For me, each diminutive step of widowhood has felt like a battle through a dark abyss; every breath a gasp for survival. From the moment that the hospital staff reminded me that my husband had been dead for 3 hours and they needed the room, to the funeral director who was in route to transport my husband’s body and encouraged me to release him soon…each step of me letting go has been brutally raw and encompassed the brevity of life.
As morbid as this might sound (and I apologize), in my altered state of mind, all reasoning out the door and unable to form a coherent thought, I remember thinking and almost saying out loud, “Can’t you just put me in the body bag with my husband?” The funeral director, who knew me previously from when my mother-in-law had passed away, said to me ever so gently (as he seemed to read my mind), “Lisa, I know you can do this, you can step away.” At that same moment, one of the nurses that I had grown close to during our 2 ½ months in the hospital, ran up and handed me a book. A bookmark fell out that said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” -Martin Luther King.
My whole adult life I only knew life with my husband. I only knew how to live as a couple. We cleaved to each other. Our bond was inseparable and steadfast. Our lives were intertwined as we lived as one. It literally felt like I could not function without him. Every decision seemed like a monumental step.
Recently, I had to take a profound step. Our youngest daughter who has autism and numerous health issues required surgery. I felt lost without my husband as we were a parenting team and always made our decisions concerning our girls in unison.
In addition, my fears were magnified as her surgery was going to take place in the same hospital that my husband died in. I had not returned since. I had avoided it at all costs. Even when an MRI was ordered for me, I requested to go to another building. Nevertheless, I needed to put all my focus on my daughter’s needs and her challenging health situation. I realized that I was vastly distressed, but not crushed. I had the power to change my mindset.
I have always appreciated this quote, although this time it took on a new meaning, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” -Charles Spurgeon. In the grief walk, there are progressions and regressions; always another step, and always another door to walk through. Labeling my fear into a new definition became my goal. The day before her surgery, in order to prepare myself, I drove and sat in the hospital parking lot, as I knew just that simple act would be hard.
The antidote to fear for me has always been faith. I unloaded my heart in prayer and poured over scripture. With God’s resounding words residing in my soul and me visualizing Him opening the hospital doors, my daughter and I walked in. The ordeal was traumatic, with anxiety swirling around; but yet, we did it!
When you are confronted with taking a new step down this non-linear path, don’t forget, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” -German Proverb. Find your own strategies from your vantage point, armor yourself with your beliefs, lean on them, and please honor and reward yourself for the steps that you have taken.
Blessings to You,
Lisa Dempsey Bargewell
Next Wednesday’s blog topic- Wacky Wednesday-A New Perspective!