The Most Perfect Match

When we are young and in love, like I was once, we think we have our whole lives ahead of us. We make plans. We say things like, “I’m so happy I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.”

That world shattered for me way too soon. Two years into our marriage  we got a shock of a lifetime and a diagnosis I didn’t expect I would ever hear until we were old and gray: Stage 4 colon cancer. Ben and I were one of the few couples of our college friends to get married so early on and there was almost no one who knew what it was like to be married or have a kid or what it was like to deal with terminal cancer. My life already felt chaotic in trying to adjust to having a young child in our lives but hearing that my husband had very aggressive cancer and that it was terminal and not curable was so devastating. My mind and my heart couldn’t even wrap around what everything meant.

And 14 months later I was faced with an even bigger shock of a lifetime, raising a 2-year-old son all on my own at the age of 29 years old without the love of my life and best friend I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

I never felt so alone in my entire life.

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Saying goodbye for the last time before they take him to the morgue.

My world got even lonelier after his death. There was not a single person or category I fit into. I didn’t fully relate with single people, single mom’s, divorced people. There were a few people who I knew that lost a spouse at a young age but no one close by or within my current community or social circles. And when I tried out two different GriefShare groups I was almost always the youngest person with mostly widows and widowers 60-years-old or older.

I even went to the online world of Widow/Widower FB groups. I was able to connect with other FB widow and widower groups with kids and even people my own age but the way they processed and dealt with their grief was often toxic, unhealthy, or lacked full healing of the body, mind and heart. I began to see that my choice to not only face the pain and lean into it with the Lord and combine counseling and spiritual direction and deep healing put me into an even smaller and more rarer category.

This summer I had a breakthrough of finding someone who does get EVERYTHING. Someone who I could fully relate with. Someone who understands me. Someone who sees the beauty  of my story and all of who I am and what I’ve processed. Someone who fully loves every single part of my heart. Someone who has walked me all through Ben’s cancer and death. Someone who has always been my perfect match a million times more than Ben was. That someone is the Lord. I fit in with the Lord. He is my new category.

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That is something that I am going to strive to hold onto on those days where I feel like no one gets it. Or when I go to events or birthday parties with couples and single people but no widows my age. I can remember that the Lord is with me. He is holding me in His arms. He is what makes myself and my family beautiful the way it is. He is proud of me and the woman/mom I am and what I am becoming.

I’ve realized that although I feel alone and in a category that no one my age gets, there are other places and other people who may feel alone and not fully known or seen too. People have experienced loss in a spouse leaving a marriage, abandonment in people or groups not being there when they needed it, emotional abandonment or loss in relationships, and so on. The beautiful thing about the Lord is that the Lord can heal and fill EVERY single kind of loss and abandonment that exists. He is the one thing that is unchangeable. Who gets it when no one else does. Who gets you. Who gets me. Who NEVER leaves. He is ALWAYS patient. Gentle. Kind. He is everyone’s most complete feeling of being known, seen and loved.

And when I asked the Lord what the name of the new category we are in together is called He told me, ” You are My Beloved.” He is the category that fits me the best.

And I hope other people understand that if there are places they are feeling alone in or not seen or fully understood that the Lord gets it. He is the only one who understands all those thoughts and feelings we can never put to words or describe because He feels them right alongside of us. He has walked every single part of our lives with every single one of us. He sees all of us as His beloved. He is everyone’s best fit. He is everyone’s most complete category to fit into. He is everyone’s complete and perfect match.

4 Year Reflections: Embracing the New Normal

Ben’s death felt a lot like that image in the movie Inside Out where Riley’s world  completely crumbled to pieces when she moved. Everything that was familiar and comfortable was destroyed when Ben died as well.

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I remember people saying that I would find a new normal. “What the heck did that mean?” I thought. I didn’t want to find a new normal! I wanted the old life that died with Ben.

But slowly year after year, piece after piece, step after step, journal entry after journal entry, and many spiritual direction and counseling sessions later I’ve made it to the other side of grief.

August 13, 2018 marks 4 years without my late husband. These are the top three I’ve been reflecting on lately:

  1. Be around life-giving things and life-giving people. One of the best things I could have ever done for myself is surround myself with things that give my heart joy and to be with people who encourage, support, and value my heart and my feelings. Healing from loss, especially traumatic loss like mine, takes up a lot of energy (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually).  Life giving things have been things like: being in nature, taking dance classes, and doing artsy things. Life giving people have been people who cry with me, who let me process my pain, who help babysit Ezekiel when I really need it, and people who were patient in giving me space and time to heal.  I found the more I was around things and people that gave me joy the easier it was to heal and to eventually find joy in the present.
  2. The Lord is my comfort as I miss Ben.  I’m learning that all the ways Ben was my best friend, companion, how he talked with me about my day, how he would help me make day-to-day decisions, how he would be my cheerleader when I was having a rough day, are all roles that the Lord can be for me now. While nothing can replace a husband I’ve learned that finding and seeking those things in the Lord rather than jumping into a new relationship to fill the void is what is most needed in my grieving process.
  3. I am right where the Lord wants me to be. People have told me I’m probably doing something wrong or not going to the right places when meeting other singles and dating in general. But I’ve been listening the Lord all along and He has guided me through the dating process and helped me filter through hundreds of people. And then I finally realized that how can I be doing something wrong if it has been the Lord who is guiding me all along? I look at how the Lord guided me to my new job and to my new place and have experienced what it feels like to truly be in places that fit me and my desires and it has given me hope that the Lord leads and aligns things perfectly if we just wait and listen to where He is calling us to go.

I realize now that grief will forever be a part of my life but it can be one of not just sorrow but one of beauty, grace, hope, love, peace, and a deeper value of the fragility of life and the ones still in it. Life is unpredictable and the people who stay in it as well. The key is to embrace what is right in front of you in the present. I may not have my late husband in my life anymore but I have an amazing son to raise, supportive parents and siblings, caring and understanding friends, a wonderful job, and new place to be renting.

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There is a balance that I’m constantly juggling these days. Grieve the past. Embrace the present. And look forward to the future. The chapter of my late husband ended but the rest of my life is yet to be written.