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35-Year Old Widow

I prayerfully hesitate writing this article. I’ve put it off. I’ve wondered how to put thoughts into sensible sentences. Yet I feel led to write to you about grief. My grief. Not your grief. Because I know the second I start trying to explain it, you may shake your head in disagreement because that’s not how your grief is or was. What I do not want is to define grief or act like some expert in the field. And I don’t want an applause of “You’re doing a great job, Debbie.” You know what grief is like. Because on some, or on many, levels you have experienced loss and sadness. And it sucks.

I am unfortunately at the 4-year mark of being a widow. Do you picture widows as 80-year old women too?! My eyes glaze over when other women share how hard it is that their husband has been out of town. Those women have no idea of what it’s like to involuntarily be single. You cannot see me, but I am shaking my head….next year I'll be at the 5-year mark. The year after that, 6 years.

A big fan of lemons-to-lemonade, I have begged God to use this hardship, this void, this pain for my good and His glory. I believe He uses Aaron’s passing as a way to purify me. To draw me closer to Him. Earthly relationships are important, yes, but my walk with Him is what stands the test of time. He is teaching me that He is to be my everything. It’s easy to speak Christianese and say how much you love and trust Jesus. But when the bottom drops out, what then? So I look to the Guy who calls earth His “footstool” and surrender all to Him. My plans have never worked out anyway. God, make me like You.

In the practical sense, maybe you’re curious what my day-to-day life is like. You wonder, yet pray you never find out, am I right? It’s a push-pull. I was forced into learning to navigate solo, though I truly was never alone. I have loved ones who were and are so present for me in a hundred ways.

I was a stay-at-home mom until my husband’s tragic death in August of 2012. I had never appreciated the burden of the “provider” title my husband shouldered until that baton was passed my way. It’s challenging…but that goes back to relying on the Lord.

I have testosterone-fueled sons. It’s everything you think it is. Loud, destructive, messy. I learned to shoulder the responsibilities of 2 parents with a shattered heart. No longer threatening, “Just wait ’til your father gets home, young man,” a mental shift unfolded. The grief compounded everyday tasks of homework, baths, cooking, bedtime.

Once some of the fog lifted after Aaron left earth for heaven, my perspective became even more eternal. It’s like I’m able to “zoom out” and prioritize what really matters. I rear-ended 2 PARKED cars within months and shrugged it off, for example. My children have learned about their Final Destination. That everything dies (including 2 frogs and a dog in 6 months). That we exist to love God and do His work. That they will get to spend every second of eternity with their daddy.

Grief is not linear. Oh, I wish it was. Instead, it’s more of a zig-zag spiraling circle. One day I’m “accepting” of the fact that I will not likely see that wonderful man’s face for 60 more years. The next day I’m in denial that he is gone. It’s a blindfolded roller coaster. And it’s surreal for me. But my steadfast hope is in a God who never leaves me or stops loving me.

The “silver linings” are honestly just too many to count. Isn’t that so like God to not leave us in a pit? He carries us from valley to mountain top to valley to mountain top.

Always faithful, always present, always active.

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