It’s been two months to the day since my Annie was called home. That thought had not originated in my mind this week and – despite the fact that somebody had to remind me a few days ago of this day’s coming – neither did I wake up this morning thinking about it. It’s not that I find it obscene or unhelpful to mark the occasion. Rather it has more to do with the fact that every day, every hour I am deeply marked by the occasion. Every minute that has passed since March 19th, 2013 marks the longest time that I have been without my Annie since we were engaged almost thirteen years ago. Every day is, and will continue to mark, the longest time I have ever been without my wife; and that’s never going to change this side of heaven.
I miss my Annie. I miss her more today than ever before. I miss her more today than I did yesterday; and yesterday I missed her in ways that were previously unimaginable. I will never cease to miss her until I cease to be. Every second marches forward resolutely, incessantly adding to the distance and forcing my mind to continually reach further back for those precious memories. And while it does, the mundane, domestic and daily demands of life continue and I have to dry my eyes and find my stride.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone to various organisations over the last few weeks and I thank God for answering my prayer to give me peace and patience as I have. In the distant past I’ve experienced some pretty awful customer service (haven’t we all), but I have to say, when it comes to death, even those faceless corporations seem to find a heart (or at least have a robust pity policy!) That’s not to say that there havent been a few unusual (but not upsetting) responses from customer service representatives.
On Friday I realised that my refrigerator had blown up. In hindsight, it probably had been broken for a few weeks but with all the invitations to supper I get, I haven’t needed to do much grocery shopping to notice my refrigerator’s incapacity. When I called the manufacturer, sure enough the question about my status cropped up and I responded accordingly – unlike the guy at the other end of the phone call whose reaction was:
“I’m sorry to hear that. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy!”
Not sure what to say in response, I could only hope that he never gives up his job for a career at Hallmark cards!
As I near the end of the first wave of the post-death admin I realise that the process I have been occupied with for the last month or so has been erasing the name of my wife. I sure am glad that I never approached it with that thought in mind. It’s strange to describe how I feel about the process. In one sense I am glad that a great burden of administration is – for the most part – taken care of; in another sense I have a sentimental sadness for the memory of my Annie that has been wiped off lists and computers. I love seeing her name. Just the sound of it and the shape of it makes me smile. I still receive some post with Annie’s name on it and I am not upset about that.
Perhaps some of you have observed, I find it difficult in conversation to adjust my grammar to evict ‘us’ and ‘we’ and accomodate ‘I’ and ‘my’. Even the answering machine still greets callers with “Hi, you’ve reached the home of Ryan and Annie…” I wouldn’t want you to think that I am in some sort of denial. I can assure you that my knowledge of Annie’s absence is a lot more comprehensive than your concerns. But it is hard to sincerely think of this home as ‘my’ home simply because it is built on so many memories of ‘us’. If it bugs you, when I say ‘we’ or ‘us’ just try to remember that everything Annie and I ever had always belonged to the Lord first. Annie’s passing hasn’t changed that. Therefore, in that sense, this home continues not to be one man’s possession.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:57
Time does move on whether I like it or not. I don’t have many fears – I am tempted but hesitant to state that I have none – but right now I probably most fear the pressure and expectation of folks waiting for me to arrive at that place called ‘coming to terms with your loss’ or ‘being able to move on’. I neither suppose that I will nor desire to arrive there at all. I don’t desire that this part of my life’s journey is just a short excursion or a footnote. I know God is using this chapter to shape and pace how the rest of the story of my life will unfold and climax into glory. I desire that every subsequent chapter of my life until the end be more full and more rich and more about Jesus. If my life was a book, I want every page and paragraph from March 19th, 2013 to become so full of Jesus that were a person to be reading it, they would forget it was about me. If my life were a book, I wouldn’t want readers to have to find Jesus in the acknowledgements, in the subtext, between the lines or via the index.
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3:11-13
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4
Although time passes and increases the distance between me and the Annie I knew and loved, with every passing second I get nearer and nearer to the place where she is now, with the Saviour we know and love. If I should wake up tomorrow morning I will be getting nearer, closer to something better, to someone better. And if by God’s grace, I should reach the end of that day, I’ll somehow be one day further away from this broken and barren land.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more,
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore.
In His Arms, r