I have a secret to tell…I am selfish, controlling, and I’m not always happy. Phew! I got that out! Now, for an explanation…
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be- James 3:8-10 KJV
I am almost four years into this grief journey, and as I type this article I am preparing for this ministry’s upcoming November 2014 conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I will be co-presenting on the topics of Dating and Courage. Then, I will be speaking at our Love Lights ceremony about grieving with hope and being open to God’s new calling in our lives.
As I march into the days and hours leading up to the conference, I have been bombarded with flashbacks of terrible moments at the end of my husband’s life; the moments where I did not use my tongue to God’s glory. Those moments are moments I wish I could erase. The things I said and decisions I made were made in my flesh, thinking I had more time.
Several days before what would be Bill’s death, we were in the transplant wing and it was getting late so I was preparing to leave to go to the hotel for the night. Bill asked me to spend the night in his room. On the transplant wing, you cannot use the patient’s bathroom or their bedding. There is no comfortable place to lie down in the room, and any time you have to use the restroom you have to leave the wing. Then, to come back, you have to go through a series of doors and a hand-washing station to enter again. I had been on caregiver watch for several weeks, had been at the hospital since before breakfast, and I was very tired. I told him I needed to go home, so I could re-fuel and come back to love on him the next day. I thought we’d have “tomorrow”. I never slept with my husband again; nor did I ever wake up near him again.
The last conversation I had with my husband was in ICU on Friday, February 11, 2011. He had just had his breathing tube removed and his voice was raspy. He was lucid for the first time in days, and his medical team was talking about taking him back up to the transplant wing. There was a lot of hope in that ICU cubical that day. Bill’s best friend from work and two other friends were visiting us, and they had travelled a long distance to visit him. Bill wanted just me and kept saying to me, “I love you; I love you; I love you” and holding tightly to my hands and pulling me close and kissing me – over and over again. I felt the pull of his friends wanting time with him and I told him I would see him soon and gave some of my time to them…I would never have another conversation with him again.
I am not looking back when I share these moments (and there are many more). I am simply sharing lessons with you. Do not take the present moment for granted. Love like you don’t have tomorrow. Forgive as though your life depends on it. Share as though you are the only resource available. Speak with love. Once the moment is over, you will regret it if you didn’t handle it with grace and love. There are no do-overs. Satan uses these moments to attack me and stunt my grief journey. I have to call on my sisters and brothers in Christ to carry me when I am attacked with these moments.
God is good and He sustains me, through the Holy Spirit who strengthens and comforts me. Prayer supports me. I can, through Christ, move past these memories and into the Truth. Bill knows I loved him and knows that in both of those moments; I made the correct choice with the information I had at the time. Bill has forgiven and, in Heaven, he has forgotten those moments and is busy worshipping his Savior. That thought helps to remind me that I need to be busy about the Lord’s work here. If I sit and think on these moments that I could have handled better, I am looking back and not moving forward. If I am busy about the Lord’s work, then I am moving forward and thinking about my Savior; not regrets, memories, and what ifs.
Sweet Father, Thank You for reminding me to look to You when the memories of what ifs come to mind. Thank You for Your Grace and Mercy and for Your Word which sustains me. Thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to point me to You. I love You, Lord! In Jesus name, Amen