I've done my whole adult life with my Karen, the only woman I've ever needed.
Suddenly, I have to figure out how to do the rest of my life without her.
Sunday night, we sat in the bleachers at our local football stadium and watched our grandson graduate from high school. As valedictorian. Giving a faith-filled valedictory speech.
Monday afternoon, she was gone. Wrapped in a huddle of sobs with our three adult children, I choked out, "It hurts so bad." It really does.
It's been two weeks. But as I walk into our living room, I still instinctively look for her beautiful hair - her "crown of glory" - in her favorite blue chair. I go to make the oatmeal she loved for breakfast. I turn to tell her about a conversation or situation - or to hear her trademark laugh at one of my dumb jokes.
But our four-year-old grandson said it all the first time he ran into our living room and saw her chair empty. He ran back to his mother and said, "Mommy, you were right. She's not here."
No, she's not. And she won't be again.
I've probably shed more tears in the past two weeks than I've shed in the rest of my life.
But I have a story to tell. Actually, it's the Story I've tried to tell folks my whole adult life. But I'm now living its ultimate validation.
Everything I've ever believed, ever taught about my Jesus is true! Everything my death-crushing Savior promised, He delivers. In the darkest, most devastating days of my life!
He said of those who have put their total trust in His death on the cross for their sins, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). Because Karen's Savior is alive, so is this woman I love.
In God's own words, we have "a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). Not "cross your fingers" hope, but living hope. Hope is a Person. Jesus. Who trampled death as He blasted out of His grave on Easter morning.
The hope that holds my heart together is as sure as our hope that spring will follow a seemingly endless winter. Spring is a sure thing. So is heaven. For those who've pinned all their hopes on the One who died so we could go there. As much as I love Karen, she is now with the One who loves her most. Experiencing His promise that "he who believes in Me will live, even though he dies" (John 11:25).
This amazing Jesus has got my Karen. And He's got me. I can tell. By the peace. It's what He promised in His disciples' darkest hour. "My peace I give you...do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
That peace - along with that certain hope of a forever spring after this cold winter - is a powerful counterbalance on the scale so weighed down by grief.
Through all my darkest hours, my loneliest moments, the peace has never been shaken.
Oh, this Jesus I've talked about, written about, believed in all these years has come closer and become more real to me than ever before. He promised He would be "close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18). He really is.
This is the biggest storm of my life. The Cat 5 hurricane, the EF-5 tornado. Jesus is my safe room. And He's stronger than the storm.
Or as the Bible says, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).
The Anchor holds.