A Widow's Story
It was early Sunday Morning.
About 4 am I reach for my phone.
The sound of T-Mobiles "Life’s Good" jingle was playing at the highest volume.
I quickly awake from a deep sleep and click answer to hear the word’s that I didn’t
want to hear.
"Your husband’s heart stopped beating. We attempted to resuscitate him, but it didn’t
"Ok", was my response.
I calmly got out of bed, got dressed and headed up the hill to Victorville, in silence,
Not ready for the alarm of others emotions that would send me in a downward spiral, I sent alert by text to just a
couple of my loved ones. As I drove through Cajon Pass, I still had a measure of hope. God can raise the dead, so
maybe this is just an issue of faith and he will be ok, this was the silent prayer held on by the love in my heart. I
cried silent tears in this dream of unbelievable reality that was held together by my trust in God and peace.
I arrived to the hospital and as they prepared the body for me to be able to see him one last time, I took
advantage of the opportunity that a chapel was available. So as I waited, I walked down the hospital halls into the
small cell sized chapel, fell to my knees over the bible that ways laid open before the alter and I cried out in worship to God. This is when my heart wrote a prayer that poured out of my mouth, "God, when I can’t understand your ways, help me to trust your love".
I knew God was good and understood that there was more to the matter than I would ever know. I didn’t understand why I had to loose my closest friend after being married for 1.5 years, but I knew without a doubt that I am loved by Him.
As I got up after crying and praying, his brother met me at the door and walked with me to the room to see our loved one, for the last time. I bent over the hospital bed, and peered at the peaceful, beautiful chocolate skin of my husband who just looked like he was asleep. So, of course I had to try it… I bent over, and secretly whispered in his ear “wake up”.
Reverse three days prior, Friday evening after Thanksgiving my honey (my name for him) and I were sitting on either edge of the couch with our legs intertwined watching a movie. I get up to get some food in the kitchen and he calls me in the Living area asking who I was. When he asked that, my heart dropped and I prayed, awww, God, please not again. About a month prior, my friend for 13 years had forgotten who I was. He thought I was a mistress and he was committing adultery with me against his ex-wife. So, I couldn’t bare to go through this pain again. So I walk in and say, "I’m your wife Jessica" and he looks at me funny and says, "I know who you are". Then he asks me intently again, Do you know who you are? I said "Yea, I am a child of the Most High God." By this time I was back on the couch with him and as we watched National Treasure, in the span of 15-20 minutes later he pauses and asks again, “Do you even know who you are?” At that moment I knew he was speaking something deeper than I knew.
A few more minutes pass by and I ask “Ok Honey, are you ready to go to bed?" and he responds, “Yes, I am ready to go”.
This stood out to me because this response was not typical to his character. So I, his sole in home caretaker since Feb of the same year, with our primary source of income being IHSS, I got up to help my husband to bed.
Our bed was huge. A Paul Bunyon run and jump in bed, and my husband wasn’t necessarily heavy set, but he was solid.
As I am helping him get in bed I begin to struggle as I lift his legs behind him. I’m talking trash…in a loving way…telling him, look I need you to help me out, I can’t lift you all the way... He is not responding. So I go to the other end of the bed to see if I can pull him up and he looks like a fish out of water, as if he is gasping for air. I run to the other side, pick him up, lay him on the floor and pray God what do I do and heard, call 911. I called 911 and spoke to emergency as I was being instructed on how to do chest compressions for CPR since blood was coming from his mouth and I couldn’t breathe into him.
When the professionals came, this peace kept me calm and I assisted as much as possible by clearing the drive way and staying out of their way. Then I hear, holy S….He’s breathing.
I was so confident that God would heal my husband, so I was happy that he was resuscitated. I drove to the hospital and stayed with him as much as possible and slept in my car. My husband always getting on me saying, "Make sure you take care of yourself!", as I served him selflessly and sometimes at the expense of my wellbeing, gave me the brilliant idea that Sat evening, to actually follow his advice. So I whisper in his ear, expecting his heart would be delighted, “I’m going to go take care of myself and I will see you in the morning”. I didn’t know that it was the last time I would see him “alive”.
I get the call Sunday morning.
Two weeks later, we are celebrating his life and my heart is overwhelmed to have family and friends there to support me. I get up to sing “his song” which he had previously asked me to sing at his funeral, (For Your Glory by Tasha Cobbs), during the last of three conversations we had together about him passing away and making sure we update the Life Insurance.
Then was the reception, where I learned the ignorance of people and the anger that boils when comments like “well at least you’re young and you can get married again” are said as an elementary way of comfort. I get through the reception, and recruit family to come with me to the house to help me pack, because I had no means to pay rent.
During this time I had gone into a small amount of debt because IHSS wasn’t enough to live on and we were back and forth from the High Desert to LA, seeing Liver Specialist for testing to get approval for transplant and there were some days that he was just really sick and in pain that I couldn’t keep a job and would work with temp agencies off and on. With the Life Insurance Policy never updated as we desired and previously spoke about, I became a heart broken, poor widow with the only money coming in from a yard sale after the funeral and the $500 my landlord graciously gave me to move out of the rental property.
A couple weeks later I contacted SSI to get the $355 payment they give to widows under 55 and moved in with my sister, homeless, sleeping on her couch. Unable to pay the note for my new car, it was repossessed. I then had his truck and my car that did not work and had no tags, so on top of having no personal space of my own I also had no transportation.
Unemployed with no source of income and in an area away from home, I took advantage of the time I had to grieve.
My pastor would text me with minor challenges such as "get up and go outside" or "get up to take a shower today". I allotted myself the freedom to feel whatever emotions that came to me and as I got dressed daily in my husbands’ clothes, with our wedding rings on a necklace around my neck, for 3-4 hours in the morning and evening every day I would journal the pain, anger, unforgiveness, doubt, blame, being mad at God and appreciation for my husband; read the bible and have prayer and worship songs that would soothe my soul.
When I needed to cry, I would cry, and I would ask God to send my husband messages (I still do that from time to time) when I felt the need to talk to him. I tried to go to a grief share group, which I was reluctant to attend because I thought it would just be a group of people crying together, and though it was good information, I didn’t make it through the entire program. However, I did attend a young adult's group at my sisters church, that I committed to, which was very helpful for me.
Being a people person, taking time to be alone was necessary for me. I appreciated the company of people who were closest to me, but I knew alone time was necessary for me to heal because I needed to hear from the one who my husband was now with and learn how to grieve as one that has hope and not fall into deep depression.
As time went on, faithful support began to fall off and I realized people were not ok with the happy Jessica being so disconnected, and they couldn’t handle my need to be sad. What they didn’t know is I wasn’t ready for it either. I had never been in this position before, so I didn’t know what to expect.
I had support, but my major supporter was my mom, who would text me every morning for 4 years to see how I was and drive to me if I needed to be held as I cried.
One of my greatest memories of comfort was after leaving the hospital and first getting the news, I sat on the bed of mine and my husband and tears were running down face. My spiritual sister asked if I wanted something to drink. She brought me some orange juice and then sat, silently next to me. It was one of the greatest acts of comfort I had ever felt.
About 4 months in, I recognized this was a walk alone and that everyone deals with grief in a different manner. I felt like I was in a time trap and everyone around me was progressing while my life stood still, lifeless.
The best information I remember about GriefShare was that grief can cause memory loss and that you grieve the entire person (ex: father, friend, helper, etc). For the 1st year of his loss, I couldn’t remember our home and had to look at pictures to remember his face. As God began to restore me and different needs that My Honey would normally assist me with, like help moving and I couldn’t call him, I would burst into mourning because I missed the one who was always there for me.
Time around holidays, his birthday and our wedding anniversary would be joined with emotions of grief that would erupt out of nowhere automatically as if it was on auto pilot.
The pain of my loss was so great that I physically felt like a knife was in my chest.
As God began to rebuild my life, giving me a job, a home and a car, he began to challenge me to move forward slowly.
One of those challenges was to forgive the doctors who really didn’t care and mistreated us an to not blame myself because there was truly nothing I could have done to change it.
I used to cry every time I heard that ringtone from the night he passed, but over time, it no longer triggered my emotions.
I remember the first Valentine’s Day at my new employer and someone brought flowers for a coworker and when I saw those flowers the emotions built up, and I couldn’t stop crying. So much so I had to end up leaving for the day because my eyes were pouring tears.
I didn’t trust everyone with my vulnerability, so I was careful who I shared my story with and stayed pretty consistent in my schedule and where I went with my emotions. Even now, I still practice self-care in taking small journeys for peace and time with God.
Jan 1, 2017- the Lord challenged me again asking, "Do you want to live?" This is when I learned that when a loved one dies, we can die with them unless we make the choice to live again. This was the day I chose life. I wasn’t suicidal, I was just ready for life to be over so that I can be with him. This is how “LIVE” became the name of the grief classes that we offer.
As I experienced this pain, I knew other people were going through this as well, and I wanted to do something to help. As I sought God in prayer, the idea of a clothing line called “God Is” and "A Widow’s Fight", were placed in my heart. The idea was to create a Christ Centered place for people to come together to be made whole while focusing on healthy self-care practices, with an emphasis on those who are grieving. Today, driven by innovation, creativity, attention to detail and intentionality, this vision was birthed in pain to give others new life through A Widow's Fight, which exists to provide Hope, Healing, Restoration and Transformation to all those who have or will experience loss and whose H.H.R.T.'s are broken.
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