His death and eternal absence left a gaping hole that would never be filled. That is what we knew would happen. That was what we expected to happen. What we didn’t know or expect, necessarily, were the short and medium and long and seemingly unending ripples that have carried on throughout our lives since the moment he took his last breath. Once that rock was thrown into the water, there was no telling how wide and far that bottomless hole would extend through the ripples…and how those ripples reverberated outside its initial circle, intersecting with other ripples, and taking on lives of their own. Just one, big, fat, seismic rock thrown into the water, and like The Big Bang Theory, a little universe is born – a universe without him here.
The ripples highlight the truth of just how connected we all are to each other.
In quiet moments, it is easy to think about the smaller stories where this led to that and that led to this other thing and this other thing led to that other thing, and so on. Watching lives unfold around me – lives that would have never unfolded quite like they have if he had lived, if he had still been here looming with his big, deep familiar voice, wily smile, hair trigger temper, high IQ, and middle aged burgeoning adventurous spirit. I think of my own life. If he did not die, where would I be right now? I do not know, but since he did, my life has taken a road that would have never have otherwise occurred from these ripples.
Early on, in a widow support group, I remember the leader asking us to think about where we see ourselves in five years. I could not even imagine myself five years later – and before his death, I always thought of myself in five year increments. “In five years, the girls will be doing this, so I can start doing that!” “In five years, I will finally lose 10 lbs. and keep it off!” “In five years, I will be able to go back to school.” “In five years, I can finally leave this job I hate.” One of my daughters told me that she thought I’d move away and become a kayaking instructor.
I sold our family home and lots of the stuff inside it, moved away, applied for a career change that I really wanted to do but was running out of time to achieve due to my age. That career change would have been a ripple of its own, and it did not work out for me because time indeed had passed me by and it was hard to hide my age when they wanted the year I graduated from college. That tough rejection sent me elsewhere and on another path altogether – making other kinds of ripples. I met new people and made new friends – starting still new ripples; and sadly, old relationships stalled or ended – ending or slowing those ripples. I eventually began a new relationship, merging into the ripples from his life-altering divorce, making fresh ripples between us that hit up against all the other ripples surrounding me – and him – like my girls’ ripples, my husband’s best friend’s ripples, an innocent little boy’s ripples, an ex-wife’s ripples, and all the ripples swarming within their ripples.
I was raised Christian and always had major existential and philosophical trouble balancing the Biblical paradoxes of “free will” and “predestination.” Did I really get to choose my own pathway in life? Or, is it already mapped out for me simply because God “knew” what I would choose, and I will end up how I end up no matter what “choices” I think I am making?
I still don’t know the answer to that – and probably never will – but what I do know for sure is that the ripples of his life and his death are endless. And so are mine. And yours.
What are the ripples from the death of your husband?
****** Mark your calendars! Hope For Widows Foundation’s annual virtual event has returned on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, 2022! Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcome to participate. The proceeds will directly support widows through the annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program. Do you have or know a business that would like to sponsor? That’s an option too! To register and frequently asked questions- please go here: http://widowsofhope5k.racewire.com