It still all feels completely surreal and I know I haven't hit the deepest part of grief yet. That seems to happen a few weeks after the event, when the permanence of the reality of loss gradually works its way under the skin and through many layers and finally hits your core. That's when you change from the inside and you are never the same again and from then on you have to build a new reality for yourself - a new identity without the person, and a new way of coping with everything without them, and a new way of filing things in your head - the "actual now and future" and the "this will never ever happen again". Right now all those things are blurry and it may as well be that he's just somewhere else while I'm having a few days doing stuff without him.
But there is peace already, and I've been pondering where this peace has come from, mainly to check that it's not just denial. But I don't think it is - I think it's wonder. And this is where that wonder has come from....
I don't think I've ever hit a point in life where I feel like I was owed anything. I remember as a kid always wondering how come I got to be part of a big family, and get raised in a great church, and was born in twentieth century Britain, of all the times and places in the world to be born.
When I got married we used to joke that we felt like at any moment someone would come and knock on the door of our new house and say "Hey, what are you doing? This isn't for real, go back to your parents!" I was 20 and he was 25, but we felt like a couple of kids pretending to be real grown ups and playing house.
When we had children I could never get over that either. Like, do we really get to keep them? Forever? And we get to chose how many we have? And we were allowed to have five when so many people can't even have one, and we didn't have any miscarriages or anything.
We got to do so much we wanted to. We were allowed to do youth work full time for two years. We got to go to bible college and study our favourite thing for three whole years. We got to visit Haiti, where Richard grew up. We said we wanted to plant a church, and not only did people let us, but they helped to support us finically too.
And, to top it all, people chose to join our church too.
I've never got over any of this. How come we got to do so much of it? I'm not saying it came easy - not at all. Richard often worked two jobs at the same time, and studied into the night for college and church. I've had little children at home for over twelve years and sometimes been far from family and familiar friends, while also working towards our degrees or our church plant. But I still never felt like we were owed it. It has still all felt like we have been so privileged to be allowed to throw ourselves heart and soul into stuff we love, and to eventually see rewards reaped from them. Some people never get that chance.
I haven't exactly been waiting for it to crash around my ears, but I do know I have taken as many opportunities as possible to suck in moments and really appreciate what we've had. It's not usually been the easiest moments that have made me do this - it's been the times when a tantrum is being thrown, or our cash card has been rejected at the till, or I've been so exhausted that I couldn't stop crying. Those are the moments that have made me stop and look at what I do have, and love it all the more, because I know that things change and nothing stays this way forever, so I need to keep walking through that particular season until we come through it and things will change again and I will look back and see it differently.
Never, ever, have I expected perfection. This world is messed up and I've had my nose in books all my life that show me that there is more to life than my little bubble. Everyone of us goes through hard times, although they all look different. This doesn't have to turn us into pessimists though. On the contrary, it should make us look at everything that happens to us and say "Wow!" It should make us seek the wonder in everything. The only reason we experience loss is because we had in the first place. If we start from a place of gratitude, then we see everything in life as a gift, and we don't begrudge the gifts that slip from our fingers. We are grateful for having it all in the first place, and we know we can trust the One who gives, because He's already shown is how good He is at giving, so who knows what else we will be given in the future?
There are still a lot of tears and anger, and wishing things were different, but right now nothing else is as powerful as the wonder, and I hope that it stays that way. Maybe if my grief increases, then my wonder can too. God is good like that.
This week the children will go back to school and I will start doing some difficult tasks like ringing insurance companies and banks to change all our details. I'm not doing any of this alone, thank goodness, as I've been given help every step of the way. But I would appreciate your prayers, particularly for the kids as they step back into reality after a week of holidays and sunshine.
And also as we make preparations for the service of celebration for Richard's life on Monday 9th. It will take place at 12:00 noon at Fulwood Free Methodist Church in Preston, with food provided afterwards, and is open to anyone who would like to attend.
Thankyou again for all the love, prayers and words of support that have been flooding in. It really is amazing, and helps to keep me filled with wonder.