I’m a transplanted Kentucky woman who was raised to take care of a husband and children, be a good cook and a gracious hostess. In addition to those accomplishments, I earned a master’s degree and taught at a Detroit suburb high school. My school teacher husband and I had a happy traditional marriage, a colonial home, a summer place, two cars and two beautiful, well behaved children. We had solid plans for a perfect life. And then brain cancer swooped in. Our son, Jay, was 10 and our daughter, Holly, was 8.
Suddenly our plans crumbled as we waged a physical and emotional war we thought we’d never have to face. Such challenges happened to other couples, especially those who had lived long lives, right? Wrong.
Yes, I begged God not to toss me into that lonely, silent group of widows at church. And I begged him not to take my children’s father. How was I going to raise them alone? How was I going to teach our son to be a man?
But God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted, the way I begged. Instead, He wrapped me in His arms and whispered, “I am here” even as I watched my husband die. And He was with me when I drove home from the hospital to tell two little kids their funny, loving, faithful dad had died.
The days after the funeral blurred. But even though I wanted to stay in bed and never face the world again, I had two youngsters who needed me. They had lost their dad physically; they mustn’t lose me emotionally. So each morning, I made myself face the day, take care of Jay and Holly, get them to school and then get myself to my own classroom. And during those dismal early days, my constant prayer was that our heavenly Father would be real moment by moment and not be like the many people who muttered, “Call me if you need anything” and then forgot about us. And I also asked Him to please bring His great good out my great pain. I didn’t know what that meant then, but I trusted Him—and have continued to do so. What a difference that has made.
Married friends often ask me to describe the life of the single mother. They usually don’t want an honest answer, so I provide this word picture: “It’s like walking a tight rope while juggling.” If they ask for details, I’m happy to talk at length. But that conversation doesn’t happen until they—or a beloved relative—face the situation themselves.
So what basic things have I learned during this life I didn’t plan for and didn’t want? First, we don’t get over grief, we get through it. And we do that by putting one foot in front of the other and hanging onto the Lord. Secondly, and most importantly, our heavenly Father hears our cries and brings His good out of whatever we give Him. We do not pray to air!
I hadn’t planned on encouraging other widows, specifically single mothers. But here I am. And even though I didn’t choose this life nor this ministry, I am grateful my heavenly Father has provided me with numerous opportunities to wrap understanding arms around other hurting women. One of those opportunities is just ahead at the first Widow’s Weekend at Sandy Cove Conference in North East, Maryland on March 6-8. If you are a widow, come join me, Gayle Roper, Betty Southard, Nan McCollough and Ann Downing. And be prepared to be encouraged by five widows who understand.
For additional information: http://sandycove.org/events/widows-journey