As widows, we have so many things we might long for, but there are times when I literally BEG God to show me Shane. A breeze with his soapy smell wrapped inside of it, the subtle song of a wind chime, a cardinal in an unexpected place. It’s not that I don’t trust that he is basking in Heavenly glory, I know he’s there and enjoying a front row seat to all that the boys and I are doing. I just need him near me from time to time. It doesn’t always come in my timing, but when it happens…it is perfection.

My days of judging anyone for how they handle grieving are long gone. Shane and I attended two funerals the year before he passed and they were both very different. He had sang at so many services over the years and was used to standing on stage with the coffin or over the coffin in front of him. He had been hidden off to the side once. We had seen a coffin signed with sharpies and at another service, just a large, gorgeous photo of our friend. We had some interestingly prophetic dinner conversation following those services. I will be forever grateful for these insights.

It’s what comes after the final arrangements that I struggle with at times. From standing in our front yard and screaming at him early on, to discussing life with his ashes that I have saved for my boys. Sometimes you just need to visit. I want to see more of him and on weeks like this last one, when we were leading up to the anniversary of losing him. I want to will him into existence. My prayers were not answered just yet and I was having a weary day of my usual favorite things. Teach school, pick up my youngest, go to the gym with my the boys, run home to change and head to a football meeting and then my niece’s softball game. The changing of the clothes part is routine and I was going for comfort and warmth for a chilly evening game.

We were headed home from the game when I got a lengthy text from an unknown number and decided to read it the second I pulled in my drive:

I was a little taken aback. I told this mystery number two things…one, that the number wasn’t programmed into my phone, and two…

Ummmm, wow! That quick change that happened after gym and before the meeting turned out to play a big role in my evening. I have not worn that shirt before that night in maybe almost a year. This turned out to be a friend that I used to teach with and have known for years. She went on to remind me that she never met Shane. In all of our years of knowing one another, she never had. She listed specific lyrics that he wanted me to hear…‘Time has stood still since we’ve been apart’ and ‘I can’t stop loving you’. She just felt such an urgency and acted on it. I am so thankful that she did. I just cried and celebrated all evening. My boys were excited for me and I couldn’t wait to share this story.

‘Big City’, ‘Working Man Blues’, ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here’, ‘Rambling Fever’…the list goes on and on. These are all songs that my amazingly talented husband, Shane, used to feature when he would play at the local BBQ joint, wedding receptions, or in a friend’s backyard around the firepit. He loved Merle and all of the old country artists. They were geniuses on guitar, had the best bands around, and spoke the nasty truth on their feelings about life. I miss that. Shane was a truth teller, too. He was once asked to join a church staff after filling in for a few months when they were without a music pastor and refused, saying, ‘I don’t trust my witness on that stage. I love Jesus, but I like to drink a beer now and then and don’t always say the right thing.’ Did he still have a gift that only comes from up above? Absolutely.

Did my friend, Kathy, know that I had been up at night pleading with God for a glimpse of my lost love? No. God knew! So many examples of this have happened in our lives since losing Shane. I like to recognize and share them because I am always so encouraged to know that we are covered and loved on by the Holy Spirit. Many might explain things away as coincidence but there is proof in these verses.

John 3:8 (NIV) The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Psalm 105:4 (MSG) Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence.

And the verse that has lifted my spirits and kept me sane since we joined this club we didn’t ask to be a part of:
Psalms 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.

I am grateful for so much despite our circumstances. I am grateful to share my feelings on the subject of loss in hopes that it will help someone else who is hurting. I am thankful for the tribe of friends that I am surrounded by that they can encircle my boys and I when we most need it. I am most grateful for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who I believe uses us a vessel to pour out His love on others.

Kathy sent me a message the next day. We were both trying to unpack all that had happened at her bucket list concert. She and her husband had enjoyed the concert with another couple. Both of the women wanted to gift me their concert t-shirts, feeling like I had been there with them enjoying it with my man. I was there. He was too. And Merle has been on repeat ever since.