January 1, 2011, began as normal – a sweet kiss between my Ronny and I at midnight – well, if we were awake! Sometimes it happened the next morning – especially in the later years of our marriage! We were so excited for 2011 – the year we would celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Who would have thought it!! Yes, there were those who doubted our union – especially since we only dated approximately six weeks before getting married.
In January 2011, we celebrated our first-born, Heath's, 37th birthday. Valentine's Day rolled around and we professed our love for each other as lovers do on Valentine's Day. In March, we were so blessed to witness the marriage of our precious nephew, Matthew Ashmore, to his beloved Amanda. We had a wonderful time and danced the night away. In April, it was Easter – such a glorious time in history when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb. We spent Saturday before Easter with the Earley family and friends in Conroe – such a wonderful day –lots of fellowship, dominoes, egg hunts, and telling the Easter Story to the children. Little did we know that on the anniversary of Jesus' ascension into Heaven that our world would be rocked!
On Easter morning, while getting dressed for Sunrise Service at our church, Ronny had a minor stroke which took him to the hospital. It was just to be a one-night stay for observation purposes. Later that evening, he was transferred to ICU and just after midnight on April 25, Ronny suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage which left him in a coma. My entire world came crashing down around me. My heart was shattered as was the rest of our family's hearts. On April 26, as we were all gathered around his bed, he was taken off the respirator and a test was performed to determine his brain activity. During the test, his heart stopped beating. It was over. Being the strong, wonderful man, husband and father that he was, he took care of us once again and removed that decision from us and made it himself. We didn't have to tell them to unplug the machine. He told the physicians for us and spared us. Ron was a very giving person and in his death, he continued to give – he was a tissue donor – helping others.
Why am I repeating this story? When we celebrated the new year, 2011, little did I know it would be our last New Year's kiss. In January, little did I know that it would be Heath's last year to celebrate his birthday with both parents. In March, at Matt and Amanda's wedding, little did I know that it would be our last dance together. In April, at the family Easter celebration, little did I know it would be our last celebration together.
The past eight months have been a complete fog. I am simply 'going through the motions'. I somewhat understand why it is recommended that no major decisions should be made until at least a year after the loss of a spouse. I reflect on the last few months and can honestly say I do not know how I have functioned. Well, I do know – it is simply by the love and grace of God. The One who walks with me, holds my hand, keeps me safe, helps me smile when I really don't want to smile. God is gradually picking up the shattered pieces of my heart and making a new person. I am a work in progress.
The year 2011 was the worst year of my entire 59 years of being alive. I will not begin 2012 with that sweet kiss from my beloved Ron, but begin it as a heart-broken widow. I will relish his memory and all the awesome years we had together, and the many blessings we enjoyed together. Those memories, the love of my God and my family and friends will encourage me to build a new life. Even though my future is uncertain, I choose to embrace the unknown and have faith that everything is going to be okay.
I wish each of you a Happy and Blessed 2012! Please make wise decisions as you celebrate. Please don't drink and drive, please tell your family how much you love them, and most importantly thank God for your blessings. Only God knows our days and when it will be our last day, our last hour. Live each day as though it were your last. One more thing I wish for you, my friend: If you don't have a relationship with God, I encourage to seek Him in 2012.