2019 was not my favorite year. In fact, I’d say it’s by far the worst I’ve ever experienced.
I mean, I became a widow in 2019. That was not exactly in my ten year plan. If you’d asked me in June, I would have said I would be taking a vacation in August, not figuring out life insurance policies and social security payments. Not to mention learning how to deal with day-to-day life alone.
Yeah, 2019 was not my favorite.
But even in all of the mess of these last six months, I have seen the goodness of God.
I have seen just how loved our family is and by how many. I’ve seen the gentleness of a friend silently take my hand in a hard moment. I’ve felt the strong arms of loved ones around my shoulders while I cried. I’ve heard the concern and genuine care in the voice of those who stopped by just to check on us. The sweat of those who have worked to do the things I physically could not do myself. I’ve read texts of encouragement that came just when they were needed. I have seen love in action.
I’ve seen the impact a quiet, gentle, hard-working, humble life lived for God can make. Grown men, mostly strangers to me, showing up to tell me how Vance changed them for the better. Stories of how he set the example and how he did the next right thing over and over. How he refused to gossip or believe the worst, but how he chose instead to encourage and honor those who were hurting.
This year has changed me in ways that I’m not even sure of yet. In some ways I’m much weaker; unsure and even frightened. I have cried more in the past six months than in my entire lifetime. I have struggled and doubted and curled up in a ball and sobbed more than I’d ever thought possible. I have been broken.
In other ways, I am becoming stronger. It wasn’t a choice. It was a have to. Being a single mom is not for the weak. And so, I have independently made decisions about money, my kids, memorial services, home improvements and how we would spend these first holidays as a family of five. I’ve said, “No, thank you,” and I’ve asked for help. None of those were easy.
In this new year, 2020, I want to be stronger than I am now. I want to spend less nights crying myself to sleep and more days making a difference. I want this year to have purpose. To honor Vance’s legacy and to create my own.
God is not finished with me. I know that. My story isn’t over.
This year won’t be an easy one. It will still be full of “firsts” without Vance. All the kids’ birthdays, Easter, baseball, dance recital, and who knows what else. Just thinking about those creates a giant ball in my throat and makes my eyes get all leaky. And I know that once all the “firsts” are over, there will be the “seconds.” The second birthday without him. The second anniversary, beginning of the school year, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t know that any of those will be easier than the firsts but I know they will come.
So, 2020, I’m ready for you. This will be a year of firsts, seconds and so much more. I’m gonna be stronger when you’re over. Let’s do this.