8 years ago today my faith began to drastically change. I was so angry at Kevin’s oncologist in Lancaster who told us there was nothing more they could do. I called the pastor of my parent’s church to organize a prayer vigil in the hospital chapel for Kevin that night. I asked that they pray we could get to Hopkins. I was certain that when we got to Hopkins and saw Dr. Thornton that our outlook would change. I believed it. I believed in Miracles. I believed that prayer changed outcomes.
Today I don’t feel that way. I think there is power in prayer. I believe that to pray and be connected with a higher being can give you great comfort and can diminish that sense of loss and helplessness that we often feel here on earth. I believe prayer can change outlook, not outcome. But I struggle to believe that 1,000 people praying for 1 thing will change the outcome. I can’t believe that the God I believe in would hear those prayers and choose not to listen. I can’t believe that after all we prayed, and believed, that God would still allow Kevin to die 10 days later.
I do believe that we have choice on this earth but that our ending days are already predetermined. I don’t believe prayer changes that. I believe it’s written in the universe. Just as I believe “miracles” are written in the universe. They are bound to happen and when it does, it feels miraculous and wonderfully timely. It’s difficult to embrace the loss of a partner you chose, someone who chose you, and ultimately realizing there wasn’t much you could have done to prevent their death. I think it allows me grace to forgive myself for some of the choices we made along the way. It allows me to move forward. Instead of thinking that I should have prayed more, I should have fought more, I should have done ____, ____, ____, I think that there’s nothing else I could have done. We tried it all. It didn’t work. It was his time however unfair that felt and still feels 8 years later.
In some ways my faith these days feels very cold and calculated. Faith used to feel very mystical to me – like the great higher power lingers over everything. I don’t feel that way anymore. I try to place my feelings of faith in the things that I know to be true and that still give me hope to believe that there is greater good here on earth, and that there is an eternity of beauty waiting for me somewhere after this life. I see faith in the goodness of people who choose to do risky and honorable things in spite of consequences against themselves. I see faith in a humanity that chooses to love one another in spite of our bitter flaws. I see faith in the beauty of hundreds of widows gathering together to support one another in these epic losses in our lives. I see faith in two people joined together in marriage after roads paved with sadness. And I feel faith when I think of the beautiful, healing, cancer-free eternity where Kevin is. I have to believe that it exists. That gives me faith and hope.
As 8 years approaches on October 28th, I’ll be setting off on a weekend away with other widows including my mother in law-Kevin’s mother. I feel honored to be able to take them to a beautiful place to be feel connected together here on earth. I believe in a higher power that brought me to this place to help others, in a higher power that has allowed me to love beyond the pain, in a higher power that has given me grace and forgiveness for the questionable choices I have made along this journey of grief, in a higher power that continues to open doors when I’m at my end. I believe. It’s just nothing like it was 8 years ago this day. I’m blessed to be able to question faith, to observe life, to fellowship with believers and non, to love across all borders, and to live life with choice.