I didn't really count days until May 2015. That's when we started counting how many days Kevin had survived without fentanyl. Since March 10, 2016, I've been counting (some days trying not to count) the days we've lived without Kevin. It's 518, by the way.
Part of me feels like a bad Christian that I look at it, most of the time, as the number of days I have lived without him. Shouldn't I be looking at it as the number of days he's been healed, whole, and living with his Savior? Some days, that's what I think. But honestly? More often than not it's the number of days I have survived without him.
Without him here to speak logic to my drama. Without him here to clean the kitchen. Without him here to lead our family devotions. Without him here to deal with insurance companies. Without him here to prepare Sophie for middle school and the youth group. Without him here to teach Ethan how to be a loving, godly man. Without him here to take out the trash on those really cold nights. Without him here to watch The West Wing with over and over. Without him here to wipe away the tears of insecurity and worry and fear. Without him beside me for year 7 of homeschooling.Without him beside me to laugh and rejoice and fight with and fight for and grow old with over the years. Without him. Without him. Without him.
And it sucks. Most days involve tears at some point. Some are tears of frustration. Some of loneliness. Some of fear. Some of confusion. Some just because I don't know what else to do. I shed more tears than my kids will ever know. I am sure they shed more tears than I know. His absence is felt in every moment, whether in that moment or when replaying that moment later. The regrets are piled high. The guilt and shame follow me everywhere I go. Most days it's a fight to find a silver lining and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It's hard not to compare my life with the lives of those around me. It's hard not to be jealous that other daughters and sons get to have their daddies around. Hard not to be bitter that others around me get to grow old with the love of their lives and I don't. It's hard not to wish I was sitting in a hospital room taking care of my man, regardless of why he's there, because that would at least mean he was still with us. It's hard to see why others can walk away and leave addiction behind but it plagued Kevin until the day he died. Did I not pray enough? Trust enough? Fight hard enough?
But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that His ways are higher than my ways. I cannot know the plans or reasons of the Lord here on earth. Once in Heaven, I am not sure those ways or reasons will matter all that much. There is a time and a season for everything, whether I understand or ever know the reason that accompanies the season. Still, I must trust. Can I say, as Job did, even with a broken heart (as I am sure Job had), "You give and take away, blessed be the name of the Lord?" Do I sin by charging God with wrongdoing or do I let go of my agenda and need for control and trust that He knows best? Do I believe that Psalm 147:3 (He heals the brokenhearted, He binds up their wounds) is true? Do I believe Psalm 139 when it says that He knows all about me and has seen every one of my days already? Do I believe that He is with me, has left His perfect peace within me, and leads and guides me in every moment?
If I am honest, I don't always. I spend a lot of time whining and complaining and throwing temper tantrums because this life has not turned out the way I wanted it. I question God's wisdom and decisions. (Why let me get married when You knew I would be left here without him? Why allow us to have kids when you knew the heartbreak they would face living this life fatherless? Why give me dreams and hopes for my marriage and family when you knew both would be torn apart?) I want everything to be back to normal right now. I want renewed energy right now. I want life to be happy and easy and nothing but joy. Right now. But this is a broken world filled with sin, so that is not possible.
On the days that I am intentional to start the day in the Word and prayer, I find myself to be more productive, more joyful, and less bitter. Yet, I still, far too often, choose laying in bed and letting myself wallow over choosing what I know is best for me. As it says in Romans 7:15-20, 24-25 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it...What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord." Oh, how desperately I want to stay close to the Lord, to trust Him with everything on this crazy planet, and to live my life in a way that brings Him glory and points others to Him. But I also want to stay in bed all day and not be a parent. I want to hide away from the world that often now feels foreign, harsh, and cold. I don't want to reach for my Bible. I'd rather just sit and cry and throw myself a pity party. It's so much easier to be a slave to all the emotions.
That is not what God wants for me. John 10:10 assures us that Christ came to give life. Not just the surviving by the skin of your teeth, holding on with white knuckles hoping to make to the end of the day, kind of life. He came to give full life. Abundant life. But I can't have that life if I leave Him out of the equation. No matter how easy it is to forget about Him. To walk away from Him and toward the grief and despair.
So, yes, it's another 10th of the month. And another 10th that happens to be a Thursday (he died on a 10th that was a Thursday). Yet, today can be a day of hope. Peace. Trust. Rest. Being rooted in the only One that enables me to grow and find joy. In just about a month I will be speaking to a group of precious women and the Lord has had a word in my mind for months as a theme: Rooted. Oh, how I wanted to be rooted in Christ. To be rooted in Christ I must be rooted in the Word, in prayer, and in community that will point me to Him at all times. Man, it's hard when He makes you live out the words He asks you to speak!
Oh, Father, fill me with Your hope today. Let this be a day of sweet memories of days gone by, sweet memories made in the moment with my kiddos, and of choosing celebration for Your gifts of forgiveness, healing, and an eternal home with You. Fill this day with Divine energy. Divine motivation. Divine grace. Oh, Father, give me abundant life through You. Remind me of Your promises and all the ways You have filled them.