What are you feeling, O’ Newly Widowed woman?
Do you even fully comprehend what has happened?
Is it a reality for you yet?
For me, it took a while to sink in. I couldn’t imagine a life without him. This was never what was in all of the plans we made for our future! He is the love of my life!
This is some of my story of how I have navigated through the journey you are now on.
There are so many empty places in our home where I now live alone!
- his place on the couch where we sat and did so many things together…
- his side of the bed where so much life and love took place…
- his shower things waiting there on the corner shelf, never to be used again…
It was after I came home from the hospital, and he didn’t, that my beautiful, kind daughter paid to have my house cleaned for that first year. I wouldn’t let them clean his shower for the first few months! His clothes remained in the drawers and in the closet, waiting. His toothbrush hung in its holder on the mirror – untouched; his brush set, one for his hair, one for his beard, sat on the window ledge…surely, he was going to come walking back in the door! Surely, he would, wouldn’t he?! This must be some cosmic joke!
Those were my thoughts for months… MONTHS!! After all, he was ordering his own food, making decisions about his care, getting better while he was in the ICU. Then, on our tenth anniversary, both of us still in the hospital, they sent him to the LTAC, Long-term Assisted Care. The ICU doctor’s orders were, “get him up daily, wean him off the oxygen, and get him home.” But a few days later, for some reason he panicked and had a PTSD incident. He got belligerent; he wanted out of there! They held him down – that was not a good thing to do with him. “What do we do with this ‘old’ man who won’t be controlled, who isn’t being a ‘good’ patient, not cooperating? Intubate him! That’ll quiet him down and make our lives easier!” So, that’s what they did. Then, without any more trouble, he quietly left twelve days later with his chest cavity filled with air, his kidneys shut down, his heart giving up, him giving in.
I had come to see him that day bringing along the oxygen tank I was sent home with; my daughter pushing me to his room in a wheelchair because I still couldn’t walk 10 feet without having to stop and rest. Did he see that day that I was going to be OK? Could he then relax and let go? Was he just too tired to fight any longer? He went Home that evening. It was all just so surreal.
Every day after I’d come home from the hospital, I was counting the days until he would be back with me. We promised each other we’d grow old together. He was supposed to come home! We were supposed to have so many more years together! We had trips to take, car shows to go to. Remember? We were going to take a road trip to Mt. Rushmore. Now I’ll make that trip without him, to scatter his ashes.
But now, I have come to accept, no matter how hard I look for him, expecting the door to open and me seeing him walk in, it’s never going to happen. The party that began whenever he walked in that door will never begin again! Now, instead, he’s waiting for me to come to where he is!
The two years since he left has ushered me into a different story for my life. Though tears used to frequently come in floods, they happen less often but are still waiting for a memory, a line in a TV show or movie or book I’m reading. Then they fall again and the tremendous grief waiting inside is washed away, just a little more, until next time.
Everywhere I look, there are traces of him, of us, of the great love that we were given after all those years of waiting for “the best thing that ever happened” to me, to either of us.
I asked myself a few days ago, ”Would I really want him to come back if it were possible?” I realized, “How could I ever want that for him?” He is there…face-to-face, together with Father, making Him laugh like he always made me laugh! He is there, basking in His goodness, His delight, His love. I’m confident Jesus came to take him to be with Him that day in 2021. How could I ever want to deny that reality for him?
I’m doing OK. We talked many times about how we’d be OK if “something” happened to either of us. We knew we would be OK having a full heart of love to help us live without the other if that was how it was to be.
I’ll never get over missing him, wishing there was one more kiss, one more caress, one more time he made me laugh until I cried! But I’m doing well in this life God has for me to live without him by my side, with him still firmly in my heart. Reality has firmly set in. The permanence of his passing has become the fact that I live with. I hardly ever say that he died because he is more alive now than he’d ever been before and I will one day get that kiss, that caress and he will make me laugh again until I cry.
So, hang in there, Newly Widowed Woman! You’ll make it! Press into the Father’s love and comfort. Cry, scream, talk it out with Him, with someone…whatever you’re feeling! Then rest in His arms. It’s overwhelming at first! It’s unreal until it is real. My counselor told me grief is about letting go. Have your grief. Take as long as you need. Don’t let anyone hurry the process. Your memories are precious gems that live in your mind and heart. You’ll never forget. Then rejoice that he is face-to-face with Father and he is waiting to see you again for that one more kiss, one more caress, one more laugh.