How does one prepare to celebrate their first holiday as a widow? Oh the irony of this milestone being Valentine's Day.......
Today marks one month without my Tim.
It was on Valentine's Day 2000 when we found out we were expecting our second child.
This would have been our 20th Valentine's Day together...
I feel paralyzed just thinking about each "first" that will occur this year. But these three...they are way too soon and spaced entirely too closely together for me to wrap my brain around. And then boom, our oldest will turn 15 in May.
I read a list titled 5 Stages of Grief this morning and thought, "Stages????? Really? I feel like I am experiencing EACH and EVERY one of these in a sharp, jagged-edged, kaleidoscope of jumbled emotions. They are supposed to be stages???"
Stages would be nice, then I would know where I am and what to expect next. I prefer "neat and tidy" in all areas of my life, emotions included. Grief is everything BUT neat and tidy.
It's odd really. When you stop to think about it.
The fact that life goes on for those of us left behind. Whether we want it to or not; it just does.
There is school and there is work. There are friendships and activities. There is church and Bible studies. We have chores and responsibilities. In many ways it is good for us to be busy. In some ways it isn't. The balancing of it all is difficult and exhausting and then suddenly another day is over. Throughout every day I am constantly thinking about Tim. What he would think. How he would react. Sometimes horrible flashes of his suffering enter my minds eye and my heart aches all the more; but there are also thoughts that bring smiles and laughter. The recent Facebook movie of a friend brought an onslaught of beautiful memories to me. This (slightly blurry) photo (taken by a kid) of Tim and I going on a date night was in her video.Our friends had come over to watch our (three at the time) children so we could go on a romantic date to one of our favorite restaurants. I even remember what we ordered. (Oh how we loved that lobster bisque and don't even get me started on those button mushrooms!) We treasured our date nights together where we would sit and visit about our goals and dreams.
That is one of the things I miss most.
Our easy conversations about anything and everything. The comfortable way we could share our hopes for the future with one another. The trust we had in each other to be "secret keepers" when sharing our fears, failures, and frustrations. How he would listen and offer advice or guidance for me when I needed it. How he valued my input in his decisions. I miss being his sounding board and having him be mine. Oh how I long to hold his hand and pray with him again.
When Tim passed away and I began cleaning out drawers and closets, I found three cards that he had purchased to give to me.
He never even signed them, but they made me cry just the same. I envision him standing at Target with his soft hair growing back over his bald head that was tucked into his Thunder stocking cap; his wool hunting socks pulled up to his knees underneath his blue jeans that were belted tightly (because "fat matters" and he was always cold after losing 80 pounds in the battle). I see him with his sweatshirt on under his black jacket, perusing the cards for the perfect message to give me, his "bride" (that's what he still called me pushing two decades into our love story).
Regardless of the stabbing pain the tumor constantly caused or how self-conscious he felt now that it protruded from his face and bled often....he took the time to slip to the store, and knowing his days of driving were coming to a close, he selected multiple cards to tuck back and give me in the months to come.
I miss his selfless love.
I miss sneaking encouraging Scriptures onto his pillow for him to find at night.
I have no idea how to survive these upcoming milestones, but I DO KNOW that I will. By the grace of God, I will walk through these months and come out stronger on the other side. And somehow, simply knowing that God will guide me (and even carry me if need be) through this season, makes me willing to keep moving forward with my eyes on my Lord and my thoughts on eternity. Because, you see, life does keep on going and I have to choose whether I will participate in it or lock myself away in this grief. Tim loved life and lived it large. He would want me to choose to live for Jesus and to lean deeply into Him for my strength and comfort. This doesn't mean I can't cry or miss him (which is a good thing, because I could strap a bucket around my neck to catch the unexpected tears at this point).
It means that my grief is intermingled with hope.
It doesn't necessarily make the process easier, but it does make it different from those who grieve without the hope of being reunited with their loved ones in the presence of a Savior.
May I be honest? It still stinks. I'm incredibly lonely and longing for my Tim. I am certainly not at a point where I can paint a rosy picture out of this mess, but I know the One who can! And truth be told, I am eagerly anticipating what my Lord and Redeemer will continue to create in my future from the love Tim and I shared in my past. A love that lives on through our children. A love that I will treasure until the moment I see him again.