Grieving through Mother’s Day

Many of you know my husband Duane, age 56, died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 14.  I am now a widow and single mom of three.  My youngest daughter Mary is 14 and still at home.  Together with my children we are trying to pick up the pieces and keep Duane’s vision for our family business, The Urban Homemaker, going. A friend has urged me to share some thoughts and memories on my blog.

This year, Mother’s Day will be most bittersweet for me.  It will be the first Mother’s Day in nearly 25 years that my husband won’t be making me breakfast in bed, one of my most favorite family traditions.  My first Mother’s Day was also bittersweet in another way because I was very pregnant, in fact, two week overdue in delivering my first baby girl, Laura Christine.

My girls, Laura and Mary, and I have planned my first Mother’s  Day, as a widow and a single mom,  to focus our energies and thoughts positively on memories of good times with Duane.  We are going to be pulling together pictures from my “archives” of pictures and gathering mementos of Duane for a Memorial Album.  Yesterday, I stumbled on some cards he gave me during our engagement.  In one card he wrote a little poem, a portion of which follows:

Marilyn, you’re good for me,
and I thank God the more.
Together we’ll join lives as one,
and live life evermore.

This ring I give to you,
a symbol and a trust.
And pray it will endure,
as God knows it must.

I love you, I do.
No truer words, can I give to you.

My husband was not perfect, but I thank God for his love and faithfulness for nearly 25 years of marriage.

As I mentioned last week, I have received literally hundreds of cards and emails sending sympathies and condolences.  Many of you have taken time to write about your memories of Duane and encouragement for moving through the grieving process. Ultimately, I think the outpouring of love that I and my family have received will be the foundation of a future book on hospitality.

One memorable card quoted Saint Francis of Assisi who said:  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”  I love this simple quotation because Duane was a quiet and gentle person, and I had no idea how many lives he touched.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite comments.

Linda of North Caroline writes:

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory, no one can steal.”  Linda encourages me to “let the tears come, let them water my soul.

Karen writes:

Your husband is not far from you.  Heaven is very near, nearer than we imagine.  He is now in possession of the mansion that is prepared for him, a glorious inheritance.  We pray God will provide you with peace and strength to get through the valley and we know he will.”

Mrs. H from Illinois writes:

“Duane has always been thoughtful and helpful with our orders.  We will miss him, and know the loss for you is irreplaceable.”

Becky of Colorado writes:

I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated the work you and Duane and the girls have done, and I have loved watching your business grow and develop into a truly needed company and ministry over the years.  I’m sure thousands of hearts have been touched and blessed by you all.”

These precious cards and emails continue to strengthen me and encourage me,  “ For you have need of endurance,  so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:35

I struggle with the fact  that there is no more earthly husband made of flesh and blood to cuddle with or embrace.  That day, my lifelong friend Connie Wilson’s card came in the mail with a sentiment written by Donna Fargo, a country music singer.  The sentiment says in part:

“What if the spirit of your loved one has not left you, but has moved inside your heart to live, never to be forgotten?  Once we love someone, that person becomes a part of us and remains with us for as long as our memory of them lasts.  Treasure your memories now.  Try to focus on the time you did have.  Let the blessings that you shared bathe you with love, encourage you with comfort, and inspire you to go on.”

Thank you Karen, Mrs. H, Becky, Connie and hundreds of others who took time to write beautiful and encouraging notes of sympathy and encouragement to myself and my family.  Again, I emphasize that each note is read, cherished, and saved.

When life literally vanishes in seconds before your very eyes I believe one can choose to count your many blessings or not which reminds me of an old hymn called “Count Your Blessings”, written by Johnson Oatman, Jr..    I have clung to these wonderful words through other trials over the years as well.  The first stanza goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one and so on.

Duane and I go out for a big night on the town to celebrate in January 2000.

This Mother’s Day I have many blessings to count. I am so thankful for my three healthy and wonderful children, food in my pantry and freezer, and most importantly a mighty, most loving Heavenly Father and Husband. Here is a small collection of verses from Psalms that I have clung to these last few weeks:

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

“The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

“Who is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  (Psalm 34:17-18)

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know thy name put their trust in thee, for thou, O Lord, has not forsaken those who seek thee.” (Psalm 9:9-10)

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3 comments to Grieving through Mother’s Day

  • This is a wonderful post and a great tribute to your husband. I have been praying for you and your family. I can only imagine your pain.

    We know Who has the salve to sooth your hurting heart.

    In Him,

  • Happy Mother’s Day, Marilyn! You will be in my prayers this weekend.

  • Michelle

    Thank you Marilyn for allowing us to share in your memories and your sadness. The glory is the Lord’s who is gracious to you in this time.
    I am praying for you this Mother’s day.

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