“No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
I haven’t been able to write in a month. I jot notes to myself in my phone or on random pieces of paper. The action of fully processing my thoughts has been exhausting. I understand why the loss of a loved one quite often brings initial shock and numbness. There is no way we can process the vast emotions and decisions that are suddenly laid before us.
A month after my husband passed away I read “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. Many of my emotions were very different than his, many the same. It was not an easy book to wrap my head around in those hazy early days of loss. This month I keep remembering one thing though, the way he compared grief and fear. The hardest is the fear of being in this much pain forever. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of pure and utter joy, I laugh and smile with my son, but the pain is wrenching. Every time I feel a glimpse of happiness, loneliness wraps around it and reminds me that Fareed should be here. I want him to be here so badly, so the loneliness sets in. No matter the amount of people who surround us, the overwhelming amount of love- they are not my best friend, they are not my husband. Will I always be lonely? Will that longing ever start to fade? And though I want the pain to fade, I fear the day I may forget. I never want to forget the way he said my name, his mannerisms, the way he smelt, the way his body felt against mine when we would cuddle. I have the pictures and videos but they get more and more distant as the days go on. I know I could never forget such a strong love but I fear losing the clearness of everything. I wish I could feel him just one more time to recall, but that’s loss. The very things we cherish are ripped from underneath of us.
People say you find your “new normal.” I can process things day by day. It is down right overwhelming when I try and face the big picture. I’m not a single parent, I’m a solo parent. I’m missing my other half. I will face the birth of our son, birthdays, events, and everything alone. Their dad wanted to be here so badly for them. I know I am strong, but I’m not him. Who will teach them power tools, and to open a lady’s door? Who will teach them to enjoy the finer things in life, like Frank Sinatra and Fedoras? I didn’t want this new normal. I want our old normal. Do you remember the joy you got the first time you checked the married box on a form? You don’t get the same feeling the first time you check the widowed box. It’s an identity you never gladly choose. The fear of a new identity and label adds to it all. I’ve written the words before, “Who am I now” I’m just coming to terms with the fact that I am a 24 year old, pregnant, widow. That word makes me cringe. But, it’s reality.
I’m learning that I have to lay it all on God. Everyday as I step forward I am able to breath and make it through. There is still beauty. There are still people and things to be thankful for. There is still hope. The hardest fear was the day the autopsy report came. They explained to me over the phone that because ARVD is a genetic mutation, my boys have a 50% chance of inheriting it. We will have 2 boys, do the math. All I can do is give it to God. I can’t imagine losing another Family member to this horrible condition. At the same time, I can’t imagine losing my life to fear either. Fear is debilitating. We have the upper hand. We know and can watch for signs. That is all. These boys deserve life. One that is beautiful, joyous, and as normal as can be.
I don’t write these thoughts as a cynic, I write them because they are real. I am strong. God is Good. Grief is ugly. Once you have walked this journey, you understand. We can do two things with fear- we can let it rule us, or we can choose to rule it. Though it may be hard, I am choosing the later. I will be so scared of death, that I run towards life. A life that is full, purposeful, and beautiful. That way when death comes knocking, I will have no regret. Jesus has conquered death, and there is hope in that. As for my new identity, I will never like being a widow. I will never have joy over the loss of my amazing husband. I will always miss the father of my children. But, each day I will choose to seek Gods plan. It is much bigger than any of ours. Every time I mark that little box, I will ask God why? Though I may never know, I pray one day it is revealed to me. Many people have told me that my strength is inspirational. There is one thing to be said, God is Good. I’m not strong, He is, and He has carried us every day through this. He has helped me seek joy. He has sent amazing people to walk along side of us to help carry this heavy load.
Someone very dear to my heart asked me the other day, “If there is a God, How could He let something so terrible happen?” I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think I ever will. But one thing is sure, my biggest fear of all is losing Hope. I will hold on tight to those promises. Though the earth may shake, though our lives may be turned upside down, though I may have no control- He is still God. He is still good.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -Kurt Vonnegut