February 22, 2000, began like so many days I had experienced before. My husband, Michael, woke early, brewed his pot of coffee and drank it as he sat to peruse the newspaper and make his “to do” list for the day. This was his daily practice, to which I had grown so accustomed. February 22, 2000, ended as no other; at 5:35 p.m., my husband put a gun to his head and took his life. His suicide came without warning.
The events surrounding Michael’s death are forever seared into my mind. I can still recall with startling recollection the minute by minute details of that afternoon and evening. The flurry of police activity, the sounds and smells of the hospital ICU, our despondent family as they gathered at the hospital awaiting Michael’s imminent death; phone calls, children I comforted, every moment brought memories I never expected to acquire. In the early hours of February 23, 2000, my life changed forever. That day I lost my husband and my children lost their father. In a moment I lost my position as a wife, helpmate, companion and gained the titles of “widow,” “head of household,” and “single mom.” I was only 37 years old when Michael died. My oldest of 5 children was 15 and my youngest was 8. In my mind I was too young to become a “widow.”
My world was turned upside down and inside out all at once. All I had known and thought would be was cruelly ripped away; I was robbed of my dreams of “happily ever after” or just “ever after.” I was forced to immediately set a new course. As I began to navigate the oft turbulent storms of grief, I had no markers, bearings or sense of familiarity – I was lost. The loss of my spouse left me gasping for air and grasping for anything routine. I was surrounded by family and friends yet felt a loneliness that was indescribable and unbearable. My community embraced me, yet I felt isolation as I struggled with my new identity. I didn’t know another widow my age and longed for someone to ask those simple questions only another widow can understand or appreciate the complexity of the answers.
Through personal grief work with a psychologist, pastors and understanding friends, I slowly began to accept and embrace my “new normalcy.” Not only did I grow into my roles, I was empowered by my new responsibilities as I learned to accept the unwanted titles. Widow’s Walk was born from the desire to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to a widow.
As you read this today, and learn more about our programs and resources, we have already begun praying for you and those that will follow. As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Jesus is nearest to us in our time of grief; the Maker of the Universe is gathering our tears in His bottle, and taking note in His book. Isn’t that a precious picture for those of us who mourn? While we may feel alone in our grief, and struggle to accept our “new normalcy,” Jesus is always near.
Welcome to Widow’s Walk, I look forward to hearing from you and caring for you.
Christina Cassidy Bortz
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