In a previous blog post, I shared that joy was finally returning. But I realized it's not the joy I once knew. No matter the beauty or enjoyment of the moment, there is always an undercurrent of sadness—a void. Deep joy seems impossible since I lost Curt. I can smile and laugh. I can enjoy so much of life. But if the grandkids do something adorable or reach a new milestone, I long to look into Curt's eyes and share a moment of pride and pleasure. When I'm with my family, and we laugh together about something, I miss hearing Curt's laughter joining ours. It's like I'm living life in a haze of sadness. Everything would be more fun if Curt were here.
I spent last week in Pennsylvania with my sister and brother-in-law. My brother, who lives in my home state of Michigan, joined us. On Sunday, my brother drove my sister and me to Michigan. It also happened to be the seven-month anniversary of Curt's passing to eternity. I had two good days before Sunday. But that morning, realizing which day it was, I could feel the weight of loss once again. I wiped away tears through most of the worship at church but did fine through the rest of the service. As we prepared to leave, I told my sister and brother that I wanted to sit in the back seat and work. I had writing projects that needed my attention, and distracting myself helped temporarily lift the burden of grief.
When we got into Michigan, driving on Route 23, nothing could stop the terrible sadness from returning. I tried reading, listening to an Audible, talking to my siblings, but nothing worked. I knew we would soon be driving on the part of 23 near the University of Michigan, where my husband spent his final days on earth. I had driven that road home and back to the hospital countless times while Curt was undergoing treatment. Everything within me rebelled at the thought of being on that highway. It hurt too much to remember. I just wanted to forget.
Unless the Lord had helped me,
I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave.
I cried out, "I am slipping!"
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
But the Lord is my fortress;
my God is the mighty rock where I hide.
Psalm 94:12-15 & 22
In my desperation, I looked up at the night sky from the back window of my car, and I prayed, God, you know how much I miss Curt. But I trust you. I trust you completely, my Lord. Immediately the weight lifted. It doesn't happen that fast every time, but it did on Sunday. I lay my head on the back of my seat, put in my earphones, and was able to concentrate as I listened to a book with my eyes closed.
I'm so thankful to my brother and sister for understanding my need for seclusion most of that day. Grief is strange that way. Sometimes the last thing I want is to be alone. Other times, I long for solitude. It's wonderful when friends and family understand and give the grieving person the freedom to choose.
It was probably about two months into my grief journey that I began to understand the pleasure God finds in hearts that trust him in the most tragic circumstances. It's easy to say we trust him when everything is going well. But it's another thing to tell God I trust him when my world has fallen apart. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means I can trust him no matter what my circumstances are. He hasn't changed. And when I start praising God and placing my complete trust in him, the burden becomes lighter. It's not something I do once, and the grief is gone. No. I have to come back to the same point over and over again. It still takes time to heal. I still cry. But it's grief with hope when I remind myself that I trust God.
There is a void inside my heart
An empty spot no one can fill
I lost someone I dearly loved
And wish that they were with me still.
I have my moments when I think
This subtle ache will never leave
That grieving could go on so long
Without some comfort to receive.
I reached for something, someone near
To understand what I must feel
But no one knows how much you meant
To me to give a word to heal.
Words when spoken often fail me
If comfort they could, I'm sure they would
Yet only the psalmist understood
The nearness of God is my good.
~ Curt Dalaba ©2006
January 19, 2022