In the wee hours this morning, I began a journey… I walked over to the shelf, holding my heart’s memories. I pulled down a well-loved book, realizing the book mark was at the last page. And I read… “to love well when you have great love, means to grieve deeply and well, when you say goodbye. Grief is not the end, but in time… a new chapter, takes form on the pages of your heart. Weep, for your tears are safely captured in a loving Saviour’s bottle. Grieve for what you no longer have, but hope for what they have gained.” This was the end… of a book titled, “The First Year.” I looked back up on that shelf for hope that this was not the end… and I found a brand new volume, spine never cracked, waiting to be opened, so that it could be written on. I reverently placed that well-loved volume back on the shelf, knowing I would come back to it many more times. And placed an unsure hand on the new volume, title yet to be determined.
So I am beginning a new volume… and today… is the first chapter. This is a piece of a letter I shared with dear ones who walked beside me. The first inking of the first page of the first chapter of this new volume.
Am reliving my last hours with Chris right now. At midnight, his last midnight here, the guests were just leaving. We’d had a little party to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, as we knew he wouldn’t be with us then. It was a full week and he was tired. A few hours earlier he had been up, and he had held onto me in our last dance. Then we rolled in the hospice bed and set it up as a recliner, so he could relax and watch the Christmas tree go up. There was Christmas music and laughing. A few times his eyebrows went up, as they did when we became too silly. He was the serious one. 🙂 Chris said his last words around 8 that night. When I reminded him how much Jesus loved him, he said, he knew because Jesus was telling him lots of things. Guests had come and went all day. I was not alone as the process of death made deep shadows in our home. And it didn’t ever sting. We knew where he would be going and that we’d see him again. Later friends tucked me into that twin sized hospice bed, with our little Penny dog in the middle and I slept near Chris for about four hours. All the while, one friend made calls to hospice for Chris’s care and comfort. I vaguely remember the door opening several times in the night, as the pharmacist brought meds. My other friend sat beside us. I remember music and whispered prayers. Later she gave me pictures of Chris’s hand in mine that night. There was nothing frightening or scary, as he drifted between heaven and earth… and I drifted between wanting him to stay and letting him go. But somehow, by God’s grace, we both slept peacefully. At about 5am I woke up and took my shift in a chair at his side. I was in state of mind somewhere between, thankful I could be here and deeply mourning what was coming. I whispered in his ear and held his hand. You know that morning light that begins to warm a room and how it turns pink and gold? Just as the sunrise was painting the sky, I watched Chris take his last breath. It was 6:15am. He finally met the Jesus he loved face to face, after such a long brave battle. Life was a blur after that. I remember many voices, many tears and deep love filled my home to overflowing. I remember, when they came to take his earthly body away, I was held up in a Jesus hug… I never forgot. As tears shook my body, I was not alone. This part of processing is reliving each moment, one by one. Savoring the visions in my heart, and the hope that I have one year later. It still seems like yesterday. It is vividly, beautiful and life-giving, even. In spite of the enemy’s well laid plans (there have been many) to steal the joy in my heart… today, I am facing him down with the hope of heaven. Yes, I believe there will be sad tears, many of them. Chris was the love of my life, my best friend and husband of twenty years… that will not be forgotten, ever. And the enemy, he…. will not take center stage in my memories or my grief.
Friends, I am grateful for you. How precious and special is the family of God. I am so thankful for your encouragement. Thanks for wading through this story and walking beside us on this journey. It is the greatest gift to have friendship and to share prayers on one another’s behalf.
The below link was shared with me recently. And bring me great joy… especially today. This day we remember it has been one year of Chris living in heaven.