First, the painful…March 12, 2017 marks the one-month anniversary of Joel’s home going to Heaven. The day we had to say goodbye to his beautiful face and fun-loving personality. The day we had to forever stop hearing his corny jokes and quick-witted comments about some of the craziest things of life. The first day I would never hear him say, “I love you!” again. The day he entered the land of glory…our eternal home. The day I felt my heart would stop beating over the sheer devastation of losing the man I love so much. One month. I can’t believe he’s already been gone for one. whole. month.
Now, the beautiful…today also marks another anniversary. On this day, five years ago, I met my precious Joel for the first time. Little did I know then how drastically my life was about to change, for the better. I finally felt I reached a place of complete healing from losing my previous husband from suicide. I was at a place where I was actually able to counsel other women out of my own grief experience, and I couldn’t be more content in life. Little did I realize God had big plans still in store for me, and it would begin with the handsome man who was about to walk into my life in a grand way and unexpectedly sweep me off my feet! Five years ago…God had just finished putting together the last piece of my shattered heart. I was now whole again. And…in walks the handsome and amazing Joel Dean Stirewalt. My life was once again forever changed.
Friends…I find myself still in the “hour by hour” grieving mode. I haven’t yet reached day-to-day status. Currently, I’ll have some good hours followed by some bad ones. I don’t think I’ve had an entirely “good” day yet, but I’m working on it and anxiously waiting for it.
The emotional pain is still quite searing, Sometimes it actually manifests into physical pain…headache, nausea, etc. It’s amazing how deep the grief toll takes on a body. I often get discouraged at how “slow” this grieving process seems to take, but then I have to remind myself…it’s only been a month! ONLY 1 MONTH!
Having been twice widowed in less than six years, sadly I’ve learned a thing a or two about the grief process. It never looks the same from one person to the next or from one situation to the next. There is no pattern or checkbox. Frustrating? Yes. But, trying to rush through it can have devastating effects, and there is no need to rush. As much as I desire to feel whole again and to not hurt so badly all the time, I truly want God to complete His work in me through this tragedy. Yes…truly, I do.
As I take this quick look back at March 12, and all that it has meant in my life, I pause and ready myself for my future of “March 12s”. There will continue to be anniversaries, reminders of what once was and what will never be again. As much as I’m able, I choose to make those days of honor rather than days of regret. The tears will still fall, but I long for those tears to, over time, be filled with joy rather than sadness.
Abba – thank you for giving me Joel…even if only for a short time. He forever changed me, and the memories bring so many smiles (even accompanied by tears).