Another birthday arrived yesterday: my fifth one as a widow. This one is reminding me that I have enjoyed many years of joys and blessings, as well as challenges and various seasons of sorrow. As the day came to a close, I felt drained, fatigued and somewhat empty.
While searching for something on my computer, I came across my journal entry that I wrote a week and a half after Buck was called “home”. Reliving my memories of Buck’s last day on earth was very emotional, but equally therapeutic, as once again I faced the reality of releasing my precious man into God’s open and welcoming arms and choosing not to deny the grief that still resides in my heart. Though painful, I know it is a necessary part of the restoration process, even after four plus years.
I woke to lots of commotion in my otherwise quiet neighborhood. There had been multiple explosions at the township municipal maintenance building just a quarter mile from my home. The building that housed all the maintenance equipment was a total loss as well as all their lawn equipment and the five large dump trucks used for snow removal were all incinerated.
The community is so thankful that no employees were in the building and no one was hurt in the shocking suddenness of the events of the day. Only a small dump truck, pick-up truck and two tractors that were in use by employees escaped the fire. Sadly, the personal vehicles of the four employees were also lost as they were parked next to the burning building. All that remains are the charred vehicles and machinery, and the sheet metal pieces that were once the roof and exterior walls of the original building.
After reading my journal entry, I reviewed the events of the day, and strangely saw the ruins as a symbol of how I felt that day: in shock, devastated and destroyed from the inside out, everything surreal with only a thin, vulnerable shell left behind. As all the wooden components of the building were consumed by the flames, only a mangled tangle of metal remained as the shell caved in on itself, leaving behind very little that was recognizable. Somewhat eerie was how the door was left in place, precarious and free standing, with nothing visible to support it.
In the days and months to come, the debris will be gathered and recycled. The remains will be removed, but the employees will be left numb and reeling as they face the reality of what happened yesterday and how it will affect their lives in the days ahead. They are thankful to be alive, but will be displaced until all the debris is dealt with. New plans will be drawn up, studied, reviewed, revamped and the rebuilding process will begin. They will be hopeful that this won’t take long, but knowing full well, it always takes longer than we ever dreamed it would. And all the while, they will wait in limbo, as they will slowly transition through the uncomfortable process of change.
Of course, there won’t be grief as in the loss of a loved one, but just the same, I can identify with the wreckage the fire left behind. For me, the free standing door symbolizes the Lørd holding me up: invisible, but supporting me all the while as I made the choice to pursue life, and all the forms of joy that it still has to offer. I miss Buck and life as we knew it, but I know in my heart that though my life continues to change, the new landscape will be good and beautiful.
I can’t help but wonder what the Lord’s blueprint for my life will look like this coming year, and how it might be different on my next birthday. I am hopeful that it won’t include the emptiness I felt last night as my birthday came to an end. This journey continues to have its ups and downs just like we all experience, but I’m thankful for the numerous joy-filled days that are mine to enjoy along the way.