I’m privileged to share this guest blog from sister, Julia Gingerich Wasson, who lives in Oregon. I am frequently moved to tears when reading her monthly email reflections to my parents and siblings. They are brim full of raw emotion, transparent breakthroughs and setbacks, along with incremental steps of movement toward renewal in the journey of deep grief and loss. As a pastor for nearly 38 years, I’ve walked with hundreds of folks through the pain of losing a spouse, a parent or a child. My sister’s story is one I thought you need to hear, so here’s a peek. Maybe I can convince her to start her own blog! Let me know what you think.
When my husband unexpectedly passed away at 7:15 a.m. in our master bedroom with me by his side, one year ago March 2015, I went into “work mode”. Having worked for a public school for 15 years, I’ve been trained in First Aid/CPR. Every 3 years I have to practice CPR on a dummy or “live dummy” (co-worker). Every year I have to watch a demonstration video of the CPR technique.
So, that morning when my husband dropped and quit breathing I instinctively knew to call 911 and to immediately start CPR since it’s a good 10 minute drive to my house. I didn’t allow myself the privilege of watching the clock because I knew every minute, even second, counted. Life and death counted.
When the Fire Chief/EMT later exited the bedroom pronouncing him deceased, my “life saving mode” was still in gear. I shook my head, saying, “Yes, I know he’s gone. I watched him breathe his last breath and I felt my hands crushing into his chest…an unresponsive chest.”
When I could go kneel beside his body and then pull back the white blanket to see his face again, the first words that exploded out of my mouth and heart were, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This JUST isn’t right! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…this just isn’t right!”
Those 5 words were the first words that left my lips the moment my world stopped. That morning Loren’s and my world stopped spinning, TOGETHER, that is. That is the morning when my FEELINGS stopped feeling. That is the morning when God even protected me from the actual pain I was feeling, that is the degree of physical pain I was experiencing.
ONE YEAR LATER I have come to appreciate the protection of SHOCK. Naturally I cried. I wept. I screamed at God. I could barely eat. I could barely sleep. I was so weak I could barely stand in the shower on the morning of his memorial service.
When someone would come up to hug me, I would find myself falling forward into their arms. THEY were hugging me. Not me hugging them. I couldn’t feel God’s love towards me any longer. I couldn’t feel any sort of Loving-kindness or Mercy from our Lord, the God I have worshipped. But I COULD feel the embrace of a human being. That embrace was God’s arms extended to me. That alone was what I needed. I no longer had my husband’s arms of love and protection.
Here I am, ONE YEAR LATER…and I am seeing there is a price to pay for embracing feelings again. To welcome my soul back to life, out of the barrenness that I have lived in this past year, means I am waking up inside. I am feeling much happiness and more normalcy. But, it’s just now that I’m feeling such heart rendering, gut wrenching, knife in my stomach, feeling like I’m going to pass out because I can’t catch my breath…PAIN of the loss. For every bit of happiness I’m feeling, I’m equally feeling physical pain when a rush of grief hits me.
But I am confident I’m on the way to renewal. I’m not moving “on” (I very much dislike that phrase). But, I most definitely am moving forward. So for today, God, I pray that you help me learn to walk this unrequested walk of widowhood. Gently guide me towards balanced healthiness in all areas of my life. God, you know my physical body. You know what I can handle and what I cannot handle. So if it means gradually waking me up inside I embrace your tender wisdom because You are my Maker and You will complete the healing that You have started. — Julia Gingerich Wasson
QUESTION: I’d love to know how my sister’s guest blog has impacted you in the comment section below. Or, if you think anyone else you know who could relate, please share it on your social media with the links above or below. Thanks for welcoming Julia as a guest blogger!