Since the time of my last blogging season, I’ve “survived” many of the difficult firsts of widowhood…Joel’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. And…one more to go this weekend with my birthday on Sunday.
Undoubtedly, Christmas was THE most difficult of all the firsts. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions of celebrating the Lord’s birth without my husband by my side. Since we just moved to our new town a little over a year ago, we only had one Christmas together in this house. We had dreams of what we would do differently this year that our move last year prevented…hanging lights outside, Joel building me a tiered stand to hold my Christmas village (he already had the design concept planned out), sending out Christmas cards again (my favorite thing to do), etc. Those things didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, I didn’t display my village at all. That seems minor in the grand scheme of things, but it was just another painful reminder of our loss.
I spent Christmas morning at home with my children and then traveled to my mother-in-law’s house for Christmas dinner and an afternoon of gift exchanging and fun. Joel’s siblings and their families were also present along with his son, Justin, and his sweet wife, Virginia. We celebrated the engagement of Joel’s niece as well! I choked back the emotion of spending such a precious day with people I love without my man with us. Regardless, the tears came, as we all knew the day wasn’t the same without him.
My upcoming birthday is the last of the “firsts” until the anniversary of Joel’s death arrives in a few weeks. Birthdays were always so difficult for me as a child. Because mine came so soon after Christmas, it was often overlooked by my parents. It wasn’t intentional…it just was what it was. Interestingly enough, my own daughter was born two days after my birthday, and one of my adopted sons has the same birthday as my daughter. Needless to say, I’ve tried to be very intentional since my daughter’s birth, nearly 21 years ago, to not make her birthday feel like a challenge to celebrate just following Christmas. I’ve wanted it to feel special, because it was something I missed out on for so long.
That’s where Joel came in. He wanted to make up for years I lost, so to speak. He wanted my January birthday to feel as if it came in the middle of July, rather than in the hustle and bustle of the “post-Christmas blues”. He went out of his way to make me feel special. My previous late husband, Chris, did the same thing. Obviously, the loss of both men in my life will be very apparent this weekend. Now, don’t get me wrong…birthdays tend to lose their “flare” the older I get, and it sounds so selfish to even point out the obvious loss this will bring. Just keeping it real.
In His goodness, God knew my heart would be hurting, and He had a plan drawn up long before Joel ever joined his heavenly home. I’ll be spending time on Monday morning with a few precious women I’ve met since Joel’s death. These ladies have ignited the fire in my soul again more times than I can count. They are the fibers holding me together, through prayer – worship – a kind word – a special note, on my darkest days. And, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to give God praise for blessing me with another year of life, especially when it seemed this past year did everything it could to try to “take me out”. He hasn’t forgotten me. I praise Him for His continued faithfulness!