Can I consciously decide to have a good year or does my present situation and circumstances dictate what kind of year I will have?
Last night, if you’d asked me that question, I might have said my happiness depended upon my situation. Yes, I spent most of the New Year’s Eve wallowing in my widowhood. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you may have noticed my postings, one after another, of inspirational Christian music videos from YouTube, a vain attempt to stem the steady flow of tears down my cheeks. “Happy New Year!” read the status of so many, while I was anything but happy, and beginning to feel downright resentful. “That’s easy for you to say,” I muttered under my breath, as I noted how many were spending the evening with their spouse.
David and I never did anything special for New Year’s Eve. We didn’t even stay up until midnight. Sometimes, though, if David got up to go to the bathroom and his movement woke me up, he’d eagerly grab my hand in the dark and whisper, “Happy January 1st!” He delighted in beating me to that first day of the year greeting, even extending the game to the first day of each month.
Because we failed to celebrate it in any meaningful way, I hadn’t dreaded this holiday, so I was blindsided by the sadness enveloping me as darkness fell. I valiantly attempted a quick burst of optimism, reminding myself that I had a book being released in the fall, but the reminder just magnified the absence of the spouse who had encouraged the book in the first place. In an attempt at levity, I watched a funny movie with Katie and Abby, even laughing out loud a few times.
“Whatever you are doing at midnight sets the tone for whatever you will be doing the rest of the year,” one friend wrote, so I was determined to do something very meaningful. I envied a friend’s status as he described sitting alone with his dogs, listening to music and writing lyrical poetry. I wanted to be writing beautiful words in David’s honor. Instead, I absent-mindedly flipped through pages of what will become my next book, pages I’d ruthlessly ripped apart days before, but now didn’t feel like working on, nor did I have the quiet atmosphere conducive for it. My girls watched yet another movie in the next room as I searched my shelves for a fiction book to escape into, but nothing appealed to me.
Which was exactly why I ended up on Facebook on New Year’s Eve; reading the fun-filled statuses of others and feeling sorry for myself.
I went to sleep before midnight, waking up not long after. Glancing at the clock when I returned from the bathroom, I noted it was 2:00 a.m., the very hour David had greeted me with New Year’s wishes just one year before. David. I stifled one small sob before going back to sleep.
A new day dawned, the first of a new year, another year without David. I picked up the 2013 Guideposts devotional my friend Mary had given me, and read this Bible verse for January 1st;
“I am growing and becoming strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God is upon me.”- Luke 2:40
I spent time reflecting on that verse, and considering my own spiritual growth in 2012.
A year ago, I was a different person. I had a spouse I loved very much and a promising year ahead of me with a calendar filled with scheduled activities. I lost my best friend when David died in late March, but I carried on and fulfilled my obligations and added others. I discovered a strength of spirit I didn’t know I had, and gained something totally unexpected during those darkest of days when I cried out to God and felt the comfort of his care; I found grace.
Can I make a conscious decision to have a good year, despite the death of my spouse? On the contrary, I believe I can, because of my loss. In fact, I think I must. This year, I can use my pain to reach out and help others and to write in a way that honors the memory of my beloved David and glorifies the God that brought him to me in the first place.
I’m looking forward to a new year in which to do so.