This time of the year I find myself remembering events from years ago that generate both sweet and bitter memories with all the accompanying emotions.
March has been a month that has brought both good and bad events into my life – events that changed me forever.
The first one that brings sweet memories occurred 52 years ago on March 29. That day I walked down the aisle at church and promised to “love and cherish until death do us part.”
For almost 13 years I kept that promise. Every year as that date approaches I remember those years with my first husband. We were happy and shared a lot of joy but the best part of those years was the birth of our two beautiful daughters. Memories of those times make me smile and I am grateful for every moment we shared. Those events changed me – made me a wife, a mother.
The second memory is more painful. It was 39 years ago in March that I got a call at work that I will never forget. My eleven-year-old daughter called me and said, “Momma, I think Daddy is dead.” Those words changed our lives forever. My first husband had been working on our car when an accident occurred that took his life. Ironically it was just four days before we would have celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. So March brings also feelings of great sadness as I remember the shock and horror of that day. The pain my daughters still feel today. The older one grieves as she remembers all the times she had with her daddy, while the younger grieves because she was so young her memories are few. That changed me – made me a young widow with two little girls to raise.
So – every year in March I deal with these memories and these conflicting emotions.
That would be enough to make the last of March an emotional time for me.
But last year added another event that adds to my emotions this time of year.
On March 19 last year my second husband fell and hit his head on the concrete floor of his art studio in the basement of our condo.
By the 22nd he was in pain and we went to the emergency room of our local hospital. From there he was rushed by ambulance to the main hospital in Lansing – the capital of our state – where they did emergency surgery. He had a major brain bleed and they said without the surgery he would not survive the night.
As I remember the next couple of weeks I still can feel the knot in my stomach as I waited at home (because of the virus I could not be with him) wondering if the next call would be to tell me I was a widow again. I wondered how I could take it if he died on the same day as my first husband had died. As the next few days were “touch and go” while they tried to get him off the ventilator, I kept telling God “please, not again, not this time.”
I am so grateful to God that he not only survived the surgery but after a few weeks he was back to his normal self. The doctor said he might have trouble walking, swallowing, communicating. While he had some of these symptoms for a couple of weeks, he was soon completely okay with no lingering symptoms.
One major concern of mine was would he be able to paint again. Would he even be able to walk down the stairs to his art studio. That prayer was again quickly answered. Our son-in-love brought his painting equipment upstairs and within two weeks he painted a beautiful lighthouse scene. Soon he was able to return to his studio downstairs and continue painting.
So along with the knot in my stomach, I also must rejoice with a great emotion of gratitude that I am not a widow for the second time, that my husband is not only alive, but well and strong again.
One of his first paintings also was of a beautiful rainbow which symbolizes hope and a reminder that God keeps His promises. He called it “Hope in the Storm.” It now hangs in my kitchen as a reminder to me that no matter what troubles come, with God there is always hope.
When my first husband died, when my second husband survived, regardless God has been there – and He brings me hope. Hope for whatever next March or any time may bring. Good times or bad – He is faithful.