Here it is the 26th again….how long will I be counting the months? I counted the weeks until it was 30something. And every Wednesday as the clock neared 10 pm, I re-lived those final moments of watching Patrick’s final breaths until he was gone.
Now 14 months later, gone means so much more. Gone means forever. It’s more real with its meaning louder than ever. It screams at me when I enter the empty house, when I run the dishwasher now only once a week, have one load of laundry, carry out one bag of trash and crawl into my side of the bed with the other side still made. It screams at me when I don’t have to ask anyone what I should do, where I should go or what I should eat. Or when I want to share some silly detail about my day or some random idea I have. My life’s partner is gone and left behind is a huge void.
There are a thousand and one ways that I miss him: his smile, his touch, his leadership, his friendship, his counsel, his voice, his understanding, his encouragement, his perspective, his laughter, his wisdom, his love and overall just the balance of being the other half that he was for me. He is never far from my thoughts. It’s still so hard to accept that what we had is over. I am not the same person…how can I be? Death is not natural and it changes us.
Isaiah 53 is a chapter I have been focusing on lately. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was crushed with sorrow. I now have an understanding of what crushed means. Even the word “crushed” sounds heavy. It’s such a weight that it feels physical. It’s overwhelming. Sometimes like I can’t breathe. Other times like a weight on my shoulders; and yet other times a fog like I can’t see through.
But Jesus was crushed for my sin, for Patrick’s sin, for everyone’s sin. Because of this when I look at his stripes where He was beaten and crucified for me, I know that He rescued me from eternal death, which was my worst problem. And likewise, He will rescue me and heal me from my grief and pain. It may not be complete on earth, but someday in Heaven for sure.
Recently at a surprise birthday party for a close friend, as I looked around the room at the dozens of smiling faces, random thoughts zoomed through my head….
- how everyone else there were couples…they still had their spouses;
- how much fun Patrick would have had and how he would have probably been involved with the roast or some other aspect of the party;
- how life moves on with deaths and birthdays daily;
- remembering Patrick’s own surprise 40th when we would have never imagined he wouldn’t make it to his 50th birthday;
- and finally how blessed I am to count these people as friends. They continue to walk next to me in my valley and I can rejoice with them in their celebrations.
Those thoughts are normal (I think) but it’s a choice for me where my thoughts land and on what I will focus. So I left the party that night focused on thankfulness.
The mailbox rarely brings cards anymore and that’s ok. But one came last week that stopped me in my tracks. It actually wasn’t even a card. As I opened the non-descript white envelope, I expected that it was some generic insurance offer. I was shocked to immediately see a generous amount of money folded in the middle of a one page typed anonymous letter. Such unexpected kindness reminds me once again that Jehovah-Jireh is my provider.
But what sent me immediately to the floor were these words,
“Patrick was so influential in the life of our family by continually encouraging us to run hard after Christ. We continue to be encouraged and inspired by your desire to run hard after Christ even in the midst of such heartache.”
There is no higher of a compliment that anyone could ever give me! Patrick had a lot of sayings, but anyone that ever listened to him for very long knew that his main mantra was to tell everyone “run hard after Christ.” He said it in prayers; He preached it at weddings; He wrote it in the Bibles given to graduates every year; He counseled it; He believed it; He lived it. Patrick always said he was a simple guy with a simple message. But that simple message says it all.
So now, more than a year after he’s gone to have someone tell me that they can still see in my life that I am running hard after Christ….well, I needed to hear that. On my kitchen floor, I sobbed, thanking the Lord. It was a sign of God’s goodness affirming my weak faith. Because often I feel like all I’m doing is showing up; All I’m doing is barely surviving; All I’m doing is the next thing. But that’s enough, because Christ has already done the rest.
Because of Jesus…
Even in my sadness, I have peace. He understands. He sees. He knows.
Even in my pain, I have confidence. He is with me. I can trust Him. He has a plan.
Even in my grief, I am thankful. I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.
Therefore, I will continue to run hard after Christ….one tiny step at a time.
Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow seeds with tears will reap with songs of joy.”