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Winter's Bite

Winter without him froze the air. Crashing cold winds rattle the window panes and noisy darkness wakes me. My eyes squint and struggle to adjust. There is no one there. Undisturbed sheets speak silence from his side of the bed. I reach out my hand and let it glide over the empty. What I wouldn’t give to feel him there once more. I close my eyes and pray that slumber fills my head with dreams of the past. I remember the feelings and focus hard on vanishing moments – the blanket of his arms wrapping around me, the smallness of my back against the size of his hand, the safe embrace of a man. I focus hard, clinging to the lovely and drift to sleep.

Nightmares haunt instead. Locust explosions devour what I planted. Autopsy scars and diced up organs spill out of an open abdominal cavity. Dark red blood splashes onto a no longer sterile floor from a body too large to fit nicely on a stainless-steel Autopsy table. My hands are soaked with dark red and my eyes are soaked with tears. I can’t put him back together. I try. Helplessness drops me to the floor. I look at my husband with his innards spilling out. There is nothing I can do. The law requires slicing and dicing when death is unattended after all. A cause must be determined. His autopsy report reads “severe atherosclerosis and thrombosis to the LAD,” a heart attack known as the “Widow Maker.” It did just that.

Morning wakes me in a sweaty tangle of sheets. The other side of the bed remains empty. I long for the words, “It’s okay, you just had a bad dream.” They never come.

**** After my husband died I spent my days clinging to the lovely, making conscious efforts to focus on the positive as recommended by the apostle, Paul, in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

But what happens when night drowns out the ability to focus and sleep is haunted by nightmare fears? Those are the times I focused on the lovely... but within the tragedy. Those were the times I focused on the only beauty I knew. The beauty of the cross, the beauty of God's love, the beauty of Jesus, the beauty of immeasurable sacrifice. The beauty of a life laid down.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV) says "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."

Lord, Thank you that we can always focus on the loveliness of you. Thank you we can come to you and know you will understand because there are no heartaches or pain that we experience, that you have not experienced yourself. Thank you for picking up our messes and taking them as your own. Thank you for carrying not only my burdens, but the burdens and weight of the whole world. Thank you for overcoming the world and overcoming the grave. That, Lord, is lovely and I pray in Jesus' name we never forget. Amen.

Focus... on the lovely

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