My Husband Died Last Week

I can’t exactly remember the moment that Kevin and I called each other boyfriend and girlfriend.  I suppose I should, because it was a really big deal to me.  He was my first and only boyfriend.  But I of course remember the moment, just a few months later, when he got down on one knee and proposed, then surprised me with an engagement party where I happily told everyone and anyone who would listen that “Kevin was my fiancé!”

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And one of my absolute favorite memories was, the morning after our wedding, waking up next to him and saying, “Hi husband.”  And him saying to me, “Hi wife.”  I remember it feeling so silly and odd and fun, yet comforting and normal all at the same time.  Saying fiancé was just plain fun because it sounded so fancy.  And since we’d had a two and a half month engagement (Which I highly recommend, by the way!) I’d only just gotten used to saying fiancé when it was time to switch to husband.  I loved it, and loved it even more when I would accidentally start to say “fian-I mean, husband.”  Which of course let everyone know that we were newlyweds because I wasn’t used to saying it yet.

I loved the sense of inclusion that being husband and wife made me feel.  Kevin agreed.  Before we started dating, all his usernames were things like 3rdwheel.  Almost all of his friends were already married, and he had been the lone single guy in his core group for quite a while.  When we started dating, and especially when we got married, we felt included as part of the “in crowd.”  For me, who had struggled my entire life with making friends, this was an especially big deal.  I suddenly was welcomed into this group of friends that Kevin had known since childhood and they were, consciously or not, excited to be able to share all the fun things that being a couple meant.

As our marriage deepened over time, both Kevin and I became closer and closer, not so much craving the feeling of inclusion amongst all our married and couple friends, but enjoying the sense of deep satisfaction and comfort that came from being a part of Team Hill, a dynamic duo that could conquer the world if we chose to.  I loved more than anything the deep knowing that someone loved me unconditionally, not because they had to, but because they chose to.  And the fact that this person loved me, knowing each and every one of my flaws more intimately than anyone in the world, well that was just the icing on the cake.

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I loved it when Kevin would introduce me or refer to me as his wife.  I suppose there’s a reason that Jesus uses marriage as an analogy for His relationship with humans.  That sense of being chosen, loved unconditionally, and knowing that there was one person in the world who, even if he didn’t always take your side, would always always always be on your team.  And once we held our own “only begotten son” in our arms, we happily tried on even more new names…mother, and father.  I think in that moment, we first began to truly glimpse just the tiniest bit of how God could love us beyond all imagination, even when we were a screaming, squalling mess.

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Last week I started to try on a new term – widow.

I am a widow.

My husband is dead.  Now he is my “late” husband.

I am a single mom.

I am alone.

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I know that the Sunday School answer is that you are never truly alone, and that Jesus is all you need, but let’s be honest here.  Jesus can’t reach out and wrap his arms around me as Kevin did, even as he lay dying.  Jesus can’t go to work and pay the bills for our family or teach my son how to play baseball or how to ride a two wheeler.  Jesus can’t walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding.  Jesus can’t fix the kitchen sink (although if I’m honest, Kevin probably couldn’t have either 😉  Jesus can’t manage our family’s finances or talk things through with me until two in the morning or entertain my zany ideas and then bring me back to reality while still letting me hang onto my dreams.  Jesus can’t sit on my porch with me and have a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise, his hand protectively on my knee or his fingers laced through mine.

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I believe in God.  I truly do.  And I believe in the Christian understanding of God, and the mystery of how he sent His only son, in human form, to offer the ultimate sacrifice that would allow us to be in relationship with Him.  I believe in the mystery of it all, even when I don’t understand it.  I’ve thought it through many times, multiple times a day on most days.  I sit and wonder if I’m just talking to an imaginary friend, or voices in my head, or if I’m just praying and talking about God to make myself look spiritual in front of others, and that probably not, otherwise why would I be praying even when no one else is watching?  I sit and ponder it all through because God, well he isn’t something we can feel in the way we were created to feel.  We can’t touch Him, see Him, breathe in His scent that has not yet washed away from his clothing.

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Yet where I ultimately end up is, what’s the alternative?  Nothingness?  No purpose or plan to our life here on earth?  No meaning to the misery and suffering?  And that ALL the crazy, amazing things that have happened in Kevin’s and my life must be attributed to chance?

Well, honestly, none of that makes much sense either.

In my doubting, Kevin would tell me again and again about Peter, who even as his world and everything he had believed in was crumbling around him and nothing made sense, said to Jesus, “Where else would we go?” [John 6:68]

Like I said, what’s the alternative?

For whatever reason, every single time, every. single. time… I always end up coming around that it would be harder for me to make the case not to believe in God than to believe in Him.  And for me, the next step from that is that it makes much more sense to believe that God is completely powerful, completely good, and that none of this is a surprise to Him.  And my being able to believe that in the midst of all this is miracle enough to prove to me that God is with us.

There will be plenty of time for me to explore theodicy (Kevin would be so proud of me), but for now, I simply rest that even in my pain, God is still with me, He is still good, and He is still in control.

Which means that whether I feel it or not, I am not alone.

Yes, I am a widow, and that is a rather surreal hat to wear.  I am a single mom, and that reality has come crashing down on me faster than anything else.  I am alone in the sense that my earthly marriage with Kevin is over and he is no longer a part of Team Hill with me.  Having felt alone for so much of my life in one way or another, I had a precious eight years (nine if you count our dating) where I felt the love of Jesus in a physical, tangible way that went beyond all comprehension.  In my marriage to Kevin, I often felt “Christ with flesh on” as our good friend Bob used to put it.  I’m fully aware that eight awesome years are more than many people have even in thirty or forty years of marriage.

I feel alone and lost and I imagine I will feel this way for a long time.

I’m not going to end this by saying it’s all going to be okay and that I’ve figured out how to depend on Jesus alone, knowing our marriage was merely the tiniest of a shadow of what true, unconditional love looks like.  I wish I could just say that.  It certainly would sound very spiritual and start tying things up and setting the stage for the next chapter of my family’s life quite nicely.  But honestly, I don’t know what I feel.  I hope I can find a way to depend on “Christ alone” as the song says.  It took me a while to learn how to depend on Kevin alone.  It took me a while to learn how to sleep in the same bed with another person, how to share everything in life even more than I ever did with my own twin sister.  It took a long time to learn how to let go of my own single girl independence and become interdependent and then completely dependent on another person.  I believe that the Sunday School answer, “Jesus is all you need” can be true.  People say it for a reason.  The Bible tells us this is true.  But just as it took time to learn how to be truly a part of Team Hill, this will take time.  It will take time to learn what it means to be a widow, a single mom, alone in this world, yet never truly alone.  This will all take time, and I pray to God, who I’m pretty sure I believe in, to allow me all the grace and time I need.

Peace to you all, and thank you again and again and again for all of your love, prayers, support, and unfailing faith that there is goodness in the world if we only choose to see it.

43 thoughts on “My Husband Died Last Week

  1. You have an amazing gift to say in words exactly what I feel. I truly do understand….this new “title” widow….feels strange and uncomfortable. But I am taking each day, sometimes moments, to continue to trust The Lord with my life and HIS love for me. I have been praying for you all the time since meeting you the week after my hubby passed. You have some wonderful people who support you and care for you, lean on them during those hard times when you need the shoulder to cry on, Christ has given them to you as HIS GIFT. the journey ahead will be hard because of your love for your dear hubby. We can face each day because of HIS love for us….Phil 4:13. Thankful to have met you and will continue to pray always for you…much love, dear Rachel.

  2. Dear Rachel,
    I have been following “A Quiet Life” for a short time. I am a second cousin of Eric Petersen and he shares your writing. I am deeply sorry for your loss. I would offer this as encouragement – my parents were married in their mid to late thirties. They were married only 8 years and my brother and I were 5 and 7 when Dad died of Crohn’s disease in 1961. Our life was a good one because Mom never gave up. We took vacations, gardened, my brother played basketball in high school and we have both been married for over 25 years . Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do this. It will take a while to find your feet; but it will come and your kids will be ok. You can teach your kids to ride a bike! Mom used to say “Our needs were our wants.” Hang in there.
    God will see you through. You will all learn to smile again.

  3. Rachel girl, I have a book that I write down things that inspire me or speak to me. I’m proud to say that you are written in my book at least twice! You have much wisdom in your thoughts. Please don’t ever stop writing. I can “hear” you when I read your words. So for you, although I don’t have the author, I found these words in my book : A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey – but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong”. Love and continued prayers to you, precious woman. I’ll see you tomorrow.

  4. Rachel,

    You and your family are in my prayers. Many hugs to you sweet girl. Keep writing, it is good in so many ways. Good for you and good for the readers. I thank you for sharing.

    Love in Christ.

    Tammy (Village Church)

  5. Rachel,
    THANK YOU for sharing this beautiful, painful, intimate journey with so many people. As I said before, your faith and determination has inspired me during what has been one of the hardest years of my life. My mom died in May 2012 of liver failure ultimately due to her two time bout with cancer.
    Although the relationship is so vastly different, I am an only child, and so I have struggled with many of the same emotions- feeling alone (who else can you call to talk about nothing with?), wondering where God was on that one, not feeling sure where or who I belong to despite having a husband, children, and an amazing father.
    And yet, I have found a sense of peace (sometimes masked by desperation) that I will again see her for eternity.
    You two fought an incredible fight. You gave so much hope, perspective, and faith to so many people. I’m sure that many were caused to look to God that hadn’t looked His way in a long time.
    You both have been inspirational and I hope that you continue to update us and allow us all to be a “part” of your story.
    I found a website the other day that has helped me more than I thought it would and I wanted to share it with you. I wish I had known about it months ago, but I was prideful and thought I could do it on my own. It is griefshare.org. It is Christ and bible based. You can sign up for daily emails of scripture based encouragement and you can also search for a local grief support group.
    God bless you and your children Rachel. You CAN do this.
    Love and prayers,
    Jessica

  6. I too am amazed at how you are able to voice your thoughts so honestly. I can’t imagine what you are feeling or how you are functioning. Just know that we are praying for God to be with you and your family through this journey. I look forward to seeing you back in Atlanta.

  7. First, my condolences and prayers for you, Rachel. Secondly, thank you for putting into words what I felt nearly 14 years ago when I lost my husband and was nine months pregnant with our first child. I knew God was there and that Jesus would not forsake me, but…you know. Thirdly, it is with deep sorrow that I “welcome” you to the club that no one wants to join…the widow’s club…the club dues are just too damned high. Hugs to you…

  8. Dearest Rachel,

    You and your children are inspiring and loved. We wish that we could do more for you all, but you certainly have our prayers each and every day and our hugs (if only from afar). We will see you tomorrow and hug you as much as possible. Please, call and/or write us any time. I will give our contact information to Sarah or to you tomorrow.

    Your true thoughts are His TRUTH and He is also suffering with you and your beautiful babies. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His SAINTS” (Psalms 116:15, ESV) and we all know that Kevin is one of His SAINTS. And, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). He is with you and He truly does understand your pain. We all love you very much…and He loves even MORE! I hope these verses are not stated too soon…you are very dear to us and we hope you know how dear you are to God.

    Your writing will inspire many forever!

    Blessings and Honor,
    Ed, Christine and the family

  9. Touching. Moved. Tears. Please write a book! I have someone I would like for you to talk to who has walked in your shoes when you are ready. Much love to you and your children.

  10. Rachel,
    I have been truly moved by your presence, grace and a wisdom that is so far beyond your years. If “Grace” has and earthly form, it is you. I have to say that you have touched my very soul, strengthen my faith, broadened my thoughts and humbled me greatly. I consider it to be a great honor to have met you, shared with you and to serve you and your beautiful children. And yes, your pain is unimaginable but remember that the sunshine always comes back out after the storm, it is going to take time for the storm to leave, but I believe in my heart that you can and will weather this storm. You are a beautiful woman, mother and wife and I pray that God will wrap his loving arms around you and your children, give you peace, comfort and direction. You are in my daily prayers.
    Warm Regards, Wendy Eidson

  11. I lost my spouse to breast cancer when she was 41 in 1996. We had three girls (16-15- & 8). All of your shared feelings bring back the memories of those difficult times. I tell people to this day that I do not know how anyone makes it through life’s struggles without a personal relationship with Christ. I pray that He will stand with you and your family now and know that you will see new mercies every day as you grow in your relationship with Him.

  12. (((Hugs))) and prayers. ThankYou for sharing so honestly . I pray for a double portion of God’s power, love, grace, mercy, peace, strength and joy to fill your spirit.

  13. Rachel this was a wonderful message and you are a terrific writer. I know this will not be an esy jopurney but know that Kevin is right there with you and will always be. Luv u Cheryl Kelly

  14. Thank you, Rachel. Have been praying for you and your children and extended family, that God will walk you through this difficult journey.

  15. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… (Mt 25:35)”

    Rachel, you and yours are family. We will gladly continue to love and serve you. Thank you for being so open and welcoming and giving people space to be involved in your lives. We have been blessed by you.

  16. Dear One, To say I could imagine what you are going thru is unbelieveably naive. I have been married for 40 years and fear that I will lose my unconditional love someday and it fills me with great fear. Which I know is not from God it is knowing that I would be alone, lost without my beloved. The physical touch we humans need is so important maybe thats why others say find the need in others and the need in you will be filled. What you have shared with us is truly awe inspiring. Please continue to find your way with God the Father and Jesus carrying you every step you take till you feel strong enough to walk beside Him. May you have peace joy and find that new love (in whatever form it takes) Many Blessings darcy

  17. Rachel– This is beautifully, painfully and honestly written. I have cried so many tears for you and your babies, dear sister in Christ, and I haven’t even met you. The Hill Family story has touched so many and it is far from over. Our God is a restorer and we will continue to pray for His love to be poured out on you and the children during this very difficult transition.

  18. Rachel, I could hardly read through this without choking up several times. You write so beautifully and honestly about this hard, hard journey. Kevin was a wonderful person and always so helpful and kind as a colleague at VCS: a true Christian and gentleman. I can’t even begin to image the depth of your loss and the sorrow you feel, but I am praying for you and family and lifting you up before the throne.

  19. Just WOW!! You are an amazing true women of God.Love you and Truly Believe God has this completely handled….your are such an inspiration to so many.
    Luv u sweet lady… <3 <3

  20. Rachel…your post just reached me at my core…you have a gift with words and I do hope you continue to write…I have prayed daily for you and your family and I will continue to pray that you feel the peace, love, and comfort of our Lord and Savior…I wish there was something I could do or say but I know that I can’t…I lost my father suddenly 2 years ago and the pain felt unbearable at the time, but God is sovereign and I would say that I grew closer to Him during that time than at any other in my life…

  21. My facebook address is Martha Brun Gates. Rachel, Im rarely at a loss for words, but as I sit here alone (my 3 girls Hannah, Sarah, and Abigail are at their dad’s) I’m crying. I am so touched by your selflessness as you have openly shared your joys abd sorrows. I cant imagine your pain, but I vpcan only pray thay before he takes me home, I too can know what it feels like to share a love blessed by God. I look at my sweet girls differently now. I know God is using you in mighty wats already, even in the depths of your sorrow and grief, you are changing lives. Thank you again for allowing me in. I am Blessed!

  22. RACHEL
    So many people have been blessed by your life. God has used the words you write in powerful ways. If it helps you to write please continue. We love and care about you and would love to see what God has instore for you. I will pray for you as you continue with life’s journey

  23. Thank you for sharing your heart, Rachel. I think it was N.T. Wright who said, grief is the form that love takes when the beloved has departed. So, grieve on, my friend. Grieve on.

  24. I lost my husband suddenly 4 years ago and I would often question my faith but one day I realized that God gave me my husband in the first place. I would never trade the 13 years we had together even if I knew the outcome. I miss being part of a team too but now I am a different kind of team with my two daughters and we are a tough, fun and crazy team. Some day I will proudly walk my daughter down the aisle as a symbol of both her dad and me who together made the beautiful bride.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really resonated with me. I have been struggling a lot with the goodness of God in my own life lately. I do believe He is there. The alternative doesn’t make sense to me either. I feel alone and then ashamed for feeling that way because like you said we are never truly alone. It would be nice to physically feel His arms around us. I pray that God would see us both through our own personal struggles.

  26. Dearest Rachel, I don’t know if you are able to read all the responses you have received throughout the journey you have shared, you and your beloved Kevin have touched so many hearts. Inspired so many lives. Thank you again for sharing this part of your journey. What you have written has described my heart in every aspect since my beloved went to be with the Lord four years ago. Reading what is in your heart felt as if you were putting down what I’ve had in mine, but didn’t know how to express. Thank you for the peace you have given me through your words. I will continue to pray for you and your family. God bless you always

  27. Tears….. I see and hear you … Tears…. Your words are profound, genuine and filled with truth. Your road back has begun… no need to rush.. Being in your time is as vital as God’s time. Peace be with you and your children…

  28. You are in my prayers each day. You have shown great strength and love in The Lord and I know he is by your side each step you take. He never leaves us and his love is enduring through all your sorrow and sadness with Kevin’s passing. Kevin will always be team Hill not in body but in that beautiful spirit that surrounds you and his children now. Loving your family always.

  29. You have a wonderful way with words Rachel, for reaching out and pulling us in and making us feel like we are to a degree right there with you. Kevin may not be with you and God is always with you that’s true. Yet, their is another way you are not alone your friends we’re here for you too. The Bible says it quite clearly, “Ask and you shall receive.” If you need help with something. Ask. If you need someone to help with an under the sink thing. Ask. If you need someone to talk to. Ask. We are here for you. Near and Far. Prayers for you and the kids.

  30. Dearest Rachel, I’m a new-comer to your blog. Usually I feel a little shame and embarrassment when I stay up several hours past my bedtime (usually due to an unhealthy relationship with a new novel or season on Netflix). But last night I didn’t feel any of that as I read through all of your posts since “the C-word”. You took my mind and heart on a such a journey of emotions. . . from joy to sorrow to hope to everything in the middle. Thank you for your honesty and for opening up to let a perfect stranger catch a glimpse of your heart (and through it a reflection of our good God).

    There’s a theological idea that I read about a long time ago–that God gives us a special type of grace–prevenient grace–to believe even when it’s hard. I love this idea, that God gives us space to ask hard questions yet at the same time be rooted in faith! I’m floored by how this rootedness is so clearly exemplified in your story and life and questions.

    You and your beautiful children have been at the front of my mind all day (and I’m sure for many more days and weeks to come). Even though I don’t know exactly what to ask or say, I can’t seem to stop praying for you. I’m praying that you’ll find some rest during the whirlwind, that you’ll latch onto hope rather than despair, and that Christ would continue his amazing handiwork in you–taking all the crappy things and turning them into something beautiful.

  31. I know what you are feeling. I’ve been through something quite similar 4 years ago. And I found out that God is enough. And learning that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It takes time. It takes persistence. It takes daily decisions to get out of bed and choose to live one more day, and trust the Lord a little more. Some days are harder than others, and some days God just surprises us in unimaginable ways. Sometimes is just us pushing forward thinking we are by ourselves. But at some point we find out we were never by ourselves and we look back not believing how we crossed that bridge. And you WILL cross this bridge of yours. Just don’t give faith that things can get better. Just keep on moving. Cry as much as you need, because laughter is a sure end if you decide do trust the Lord. God said to me: “I am your husbund, I will take care of you”, and He did. I had never been so spoiled in my life! Let Him take care of you and don’t give up. Believe it or not, what is to come you wouldn’t believe it if I told you now… And it’s soooooooo gooooood! I did it, I see it right now in my life. It took some time of waiting and being healed. But it paid of!

  32. ive lost 2 husb

    ands, a friend, a mother, and soon my dad, i never could have made it through this life, without god. on one of my husbands tombstone reads, they that wait upon the lord shall renew there strength,they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. praise god, he is my strength that keeps me going. amen

  33. I was widowed at age 44 with 3 children…my youngest 3 years old and I can understand your words..but rest in the assurance that life will begin again…different but you will be ok. I held tight to the scripture that says..God is a husband to the widow and a father to the orphans…He was the best husband I have ever had..meeting all of my needs in a manner I could never imagine. Time..hold fast to your sweet memories and know that in time..Life will begin again. I will be praying for you..

  34. Eight years ago I was in your shoes. I remember your feelings very well, everything you expressed is real. The great part is that you will get up everyday, you will go through the motions of life and one day it will dawn on you that you are still in the game! It DOES get better. I remember thinking how do non-believers get through this? Also, children get death faster than adults. About once a month as I was staring vacantly out the kitchen window I would say, “He’s really not coming back.” My 11 year old would look at me like I was nuts. It took 3 years for my whole body, mind, and heart to realize he really was gone. The team you talked about I felt for those 3 years. In the 4th year I felt like a single person again.

    My words to you: you will get through this, God has a special kind of Grace for widows, this is your testing ground, you will be a woman of substance, you will be your children’s hero because you will show and voice all the love, faith, and confusion with them; this will encourage their faith.

    A word of caution, people you love dearly will let you down. This is a testing ground for them as well. The Lord will bless you with true religion from total strangers that are moved to help you while those you expect to be there for you are not. You will feel hurt, mad, and forgotten. That is when God shows up! Also, many will ask, “How are you? The kids?” but few will wait for you to answer. They don’t really want to know because then they will feel badly about not helping or not knowing how to help you. You will find out quickly who is there for you and who isn’t. Satan will tell you that no one likes or loves you, that’s not true, it’s just how people are.

    You will get through this and you will have quite a story to tell. I hope you keep a journal of all the blessings the Lord provides. I did not and wish I had. Blessings.

  35. Rachel my thoughts and prayers are with you. I am so sorry for your loss, for your children’s loss, and for the world’s loss. Kevin was such a good man! I have such fond memories when we were neighbors in Northridge. My heart is so heavy with sadness. You are in my thoughts.

    Troy

  36. rachel- just wanted to assure you that you have hearts praying for you & your sweet family from across the country. team hill’s story has touched the souls of strangers in places you may never come to realize.. in your darkest hour, please remember that he loved YOU, that he picked YOU & that no matter how many times you feel that everything you know & love has been stolen from you, remember that nobody can ever take him from your heart- he will always, always live there. be thankful that you have two little faces to fix your eyes on each day & that his soul is sure to live on through those babies too. and although you may not be able to reach your hand out & touch his face right now, you can still make him proud, still show the world the ‘team hill’ strength you exude & still hold the torch of his legacy while you fight through this life. thank you for sharing the intimate details of yall’s journey- your soul is beautiful & you’ve put the unimaginable into words in a way that unites those from all walks of life. may God bless you & hold you close.. be tough sweet girl, your babies need you.

  37. Hi Rachel,
    We met at the Cracker Barrel. I’m back in Atlanta and hope you’re doing well. Feel free to shoot me an email when you have a moment.
    God bless.
    Ruth

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