Three years. That sounds like a very long time. It feels it too. But I’m not entirely sure what I should feel.
There is this sort of ache—a little numb, a little guilt. Numb because oddly, I still can’t believe the horror of those last days. The agony of the awful suffering—death’s devouring of life. And guilt because I can often talk about “Chris dying” without a tear. It’s a fact. Somehow, it is not my heart’s ache any longer.
Have I become so busy that I’ve forgotten? Or have I played and replayed the grief that it has become old and tired and worn-out? Maybe the joy of a new marriage trumps the sorrow of a lost one? If so, what does this mean about how I loved him?
And then I allow myself to study his face in a picture. And I’m overcome.
In an instant, I am back. I am at his bedside, staring in disbelief at his skin-wrapped skeleton. Waiting—praying for him to die. Helplessly “helping” as he vomits one more time and his body quivers from the pain of it all. I am giving pain meds and knitting the torment away. And then I am looking at my aunt’s gold watch at the time of death.
That is the thing about these anniversaries. You recall the heartbreak of the day. There is no space in my thoughts today for the comfort of joyful memories. I am all-consumed with the pain it was to watch my life partner, my beloved, cross the river of death—and knowing he would go without me.
Natural death is so unnatural. It feels so very wrong. The separation is nearly too much to bear. To watch the breath and soul go out of my husband pierced my heart in a way that I cannot describe.
This day brings some of the pain back. And it wants to swirl around me and come up over my head and drown me—but it cannot. Because this is not the end.
I have HOPE that transcends this broken-down world. My God is the Lover of my soul. My salvation and my future.
So I run! Run this race with endurance. I look expectantly for God to order and provide. And He so faithfully does.
Chris finished his race—seemingly too early (but not). And I was allowed the privilege of watching a godly man die. I pray I will finish well, as he did.
Thank you, my dear man. Your legacy lives. Thank you for living and dying well. I can’t wait to see you again.