This is a question I have asked so many times over the last 8 years.
My precious husband, John, died at the age of 28, in the early hours of Saturday, 30 December 2006. He died of pneumococcal septicaemia in one of those rare situations where medicine has never been able to explain why. John had become poorly whilst we were at a friend’s wedding, which I was also being bridesmaid at, a fat 6 month pregnant bridesmaid, with Princess Anne hair (as I came out of the hairdressers I was greeted with the words “it looks ok from behind”)!! Before we sat down for the meal John started to be sick – I just presumed it was a sickness bug that had been going around that Christmas but realised there was no option but to miss the rest of the wedding and drive him home, particularly ungraciously, from Cheshire to Sheffield.
Once we got home John went to bed, he was restless but again I just thought it was nothing but a bug – nothing alerted me to the fact it might be more serious, that my life was about to change forever. At 2.30am John said he was cold and so in the dark I found him some tracky bottoms, which he put on. A few minutes later he went to the bathroom, and I shouted to ask if he was ok but he did not answer. I went into the bathroom and found John staring into space with blood coming from his eyes, his ears, his nose and his mouth and he was covered in a rash. I managed to get myself together enough to call 999 and they talked me though CPR and then suddenly the paramedics were there and then the police – it was totally surreal. What followed was a four hour wait in a private room in A&E, (you know it must be serious when you are given a private room), surrounded by our family and friends. Half way though a doctor came in and said it had taken them 45 minutes for them to get John’s heart going again – now I am no medic and even in my spaced out surreal state I knew that that was not good news and there and then I asked God to take him if he wasn’t going to be the John I knew and loved. One by one we all went in and talked to John. He skin was mottled and he looked an almost purple colour. Around 6am the doctors came in to tell me he had gone. Everyone else in the room screamed/sobbed and I couldn’t react I just felt numb.
In the following weeks I felt surprisingly ok, trusting that God had good plans for me and my baby.
Then all of a sudden an intense anger towards God came over me. I blamed God, I questioned God and I screamed and swore at him, over and over again. If God loved me why did he not step in and save my husband? Why did my baby not matter as much as my friends’ as they got to have their daddies when mine didn’t? If God was all-powerful why did he not allow the outcome of that evening to be so different? I would look at my friends in their marriages, in their families, in their unchanged lives and would feel resentment and jealously. I would see old couples walking down the street and hate them because they had something I would never have.
Unfortunately for my nearest and dearest that angry, questioning phase lasted for the best part of 2 or 3 years. I hated feeling that angry but I couldn’t move past it. People would tell me that I needed to let go, to move forward, to leave John in the past and walk into the future, that they did not want me to be bitter, that John would not want to me to be like that. So on top of the anger I felt judged which made angrier. The tide started to turn when my very wise friend, Rich, said to me that it did not matter if it took ten years or twenty years, that it was ok and it would be ok and it was the start of the release of that anger.
In the time that has passed since God has been gracious and gentle with me. I no longer feel any anger or the need to question and when my dad was diagnosed with cancer 3 years later, and subsequently lost his battle, I never once questioned or got angry. I have learnt to believe again that God is good and faithful and whilst I will never understand this side of heaven why my John had to leave us it almost doesn’t matter why anymore. I know without a doubt he is safe and I have hope for the future that there are good things ahead, that God is a redeemer and a restorer and that the best is yet to come.
I have seen this phrase a lot recently on social media forums:
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind.
We always need to be kind, even when we do not have experience of the particular battle being played out, kind and patient, some battles may take a long time but kindness can make all the difference.