The tub was too hot, but I got in anyway. I turned the knob to cold and rapidly swished my arms mixing and churning the water around me, my heart ready to explode. Too much to contain. Too many emotions were flooding my mind and soul. My legs turned bright red from the heat, matching the brightness of the blood I felt spilling forth from my broken spirit. Deep guttural sobs drowning out the sound of running water filled my tiny bathroom, and I quickly submerged under the water into my private liquid cave of grief.
Over and over again I screamed why. Why, oh why, God? You broke my heart. I need him. I need him! Tell him how much I need him. I can’t go on without him. I don’t know how. I don’t know how God. Heaves of sorrow flowing from my heart filled the tub with salty tears and snot. Grabbing my washcloth, I covered my face and cried aloud reaching moments of uncontrollable hysteria. Just months ago he was here. The thought of him never walking through the doors of our home again, grabbing me in his arms while playfully whispering in my ear, “I love you babydoll,” was more than I could bear.
Each time I submerged beneath the water, it felt like I was entering a womb, hearing only my heartbeat, encased in the warmth around me. It was strangely familiar and comforting. Unable to hold my breath any longer, I reached for a towel to lay my head on and curled into a ball.
After what seemed like hours of anguish, I relived the day he died. A vivid picture of the shirt he last wore pierced my mind’s eye, and I slowly whispered the words written across the shirt covering his lifeless chest. “There is a field, I’ll meet you there.” As I spoke them aloud repeatedly, something completely unexpected happened. He showed up.
His love overwhelmed me and took my breath away. I heard Him. The words He spoke were so clear, so precise. He gently lifted my head wiping away the tears streaming down my cheeks and said, “You know what he meant by that, right?” I nodded as though He were visibly present, kneeling over the edge of the tub holding my hand. “I think I do,” I said. “I do.”
Immediately my imagination swept me away to a place where I pictured Jesus gathered around a crowd saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a [very precious] treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field [securing the treasure for himself].”
“You are the treasure,” I wailed loudly. “It’s You! That’s what Tyvin’s shirt meant. That was his last gift to me, to point me to You.” I blanketed my face with the washcloth, wiping away more snot and sank again into my womb. Covered under the water, I silently prayed I would become like a newborn baby. Born in a storm? Yes, but filled with a tiny seed of hope.
At that moment overtaken by an indescribable unearthly joy, I was for all purposes the man who had discovered the treasure hidden in the field. I knew what Jesus was saying to me, that as long as I keep close to Him, I will one day be in eternity with Him, just as Tyvin is. If I value Him more than anything the world offers and cling to His precious presence – even in the depths of my grief – I will be given all that I need to learn how to live again. I sobbed even harder, and for the first time since Tyvin died, I felt secure. Bible verses raced through my mind like a zephyr rustling the leaves of summer trees, making them dance. My spirit was being reawakened and strengthened as I drank in the truths Tyvin and I built our lives on.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The invitation I received in the tub that night was one I will never forget. “There is a field, I’ll meet you there.” – the words I had written about in the last blog I was able to pen before disappearing from the world of the living 8 months ago.
All my whys remain unanswered, and I’ll not ache for Tyvin, or cry every day because I miss him so very much. The weight of sadness grows heavier every moment I live without him.
And so, if you are waiting for a “but,” there is none. There are no “at least’s…,” no clever clichés that heal the loss of a love like ours or help me “get over” my grief. For never in a million years did I consider that I would, one day, live life without him by my side.
A couple of months ago I called an acquaintance of mine who had lost her husband two years ago just to tell her how very sorry I was for the sudden tragedy that changed her life forever. We wept together and shared silence over the phone. She had moved to Minnesota to be closer to her adult children, but before our conversation ended, she begged me to continue to write saying, “You give a voice to those of us who aren’t seen or heard, who can’t express or put into words our thoughts and pain.” I hung up the phone and cried myself to sleep.
In response to her plea, prompted by a passion to reach out to others who feel invisible, I am accepting the call to write a collaborative work called, Widow’s War Cry. I am inviting anyone interested in sharing my journey of grief to join my dearest friend and co-author Deb and I as we work to create a safe space for you to share your thoughts, feelings, insights, and stories.
I have already begun gathering stories and writing more of my own as we anticipate developing a community of compassion and empathy amongst human beings, survivors of great loss, who encourage, share deep sorrow, and ultimately inspire hope.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you a small glimpse into my journey of grief. Your prayers, acts of kindness and generosity are quite honestly why I get out of bed some days – giving me the strength to face the unbearable aloneness I now feel, live, and breathe.
Original painting by Haley Herzog