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Key 11: Claim God’s promise that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength.

As a widow recovering from loss, I discovered that the mind knows before the heart accepts. Perhaps that is what Elisabeth Kübler-Ross meant when she listed denial as one of the stages of grief. I never denied the fact that Lev was dead. That was indisputable. However, accepting the reality of life alone was far more difficult.

Even today, almost seven years later, my heart occasionally rebels against that aloneness. My heart rebelled during brief periods of solitude Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, even though my celebration with family lasted four days and five meals, even though my head knew that I needed the down time to preserve my strength. This was by far my best Holiday season without Lev, with lots of quality time with family and friends. I didn’t fall into a single sinkhole.

Nevertheless, in those early-morning hours of Christmas, as I drank my coffee and scanned the newspaper before going to my daughter’s house, I thought:

’Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,
Except Mrs. Claus, who found it quite strange
—Alone in her home was an unhappy change.
The carols were playing, the gifts wrapped with care
But no hope that Santa would soon join her there.
The children were sleeping back home in their bed,
While loneliness filled Mrs. C’s head.

 Keys to Joy thumbnailI did not let myself linger at my pity party, though my loneliness came in waves. I was annoyed with myself as I grimly concluded that I may never become fully accustomed to living alone. As Lev’s close friend and long-time business partner said, “Ella is going to learn how easy Lev made her life.” Yes, he did. And life is harder without him. It’s the little things: Alone in the kitchen cooking Christmas dinner—missing him coming in to check on me, to taste, to clean up my messes, to run to HEB to pick up a forgotten ingredient.

She rose to her feet and with a quick jerk,
She rolled up her sleeves and went right to work.

 Busyness always helps. Gratitude always helps. Acceptance makes contentment possible. Trusting God gives me the strength to move forward step by step, day by day, year by year. My tasks and challenges today are not the same as that mountain I had to climb in 2009. Mainly it’s the simple challenge to keep on keeping on. My silly little poem isn’t finished yet and neither is my life. With God’s help, I expect to find the strength to face tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after.