“I think ten years is the magic number for me,” I told my friend. “I’m good.”
Two days later I cried the “ugly cry.” Ten years of loss overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t contain the emotion.
Truly, on most days I experience more joy than sorrow. Yet suddenly, something hit me about this ten-year mark. It all feels current and emotions resurface:
- July 4—the last day my first husband, Brian stood on his own two feet at home.
- July 5—the day he went into the hospital for the last time.
- July 10—Brian’s last brain surgery and the last family pictures we ever took.
- July 28—the day he stopped breathing.
- July 30—the day doctors removed life support; the day I thought my life ended because his life ended.
Somehow, this July feels more unbearable than the last few.
I became a single mom to children aged seventeen, fourteen, and ten In July of 2008. Now? I get phone calls with “adulting” questions. Wow, look how far we’ve come!
Since then I remarried, gained four step-children, set five kids free, helped start a ministry, and wrote two books for widows. I just returned from Tanzania where I handed a bite-sized copy of Widowed: When Death Sucks the Life out of You—in the Swahili language—to thirty widows.
Joy overwhelms me as the realization hits on this ten-year anniversary, that Brian would find satisfaction in knowing his death not only ministers to Americans, but also to Tanzanians. I thank the Lord for giving me strength to endure, strength to find happiness again, and most of all, strength to use my loss as an opportunity to impact others.
In contrast to my newly returned feelings of grief, my heart sings as I pour over pictures from our widows’ conference in Tanzania. Welcoming hugs! Smiles. Tears. Laughter. More food than they could carry home. Personal copies of a book written with them in mind. Thank you hugs. Good bye hugs. Ahh, what blessings!
I could never say Brian’s death qualifies as a positive thing. Death steals our loved ones from us. It sends shock waves throughout our worlds. God made death the final victory for a reason. It breaks us.
But, I would not love widows the way I do had I not walked that path. I would never have written my books had I not experienced the severing of my own marriage through death.
Now, I continue to experience the fact that, although death stole my best friend and sucked the life out of me, God brings beauty out of the pain. I continue to live out the dichotomy of joy and sorrow, which walk hand-in-hand by my side.
Nothing can take away the pain of loss, but strangely, loving on widows brings me great joy, even in my sorrow.