It’s not the life I had imagined, these last few months and the days ahead of me. A life without my husband. In the first few weeks after his death, the only thing that could soothe the nausea I felt each morning, when the thought “he’s gone” woke me with a jolt, was lying on the bathroom floor with the side of my face pressed against the cold tile while petting our dog who hovered above me. I had not imagined life without him; this wasn’t what we had planned.
Our plans included seeing our youngest through college and oldest through grad school, traveling to the mountains, and grand babies who would call us Lolly and Pop. I met him when I was 18 and married him when I was 21. Our marriage had grown into a vintage marriage–imperfection peppered with the comfort of being with someone who knows you better than anyone else and loves you in spite of knowing you better than anyone else. We drew out the best, and sometimes the worst, in each other. But we were each others and I never doubted the depth of our love and tenacity to climb the highest mountains and weather the roughest storms together. Just 17 days away from having lived 10,000 days of our lives married to one another, the light immediately dimmed when he committed suicide and I could not imagine how I would live without him. I remember the day he died repeatedly saying, “I don’t know what to do.” How do you comprehend what to do next when the person who is your past, present and future is gone?
A friend who has been down a similar road looked at me one afternoon months after my husband died and said something that cast a small ray of light onto my path again, “It doesn’t feel like it right now, but you are stronger than you think and you will get your bearings; you will even feel joy again. You are going to have to use a little imagination to to reimagine what you want life to look like now.”
I’ve sat with the nugget of wisdom for more than a year now and what resonates with me through it is that people transform their lives often because of pain and loss. Some of the most beautiful stories in life come from the depths of tragedy. As a Christian I believe the words in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The note I have scribbled in my Bible in the margins of this verse says, All things doesn’t mean just in the neat and tidy things in our lives; it includes the messy, the hurt, the loss. This verse is the filter through which I’m reimagining.
Truth is, if you are breathing you are going through or about to go through major transitions (not all are loss or tragedy, some are simple course corrections) that cast life in a view you hadn’t imagined. I still have days when I say “I don’t know what to do,” because so much of what I did over the last two decades was to be my guy’s wife. But because of the stories of others, stories of courage, endurance, and determination to overcome, I’ve begun small steps, sometimes leaps, toward rebuilding a new life.
One thing I do know how to do is write my story and listen well to others as they tell their stories. I’ve done that all my adult life. I believe stories of resilience strengthen communities and propel individuals toward growth. If you are on this page, you may be like me–someone looking for a community and a story to strengthen and challenge you. I would be pleased for you to be a part of my community where I plan to share helpful articles and stories of others who are reimagining their journey forward, stepping out sometimes awkwardly to face changes presented to them.
I’m so honored you stopped by.