In the shallow end of the pool….

“I miss Daddy.”  “Tell us a story about Daddy, you know, one we haven’t heard before..”  “Tell us again about how when you were pregnant and so fat that Daddy would come up behind you while you were sitting in a dining room chair & grab your bottom, hanging off both sides, telling you how beautiful you were carrying his sons.”  “Mom, I feel Daddy close by.  Do you?”

I get those questions, and dozens more each and every day.  My sons are no dummies.  They are intelligent, empathetic, loving boys, growing into young men so quickly that it hurts my head sometimes.  We talk about Mark daily, multiple times daily.  No subject is off-limits; I’ve answered their questions while laughing, crying, so choked up that I can hardly speak, and even matter-of-factly, with little emotion at all.  The emotions associated with grief and loneliness are a Pandora’s box, a Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates”—I truly never know what “I will get” whenever I reminisce about the man that loved Andrew and Benjamin (and me) more than anything else in this world, besides his God. 

All three of us miss being loved that passionately.  I know that he loves us still, up in heaven, but that tangible, physical extension of his love is gone.  I can grab our sons and squeeze them tight, but it will never replace the bear hugs of their dad.  I can hold their hands, but never quite recreate the safe, warm secure grasp that his hand had when he was holding mine.  I can only hope, at some point, God will see fit to send someone into our lives that will appreciate a 48 year old woman with two
elementary school-aged boys.

For years, I have marvelled at how “lucky” I was to have found Mark.  We were two halves, making a perfect whole.  Then it hit me today–it wasn’t luck that brought Mark and me together.  It was answers to prayers.  My prayers.  At age 22, I began praying for God to send someone into my life, someone that would be my better half.  And God did.  Mark often joked that I prayed him “out of Nebraska” where he was working a temporary job in fisheries.  While there, he realized that he must pursue a Master’s degree program to be able to secure his dream job.  And the program he chose? Well, it was in Murray, Kentucky, where I was waiting.  Looking back, that poor guy didn’t have a chance.  We were brought together by a God who has a sense of humor, and we had 25 years of fun, love, and laughter together.

Am I being selfish to want to find that again somewhere down the road?  Is what I had truly a “once in a lifetime” love, or will God open my heart (and my sons’ hearts) to someone else in our future? God only knows.  I do know this.  If I live to be 100 years old, I will continue to love the father of my children.  He was the single most important earthly influence in my life, and he was my first love.  But I also think that the human heart has great capacity for love, and that, if God sees fit, I might have room in mine for another, all in God’s time. 

Am I ready for that now?  I honestly don’t know.  I know that I miss adult conversation.  I miss cooking.  I miss debating the day’s news items with my best friend.  I miss having someone to laugh with over the boys’ escapades.  I miss sharing a good microbrew with someone while watching college basketball or major league baseball. 

Whatever happens down the road, I am content.  For all that I’ve been through, I can honestly declare that I am in a good place.  I am comfortable in my own skin, feeling more at ease daily with my new-found responsibilities and power as head of the household.  And I just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing.  As one of my newer Christian friends shared with me this week, “Nancy, I was with you on the worst day of your life.  Seeing you now, how you have progressed, is wonderful.  But I want you to know this:  God didn’t pull you out of that deep water you were drowning in, after losing Mark, just to leave you in the shallow end still all wet.  He will continue to hold your hand, and walk with you the rest of the way out, until you’re all dried off.” 

So here I stand, in the shallow end of the pool.  Am I ready to step out, dry off, and move ahead?  I’m still not sure….