When Facebook had the 10-year challenge recently, I had to stop and think. Do I want to go there? Because 10 years ago, my husband was alive. To post any pics of myself in 2009 would be to post pics of a different self.
In early 2009 I was still part of a family unit of three, with an identity I could name and be confident in – wife, mother, self-employed writer/editor, active community member.
Months later, those foundations would come crumbling down as I struggled with my grief, feeling the shock of the unspeakable. Years later, I am rediscovering who I am in ways I could not have imagined. In a place I never imagined I’d be.
Sometimes it astonishes me, how much I’ve learned, how far I’ve traveled, all that God has done in my life, in those short 10 years.
For starters, I had to take on all the basic chores David did that I took for granted, like the grocery shopping, cooking, even the laundry. Yes, I was definitely spoiled.
And David liked to do things with precision and care, while I flitted through chores. And sometimes life.
After he died, I’d wished I’d paid more attention. To everything. How he prepared that special Panko-crusted salmon. How he handled a budget. How he folded those blasted fitted sheets.
Honest to God, nobody could fold fitted sheets like David. Not even my neat-freak friend who came over to do the laundry in my first week of grieving. She admitted she couldn’t do it with such precision.
It may seem funny, but every time I fold fitted sheets, I think of him. In this simple act, I remember so much love, care, nurturing, safety, and security. I know that’s a lot to see in a neatly folded sheet.
It’s a memory of a love that has carried and upheld me all these years. And it’s more than just David’s love. It’s a love in which we both exist.
So, I was willing to take that challenge. To go back and look at a picture of us. To reread and reflect on journal entries from that year.
What astonished me was how strong my faith was in the midst of such pain. How I was able to see and write about his death so clearly. How I was already deepening my trust in the Love to which I am being asked to surrender.
As one of my spiritual teachers says, the immediacy of what is is trustworthy. It’s all trustworthy. Because that is where God is, in the immediacy of this moment.
Since this is the 10th anniversary year, I’m going to risk sharing something very personal. It seems right to do so, to honor my love for David, to acknowledge the healing that can happen, and the amazing ways God can use us in the most painful of circumstances.
This entry is dated April 19, 2009, the day after he died:
My dearest David,
I can’t understand, so I won’t waste time trying. I know you wanted to be here for Davis. But although you can’t be here physically, your spirit is with us, and I know I will feel your presence throughout our lives. I know you’re going to help me from where you are. I also know that you are going to finally understand how much you are loved, and that gives me peace. No one loved me and accepted me and supported me as much as you did. You helped me to grow in so many ways. You were so devoted to me and to Davis. I tried to tell you how much I appreciated you, but it wasn’t enough – I know that because I needed to tell you this every day.
I’m going to miss you saying, “Hey, I didn’t get my kiss this morning.” And I’m going to miss you bringing me my coffee and doing all the little things you do to please me. I’m going to miss seeing the pleasure you got from Davis, witnessing how proud you were of him and how you would choke up talking about him sometimes. I’ll miss your generous heart, your bear hugs, your look of disgust at my wild ideas but how you went along with them anyway, your desire to help those in need, your willingness to see things differently, your wisdom in helping me to see things differently, your ability to turn to God under stress.
Everywhere you went, you thought of me and Davis. How could that be any different now? I KNOW this life is not the end of our journey. We were only beginning to deepen our soul’s journey together. It has been a very powerful and beautiful experience to share this life as your wife. I believe this – that I will recognize you in something or someone somewhere in a moment of awareness and my heart will smile because I will know you are with us.
People marvel at how I can be so strong. I am hurting, I cry, I’m deeply pained by the physical loss of you, but I believe we are being upheld in love and strength because both Davis and I know that in God we live and move and have our being. This experience truly solidifies that for me.”
So, I may not have learned how to properly fold fitted sheets in 10 years. But I have learned to discover grace in the painful challenges. And to trust where love wants to take me.
Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground. Be crumbled,
so wildflowers will come up
where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender. (Rumi)