Time is a gift in many ways. Time with people is a gift... but the passing of time can be a gift from God to help heal... to help bring comfort and peace... if used wisely, time can make strong the weak, build trust where once there was doubt, bring acceptance where before there was only denial.
In both of the hard things I have faced, God has blessed me with time to process and time to grieve.
With Caden, that time was after she died. I was a stay at home mom with no baby to care for. I had months, weeks, days... hours to read, pray, sit and think. God gave me that time. When I was in the midst of my pain and suffering, in those days right after we buried my baby girl... when I was ankle deep in my own tears... it felt like torture. The pain of heartbreak is so real, so powerful that is grips your heart, throbbing in your chest radiating out to your fingertips. I remember that feeling. I remember throwing a book across the room because its sweet truth was too much for me to absorb. I remember collapsing on the steps of my church under the cross my own father had built sobbing to God about how much it hurt...about how much the absence of Caden physically hurt me.
I remember reading of other's pain.. of other's losses. In those stories I saw how God was using their lives, how they could see His beauty and plan... how they viewed their own pain. And it helped me focus; helped me gain a footing and see my life with fresh eyes.
God gave me time.
And in that time after Caden's death He taught me... He did not answer all of my questions. But He taught me more about Himself. He taught me more about me. He taught me more about how I am to live, respond... behave and obey.
And in those things...my God brought me peace and comfort. He brought me healing. He gave me more wisdom and discernment over my own life.
He proved to me He was faithful and could be trusted with the most precious... most important things.
With the Captain, my time of grieving was sprinkled throughout years.
I look back and see I grieved a small part of my husband after Caden died. The death of a child changes every parent... I'm sure I changed too... But I watched Andy lose a part of himself that I never saw him regain; a childlike joy... a playfulness. This side of him slowly slipped into the background. That was almost 7 years ago.
Then November of 2012 Andy had his second surgery. He recovered for a brief time... then radiation took his strength and energy. Then chemo took more. Then the tumor itself took his speech and his mobility. And for 2 years I watched my Andy... my husband... my Captain slowly fade and slip from me.
In those 2 years I slowly grieved each step, each stage, each fade, each slip. And unlike grieving over Caden, where we did it together... because of the cancer and his condition, I felt like I was grieving alone. I was missing and hurting over the loss of a person still with me. And there is a small measure of guilt that comes with that... one that I took to Christ... shared my heart with my Savior and was comforted.
One of the greatest things I realized as I was walking through the grief of losing Andy, was that God had allowed me to remember most of what I had learned walking through my grief of Caden. I still had to deal with my feelings, I still had to walk the path set before me... but the lessons of who God is, who I am in Christ, what He has promised... all the truths I clung to in my life during the most horrendous moments of pain and suffering... those things He preserved in me.
Not to say that going through the death of my husband was easier... it was not. Not in the since of the loss, or in the missing of the person, or in the pain.
But because of everything God taught me through the death of Caden... because of everything I had already set my heart upon... because of all the truths I had chosen to believe; the promises I had already hidden in my heart...because of these things, the decision to allow God to do with my life what He willed was easier.
I am still, daily, working through my grief. Some days it comes as tears. Some days it comes as short-tempered responses to my boys. Some days it's silent prayers of thankfulness and leaning into grace.
I am blessed to have a God who gives graciously to me more that I could ever ask or imagine.
I am grateful to a Savior who loves and cares for me in the tiny, little day-to-day-ness of life.
I am thankful for a Hope that puts all the hurt of this life into the proper perspective.
And I am joyful to a Redeemer who has taken the time to carry me through and gently nudge me towards living with open arms.