A Way in the Wilderness

The first year of widowhood is filled with “firsts.”

Some are predictable: holidays, birthdays, trips. Others are less so. I walk naively into a setting, a day, an event, and the full force of loss is mine again. Suddenly I am beneath a crashing wave, tossed about in the disorientation that accompanies acute grief. Every cell in my body cries out to breathe the air of life that was once ours.

I remind myself there is no way out but through. Being in the turbulence and then righting myself—again and again—is how I make my way.

The way feels familiar. During the disease, grieving accompanied each loss. But none was coupled with the aching absence of presence this final one is.

Still, perhaps there are lessons.

Alzheimer’s destructive path called for continuous adaptation. As Dale’s confusion increased, the world of thoughts and ideas receded and created space for the flow of life in the present. Of necessity, we learned new ways of being. In this sense, we were nourished by loss, like a seedling growing from a “nurse log.” Out of death came life—a new way of being “us”—again and again.

We did not do this alone. Countless expressions of Love—seen and unseen—nourished…watered…sustained us.

Surely that same Love holds me now. And I am beginning to trust that even from the depths of grief, something new can be born.

Signs of this abound…and invite hope. Seeds give way to tiny plants as they awaken from dormancy. Buds burst open on branches that appear lifeless. Wings break forth from dry, motionless cocoons.

May my mourning tears provide that which is needed for new growth. May these dark places, like warm soil around a seed, provide nourishment for my life.

“I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19