“Oh, my baby!” I cried out as I threw myself across my husband’s body. I had caressed him, speaking loving words while watching his blood pressure drop to zero. My heart ricocheted with that “O” and I knew he had left me for the welcoming arms of Jesus.
This week is the tenth anniversary of Jerry’s death.
It was a very difficult journey, filled with love, highs and lows, hope and despair. Eight months earlier Jerry and I had traveled to Florida in hopes of a transplant. And while the transplant was successful, his weakened body was too weary to fight off the infections that invaded him for months following the surgery. Our hopes of leaving the hospital to return to home and family in California, strength renewed, slowly eroded as Jerry fought one challenge after another. I was shattered.
Returning home, I began to learn who I was as a new widow. Family and friends were treasures, loving me, allowing me to grieve and grieving with me, holding me up with prayer, food, and time. They didn’t tell me when I ‘should’ finish grieving, or how soon I should move on.
And God, who had surrounded us with a body of believers we’d never known before moving to Florida, continued to be faithful now that I was alone.
And, over time, He restored beauty and joy to my life. On the second anniversary of Jerry’s death, I purchased a little red and white beauty named Kelly, a dog I’d borrowed for a weekend, and with whom I’d fallen in love. What a blessing to have another living creature in the house, one who sometimes climbed under the covers and cuddled against my thigh on cold nights, where I would find her on waking. I had to get up, feed her, walk her … One morning she looked at me, settled at my computer, and ground her teeth together. I had to laugh. “OK, I hear you – your breakfast is coming right up.”
About the same time I met a wonderful, widowed gentleman with whom a friendship began to bud through emails, long conversations, and an understanding of each other’s loss. Friendship deepened as Don wooed me in tender, thoughtful ways … walking our dogs together, coming up with amazing analogies of his love for me, and showing his growing love in many touching ways. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. We married two and a half years later, and will celebrate our sixth anniversary in January.
Yes, there have been ashes. Painful ones. But out of that pain God has given beauty—the beauty of learning to love again, of learning that a second love is not a replacement for a first but rather, an addition.
That loving again doesn’t take away from the first love.
That the heart has room for more than one deep love.
That joy can return.
That God knows my name.
He loves me.
He will never leave me.
And one day, we who believe will experience the promise of God in Revelation 21:4, that “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new.’”
As Pastor Rene stated this weekend, “He’s STILL Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
How have you received beauty for ashes? The oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness? I’d love to hear about it.