gear strapped on their backs. This entry is about one of those trips and was written by Michael Gatti, titled:   
 "Biscuits, biscuits, biscuits."

One of my fondest memories of Corey revolves around one of our many trips to Tuckerman Ravine. Having spent the day hiking and riding the bowl (of the ravine), we retired to the lean-to. Several in our group had not packed wisely, food-wise, and bellies were rumbling. Corey suddenly declared that he wanted beans and biscuits, and that he would hike back down to the car (a solid hour and a half, 3-mile hike), get his giant camp stove, go shopping (10 miles away), hike back up (another 2 hours) and make beans and biscuits. We, of course, thought he was crazy and wished him well, and went to bed hungry. Later that night we were awakened by a clanging and a rustling. Thinking an animal was about to get in, we were all wide awake and alert when Corey popped his head in the lean-to and asked, “Who wants biscuits?” What I remember most is his chant of “Biscuits, biscuits, biscuits” as he headed down the hill. Oh, and he made orange juice from a can with a duct tape funnel.(that is SO Corey!)

In May of 2011, the guys headed back up to Tuckerman to leave a memorial of sorts in Corey’s honor.  Here’s are some pictures:  
For those of you who don't know, Corey's first name is Jay but he has always gone by his middle name. 

  Front: Mike and Cliff,  Back: Steve and Jeff

               Steve, Jeff, Corey and Cliff ready to hike up to the ravine in 
April of 2005

Thursday, August 2, 2012

silent August night

     This Sunday, August 5th, will be the second anniversary of Corey's passing. It has been a tough few weeks. Two weeks ago we celebrated what would have been Corey's 37th birthday while at our annual vacation spot in Maine. We spent 3 family vacations there while Corey was still with us and it became a special spot for our family. We always went the week of Corey's birthday (July 20th) and typically enjoyed his favorite meal, Mexican, for his birthday dinner. Just 12 days after arriving home from what was, what I believed to be, our best family vacation yet, Corey left his life here with us and went to be with Jesus.
      It has been just about a year since my last blog post. I have started posts on several occasions since then and have struggled to publish them. It feels harder now to write about my grief. My thoughts feel scattered, and I just can't seem to put a post together. I think I just don't feel much like writing about the pain of my loss anymore, and despite knowing there is no standard timeline for grief, I really had hoped to be further along in this process by this point. There have been some really big blessings this year for the girls and I, but the waves of grief have continued to roll and being a single mom has brought many moments of feeling overwhelmed with all I have to manage and feeling insufficient for the task. I know God has been and will continue to give me the strength to do what He asks me to do, but most of the time His strength is not something I can feel or see in myself. I just have to trust it's there and that can be very hard. I know God will never leave me but most of the time faith isn't about how you feel or what you can see. It's about what you know to be true. Aside from God's presence, I am alone in my grief journey, and I think as time has moved on I have felt that loneliness to a greater degree. (Please know, by alone I do not mean unsupported. I have had wonderful family and friends in my life to help me get through this, but no one else can "be in my shoes" and experience my emotions and the pain of my grief with me). Life for me and for others continues to move beyond Corey and beyond the life I had with him, and that is so painful. His name does not come up as much in conversations now and it takes a more deliberate effort to keep the memory of him alive for Abi and Ali. His birthday felt harder for me this year and there are hints that this second anniversary is going to be harder for me than last year. It's painful just to think about the fact that we have been missing him and living without him for 2 years. It doesn't feel like that much time has passed.
      Corey passed away on a Thursday night, so in a sense tonight is another kind of anniversary for me (with Sunday being the actual date). It has been hard not to relive the nightmare of this week 2 years ago. To think about the "lasts" I had with Corey. The last kiss he gave me before leaving for work that last Thursday. The thought that he already knew what he was planning to do and knew that was the last time he would kiss me goodbye. I remember the afternoon phone call I had with him as I was heading out of town for the night to pick up the girls. I remember feeling the need and being intentional about saying 'I love you' as we ended our conversation.  And then there was that dreadful final phone conversation when he called me one last time to tell me good-bye.
     I found a poem a couple of months back (ironically, the poem began the chapter titled, 'August') that brought me back to the moment after that phone call. The moment when I stood outside of my mom's RV trailer in the darkness of night under the coverage of trees (I had gone outside to take his call because my mom and the girls were asleep inside and my reception was cutting out).  I remember kneeling down in the dirt and pine needles to pray and plead God to spare Corey's life; to let him live. I remember feeling a calm in the midst of my fear; a peace at the thought of Corey being in God's presence and free from his struggles and pain. It was such a strange mix of emotions. I remember wondering if Corey was watching me from above as I knelt praying desperately for him to live. I prayed that his attempt would have failed and would find out 90 minutes later that it had not and he was gone. In those moments, God gave me what he promises in the Bible, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I knew in the midst of my shock and heartache that all was well with my soul. Here's the poem written by Joyce Rupp:

silent August night
the words I'd long held
surged out in whisper;
almost as though rustle
of the forests' oak leaves
bid the truth be told;
"I am so afraid."

words of truth, air-suspended
softened by tender-rounded moon,
sparkled on by a million stars.
suddenly night seemed so bright.

the wind that rustled oak leaves
was wind moving through me.
the tiny trickling stream
was bidding me to kneel,
to be humble-poor before Holy,
to lay my overwhelming fear
in gentle, outstretched arms.

oh, for a moment, swept up in God,
stilled, awed, and quieted.

this presence is Holy, Holy, Holy.

God has taken my fearful heart
and wrapped it in deep love.

As I remember that night, I am ever thankful for the deep love that God has wrapped me in these last 2 years; sometimes not felt but still known. Please pray for me these next few days, that through this grief journey God would continue to lead me toward healing.