"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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An (Almost) Perfect Walk

I was prepared for battle this morning. Sunglasses. Handkerchief. Cell phone fully charged. I expected pain. I expected warfare. I expected to revisit a place of suffering and toil.

Instead, I took a walk.

I knew I was going for a walk, of course. But, this was a meaningful walk, and the decision to go had been weighty. This morning was my first time walking to the park a half mile from our house—the park that Craig and I walked to together at least a dozen times in the weeks before he died last summer. The park where he sat on a bench in the shade and recorded a four-minute video in which he poured out his heart, begging viewers to stand strong against the lies of the enemy. A spirit of suicide was sweeping the nation, taking out notable figures like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, along with thousands of teenagers and adults who had succumbed to depression. Craig was wrestling with it, as well, and our daily power walk was a weapon in his arsenal. Exercise releases endorphins, reducing the perception of pain. We had a plan. We could beat this.

Four weeks later, Craig lost the fight. And, I stopped going to the park.

I always loved to walk. I spent part of my youth in Germany and a decade in Manhattan; walking for me was a way of life. It felt as natural as breathing, and almost as necessary. The first year of our marriage, Craig and I took early morning walks around the golf course near our apartment complex, sharing thoughts and dreams as we became more closely knit as a couple. Walking was good exercise, but for me, it was about connection. Those walks fueled my love for my husband and refreshed my soul.

After we moved to our house, we rarely walked together. Occasionally, Craig would join me to take the dog around the block, or humor me by strolling through a street fair. I could trick him into walking when we went to Six Flags or traveled on vacation. But for the most part, walking was my thing, not his. So, I was pleasantly surprised last spring when he asked me for a suggested route to walk for 45 minutes. Two laps through the back alleys around our neighborhood and one time around the inner loop would do the trick, I replied, then realized just how mundane that path would be. Craig looked dismayed. “Or, you could walk to the park and do a loop around the trails. That’s probably 45 minutes there and back,” I said.

He set out the next morning on his own, returning home drenched in sweat. The following day, he was off again, strengthening muscles, building a routine. I was envious. After the first week, I asked whether I could join him. Sure, he said. What for him felt strenuous was for me pure bliss. Walking with my husband—my favorite person of all time. He stayed laser focused on keeping a brisk pace. I focused on speaking life over him, reminding him of his calling and God’s promises. We were in the fight together, us against the world.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

I thought about the park several times after Craig passed. How much I loved being out in nature, breathing the fresh air. I thought about keeping up the routine but always found an excuse. The late summer was too hot, I was traveling in the fall, and winter was cold and dreary.

But now, it’s spring. Birds are chirping. Everything is green. I had nothing on my calendar. Today was the perfect day for a walk in the park.

I wore my sunglasses as I left the house, and the tears came quickly. They trickled down my cheeks as I turned left onto the main road. The first two blocks slope downhill, and gravity propelled me along. Dogs barked behind fences. A crow swooped low overhead. I sang softly to myself as I walked, settling my mind, picking up details. The world was in Technicolor.

As I neared the park, I could see people gathered around a canopy tent by the tree line. Hundreds of plastic eggs were strewn across the grass nearby. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and families were there to celebrate. The children paced in anticipation, baskets at the ready, eyeing their bounty. They were waiting for permission to run. So was I.

I kept bracing for the pain, anticipating grief. But, it never came. Instead, I was captivated by the beautiful scenery and the bright sunshine and the cool breeze. The trails were empty, the atmosphere serene. I couldn’t help myself—I was happy. Halfway around the loop, I decided to embrace the joy. What a spectacular morning. Perfect weather, and the perfect day for a walk. I wished Craig was with me, but I knew my Husband was there. Jesus was right by my side. How else could I explain the peace in my soul?

You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your Husband–the Lord Almighty is His name

Isaiah 55:4b-5a

Whether I will make a walk to the park part of my daily routine remains to be seen. What I know for certain, however, is that I never walk alone. I am grateful for God’s unfailing love, and for the comforting arms of my Savior. Jesus spent three days in the tomb—Scripture tells us that He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He is not afraid to walk with us through seasons of darkness. And, He walks us back out. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me.

Today, I took a walk. Tomorrow is resurrection day.


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

April 20, 2019   3 Comments

Day 33 – Ordinary Things

Every morning when I walk into the bathroom, Craig is there. His shaving cream and razor blades and hair gel are in the basket on the sink. His T-shirts and gym shorts are still folded neatly on top of the dresser in our closet. His sneakers stand at the ready by our bedroom door, so he can put them on for his morning walk to the park.

I cherish these things and have no plans to move them — much less remove them — any time soon. A friend who lost her husband to suicide many years ago cleansed her house of all his belongings two days after laying him to rest. When she shared that recently, the very thought of it shook me to the core. Her experience was different, of course, and everyone grieves in their own way. But, I cannot fathom a home without Craig in every room. He is still very present, still very much a part of my every day. He is in the ordinary things.

Some may call this the denial stage. Grief has a recognizable pattern, after all, with denial being at the forefront. I prefer to call it anticipation. I am fully aware that Craig is not coming back. But, I am equally aware that I will see him again soon. Will it be in our three-bedroom house in the Dallas suburbs? No. It will be when I go to join him and meet our Lord in the clouds. But until then, I have his things — the ordinary things — to remind me that we do have a future together, a glorious future more spectacular than I could ever imagine. And to remind me that he is still very much alive, more alive than ever before.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

We have a living hope in Jesus Christ. Scripture says that we have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure. Although my heart is broken that my husband is in the other room and I can no longer hear his voice, I rejoice in the knowledge that both he and I will spend eternity in the presence of the King of Kings. As Craig wrote in his own epitaph:

Do not shed a tear or miss me for a moment, rather,
Trust in the Lord Jesus the Christ as Your Savior,
and you will join me soon in the Heavenly chorus of Worship of God Almighty.

Craig is here. His love fills my heart. His presence fills our home. And God speaks to us through the ordinary things.

***

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

August 8, 2018   No Comments