Have you ever been lost or lost something important? I have. I’ve been lost in the woods when I took a wrong turn on a trail. I’ve gotten lost driving to a friends house because my brain went on auto pilot and I missed a turn.
I loose my train of thought more often than I’d like to admit. I forget my passwords to navigate my way on the computer and have lost my keys. No they were not in the frig. I’ve lost my glasses on top of my head and I’ve even lost my faith a time or two.
Over my sixty eight years, I’ve learned ways to compensate for my lack of direction and my sometimers. When I was a Girl Scout, I learned how to use a compass and the sun to figure out which way was east and west. This was supposed to help me find my way in case I was ever lost in the woods. It didn’t do much good. The one time I got lost, I forgot where I put the compass and it was cloudy. I’ve also written myself notes and tied string on my fingers. All were very helpful…as far as I can remember.
Many years ago, when we would pack up and go on a road trip, we initially used a Road Atlas for long distance directions, then we progressed to Triptiks from AAA and used road maps from the gas station.
Over the years my husband and I evolved and purchased a portable GPS, which was great because he never liked stopping to get directions. Now I can navigate on my own most anywhere with Google maps on my phone.
All of those things helped me navigate through the years, but none of them helped me when I was lost after loosing my sweet husband, Ron. He died in 2014 after battling Multiple Sclerosis.
There is no doubt that He loved me, our family and all of our pets, but I believe he truly loved his bicycles more. He was an avid rider and spent hundreds of hours peddeling his way through Missouri, Illinoise and Florida; sometimes fifty miles a day.
One day he became ill, ended up in the ER in a Thyroid storm, lost a gazillion pounds and became paralyzed from the waist down. After a truck load of tests he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and eighteen months later he was gone.
Nothing prepares you for when someone you love really gets sick; not flu sick, deathly sick. There is no map, no set of instructions, no triptik to guide you through the maze of doctors and tests, endless visits to Emergency rooms and weekly doctor visits. You just blindly go where you prayed you’d never go. It’s like being lost in space; in a seemingly endless void or in a black hole.
You watch your dreams disintegrate and your loved one slowly disappear before your eyes. You find yourself clinging to each passing moment as if it were your last; because it may very well be. Each morning you wake up questioning how your lives have drifted so far off course. This was not part of your plan. This wasn’t supposed to happen yet; and then it does.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m talking about something so sad. It’s because I am and I feel God is asking me to share this with you. Someone out there needs to hear this.
Four years ago I found my birth family. Yes, it was an amazing blessing finding them after searching for over forty years, and I promise to share that story at another time. Since then, my newly found sister and I have created an unbelievable bond that is not only because we share the same blood line but because we share a strong faith bond as well.
So, when she called to tell me that her husband had died unexpectedly on the operating table, I immediately felt her broken heart fall into my hands. I recognized it. It was a reflection of my own. Her world had just been shattered.
As her pain and heartbreak rushed over me, my own heart swelled; remembering the day that my sweet husband, Ron, had passed through my fingertips into the arms of Jesus. My sister and I not only shared the same blood, the same Mother and the same Lord, but now we shared the same pain and a new name; Widow.
I remembered my Pastor warning me that, if and when my husband passed, the hours I spent visiting him in the nursing home every day would be the hardest hours of the day to fill after he was gone.
He was right. All of my family, my friends and my church family provided such great support during Ron’s illness and after he was gone, but at 4 pm, on any given day, everyone retreated to their homes for dinner with their husbands and families, and I was left to return home to an empty table, an empty bed in an empty house. I just wanted to curl up in a ball, throw the covers over my head and make the world disappear.
After the funeral services were over and everyone’s lives went back to normal I was left with nothing that resembled the normal I knew before. I tried to fill my days with friends and food. Food became a very close friend, but this was not the answer.
I didn’t drink, but considered drowning my loneliness in wine. It sounded good, even tasted good, but it wasn’t going to bring Ron back.
I tried reading, praying and writing my feelings in a journal, which did turn out to be a really great idea.
I tried art; even coloring in one of those adult coloring books and listening to music, but all the music reminded me of Ron.
I was lost. My world, my universe, my life had become such a void. Nothing looked good. Nothing was appealing. Nothing sounded fun. Nothing was normal. I felt so alone even when I was surrounded by people.
I needed to do something. I needed to talk to someone; a friend who understood how I felt.
I finally broke down and spoke to someone who had also lost a loved one after watching them suffer. I spoke to someone that understood my pain. I spoke to God. He had watched His son suffer and die on a cross. He knew how I felt and He knew just what I needed.
I’m sorry. I lied. I didn’t speak to God. I yelled at Him. I didn’t really want answers. I knew I wasn’t going to get an email or a text explaining all the whats and whys. I just needed to yell at someone or something.
I remember the silence becoming so loud after everyone was gone as I was left sitting, one evening, in a chair, staring at the floor. Out of no where, reality hit me between the eyes.
Ron was really gone. He wasn’t at the nursing home. I wouldn’t be sneaking in fried chicken and a beer on Saturday night. I wasn’t going to feel his arms around me or be able to hold his hand again. I couldn’t ask him questions, share my day, beat him at cards or even argue with him. He was gone. Really gone.
I felt like I had been punched in my gut and I had no one to swing back at.
I began to pace, screaming at God, falling against the bathroom wall to the floor. WHY? Why did you take him away? I screamed. Why’d he have to die? Why now? These were supposed to be our Golden Years full of free time to have fun and travel. Now what am I supposed to do?
I am a fixer. Why couldn’t I FIX Ron? Why didn’t GOD FIX HIM? Where was God? Where was My Lord when Ron and I needed Him the most? I knew the answer. I just needed to scream. I was scared. I was all alone. What was I going to do now?
It was then that I heard God’s whisper. “Don’t be afraid. You are not alone. You never have been and never will be”. I knew He was right.
I knew that my Lord had been with both Ron and I through all of the hundreds of doctor and Emergency room visits, tests, nightmares, physical therapy sessions, surgeries and endless nights of Ron being disoriented.
My Lord had been in the Hospice room, sitting across from me, holding Ron’s other hand the night before he died. My Lord was with me the entire time, even sitting beside me on the bathroom floor. I was not alone.
I’ve spent a few nights on the floor crying over the years, but my knees have gotten too bad now. so instead, I sit on my couch and cry into my Bible as I cling to God’s whisper. I find comfort in His Word and in all of the people that God sent to be His arms, His shoulder to cry on and His voice to encourage me.
Ron has been gone for six years now, though it seems like yesterday. I still cry when I hear certain music, watch a movie we shared or when I see bikers on the bike trail. I often think I see him pedaling across an intersection while I sit at a stop sign and I was almost certain that I heard his voice, when someone called out Sweetie Pie in the next isle at the grocery store.
I admit I made mistakes and some rash decisions the first year after Ron passed. Maybe it gave me a sense of having control when I couldn’t control his passing. I knew God had a plan for me; a new path; different, not better or worse and, over time, He has given me a new purpose.
He opened new doors and new windows for me to see beyond my grief. I am on an amazing path now that I never dreamed of.
I’m the Missions Coordinator at my church and have been given the opportunity to visit new places and to make new friends all over the world. I am God’s servant now; able to answer His call whenever and wherever He leads me. Ron isn’t gone. He’s with me; watching and cheering me on from Heaven.
Though my heart is cracked, it is not shattered. God has made it stronger in many ways. I look at things and people differently.
I try not to take anything or anyone for granted. I know things can change on a dime, and I realize that I may have only one chance to make a difference in someone’s life.
I found that devoting my life to the care of others has helped me to heal. There are so many others facing so much worse, and if I can ease their pain or encourage them as others have encouraged me, then it’s worth the effort.
I spend time with friends and family; especially my grandchildren. They make me laugh and remind me just how blessed I am.
I take time to enjoy the world around me; the simple things, the beauty that God has given to remind me that I am loved and not forgotten.
I write this Blog today, to encourage others, to be God’s Whisper for those traversing the path I have already traveled. All of the good, the bad, the heartaches and losses in my life have equipped me to understand and to shed a light on the road we share.
Now, I need to do the same for my dear sister. I believe that if Ron had not died, I would not know or understand her pain and would not be able to be God’s arms or His voice to console her. It was for a moment like this that I found God’s whisper in my darkest hour sitting on that bathroom floor. I needed to go through the pain to be able to understand hers….and yours.
My dearest brothers and sisters, there are many of you who have traveled this same road. Whether you have lost a spouse, a child, parents or a friend, know that you are not alone.
There have been over 131,000 deaths from the covid virus, in the United States alone, as of July 7th, 2020. If you know a family who has lost someone during this horrific time, reach out.
Reach out to one another. Encourage one another. Be God’s arms and embrace one another. Be His voice, His whisper, His light in the darkness.
Be a beacon in the storm others are facing. Give hope to those that feel hopeless. Pray with those that can’t find the words to say.
Be a reflection of God’s love when all has been lost and one day, one day we will all be together again.
Please pray that my sister is washed in God’s Peace and Comfort as I travel to be at her side and may you find GOD’s PEACE as well. God Bless.
From my heart to yours. VICTORIA