This morning I visited my friend Ken. Today is his 50th wedding anniversary. He and his wife, Audrey, have been my close friends for over 15 years. In August, we found out that Audrey had metastatic melanoma in her liver. She fought a very brave battle but was dead in two months. Her memorial service was three weeks before Thanksgiving; her anniversary party was supposed to be tonight, and in just a few more weeks it will be Christmas. “A time to weep” in what can already be a melancholy time of year – you betcha!

I realized recently that during Audrey’s illness, and throughout the weeks immediately following her death, my strength was incredible. I was able to be with my friend, help take care of her, assist family members with small errands, and maintain constant updates on CaringBridge for friends and family unable to be with her. I wasn’t really aware of being strong until after Audrey had passed away, when I continued to feel a strength that I had expected to disappear soon after her death, when the adrenaline stops pumping.

I was familiar with the concept of loss having lost my mother to cancer when I was just 25.  During those days, I ran to the hospital every day for nine months straight, all while taking care of two small children as a single mom.  When the end came for my mother, I really hit a wall hard – the type made with concrete and reinforced with rebar!!

Then, 15 years ago I lost another dear friend and the same thing happened.  I hit the wall. This time with the death of Audrey, not so much – I have a whole different attitude and feeling about death. What has been the difference? God was not a force in my life 36 years ago, nor was He 15 years ago. Today He is.

My journey with God and Jesus has only been really strong the past two and a half to three years. I know God was in my life before that, but I hadn’t embraced Him or searched His word like I do now. I wasn’t involved in bible studies like I am now. I wasn’t a member of any church like I am now. I didn’t have a Lifegroup, let alone anyone who really cared, like I do now.

I am sad today.  My heart aches for my friend Ken who is facing his 50th anniversary without the love of his life. I miss Audrey every time I walk into her home, or something reminds me of a food she prepared, or the decorations she loved to put up during this holiday season.  But I know I will get through it because my strength comes from the Lord, from knowing what is waiting for us in heaven, and from the intercessory prayers of those who love me and pray for me.

May you find strength this season, and in any season where you need it.  It is there for the taking.

{This post was written by Ann Eastwick.  Ann is the mother of two wonderful grown children and two marvelous grandsons.  Originally from New Jersey, she moved to Jacksonville 30 years ago.  She is a retired paralegal who is now a wedding officiant, helping couples create wedding ceremonies that are special and unique.}

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