2018 has kicked off with the shedding of many tears.
In part, the tears are a response to the glaring reality that I entered 2017 with my husband but I exited without him. I am moving forward, but not with the one who has been my teammate for so long. I have heard it said that moving forward with life after the loss of a spouse feels like you are suddenly missing an arm. I concur.
It is like betraying the chief principle and rule of engagement Tom Cruise’s character, "Maverick" had to learn in the 1986 drama, Top Gun: “You never, ever leave your wingman!” This was law. It was non-negotiable. It was life or death. Like a fighter pilot in combat, I made this a chief principle when it came to doing life with Kenneth Hutchinson. Twenty years as friends and thirteen married - this commitment and devotion is embedded in my personal constitution - deeply.
Obviously, this poses a challenge at this point seeing that he is not here with me on this earth or in this realm. I am still here. I have four children to raise. I have money, health, a home etc. to steward. I also have a host of dreams and goals. Nevertheless, Kenneth was a huge part of it all and moving forward, even in the slightest ways, trigger a myriad of emotions ranging from anxiety to guilt.
“But, LaSandra...baby girl... Kenneth is not here." you say?
Yes. I am very aware. Truly. I do understand that. I understand it in my head. I understand it by faith. I understand and believe my husband is in Heaven. God has got him all set up real nice and cozy in his mansion. By this time, he has been well rewarded for the good deeds done in his body. I get it by faith. But, my heart is still catching up.
I listened to a podcast in which the widow of Bob Neff, former vice President of Moody Radio, explained to another widow, in regards to moving forward with her life after the loss of her beloved husband, “We can’t get over it, but we can get on with it.” Her words offended, frightened, and inspired me all at the same time. I thought, “Just get on with it, huh? Lord Jesus today.”
This is like having a partner in a 3-legged race in which the stakes are high. Life and death is depending on your running as fast as you can and getting to the finish line of this race. You have trained for years with your partner and the two of you are so in sync, you have the timing, pace, and movement of each leg down to a science. Then suddenly, your partner collapses. Your ankle is tied to theirs by rope. You know you have to finish this race and time is running out. The only option is to literally cut the rope that has tied your ankle to theirs and keep running alone to the finish line. It is emotionally crushing after all of the time, and all of the training, and the loyalty you feel towards your partner, to cut that rope - but you must. You leave your wingman.
I feel this sense of “leaving” my husband when I cook a meal. When I grocery shop. When I have to do new things. When I enjoy my life to any extent. And yes, that means crying over the stove, at the sink, in the car, and in public places. All of that comes with the territory. Thankfully, I have developed another perspective to help me reframe my moving forward. Luckily for you, I have also drawn another parallel between this perspective and a lesson from the movie, “Top Gun.” ;-)
You know how after Anthony Edwards’ character “Goose” passes away, "Maverick" is ready to quit flying? He eventually finds his way back up in the air, but is overcome with anxiety and cannot engage in combat. Not with the gusto he once did. In the final scene, Maverick concentrates on Goose, talking to him, and finds the courage and strength to not only fly again, but to bring all of his skills to the table and to engage in combat. He wins the dogfight and honors Goose in the process.
Not only is this scene my favorite, it represents my goal. This is scary. It feels weird. It is painful. I have to press in. One of you may very well run into me at the local Target and see my tears. I can’t get over it. Nevertheless, I WILL get on with it.
I realize this is my choice. I am making a choice to not just exist but to keep running to the end of the race, to engage, and to LIVE the best life I can live in a way that honors God and honors my husband. #graceandgrief#dontlethisnamegodown #live