When you are going through loss, it really is true that you don’t just lose your spouse or loved one but you lose your norm. You lose invitations to normal things because people are afraid to invite you without him. You lose your sense of importance to other couples you used to hang out with frequently. No doubt about it, that no matter how many kiddos you have…it can feel lonely.
My husband’s friend was shy. He was in his mid-twenties and hadn’t dated much at all. Before having kiddos, he and Shane could pick guitars until 3am and never play the same song twice. When they played out in public, people always thought they were brothers. He was pretty much part of our family and we always hoped he would find the perfect match! One night, a beautiful girl caught his eye.
He was so shy and hesitant to engage in the simplest of conversations with this new love interest. We were trying our best to coach him along. Shane even drove him 2 hours one time and hid around the corner while he delivered a gift to her porch. Sending flowers would have been too easy and just not meant as much. It was a blossoming romance.
We accompanied them on a double date for their first outing. Our friend felt better about this and we had a ball! Live music at a historic venue?? Don’t mind if we do! It was the perfect evening. We spent a lot of time together after this night and their love and our friendships grew strong. We were in their wedding. It was gorgeous and their families welded together fairly seamlessly.
Fast forward to about a year after we lost Shane. The boys and I had been to visit them several times while passing through their town for sports. We stayed with them once and he played guitar with my middle boy who started lessons after Shane’s passing. His wife and I just watched in wonder, both tearing up at how beautiful the music was and what a testament to the friendship that all of this was built on. The whole scene was a picture of grieving and coping, of love and support in our darkest times.
The phone call was about 6 months after our stay there. She was leaving him, you know, because, “You know more than anyone, Jen, that life is short and you only live once.” Ok, what? Y’all, I literally didn’t hear much else. I’m sorry, but those statements seem to be reserved for things like skydiving, swimming with sharks, eating the world’s hottest pepper?? Certainly not for breaking a covenant made with forever in mind.
Living on the edge can be fun, but how does one make a comparison like this? I am a child of divorce and so was Shane. We were determined to never parent solo and here I am. While I will never know every reason why that happened, I was just hurt by the delivery and now grieving a marriage that I just knew was forever.
I was recently sitting at a dinner party with friends. A rare event for me, as I have 3 athletes to tend to. It was so nice until someone started joking around and I made a reference to something that Shane would have said. It stopped one friend in her tracks. Maybe we aren’t around each other often enough for her to know that I find it perfectly acceptable to talk about him like he is still right here. Maybe it’s because she didn’t know him like some of the others there, but it made her uncomfortable enough to sigh and leave shortly after. That’s ok.
I try and not take too many things personally. I truly don’t feel lonely when my boys are gone for an evening or I am driving somewhere without them. I feel the most lonely in instances like this. An outcast in a way. Now used as a mile marker for validation of someone’s decision and a reason for someone to skirt out of a party early. I am learning to love my life but I may never love it all.
I had the amazing privilege of hearing Bob Goff speak last week. I immediately started reading his book, ‘Love Does’. He tells a quite hilarious story about his wedding cake and how he watched it fall to the asphalt in the parking lot on the way into the reception. He and the baker scooped it back up and made a plan. The baker went on an icing run, gathered the larger pieces of cake, and served it up. He talks about how God uses broken people. Shattered people, even, not just as bystanders but participants.
I can still make a difference to others around me. I can still be a part of a conversation, a solution to a friend’s problem, a listening ear, or a mentor to a student who has lost someone special to them. I can be myself. I don’t have to hide my love for Shane even though it’s been 4 years since he’s been gone. I don’t have to NOT have an opinion or play a valuable role in my children’s foundation.
I truly believe what Bob says about broken people, “…my life is full of rocks, pieces of asphalt, broken and unrepaired relationships, and unwanted debris. But somehow God allows us to be served up anyway.” Mr. Goff goes on to talk about the variety of types of people Jesus would serve, from loose women to lawyers like him. “The only thing Jesus said He couldn’t serve up were people who were full of themselves or believed the lie that they were who they used to be before they met Him.”
I am who God has made me to be. I will do my best to live unapologetically the path that He set before me. Gravel and all!