I have started a blog entitled One Widow’s Might. An explanation of this title is my first entry titled Beginning. For about one year, I have been writing about my current circumstances—being the widow of my sweet, wonderful, heroic husband Brad. Writing on this blog is therapeutic to me and provides a record of my thoughts, feelings and experiences that I want to be able share with my daughters. And, more than anything, I want to help my children get to know their amazing father as much as they possibly can. I want them to know how happy he made (and makes) me and how much he loves them. I feel that writing down my feelings may be a good way to convey this to them – and if my computer blew up, I would still have it – so the blog began.
As I began to write, I did not necessarily intend to make this blog public. I wrote a few entries, and one day while attempting to locate my blog (- obviously computer savvy is not one of my strengths) I stumbled upon a few blogs from other widows. I found myself reading, and reading and rereading. Many of these blogs were like reading my own thoughts. I think I cried the whole time, but it was good to feel like somebody, somewhere knew a little bit of what I was feeling. It made me feel less alone. They had dreams and plans and a whole life that seemingly got ripped apart one day. And they are picking up the pieces and going forward. Their words are inspiring to me. Since reading these other blogs and having them affect me the way they did, I’ve felt like maybe I should be brave and put my words out there. Although I have approached this with much hesitation, and many of my experiences with my sweet husband are too personal and sacred to share with others, there are some experiences that I feel may be appropriate and perhaps beneficial for others to read. Maybe someone, somewhere will read and it will be just what they needed to hear for that moment. Maybe someone will feel more understood and not as alone, like I have sometimes felt. I have been hesitant to make this public for months, but I keep feeling like I should share. So this is me trying to be brave and put my ramblings out there.
As I mentioned, the title of this blog is “One Widow’s Might”. Although I certainly do not believe myself to be mighty, I do think that we are all asked to do mighty things in our lives—and confront our daily challenges with everything we have (with all our might). It has become increasingly clear to me that everyone has their own set of significant and, at times, heart-wrenching, challenges they deal with on a daily basis. We each have our own set of experiences and it is difficult to really know everything a person goes through or has to deal with. These experiences can sometimes challenge us to our very core—to the point that we are completely dependent on the intervention of a loving Heavenly Father and His administering angels. I like the name “One Widow’s Might” because I love the story of the Widow’s mite in the bible. She is truly mighty. Because she casts in all that she has and has faith that she will be carried and sustained. She knows her Savior will provide her with everything she needs; so she can give all she has. But, her giving is not the end of the story. I know that she received much, much more than she gave. She is an example to me. I hope to develop faith like her faith. She knows that she is mighty—not because of her own strength or power, but because of the strength and power of the one by whom she is carried. In this sense, we can all become mighty as we place an increased confidence in our Savior and draw upon his power to heal, comfort, and teach us—as we face our greatest challenges.
Today marks three years since Brad’s death. I thought today might be an appropriate day to share this blog with others. On the morning of May 1, 2008, I was making pancakes for my girls. Tyler, who was 13 at the time, was already at school. Sophie was 2 1/2 and Addie was 6 months old. My doorbell rang and as soon as I opened that door; I knew all of our lives would never be the same. Standing there were about six Air Force personnel all dressed in their blues (something you never want to see if you have a husband serving in the Air Force). My husband, Brad was an F-15 pilot. He was an exceptional pilot and had boxes full of awards to show that it wasn’t just me who thought so. He was an even better husband, father and priesthood holder. He was my best friend, and I thought that our life together was perfect. The people standing on my porch that morning were there to tell me that Brad had been killed in a plane crash. He was flying with a student pilot and the engine had failed on approach. When they tried to eject, the seats collided in the air and because of that they hit the ground before the parachutes opened and both Brad and the other pilot were killed.
Although, I know I will never get to the point where I can say that I am grateful for this trial, I can say that because of this experience I am a different person, and I am grateful for that. My relationship with my Father in Heaven and with my Savior is forever changed. When you have no earthly way of receiving comfort you begin to learn to rely totally on your Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
I know where Brad is, and I know that he is not far. I feel him near me and our girls every day—in a very real way. I know that we will be together again. I have this knowledge and I am so grateful for it. But, that knowledge alone does not help much on the days that I find it hard to breathe without my sweet husband by my side. The knowledge of wonderful, joyous things to come is not enough. It is all so far off and sometimes, even with all my knowledge, I can’t see it. So on those days when everything I know doesn’t help me out of bed, I am so grateful that I have something else. Something stronger and more immediate and real. (and something that is always constant – on good days and on bad days) I have my Savior and his love. He lifts me and carries me and He is healing my broken heart. Sometimes I wish it were a faster process, but I know everything is controlled by Him and I have come to trust Him and His ways completely. He is the only one who has perfect empathy. Because he has felt every single thing that I have felt. So along with my knowledge of happiness later with Brad, I need my Savior personally today, and everyday.
I am grateful for the role that Brad has in this healing process. He remains very involved in my life. Somehow, Brad continues to provide me great comfort—similar to how he did before, but through a different means. Little by little, the Savior heals me and little by little I learn that as I do His will I am blessed and strengthened far beyond my own capacity. I once believed that my life had been ripped apart. Now I am confident that my life has just altered course. Although I do not always appreciate the path I have been asked to walk down, I know that I would never be asked to walk this path alone. Over the past three years, I have witnessed how the Lord can help me walk this path, and that He mercifully allows those who have departed this life to remain very close by—in a very real way. Burdens that have felt like the whole world is crashing down on me and that no earthly remedy can cure have helped me more fully see that we have a kind and loving Heavenly Father who has a perfect plan that, if we allow it too, can make us happy and heal our hearts; even in the midst of our greatest sorrow. This plan can give us peace even in the midst of our greatest fear. It can give us amazing joy even while in the midst of our most unimaginable loss. One thing I know for certain is that we are never doing it alone— not ever. As I write and read other’s experiences, I continue to realize that very fact—we are never alone. In addition to not being alone, we have a loving Heavenly Father who provides us tender mercies that help us understand what is going on. I have found that these tender mercies often manifest themselves in my life through the kind and thoughtful actions of others who have gone through what I am going through or who can, somehow, relate with a portion of my experiences. In short, our Heavenly Father tells us that we are not alone and, then, if we allow Him, provides evidence of that fact. I hope that perhaps this blog may help show others —irrespective of the gravity of their challenges and of the depth of hurt they feel in their souls— that they, like me, are never alone.