“Does the hurt ever go away?” my friend asked, as the tears flowed. Her husband of sixty plus years was recently deceased.
I couldn’t help but think that tomorrow, February 9, would have been my fifth wedding anniversary. After being alone all of my adult life, at the age of seventy-seven, I married for the first time. Sweet Cecil, a long time friend, who had been widowed, came on like a stormtrooper declaring he loved me, and there was no changing his mind.
The thought of giving up my prized independence terrified me. I came and went as I chose. My schedule was mine to arrange. If I wanted to study in the middle of the night, there was no one to object. I was accountable first to God and then to my church leaders. That was it! At this late juncture, I wasn’t looking for a man. I had done quite well on my own.
My emotions ran rampant. I was excited, fearful, hopeful, and pessimistic. I was determined I couldn’t do this. Yet, like the proverbial moth, I was drawn hypnotically toward the flame. How could I, after all these years, make room for another person in my life? How could I share my space, my stuff, my bed, be accountable to someone else twenty-four hours a day?
I was scared, but not stupid. Being loved, being touched, being important to someone else was kind of fun. I found myself succumbing to this cute, white-haired, charming man, who thought me “precious.” I still laugh at that.
One morning I awakened early. Lying there thinking of Cecil and the possibility of marriage, I thought, “Why do I cling so to my independence? Being alone hasn’t done that much for me.” In that moment I made up my mind.
On February 9, 2013, Cecil and I stood at the altar in his home church, where we had met. Before God and 150 “forever” friends and family, we repeated our vows pledging ourselves to each other “For Better, for Worse.” We had many “For Better” plans: serving missions overseas, cruising Europe’s rivers, and visiting the Great Wall of China. On that cold, cloudless, sunshiny day, it was beyond us to think of anything but the “Better.”
Never once did I consider the hurt that might lie ahead. But, the fact is, Cecil will not be here tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary. Five months and eleven days after our fairytale wedding, he died of an inoperable aortic hematoma.
It made no sense. Why did God allow this to happen? What did I do wrong? Why was I worthy of only five months with Cecil? I wanted to remind God, “I was doing all right. I wasn’t looking for a man. Why did you interfere in my life?”
The hurt was beyond belief. I’ve always been the strong one, but I was tired of being strong. I wanted to fall in the floor and kick my heels and throw a fit. I howled with grief. Oh, how I wanted someone to take care of me for a change. That was supposed to be Cecil’s job.
I prayed, but my prayers consisted mostly of the same tearful plea, “God, I need you. Please help me.
I have discovered there is a “For Better or for Worse” in almost everything we attempt in this life. We hope for and expect a good outcome, but life dictates that the outcome is sometimes really bad. That’s when we experience the hurt. O, it may not be the devastating hurt experienced at the loss of a loved one, but at one time or another, we all suffer hurt and disappointment.
So we return to my friend’s question. “Does the hurt ever go away?”
My faith in a God who cares had kept me for more than seventy-seven years. That’s why I was strong, and though I couldn’t see any purpose in Cecil’s death and the questions were unending, my faith remained intact. I chose to trust God.
As I trusted Him, God wrapped the sharp corners of grief in His tender love, and bit by bit, the sun began to shine again. I could get out of bed in the morning without falling apart, and I found new purpose for my life.
I can only attribute this miraculous healing to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as I trusted God to help me find my way again.
In Isaiah 61:1-3, Jesus says of Himself, “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning…”
There will always be a lonely place in my heart where Cecil fit perfectly. I will wonder what life would have been had he lived. But this I know. God is faithful. He is the healer of broken hearts.
REMEMBER THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!