I sat in mass today and heard the scripture reading from Exodus, “You shall not wrong any widow or orphan…”
Those words sting and are only half of the verse, but it was enough to inspire me to write this post.
Whenever I hear the word widow, I am reminded, “Oh, they are talking to me.” and how much love and care we need. I am reminded how the tangible love I receive has changed so drastically.
Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of the amount of time that has passed. The further away from the moment Jon entered eternity, my life (and my kids’) forever changed, and there is no going back.
Six months, half of a year, feels so slight. It feels more like six years because I live with daily reminders of what was and IS no more.
I know all the faith and spiritual words and the “things happen for a reason” truly caring hearts attempt to craft to offer consolation.
Trust me when I tell you, though each journey is personal or individual, just like each cancer and caregiving journey is unique, The Widow Club consensus is those types of bypassing words and thoughts cut deep, almost as much as a deep piercing cut that a widow feels the moment a last breath is taken or we get word that life was taken without warning. There is never enough warning or time to prepare. It’s almost as painful because it is “re-piercing” or “pouring salt in the wound” whenever we hear certain words.
Earlier today, my widow friend asked me to give her a photo of me by myself since Jon left the earth. Gosh, I thought of all the ones I could use. They were all when Jon was still living his earthly life.
I didn’t have one in this afterlife, not a worthy one anyway.
I have many with my kids. Someday soon, I will share thoughts on why you must take photos.
But as I skimmed through my photos, I realized I could hardly look at them, let alone use any of them, even if I cropped out the kids.
I could not recognize the face staring back at me. I noticed a half-smiling, “half-something” I can’t put into words look in almost every image.
Today, while in mass, I wanted to know why it was so hard to find a recent photo of me worthy of sending to my friend.
I couldn’t let go of the fact that yesterday, October 28, was half a year since I heard Jon’s voice (albeit weak), felt his breath on my face, watched his chest rise and fall, or felt the warmth of his skin next to mine.
Half of a year.
Half. A. Year.
Six months that I have lived every day without my husband, my beloved, Jon and without the father of our kids.
As I approached my 50th birthday in March of 2020, I was so eager about where life was headed for Jon and me, and the dreams we were about to see come to fruition.
Big steps were taking shape for a very BIG MOVE we planned to live out in the second half of our lives as our kids were launching, growing, and flourishing.
Then Brain Cancer.
I hung on to the thought of “The second half of our lives.”
I couldn’t let go of the word HALF.
Then I sat in silence in the church after receiving the Eucharist, and it was then, as I felt the wholeness of God fill me, that this word half made more sense.
But it was there in receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist that I remembered the sanctity and sacredness of the Sacrament of Marriage. When we become one in that union, we are ONE just as we, the Bride, becomes One with Christ, the Bridegroom, that greets us in Heaven. That’s The two shall become one (Genesis 2:24). This deserves a post of its by a much better theologian than me.
A husband and wife are joined as one.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: “so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” CCC 1644.
So when one of us is no longer here, the other is left behind half of who they are.
While navigating the magnitude of this gaping hole in the valley of tears, we, the widow, are left to manage life without our partner, the other half of our union who becomes our everything—the trusted advisor, the safe harbor, the one who softens our edges or who helps us see the light in the dark. The other half helped the other become better and closer to God.
When I did, I had my husband—my other half, who knew the rhythms of my heart—to comfort, to listen, to know when he just needed to lean in and just be with me.
When I lost my husband, I lost that person I needed to talk to most, the one who helped me navigate every fear and every loss, wiped every tear, and gave me that one look that only he knew how and when to convey it.
While sitting in mass, I received clarity—it finally made sense why I wasn’t able to find the right picture of myself to share with my widow friend.
I began to understand why I couldn’t connect with the face I was trying to find in a picture, in a mirror, or on a screen looking back at me.
She (me) is missing half of who she is.
Six month, half of a year, after Jon left me, I am beginning to fully grasp half of me left, too.
While praying through these words and discerning if I should share them—they are a raw and honest truth of widowhood, as always, I asked God to give me affirmations to know I should keep going.
He did in many ways in a very short time.
One of them was through the prayerful and encouraging words of a beautiful family suffering and carrying the cross of brain cancer. Their precious father/husband is nearing the end of his earthly life and preparing for eternal Glory. He will be healed and become whole, but this means his treasured wife and his family will begin a journey of grief and loss. As I writing this, I received a message from my friend’s beautiful daughter about her dad thanking me for always sharing such raw and real truths from the heart. Both the mom and I have had very deep and thoughtful conversations, knowing the magnitude of the brain cancer cross. So I shared how I just asked God to send me a message if I should keep going.
“N” the daughter in so many words said to keep going, keep writing. It helped her and her mom so much as they journeyed through brain cancer these last three years together. She was sure her mom will need truths going forward about this new life she is about to begin and club she is about to reluctantly join. This family is already experiencing enormous pain as they are realizing all of the losses and the future they hoped to have with their dad and their mom she would have with her husband. They built a beautiful life together too. I ask you to please pray for my friends and their family as they prepare to say good-bye to their beloved husband and father.
May we be gentle with the widow and orphan.
May we be an unconditionally loving support to the grieving.
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One more wink and speaking of thoughts on the Sacrament of Marriage, it just so happens that in the Magnificat, the book for our daily Liturgical Readings for the church, in today’s Prayer for the Evening section was a reading from our Wedding Mass.
“If speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”—1 Corinthians 13:1-8a, 13
Sharing my all-time favorite picture showing only half of both of us, our better halves, from September 27, 2021. I miss you, Jon, my other half, and yet I know you are very near.