And just like that, three months have gone by. If I have learned anything in those three months, it is that I can do hard things. Things I never wanted to, things that I pray I never have to do again, and things that I pray to God I will forget that I ever had to do. In many ways it seems like yesterday that I sat in his hospital room or with him on the couch. I feel like he is standing next to me every night as I pray his words over our children when I tuck him in. But the house seems quieter at night, and I am no longer looking for him around every corner that I turn.
If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have told you that I could never live without Ben and that I wouldn’t want to. But I am learning more and more every day that I can do hard things… impossible things. The things that I have no desire to do, but that God gives me the strength for every single day.
Over the past three months:
- I have attended church alone. And I have sat there feeling more alone then I have ever felt in my life. Over the past decade, when Ben hasn’t been with me at church, he has either been listening online or I have been trying to memorize every point to share with him what he has missed. The past few months, I have sat with my eyes pouring tears while others have looked on. I just want to smile and say, don’t mind me, I’m just feeling alone in the midst of these hundreds of people… but I don’t. I have pushed through and have allowed myself to be touched by the messages, even when I wanted to walk out and not be there alone. And I have gotten better at it. I don’t cry my way through every service now, and I long to be there every time the doors are open so God can speak to my heart a little more.
- I have taken my three kids out to lunch alone. At actual restaurants (okay, so mostly Chipotle, but it counts right?!). And they have actually behaved like tiny humans instead of cattle needing breaking (my three year old was proud enough of her behavior to ask if I would take them to the Cheesecake Factory next… and I was crazy enough to actually do it!).
- I have called and notified more government officials and agencies then I can count. Telling them Ben is gone has not gotten any easier no matter how many times I have said it, and without fail telling someone who actually met him always reduces me to tears.
- I have sorted through his office and many of his papers and my heart hurts a little every time I see his handwriting and realize that he is really gone and that there will be no more letters and cards and notes laying around for me to find.
- I have watched flowers die and plants wilt that came home with us after the funeral. And I have thrown them away knowing that they were the last little reminders of the man that I loved and that people respected and cared about.
- I have maintained some of my composure while visiting the place where he is buried. Seeing a sunken hole in the ground with no stone and a pile of dirt that is a cruel reminder of the hole that was left by losing him.
- And I have looked at more headstones than I can count. How do you choose a stone that will be the only standing reminder of the man you loved one hundred years from now? How do you choose the words to say and the things you want remembered?
- And I have learned to not be scared coming home alone with my kids after dark to a house that is all closed up.
The truth is, I don’t do it alone. I can’t do any of it by myself. Without the ROCK who holds me up and gives me strength for each moment, I would never be able to do any of these things. I fail miserably at maintaining my composure at the most inopportune times, but in the moments when I need God’s strength to make it through, I have found that without fail, He has sent someone to be there holding me up and encouraging me along the way.
Psalm 46:1-5 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at the break of day.”
What’s the hard thing you are facing? No problem is too small to our Father. He is here and willing to hold your hand and encourage you along the path you’re on, even if you don’t want to be there. I would love to pray for you if you want me to! And I appreciate your prayers for me… I know I need them!