The world was a quieter, gentler place back then. We had suffered through the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but our country seemed to come together for awhile after that.
But in the span of twelve years, we have experienced many things, including:
- several major hurricanes costing billions of dollars,
- the wars in Iraq and Afganistan,
- Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female Speaker of the House,
- Barack Obama elected as our first black president,
- stock market crashes,
- several terrorists plots, some successful, but the majority were not.
- We've seen the legalization of gay marriages and marijuana in several states,
- Osama Bin Laden was hunted down and killed,
- the death of Michael Jackson,
- mass shootings,
- texting become a major problem on our roads and the rise of political correctness to a level that none could have ever predicted.
And that's just scratching the surface.
But that's what has gone on in our world for the last twelve years. What's gone on in my heart is quite a bit different.
Just thirteen short years ago, I had a husband who loved me and hopes and dreams for our future years that included buying an RV when he retired and seeing our country.
But just twelve short years ago, all that changed. During the twelve years without him, I have navigated unwillingly through the waters of grief, so staggering at times, I didn't always think I'd make it. The pain and devastation left behind by the death of someone you have loved and shared life with for so many years is very hard to express. It doesn't let go of it's grip for a very long time. Grief often takes on a life of its own. You never know when you're going to get blindsided by the intensity of emotion. And just when you think you're starting to feel better, it rears it's ugly head again!! I walked around for a very long time after Phil died with a silent scream inside of me.
But, just as I experienced the intensity of grief, I began to feel this violent surge of joy! Sounds a bit unbelievable, doesn't it? But that's exactly what happened. I began to experience joy in little things that I had never experienced before. Even today, 12 years later, I inhale the air when I'm outside and rejoice that I'm alive and can feel so deeply.
Twelve years later, I still miss Phil at various times, but I've also experienced contentment with a peace that sustains through the lonely times, which, thankfully, are few and far between now.
I've learned how to put gas in my car, although most times, I still go to a full-service station. I've learned how to ask for things I need done and then wait patiently for that to happen. I've learned to deal with car salesmen, bankers, insurance people, financial brokers, and accountants. I've written and self-published two books.
I've traveled by car and by plane by myself to places I never dreamed I'd go alone. I've learned to vacation alone, go to the movies alone, attend social events alone and spend days and nights by myself. The one thing I still have not mastered - going out to eat alone. I'd rather stay home.
I've mastered using a screwdriver, a hammer and a wrench. I've put things together and taken things apart. I sold a house and moved to a new one, asking for help when I needed it. I've bought and sold a couple of cars.
I am bold enough to say that I think Phil would be proud of me. I didn't know how my life would look after he died, but I knew God still had purpose for me here on earth. I've tried the best I know how to walk out that purpose daily even when I didn't feel like it.
I am not the same person I was when Phil died. I am no longer someone's wife, I had to find out who I was all over again. In a marriage, there is a lot of compromising and rightly so, but one of the things I discovered was that I don't have to watch TV shows I don't like; in fact, I don't have to watch TV at all if I don't want to. I don't have to listen to music I don't like and I've discovered music that I do like. I eat when I want to, I go to bed when I want to. It's a selfish existence, living all alone, and I work hard to not succumb to selfishness.
God has been so good to me. I am truly blessed. Would I change things if I could? You betcha! In a heartbeat! It's hard being 1 in a 2-world! I miss being invited to couples events, miss very much the male perspective on things, miss being someone's #1, miss being held and kissed, miss sitting in the passenger seat of the car, miss having someone to talk things over with. And most of all, I miss Phil and the color he brought to my life!
But God has been faithful and I don't complain. I've drawn closer to Him, become more dependent on Him and trust Him in a deeper way to provide for me.
So, that's my life - twelve years later! Growing, changing and becoming more conformed to His image - that's what I reach for every day. Our God is a redeeming God! To God be the glory!!