2020 was a really rubbish year in so many ways… coronavirus, lockdowns, stress, people working from home, pupils suddenly unable to go to school, trying to manage the unmanageable from a distance because travel was not allowed. And not least because my dearly loved husband died.
Of all the things I ever expected to deal with, that was not one of them. He was only 56. Active, pretty healthy on the whole, so I thought. Little did I know. Gone in an instant with a heart attack. The post mortem showed damage to his heart from hypertension. He had high blood pressure for many years, medicated, but unstable. His younger sister had become severely disabled four years earlier following a massive stroke and suddenly we had to take responsibility for managing her life as she was unable to do it for herself. It was a lot to take on and caused him a great deal of emotional stress. He felt the weight of responsibility plus immense sorrow for all that she (and he!) had lost. I think this took its toll on him. He also had chronic pain from a longstanding back condition, though he pushed through it a lot of the time. The long and the short of it though, was that he found it hard to let go, rest and find peace, in spite of his faith. Eventually, he had no choice in the matter, and I know that he finally does have everlasting peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. That gives me comfort though I miss him terribly, as do my sons.
I’ve been writing journal entries sporadically, for my own benefit really, to help me process what has happened. I’ve thought about posting them on here but most, especially the early ones, are just too raw and intensely personal to inflict on others. But then I’m guessing that a lot of people are also grieving loss though, if not the death of a loved one, at least of the forced absence of the people most loved and cherished and the loss of freedoms we have valued. Loneliness, boredom, anger, frustration, no hope on the horizon that things will ever go back to normal… It’s hard to bear.
Even when we have a relationship with Jesus and try to ignore the ensuing madness and keep our eyes on him, the weight of all the others in the “emotional boat” with us (family, friends, neighbours etc) makes it hard to keep going at times. We just want to give up, lie down and let the sea wash over us and take us where it will…
The following is one piece I wrote the day after an especially difficult day of tears and sobbing for the pain of my broken heart, the enormity of my loss and the feeling of unbearable emptiness that I could not shake off.
Today feels like the calm after the storm. When you open the door and look at the wreckage… That tree you thought was indestructible has been blown down and it lies on the ground, looking strange and unnatural, with its roots laid bare, leaves scattered all around and a big hole in the ground where it once stood. However will you move it, clear the debris and fill in such a massive crater? Will the ground ever be as firm and sturdy where it once stood?
You step outside and look at the paleness of the morning sky, feel the cool stillness of the air. It’s hard to believe that just yesterday this was a maelstrom, a place of swirling turbulence and turmoil. Now it’s calm and quiet, but you still have the memory and feel the emotions from that stormy day.
This must be a little bit how Jesus’ followers felt after the crucifixion as they surveyed the wreckage of their lives and wondered how such devastation could be followed by such calm. The event has passed. Things might appear to be back to normal, but actually something so significant has happened, that things will never be the same again…
And yet… look what happened. He died, his followers grieved – they were lost. What should they do now? They had relied on his strength and guidance those past three years. He had loved them, trusted them and made them believe they were more than they’d ever thought possible. The incredible things they’d seen and done…! Finished. It really was all finished. Jesus said so.
If only they’d realised the goodness of God. The ultimate, amazing, incredible, sacrificial love of God, the plan for redemption and restoration, they would not have mourned. They would have rejoiced there and then.
As for me, I do rejoice that my dearest, lovely husband is in the best place it is possible to be and I will see him again one day. My joy is for him, my tears are for me because I’m still here, and I miss him.