As I told the sweet person who called me this afternoon, this week has been tough. On Monday night, I left a friend’s house and drove to the spot I used to visit a lot in 2017 and 2018. On Wednesday, I passed out on the couch after I got the kids to bed because I was so befuddled. I’ve cried at least a dozen times each day, and nothing seems to make the tears stop.
Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I ended up on someone’s social media page who had caused me so much pain in the past. Yet there they are, happy and living a joyous life while I’m mourning the loss of the one person who made me feel complete.
To say I feel lost is an understatement. At this point, I feel hopeless and uncertain if there’s even a point in continuing my life.
What Is Hope, Anyway?
This week isn’t the first time I’ve completely fallen apart since Emily died. In fact, I broke down during the Disciple Bible study group a few weeks ago.
After the group had a whole discussion on hope and trusting God, I went home and cried myself to sleep because I felt so hopeless. Despite the pastor’s attempt to encourage hope and express her understanding of such things, I kept coming back to something one of the other class members had shared. They read a quote from Seneca: “Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear.”
The point of the quote, obviously, is that hope and fear often go hand in hand. We hope and wish for things, yet we fear what will happen when they inevitably don’t come to fruition. The longer we hold onto our hopes and dreams, the more that fear of failure crushes us… Or at least that’s the idea (I think).
Yet, in stark contrast of this quote, the Bible is filled with verses that encourage hope. In fact, Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
So what happens when something you didn’t even think to fear brings you to your knees? What happens when those hopes you’d shared with the Lord and placed upon him are completely shattered?
I had many hopes and dreams for my future with Emily, yet I never once thought that she’d die before we could live out any of them. I just assumed she’d get her dream wedding, we’d bring another child into this world and raise him alongside the girls, and I’d blissfully watch Emily’s career blossom as we grew old together. And, in my opinion, all the signs were there that my life with Emily was exactly how it should be. Even in those final moments when the doctor told me they put Emily on ECMO, I went and placed my hope in God as I desperately prayed for him to let her live.
Yet, clearly I was wrong or my hope was misplaced. But why are those hopes different, lesser, and undeserving of becoming reality?
I would love to know what I did wrong or what about me is so undeserving of happiness and peace. I’m fully willing to accept my faults and take whatever steps are necessary to rectify them, but it’s impossible to do that when you don’t even know what you’ve done wrong. There’s only so much introspective work I can do without someone else’s input, and I’ve spent countless hours over the past five years becoming the best possible version of myself. At this point, I feel like it was all for naught.
Which brings me back to the original question: What is hope anyway? And what does it look like to place your hope in the Lord if the way I tried to do it was so incorrect?
I Don’t Think I Can Let Go
I’ve received so much advice from well-meaning people over the past month and a half. Many people have told me to just hold on because it will get better and my heartache will subside. Others have suggested that I simply turn my pain over to God, because only He can comfort me. Yet, to me, both of those suggestions sound completely ridiculous.
Emily was an incredible person. She was so selfless, so kind, and so easy to love. I can’t imagine there being a reason for her death that makes any sense. And I’m not sure that it would help even if I could.
I’m willing to accept that she’s in Heaven and not suffering. I’m even willing to accept that maybe whatever was happening with her earthly body was going to be so troublesome to come back from that maybe for her, death was actually better. But I can’t accept the fact that I have to go on without her, nor can I fathom a day where I don’t feel like someone ripped out my entire heart the moment the doctor said he couldn’t find a pulse.
Emily was the one who made life make sense. She gave me countless reasons to work on myself and keep going. She’s the one who helped me restore my faith. She’s the one who helped me learn to love myself. She’s the one who believed in me when no one else did. She’s the one who talked me off of the ledge. She’s the one who made life worth living even on the darkest days.
Because of Emily, I had hope. And now? I’m running on empty. All I have left are a few ideas on how to make the pain go away — so I guess we’ll see what happens when Monday rolls around?