I experienced more "firsts" this past weekend that led to quite a few tears, but I do believe they were healing tears.
I went to visit my in-laws in Virginia. This was my first trip back to my husband's homeland since he died last month (outside of a memorial service that was held for him there). I knew it would be a painful visit, but I'm not sure I realized just how painful it would be.
Arriving on Friday night, "our bed" was turned down like my mother-in-law always did for us prior to our arrival in the past. However, this time...only one side of the bed was turned down...only one set of pillows awaited the sleepy traveler. I think my heart literally stopped for just a second...long enough for me to catch my breath in view of my new reality.
Saturday morning brought another ritual...breakfast at the local diner. In a small town, you can imagine...everyone knows everyone else. And, this day was no exception. Before, we even sat down, we were greeted with more condolences and introductions of me as Chris' wife to those I had never met. Finally seated at the table, the waitress proceeds to tell me she used to work with my husband years and years ago and how he always put a smile on everyone's face. I smiled too, but then came the tears. She felt so bad for "causing me to cry". But, I quickly reassured her that these days, you could say "boo" to me, and the tears might still flow. I have no warning of their arrival.
Later in the morning, I went with my sister-in-law to the local state park to check out the festivities going on in light of the 75th anniversary of Virginia's state parks. We walked around for a bit and then just sat down to talk and process things some. More tears. I did share with her that I had this huge need to relive many of the memories Chris and I shared but to do it alone or with other friends and family this time. It's kind of strange, because I know reenacting those memories without him will only bring sadness, but it also seems to bring closure and healing.
So, we set out for a quick excursion to another area of the park that Chris, Anna, and I had just visited a few months prior. That was such a fun day, and we took lots and lots of pictures of each other. Actually, it was the exact location for a picture I took of Chris that would one day be his obituary picture. How quickly life changes...
So, I asked my sister-in-law if she'd take a picture of me in that same location. Again...another moment aimed at healing.
Another memory from this same state park: my first trip to Virginia to visit Chris and meet his family after we started dating took us on a steep hike to the top of what's called "Molly's Knob". Lisa (my sis-in-law) agreed to help me tackle that again this October (same month Chris and I hiked it).
We later went back to my mother-in-law's house for a special family meal (that she prepared whenever Chris and I came to visit). This time - lasagna, salad, and Chris' favorite...pineapple upside-down cake.
Shortly after lunch, the thunderstorms started barreling through town and actually were hitting home pretty hard as well. But, the thunderstorms in my healing (yet still broken heart) were also hitting pretty hard at this point. And...I was spent.
Laying down for about 45 minutes seemed to do the trick. The storms outside were over...and, the aching storms of my heart were tempered for the moment, as well. It was time to say goodbye and head home.
The drive home consisted of listening to praise music and simply talking to God about...well, about anything on my heart. He's the best listener, and since He created me...He already knows the inner workings of my heart. He also knew how hard this visit was going to be for me, and He knows how hard each of the "firsts" will continue to be as I move through them. But, He gives me just enough grace for that moment or that hour or that day. And...it's always just enough...just enough grace.