Everyone talks about "the firsts" after someone they love dies. The year of all the special occasions without that someone are sad and lonely and scream of the void we feel as we miss him or her.
We have been in a very hard season of firsts. Both of our sons have had birthdays without their daddy. They were hard, but we faced each of them one at a time. We had weeks between them to mend our souls a bit.
But then November came. It was big and hard. Hubby's birthday was in November. A birthday that he did not celebrate with us. The first of his birthdays that we count how old he would have been. How do you mark a day like that?
Thanksgiving came quickly after, and then Christmastime was right behind it. And oh, Christmas was hard without my beloved!
I remember when my grandparents went on to Heaven. It was hard, and they were ever in my thoughts. I was over eighteen when each of them went on ahead. I was very close to some of them. It was a deep loss, but it is nothing like the void left in my heart without my husband here on earth. It's just so very different.
I had never realized the deep, thorny crags that the Christmas season brings with it for those experiencing this deep, deep loss. I had never been in this situation. How could I have really understood?
From this side of understanding, it is deep and it is lonely and it reeks of forgotten.
But oh, the Father… If I had not been looking intently, I would have missed Him. His Grace has met me in every instance. That's not to say that life has been made easy. It hasn't. The hard days have been abundant, but when I think I am at the end of all I can handle, He gives a balm to my heart. Sometimes, it's a note from a friend. Other times it's provision for something that I desperately needed. And other times, it's a line from a song, a paragraph in a book, a word spoken on Facebook… something that I needed to hear to encourage my soul to keep going.
He sees me.
And I'm encouraged by His Care.
He is with me. So I remind myself that I can go on. He will watch over our steps. My family is safe with Him.
And then I remind myself again the next day,
the next hour,
the next minute.
The next first is just around the corner. I don't look forward to it. But I know He who is with me, and I can trust Him with my heart.
Do you know someone who is in a season of "firsts" after loss? Send him a note to say you're thinking of him. Call her to say she is not forgotten. That small gesture will be a giant blessing.
Are you in a season of grief? I would love to pray for you. Leave me a comment or send me an email and I will add you to my prayer list.