74: In My Hands

74: In My Hands

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

In My Hands

I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

~Author Unknown

It’s 5 a.m. here in Alberta and the household is asleep. I am not. I am visiting my sister and brother-in-law, and being with them is like being inside a wonderful, accepting, loving hug. They are very good to me and I feel so at home with them. Can it only have been two weeks since my beloved passed away? It feels like forever, and it feels like a heartbeat, and time seems irrelevant.

I find myself in a strange place in my life. After 31 years of marriage I am alone for the first time. I went from my parents’ home to my first, brief, teenaged marriage. When that ended I still had my daughters to care for. Then I married my late husband. And now? It’s just me. I have never been “just me.” I was always a part of something bigger. I have never been “manless.” I have no idea who I am or what I want in life. I cannot fathom being single, or worse, ever being in a position of trying to find a good man again. If that ever happens.

I feel like I am in a big ocean on a little raft, and the waves are getting choppy. I have no idea what to do with this. Does that sound strange? I don’t know what I like, I don’t know what I want, I don’t even know what I want to do for a living. I don’t know how I feel. I’m really in limbo. I guess this is a time that faith is called for. It’s good that I am familiar with this thing called faith.

When my daughter flew in on the day my husband died, she brought me a lovely hand-bound journal. I have been writing in it every day. As wacky as this sounds, I write to my deceased husband every day. It is my way of settling things in my mind, of gently letting him go, of assuring myself that he is okay, he’s happy and he doesn’t hurt any more.

The morning after my husband died, I got up and brought my beads out to the dining room table. After I had my shower, I found both daughters and my granddaughter at the table, making necklaces. We proceeded to bead for an entire day and part of the next. We made lots of jewelry, and we reminisced about my precious husband, the only father they really knew.

We talked candidly about what had healed inside us and what has been ripped open. We laughed about funny things from the past, and we ached knowing the pain that he endured during his long illness. We put words to feelings that had remained unspoken for so many years. We did some big time healing, right there at the dining room table, with the power of women loving women, each contributing her strength and her love. We shared our fears, our vulnerabilities, and our sick familial sense of humor. We were women doing what women know instinctively how to do—keep the home, heal the family, mend the wounds, be strong as only women can. And I was happily the crone, the elder, the earth mother, the matriarch.

I am surprised in the face of my husband’s death to learn how strong I am. I had no idea. I thought I would fall apart, perish even. I thought I would be inconsolable, incapable of reaching out to others. I thought I would be numb, frozen, as cold as my beloved was after his spirit left his body. How quickly the flesh turns cold, like stone. I thought I would be broken—all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put me back together again—but I don’t need the king’s horses or his men. I just need to be open to my spirit, open to the love of those I trust, and to the prayers and quiet power of love alive and active in my life.

I need to grieve, not with a petulance that won’t allow for healing, but with a fierceness that lets out the pain, and lets in the Light. I need to allow the animal in me to writhe in anguish, let out her guttural cries, allow her time, feed her Light. I need to accept that grief is not a tidy little package that you open for X number of days or weeks and then wrap up again and put on the shelf. It is an unpredictable, independent wildebeest. We ride it as we would ride the waves, only instead of water, we ride the waves of pain, up and down, back and forth, one moment submerged, gasping for breath, and the next, rising up from the depths.

A twisted, delightful part of me revels in my newfound freedom to be whatever I want. I can be unpredictable. I can do crazy things. I can think nutty thoughts. I can be a dichotomy in mind, body and spirit, and it’s okay. I can do anything I want right now. I can feel my way into discovering who I am.

Who is this woman, this incredibly complex, unpredictable, and impractical woman? What do I do with her? She feels a bit untamed. Should she really be entrusted with her life? Hello! Have you seen inside her head? Would you leave anything as important as a life to that? And yet, here she has it—a whole new life to live—and not a single clue as to how to do it.

So, I go forward now, as I always have, putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, not looking out over the whole mountain because it is too scary, too vast. I look down instead to where my feet are. I look there, and maybe three feet in front of me, but no further. And I begin to take my steps, one two, three, four... deep breath... five, six.... Maybe one day it will be different, but for today, this is enough. This is sufficient.

~Ruth Knox

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners