So had things been different I would be about to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary, with 2 or 3 kids and working part time but instead I am a single parent (oh how I hate that title!!), to an only child, with a full on legal career.
What I am about to admit is not something I am proud of but there have been many times over the last few years when I expected God to make up for the things that have been taken, where I have felt like I deserved good things to happen for me, for life to be easy going forward, to balance out all the bad things that have happened. I felt that God should hand to me on a plate a rich husband, more babies and a life of international travel, to make up for my broken heart – I am still waiting and I have a feeling I may be waiting a long time!!
I have come to a place where I can accept that life is not always going to be easier going forward just because it has been tough in the past. God is not in the business of always taking away our struggles, our battles, our losses, our disappointments but I can testify that he gives us all that we need to get through those times, and that he is kind in the midst of the pain and the heart break.
On the morning after John’s death I wanted to be in church, in a place where I would feel close to John. I went with my close friends, Katie and Rich, who had come up from Bristol to be with me and they sat either side of me, as John’s death was announced from the front. At the end of the service our vicar, Mick, said that he felt God was telling him to change the hymn that they had planned to end the service with and that the hymn that we were to sing instead was for John. As the music started to play I was totally overwhelmed as they were playing John’s favourite hymn. Afterwards I asked Mick if he knew that it was John’s favourite and he said he had no idea. I knew at that moment that God was with me and in it and that small thing was something that I held close to me even during the months and years I was doubting and wrestling with my faith – it was to be a very gentle reminder that God had not forgotten me.
At the time of John’s death my friend was doing an art course. On that course was a girl called Emma. Emma had lost her husband 4 months before John had died and she asked my friend if she could contact me. A month after Lucy had been born I met with Emma in Starbucks and it was the start of a relationship that was one of God’s biggest kindnesses to me as I grieved and rebuilt my life, and I think and hope to Em too. Em’s husband, Andy, was knocked off his bike, by a car going too fast, 5 weeks after their wedding. Andy was the same age as my John and Em and I were born a day apart and had grown up roads apart but our paths had never crossed.
Em helped me to feel normal when everything normal in my life had been turned upside down, and ripped apart. I was able to share with Em what I was thinking and feeling, and she with me, sometimes dark, irrational, crazy thoughts and feelings and we were able to reassure each other that the other of us had had similar thoughts and feelings and that we were not in fact going mad!
I spent a fortune on clothes, Em on bags and cars and we were able to justify those purchases to each other!!
Em was a total gift from God – the one person who totally understood, who was walking the same path, and through it all a deep bond formed and continues despite now being in different continents and time zones.
Other kindnesses were friends who totally embraced us into their family, who we have holidayed with, whose children have become like siblings to Lucy, who have wept with me, laughed with me, encouraged and pushed me forward. Then there was the amazing loyalty my brother showed by living with Lucy and I for two years, commuting a 2 hour round journey to get to work and yet still getting up in the night with a crying child when I couldn’t take it any more.
I could not have got through the last 8 years without amazing friends and family, too many to reference here, each and everyone who have been a testament of God’s kindness to me – I am blessed abundantly by each and every one.
Other kindnesses were financial. I have never had to worry about money – I have never been afraid that there is not enough. Yes there have been times where funds were a little tighter but usually my Dad stepped in and in his kindness was generous to me – my heavenly father showing his kindness to me through my earthly father. There has always been enough.
So no God did not taken the pain away, he did not wave his magic wand and make it all better, he did not step in in the ways I thought he should, but he was kind to me, and gave me what I needed to survive and so much more. Not only did those kindnesses help me survive each day, each week, each month, each holiday, each anniversary but so so much more they led to such precious friendships/relationships, an ability to trust and hope for the future, whatever that may bring, and hopefully a greater ability to be kind and love others in their struggles. More beauty from the ashes.