I know that my title is strange, but my husband always used the term buttocks, so it seemed fitting. And really, that’s what it has felt like for the past four years. Like life kicked us in the buttocks.
Like really hard…
You’ve heard of sucker punches?
Well if there’s a sucker punch for the behind, that’s what it has felt like for quite some time. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to tell you a little more about my husband first. Then maybe the title will make just a little more sense to you and you won’t think that I’m weird or inappropriate. Or maybe you will; it could go either way.
He was my best friend.
Someone I could talk to and share my heart with.
He was literally my only guy friend at the time
that didn’t try to push for something more than friendship.
I felt safe with him.
He knew my heart and he got me.
I never imagined that one day that he would become my husband.
But he did.
It was like a fairy tale.
We never dated.
We never kissed.
He was my very best friend and one day he asked me to become his wife.
And I did.
One practice kiss before the ceremony, and a few hours later he was mine.
I was his.
And it was beautiful.
We shared our life and the children came and glued us together. Jobs came and went and a few gray hairs popped up here and there but his beautiful smile still melted my heart, and I seemed to melt his…
He encouraged me, he pointed me to Christ, he loved me, he believed in me; and we were happy.
Happier than I’d ever been before….
Life was good.
We were good.
The kids were getting older, and we grew even closer…
We dreamed together of our future…
A house in the country…
A huge front porch where we would watch our future grandchildren play
as we sipped sweet tea in our matching rocking chairs…
And then he got sick…
A stomach ache…
Which turned out to be colon cancer…
And I got scared.
And he told me to trust God.
So we prayed.
And we believed.
And he died.
For fifteen years, eight months, twenty-nine days,
two hours and fifty-two minutes I was his wife and he was my beloved.
I thought that in the end, our story would be our testimony of God’s goodness.
Instead; it is my testimony of his goodness and faithfulness.
It’s been almost two years since my husband passed away.
Two years without hearing his voice, or feeling his arms around me.
Two years without his advice or encouragement.
Two years of being alone without my best friend.
If you’re married; close your eyes right now and imagine that for a few minutes…
Really think of how that would feel.
It’s not a good feeling, I can assure you…
I’m not sure how I’ve survived aside from the grace of God.
You see, He (God) was front and center in our relationship. He was the entire basis of what we were as a couple. He sustained us through a two year battle with cancer that ultimately took my husband home to be with the Lord.
Our five children were part of the equation that got me out of bed each day…
The other part of equation was that still quiet voice that spoke to my heart in the depths of my grief.
People kept telling me that I was strong…
That I was “amazing…”
I felt anything but those things.
I wasn’t strong at all.
I wanted to scream and cry and just disappear from my life.
I wanted to hide from the pain of living without my husband.
How was I supposed to live without the love of my life and my best friend in the whole world?
I’ll be honest… I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to live without him.
It just hurt too much.
The pain was unlike any pain I’d felt in my entire life and I was no stranger to pain.
It was hard.
There were lots of tears during that first year…
And I’ll be honest when I say that I wasn’t always up to wiping their tears when I felt empty and broken inside, myself. But I pushed myself, encouraged their hearts and often cried along with them.
I remember one day while I was cooking, I just broke down in the kitchen… The pain was just too great to bear… This was not supposed to be how things turned out. He should have been walking through the door soon and greeting me in the kitchen with a kiss hello as he did every day since we’d been married. I broke down into tears and slid to the floor… I was no longer the person watching an emotional scene on television; somehow I had become that person…
Because surely this was a movie and not my life…
It couldn’t be…
This couldn’t be real.
And yet there I was, in a crumpled mess on the floor in my kitchen living out every melodramatic crying scene I’d ever watched on tv. Except this was real. There were no commercial breaks or actors involved.
This was my life.
And I was falling apart.
I couldn’t hide my tears anymore and
I couldn’t pretend to be brave any longer…
It wasn’t very long when I felt several sets of arms encircling me… “It’s ok Mommy…. We’re going to see him again.” “Don’t be sad Mamma,” another voice said. “We love you Mom,” yet another much deeper voice urged. “We can get through this together Mamma,” my little one added. I opened my eyes and saw that my children had encircled me… They were repeating all of the things that I’d been telling them. They had listened and they were now encouraging me. They all sat around me on the kitchen floor and we all began to weep. It had been about six months since we’d lost him and the pain was still very fresh.
It was then that I made my decision to live.
I was still here and God obviously had something for me to do.
I had to make that decision to live. I had to decide what kind of life I wanted to live. Was I going to be bitter and angry or live in a constant state of depression? I didn’t want to do either. My children had already lost their father, I didn’t want them to lose me as well.
It hasn’t been easy, but God has been faithful. He has surrounded me with friends who have supported me and my parents who have been there for us as well. He has provided for us financially and emotionally. He is the reason that I get out of bed each day.
I have to be honest.
I wouldn’t have chosen this life.
I still miss my husband. He was and is still the love of my life. But I know that I can survive without him because I know who God is. He has given me the strength to go back to school and work on attaining my Master’s Degree in Counseling. He has given me the wisdom to love these five kiddo’s through their own grief while working my way through mine.
I’m a widow.
It’s still an ugly word to me.
I don’t like it at all.
But I’m also an overcomer. (Thank you Ms. Mandisa) I’m a child of God. I’m a mother. A student. I’m a teacher. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I am so much more than the word widow allows for… I was his wife and now I’m not. But I’m also so much more now. I am a person who knows that people die and bad things happen. I am a person who knows that life isn’t always fair and that you don’t always get that happy ending that you see in the movies. But I’m also the person that knows that even though all of that is true that it does not take away from who God is, or what he is capable of… He is still good, and true and real and merciful. Because of what I have experienced in losing my husband I am a person who loves harder, feels more, believes more and trusts in God more.
I have survived because I refuse to let my husband’s death be in vain.
God had a purpose in it.
He has a purpose in all that he does.
He has a purpose for me and my children
and his death has birthed some things in us that we didn’t realize existed prior to his death.
How do you survive tragedy?
One day at a time.
Moment by moment…
Each moment; hanging onto God for dear life.
Because no matter what it looks like, he’s always in control. As my husband told me when he was diagnosed with cancer, “Baby, this didn’t catch God by surprise.” “It’s not like he was up in Heaven saying, ‘Oops! Robert has cancer! What am I gonna do?’” “The bottom line babe; is that He knows everything and he doesn’t make mistakes. I trust him. You have to trust him too.”
I don’t think he could have imagined how much I would think back on that conversation. It has sustained me through some very difficult times.
Whatever it is that you’re dealing with;
good, bad, or ugly;
it hasn’t caught God by surprise.
The reality is that we put God in a box and look at him through our own failings and shortcomings.
Today, almost two years later, I can smile without crying…
Look at his pictures without crying….
And almost begin to dream again.
It’s still not the life I wanted or planned for, but I’m trusting that God knows what he’s doing… Life may have taken me by surprise, but I’m happy to know that God isn’t surprised by any of it. So while Life may have kicked us both in the buttocks, I’d like to think I’m kicking back now, and that God is here with me, guiding my foot. 🙂
Be blessed friends…