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The moment I decided, I would be ok

When your greatest fear becomes reality, what do you do?

I think, you have two choices. Allow this reality to define or refine you.

The moment I decided, I would be ok

I follow a lady on social who works exclusively with widows.  She is a widow herself now for 5-6 years and has a real voice and understanding on what it's like to be a widow.  This week she was talking about when she made a decision that she would be ok after her husband died and challenged her followers to write about when they made that decision.  This is actually nothing I had thought about before she said it, but it is something I (now) distinctly remember.
The day that Joe passed is still a whirlwind of activity, a lot of it a blur to me.
Things I remember.  Finding him.  Trying to wake him.  Calling 911.  Moving his body to a flat surface so I could perform CPR.  Performing CPR and realizing just how dang hard it is on a real person.  The kids screaming and begging him to wake up.  The paramedics coming into our bedroom, and hooking up monitors, then telling me he was gone. 
The next hour or so is a blur, but I know I made a lot of phone calls and resolved quickly in my mind that he was gone. 
In some way, I already knew. 
I knew before I came home. 
I knew when I saw him.
I just knew.
Something in my heart told me it was his time.  It didn't stop me from trying everything I could to bring him back, but God had already called him home. 
My parents picked Katie up from work that day and brought her home.  I remember her getting to the house, retelling her and begging her not to go upstairs to see Joe's body.  I didn't want her to remember him that way. 
I remember Alli getting home from school and restarting the emotions of everything with her.
I remember wanting to vacuum the floors, over and over and over again. 
I remember my dad coming upstairs to stay with Joe until the coroner arrived in our home.  He was so wonderful and stayed up in our bedroom.  He opened the windows to air out the room of the smell of death.  He cleaned my rugs.  He made sure Joe was presentable.  Lord only knows what else he did, but he did all the things I could not. 
I remember talking with the police and filing reports. I remember them asking which funeral home I wanted to go to. I remember making so many decisions in what seemed like rapid fire time.
I remember the coroner coming in and my dad taking them upstairs, and I remember them bringing Joe's body down the stairs, out the front door and into the van to the hospital for the final declaration of death. 
If you don't know my dad, he's pretty amazing.  He was just here, holding space for me to be, and to process. I can't remember what all I said that day - again, such a blur - but I distinctly remember starting the conversation with him of, How am I going to do this? What am I going to do now with Joe gone?
I actually feared this event for years. From the day they diagnosed his heart condition, I feared he would die early. I feared he would leave me with the kids, and I wouldn't know what to do. He and I actually discussed it two days prior when he shared he hadn't been feeling well.
Did he know?
I don't know, and it's not something I will dwell on.
When your greatest fear becomes reality, what do you do?

I think, you have two choices. Allow this reality to define or refine you.
We all have choices in life. We all have circumstances that would bring others to their knees. We all have something we have dealt with, and if you haven't, get ready, because you will. These events, this pain, it's our common denominator. It's how we relate to others in life.
Back to this conversation with my dad. I remember telling him, I can do this. There are women out there every single day who do this. Single moms. Divorced moms. Widows. They figure it out, and I will too.
I said he's amazing right? He looked me right in the eye and said, I have no doubt. You will be just fine. Yes, you can do this, and I know you will. We will be right here by your side helping along the way too. (and he and my mom have been)
I believe this is where our family motto was birthed: We can do hard things, and we will figure it out.
That's not really a refined motto, but it works for us. We recite this to each other often.
We can do hard things.
We will figure it out.
We have. As a family, and as individuals. Like I said, life has a common denominator of pain. We have all been through something, but we also all have a choice on how we let it define or refine us. For our family, refinement was the only option.
So how do you make that decision? You just decide.
It's simply said, and not so simply done.
It's a one foot in front of the other, worry only about the next breath kind of decision. A thought only of what next, and don't get wrapped up in the big picture. Slightly easier done when you have faith. As a family we had been building our faith in church, but this one event catapulted us into next level faith.

But this, this one decision will require supernatural power. This is not something you can do on your own. You will need supernatural power, the only kind of power that God can provide.
A event like this will do nothing short of knock you to your knees, and that's where we have the most power. That's where you can begin to pray and cry out to God. That's where He met me. In the middle of the muck, on the floor crying and screaming and pleading with him.
I won't speak for the kids, they have their own voices of triumph with this, but God met me there. He met me on the floor, where I had nothing in me to get up. He met me in my pain. He held me in my sorrow. He is my strength. He is the reason I have made it through. He has met me over and over and over agin. He grabbed my hands and said, let's walk through this, together. I'll help you figure it out, and I'll help you do the hard things.
So yes, a decision was made the day Joe died, and that decision was to live without him.

To embrace all I had left in this life.
To love big.
To life big.
To live big.
...and I'm doing just that.