I got married in June of 2003 on a beautifully sunny day in Central New Jersey. I was so excited to stand before my family and closest friends to marry the man of my dreams. I was eager to start a new life as his wife, and felt confident that we would figure out a way to deal with the recent lupus diagnosis I had received. I looked into my groom’s eyes with hope, love, and anticipation.
Barely 10 months later, he moved out of our home, and we began a two-year separation. I felt like my world was coming to an end. I lost my passion for teaching. I had a hard time sleeping. I didn’t eat and lost a lot of weight. I didn’t want to see anyone, and I definitely didn’t want to continue attending the church where we were met and got married. I kept yelling at God, asking why was he allowing me to go through all this hardship. For a long, long time, He didn’t answer.
This spring, my heart broke once more as I watched my godmother Jacqueline (who I always called Annie) slowly waste away from cancer. Every other week for three months, I drove my new MINI Cooper to New York to visit her. The initial visits were full of fun and laughter. But as the cancer ravaged her body, and she got weaker, they became more somber. Eventually, they were one-sided, as my mother and I sat at her hospital bed for several hours one Saturday morning, singing songs of praise and praying with her. Annie passed away three days later.
I notified my schools I would be taking a few days off, and packed up my MINI once more. I spent a long weekend in New York preparing for the repast, visiting Annie at the funeral home, and saying my final goodbye at the cemetery. Then I drove with my mom to North Carolina to celebrate my nephew’s graduation and Mother’s Day. After all the driving and family time was over, I was home.... alone. That's when I began to grieve, and I gave myself over to it completely this summer. But I didn’t ask God why He let it happened. I had learned my lesson before.
When my marriage ended, I was forced to ask myself a lot of hard questions:
Why did I marry someone with whom I was so clearly incompatible? Folly, hubris*
Day by day, bird by bird, I started over after I signed the divorce papers in the spring of 2006. I left Philadelphia and teaching. I got a job with an education tech company in New York and found an apartment in Jersey City. I started saving money and paying off my debts. I made new friends and began traveling the world. I started taking yoga classes and began to realize what a healing practice it could be for me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. All of these blessings emerged from the most painful moment in my life (to-date).
Underneath all the pain and heartache that accompanied Annie’s death, I knew that good would eventually emerge. But for many months, the suffering outweighed the possible blessings somewhere down the road. I was sad. I had suffered a great loss. And I allowed myself to grieve for all long as necessary.
As I sit writing this post, Annie’s funeral program is beside me on the desk. Her beautifully dimpled smile brings one to my own face. Through studying grief in the bible for the last two months, I have started to turn the corner. I realize how blessed I am to have someone who was so special and meant so much to me. Not many people have that. I am fortunate that she was with me for 41-1/2 years. During that time, I learned and gained so much. Annie shared her faith in God and her zeal for life with me. She emulated determination through her tenacious spirit that overcame many obstacles. My expressions of gratitude for Annie are one of the blessings that have emerged from my grief.
In another 5 or 10 years, I will look back on Annie’s death the way I have looked back on my divorce. I will see the shifts that my life has taken, because of who she was to me and the way in which I allowed myself to grieve. Although I probably will always feel a sense of loss over Annie’s death, I am sure one day there will be a tremendous sense of blessing. I’m looking forward to that day.
* Hubris describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous over-confidence. In its ancient Greek context, it typically describes behavior that defies the norms of behavior or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris (from Wikipedia).
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.