I need to buy my old-lady car, put plastic on my couch, and dye my hair blue.
I wondered how long it would be before I found myself actually morphing into my image of a widow. I made some family members promise me that they wouldn’t allow me to get that way. After all, I was only 49 years old. I was too young to be a widow.
For the first 24 years of my life I knew how to be a daughter and student; for the next 25 I knew how to be a worker and wife. What was I supposed to do now? Life wasn’t over for me, but I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
A few weeks into my grief journey I caught a glimpse of new life coming. It felt refreshing and exciting, but as quickly as it came, it was gone. I’m not supposed to feel good, I told myself. I need to mourn. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?
But with that sliver of a vision, God was telling me that life goes on. It’s okay to grieve, but it’s okay to look ahead. That’s hope. Something to hang onto, an awareness that there will be a future.
I decided to attend a grief support group because it seemed the appropriate thing to do. At the support group I met people mostly older than me. As they each shared about whom they had lost, I knew I wasn’t alone. Death is a part of life. But the words of one woman stuck with me. She said that she was still struggling with the loss of a loved one who had died five years before. Five years? Five! On the spot, I decided that was NOT going to be me.
Do you know what a person can do in five years? They can sit and mourn each day, heaping ashes upon ashes on a low-hanging head, and curl up into a fetal position, deciding that life is over, OR … they can choose to live. They can choose to allow faith to grow out of hope, a faith that God will see them through each day and a belief that He has a plan even when it can’t be seen.
Death may not have asked my permission to create a void in my life, but I get to choose how I react to it.
I won’t pretend it was easy, because it wasn’t. My mind and body resisted, and some days I thought I would never come out on the other side of grief. But I prayed that God would show me what I was to do, where I was to go, how I was to spend my time. I asked Him to show me the way. Eventually I began to have dreams again and desires and goals for my future. I developed a bucket list and started ticking the items off one at a time, then adding more to the list.
I decided to live.
In the past seven years I’ve traveled to the four corners of the country and many states in between. I went on a mission trip to Haiti. I’ve hung upside down on monkey bars on my birthday each year. I’ve ridden in a four-man Olympic bobsled, hiked to the summit of Pike’s Peak, and finally eaten an oyster. And I have decided to plumb the depths of my heart and expose its contents so others will know they are not alone in loss and that there is hope and life and a new day to rejoice in.
If you see me these days with my hair dyed blue, it will be on purpose — on a dare or because I want to flamboyantly do my first skydive or trek down to the floor of the Grand Canyon with spirit and a dash of color. And I will go, celebrating the hope God planted in my heart that birthed new life in me.
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Pam Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. When she is not spending her time as a freelance court reporter, you will find her loving up her adorable cocker spaniel, hiking, traveling, writing creative nonfiction, or working out. Her passion is sharing her story so others can join her in celebrating the freedom found in a redemptive Savior.