One day last week, I walked from my office to a restaurant for lunch. Lunch alone, quiet and calm. As I sat in a booth reading, I quickly noticed a young man waiting for his girlfriend. She arrived; they had a somewhat awkward welcome hug and sat down talking. Then two gray-haired women walked in and approached a table that could seat twenty, and it quickly filled with pleasant ladies. I eavesdropped as I ate, listening to their warm and friendly chatter. Then I began to realize that this moment, like so many others, reminded me of what I miss and what have lost—a past and a future.
I think of those early days when Kara and I were dating, the awkwardness, the insecurity of a new relationship. We were the young couple in that new, strange welcome hug. Then I think of those older women, gray-haired in glory, lives lived and still meeting for lunch to talk about grandchildren and how life has changed. The feeling of loss hits me, a missing of past shared moments, which only Kara and I experienced. I saw her mundane days and hidden minutes that were only observed in marriage and parenthood. But the future is lost, too—her future of being a grandmother and my future of seeing her eyes reflect our children growing.
I have replayed our story over and over the last year as best as I can remember. It is not the grand moments that I miss most but the small, mundane ones. Like the way Kara would subtly smile in her morning sleep when I brought her coffee. Or hearing her talk with our kids in bed late at night about topics that would never cross my mind. Or her last days when she would place her hand palm up on her bed as a sign for me to hold it.
Words cannot explain the past year of loss. The sinking emotion of grief, accepting my new life, the ache for my kids, the days that have gone by, and numerous moments when I think, What happened to my life? I will always be marked by this loss, but even more so, I am marked by God’s gift of Kara. I’m getting used to this new mark. And I can begin to voice that it is a glorious mark; to have worked so hard on marriage, to have been loved so well, to have grown so much, to have suffered and lost—these are parts of my life that I consider a privilege to carry with me.
As another year without Kara begins, we welcome new ideas. The kids have braved this past year so well. They cry as they look through pictures of their mom, and they tell great stories of her love and craziness. I am told by so many that they are healthy and loved, and that I am, too.
So today, March 22nd, is not a magical turning of a page; I will grieve tomorrow and the next day. But I can look back at the path of grace I have walked and be assured of more moments of grace to come.