“You take him, and I’ll go too.”
I spoke these words out loud about a year and a half ago.
I spoke them to my maker out of pain, defiance. I spoke them from a place of entitlement, a place of living a life where I could always achieve the things that I wanted to work hard enough for. I spoke them when this stopped being a reality, when I had no control. When all the news was bad and pointing in a single direction.
Everything, everyone, was staring me in the eyes and telling me that my husband was probably going to die.
And in this chapter of life, a chapter where I had no control, I reached for what little I did have control of. If my husband was going to leave this world, then I resolved to the fact, threatened even, that he would not be leaving alone.
This blog is pretty difficult for me to write, hence why it took quite a while to put it out there.
The fact is, I don’t like the girl who made this statement.
You guys don’t really know the girl who made this statement. Some of my closest friends and family don’t know this girl, because I don’t want anyone to. I like the clean edited version of my words… the ones written when I get to the other side of emotion, not the ones spoken in anger in the midst of it.
But if I only ever let you see this girl, let you read the words of some noble widow, I would be putting out such a false message of grief. And I know from experience, from reading other bold, brave, beautiful messages on grief, that this would shine a shameful light on those of you who grieve in the rawest forms.
I would be telling those who grieve with flaws, as I assume most do, that they do this alone.
I would be shining a shameful light on those who don’t wrap their pain in a perfect bow. Who don’t wear their grief-ridden titles perfectly.
And worst of all, I would be shining this shameful light from a pedestal that I have no right to be on.
Why have I spoken on anger for seven blogs straight?
Why have I beaten this dead horse?
Because friend, I almost was that dead horse. I wanted to be. Threatened to be.
I could have been that person who entered judgment in a season of rebellion, hostility.
I could have ridden that train, that anger to the end of my husband’s life, and then to the end of my own. I could have wasted the few moments of beauty in otherwise painful days. If I was headstrong enough, I could have even influenced similar emotions in him, entitlement in him, and he could have fueled it all right back in me. In love and wronging, we could have spent our last days together furious at a God who didn’t give us more.
My husband could have entered eternity with a fury.
I could have been right behind him.
This type of story actually, and unfortunately, is more common than you’d think.
I thank God every single day, that neither of these situations came to fruition.
I’m not here talking to you about your anger as someone who handled my own grief perfectly. Quite the contrary. I’m here as someone who got equally angry, who talked to God, freaken God, like he was a freshman year boyfriend that I planned to dump if he did that thing I told him not to do.
I’m here as someone who made it adamantly clear that I would not move faithfully through any kingdom plan if any chapter of that plan involved losing my husband before we were both old and ready.
I’m here as someone who was gifted undeserved grace, and who is alive today because of that alone.
“You take him, and I’ll go too.”
It was a secret prayer spoken when Andrew was napping—one that I had no intention of ever sharing with him. But I didn’t have to.
One day, out of nowhere, Andrew told me that if anything happened to him, he hoped I would keep going. He didn’t have any advice on how. He even admitted that he didn’t know how he’d do it if roles were reversed. But the next thing he said to me has remained ingrained in me since that day.
“You’re the only one I can think of that could ever make anything beautiful out of this.”
So why have I been writing about anger for seven blogs straight?
I don’t really know.
Maybe because I am horrified when I think about entering my own judgment in an act of, “You take him, and I’ll go too.”
Maybe because I watched the man I love the most fight to conquer his own anger in incredibly difficult circumstances, and in that, he offered me peace in his passing that goes way beyond comprehension.
Maybe because this same man hoped that I could make something beautiful out of his passing.
Maybe because I’ve learned that beauty after tragedy is more attainable than we think, because there is so much beauty in the act of trusting a plan beyond your own.
And maybe that’s what I’d tell him today, if I had the chance.
I’d tell him, that somehow, in some way, this life is still beautiful.
And I imagine that he’d tell me, “Of course it is.” After all, he was never wrong.
Yesterday marked seven months since Andrew passed. When I think about how much life has changed in this time, I am baffled. Admittedly, I am overwhelmed with grief and confusion when I think about a life that will never stop looking different, a world that will never return to the one he left.
I’ve laid down dream after dream as I merge onto a new road, one that he will never ride on with me.
This fact hurts. I will grieve the life that I planned with him for as long as I live.
But this fact doesn’t mean that the road ahead of me is ugly, hopeless.
In fact, it’s beautiful, just as Andrew thought it might be.
But believe it or not, he was wrong, at least in one point.
I didn’t exactly make anything beautiful. I just lived.
Faith did the rest.
The truth always goes back to the fact that life always resolves, and there is beauty in that. The beauty isn’t just seven blogs written on anger. The beauty isn’t the big Job finish that we may or may not inherit. The beauty isn’t even the tulips that bloom in the spring following the harshest winter.
The beauty is the Lamb that died, the home He made, and the tall handsome man I fell madly in love with who waits for me there.
The beauty is Andrew’s Hallelujah raised as he entered eternity, and a life now rooted in my own determination to be found in the same gesture when my own clock runs out of hours.
The beauty is the peace that makes no sense, but floods the spaces of my heart that I was once determined to crowd with anger and defiance.
The beauty is these past seven months that I threatened to never live, and the many ways God has shown up in them.
The beauty is the people who showed up in my life. It’s the love that has overflowed my home, my heart, my world.
The beauty is all of you, those bold enough to face my pain in the form of words and to share your own pain right back with me. It’s all of your hearts that are equally determined to seek the kingdom when the world floods with grief.
Beautiful girl, when I encourage you to lay down your anger, it isn’t because I’ve never carried my own. It isn’t because I fear for your fate. It isn’t because I don’t understand.
It’s just because you don’t have to carry it.
It’s because there can be hope in the path you choose.
It’s because, I know from experience that this hope is so much easier, lighter to carry than the anger.