Y’all, I’ve been widowed 13 years.
Wait: for the people that know me, they are thinking, “Y’all? Did she say y’all?” I am not from the south, I just really love that phrase. Let’s get back to my story, friends!
I’m not a “recent” widow. I’m not actively grieving. I still have moments, occasions, days, milestones where I’m sad, heartbroken and lonely. But it’s not my norm anymore, by the grace of God and lots of support from friends and family.
But this weekend, out of seemingly nowhere, I had the saddest thought I’ve had in a long time. I feel like it was triggered by something my daughter said, but I can’t even remember now what it was. I just remember feeling like a dark cloud loomed over me and my heart sank.
I realized, being a widow, that my children’s children won’t have a grandpa. Think about that. They’ll just have me. Just a grandma. I grew up without a grandpa (both maternal and paternal grandfathers died before I was born), and I always felt that missing piece. I adored my grandmothers and think about them so often and just wonder what having a grandpa would feel like. And for whatever reason, this weekend it just made me sad that my grandchildren will have a missing piece in their life, too.
For those that are widowed, your obvious absence is your spouse. You realize you’ve lost a spouse and your kids have lost a father. Your in-laws have lost a child. Siblings have felt a loss and so have cousins, neighbors and friends. And so on. But in 13 years, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about my children’s children missing a grandpa. It’s so strange how we adjust to life without our person and yet, still 13 years later have these new realizations that hit hard.
We want our kids to have what we had, what we loved, what we treasure from our past. Realizing something is missing and there’s nothing we can do to fix it is tough.
When I shared my feelings with some close friends, one agreed that coincidentally she, too, had a tough realization this weekend. Her granddaughters proudly declared that they have three cousins. While listening to their excitement, my friend counted her 38 cousins that she grew up with and spent so much time with. My friend never intended to have only one child but there are things out of our control and we do our best to be grateful for what God allows us to have. My friend, too, realized the strangeness of “missing cousins.” Luckily in her granddaughters’ case, they have three cousins from their dad’s side of the family.
And so it could be with my grandchildren, too. They may get a grandpa if my children marry someone who has a living father. And now as I think through this, I shake my head slightly. What in the world am I doing thinking about such things that I really do not have control over? Especially when the timeframe of my “grandchildren” is at least (hopefully) ten plus years away? Why do we do this to ourselves? We think about sad things, about the way things should be but aren’t, what we wish could be. What do we do about this? Why must we torture ourselves in this way?
I don’t have the answers. But I do believe that God provides what we need in the best way that they need it. While I missed out on my own grandpas, I had many years of special moments with my grandmas. And my kids have wonderful grandpas (and grandmas) to cherish. Life isn’t fair, that’s for sure. We don’t all get to experience the joy of the same relationships. We simply have to accept what we’ve been given and treasure those relationships that we have. And it’s ok to be sad for a time; but just don’t stay there too long. Lord willing, tomorrow brings a new day and many reasons to love the spot we’re in and make the best of the moments we have with the ones that God provides. (And try not to think about 10+ years from now!)