When I awoke this morning the sun was shining, birds were singing in the tree outside my window, there was a gentle breeze from the west moving the curtains ever so slightly and I had been a widow officially for one year. 365 days; 8,760 hours; 525,948 minutes; 31,556,926 seconds. It only took two of those seconds for the nurse to say the words "he's passed" - two words, two seconds and the landscape of my life was instantly and forever changed. The man whose life had been intricately and lovingly intertwined with mine for the past 25 years had moved on to heaven and I was left alone. I lost half of myself in those two seconds - not really lost - more like torn away. Finding words to explain the experience to those who have not lost a spouse is difficult to understand. I offer this example in the hope that you will come to an understanding of what it is like. Picture if you will a container holding two bonsai trees growing as one. Initially you think this is one tree but on careful examination you can see that there are separate root systems and separate trunks yet the trees have grown together so completely that each branch is intertwined upon another one and each supports the other completely. It's a beautiful picture isn't it? Now can you picture what would happen if one of those trees were simply removed? The tree left behind no longer has it's support system - it is left alone in that container to figure out how to manage on it's own, and left saying Now What?- crying in pain, suffering long days and nights of loneliness and isolation and no idea of how to be a single tree. I have heard some bonsai growers say that they are reluctant to grow two trees together like this for fear that if one dies the other will perish as well because of the dependency on each other.
After that phone call at 3:36 am on Sunday, May 22, 2011 and that two second pronouncement I found myself like that bonsai tree - left alone to figure out Now What? I had had some months to prepare for his passing - it did not some suddenly, however, there was no way to prepare for the life alone that was facing me. I simply did what I had to do, one day at a time for an approximate total of 31,556,926 seconds - and some days all I could do was live one second at a time. I have heard many terms this last year such as "new normal", "grief journey", "new reality", "grief process" and I have experienced "the fog", "the disbelief", "the betrayal", "the anger", "the frustration", "the lethargy", "the loneliness" and so many, many more.
Now, one year later I am beginning to have a bit of a new experience "hope". For you see on this day as I have remembered the past year I have seen that I have survived the worst year of my life. God came alongside and nursed me and held me and is beginning to revive me. He has shown me love through a special neighbor family up the street, through the kindness of strangers and through the love and support of some very special widows on Facebook. Yes Facebook - God is there too!
I know that it will get better and I also know that I will still have times of mourning and tears - but I also know from looking back at what God has done for me this past year that He will continue on to complete what He started. He will heal me and revive me and bring me into the plan and purpose He has for my life.
So, in answer to the question Now What? I say this: I will continue to choose life, the life God has planned for me. I will set my face like flint and I will turn into the storm and move through it not trying to avoid it or bypass it and God Himself will get me through it because He has done so for the last year and will continue to do so.
And so I ask you "Now What?" Will you choose life, will you determine to press in and trust Him. Please do. The road is a long one when we do it alone but He is there collecting our tears, holding us close and loving us all the while. Dear ones be at peace and know He loves you so.