Saturday, October 20, 2012

One Year Later

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Jim's disappearance--hard to believe.  We are so thankful that he was found, but besides knowing now where he went, a few items he took with him that we had not figured out, and that he died, we don't know much more than we did the day we discovered him missing. We develop theories of what we believe may have happened or probably happened, but then are reminded that we really just don't know.  For those who haven't heard, the results of the autopsy were that time and cause of death is "Undetermined."  (Possible causes include his medical conditions and things resulting from being out in the elements, but there was not enough evidence to conclude one cause above the others.)

So, at this one year mark we can't help but remember all that took place and how our lives were forever changed.  We have also heard many of others' stories of hurt and pain and have learned that we are not alone.  We do know that Jim would want us to let go and move forward living life to the fullest, and that we honor him as we move in that direction.

Though our hearts are heavy as we pass through these rough spots of various anniversaries, we have also grown in faith, are learning to accept mystery as a part of life, have seen in a crystal clear way all that we loved about Jim, and rejoice in all he was to us. We have also received blessing upon blessing from people near and far, have been the recipients of so many prayers, have experienced some of that peace that passes understanding, accept faults as a part of life, are grasping in a new way the complexity of the human psyche, and have seen the hand of God at work in spectacular ways.

A great joy in our family's life was the beautiful wedding of Ali and Paul's last month in Oregon. Awesome family time on a beautiful day celebrating a beautiful love (pictures posted on FB pages). Some day within the next year we, as a family, will probably hike, again, into the area where Dad spent his last days (as we did on the day before his memorial celebration last May) and spend some time there.  Most of the time life is normal and busy, with little time for anything else, but I will be doing a day hike with anyone who wants to join me within the next couple of weeks to experience this amazing canyon at this time of year, and recover, if still around, any belongings not yet found.  I will retire from teaching elementary music in May, will remain in our home for the time being, and discover what adventures my next chapter will bring.

Thank you for your friendship and love,


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Okay, there were no posts between May and August. Guess we went underground for the summer. Actually, though, Karen went on the road and traveled through Southern California visiting family and friends, then up the coast with a healthy dose of alone time, and more visiting in Oregon and Washington, then Shasta Lake and Lake Tahoe on the way home. It was an incredibly healing and cleansing time, and much needed slowing down time.  

Results of the autopsy were received in July. The medical examiner named several possible causes of death (related to Jim's health issues and/or being out in the wilderness) but stated that it was not possible to determine which possibility caused his death. So, we know nothing more, but we are not surprised, and mystery remains.

Our family has moved three more months into life goes on. We seem to continue to notice new aspects of our loss, and pass new anniversaries that bring Jim back to the front of our psyches: his birthday, a year since the Tucson Retirement Trip and the last time two of his children saw him. Others will come along, but life does go on and Ali will marry Paul September 22, and our family will gather once more, in Oregon, for a very happy occasion and celebration. It is nice to know that Jim was happy and pleased about the love that Ali and Paul have found in each other.  Peace. posted by Karen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Memorial Celebration for the life and faith of my husband, Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wow! It was a wonderful, cleansing, healing day when so many people gathered together to mark the end of one man's life and celebrate all that was he was as child of God, and will be as resurrected and redeemed one.  The love and support were overwhelming; the pastors eloquent and their presence such a blessing; the family strong and close, as each one shared readings, words, and song; the gathering of all at the Table of the Lord; songs chosen by Jim, himself. I repeat, here, my thoughts shared on that day.  Karen

"Hi, and welcome. Today is a very special day--one we thought might never come.  But God led a man out into the desert one more time, and led him straight to Jim.  So, we are feeling blessed to be able to gather here to celebrate Jim’s life, and to worship the One who gave him that life and - will give him a new life in the end. 

I was privileged to share 43 years with Jim. For the life that he gave me, all that he taught me, the ways he helped me to grow, and the amazing children that he blessed my life with—I am so grateful.   It wasn’t easy; our personalities were so different. But we were so united, and full of passionate agreement on the big stuff of life. 

Since the day that Jim vanished from my life, I’ve spent many days and countless conversations evaluating, wondering, mulling over, turning events over and over in my mind (and often coming up with a new twist on my theories).  No matter what I come to believe happened I come to realize in the end, that much of what happened in Jim’s end was deeply woven into the fabric of our lives.  Our shared love of the land, of living in sync with the natural processes of life, the conversations that we had questioning the extent to which we were comfortable with medical intervention, our love of God’s creation, and how we could best live in harmony with it.  These shared thoughts set a backdrop, which makes everything seem, in some ways, okay—in some ways it fits. Though we really have no idea what was going through his mind, whether he changed his mind, or what really happened, we do know that he died in a beautiful place, and God called him home. 

I can’t begin to put into just a few words how much I have learned and grown and been blessed with, in the past six months--in spite of my world turning upside down—or—no—probably because my world turned upside down.  And everyone of the people in this place today has been a part of that blessing.  So thank you for all of it—for your prayers and your work.

My dear Jim—not a perfect man in the least, one who, I am convinced, I (and perhaps others) misunderstood.  Perhaps we didn’t see all the beauty of the forest because we were looking at the trees—the things that troubled us.  My dear Jim, who was a pragmatic man, and made decisions based on fact more than feelings, did he think he could slip away quietly and no one would notice? This man, who never wanted to be the center of attention…if he only knew. We have laughed more than once on this journey, that, “Jim, for not wanting to be the center of attention—you really blew it.”*** But here is what I think he did know: that we would survive, and become okay, and live on to serve in this world. ----------“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

I learned a little more about my husband one day when I picked up that book found on his desk.  I’d like to share a few more of the things he highlighted and found significant:  (Readings from God’s Inspirational Promise Book by Max Lucado.)

So, what a privilege today to celebrate the life of this man who lived his life in service to the one and only God, his church, and his family.  He did what he believed he was called to do—and he finished it."  "God is good!"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Good News and Announcement

MEMORIAL CELEBRATION for Jim will be held on Saturday, May 5th, at 3:00 p.m.
Location: Christ Lutheran Church, 25 Chapel Road, Sedona, AZ 86336 (at the roundabout on Hwy. 179 and Chapel Road).

THANK YOU all for your love, support, and fervent prayers. God answered--in his own time--right between Good Friday and Easter! So symbolic of Jim's reality. We are blessed beyond words, even in the midst of tragedy.
MEMORIES: My children and I would be blessed if those of you who knew Jim would like to write a short memory, story, anecdote, or way that Jim inspired you on a sheet of stationary or a postcard for collecting into a memory book or box. You can mail them to the church address any time. There will also be a time of sharing at the reception if you would like to bring it with you and read it to the gathering. We love to hear stories.....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jim's body has been found...

Hallelujah.  Our prayers have been answered!  In response to the powerful prayers for Jim on Good Friday, his remains were found midday on Saturday.  Don Newton found Jim's body in a remote section of Woods Canyon.  While the Yavapai Sheriff's office still considers the body a John Doe, Karen was able to identify his wedding ring.

Nearly 6 months have past since his disappearance and while questions still remain, we rejoice that dad's body was intact, that the medical examiner will be able to answer many of those questions, and that we will be able to have a memorial service to celebrate his life soon.

Jim Schwartz.  You are are an amazing man and you were loved by more people than you realize.  We pray that you passed from this earth in peace...surrounded by the beauty of the desert.

We will continue to use Facebook and the FJS blog to keep everyone updated.  Please know that despite the grief, as a family we are joyful as well.  We love you all and thank you for all of your support.

AZ Central Channel 12 News Report

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hike into Woods Canyon

Announcement: I am organizing a hike for Saturday, April 14th. Need high clearance off-road vehicles to get us into the central part of Woods Canyon from I-17 on a very rugged 2.5 mile jeep road. Five people and 2 quads lined up so far. Then hike down steep eastern slope into the beautiful Woods Canyon for a day of searching for Jim or some physical clues. This is an all day commitment--sun up to sun down. The canyon is beautiful.  Promises water, peace, adventure, a good workout, and hopefully some clues.  Please contact if you are interested and/or share on your FB page.  Planning to meet on west side of I-17 by the sign that says "1 Mile to Stoneman Lake Exit" at 6 a.m.  Please contact by commenting on this blog, if interested in going along so we can make sure we have enough vehicle seats for hikers.  Would love to have a crowd.  Karen  (Can also call our gmail phone # 480-359-6209