Finding Strength

Memories of Peonies

Sometimes it’s the little things, but grief has a way of catching you off guard.  Yesterday I walked to Whole Foods as I do almost everyday to buy food for my evening meal.  Not 5 steps in, I saw them.  Great big bunches of peonies.  I was instantly transported to a moment when Harry excused himself from walking back to my apartment with me and said he forgot to get something and to go on ahead.  He rang my doorbell and the open door revealed the biggest grin on his face and a great big bunch of peonies.

One time he called all the florists in town searching for peonies to give me because they are my favorite flower.  It was almost a bucket-list item for him to be able to give me peonies just once…and he did.  And I loved them.

Most of my memories are sweet like that and hit me when I see, hear, or smell something that reminds me of him.

I packed up some things from his apartment that were originally mine to begin with, like an orange quilt he’d been using on his bed.  It’s sitting in the back of my car.  Every time I get into my car I smell him.  Sometimes it makes me burst out in tears and other times it makes me smile and I take a deep breath and I feel somehow closer to him.

Odd to feel that way when truly I’ve never been farther from him.  Memories are hollow to me right now.  I miss the real thing.  I want to feel his weight on me one last time.  I want to touch his soft skin, feel the tickle of his mustache on my lips as I kiss him.  I want to see him make that silly face when he says something outlandish waiting for the laugh from me to follow.  I want to see his crystal blue eyes fill up with tears as they often did when we were having our quiet moments talking about the things that mattered to us.

I see him everywhere and nowhere.  It’s like a mean joke right now.  Someday I will hold them dear but right now every memory reminds me that he is gone. My heart aches as if it’s the first time, every time.  That pain is so very real.  It’s not in my head.  It’s physical pain. Tears come in an instant and then dry on my cheeks.  I stopped wiping them away weeks ago.

My head knows this is grief and I’m vacillating through the stages as a swimmer is tossed in a wave.  I have no control when it hits, how strong it will feel, or how long it will last.  All I can do is ride it out.

I watched a movie last night about a woman who lost her husband in a tractor accident.  She went from loving wife and mom to someone who was intensely angry at God for taking her husband.  She rebelled, she lashed out, she stopped treating people around her, including her daughter, with love.  For a while she was a mess.  Eventually she came around.  That is how she handled her grief.

For me, all I keep feeling is grateful for some reason.  The week before he died I started to re-read Elisabeth Elliott’s book “Finding Your Way Through Loneliness.”  I grabbed it off my bookshelf to begin reading it again after at least 8 years on Mother’s Day.  I took it out by the pool and it began ministering to me then before he was even gone.  A book about the loneliness of loss and grief.  No doubt a prompting of the Holy Spirit to begin getting my head in the right place to minimize the damage to my heart.

That day something I read stood out to me enough to post it on Facebook.  And it was these words.

“With what misgiving we turn over our lives to God, imagining somehow that we are about to lose everything that matters.  Our hesitancy is like that of a tiny shell on the seashore, afraid to give up the teaspoonful of water it holds lest there not be enough in the ocean to fill it again.  Lose your life, said Jesus, and you will find it.  Give up, and I will give you all.  Can the shell imagine the depth and plenitude of the ocean?  Can you and I fathom the riches, the fullness, of God’s love?”

I can honestly say that the loss I feel is heartbreaking.  I’m utterly devastated at the thought of never holding my Harry in my arms again.  Never crawling into his lap like a little girl all curled up and nestling my head in his neck.  He was so big and I was so little.  I loved that he could hold me so completely.  That feeling is something I will never feel again.  And that makes me so very sad.

But what will come into my life to fill that void?  Nothing?  No.  There will be something.  I don’t know what.  But God orchestrated these events in my life for a reason and I have to trust Him that whatever is coming will be sweet.  It’s already begun to happen in ways that make me kneel prostrate in awe of his majesty and mercy.  Revealing to me in tangible ways His love for me.  So trust I must.  Timid?  Yes.  I feel so very fragile at the moment.  But this day and every day, as my hollow heart hurts, I am choosing to trust.

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