The steadfast, champion hands that tenderly, passionately and protectively held mine for 24 years, turned blue, cold and limp in mine. As I fumbled out of the hospital room, fragmented conversations of sympathy from loved ones swirled in my head. A faint, pleading whisper called me to proceed down the hallway. At the end of the corridor, a man patient and a PT appeared. She was assisting him in his walking. Instructing him to keep his head up, swing his arms, and praising him for his efforts. I was drawn to the man. He was about 6 feet 5 inches, wore the same hospital attire, head partially bald from chemo, and looked ravaged by cancer. Yet, his stride was strong, his head held high, and there was an apparent glow about him. I couldn’t divert my eyes. My legs were paralyzed in place. They walked closer. In the tangled crevices of my heart, I knew it was my beloved husband. As he passed me, in my breathless wonder, I noticed his illuminating smile was full of serenity and a sense of mischievousness and awe. The same look that crossed his face when he used to lovingly lean over and kiss me each morning and remind me, with a twinkle in his eye, that it was a new day to love and be loved! A group of people flooded the area, the trance was broken, and the two of them disappeared around the corner.
For the last month of his life, my husband could not walk, lift his head, or focus his eyes. Seeing his gait with a renewed sense of strength, his body functioning with purpose, heading towards God’s throne of peace and joy, was an indescribable, unparalleled gift! Upon sharing what transpired with hospital staff and doctors, they all expressed how this occurrence seems to happen to some widows and always in corridors. I attempted to make rhyme and reason of it, questioning if there was anyone else in the cancer wing that was as tall or skinny as my David? Or, if there was a PT that resembled the one assisting him? The resounding answer was, “No.”
I daily ache and yearn for my husband. I have known the depths of suffering, despair and defeat. The weight of grief smothers me, it thickens my air, congests my lungs, strikes at my heart, and yet, I know that I cannot allow it to enslave me or hedge me in. I rejoice in God’s sovereignty that my husband has been restored to wholeness and that he has a new life engulfed in our Father’s arms. I desire to be restored and not oppressed. I am reminded in the midst of my broken places, of Alan Pedersen’s insightful quote, “Grief isn’t something you get over, it’s something you go through.” In addition, Dorothy Parker’s famous words that reiterate even through the process, “We might as well live.”
As the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death is almost upon me, I have been reliving each ingrained, bittersweet memory. Our blissful times together and the harrowing chaos of cancer seem to be intertwined and play havoc in my mind. Nevertheless, I continue to be drawn back to my husband’s appearance and the image of the corridor. I believe that God and His unwavering grace orchestrated and visibly allowed me to see my husband’s transformation as a healing analogy. Likewise, that the hallway and corridor displayed the profound alteration of navigating life’s transitions.
Even in my obscured, walkway of grief, I can hurt or attempt to heal myself. I can escalate or de-escalate my situation. I have the choice to make my life miserable or joyous. J. Pierpont Morgan summed it up, “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
Growth is painful. Change is painful. “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” -Frank A. Clark. For me, each day has become a lesson on learning how to praise our Lord down the uncertain path of my imperfect progress and unlocking the doors to new possibilities.
Shortly after my husband’s passing, I received a most welcome, thoughtful card from one of my husband’s nurses. It said, “In the corridors of life- Trust in His timing, rely on His promises, wait for His answers, believe in His miracles, rejoice in His goodness, and relax in His presence.”
As you ponder, discern, grow, reflect and embark down the corridors of your life, my hope is that you will feel refreshed and that each door that opens or remains closed will lavish you with calmness, wonder and unsurpassed blessings.
Lisa Dempsey Bargewell
My blog topic for next Wednesday: How Hope for Widows Saved My Life