Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)
TITLE: The Widow's Might
By annie keys
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Contemplating the mirror, I wonder who that haggard old lady is and why she’s wearing my pajamas. Shaking my head in wonder at how fleeting life is, I turn the shower on. Waiting for the water to come to temp, I go to the closet to select something that a kind, yet discerning, administrator at an employment agency would wear. Day number 345 since the death of my beloved husband, Walter, begins.
Morning ablutions completed, I dress in a softly patterned dress with a flowing skirt that gives me the illusion of grace. Finally downstairs, in the sun bright silence of the kitchen, I sip bold black espresso. Opening my executive day planner, I ritually pen, “This is the day which the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be GLAD in it” in the wide top margin.
Pausing before looking at the details of the day, I pick up Walt’s eyeglasses lying on the corner of the table and clutch them to my heart. As the first anniversary of his death looms near, I still struggle to live my life without him. It wasn’t supposed to be like this; I was supposed to die first! Walt would have been much more adept at accepting the rigors of life, alone, than I.
The thought of him so near, I found my nose searching in vain for one more scent of his after shave. I firmly place the spectacles back on the table. Work, I must get to work… Once at the office, I have no choice but to set aside the affectations of loneliness and dismiss all the comforting props of a grieving widow.
The heart attack had taken Walt so suddenly; there’d been no hint of ill health. Sometimes, I still strained, listening to the silence, thinking the nightmare will be over and I’ll hear his voice call to me one more time. I must get to the office quickly or the day will be wasted in unproductive crying.
Working outside the home had never been one of my responsibilities. Walt had been successful in setting up and running a small employment agency. After the children had grown and gone, I worked with him at the office, scheduling appointments and acting as a search hound for hopeful clients.
The last ten years, Walt, in his firm but gentle way, had shown me every aspect of the business; all the intricacies of running the company. I’d had no idea that I was being groomed to run our small business alone. Both God and Walter had been faithful, without my even realizing; I’d been fully equipped for the task now at hand.
As I stand at the kitchen sink, rinsing my coffee cup, a wave of fresh grief surprises me, causing me to lean on the counter top to keep from sinking to the floor. Mistakenly, I’d thought these moments of raw, consuming agony were done. At first, these waves of emotional pain had come regularly; leaving me limp, sobbing and drained.
The weeks following the funeral, I’d often spent hours curled up on the kitchen floor sobbing into the uncaring silence. The cold, hard reality of the ceramic tile had been a clutch point in the fevered frenzy of my mourning. Many times, in the painful weeks and months since, I had begged God to allow me to die as well. Contrary to poetic license, time doesn’t cure anything, but it has taken me further away from the raw agony of bereavement. Only God’s grace and mercy have sustained me through the pain.
Forcibly turning from the memory, I open the door and step out into the disinfecting morning sunshine. God will give me strength for another day; I force my mind to focus on the unemployed that wait on me to find work to sustain their homes. I must be patient with myself, give myself time. Smiling, I realize those are the exact words Walt would say to me if he was here to cheer me on. Then, I realized that Walt would be proud of me; I’m going to be okay.
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