Life after Death
This piece of writing is extremely personal for me. I wrote this just months after my beloved husband Ken died. I was trying to make sense of what had happened. Trying to put into words the shock, and disbelief, the insanity of it all. To be honest I had forgotten about this piece and found it yesterday completely by accident whilst I was visiting my mother. So 17 years on I thought that maybe it is time to air my grief. Maybe it will help put into words the pain that some of you have faced at the loss of someone you loved so very deeply.
Birth of a Romance
When I was 8 and Ken was 11 years of age, our romance began to grow. We met at Sunday School, we were childhood sweethearts, best best friends and later husband and wife. When Ken was 11 he prayed every night for a year that he would marry Lisa Cooper. In all the things that we faced together as children, and through our teens: the divorce of our parents, the death of Kens brother Drew, the death of our nephew Christopher and many other sadnesses, we never once thought that we would ever be apart. We never anticipated that death would separate us.
1999 – a Meditation on Grief
When you are told that your husband has terminal brain cancer your life takes on a surreal quality. Like a jittery old movie reel, time begins to freeze frame by frame. As if your brain can only digest such unpalatable information piece by piece. The graveness of the doctor’s faces, the taut pensive look of the nurses, the turquoise sky blazing outside the rural hospital window, the blankness in your husband’s eyes. All are indelibly etched in your mind like polaroid photographs. These pictures stun you long before the words have any meaning.
Disbelief gives way to shock which seeps into your veins like a benevolent anesthetic. This numbness allows you to voice the unthinkable. To patiently inform children, parents, siblings and loving friends that the man they love is sick and that the doctors can’t fix him. Some instinct tells you to speak to them carefully, gently, like fragile children. You know that the power of your words will break hearts and change lives.
At this stage, while grief is still fresh and young, you manage to survive the onslaught of medical terminology, procedures, advice, and unfamiliar hospital culture. Like a lost pilgrim in a strange land everything is foreign and fearful. Grief calmly accepts the unacceptable. Logic is banished like an unfaithful lover. Yesterday’s catastrophes of a broken cello and a twelve year olds braces has been eclipsed by this sinister intangible malignancy.
I am told that there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. How do I find the faith to stand, the faith to remain, while death tolls the bell for one who has only lived half a lifetime.
What authority ordered this death sentence?
What crime did he commit?
What judge decreed a wife is displaced by sickness and sorrow?
As days blur into weeks shock gives way to reality. Despair waits patiently in the wings, readily pulling you down into black boggy ground. Weariness becomes a constant companion and anger rises and falls in your chest like a dangerous tide.
Jesus, you are my rock, my saviour. Where would I be without you by my side? Without your presence in my life I fear the battle would defeat me. Despair would claim me in that miry clay. Weariness would consume me and anger would destroy everything good and precious. I know for I fight these enemies well.
The psalmist recalls:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps”.
Christ did not heal my husband.
He did not raise him from the dead.
He did lift me up out of the arms of despair and placed me firmly upon himself. It is on this solid rock that I make my stand.
I am hard pressed on every side, I am perplexed and struck down, but I am not crushed, forsaken nor destroyed. A new journey has begun. My hope is on my God, the Father of compassion and comfort.
Now hear my prayer my meditation: As I press on through the valley of the shadow of death, may I find springs of water to refresh and replenish me, showers of rain to bless and sustain me. May He guide my steps and establish my path so that I may be found in Him and go on from strength to strength.
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