Having lost my husband of 24 years 19 days ago, I still find myself at the bottom of a deep, black rabbit hole. But as I work my way up the sides of this seemingly never-ending hole, gripping with sweaty fingers to tiny ledges that appear out of nowhere, I have had a tiny glimpse of what I believe to be God’s forgiving love.
I have lost my father, my sister, and my husband all in a relatively short time. My father was a chronic alcoholic and after a long life of abuse, and all that brings with it, the disease finally caught up with him. I remember when he died. I had sat vigil at his bedside for hours. As he took his last breath, instantly I became his little girl, sobbing as I patted his face feeling nothing at all but love. I remember combing his hair back with my fingers and kissing him on the cheek. My love for Dad, in that moment, erased all the bad feelings, all the pain, all the anger. I remember feeling an incredible sense of relief and sadness all at the same time. Dad was free from all his earthly weaknesses. Dad was simply a little boy – one of God’s angels, waiting to go home. Dad had done his very best.
My sister was also an alcoholic and unfortunately her disease caught up with her at a relatively early age. Her life was filled with challenges and as her big sister, I was caught up in “fixing” what she broke. Again, during her last days, I was with her and when she passed, I remember that feeling of instant compassion for that poor, sweet little girl who had taken a few wrong turns, made a couple of rotten choices, and had to struggle most of her life. I remember cradling her in my arms and giving her a hug, telling her through my sobs that it was all OK, and she was free to go to God. I did not doubt for one second that God was receiving her on the other end, with total forgiveness. She had done her very best.
When my husband died, as he took his last breath, once again I felt that sudden rush of relief, knowing that he was free from the awful pain that he had been enduring for days — but also, as I looked at his face, now softened in eternal sleep, all I could see was the face of a sweet boy who was now going home. All the squabbles, all the hurtful words that a couple may share, all the trials and tribulations of a life — gone in one instant — impossible to retrieve. Impossible to rewrite. All the love. All the kind words. Never enough. And what is left? A sweet angel, who did it all exactly right.
I’m getting it God. It will take more time.