This five-year mark sort of tip-toed up and surprised me. Life is so very different than it was when he died. And so consumingly busy.
Five years? That’s half the time we were married. I was a baby when I married Chris. Twenty-one. Naïve but so very in love. I didn’t know how painful life could get and believed truly that “all you need is love.”
And I’m here to say that it is all you need—I wasn't wrong! Because what I learned is that although it is sometimes sweet and easy, loving is a choice—it’s work. And receiving it the way it’s offered also takes determined effort—and in the exciting moments, it takes you so off-guard and surprises you so blissfully that you feel you might bubble over. Love is hard, and it's beautiful.
And how much I changed during those years of marriage to a good man! How I grew and understood life and love more deeply. He chipped away at my hard spots, and I filed away his rough edges. We fought and made up, cried and laughed. But always, we loved.
Then when God gave us another…
Erika was THRILLED to see daddy and keeps giving him the flirty eyes - the kind that melt his heart and make him want to wake her out of a sound sleep to get one more cuddle and one more giggle. This morning, I looked at Chris and Erika together and got choked up. My heart feels so full. The two people I love most in the world both in the same room with me. Nothing else seems to matter. God has blessed our family so enormously. We have grown spiritually in this, as well as together as a family. We have felt the comfort of our Father in many ways. We never felt alone.
(from a journal entry in August 2010, after a two-week separation)
But then he was gone. We were settled into life and ministry and family. It was all feeling natural and good and pure. Nevertheless, he was swept up into heaven itself on March 1, 2012—leaving me a single mother in a cold world. So very far from his sweet and gentle self.
Was it all over for me—for my daughter? Did I get the short end of the stick in this life? My friends still had their husbands and their 2.5 children. I wanted that too! Was Chris my soulmate and my one chance at happiness?
All you need is love.
The deep, deep love of Jesus swept over me and filled me up. His peace reminded me of all the promises to the broken-hearted. He counseled me so gently—it was as if he held me on his lap, smoothed my hair, wrapped His arms around me and whispered sweet comforts of His love into my ear. I collapsed and sobbed into Him. It was enough. And all I truly needed.
Then to top it all (joy of joys!) this Jesus gave me another good man—and more children. I am called to the sweet and hard act of love once again. It is not over! That death was an intermission. An imposed break and change of scenes—as devastatingly painful as it was. I am forever grateful for that first act.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
And so today, I rejoice in love. Of my fellow mankind. But most of all, that of my great and loving Savior and Provider.