As I placed pictures from 2017 into our family albums, I reflected a lot on how much life has changed in the almost 14 months since Tony has been gone. Burying the love of my life, becoming a single mom, bringing sweet baby Caleb into this world, deciding and choosing where to move, figuring out who “I now am,” and slowly venturing out into the singles/ dating world are all huge changes that have happened in those short 14 months. When I look at it all together in one list, I feel overwhelmed with emotions about these transitions.
Looking back at pictures of each of the kids’ birthdays and holidays, all without Tony, I thought I’d feel a huge emptiness in my heart and an ache for what we once all had together as a family. Instead, I felt a burning sense of gratitude and happiness fill my entire being as I gently wiped tears from my eyes. Life has been hard but oh, how we are blessed! Tony is not here but he helped give me a beautiful life and future before he left.
I am grateful for the happy past my kids and I’ve had with Tony. Our days were filled with laughter, music, tickle fights, popcorn and movies, camping trips, sleepless nights with kids piled in our bed, dance parties, and a beautiful peace with great strength and faith. Now, my days are filled with laughter, music, tickle fights, popcorn and movies, camping trips (indoors!), sleepless nights with kids piled in my bed, dance parties, and that same beautiful peace coupled with Tony’s great strength and faith placed in our hearts. Tony has left me with all these memories that we can continue to experience, and has taught me that I can happily look forward to the future.
When I first lost Tony, I couldn’t imagine how life and grieving could “get better with time” like so many widows and widowers expressed to me. But they really are right. Missing Tony doesn’t get any easier, as I continue to miss him daily but adjusting to life without him has gotten easier. My kids and I have found our “new normal” and are trying to embrace life for what it is now, rather than what I had hoped it would be. Moving past the frustrations and the anger that Tony can’t be with us anymore has allowed my heart to look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation for what God has in store for us. Because when we place all our trust in Him, our future really will be better than we could ever imagine.
One night while driving with all my kids in the car to stop by a friend’s house, I had a really great experience. A Piano Guys album was playing in the car, all my kids were sweetly watching out the widow as we drove, safe and warm, nestled closely together. My mind drifted to how much I loved driving in the car with Tony, with him behind the wheel as all our kids would fall asleep coming home on a late night. He’d grasp the steering wheel with his weak yet still trusting left hand, clasp his right hand into mine, and tell me how he has everything he ever wanted in this life: all in our car, right there, in that moment. I never thought I’d feel that warm and grateful peace again after Tony died, yet here I was, with me now behind the steering wheel, glancing at all our beautiful children in my rear view mirror. My heart burned and I knew how much our Heavenly Father was proud of the life I am trying to live with my kids, even with the many, many mistakes I have made. But above all, I felt so happy and grateful and loved. Despite all the brokenness I’ve felt at times, all the worry melted away and I knew deep in my heart how much God loves me, my children, and us all. He will help with the pain and He will continue to give us all a beautiful life.