One year ago today….
I pulled into my driveway at 12:30 pm and two sheriff cars pulled up behind me.
Many, many times over the last year I have replayed the events of that day in my mind. I had no bad premonitions when the day started, in fact, I didn’t even “feel” it when Chris actually died. I didn’t even know he had died until 4 hours later. I’ve actually felt bad about that. It still hurts my heart to think that he died alone. Some of the events of that terrible day I can’t remember. Friends and family have helped fill in the gaps. And still today, I find it difficult to grasp the reality of it.
I remember it being a sunny, semi warm day, a spring day. A typical morning around the house. Rushing to get kids off to school, hurriedly kissing Chris goodbye before he left for work. My mind was on the full day ahead. Working and trying to fit in as many errands as possible. I had no idea that this day would change the rest of my life. I had no idea it would change the lives of my children forever.
I think this time of year will always hold a sadness for me.
I feel as if I have been in a race that has been in slow motion and I have finally made it to the first land mark. I made it 365 days without seeing Chris, touching him or talking to him. I feel a sense of accomplishment. A quote on the back of the Joyce Carol Oates book, A Widow’s Story, says “of the widow’s countless death-duties there is really just one that matters: on the first anniversary of her husband’s death, the widow should think ‘I kept myself alive.’ ” Well…I have done that.
I remember at the funeral when the funeral director told me they were going to close the casket. I wasn’t prepared for the sense of panic I felt. It was the same panic I experienced when the Sheriff showed up at my door to tell me Chris had been killed. I knew, when she said “it’s time” that I would never see him again in this life..never look into his sensitive blue eyes, never feel his hugs again, never kiss him again, never hold the hands I loved, never talk to him again. My children were now fatherless. I was now a single parent. I remember all those thoughts and more rushing through my mind like a wave threatening to drown me. I do believe if I could have crawled in the casket with him I would have.
Many have asked me what I will do on this one year anniversary of Chris’s death. I really don’t know. I do know that I don’t want it to be a day of dredging up all the hard emotions of the past year. Reliving the grief does not sound appealing. The term “anniversary” seems to hold some connotations of joy, happiness, something celebratory… How do you celebrate the memory of the worst day of your life?
What I want most is for my children to remember their father. To remember how much he loved them, to remember how funny he was, to remember his desire for them to live lives that bring glory to God, to remember all he taught them. I’ve decided, starting today, that I’m going to keep separate journals for each of my children to record memories and thoughts their Dad had. I hope they keep these to encourage themselves and maybe read them to their own children some day, so they can know their grandfather just a little, even if it is through memories.
I have made it this far because of God’s grace and mercy in my life through family and friends. God knew, before time began, that I would make it. I know now I will be okay. Will I ever stop missing Chris? I don’t think so. It’s hard to guess what I will feel in another year, but I can’t imagine that I will ever stop missing him. My children have all slogged through the waves of grief..each in a completely different way…a few are still struggling, but I’ve seen them grow and mature in ways that make me proud.
A widow from another blog made the comment that she longs for the inside to match the outside. I totally get that. On the outside I’m doing life. My insides are a bit behind. I think that is the nature of grief. The choice to keep on living (and it is a choice) is the choice to heal. Choosing to make all the necessary changes in our life has been hard. I have learned that some people are just simply amazing in the sacrifice of time and emotional energy they have invested in me and my children. There are days when I think I’m going to be just fine..those stretches are getting longer. But there are still plenty of days where I can’t seem to stop the tears, where the grief seems just as fresh as that first day.
I’m not sure how to prepare for this upcoming year. I’ve read a lot of what other widows experience..there’s a common thread that in some ways the second year is harder – this doesn’t seem possible. Am I apprehensive? I sure am. This is where I pray for faith. This is not a blind faith that God will sustain me. Besides what it says in His Word…I’ve already experienced it. He WILL carry me. Looking back at living 365 days without Chris seems huge but not in comparison to the many days ahead without him. It is only the Hope of the Gospel that keeps the future from being filled with despair.
So today, I’m choosing to rejoice in where the Lord has me, and how far He has brought me. A year ago I did not believe I was going to make it. I’m choosing to rejoice in the amazing life I still have even if it is as a widow. I’m choosing, by faith, to keep going, to keep persevering, because in that perseverance He promises Life.
Originally I had planned to only keep this blog for the first year. I think I actually thought my grieving would be over by then 🙂 I have found the blogging to be very therapeutic and your encouragement to be so helpful that I think I will continue. I’m hoping this next year the entries will be less about grief (me) and more about Christ. I feel as if I’m venturing on a new journey with a new identity. Neither would have been my choice, but I trust the God that has given me this path to walk. I hope to continue to walk this journey with all of you. We all have our challenges/sufferings in this life. I hope we can share our joys and disappointments together.
” We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever…”
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