I will remember December 2009 with a mix of searing pain and infinite joy. My beloved fell ill, went to the hospital the following day, and all brain activity ceased the next. Some would venture to tell me of the blessing his passing was for he did not suffer. With their words meaning comfort, I give the requisite gratuitous smile and nod of acceptance. They cannot know the tormented soul who departed this world. Suffering many months of mental anguish as he fought the demon of alcoholism, his pain was neither short nor quick; his victory of sobriety a daily struggle for the last six months of his life.
In the weeks before his death, he created a punch-list of handyman chores and did projects around the house. Being a master carpenter, he designed and created dollhouses, decorative pieces, and wall hangings. He finished his shopping and wrapping for me, placing each lovingly thoughtful gift beneath the tree. He cleaned and organized the garage, his workshop and refuge. He told me he felt driven to complete his tasks, a sense of urgency pushing him forward. He seemed hopeful and happy for the first time in several years, giving me a sense of peace.
I thought losing a child was difficult. I did not know what paralyzing pain could be until I lost my husband. It is like sleepwalking, wading through a morass of despair, not looking up. It is like waves and caves, riding high on a beautiful memory awash in joy before the tsunami of grief dives deep in to a cave of dark, painful reality. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with pictures on both sides and none of the pieces seem to fit together. Love and anger intimately entwined with confusion and laughter both soothes and torments indiscriminately. It is like a fog veiling my eyes, an opaque curtain preventing me from reaching understanding.
In the first few hours after notification of no brain activity, I patiently answered the questions for organ donation. A painful process of dissection of his life for the last twelve months and giving away his body piece by piece, picked at fresh wounds of my broken heart. The repeating of the prognosis and next steps to family members scattered across the country brought fresh tears as I tried to be the strong and dutiful wife carrying out his last wishes. The uncharted waters of organizing and planning his memorial service tossed me from emotion to emotion so quickly; I became numb, feeling almost nothing beyond the heartache of losing not only my spouse but also my best friend. I found myself in disbelief bordering on denial. How could I lose the one person who knew everything about me and loved me anyway; the one with whom I expected to grow old; to relive special moments and create new ones as we moved in to the fall of our lives? How could he leave me at the most glorious time of year, casting a shadow over my spirit?
Peace began to soothe me as I realized I was jealous. My husband was celebrating Christmas with Christ; attending a birthday party in which I could not join. As this realization moved in my heart, a balm of joy and praise mended rips so the first tentative steps of healing could begin. Sometimes I feel like I am not taking those baby steps but crawling. I will continue to crawl knowing I am not alone. I will wake each sunrise with a hopeful heart, watch each moonrise with praise, and revel in the glory of Godís eternal love. A neighbor told me to grieve at my own pace, to get back in line every day for it is a new day to try again, to pray for peace and comfort.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you broken in heart and bruised in spirit asking for a chance to get back in line. I ask forgiveness for yesterday as I did not laugh nor pull out of crushing despair. I did not see purpose to my life nor did I reach out to others. I did not pray as fervently as I once did giving it all to you. For God, you are my lifeline, the only constant I have or need. The line of life is precious and I want to walk the path You have lit for me, to accept Your will as you accept my husband in Your loving and forgiving arms. Amen