We were going to about our normal life activities just as we had been doing for the past several years. Then one day, it all changed. In a split second, or maybe it was the longest moment I will ever have to face, our world as we knew it would never be the same.
We were, and still are, a relatively young family. JB and I tied the knot almost twenty-one years ago and have been blessed with three amazing children. We’ve had our moments of challenge as a couple and as a family. But our faith has always been a strong factor in our daily lives. JB didn’t grow up in a family that regularly went to church. And that’s okay, his faith wasn’t weakened because of that. He just didn’t always feel comfortable going to church or speaking freely and openly about the Bible. None of that mattered, he was an amazing husband and father with a strong virtuous character.
In the last few years, the structure of the family activities changed big time. I was “kind of working” (aka consulting) and “kind of staying home” with the kids, although they were all in school during the day. JB was fully committed to traveling for his job 100% of the time, only coming home on the weekends. We loved our time with him so I structured our chores and household responsibilities to happen during the week so that we could lavish all the attention he would allow to give him during those two days each week. He loved his job but he hated the travel. Never sleeping in the same bed or same city from week to week. But JB never complained except when he would have to miss the kids’ activities.
One Thursday afternoon, he called and said he wasn’t feeling very well so he was going to come home a day early to try to get better. I was thrilled; I could take care of my sweetie while he was under the weather. But he was a little sicker than we knew. The next few days drug by and he wasn’t getting back to his normal self. Little did we know, what we thought would be a trip to the ER for fluids for dehydration would result in me returning home a completely different person; never would I be the same. I am now a widow.
I hate that word, “widow.” Hate is a strong word and I only use it because it really never occurred to me that it would be who I am at 48 years old. I no longer view the world the same. Even the clouds in the skies looked different to me.
Over the months that have followed, so many questions, so much uncertainly, so much sorrow have filtered through our little family. We are not the same as we were before that terrible day. We are stronger. We don’t always know it. We probably don’t always show it. But I see my beautiful kids stepping up and taking care of things and taking action where they didn’t before. They take care of me on occasion! They have seen me do Daddy-chores as tears flowed down my cheeks. We talk more. We cherish each other more. We cherish our friends, our neighbors, our family more. We have witnessed people showing up at our door to give us meals, to trim the shrubs, deliver “extra” flowers that their garden wouldn’t accommodate. So much love given to us.
You see, that terrible day didn’t just change my family’s world. The world will never be the same in the lives of all of the people who knew and loved him so much; college buddies, co-workers, teachers, coaches, kids who knew him as a cool school volunteer. God has shown himself so much more vividly to us than before. Oh, don’t get me wrong, He was always with us, we could see him in our daily lives before it all changed. But now, the colors of the world were brighter and more amazing. We weren’t seeing the world through the dark sadness of a family in mourning, we were seeing the world with eyes open wider and more accepting of the help we needed; we will still need help for many years to come.
From this tragedy came a community of loving families who wrapped their arms around us, saying, “We’re never letting go.” JB made this happen with how he chose to live his life. God gave JB the ability to be that amazing character that made his mark on this world forever.