I am a little hesitant to write this, because it seems if it falls into the wrong hands, the hands of those who have not truly struggled, it could do harm. So I’m going to start with a ground rule. You, whoever you are, never get to tell anyone else that it is time for them to get up, move forward, or start a new life. You can’t force a seed to grow and if it sprouts too early, it can be disastrous.
Without a doubt, the past month hit me with the biggest wave of grief I have experienced in this third year of widowhood. Generally speaking, this third year has been so much easier than the second year, so I was a bit blindsided. I spent more than three weeks struggling to catch my breath between the waves. When the grief waves are high, it is especially hard to see anything other than all you have lost, not just the person you lost, but the life, the plans, the hopes, and the dreams. When the waves come, they don’t just knock you off the land, the can destroy land you once stood. You can’t go back to the life you once lived. You have to find a new place to stand, while trying to stay afloat in the middle of a storm. You have to find a new land.
This last month, as I got stronger at treading water in this fresh storm, with no land in sight, I was finally able to take baby strokes towards something. I couldn’t see dry land. I couldn’t picture a good life as a widowed mother, but I decided I could do two things. I could drink water and grow plants. That part isn’t a metaphor. Bigger steps like exercise, stretching, eating carefully, were out of my reach. Drinking more water was that first stroke I could take towards some unimagined new life.
I had to hope that if I took those small strokes forward that eventually I would see land, eventually my brain would conceive of a life worth living, even without my husband.
I’ve actually seen that land in the last few years. It is a world where Zoya and I are on an adventure. It has become one of the themes of this blog. God provides for us on this adventure, this widow and this fatherless child. Sometimes you loose sight of that and there is nothing like the darkness that accompanies a tsunami wave of grief to cause you to loose your vision for what lies ahead.
When you come out of the storm, you emerge both stronger and bruised at the same time. When you start to focus on the land, as a new future comes into focus, sometimes you have to recalibrate your direction and readjust your stroke to make sure you are moving forward to the place you want to go.
I wouldn’t wish these storms on my worst enemy. The pain of having lost the love and the life you waited so long to find is indescribable. Mourning the life I lost doesn’t take away from mourning the person I lost. It is just one thing that complicates grief.
To bring this full circle, the storm is real. Telling someone in the midst of of the ocean to just get up and walk on land is at best useless, but usually about equal to running a drowning person over with your boat. The have to tread water until they can start to swim forward, and even then it may take a while for them to see land. The best you can do is pray for their strength and vision, keep from heaping additional weights on them, lift any weights they can let you take, and still be there when they are able to walk again.