Nine Years

“To know me was to know my grief.”

Recently a friend wrote that about her own shifting redemptive story. It struck me that most of the dearest people in my daily life don’t know my grief. It’s been nine years since the grace of open hands, “He’s yours, Lord.” Nine years since grace even in a guttural scream “Help me God not to hate you for this!” 

I’m a different person. Friends and family know the restored Ami, I think, the one who bears radiant scars but not the crushed Ami. 

They know the fruit of Jesus’ healing. David’s wife. Mom of Hudson, Charlotte, and Henry. Driving a mini van, doing all the mom things. Navigating the ups and downs of life’s current season. I’m as reflective and introspective; the themes are just differently shaped.

But they only know of Jon and have only heard the stories.

It’s been about five years since I’ve lived near the ones who were there in chasm with me. (Wouldn’t it be lovely if all the people I hold dear lived in the same place?) And I’ve been married to David twice as long as I was married to Jon.

What a drastically different life!

There’s astonishing joy as the valley of death recedes further and further in the distance. But there’s still so much of me that wants the whole story known.

Jon, his death, widowhood– they are still a large part of who folks see today. I want people to see all God has done.

It’s not brave to talk about Jon and all the aftermath of his death. It never has been. It’s just how God created the inner wirings of my brain. Verbal processor, consummate oversharer. I like being known.

I’ve long adopted a “rip the bandaid off” strategy when I talk to new friends about Jon. I quickly and awkwardly bring up his death as part of a bigger context. And then I make them laugh, moving on to something else. 

Maybe it helps people absorb the shock a little. And I hope it portrays, “I’m not afraid to talk about this, but I get that you can handle only so much from someone you barely know.”

The ache of grief is rare these days, though occasionally it takes me by surprise. Even the events of the emergency room are dulled. Random things cause twinges of sorrow though.

It’s also been awhile since I grieved the children Jon and I never had. Now, I wish he knew my sweet babies and could laugh with my dearest Dave. 

I think of Jon and smile. I see him scouting a long line on Black Friday, asking everyone, “Are you going to buy a crockpot? That’s what we’re getting.” 

I see him doing exaggerated stretches, bouncing with excitement. And I break into a wide grin as I picture him power walking (you know, like the mall walkers with their hips and arms going) as fast he can to the back. Not another shopper in sight, he swoops down, grabs the box lifting it high. “I got the first one!”

No one else wanted a crockpot. 

Last night I rocked my youngest, thinking of all that’s past. Again I praised God. Again I thanked him for meeting me in valley, for keeping me when I didn’t want to be kept. Again I thanked him for teaching me Christ in joy and in sorrow, in the power of his resurrection and in the fellowship of his suffering.

Hudson has had a lot of questions about death and Heaven recently. 

“Mommy will I get to meet your first husband Jon one day?”

“Yeah buddy, if you know Jesus you will.”

“I know Jesus.”

Jon had that child-like confidence also. Friends and family may not know him, but he’d probably say, “I want you to know Jesus, anyway.”

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