Nine years ago, today, my life changed in a way I couldn't have fathomed. I found myself retching, dry, miserable heaves of anguish and anger on the lawn of the rental home my husband had moved us to less than 2 years before.
He killed himself.
And in that moment he ended other things too. Hope for reconciliation. Memories yet to be made. Relationships with me and our two beautiful little girls. In the days that followed, I remembered praying that this special holiday time of year would not be marred for all of the future because of this yucky, tragic event.
For most of the past 9 years I've moved forward. It's not that I haven't grieved. Mine has been a particular sort of grieving. Because of the abuse in our home, it was difficult for me to recall happy times and miss the man who was my husband. I often wondered if a day would arrive that life would not be shadowed regularly by the affect that his nature had on us. His manner was often very destructive and for him to be gone provided some relief to me and the girls and that has left a conflict in my soul that has been a long time in resolving.
The first while I was on my own was just putting one foot in front of the other. Do the laundry, read to the girls, go to church, make a meal or just get out the door for an event even when I didn't feel like it. Then I moved into a phase of growing. Pursuit. A hungering desire to understand who I am and what my purpose is. By God's grace, I cast off the lies that had become the way I lived for so long. I grew in confidence in my abilities, my gifts, my duty and calling as a mom. God granted me the beauty of extended time with Him to just be. And to rest. And to grow.
Then a few years ago, in His time, Greg. A new love. Different seasons, new challenges, transitions, new people that need new things from me and the girls are growing and their time of training with me as parent/coach will come to an end quickly. In the midst of the right now living, my loving Father is still reaching back to that gaping hole that opened up nine years ago. Over the years he has gently removed the stitches that He put in place then. Now I feel He's beginning to smooth the scar...
Two moments of the past year testify to this.
Early springtime. I ended up in an impassioned conversation with my sweet Abigail about her biological dad. She wanted to know how she was like him. She worried about ways she might be like he is. As the Spirit moved in our conversation I found myself expressing to her how I can honor everything that was wonderful about her dad by parenting her as intentionally and prayerfully as I have. Her dad was wounded - deeply. In ways that he became destructive, she is becoming determined. We talked about the difference. We talked about how God has walked with me in equipping her in very specific ways and how he has provided wisdom when I've asked and often when I don't. I explained about the wonderful things that I remembered about her dad. How impassioned he could be. How excited. How driven he was about the topics that interested him. How engaging he could be in a social setting and how he enjoyed a good laugh. His love of reading and learning. I explained how I see all of those things in the young woman she is becoming. I can honor elements about him that were wonderful by nurturing them in her. She is becoming just the sort of young woman that he would have loved for her to become. I couldn't believe the wonderful thoughts and feelings about her dad that I was able to share with her!
Just this fall. A girl in Lydia's class lost her dad very suddenly. This was very upsetting to Lydia.
She doesn't think it's right for any kids to "lose their dads" like she did. It's hard for her to think of someone hurting about it the way she has. As I was thinking and praying about how to talk with her about this event, something very special occurred to me. Joel would be thrilled (embarrassingly, arrogantly thrilled) that she is at a Classical charter school. He aspired to that sort of education for Abigail. I wouldn't know much about the Classical model if he hadn't pursued information when Abigail was 4. Early on, it wouldn't have been a good fit for Abigail and I couldn't have managed it on my own as a homeschooler, but it is really perfect for Lydia! Lydia struggles with not remembering her dad, but she had a very special bond with him in the short time he was around her. She gets to experience this education as a sort of gift from him. That is something very special for her that God has allowed because of her dad's influence.
In the beginning years I had dreams that Joel was trying to kill me. I haven't had those dreams now for a few years. This year, year nine, I am beginning to see some beauty that his life contributed to ours. I can acknowledge that beauty now with a calm and peacefulness rather than demanding it from myself with forcefulness because I "should".
Once again, God has answered my prayers. In his wisdom, faithfulness, grace and mercy, He has done it in His time. The perfect time for me. He is not only restoring to me the years the locust have eaten, but redeeming that time as well!