It’s hard to enjoy the summer when your spouse suddenly isn’t with you. It’s all of the things that had always escaped your notice until they’re no longer around to do them that become the biggest reminders of their absence. Chris’s grill hasn’t been touched since he got sick. So often meals Chris would make for the family centered around something he would grill-somehow, I can’t bring myself to use it without him. Chris loved to spend time in the water taking the kids swimming. The idea of taking the kids swimming without him is just another Everest sized reminder of his absence from our lives.
I’m not entirely sure how you find ‘normal’ for our family when you can’t even put a name or label to what we are. I’m not a single parent, yet I am. I’m not divorced or a widow, yet I have no ‘husband.’ My children have a father; yet, they don’t. Shows that portray a parent who has died seem to hit a little too close to home for all of us; yet, we haven’t experienced that permanent loss. There is no ‘time off’ for a mom when she, too, is tired, stressed and having a tough day. If the kids are melting down, there is no one else to lean on or to take over; yet, there should be-used to be, but now, there isn’t.
We have schedules and routines, but they all center around trips to the hospital. There’s no possibility to take a vacation or even a day trip for us, yet somehow there is an overwhelming need to do just that and escape this life, but WITH Chris.
Regardless of how the day is spent, there is a deep hole in our hearts that can’t be filled. There is no ‘moving on’ for us as we are perpetually trapped in this current place unable to move forwards nor backwards. Regardless of the activity at hand, there is never a moment where we can forget who is absent from our daily life and missing from the sidelines.
Chris’s truck is still parked in his spot in the driveway; his clothes still hang in the closet and his cologne still stands idle on the bathroom counter; yet, there is no need for any of it and won’t be for the foreseeable future. After months of unuse and a possibility of countless more, how long do you wait to discard or make changes to things that belong to him?
The long days have turned into long weeks which have turned into long months which are turning into long seasons of the year that now mark our time. The daily close watch on every lab result have turned into watching trends over the months as so little improvement is made and more dominoes fall as his acute condition turns chronic. It’s hard to hold onto the same hope we once had of his coming home this summer when now, we’re not sure if he’ll come home this year.
There are no books or resources to help you prepare to live life in this limbo. There are no checklists to help you know how to move forward when life is indefinitely stuck. There are no experts to help you navigate what to say when your kids talk about their father in the past tense or forget to mention him in their prayers because he’s been absent for so long.
All you have in these unlabeled days is the Father who DOES know. The Father who DOES see. The Father who is walking WITH us in this and through this. All you have is the faith and hope that our loving Father can guide our missteps and keep us on His path. That He will continue to fill in ALL of the overwhelming gaps of loss that we experience along the way. That He will grant me His wisdom and grace and patience when I’m beyond exhausted and have no idea where to turn. That His word IS true and that He REALLY IS fighting for all of us. That ALL He is asking me to do is be still and rest and believe that He IS DOING EVERYTHING I cannot.
On these unlabeled days, I cling not to what I can’t name but to what I can. To WHOSE I am and who I am in Him. On these unlabeled days, His label of “daughter”, “righteous”, “chosen one”, “called”, “beloved” is enough.