Today marks one year since I lost my husband. 365 days and 365 restless nights without the one I chose to spend the rest of my life with. Losing Taylor was by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me. God willing, it will always remain the worst. However, I never felt like this was the worst year of my life because I still have so much to be thankful for. Choosing Taylor set me up with a life filled with blessings, our two daughters being the greatest. Choosing Taylor grew my family and friendship circle immensely and we learned from each other to grow into better people, strengthening our faith along the way as we travelled together through the peaks and valleys of life. I am definitely still very much in one of those valleys and in the absence of my partner, God has continued to remain faithful. Taylor never truly belonged to me, but we are all so incredibly blessed to belong to God.
One thing my husband did not tolerate was complaining. He didn’t understand why anyone would waste their breath with it. As long as you have breath in your lungs and Jesus in your heart, what is there to complain about? In his opinion, as long as a person was capable, there was always work to do and that was something you should be grateful for. When facing challenges, Taylor would often say that “you can do anything for a year.” The night of his accident, I remember Taylor’s Uncle Mike putting his arms around me and leading me back into my house. He told me as he held up all of my weight, “You can do this. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.” The Marley family has a similar saying that came from Taylor’s beloved great-aunt, Anne. Due to her developmental disability, she lived her entire life loving Jesus with that true childlike faith the bible tells us to have. Anne had several expressions that are fondly remembered as “Anneisms.” One in particular, “You have to, Honey.” has become my mantra in this season.
When I look back at the past year, I feel a small relief that I have actually made it 365 days from the moment my heart was initially broken. I feel somewhat proud that I have crossed the finish line, so to speak, of this first year, building up lots of scar tissue along the way. It is amazing to me how God has designed our bodies to heal and continue on. It is often said that grief is not something you will ever heal from, but that you eventually learn to live with it. Whenever I hear this sentiment I always think of Henry VIII. He is probably one of the most documented monarchs whose story is still told today in different renditions of books, movies and shows due to what a fascinating character he was on the world stage. If you read accounts of his life, his health is often mentioned, especially the details of a festering leg wound resulting from a jousting accident. The grotesque abscess on the King’s leg was something that never truly healed and he lived with the rest of his life. Fortunately, the heart doesn’t visibly fester and ooze like an injury to the skin, but the trauma inflicted upon it is still something I have to live with every day. Henry VIII learned to live for decades with his wound (that has been noted as quite fowl smelling), through four more marriages and still did not let it prevent him from ruling an entire country.
“As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away.'”
The book of Genesis gives an account of Sodom and Gamorrah; a town so wicked in its ways that God decides to destroy it. Abraham makes the plea that the Lord not destroy the righteous inhabitants along with the evil-doers and God agrees that he will spare the town if ten righteous men can be found. When the angels visit, they only find a man named Lot to be righteous. Lot shows hospitality to the angels and they instruct him to evacuate immediately with his family, giving the command, “Don’t look back.” Many of us are familiar with the next part of the story. Lot’s wife did look back on the burning town of sin and was turned into a pillar of salt. This was one of those bible stories that terrified me as a child and there was a period of time I was in constant fear that a single act of disobedience would turn me into a pillar of salt as well. I’m thankful that age and experience allow me to understand this account a little better now.
There is an important lesson in the story of Sodom and Gamorrah…to keep moving forward. Lot couldn’t dwell on what he was leaving behind. The Lord had much better things in store for him. He had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow God’s will for his life. I never got a choice in my circumstances and I am sure most people can relate to that in some capacity. We all have wounds we must learn to live with. God already knows all about them and will use our wounds for good just as He does everything else. While I’m grateful I can look back and reflect on all the love and joy my husband brought me (and still continues to), I know God is leading every single one of us on a path He has carefully and individually carved out and ultimately we need to just keep moving forward. You have to, Honey.
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