Today it has been two and a half years since I ate breakfast with John and our kids, kissed him at the door, and watched him walk to his car: shoulders full of briefcase, lunch, dry cleaning, and gym bag. Such an ordinary day. Little did we know we were saying goodbye.
In the early days following March 8, 2012, I most frequently described his death as a lightning strike on a clear, blue day. Coming out of nowhere, taking John and torching life as we knew it for me and our four children. Our future with him turned to ashes. When I meet new people, they still visibly respond when I cautiously break the news that my husband died while on a run. I am living everyone’s nightmare. I still cringe that it is real.
There was no way to forget it this summer.
In late July our grave marker was put in place. During that same week I turned 46 and our 25th anniversary arrived with no husband. Three weeks later our second went off to college as a freshman, and our first returned to college as a junior. Our house occupancy dwindled to three. And within that same week, our boy turned 13, and the next day was John’s 47th birthday.
Life isn’t getting easier. We will never be “over” or “beyond” John’s death. This suffering is real, but I can honestly say that the Lord is teaching us how to live with it: how to hold hands with joy and sorrow. And He is also doing something miraculous…
Because in the midst of those hard milestones this summer, I also saw GREEN! God is causing green sprouts to beat the odds and emerge from our scorched soil. This burned down forest that I used to call our family’s life is alive. God is working a miracle, and it is beautiful. The kind only He can do. He is wooing us with the beauty and promise of life as it unfolds. Telling my heart that there are people and places and purposes in our future. Joy is rising. Love is still here, and it is growing.
And, my smiles come faster. And my silliness at home is becoming more frequent. And I don’t feel as conspicuous anymore in this awkward widow identity. God is coaxing me forward just like those green sprouts through blackened earth.
Surely the future will bring more reminders of what has been lost, but I do know what I see today. Green is growing. More green is coming. Life can burst forth from scorched earth. There is no holding it back. And, God loves those who mourn their losses. He will love you like He is loving us.
Comforting. Providing. Trading our ashes for a crown of beauty. Giving us the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. We get to be for the display of His splendor! (Isaiah 61:2-3)
Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:34-35)
So He holds my hand and I look for green…I hope you see green in your blackened earth too.