Thoughts from Writing Chapter 4 of Suddenly Widowed
As a mother, there are times when instinct just takes over. There is no need to consciously think, plan, or make decisions. It’s in times of danger or crisis when this seems to kick in out of thin air. This was my experience when I turned into my cul-de-sac after having to identify my husband’s body. My next responsibility was telling our children that their dad was never coming home again.
I had to be strong for my children; I needed to reassure them that they, we, would be okay. I didn’t know how we were going to be okay, or even if we would be, but I had to show unshakable certainty to my children. I had to appear as though I knew just what to do. But I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a plan or know what words I would use. My focus was singular, narrowed to my children’s well-being and nothing else mattered.
As I was writing the book, I relived every moment, lingering longer on some memories and emotions more than others. Just the process of writing my story was cathartic. I recognized strengths and weaknesses in myself that I hadn’t acknowledged before. I was able to both relive individual moments and disassociate myself from those same moments, providing greater clarity of the person I was and the person I’ve become. I also had some amazing realizations along the way.
That motherly instinct, well, that’s unconditional love, selfless love, and it was in writing this chapter that I discovered that in myself. I had always had it in me, as I believe most of us do, the ability to love others more than ourself. I had simply never identified or acknowledged it. What a gift this is, not only the ability to love selflessly, but the recognition that comes from within when we recognize this quality in ourselves.
…I realize what true love is. This was the worst day of my life. I lost my husband, my family unit, my security, everything that I knew. Yet, none of that surfaced once I stepped out of my mom’s car, nor did it matter because my greatest pain was for my children. The trajectory of their lives would be forever altered in ways no one could anticipate or control. The love I had for my children was completely selfless in that moment. I am still awed by and grateful for the ability to love like that.