I am entering the final week of my “31 Days of Thanks”challenge. I took on this task in an effort to keep my mind focused as we approach the one year anniversary of Mike’s passing on October 31, 2012. It has been helpful to be more aware of what I am thankful for as I maneuver through this grief process this month, especially with the one year anniversary date on the horizon. More and more memories of Mike’s last days are coming to the forefront of my mind and my heart. I am more sensitive to some things and as much as I want to brush them aside and ignore them, I know they are signs of grief that need to be addressed. So for the next week I am clearing my calendar as much as I can so I have the time to lean into the grief and work through those memories.
One of the biggest things I am dealing with as we come upon the one year mark is the burning question of “what now?”. OK, so I made it through all of those “firsts”. And yet, the fact remains that Mike is still not with us. And as I being the year of “seconds”, there is an underlying sense that I must “move on”. I don’t know where that expectation comes from. Everything I’ve read and experienced tells me that grief is so personal and there is NO timeline and yet I don’t think our culture outwardly grants the freedom to go at your own pace. There is a general discomfort with those who are grieving and so we ignore it, run from it, or numb ourselves from it in a number of ways. But it doesn’t go away. So I anticipate not only October 31 and the memory of Mike’s final hours but also the days, months, and years after without him by my side. What will my life look like? Where will I be? What will I be doing? Will my life look a lot different? Or a little different? Which relationships will be altered?
So many questions. So much unknown.
I don’t like this new lifestyle. Not at all. But I am learning how to be content.
“for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13.
And I have learned that I cannot spend my time trying to figure out the future on my own. Yes, I need to be proactive and plan but that has to be done with an open hand IF I believe the following to be true:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jer 29:11
I cannot spin my wheels in an attempt to figure everything out. I’ve come to accept the fact that I may never have answers to the questions that I have. And so that leaves me with living for today. How will I use my energy? How do I want to approach life during this time of uncertainty? I saw this video today. I love this Doctor’s infectious joy in the work that he does. He enjoys the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful life. And that is how I want to approach our “second year” of life without Mike. I want to find the simple things that are truly worth celebrating and do it whole heartedly. I know it will take work and it will not come naturally. I will have to seek out others who have the same vision. I will let God handle the burdens that are too heavy for me to carry and I will do my best to keep my focus on taking one step at a time trusting in the God who cares and who heals.
“God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bring upon it some grander gift, some tenderer benediction.” Streams in the Desert
Today I am thankful for this example of infectious joy. You can see the video here.