In conversations with our children, we ponder whether my expectation of the grief that is to come is realistic. We will certainly each grieve individually and have given each other permission to experience the journey in our own ways. And that is more than okay, it is necessary. I still simply cannot imagine a single day void of contact with my Tim; however our children are very wise and one child has shared with me that they aren’t so sure the grieving process will take as long since we have been in a state of constant grief and sorrow for going on 21 months now already. Possibly, this long, drawn out death is a way for those of us left behind to be as prepared as we possibly can be for the next step. I hear this and I wonder. Maybe there is deep truth embedded here. Or maybe the grief that is to come is so far beyond our comprehension that it will wash over us as a fresh wave…somehow deeper and darker. We won’t know until we get there, but regardless of how each of us heals…we are guaranteed that the healing of our hearts will come.
"Do not worry, Lori. I will surely comfort you and will look with compassion on all your ruins; I will make your deserts like Eden, your wastelands like the garden of the Lord. ~Isaiah 51:3"
It doesn’t lessen the sting of loss, but there is such a beautiful hope in knowing where Tim will spend eternity. There is comfort in this knowledge, and quite frankly we are all (Tim included) in some odd way, ready for Tim to be in the presence of Jesus and free from the suffering involved with this nasty disease. My brave husband has not tasted anything in over a year. He has absolutely no swallow; not even his own saliva. Can you even imagine? I cannot and I live beside him every day as we administer feedings and hydration through his feeding tube and use surgical tweezers to clean out the thickened dried spit and blood from his throat. He can feel the tumor ripping through his tissues every single day as its invasive and aggressive fingers spread and grow throughout his head and neck. He can feel the portion that is invading his mouth and throat as it interferes with his speech. He aspirates on the blood that seeps from the tumor at night. His left forearm has been surgically transplanted into his throat to replace the areas that the tumor destroyed. It is a horrific “sci-fi-ish” existence and the man never complains.
I stand in awe of his integrity and strength. I am humbled by the peace Jesus Christ has delivered to our family members as the end approaches. Just as the Bible promises, it is beyond our understanding.I like to read several different devotionals. One is written by Christian widows. It helps me prepare for what is to come and also shows me that I am not alone in this journey. I mean, I know God will never leave me, but I am talking about other women who are walking this same path with dignity and grace. Showing me what it is to lean so heavily into our Savior that only His love and peace radiate from within. So imagine my surprise when I found myself experiencing a strange emotion while reading a devotional about a woman who lost her husband while he was out on a run.
I, myself am a runner; have been for 3 years. Tim is the one that got me interested in the sport. He loved to lace up his running shoes and head out for a few miles after a long day at the office. It was one of “our things”.
|New Years Day 5K Race|
|My training partner who didn't really want to run this day,|
but didn't want his wife out there alone either. (Love him!)
As I read of this woman cutting part of her husband’s shoelace from his running shoes to bind a locket of his hair as he lay on the ER stretcher, my heart ached for the suddenness of her loss. Then she wrote of how she kept his running shoes in a box so that she could smell the sweat on them and remember his aroma after his runs.
And I felt this emotion that was partly anger and partly jealousy!
How was this possible? What is this emotion? Am I envious of a widow? I spiraled into jealousy that she had something to cling to with her lovers scent on it. You see, I lost the scent of my Tim almost two years ago. This cancer came on hard and fast and quickly the tumor took over the smell of my sweet Tim. It breaks my heart to admit that I cannot even remember his scent. All I smell is the rancid odor of the tumor. I have no clothing to cling to with the old scent. I have nothing to tuck away in a drawer for future times and pull out when I just need to smell him. And this realization made me envious. Wow! What a new low to stoop to! I was so taken aback by my reaction that I instantly confessed this as sin to God and begged for forgiveness. He replaced my envy with His grace and mercy. He reminded me that He has chosen to give me and our children; the gift of time to process the grief. We may be saying a long goodbye, but we are being given the opportunity to say the goodbye; and there are so many others that do not have this luxury. Clearly He knew I would need to take baby steps into this thing called “widow”.So maybe our child is wise beyond their years after all. Maybe we are already further than knee deep in this process of grieving and the other side is closer than we realize. Maybe we are swimming neck deep now and will soon be finding sure footing again and begin our ascent out of the murky, dark waters of this valley.
And then, just as I prepare to post this blog, I read wisdom from a friend on her Facebook page.
“We want the shortcut, but often God takes us the long way around because He knows better people, stronger people develop over time. Don't despise the wait. He's in it, too.” ~Lisa Whittle
Isn’t God so good to us, all the time? All the time, he is good!