April 19, 2016

I was a widow . . . but I wasn't alone

I thought I had been through a lot in my short life. A teenage pregnancy, a young marriage, infidelity..., but nothing, nothing could have prepared me for this. How did we end up here? That thought kept racing through my head as I stood over his freshly installed headstone. His car accident seemed like years ago, yet sometimes it seemed just as fresh as if it happened yesterday. Truth was, it really had only been months. I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout my questions of “Why?” high to the heavens and make him hear me. “Why me? Why did this happen?” I fell to my knees with my head in my hands. I was sobbing and pleading for anyone to hear me. I felt broken and shattered to my very core. How could I continue on with life? Without him, what was life to me anymore?  I was 21. He was 21.  We had a 3 year old.  We had a new baby. We just bought a starter crappy house together. “Why?” My thoughts raced and my memory started to take me where I dreaded to go. A memory of months ago, standing by his hospital bed, holding his grey hand and watching the blinking lights of the life sustaining machines producing little beeps and numbers on a monitor. Numbers I didn’t understand. In that moment I pled with my husband, I yelled at him inside my head. “How dare you just lay there. Get up. Don’t you leave me. Colton, please get up.” I see the artificial rise and fall of the ventilator pumping oxygen into his lungs. Tears were falling down my cheeks and landing softly on the clean white hospital sheets. I heard the heavy door open and I turned to see familiar scuffed sneakers coming through the doorway. They belong to the intensive care unit doctor who was desperately trying to help us. His presence should have been a comforting sight and one that yielded hope, but I knew better. I could see it in even the nurse’s eyes, this situation we were in, was not good.  I looked up to meet the doctor’s eyes, dreading what they will reveal. They’re sad, almost hopeless. They mirrored my own. He held my future in his next breath. His shaky voice tells me Colton’s kidneys were continuing to fail and the results of the brain flow tests were in. I drew in a breath. I watched his lips form the word “Negative.” And I thought I heard him say “He’s gone..” A rush of emotion hit me as if someone was kicking me in the stomach and my knees buckled. I buried my head in my hands and from the very depths of my soul I wailed. With my head spinning, I crumbled to the hospital floor. It was so cold. Suddenly, the crisp air bites at my hands and nose and now standing over his stone, I’m actually cold. Here is my new reality. “How, oh how did we end up here?” My heart hurt, it felt as if a vice was squeezing it tighter and tighter with each new beat and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take the sting.  I was now a broken person and bore the title I never wanted. I was now a widow. I felt like a vessel with a gaping hole, vulnerable and abandoned. How would I rise? This weight was too much to bear. I was sinking. I fell on my knees and pleaded a prayer of comfort, just enough to help me stand. Just then, I felt as if some force was helping me get up, and with a power greater than my own current physical state, I was able to stand. I felt a warmth wash over me. It was a feeling of love and peace and my soul recognized it. I heard the word “Savior” in my mind and I knew it was Him. He heard me. Through tears I smiled for the first time since I couldn’t even remember. In that moment of unbearable grief, I felt such a strong impression that even though Colton was removed from me and taken from this earthly life, I could still feel him near me. In the soft whisper of the wind through the tree's, or the beautiful sunset casting a warm orange glow on my skin. In the sweet laughter of my children, that was him. He was near me. I just knew it. These beautiful, gentle reminders of Colton’s existence were proof to me of God’s existence, and his infinite grace and love. I could rise from the depths, a broken vessel, yes, but a strong one. One that would sail these rough waters because I knew that no matter how much the waves thrashed against me, or not matter how hard the wind howled, my Savior was near me, always, and the end destination was worth one hundred journeys with broken vessels. I kept that heavenly message close to my heart and the days, months, and years passed. And here I am, 5 years out. It still hurts; I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I don’t think the sting of death ever fully goes away, but through the thorns of this path, I was granted a new life and perspective, and if I turn to look back on my journey, I now see a beautiful rose garden. Through faith I have been able to heal and my healing has yielded hope. I was able to rise, and now I proudly stand. 

By: Stacie Haycock


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Valarie Cortese said...

God's Grace and presence is so very real. I am so sorry for your loss. When I am weak, then I am strong, His power is made perfect in my weakness!!!!

Brooke Severe said...

That was beautiful Stacey. How tender and poignant and powerful testimony of the healing power of the Savior. You are incredible.

Brooke Severe said...

That was beautiful Stacey. How tender and poignant and powerful testimony of the healing power of the Savior. You are incredible.

Allyson Hendricks said...

Stacey your beautiful are inspiring. The sting of death never goes away the Savior truly heals our hearts and gives us strength to do on.

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