Well we did it. My family and I managed to pack up that huge house we had lived in for over 7 years and finally get on our way. It was an experience I hope I never have to go through again--there was just so much stuff to pack!! It seemed as though we'd clear one area and box it up, and the mess would double in another. I remember thinking, "Seriously, is all this stuff mine?" Without Jay to share it with I was feeling very detached from it all, and for that reason, packing proved to be a difficult challenge.
The one thing I didn't feel detached from was my room. I had managed to keep it in tact while the walls around the house seem to come tumbling down so that no matter how chaotic it became, I could walk into my room, shut the door, and feel a sense of calm. Jay's closet remained untouched for as long as I could allow, and when it came time to start packing it up I decided through the wisdom of grief classes, to make it a time of reflection. My girls came over along with my niece, and although it felt awkward to begin the process of going through his items, once we did, we found ourselves enjoying all of the great memories that each of these precious treasures held for us.
We pulled out his infamous Grinch shirt and hat that he wore at one of our ugly sweater Christmas parties, and his reading glasses which reminded us all of him wrapped up in his soft robe, sipping coffee on a Sunday morning. His flip flops that he loved so much were all lined up, and we went through all of his walking shorts that were such a signature look of his. One of my favorite pieces was a long sleeve thermal that he wore often and it made his big muscular arms feel soft and warm. We smelled his colognes that carried his scents, and put on his jackets and scarves to feel a touch of his warmth. It really was a good and uplifting time of remembering how much Jay made us smile and how much he loved his family.
But as everyone left, the joy I was feeling began to quickly dissolve and I found myself standing alone in a room that didn't feel like mine anymore. This safe and comfortable place that I had kept in tact while the rest of the walls seemed to be tumbling down was now dented with a devastating blow. Jay's closet had been half emptied, and the reality of his presence slipping away from me began to hurt. I tried to find some hope in my circumstances but my mind was tired and I began to shut down. Starring into Jay's closet I thought to myself, "these are the moments that can bruise a soul', and with that thought, I heard one word, "reach". I had no idea what I'd be reaching for, but I felt that this word came from the Lord and if He was telling me to reach, I believed He had something for me to find. So I sat in my unpleasant silence committing my thoughts to Him, and began to dig as deeply as I could. What I found were more memories.
My first memory was when Jay got our dog Samson. I was furious! I didn't want a dog, but Jay had no fear of my firm "NO", and how thankful I am that he didn't. Samson became our baby. We both fell in love with him and Jay took a lot of pleasure in watching me become a doting parent. It truly was one of his biggest "I told you so's", and he loved reminding me of it.
I then thought about our couch dates. Every weekday that Jay wasn't traveling, around 6:00 pm, one of us would say to the other, "couch date?" and the other would say , "yep, what time?" Then we'd pick a time, [usually around 8:00 pm] to meet on the couch in our comfy clothes and catch up on all of our favorite shows. Jay would usually sit on his side of the couch reclined back, and I'd usually lay across the couch with my head on his lap, and of course we'd both make sure one of us had a foot on Samson so he didn't feel left out. It was such a comfortable place for us to be and something we always looked forward to. In fact whenever we'd get into a fight you could tell we'd want to make up before our couch date time. Couch dates were considered sacred ground and not to be messed with.
Then I remembered a really special moment when Jay surprised me with my new wedding ring. We were in the dining room with our girls. He hadn't told them he was going to give it to me, but we were all having such
a good time that he said it just felt right. He quietly stepped out of the room, grabbed it, and slipped back into his seat at the other end of the table waiting patiently for me to notice him holding the open box. I was in mid laughter when my eyes caught the sight of him. His smile was so sweet and sincere, and he walked over to me and slipped my new ring onto my finger. We both were crying and even seemed to forget that the kids were in the room. I'll always remember how we both felt in that very moment.
As my mind became flooded with these precious thoughts I found myself in the midst of a soothing calm. I was still very aware of the boxes scattered everywhere, Jay's half emptied closet, and the now echoing halls of the house. But despite the storm that was raging around me, God used my thoughts to bring me to the center of it all where the waters were still and I could feel safe. I was in the eye of the storm. I thought about Psalm 107:29 which says, He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. I was reminded that God's eye is always on me, and that no matter what my circumstances are, He is my refuge--my calm in the midst of my storm. It was there [in the eye of the storm] that I was able to recover and my bruised soul found rest.
I know more storms lie ahead. There's not a moment that goes by that I don't think of Jay. That I don't desire him back, and moving forward without him means choppy waters for sure. But storms teach us faith as we learn to keep our eyes on our Lord and not the waters. We're able to witness His mighty hand still the storm to a whisper as He guides us to our safe haven, and why? Why does He do this? Scripture says it's because of His unfailing love for us and that we're to praise Him for it, and I do.
"Thank you Lord for your unfailing love. You teach me, strengthen me, and refine me as I journey home to you through the path of this broken world. But never alone, you are my refuge--you are my Lord." Amen
God is good...
Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.