I guess it's national widow' s day. I thought I would join this club when I was 90, not 36. I thought my husband would grow old and grey with me and not die at 31. I thought my children would have decades with their dad not lose him when they were 5 and 6. When we think of the widow, we think of someone who is in their 90s', was married for 60 years and has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yet there are many faces of a widow. No one wants to join this club called widowhood. The initiation is brutal. The journey painful.
I am the face of a widow. When I go to the grocery store, the zoo or the park no one probably would suspect that my husband passed away. I used to define myself as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a Christian, a writer. I now add widow to that list. I think grief is something we don't understand. I smile, but at times don't feel okay. I laugh, but at times my heart is still breaking. I live, but at times the sorrow is consuming. I'm surviving, but at times the pain is unbearable. I'm creating memories with my children, but at times the shattered dreams hurt so much.
Becoming a widow changed me. I'm not the same person I was. I experienced the pain of watching the one I was supposed to grow old with pass away. I sat in the room as doctors told me there was no hope. I told my children the news that their dad was going to die. I took care of my husband for the last five months of his life when he became paralyzed, turning him every two hours, feeding him, brushing his teeth, washing his face and yet that wasn't enough to save him.
I am a widow because I lost the one I loved so much. And as painful as that is, at the same time, I am a widow because I was fortunate enough to have been married to Melchor Lira. We only got seven years of marriage, but I am grateful I got seven years of marriage with him. I am thankful that I was the one standing across from him on his wedding day. I am thankful I was the one who got to spend every single day with him for the last seven years. I am thankful I was his wife and he was my husband. As painful as it was to have to say good-bye to him, my life would have been incomplete had I never met him. I was blessed to have had him as my husband.
Becoming a widow is indescribably brutal but becoming a widow didn't defeat me. I'm not destroyed. I have hope for my future. A couple of weeks before my husband died he told me all of the things he wanted me to do if he didn't make it. He wanted me to live. He wanted me to love again. He wanted me to not grow angry with God. He wanted me to continue homeschooling. He wanted me to make amazing memories with Malachi and Hannah. He wanted me to fight to survive just as hard as I had fought for him during the last two years he dealt with cancer. Most of all he wanted me to be okay. During the last few weeks and months of his life, I know he prayed so hard for us. He wanted to make sure if God didn't heal him that God was going to take care of us. He prayed that God would give us strength, joy, peace and comfort.
If you know a widow, while today is National Widow's Day, every day you should keep them in your prayers. It doesn't matter if it has been days, weeks, months or years since their spouse passed away. Also, if you know a widow, please understand that a person may move forward, but they never move on. Don't minimize their pain. Don't question the love they had for their spouse. Don't mistake moving forward as no longer hurting over the one they lost. Show compassion. Show love.
And if you are a widow, the Bible tells us that God is a father to the fatherless and a defender of the widow (Psalm 68:5). God is with us at all times. He sees the pain. He sees the tears. He sees the questions and the uncertainty. While it may not seem like it is possible, he can turn mourning into dancing. He can restore ALL of the joy you once had. He can restore ALL of the peace you once had.
Becoming a widow may have changed you, but it won't destroy you.