One Four Three means I love you! 8.23.23
143 was our favorite number! It means I love you! We used it as our code. We wrote it on every note and card to each other. We would squeeze our hands – one of us would squeeze once and the other would respond with four pumps and then the initiator would finish with three pumps. I (1) – LOVE (4) – YOU (3) We flashed our code with flashlights at camp. It was tapped covertly on desks in meetings. Jim jingled his keys in “our” code! It became an integral part of our marital language. So it seems especially appropriate on this day our 43rd wedding anniversary! 143! ILY!
Today is a really weird day – full of gratitude that it happened and lots of joy for the memories, but sad that I now have to remember it alone. It is hard. I can do hard things but I don’t like them.
I wonder what today would look like if Jim was here. I wonder if I am “supposed” to still acknowledge this day and how can I NOT as it created the trajectory of my whole life? I often wonder why Jim was not “cured” and why I have to live without him; but, at the same time, my intent in asking why is really a cry for the felt presence of God once again. His presence has become the answer to the hard questions and spaces.
Grief is a powerful force that has changed everything about my life. I grieve more than the loss of my life partner. I grieve other losses. Collectively they have carved scars into my soul. To experience loss is inevitable but to grieve is a choice. The reality is that God is in all of the dark places of my life whether or not I want Him to be there. I have become pretty good at avoiding Him when I want to. I can ignore Him even when He is making his presence known. CS Lewis said,
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Yet, ironically sometimes I feel I am yelling at Him trying to get his attention and it feels like He is not there.
Sorrow and grief are the greatest consequences of love. Pain & loss are are the biggest costs of relationship. Learning to live in the present with gratitude has become my life reality and goal. I used to think, “when …then…” After Jim left I stopped dreaming and planning. Hope of and for heaven became my only hope. The fun of daily living changed.
If Jim was here life would be different, for sure. While I think it is pointless to play the “what if” game, I do sometimes think about about what my life would have been had God not called him out of this world. And yet – I have come to recognize that I have absolutely no idea what would have happened if Jim had lived one more day or year or decade! What I do know is the reality of many blessings and joys. I sometimes find myself complaining to the Lord about my perceived losses and lacks; mostly I am choosing to focus on the “wins”. Here is a small sampling:
I have 2 grown children who love Jesus and have godly life partners. I was able to financially help with their weddings. I have been able to pay my bills and enjoyed many pleasures. I have friendships that have faded but new ones have become a vital part of my life. I have learned to do many things I used to count on someone else to take care of (and yet I sometimes yell at Jim’s memory when those tasks are hard or unpleasant.) I have enjoyed many relationships, adventures, meals, and places that I would not have known in my “previous” life!
The biggest thing that I can say I know would be a reality if Jim was alive on our 43rd anniversary is that we would still be a team…I would love him more than I did on day one…we have even more memories together … Jim would love Connor and Amanda …I would probably still take a lot for granted…I would be able to have someone to kiss anytime I wanted to and who would kiss me and tell me everything is just right.
Happy 43rd Anniversary to my Jim! 143!