This Easter, the day that Christians everywhere celebrated with rejoicing and singing, also marked six months since I became a widow. It is staggering to celebrate a day which marks Christ's resurrection from a grave, and Nathan's descent into one. How has it already been six months since I heard Nate's voice, made his last supper, hugged and kissed him goodbye for the last time?
God has been merciful to me this past week. Instead of the crushing despair that I imagined, I have felt a growing sense of victory. Christ rose from the grave victorious over sin and over eternal death. In His ultimate victory, Nathan has also found victory. He has confronted our biggest enemy, Death, and won. He has prevailed over sin once and for all, and is now living the Great Adventure that will continue for all eternity.
I used to fantasize constantly about Nathan coming back. I half expected him to; it was too incomprehensible that I would never see him again until I join him in heaven. Now, although I long for Nate with everything I am, I'm convinced that, given the choice, he wouldn't even want to come back. Heaven is that wonderful and his perspective has changed so much that I believe it will feel like the blink of an eye to him before we're all together again, never to be apart.
I want to share two things that have filled me with hope over this past week in particular. The first is a rare foretaste that I had of Nate in paradise. In May 2014 we spent a week in Turks & Caicos, and it was the stuff his dreams were made of. He basked in the shimmering turquoise ocean and endless stretches of white beach, completely fulfilled and at peace. He never wanted to leave. Jordan and Christene were with us and sometimes the three of us would go off exploring or shopping. Nate refused to leave the beach. Once we came back and couldn't find him until I spotted a tiny speck floating all alone in the vast blueness. I remember thinking that Nate was as close to heaven as anyone could be in this life.
I am so grateful for these memories because they are a glimpse of what Nate is now experiencing. His dreams have come true, his deepest longings are fulfilled, his goals are attained, his soul is forever satisfied. And yet I know he misses me. I got to Turks & Caicos a couple days after he did, and while he was waiting for me he sent me this picture with the caption: "I'm incomplete without you..."
In my mind's eye Nathan is exploring and rejoicing and delighting in Paradise, tingling with the anticipation of one day sharing it with me and Elissa and all of us who love and long for him more than ever.
The second thing I want to share is Nate's last text to me, sent six months ago today after he was released early from night shift. Before I knew that his soul was already home, I woke up to this message: "Praying for you! I can't wait to see you...going to get home early :)"
I still get chills at these last words from him. Little did he know that within moments he would be HOME, in the fullest sense of the word, earlier than any of us could have imagined. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is praying for me. I know he can't wait to see me. And I can only imagine that famous smile, the last thing he left me, dazzling with all the radiance of heaven.