My son and my younger daughter discovered what no child should have to find. While driving home from out of town one hot August morning in 2007, I heard the crying and the confusion over the phone. Surely this was a dream, a nightmare, not reality! My son begged me to pull over on the side of the interstate as he broke the news that my former husband had died.
These are the thoughts that come as I remember:
Sleeping all together on the floor of the living room that night, not willing to be separated from one another even for a minute.
A slide show that told the story of my family: the births of my children, the school activities, birthdays, Christmases, beach vacations, high school graduations—a treasure of precious memories.
A casket in front of the church, my family sitting behind a black curtain for privacy.
A good friend leading me through the purchasing of a headstone—researching prices, driving me to the monument company. God helping me to choose the inscription, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
My son visiting the gravesite for the first time since the funeral and then coming home and cutting a tendon in his hand by opening a jar that shattered. Being with him through surgery and rehab.
A few weeks later my younger daughter escorted down the aisle by her brother at her wedding. My stepping in to give her away. Happiness and grief merged into one.
My older daughter showing up at my house with her three-year-old child and only a backpack, fleeing an abusive marriage. Taking charge like a mother bear to pursue legal action to protect her and my granddaughter. Another good friend shielding my family in her home, as we didn’t know what the repercussions would be.
Selling the home where we had been a family. Moving out and going back for a final clean-up. One last look at the backyard, still seeing where the garden would always be, hearing the voices of my children playing somewhere in a memory.
Three years later, three marriages in one year—my son, my daughter, and me!
Finally, being able to exhale. But with the next year came the trauma of my daughter-in-law’s miscarriage at eleven weeks. A few months later, my daughter’s devastating miscarriage at exactly the same stage.
But God restores! Ten beautiful, healthy babies have been born to our family since then!
Taking care of my mother in the last year of her life as she was ravaged by Alzheimer’s. The privilege of sitting with her through her last night. The holy moment of witnessing her last breath, knowing she was now at peace in the presence of the Lord.
It has now been 13 years since the beginning of this story. With joy and thankfulness, I have seen all of my children established in happy marriages with beautiful children. I’ve been married for ten years to the man I had longed for, the one whom the Lord brought to me when I asked Him to choose. God has written a new script for us that He continues to make known with each passing year.
I am brought to my knees in tears when I think of the grace that carried me through those hard years. I am awed and humbled by the presence and power of Christ in my life. A friend asked me once what I had learned from this journey, and I had only these three words: “God is faithful.” We were never alone.
Last week I published the post “Finding True North” which says that when you have lost your compass, it may be that God is leading you on a new path. As I look back over the last 13 years, I see many twists and turns along new paths, major life events that I didn’t write about in the above post. We endured a financial crisis as we were trusting the Lord for how we would survive in the ministry He had called us to. The Lord interrupted us in our life in Arkansas and directed us to move to Texas where we lived for over four years. Then just as abruptly, He led us to move back. With each event, it was Jesus, our “true north,” that enveloped us in His grace and gave us the courage to continue forward. Our story continues to be written, as does yours. But no matter what we are facing, God is with us and will be faithful to see us through, even when we cannot see the way ourselves.
He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5