I am not the same person I was last year this time, yes, still a widow, but in my second year… not as numb or as lost… but very much feeling the pain and reality of this place. I see life and hope, and I see the excruciating, and hard days can still crush. I can call God “Father,” now and am beginning to understand Him as my husband. The many blessings and gifts God has given me have carried me this year. I have met new precious people, been held and enveloped by the profound grace and amazing words God had given them to share. My life has more moments of purpose then moments of hopelessness. The ache is still there, the waves still crash in unannounced and the place in my heart where my beloved one lived… still has raw spots. I will be forever changed… there is no going back to what was, except in my fondest memories. I know my beloved one is in that great cloud of witnesses, cheering me on and carrying me to the throne as he petitions on my behalf to the Father we both love. This year, I walk in the valley of the shadow of death still… but there have been more visits out of its depths to see that there will be more then the dark corners.
One afternoon in May, two years ago today, our family’s life was forever changed. I won’t say it was a typical day, as my husband had just been released from the hospital from having a routine surgery. He’d been off from work recovering fairly well. It was a Friday afternoon, he got a phone call, the doctor, asking him to come in as there were some results that couldn’t be discussed over the phone. Our hearts sank, this couldn’t be good. My husbands surgeon explained to him that he had cancer. He felt it was in its upper stages and very aggressive.
Our lives changed… as quickly as a snap of the fingers.
Today marks the anniversary of that change. I am sitting here, knowing writing is a good and healthy way to process… but the old fog is rolling in… over the reality. Please bear with me.
It seemed we were sucked into the spinning vortex of a whirlwind of events and life changing circumstances. I am remembering somethings so vividly. We bounced back and forth between hopeful moments and utter darkness and defeat. The good, the bad, the hard, the need to have hope and the need to face reality; all of these swirled around our hearts in increasing amounts of chaos.
The story, by my finite human standards, didn’t end happily. Cancer, to state it bluntly, took my beloved one. And before that… there were months of devastating news, traumatic treatments, declining strength, loss of pride, loss of dignity, loss of hope, pain, physical exhaustion and on and on. This second anniversary, it marks a new piece of the processing… reality. The side-effects of reality are indelibly marked upon the very souls core with dark loneliness and the inability to see one’s self with value and purpose. I see what was hard, the toll it took on my health, my emotions and my walk with God. Reality has not been tender or gentle, but rather cruel and blunt most recently.
But… I was reminded of another reality, God’s perspective. He has made provisions for this agony…. His word promised good would come of this… and His plans are perfect.
I was introduced to goodness, in the early days of this crushing weight. Like anyone in our shoes would, I wondered often how anything good could come of this atrocity, this pain and this terrible ache. But I learned goodness was not.. all of our problems being solved or going away, and it was not the removal of pain and sadness. Goodness is not just something that happens to us or an event we pass through. No, goodness, is nail scarred hands on your shoulders as you are bent so low…. your lips could kiss the ground. It is their warmth holding you as life, as you know it, ebbs away. Goodness is Christ in us, reminding us of His promises to never leave or forsake. I picture His tears falling into my hair as I weep in His arms, because goodness is His presence enveloping me, and whispering… the hope of glory that will come one day soon.
Today, I mourn, an anniversary of deep loss, and all the hard things that have come of this loss, all the changes in myself and my girls…. a steep price indeed. But, I write here to record His faithfulness and the reality of being a widow… as well. Truth says, right now in this moment, I haven’t been abandoned. Truth says, He will be my husband and a Father to my fatherless children. Truth says, I am not bound to a life of fear and defeat, that His power is made perfect in my greatest weakness…. and this… is a great weakness. Truth says, I am precious to Him and beloved.
In the tears of yet another Anniversary, God’s Son has touched me and spoke to my heart. I am so thankful for that. He reminded me that Widows are set apart. No, not more important then anyone else, but have a special purpose like no other. The price a widow pays is unimaginable. We’ve lost more then our beloved husband’s, we’ve lost ourselves, for a time. We’ve lost half of our hearts, the two truly do become one in marriage. We’ve lost and seen significant changes in friendships and even our families. We’ve, temporarily, lost our identity and many days… our hope. But He whispers, lovingly, in all this, “I have taught you to lean, lean to survive, lean to love, lean to cope, lean to walk, lean to pray, lean to parent, lean to find hope.” It is true, just to survive I had to examine my relationship with God. He has become my husband, a reality I am still trying to fully grasp at times. Though we struggle and ache, we as widows, have been given a special purpose… perhaps it is to show the world, by God’s grace, how intimate a relationship with God is to be… so dependant and intimately close to God that we could call him our husband. Or maybe to show what true beauty from the ash heep of mourning looks like… or it could be that in the midst of this loneliest place… we see hope and that shines brightly in a world of darkness and hopelessness. I do not know… I just know He promises to use all of this for good, to those who love Him.
So today, I will look upon the memories, the hard with the good. I will cry. I will choose, in spite of tears, to see the goodness of the LORD in the land if the living (Psalm 27:13). He has me here for a purpose, even though I want to crawl into bed and never come out, He is pressing in whispering that there is so much more. God has proven to me time and again, that I am His. That I am loved.
I have been given so much… the gift of sisters who have seen loss and heartache, to walk beside me and that I can walk beside. God has used them time and gain to encourage and pray and shine light in the darkness. He has poured out His love from His word, through their reminders. Surely I am not alone, changed forever, but never abandoned.