“I am benefitting today from Yesterday’s work”

What normally seems like a true statement caused me to question its validity in all situations.  Let me explain.

On a normal Saturday day of cleaning, I discovered an old folder full of bill receipts from 2015-16.  I used to pay and mail bills to keep track of what I owed and to remind myself of my ability to maintain accurate record keeping.  My husband John kept track of the finances and paid all the bills.  In our 23 years of marriage, I had to luxury of not having to record keep or budget.  It was something he did and enjoyed.  Me, being the creative one in our relationship detested math and financial things.  He was naturally good at record keeping and I prided myself in just letting him know when I spent anything over a set amount, so he could adjust the finances.  I was the “debit queen”.  He was the ‘credit card charging king”.  Never the two met.

Anyway, after he died suddenly, I had the immediate responsibility to pay the bills and understand what in heaven’s name did we even owe!  It was a frightening experience for a few years, until I finally got a handle on things. I’m proud to say I never let a bill go unpaid or lapse and never bounced a check!  I’m very proud of this!

One of the systems I set up was keeping a large file folder of the paid bill’s receipts.

This week I found the folder of older receipts in my office and as I went through each stack of monthly receipts, I discovered the insurance “explanation of benefits” from the time my husband was in the hospital those 3 days before he died.

While I never received a medical bill for any of his treatments while he was in the hospital (thank God), the statement of what each medical specialty paid was mind blowing.  Services were provided by pharmacy, labs, CT scan, operating room, cardiology dept, occupational therapy, ekg, x-ray, intensive care, and supplies just to name a few.  When I think about all the work done by all those various departments and staff attempting to keep my husband alive, it’s truly overwhelming.  All the equipment, supplies, blood work, laboratories, and care provided to restore him to total health!  And yet they failed.  He succumbed to death at 10:35pm on May 1, 2015.

I am not benefitting today from yesterday’s work.  In no way is my life better.  As a widow I’ve had to learn to manage life with an adult daughter with disabilities while missing 1/3 of our household income.

I am not benefitting today.

There’s nothing in the widow journey I find joyous or a positive benefit.

Sure, I’ve been able to “figure things out” since 2015, but was it a pleasant experience? No

Has my life been better off since he’s died? No

Have we, as a family of 2 gotten used to celebrating holidays and birthdays without him? No

Has my health increased since the grief, anxiety, and stress experienced tries to limit my perception of “a good life?  No, in fact my health is worse since he’s gone, just like many other widows have also shared with me.

The loneliness, the despair, the sadness, the lack of joy is not anything I could have planned on or continue to look forward to in my future.

When I think about all the many resources needed in any hospital setting, I am thankful for the skills of the many medical professionals that worked on my husband those 3 days only to have him die. I remember their demeanor after telling me he had died. They too were sad and resigned.  I know they too never get used to death, or the tireless efforts they use to administer care. And I know I’ll never get used to him being gone or will I ever forget those 3 days of waiting with faith and belief.

 So where are the benefits of yesterday? 



Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.