Today is an anniversary. Not a happy one. It was one year ago that my fiancé Ruth Blake died just twenty six days prior to our wedding. Her death to me was sudden, unexpected and threw me into a downward spiral.
“I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.” – Alyson Noel”
Following just three years after the death of Brenda this was more than anyone should face. Ruth and I had enjoyed a joyous eight month relationship that made us feel, and often act, like teenagers.
After Ruth’s passing there were times when I felt betrayed by God. My heart ached for months. I went through cycles of sadness followed by anger as I nursed my resentment. As much as I had loved God, I now began to want nothing to do with him. Bitterness was beginning to set in. With the recent experience of my grief journey with Brenda I knew it would not be possible to be reconciled. It was up to me to deal with my grief and move on.
After Ruth’s memorial service I left for Northern Ireland at the invitation of my friends Suzi and Tim in Port Stewart. I chose to get away. Actually, I was running away from the pain but it was through that visit I experienced a healing. Only the Lord could have changed my resentful, angry spirit. Tears flowed like cleansing rain and my negative emotions were washed away like refuse from a storm.
“Lord, thy will be done for both Brenda and Ruth.” This simple prayer set the course for experiencing the verses of Psalm 147, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” As I prayed and honestly acknowledged my feelings, the Holy Spirit shed light on a perspective I had not considered before. This was not all about me. God chose me for Ruth, to love her unto death. Under God’s grace, when I think about Ruth’s cancer and her death a new emotion has replaced my anger: compassion.
This it is now a new season. Walking together with Ruth’s family and finding great strength in the community at Barnabas Landing. Our coming together and building up of one another to love and grace reminds me that there are times when a person needs community more than ever. I appreciate watching my children, who have also lost a mom, pray for and love Ruth’s kids as they share that grief is not about learning to live without Mom, but to live with the love she has left behind. Brenda and Ruth both left a lot of love behind.
”The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
Today I am in Budapest speaking to leaders – exactly what Ruth would want me to be doing. When I return, I am going back to Keats Island, to Barnabas rejoining the staff there. I am beginning a new mentorship initiative at Barnabas for young adults in September (www.barnabaslanding.org) something that I know has both Brenda and Ruth smiling.