"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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A Change of Seasons

Widowhood is weird. It happens suddenly, in an instant. One minute, you’re married, the next minute, you’re not. Your entire identity changes, and you have no control, no say in the matter.

A final breath. One last heartbeat. And then you are different. Everything is different. Widowhood is thrust upon you.

I tried to cook tonight. I boiled a bag of ready-made Thai rice and cut up some chicken tenders for a make-shift stir fry. I don’t know anything about ingredients or flavor profiles. I squeezed a lemon over the chicken while it was in the pan and added salt and pepper. The other spices in the cupboard intimidate me. When all was said and done, I sat alone at the kitchen table and ate. The food was palatable, but far from flavorful. Afterward, I cried.

I cried because Craig was the chef in our home, and now he’s gone. I cried because I not only loved his cooking, but I loved watching him cook. He enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, like an artist playing with paint, and was an ardent Food Network fan. He could make the most incredible meals out of nothing.

When Craig visited me in New York City before we got married, he promptly sized up the meager provisions in my kitchen: four eggs, two Kaiser rolls, a cup of yogurt, a bottle of flat Coca-Cola, and a single-serving box of Cocoa Krispies. “Go hang out in there,” he said, gesturing to the living area of my bite-size apartment. Only one person at a time could fit in the bantam kitchen, so I buried my nose in a book and listened to the clang of pots and the creak of the oven door from the other room. Sometime later, Craig emerged with the most amazing bread pudding I have ever eaten.

To think, I was going to make fried eggs.

I gave myself a pep talk through the tears as I washed the cutting board and a single plate after my meager chicken entrée. “At least I tried,” I said out loud. “I know he’s proud, because at least I tried.” But I didn’t try, really. Trying would mean picking out a recipe and buying the right ingredients and preparing a meal with some forethought. My dinner was two steps up from ramen soup. Still, I used the stove and not the microwave, so that must count for something. And six months into this journey, I am continually learning to give myself grace.

Widowhood is weird, because it brings to light all of the things that you took for granted that in fact brought you the deepest joy and comfort. For weeks after Craig passed, I still listened for the creak of the bannister when he came down the stairs in the morning. That was my cue to announce to the cats, “Daddy’s awake!” and jump up from the couch to meet him in the kitchen. I would give him a good morning kiss and make his coffee while he wiped the sleep from his eyes. Then we would retreat back to the living room and Craig would claim his usual spot on the love seat while I curled up on the sofa to read Scripture or surf social media.

I camped in that spot for a full week as visitors came to the house, bringing cookies and cakes and condolences. Friends sat with me and held my hand and insisted that I do nothing but just receive the love and kindness that was offered. On a few occasions, they gently asked for information about life insurance policies or sought my input on funeral arrangements. And, they made sure that I would eat.

I miss seeing my husband in the kitchen and on the couch and in the car and in our bed at night. I miss our conversations and his mannerisms and knowing he was always a text or a call or mere steps away. I miss the rhythms of daily life, even with our unpredictable schedule, and the certainty that we would face together whatever challenges were in store. And I miss being a wife. His wife. The story of how we met and married was our joint testimony of God’s awesome power and perfect plan. We would tell it in tandem–me sharing my part, and Craig chiming in with his–and the reaction was always the same. People knew that God was real, and that we were meant for each other.

Widowhood hasn’t quite sunk in yet; I’m not sure it ever will. I still consider myself Craig’s wife and often speak of him in the present tense. Even so, he would be the first to tell me that my true identity is not as his bride, but as a daughter of the Most High King. Years ago, Craig wrote me a letter in which he poured out his heart and shared his deep and unwavering love for me. The only one who loved me more is our Father in heaven, he said.

The seasons may change, but my identity has not. I am still a bride. I am still a daughter. And I am still deeply loved beyond all measure. My husband is in the other room. I will see him again soon enough, and together we will stand before our Lord and King. Until then, I will crack open a cookbook, and I will try something new.

January 13, 2019   7 Comments

A Kiss From My Husband

God speaks to me in numbers. It started a couple of years ago with the 444s. I wouldn’t have paid them much attention, except that my pastor’s wife Tara Seidman used to post them on Facebook once in a while. A picture of the license plate with 444, the time on the clock at 4:44 PM. She called it a “God kiss.” His way of letting her know that he was right there, that he sees her, and that he loves her.

A couple of years ago, I started getting them, too. At first just one every once in a while, and then more and more, like a flood. Undeniable. And I wasn’t looking — they would always catch me by surprise. Later, I started to get 333. I heard more than once that this points to Jeremiah 33:3.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.“

Other translations say “great and indescribable things,” “hidden things,” or “unsearchable things.” The 3s in triplicate is God’s way of calling us into deeper relationship. I started to get them all the time, and I was encouraged to press in.

In the last year, our conversations around the numbers have expanded. He shows me times on the clock and calls me to look up Scriptures. Triplicates on license plates speak of his presence. I get 555 all the time, reminding me of his abiding grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. This Spring, Craig started to get them, too. 333 and 444, all the time. It actually miffed him at first — he claimed that he didn’t believe in the numbers. But they showed up with such regularity, he was beginning to doubt his own doubts. He would take screenshots of his phone and text me the picture. 3:33 PM. 4:44 AM. He, too, said he was never looking. He would just glance at the clock, and there would be God, waving hello.

I was delighted at this new turn of events, and told him that the Father sees him and loves him! That God is revealing something magnificent to him, great and mighty things that he does not know. We were both listening attentively, with hope and anticipation. Especially, as the season grew dark.

I slept soundly last night, but awoke briefly a couple hours after going to bed. I glanced at the clock. 1:13am. I made a mental note and fell back asleep.

This morning, I eased into the day with Bible reading and scrolls through social media. Then the grief came, marked by a torrent of tears and heartache. I miss my husband. I feel lost. I journaled at length about how Craig taught me to love better. How we had both learned and grown so much these last several years. We discovered the joy in sacrifice — in trying to out-give one another by putting the other’s needs and wants first. I still failed more times than I care to admit, but I was so much better. We were better. And, we were happy.

I showered and got dressed. Sat on the floor of the closet holding one of Craig’s T-shirts and sobbed. Took the dog for the walk and made breakfast. God reminded me to look up the time on the clock from last night, so I asked Google to find “Scripture 1:13.” The answer brought more tears, and also great comfort.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

***

God is faithful. And I have no doubt that He is showing Craig great and mighty things. Hidden things that are unsearchable unless we are in His presence. What He is showing me is that I am still loved — loved more than I can ever fathom. And, in the same way that I discovered the delight in learning to love my husband, there is joy in loving others. In putting others’ needs first. There is joy in loving God and putting His desires first.

Isaiah 54:5 begins:

“For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name…”

My husband gave me a kiss last night, and I am grateful.

August 20, 2018   No Comments