My Beloved, your life on earth ended on the 30th of May 2020. It did not end our relationship. I am panning for gold in the endless sorrow-sands of grieving. What is the gain of this pain? How can I come out better, not bitter, on the other side of this experience? How do I face the loss of the values we stood for as a couple and you stood for as a person? How do I thrive, in spite of?
The parameters of how I relate to you, have changed. When I watch a movie, I can no longer cover my eyes when there is a bloody scene and ask you to tell me when it is safe to look again. I have to look for myself now. I have to face it, like I face the terror of your absence. I cannot call out your name when I arrive at home. I live alone now with our two cats and two dogs. When I did the first physical training session again, you were not there to share the good news with. I had to tell my animals: “Tomorrow I am going to be amongst humans for the day.” Winter has arrived and I fetched the electric blanket from its box in the garage. When I plugged it in on my side of the bed, I had to walk around and intentionally unplug it on your side. I now sleep alone in our bed. I miss the familiarity of your face and your silhouette in the crowd. I notice other men like I would notice other cars in the parking lot of the shopping mall. They seem irrelevant. None of them look attractive, familiar or lovable to me, because I don’t know them. I was familiar with every line of your being after 38 years. I knew how your eyes would light up when you smiled. How you would bend over with laughter from your belly. Your mannerism of putting your hand in front of your mouth in laughing at a truly poignant story. I believed in the innovative ways in which we could succeed in building a bridge to cross over the great divide that depression brought. I miss our intense conversations about life and death. I believed that I could save your life. I now have new respect for my limits as a human being.
I miss the familiarity of our routines. Your peeping around the door to ask if I want a cup of coffee. I now drink my coffee alone – sometimes a memory of you would pop up to keep me company. At other times my mind would simply be busy with the practicalities of my current projects that gives me a sense of purpose. Then you would fade into the background. I miss the predictability of your standing jokes with the children and the black humour of army chaplaincy combined with 23 years of hospital ministry. I would be talking to one of the children on the phone and you would stand next to me and speak with a deep dark voice into the speaker, saying: “This is the morgue, to which body do you wish to speak?” Then you would laugh heartily and the children would laugh along at your same old joke and I would irritatedly brush you aside for making such silly remarks.
I now have to be present and show up for myself. Sometimes my heart would physically pain and I need to stop and ask: “Heart, what are you telling me?” “I am missing André”, it would reply. “What about him are you missing today?” “The presence of another person with skin on and his companionship.” Yes I know, I know. I miss you holding my hand when we watch a movie together. I miss being with you in the kitchen when you cook. I miss hearing your voice. Grocery shopping changed completely. I can no longer buy you a pack of liquorice or a peppermint crisp chocolate. I stopped making Oats for breakfast because it does not taste the same as when you made it. Groceries for one in a shopping basket looks horribly lonely and pitiful.
There is an old romantic song by the Righteous Brothers: “Oh my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch a long, lonely time. And time goes by so slowly and time can do so much, are you still mine? I need your love. God speed your love…to me!” One way in which I am learning to thrive as a widow, is by accepting the losses as I identify them. I accept that you will not touch me again. You will not make love to me again. I will not hear you calling my name again. And yes, you will always be mine in my heart and in my memories. You are now part of the backdrop as I step onto the stage of new beginnings in this era of my life. In my heart I can cherish the memories of you while I also celebrate my new quality of life of living at the sea. When I go for a walk on the beach, I can tell you that you are missing out. I grin at your remark that I am the one who is missing out, seeing that you are in Heaven with our beloved Trinity. I choose to be here. I choose to face the hardship of widowhood – the unexpected fragility that I cannot depend on you for anything and that the buck stops in front of me for every decision. I acknowledge feeling brittle because I had to negotiate the purchase price of my new house without being able to first check in with you. Then I hear your voice in my memory bank of us: “You are a resourceful woman, you will find your way.”
You were not always present, disconnected from me by the anguish of your depression. I knew you in the fullness of your strengths and your blemishes. I loved you anyway. There is so much empty space in me where you used to be. So much of we was about supporting you. That space I now consciously fill up by gearing my energy to teach other people to befriend their emotions. And you were right, I am finding my way. André Eugene de la Porte, you were the love of my life.
Jesus, You are the lover of my soul. I quiet myself in Your presence. Help me daily to master the balance-dance between the hurt and sorrow of my husband’s death and thriving with hope that I can leave others better than I found them. Teach me to pray not as a pitiful widow, but as an expectant bride. The bride of Christ who enjoys the favour or her Bridegroom. Let me drink from the wells of provision that I have not dig. Zecharaish 13:9 “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”