No one can warn you of every pitfall in grief because everyone of our journey’s are different. I remember when my mom passed away, I had no idea that emptying the dishwasher or talking to the kind and helpful postal worker would trigger tears. At that point in my life my late husband Bill was very much alive and living life to the full after his first cancer diagnosis while we were stationed on the island of Oahu. We knew there was a 40% chance that the cancer would return and so, like any stubborn Marine and his spouse, we lived in the 60%. And I am so glad we did. This gave us a reprieve from our first cancer journey together and it gave us so many sweet memories to focus on during Bill’s second, and terminal, cancer diagnosis.
Bill didn’t wear a watch after some point in our marriage but he started wearing an “I Am Second” bracelet after he heard about their mission from a friend. Bill ran in one of their 5K events and he wore his bracelet until the day he went home to be with Jesus on September 17, 2020. I knew right away, as I was taking his bracelet off that I would immediately start wearing it. It gave me comfort, made me smile, and it was a very small way to honor his memory. Until the day I lost the bracelet and then I totally “lost it” for the first time since becoming a widow. I cried and searched for his bracelet every where. I was devastated! Life felt so cruel in that moment and I cried and sobbed and prayed until I calmed down. I wasn’t any happier the next day, as I had not found his bracelet, but I had to come to terms with the fact that it was gone and that I would survive. I allowed the Lord to minister to my heart and I moved on. I reminded myself that losing his bracelet wasn’t losing him all over again and that his impact wouldn’t change because of a lost piece of rubber.
Fast forward many months later and I put my hands into an “old” pair of dish gloves that I had put away and there was something inside. I am smiling and tears are welling up as I type this remembering in that moment that I knew immediately what that unseen item was. I had friends over and I got to celebrate with them that the lost “I Am Second” bracelet was found. God was so sweet to me that day. Even that small token, which did not feel small to me, mattered to God. I still have the bracelet on and I know, one day, I may lose it again and this time it may be gone forever. However, I will never forget this “God in the details” moment when I got to rejoice in finding a token of the way my late husband lived. He lived second to God and shared that mission with anyone who asked about his bracelet.
This story resonates even more with me now as we just celebrated Resurrection Sunday. The month of April is both a somber one and full of much to celebrate. We both celebrated our birthdays together and April 1996 is when Bill committed his life to Christ. Easter Sunday is the sweet reminder that Christ came to find and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Luke 19:10 (NLT) “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
We are all lost and in need of a Savior. Our lives are way more important to God than a rubber bracelet that will one day be lost again or destroyed. Our lives mattered so much to Jesus that He willingly went to the cross and died for us so we didn’t have to. I am so GR8TFUL to God for the daily reminder, in the form of a black bracelet with white letters, that He is worthy of first place in my life. He is the God that redeems. And, He is the God that sees me, and us, in our most painful seasons and is right with us in the pain. Sometimes He returns lost items and sometimes He sits in the painful place with us. Either way, God is good!