A Farewell Journey

A Farewell Journey ButtonI walked along the flower adorned pathway, then stopped at the usual spot.

“Honey, I know you are not here but this is where I visit you. I came to reminisce about our happy times together.” I mentioned several highlights in our twenty plus years of marriage. But only silence followed. I sensed my husband’s love and mine mingling in the flower-scented breeze. “I know our love is so real it’ll never die.”

Minutes later, a cool wind shook the pine tree branches. I moved under the tree for shelter and gazed at the gray grave stone as clouds rolled overhead.

After praying and reminiscing I walked the four blocks home from the cemetery. My husband, Dave and I had lived in that town for over twenty years. We had savored our family time with our four children there.

Now I had to move away to where I could earn a living to support myself. Our children lived in driving distance in different towns. Each daughter and our son had invited me to move near them. “We’ll be nearby in case you need us,” each had said.
I could not sell our paid-for family home yet. I might return to my familiar town. I could drive home on weekends if my employer’s tentative idea became reality. He said perhaps I could do some work for the firm from my home computer. It sounded promising. I could even continue my freelance writing.

I had rented the furnished lower level to a young teacher couple, Mike and Sue Ann. Their rent and yard care would help me.

As I packed my last suitcase, planning to pursue my farewell plan, my phone rang. “Mom, why wait until tomorrow? You could get in the car and drive to Green Bay now. We’ll go out to dinner when you get here.”

I thanked Marie for her kind suggestion. But I needed to complete my plan before I could leave. It was a crucial step to continue my journey. It would free me to leave despite my longing to stay with my happy memories.

First, I wanted to revisit the church where we were married but it was a several hours’ drive away. So I did the next best thing. I opened our wedding album and gazed at the flower adorned church where Dave had waited up front for me. My white gown had flowed as I had walked down the aisle with the wedding music filling the air. My breathing had tightened. I wanted to marry yet at the last minute I felt a bit torn. Was I truly ready to begin my journey through life, hand in hand, with Dave?

Seeing Dave’s shimmering blue eyes and gentle smile, my thoughts flew away like butterflies. I knew our marriage was meant to be—blessed by God! I sensed His peace!

We began married life like two children playing house in our first apartment. It was furnished with the landlord’s odds and ends. But we were cozy there. We prepared our first meals there. We had jobs so the first one to return home began the dinner.

Closing the wedding album, I got in my car and drove to the red brick hospital where each of our babies was born. I parked in the crowded lot and the years melted. The man heading toward the hospital door with a bouquet “became” my husband for an instant.

I closed my eyes and recalled the labor pains that had been eased by my husband’s big warm hand holding my sweaty one. My mind’s eye saw his worried blue eyes when the pains worsened and it was time to go to the delivery room. At that hospital, husbands were confined to the waiting room. Knowing he was praying for me gave me emotional and spiritual comfort.

Later, as I held my newborn infant with the round red face and persistent cry, Dave and I smiled at our very own baby. Soon we would wrap our child in a soft blanket for the ride home.

Each newborn and I had our private meeting time during the late night feeding. The town was dark and the quietness held us in its soft embrace. My thoughts faded as I drove from the hospital parking lot and headed for our picnic spot near the lake on the edge of town. There, the clear water lapped at the beach and even in that dark evening with no one in sight, memory rushed our children’s laughter into the still air.

Our stop for ice cream cones after our lake outings suddenly flowed into my memories with smiles and exclamations: “This was a fun day!”

Next, I rode by the school where each child first let go of my clutching hand and began a new life journey for us.
Their journeys ended with high school graduations before our children left home to tread their personal pathways. But our prayers kept us bonded.

Dave and I were alone for only a short time when he was diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Now, alone in our town, I drove again to the cemetery. I put the bouquet of golden flowers from our yard near the grave stone. I knelt and prayed thanks for the journey of life Dave and I had taken together.

Someday, hand in hand, we would walk together again in our Father’s Kingdom.

Before driving from town, I rode past the church where we had worshiped for years—and I prayed thanks for the journey that began on our wedding day.

As I drove alone I sensed the Lord’s presence. Jesus was near me.

He promised to never leave us or forsake us, according to Hebrews 13:5b.

That provided soft peace for a widow’s new journey!

By Beth Craig as told to A. Carli

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