The day before Sean was transferred to the ICU, we woke up in the morning around the usual time- when the nurses change shifts and the new nurse for the day comes in to check vitals. Sean looked over at me on the cot I slept on next to his bed, and asked how I was doing. Those words took me by surprise and melted my heart. For over a week prior, Sean was very sick and not thinking clearly enough to interact with me more than just to answer questions. I squeezed into the available space next to him in his hospital bed, his arm around my shoulders. It was a sweet moment, and the last time he held me.
The way I’ve always experienced God is like that sweet moment. No crazy visions or miracles before my eyes, or auditory voices booming from heaven. God is just there with an embrace, encouraging and uplifting me in a subtle, sweet, and overwhelming way. This was my experience as God carried both Sean and me through cancer, and everything attached. The subtle way he continually gave me strength for every day, though I may have been exhausted and drained. The way he provided for all of our needs and beyond through amazing family, friends, and community. The way he helped me process so many feelings, and I never felt abandoned to feel them by myself.
There were times I was tired.
There were times I felt alone.
There were sleepless nights. Stress. Frustration. Helplessness.
But there was always, always hope. I never felt despairing. I never felt that we were trying to make it on our own. I knew God was with us. With me. I never felt God physically holding me, or heard the voice of God in the middle of the night. But he was always there- carrying me through the day to day and maturing me all the while.
Now, this journey continues without Sean next to me. What a whirlwind of nine months, with so many feelings now creeping up on me. There is so much going on in my mind as I am slowly coming out of the fog surrounding Sean’s death, and beginning to feel his absence. As a move forward to live life without him, a now-familiar ache in my stomach begins to take the place of Sean’s arms around me. A sharp pain in my chest.
But now, I know that though I feel all these painful realities of cancer and death and grief and all the ugliness woven throughout, there is still an embrace. God is still taking care of me, and walking with me through this. Having felt him carrying me along such steep a path as cancer, I rest a little bit amidst the chaos. Even if I don’t know what to say to him now. Even though it hurts the most at night. Even though Sean and I didn’t get to do a lot of things we planned and hoped for. I feel all of it.
And, an embrace.