Ask RC: One year later after the passing of your wife, what have you learned?
That time heals some wounds. It is natural as we enter into that season of the year, and now the very anniversary of her passing, that the pain would grow more acute, more insistent. And it is certainly possible that my expectations were terribly naïve. But the truth is not that I thought I would be done by now, but that I thought I would be feeling better, that there would be by one year some kind of improvement. And it just isn’t so. It hurts, and I am sad.
I am sad, if this makes any sense, not because my wife passed away, but because I miss her. I miss being with her. I miss her as the very framework of my life. Though I am a rather minnow sized fish in something more like a large puddle than even a small pond, most of the world that knows me knows me either as a guy giving some sort of talk, or as a guy publishing some sort of writing. They, perhaps you, think that’s who I am, that the public ministry defines the private person. As much as I love my work, as open, honest, and vulnerable as I aspire to be, as much as I give thanks for all the opportunities God has given me, as much as I love to exercise my gifts, it’s still what I do. What I am is Denise’s husband.
This sadness is rather like a localized rain cloud following Charlie Brown around. It is always with me. Now when I smile, when I laugh, I mean it. It’s genuine, real, and something for which I give thanks. Hugging my littles before I go to work, teasing my bigs on Facebook, catching my students at Reformation Bible College in a formal fallacy, all these things I delight in. But they are rays breaking through the cloud. They do not drive the cloud away.
I learned as well that because life is short, life is long. My beloved did not get her three score and ten. She was welcomed into her reward earlier than many. And here I am. The wait that I have has now multiplied, because I am without her. This past year has been not just the hardest, but the slowest of my life. I wake earlier than I wish, and lie awake at night while wanting to sleep. The things I once looked forward to no longer appeal. Isn’t half the blessing of a blessing having someone with whom to share it?
By God’s grace I have not had to struggle with anger. I remain confident in His tender love for me, His assurance that what He has begun in me He will see through to the day of Christ Jesus. That work hurts. And it will continue to hurt. That doesn’t mean something has to change. My sadness is not a sign that something is wrong, that I need counseling or pills, or even a change in perspective. It means I have received the wounds of a Friend. He is ever with me, and there is no one, no one, I would rather have near.