So many thoughts and emotions run through my mind simultaneously… and constantly.
The thoughts that give me hope and some sort of peace I quickly remove from my mind because of the hurt and anger and sorrow I feel. I know I’m not the only one who feels a great loss — who feels that the life they hoped for, the future they were looking forward to, was cut short. Conversations that will no longer happen; ideas, work, life that will no longer be shared; experiences that will no longer take place. To say it is a great loss feels so inadequate to describe what this really feels like.
What is life supposed to look like now? I have lost loved ones in the past. It’s hard. It’s really sad, but life continues, it goes on. This is not that, for many of us.
Honestly, I don’t know how life continues on without Will. We have been together in everything for my entire adult life. Each morning I wake up thinking, “What the hell just happened?” And I wake up hoping and praying that it didn’t. I feel like Will and I just went through a brutal, gruesome war and I came out on the other side alone, left with memories and images I don’t know what to do with and that will probably torment me for the rest of my life.
I have brief moments during the day (and hope they become more often) of being thankful for experiencing in sufferings with Christ… for sharing in the love Will and I had for the last 12 years of knowing each other and 8 years of marriage and getting to so actively serve and love him these past 10 months… for whatever this is that the Lord is doing that seems bigger than all of us.
But, the questions of why it had to be this way will never be settled in my mind. And I don’t really want them to be.
As one friend said, our community has experienced an amputation. That amputation will never be okay… not on this side of heaven. This world is messed up. It’s messed up from the greed for money, and the decisions made to that end are stealing people’s lives. It’s messed up from the food we eat and the drugs we take. It’s messed up from the lack of care for our environment and the “out for ourselves” mentality. Will was different. He sacrificed himself for the betterment of others and the world. He would literally do anything for anyone. It didn’t matter if he lost sleep or missed meals or still had 20 hours of work for the day… if you needed him he was there.
Why would God take someone like that?
So my anger stirs. Is my anger at all that is messed up in this world…? Yes. Is my anger at God… maybe. I believe He’s God and can do whatever He wants. I believe He could have kept Will from getting cancer, or made it less severe, and He could have cured him of it. I know that’s not what Will or I deserved. I don’t necessarily deserve to have my husband. He didn’t deserve to live. We never have believed we deserve anything, but that every gift is just that… a gift. But, Will wanted to live and to live to the glory of God. He didn’t feel done here. He had a lifetime worth of ideas, work, and love to give. He felt like many Christians gave up on him here and tried to rush him off to heaven. He was “ready” in a sense… in that he knew Jesus secured his eternal life. But, he also believed in living. Living until the end — until God says it’s the end, not a doctor.
So my anger, if I let it, turns to action. What would Will want me to do now, want us to do…? Because he would definitely want us to do something, to live our lives well.
I was talking with a friend after the Nashville memorial service. He told me that he had been healed — really healed — from participating in this journey. We started talking about how maybe it was all of us, Will’s community, that needed the healing we were all praying for, not him. Will was full of patience and love and trust in our Lord until his final breath.
I have a hard time thinking that healing came to me or anyone else because it feels like it was at the expense of Will’s life. But, it might be true, and I think it probably is. Even as broken as I feel, I can see healing that came to me and in the deep parts of my heart. If others have been healed, then that is encouraging and also what Will and I hoped and prayed for in all of this. That’s what he wanted with his life… to bring some sort of healing, togetherness, a light-in-the-dark-places to others.
Maybe I’m just not ready for it yet. Maybe my frustration and anger keeps me from vomiting.
Will was really good about not over-spiritualizing everything, which is a rare trait in a Christian… he just was who he was. He was a man who loved people, creating, watching movies, reading, listening to every kind of music and Jesus. He felt every emotion, he struggled with depression, and he enjoyed life. He would panic about paying rent and he would constantly plan ways to bring people together. He had fears, he had patience, he felt paralyzed by life and he persevered through it anyway. Will taught me how to just be me with all the negative and positive that comes with it. As he said many times: “I’m trusting that Jesus is going to hold on to me and you just like He said he would.”
I need God to stay close to me, but I also can’t really talk to Him right now. And, I’m okay with that. Jesus got angry and cursed a tree when he was hungry. Can I / we not be angry that a best friend has been lost? We’ve lost a mentor, a partner in creating, a son, a brother. I am now a widow at 32 years old, and not only that, but I also lost my best friend, my life partner, my other half… my love.
In a moment of panic that I was having, one of the last things Will ever said to me was, “Be still and wait on the Lord.” There’s not much you can say in response to that. I’m glad that was one of the last things he said because I’m sure I will need to hear that for the rest of my life.