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Ten Years a Widow Closer Widow Repair

On March 20, 2006, I became a widow of suicide.

Ten years later, I’m thankful to write that I have closure.

It wasn’t a countdown. Ten years is not the magic number for peace.

Peace and acceptance came to me gradually.


 

How do you find closure?  According to the textbook definition, you must have an answer.  

But there was no answer.

Jason did not leave a note. He did not explain why he left the world in the way he did.

At my worst moments, I screamed out loud, “Why did you do this to me?”

Jason had the answer which could set me on track to heal my heart…but death made him unreachable.

I feared that I would never have consistent happiness again.

 

Early Widowhood

Even in tragedy, I am fortunate to be emotionally balanced.

Immediately, I began writing in journals and diaries. Although I could not make sense of his loss, writing made me face it. Writing helped me to organize my thoughts one day, and it gave me a private outlet for confusion and pain the next day.

Friends from my childhood set off on trips with me, or they simply listened any time that I wanted to talk about Jason.

Step-by-step goals gave me a reason to be here: Get a job. Learn the history for the tours. Make the tourists smile. Go to college. Finish the paper, and the next one. Get a degree. Pay off credit card debt. Pay off the truck loan. Go to church. Read the entire Bible. Read it again.

Succeeding at these goals made a better future for me and Caleb.

My parents prayed for me. I have a strong foundation and a strong support system.

Over time, I let go of my feelings of abandonment. I no longer clamber after Jason’s memory, begging him to help me understand.

Little by little, I was distracted by life and the wonderful people around me.

 

Finding Closure

In 2015, it was on my heart to walk to Jason’s gravesite. The amount of time caught in my throat—here it was nearly ten years, and there was no headstone.

I set a new goal—to have a memorial completed for Jason before the ten year anniversary of his death.

I was still struggling financially because my family was harassed with litigation in 2014, but I wasn’t alone in seeking to make this happen.

Many wonderful people stepped in to help, and we also received messages of encouragement. I met some of Jason’s old friends, and they shared memories. These memories are so important because they help Caleb to know his father.

Ten Years a Widow Closure Widow Repair Jason Drew

I never imagined it would be so hard to decide on a particular stone or engraving. We settled on something very traditional, yet the words are so candid and so absolute after everything we have been through:

Loving Husband and Father

I no longer question, “Why did you do this to me?” I believe that when Jason died, he was incoherent, and his mind was in a state of imbalance. He was not fully conscious of what he was doing. I know this because I know Jason. He would never cause us pain if he could help it.

I also chose a verse:

John 10:28

According to some Christian denominations, suicide is an “unforgivable sin.” I struggled with this until I spoke with a counselor at church who gave me examples of the correct theology.

The words of John 10:28 always gave me peace:

 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

no one will snatch them out of My hand.

 

We will see each other again because Jason asked Christ to save him, and that made him a child of God. No one and nothing could snatch Jason out of God’s hand.

No longer do I burden myself to discover an answer based on the minutiae that I can dredge up in memories. Closure is not dependent on that textbook answer.

Closure, for me, came with the peace of the verse.

Closure came with accepting and embracing the changes in my life.

I feel closure in reading Jason’s memorial because the words reflect his heart. I feel closure for Jason because the verse is a reminder that he is singing in heaven.

And I will always remember the life, the laughter, the love.

Widow Repair Re-Create Family Traditions

Last week, my nine-year-old son Caleb asked me to cook some crab legs and lobster tails.

He was six the last time I offered him crab legs. We were at a friend’s house for a feast of King Crabs. Caleb took one suspicious look at the giant spiny legs and refused.

I reminded him of this, but also admitted that it took me a long time to try new foods. Everyone in Beaufort thought I was crazy not to love seafood!

I launched into my narration: “I was 19 when I first ate crab legs and lobster! Your dad took me to Red Lobster…” I smiled with memories, and I wish he could see and hear his dad like I can.

Flashback: Summer of 2004. I was 19.

Jason and I spent the day on the river, then rushed back to his house to get cleaned up. We were completely exhausted from sun and swimming, but also starving.

“How fast can you get ready?” he asked. “All that time on the water makes me want seafood. Let’s go to Savannah!”

There wasn’t enough time to blowdry my hair, so I curled it around my hand and let it dry by the open windows of Jason’s Sport Trac.

Looking back on it now, I think of how spontaneous we were. I’ve never been one to take anything for granted. I enjoyed every minute of that day on the boat and our mad rush to get ready. I remember how the fading sunshine felt on my skin and the balmy air as we sped down the highway. My love was singing along to the radio beside me.

 

Jason ordered the Ultimate Seafood Platter and rolled his shirt back to three-quarter sleeves. At his insistence, I tried a bite of lobster dipped in melted butter. Next, he taught me how to crack open the crab legs.

Delicious! I quickly lost interest in my shrimp pasta.

He was so eager and generous about sharing something he loves. I think that made our meal all the more romantic and intimate.

I counted it as One of the Best Days I’ve Ever Had. I still do.

I didn’t know that it would still be so fresh in my mind this many years later. That I would talk about it over and over again. That I would tell our son the same story. Although it’s not really a story. It was just a day.

 

Fulfilling a Family Tradition

Fast forward to the past weekend:

Everyone in the Lowcountry will write off Red Lobster as a chain restaurant, but for me, it was like fulfilling a family tradition. We ordered Jason’s go-to dish—the Ultimate Seafood Platter.

The waitress asked if Caleb had ever eaten crab legs, then gave him an expert demonstration. She cracked it open and pulled the first intact piece from its shell. Caleb’s eyes were huge, and he tore into the feast until there were only a few fried shrimp leftover.

He declared that we should have a seafood night every weekend. I see a few lazy afternoons of crabbing in our future, and I realized that I’m in a good place.

When Caleb discovers something new, I’m happy to share stories of his dad. The pain of the past is leaving me, and I look forward to making new memories with our son.

Widow Repair Re-Create Family Traditions

 

Healing Over Time

You can’t force grief out of your memories. You can’t fast forward emotionally.

I spent so much time feeling like I was anchored in a sea of pain. Every day I drove across Lemon Island, but my memories were clouded with the knowledge of a hopeless future.

Instead of swimming with him beside the boat, we were drowning. The boat was sinking. I was suffocating.

One day you will find your windshield wipers—something to whisk away the rain that stole the joy of your memories.

For me, part of it was time. Time has been healing for me, no matter how cliche that might sound.

Thankfully, I have much more than time. I have our son. His enthusiasm helps me to see the past, untainted.

 

Find Your Symbol of Happiness

Now, I pull up the rope and watch the pain—the water—filter through the netting. All that’s left is a crab, a little symbol of happiness.

Jason leaning toward me with a bite of lobster on his fork. He cups his other hand under it, to catch the dripping butter.

…Caleb holding a crab leg under his nose like it’s a mustache. I push his sleeve back to his elbow, and he holds up his other arm so I can roll back the left side. I place the cloth napkin on his lap.

Healing comes when you are ready. I will keep my eyes open for more opportunities to re-create family traditions, to share stories about Jason.