When my husband died he left a letter to be read at his service. There was a line that said, “Elizabeth and I literally grew each other up”. Nothing could be any truer. We met at a Halloween party our freshman year of college. We were both just 18 years old. We married 5 years later. He died at age 51. The night he died I thought I had died too. And I guess in some aspects, I’m discovering, an enormous part of who I was is now gone. But what I’m also finding? The young woman that I never had the privilege of becoming due to an early marriage and babies? Well, she’s a grown arse woman now and I really sorta like her!
After listing my home and before moving to Raleigh, I had a friend say to me, “Are you sure you want to start over? Trying to make friends again at your age? That’s a tough crowd up there”. Along with everything else that had been thrown my way, I tucked it in my back pocket, and took it as a challenge to be pursued at the appropriate time. My friend wasn’t actually wrong. I reconnected with old friends, college friends, met young friends in a bible study, and one friend that I know for certain was a God ordained gift. But for the most part, it was not like sorority Rush week. So when I bought my house further out in the county I decided, yes me the introvert, I was going to meet one new person a week. Admittedly, COVID has made this a bit challenging.
My community has a message board for the HOA. There was a post by a woman about something that had occurred at her families home. I sent her an inbox. We had several exchanges. Today we met for lunch. Turns out we had 2 hours of things to talk about 😀 I made a friend. It was good day.The old me would have never branched outside of my tree–ever.
I look back on the past 3 years and it’s almost incomprehensible to me to believe that I am a widow. It’s like Nellies singing in my ear “It’s only just dream” (or Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect which ever you prefer). Every time I go “home” at least one person will say “I still can not believe he is gone”. My husband was just that man. That legend. And, yet, there has been something so profound about being out from under that heritage. It’s been terrifying and heartbreaking, yes. I am just me. I never got to be me. We lived in his town. His school. His neighbors. His teachers. His family. I morphed into his life. And yes we built our life. And it was a safe, delightful way to raise children. But Now? I am now the me that can get banned on twitter for making political statements. I am the me who can reach out to people I do not know from Adam and ask them to lunch. I am the me who can re-register to vote unaffiliated. I am now the me who uses her pantry door as a bottle opener in a pinch. I am the me who has not washed her car since March. 😂
My friend Lisa and I do a show on Instalive every week about widowhood. Last week we discussed “Best thing about widowhood”. I think the best thing has been discovering who I am on my own, while walking with a God who loves me enough to make sure that I’m okay during the process. Yes, that’s the best thing.
“Trust that if He changes your plans, it is a chance to walk by faith” 2 Corinthians 5:7
I join my friend Lisa every Monday night, live on social media, to talk about widowhood. When she first pitched me the idea I was completely reluctant. I didn’t want to be on camera. I didn’t want anyone knowing my flaws. Seeing my flaws. Hearing my sad tale. As a writer it seemed okay to put “it” on paper for people to read. Actually talking out loud on livestream? Absolutely not. I’m a terrible talker. I ALWAYS say the wrong thing. I’m convinced I have a miswired brain. I know in my mind what I’m trying to say and it invariably comes out construed. Writing? Much better platform for someone like me. But, for whatever reason, I texted Lisa back and said, “I’m in”.
The very first broadcast I belted back two shots of Titos in my dead husbands 35 year old KA shot glass before signing on. I am woman hear me roar! Well, not really. The entirety of my 27 year marriage I had never done a single shot. I figured what better time to start my new boldness with, well, boldness! I don’t remember much except that I survived it and I said “yes” to the following weeks Instalive. With each week that passed, I began to realize I was verbally exposing parts of myself that I hadn’t talked about with anyone except my grief counselor. I said a lot of things wrong. I said a lot of things to evade real issues and instead provoke laughter. And still, I kept returning, and so did our tiny little following of women.
We have talked boldly about missing having sex yet not possibly imagining being with anyone else. No, wait, maybe we are ready to date?! Wait, just kidding, on second thought? Maybe not yet. The roles our dogs have played in our healing. Our kids. Our faith. Our communities. All of our dialoging and processing is the exact kind of nonsensical rambling that would have sent me over the freaking edge 5 years ago. And yet? LOL here I am. I’ve held in all this crap for all this time that I thought was inconsequential. Evidently it matters to a number of other women too who just won’t say it out loud either. They keep tuning in and contacting us. It has been a joy making connections.
I had no idea who I was after my husband died. My entire identity was stripped away. Couple that with moving to a metropolitian area? I went from somebody to nobody pretty dag gone quickly. It’s humbling. But I had to make a decision to be me or to hang on to being Mrs. Robin Wooten for the rest of my life. I chose me. I still don’t have the majority of it all figured out. But I do know this: I’ve believed God would show me. I’ve believed God would place me where I needed to be. I’ve believed God at his word of never leaving me nor forsaking me. The day after Robin died it was chaos in our home. I was in the bathroom trying to just get away from all the people. I sat down on the bench in the shower and tried not to cry. That’s when I heard the Lord say, “trust me”.
Terrible things happen. Life has to go on or it doesn’t. You can Trust or not trust. Once you’ve decided to Trust him? I’m finding life is a whole lot more fun just saying, “I’m in”.
“Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you”~Hebrews 13:5
Did any of us really believe that when we walked out of our lives and into our homes at the end of February that we would be saying goodbye to our old lives forever?
Did any of us really believe that when we walked out of our lives and into our homes at the end of Februarythat we wouldbe saying goodbye to our old lives forever? The weeks went by, the months, and now the seasons. Here we are. The landscape of this world is astonishingly different than it was just 6 months ago.
In a matter of weeks, on a global scale, weindividuals of the universe collectively experienced grief and loss simultaniously with no warning or education about how to deal with it or what exactly it is.People are tired, depressed, financially stressed, angry and just ready for life to get back to pre-COVID. What if it doesn’t? What if this is our life forever?
What if people continue to scream at each other? What if people continue to argue over politics? What if people continue to argue over race? What if people continue to burn down their communities? What if? What if? I can’t think of any other time in history where it’s infinitely more important to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. When we are able to focus on the goodness of the Lord and not on the disastrous destruction of the world around us? That means we still have hope. Jesus gives us the supernatural ability to see beyond today. We understand that this world is not our permanent home. At the same time, we are able to see the evidence of the goodness in our lives.
Seasons are hard. Saying goodbye to the pastis hard. This weekend was always the opening of hunting season for my family.I’m filled with such gratitude and thankfulness for decades of wonderful memories. All of us with pre-COVID family traditions look forward to a future with some resemblance of normalcy and familiarity. Amazingly, none of this is a surprise to the Lord. Not one bit of the chaos of the past six months. Absolutely none of it.He knows the big picture. He knows the rest of the story.
“Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord — my refuge, the Most High — your dwelling place, no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.”-Psalms 91:7-11
The sun will continue to rise and set. The earth will still spin on its axis. The Lord will continue to sit on His Throne. Jesus will return one day soon. When we hear that trumpet call the wrongs will be made right. We will be going home. Until then it’s our job to find the evidence of the goodness of God in our lives.