As a young woman entering into adulthood with lofty goals, sterling ideals, and great hope for the future I could have easily created a long list of my personal beliefs. This list would have included ideas about both the tangible and the intangible; broad concepts and specific ideals; God and mortal beings. There would probably even have been a mention of death and eternity…but only in the abstract because my beliefs about death were untested until August 31, 2005.
My husband’s untimely death in a tragic accident turned my personal credo upside down. The day my husband died was the same day that theory became reality, and faith became more than just a concept to which I paid lip service. Grief is the ultimate test of faith. Faith requires trust. Death robbed me of the sense of security on which trust is so often based, making the idea of trust incomprehensible. And the whole vicious circle renewed itself daily as I tried in vain to determine why I was living a sorrow filled nightmare. My inability to escape the reality of widowhood forced me to evaluate my idealistic beliefs and determine whether they could withstand the blinding glare of grief.
As the reality of my husband’s death set in, I began to imagine the following personal truths as tall pillars that I view through a cloud of dust and rubble created by a major earthquake. Though everything around these support beams has fallen, they miraculously remain. I rub my eyes to look again, because for any structure to survive an earth shattering experience of this magnitude seems impossible…and yet these columns stand tall among the debris of loss and grief.
I believe in everlasting love. I believe that God is not a being who resides in a structure, but a spirit who lives in the hearts, and hands, of loving people. I believe that the length of your life is not an indication of your impact on the world. I believe that time is indeed a gift. I believe that human beings have the power to heal each other. I believe that shared experience can bond individuals in a unique and life changing way. I believe that our lives are a tapestry and each experience, wonderful or terrible, adds richness to the final fabric. I believe that tomorrow is only a dream. I believe that life is too short to hold grudges. I believe that people are inherently good. I believe that buying lemonade from my daughter at her new job is more important than spending an extra hour at my own work. I believe that the people who come into my life do so for a reason. I believe that kindness changes lives. I believe that this too shall pass. I believe that life is a gift, but like all gifts must be opened to be appreciated.
These are a few of the pillars that have survived my personal earth quake. I lean on them when I feel unable to stand. When grief occasionally stirs the dust of sorrow, I look for them to steady my course. My widowhood experience has taught me that when faith requires me to walk forward blindly; those pillars will guide the way.