A Widow’s Perspective On Being Single Again

I have been working on this particular post for about a week. These are the three main things I wanted to share with all of you. I hope it makes sense. Enjoy!

THOUGHT 1: I think marrying for the second time around things will be a lot different. Before I dated Ben I thought being in a relationship would be great. He was my first serious boyfriend after 4 1/2 years of not having a single boyfriend in college.

Ben and I on Halloween a few weeks into dating
Ben and I on Halloween a few weeks into dating

I was beginning to give up hope because I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school either. No one asked me out. And it didn’t help that I went to a Christian college where many people got married very young. I remember a wise mentor saying to me in college, “Who you are when you are single is only amplified when you are in a relationship because when you are in a relationship you have to deal with your baggage and their baggage.” I understood what he meant but not FULLY until we got married. I soon learned, in order to maintain a healthy relationship a lot goes into it. We were dealing with his family baggage, mine, and each other’s. There was a  LOT of hard work, patience, and conflict resolution. We only had 3 short years go marriage together and the last year was the 14 month cancer battle and that was very testing on our relationship and marriage on so many levels.

That is why this second time around I really want to step back and use my time of being single to work on my issues and my connection and relationship with God. I now know the good and bad of being single and married. I really wanted to grieve well this whole year was so that when I do get married again I am coming from a solid foundation and a fresh place to start again. I don’t NEED a husband, I WANT one. I am not desperately searching for someone to become my husband because I feel I’m ok with being a single mom and confident in who I am. But I do want someone to share my life with. That is what I feel is lacking. I miss having deep conversations with Ben, praying with each other before he went to work, raising Zeke and enjoying the good and bad moments together, and so much more.

A wise mentor couple of mine in high school and college taught me to realize that I AM a COMPLETE person. Mark 10:8 says that “the two will become one.” It doesn’t say “the two half people will become one.” God created us to complement each other NOT complete each other.  These same mentors said to think of your relationship and walk with God like you are running a race. And to look for someone who is running alongside of you who can run the race with you. This wise advice is something I took the heart the first time I got married and is something I am taking to heart the second time as well.

THOUGHT 2:  I think the interesting thing about being a widow that sets me apart from other single people is that when trouble came and cancer threatened our marriage and our faith I did not back down or walk away. I honored and followed through with that vow of “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.” It’s one thing to say you will do something but when a crisis or hard time hits that’s when you’re true colors show and your words and your vows are put to the test and pushed to the limits.

Life threatening cancer and death are some of the most traumatic things a couple will deal with in a lifetime and I dealt with BOTH. 

And NOTHING about it was easy. There were definitely days when I wanted to walk away. There were days when I had to clean up BOTH Ben’s vomit from when he got sick from chemo and Zeke’s vomit in the middle of the night; There were days when I wished I was single again so I didn’t have to take care of someone so sick; There were days when I wanted to throw his strict diet and alternative medicine regiment out the window and not make his special juice which took about an hour to make each day. But like I said, not only did I not back down  or walk away but I chose to walk it WITH JESUS. I chose to let Him be a part of our journey; I chose to be honest and real with how I was really feeling; I chose to let Him comfort me even when there were no answers; I chose to listen and go deeper with Him, and I chose to love and trust Him even after Ben’s death. I have learned to simply not push through things but really take time to sit in the most painful areas of my life WITH JESUS and let Him comfort, speak, and ultimately give me the strength to not just to survive but thrive.

THOUGHT 3: Healing, especially from a death of a loved one requires healing of the heart, mind, body, and soul. I think so many times I see people just focus on one or two of those things but not all. For example, I have seen people have this mindset of putting all their energy into getting fit once their husband or loved one dies. Not, to say that is bad, because actually I have been enjoying running more and being able to be fit again. But I feel bad when I see comments of women who say, “Well I tried fitness and being fit but then when something hard came up I sank into depression and now I can’t understand why I just can’t  run or find the motivation to work out when I know it’s good for my body.” And then the response I see is even sadder “Well you just got to start running again and your depression will go away.” In some ways that is true because working out does give you endorphins, which makes you happy BUT in the long run it doesn’t fix the heart and the deeper issues. It’s like a toddler throwing a fit in the grocery store because  they have been to several stores that day and are tired and want to go home and then the mom says to shut up and suck it up. You can tell a kid to stop their behavior and you can get results but the deeper issue is that they are tired and their body needs rest. However, if they are throwing things off the shelves they do need to be told to stop and clean it up, but what they REALLY need is to be comforted and their heart tended to because it’s not easy to shop all day when you are toddler…and of course the toddler ultimately needs physical rest as well!

My son, almost a year old, resting peacefully in his crib
My son when he was a baby resting peacefully in his crib

And as adults, are we just like that toddler when we are hurting?  We can be told to change our behavior by: running, getting fit, buying more things, being in a relationship, ect. But at the end of the day and if we are really honest with ourselves changing behavior does not change our heart or the inner issues that are at war within us. God created us to be whole people.  And everything: the body, heart, mind, and soul need to be all working together and ALL TENDED to to find healing.

Reflections On What Would Have Been Our 4th Anniversary

The night before what would have been our 4th anniversary, May 12, 2015, I couldn’t sleep very well. I feel like I was a little anxious with how I would handle what would have been our 4th anniversary the next day. My late husbands birthday, March 13, I felt fine the day before but cried almost the whole morning. But that is a different blog entry altogether.

This was such a happy moment at our wedding: May 13, 2011
This was such a happy moment at our wedding: May 13, 2011
I woke up May 13, to my surprise, actually at peace. Not that I wasn’t sad, because I was, but I think I was actually relieved. It is hard to explain. When my late husband was alive with cancer he was in so much pain. He put on a good face when we were out in public, or at church, or with his family. At home I saw the true Ben. I saw him toss and turn and not sleep a wink at night and then leave by 6:30am to go to work. I cleaned up his throw up when chemo made him sick. I saw the the pain in his eyes when he would pry himself out of bed. He would tell me he felt like a useless husband because he couldn’t hold or pick up our son out of his crib in the middle of the night. My whole life revolved around keeping him alive. He would try to to juice every other day with the Green Star elite but the last leg of his cancer he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have the strength. I did it. I also made smoothies and had to start grinding up his pills into the smoothies when he kept forgetting to to take his pills from the alternative medicine doctor. That is just a nutshell of all the stress and all the work it took to keep him alive.

What many people do not realize is that yes his death was too soon and was heart wrenching but the whole entire cancer journey I was preparing for the worst and processing it with a counselor/ mentor. She helped me process all the unfairness I felt, all the anger, all the “why am I going through this at such a young age?” questions I had. We even discussed what would happen if Ben did die. We had to discuss that because the doctors didn’t think he would live long.

The morning of what would have been our 4th anniversary, like I said before, I felt relieved for so many reasons. I felt relieved I didn’t have to see him in so much pain. I felt relieved I didn’t have so much stress and so much work on my shoulders. I felt relieved he is in heaven cancer free. I felt relieved I could start anew and decide what would be life giving to me this year with my son.

Isaiah 61:3 “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

The ashes of my life I had with my late husband are a painful thing to grieve and lament. I do not like the saying that “everything happens for a reason” because I don’t think things always have to have a reason. God never said that, people say that, people made that saying up. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God is working to make things “work together for the good.” It doesn’t say “God makes things happen for a reason and works it out for the good.” We don’t understand everything and somehow it can be redeemed and worked out for good. We may never understand why things happen but we can be sure God can give us beauty for our ashes and that he is in the business of working things out for the good in our lives.