John 8:12-“…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.
Normal was no more. It was 14 years and 354 days ago, the night my husband died. The day is forever burned in my memory. It was a beautiful day in Grapevine, Texas on February 3, 2001. Scott completed yard work, washed cars, and was outside with the older kids all day. I was feeling ill. I could not explain it. My body hurt, tired, raw and exhausted. It was not the typical- I am tired because of 3 small children- kind of feeling. So I stayed indoors, in bed, and tended to the baby. In the afternoon, Scott came in to check on me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Babe, my soccer game is late tonight, why don’t you and the kids stay home”? I was immediately uplifted by the relief of not having to drag the kids out to his game on a Saturday night. Little did I know God was preparing me for the most earth shattering and gut-wrenching event of my life. And I had a few hours before it began to unfold.
Around dinner time, Scott told me he wanted to take the two older kids and go with his mom to dinner. He would bring back something for me to eat, drop off the kids, and head to his game. Perfect. I enjoyed the quiet with the baby until they all returned about 7 PM. He changed his clothes, grabbed his bag, and kissed me goodbye. It would be our last kiss.
Two hours later, I was feeding the baby and the phone rang. My oldest daughter, Taryn, answered it and came running upstairs. When she came into the bedroom, her face was pale and she said in a tiny voice, “Mommy, he wants to talk to you”. I took the phone and listened; numbly. I don’t recall exactly what was being said, “your husband, cardiac arrest, not responding… “. I gave the baby to Taryn and desperately tried to get away from all three of my kids. They kept following me around the house, until finally, I told them I needed to talk to the person on the phone alone, and stepped outside. The voice on the other end told me he was being taken to the hospital in Arlington and I needed to get there as fast as I could. I froze. I could not breathe or comprehend what he said. Life stood still. What did the voice tell me? What was he really trying to say? Say it! Why can’t you say it! Scott was gone.
I am not sure how it happened, but my neighbors came to get the kids and my mother in law (Scott’s mom) drove me to the hospital. She talked the entire time and asked questions, but I can’t recall what she said. Halfway to the hospital, there was no noise, no movement, just me in a vacuumed tunnel and a voice so bold and loud, I knew exactly who it was. He spoke the words which I clearly hear today, “I will not leave you. Follow me”.
I have followed Him. I can stand here 14 years and 354 days later and validate He has not left me. God continues to guide me through life and has been by my side. Heartache, grief, and distress will forever be a part of my earthly existence. But I continue to forge on and grow through these events. I share this because if you have not already, one day you too will experience the loss of a loved one. It is by far the most devastating and consuming episode anyone can ever process. You have a choice on how to handle a loss. Let it define you as a person, or use the experience to build another level in your character.
As debilitating as grief can be, it can also teach us how to support and comfort others as they start the grief journey. Finding the right grief support system through family, church, and counseling is a healthy way to process and walk the grief path. I believe part of my purpose is to share my grief experiences so others will not feel alienated and alone. I will continue to follow God in my journey and hope I can show love and support for others who are raw and hurting from losing a loved one. My new normal. Not the one I would have picked but the one chosen for me by my Heavenly Father.