Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all, but I want more …
And I’m waiting for You
With or without you . . .
I can’t live
With or without You
These words, continue to echo in my mind as I reflect on my experience from Tuesday night. The experience? Singing a U2 cover at an Open Mic night with a piano surrounded by people I didn’t know two years ago.
This is one of the many “new things” that have become part of my life in this season of Grieving On.
A season that is indeed “without” my late husband. While the words of the song declare the tension, “I can’t live with or without you,” I can’t fully claim these words as my own truth because I have indeed learned to live with and without him.
We lived through the storm of cancer, and death. I’ve lived through moving, making choices for good or bad, and navigating so many new things over the past two years - especially this past year. There are still days, when I feel like I am waiting for him to return, but I don’t let that desire and thought dominate my decisions . . . it simply is part of my story. I want to enjoy life for what it is … after all I am still here . . . with and without him.
It is easy to fall victim to the idea that my good life is over . . . to think “the best has happened.” Yet, this is NOT the truth that I know God has for me. Even when tears still suddenly spring up because I miss "what was" so much, I aim to fall forward in hope, trusting in the truth that God is still shaping me and my story. My life is not over. Lately, I’ve consider the thought that my “today” might not even be a second chapter but rather a whole new novel filled with adventures yet to happen. It will have it's own set of dramatic elements.
As I surrender to this idea, I am learning more about who I am and am doing activities I might night have experienced or tried before. Taking a risk seems less risky with a shattered heart. Yes, at times I fear being hurt again so it takes courage to trust, hope, adventure and extend love in a new direction.
Reflecting today, at the beginning of a new year. I can’t help but look back – not on Josh and I’s story, but on the many things that have taken place in the space between then and now. This recap is not sorrowful but exciting, creating a, “Wow, that really happened!” thought, that serves as a reminder that there is still more to discover.
A few spotlights from a year where grief still weaved in an out:
• I bought a whole bunch of kayaks and kayaked all over the place (The Missouri River, a Kentucky Mine, various rivers and lakes in MO - 10 out 12 months and am figuring out how to use these more and more.)
• I got brave and sang at an Open Mic for the first time with a new guitar that I’m learning to play
• I found ways to spend time with my dad playing old country music
• I hiked all kinds of trails, up hills, around bluffs, solo and with friends
• I vacationed to Kentucky and Florida and Colorado (solo, with new friends and with Josh’s fam)
• I upgraded to a larger camper and adventured with this in unexpected ways
• I explored new waterfalls and continued to embrace loving someone who didn’t exist in my life 2 years ago.
• I went marble hunting (and found lots!)
• I continued to do ministry and life on my own - slowly letting go of the thought that Josh might show up any minute as my ministry counterpart.
• I still cried randomly because it still feels unfair
• I got a tattoo!
• I celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family and in turn he celebrated the holidays with
• I continued to navigate the old with the new . . .
I say all this not to boost about all the things I did but just to acknowledge that these are all part of me. These spotlights are part of learning to be me without Josh. And within each one there is a sliver of Josh with me - because I am who I am today because of his existence in my life. I am so thankful for that part of me.
If you are reading this as a fellow widow or even in a season of change, I hope to encourage you and challenge you to try something new for you this year. Don’t be surprised by what God has for you. I often think, “How did I get here?” But I quickly realize it’s because I took a step into trusting in God and in the fact that my story is still going. Yes, this can be scary but it can also be fun and tremendously good.
Adventure On My Friends. You've got this!
P.S. Coming up in 2022, I’ll be sharing my adventures in new ways and inviting you to be part of it - at least that’s the plan. :)
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.