I had planned to write at least once a week. So much for plans. Actually that’s a pretty good slogan for my new uninvited life as widow: “So Much for Plans”.
But I did want to talk about an especially significant and encouraging episode. I visited my stepdaughters and granddaughters for Easter weekend. They live over three hours away, so it’s an event when I go, requiring a sleepover and such. I opted to stay with the older daughter so I could spend more time with my 9-year old granddaughter. I feel compelled to specify that they are my ‘stepchildren’ merely by way of full disclosure. I never had children of my own, but they are truly family to me. His two daughters have known me most of their lives, and lived with us for periods of time during their childhood. They love me, I love them. It’s a blessing beyond measure. And my grandchildren have known me all their lives as one of their grandmothers. Actually, they call me Bunny. Long story.
Anyway, two years ago I made the same trip to spend Easter with them. I won’t say it was a mistake, but it was awful. It was only weeks since he had died. I thought it would be good for all of us to spend time together and celebrate the Holy Resurrection of our Lord. I thought Easter would be a symbol of hope and would help the healing begin. And I wanted to establish right away that I was still very much in their lives and would not fade away or leave them.
I had no idea how painful it would be for all of us. Almost unbearable really. We were ALL hurting so much we could barely breathe. It was so obvious who was missing. Of course, this was going to happen at some point, but the problem was, we were all invited to Easter dinner at the in-laws of my oldest granddaughter. They knew that Buddy had passed recently, but they didn’t know him, and couldn’t really grasp the extent of our sorrow and grief. Everyone was trying to put on a happy face for the holiday celebration and it made things so much worse. What we really needed was to openly grieve together, but instead we found ourselves in the middle of a pathetic charade.
For me personally, one of the hardest parts was the three hour drive each way. Alone. Oh man. Yes, it is possible to drive three hours straight with tears in your eyes. Not recommended.
BUT, let’s get to the good news. Since that disastrous weekend I have visited them a few times and each trip has gotten less painful. I did avoid going for Easter last year, after that first time. But this year it seemed right to go. And I am so glad I went. Even the drive was painless. I have had two years to get accustomed to driving myself everywhere, including my visits with them, and repeatedly doing things that were at first painful does heal me. I enjoyed my time with each one of them. I felt more like myself in conversations with them. I even held my brand new great-granddaughter for the first time. Without a melt-down. (And for the record I am WAY too young to be a great-grandmother. Ahem.)
After I got back home I felt peace and joy. And it occurred to me that for the first time, I felt as if I was visiting them as me. Not as ‘me without him’. That is huge. A milestone to be celebrated. I am establishing my own relationship with them.
Thank You God for healing. Thank You for helping his children, grandchildren and me to grow in strength and love.