I reached out to a lot of people when Kristen died. I sent text messages, posted status updates, and spoke candidly about the whole situation. I felt transparency was a better option than shutting myself off from the rest of the world and refusing to deal with my grief. That’s part of the reason why I spoke at Kristen’s funeral, why I shared my story with the local newspaper, why I created this blog.
I speak. I testify. I write.
And I cry.
It’s how I deal with my grief, how I keep from drowning in a sea of sadness and despair.
I cried so many times in the hospital. When Kristen and I found out she had a brain hemorrhage. When she went into cardiac arrest. When the doctor told me she was practically brain dead. If I wasn’t crying, I was praying.
But mostly, I was crying.
The tears kept coming at home. Everything in the house reminded me of her. It’s the first house we bought together as husband and wife. Just being there was a constant source of pain and sorrow. I’d see something on TV that would remind me of her or read something that I know she would like, and the tears would start flowing.
Sometimes right in front of my kids.
Puffy, red eyes. Crocodile tears. The whole works.
I’d start crying sometimes just looking at my kids. They look like Kristen, after all, but what made me so emotional was knowing that they would grow up without their mother. Elizabeth knew her for four years, so maybe she’ll have some memories of her when she is an adult. But Kristen died only eleven days after our son was born.
Let me put that another way: Ian was eleven days old when he lost his mother.
I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like. All I can do is pray that God will provide for my little guy’s every need.
I also cried every single night for the first three months. I’d put my kids to sleep, go into my bedroom, shut the door, and just weep.
For minutes on end.
Until I had no tears left.
The tears followed me to church. I cried on the first Mother’s Day when my kids didn’t have their mother anymore. But I also completely broke down one Sunday after church in the sanctuary. One minute I was talking to a couple of friends, and the next I was bawling.
Like a baby.
Some of the most therapeutic tears came when I finally saw Kristen’s tombstone. I designed it with several personal touches. Took months for it to arrive, but it was worth the wait. I remember fixing my eyes on it, smiling, and crying. To me, putting the time and effort into her grave marker was my last opportunity to take care of Kristen. It had been my pleasure to know her, to love her, to cherish her. I cared for her in life, and I cared for her in death. That headstone represented the fulfillment of my final duty to her.
So I cried tears of joy.
This journey has not been easy. What would have been easy would have been if I had thrown in the towel, succumbed to self-pity, bitterness, and depression, and simply quit. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to see that happen, considering the tragedy I’ve been through.
But God put me on this path for a reason.
I don’t know why. I may never know why. But I’m OK with that. I’m OK with not knowing.
I’m OK with the new normal.