I Don't Know How to be a Widow
By Brenda Fahey
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After graduating from high school in Campbellsville, Kentucky, Brenda went to work for the FBI in Washington, D.C. She met and married her first husband, Ron Fahey on September 21, 1968.
On March 20, 1995, Brenda’s life took a sudden turn when she returned home from work to find that Ron had died suddenly. The journal that she began that night not only includes the two years after Ron’s death but also covers the loss of Billy, her second husband, in March of 2002.
I Don’t Know How to be a Widow: My Journal of Faith and Hope, has been called "timeless." We all have (or probably will) suffer the loss of someone we cherish. Brenda’s journal shows that God’s grace and mercy are new each morning and will never fail.
Brenda’s speaking is full of faith, hope, and lessons learned (such as the value of maintaining a good sense of humor.) She does all she can to follow in the footsteps of one of her favorite biblical characters, "Barnabas." But, as Brenda says, "I can’t be a ‘Barnabas’ cause I’m a girl...so just call me ‘Brendabus.’"
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THE LOSS OF THE ONE DEARER TO YOU THAN ANY OTHER ON EARTH?
"I Don’t Know How To Be A Widow"
I kept saying these words the night Ron died.
I just couldn’t imagine myself a widow. The night Ron died I began doing what came naturally - journaling. As time went on I began to share my journal with others; many suggested that I get it published.
About the Author
Ron and I had a wonderful life together. Ron was a great husband and father AND he was a great confidant, friend, and protector for me. (Okay! Let go of my arm! He was human - he had some faults too!) Ron loved the Lord and we loved being in church together.
Go with me as I open the door that spring evening to find my life forever changed. Find out what day to day living is like without the one closest to me to share it. See the spiritual journey that Ron’s death took me on and how I’ve won victories (and recovered from some losses) with the power of God shining through. You’ll see how laughter was a part of my survival and how God had given me some very special blessings to help in the days that would follow March 20. Learn how I handled making decisions (big and small), how to budget, holidays, being followed by someone I didn’t even know and so much more. You’ll find more of a story of how I’ve survived than a "how you should do this" book. I’m still in school on the subject of how to be a widow. Please remember this is a journal and it’s written as such. All the grammar and words may not be "correct" but to change everything would take away from the way the feelings and thoughts flowed.
I found a new appreciation for eagles in the second year. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is one that God showed me when Ron was out of work for several months before we moved to Indiana.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
I had heard a lot about the valleys and mountain tops but never heard anyone talk about soaring like the eagle. The freedom that comes from the passage of time and of the lessening of the deep, unrelenting Grief really helped me feel like a soaring Eagle. Things are clearer ~ easier to see from the vantage point of the Eagle. Eagles and Angels ~ they both fly. I think about the flight Ron took the night he died. I think about my journey as a flight ~ on the wings of an eagle!
I don’t know how many angels came to our home that night. God, in His infinite wisdom looked down from Heaven and said, "Ron, my son ~ come home." There was no arguing (as he’d probably done with his earthly Father as a child). He didn’t respond, "Oh, Dad, in just a minute." No, there was no hesitation or bargaining. He simply said, "Yes, Father," and went Home. That’s when God must have held up His hand as the angels began to rise to carry Ron Home. As He instructed some to continue with Ron He knew what I was to face just a short time later. I’m convinced that He must have left angels behind to minister to me. Again, I don’t know how many but there had to be more than one because I was cared for so gently, so lovingly ~ and so very completely.
I can’t tell you that I saw the angels. I can’t even tell you that I felt their presence, but isn’t this the only thing that makes sense? How in the world could my focus at that moment be on heavenly things? I remembered praying for God to be glorified. A couple of years later, in a casual conversation my closest friend, Jan told me I had called her after calling the paramedics and asked for her to pray for me not to dishonor God in this but to bring Him glory. What I thought was a prayer had been a call ~ a reaching out to a friend I knew I could count on to pray for me. Scoff if you will, but I believe in angels!!! And, they continued to care for me into the second year.
Read a Chapter
Chapter One 3/20 ~ 4/19/1995 The Journey Begins
Tuesday, 3/21/95 (1:30 a.m.)
I came home last night and found Ron in our bedroom. He apparently died about an hour before I got home.
I don’t understand and I don’t know how to be a widow. At forty-five, I’m certainly too young to fit the role.
So many emotions: a touch of uncertainty as I face the next few months without him. He was such a comfort when Mom and Dad died. Who will hold me in the middle of the night now?
I’ve donated his corneas, heart valves, and skin tonight. (It was too late for anything else.) I hate to think of them "harvesting" those things but what a blessing to think that through our loss, others may see.
Thursday Morning, 3/23/95
God’s grace is sufficient! It’s been hard these last two days. (Can it only be two days?) I’ve been to the pits of words like loneliness, denial, frustration, anger. I thought about the word fear. While I may have felt that emotion as I realized something was wrong with the picture as I opened the door Monday night, I can honestly say that I don’t fear my tomorrow’s. Oh – there’s a tidal wave building and heading straight for me – I can see it but I refuse to run from it. I will stand with my God before me, on both sides of me, behind me, over me, under me, IN me. With such a total covering of protection how could I ever be destroyed? God will not prevent the tidal wave of pain from hitting me, but He has prepared me and He will let this horrible pain through only as I can stand it. I know I must not run from these feelings and emotions. I can only heal if I do so from the inside out. God joined Ron and me together twenty-six and a half years (to the day) before he left me.
Time stood still Monday night at 6:05 p.m. As I unlocked the door, Muffin wasn’t running to greet me – Ron wasn’t on the sofa smiling as I entered our home. What was immediately clear was that to my left a light was on in our bedroom and to my right was the sound of water running in the kitchen. You’d have to know Ron to understand the instant confusion of this picture. He never in our twenty-six and a half years left the light on in a room he left and he never left a faucet running.
I called Muffin, knowing in my heart that she must be dead and Ron was with her in the bedroom. She was given two weeks to live a month and a half ago. Yet, as I called, I heard her whimper. I went to the kitchen to find the gate still up (Ron always took her out when he got home) and the hot water running in the sink. As I reach down to open the gate for Muffin I stare at the running water – something’s wrong. I let her out and walk back in the living room. I call for Ron. I continue towards the light in the bedroom and, as I come into view of the bed, I see the drawer where Ron keeps his exercise shorts opened. I look to my right – the computer/exercise room door is closed – the light is out.
Then, time stood still, my heart stopped, and the deepest denial possibly known to man entered my soul as I entered the room and saw Ron kneeling on my side of the bed, his arms to the side and his face deep into the waterbed. I see the empty milk glass on top of the air filter. I hear the filter running. I feel the breeze through the opened window. I hear the kids playing basketball. I notice the bed I made an hour after Ron left for work this morning is unmade and, as I run to his side, calling his name, from the depths of instant knowing – instant denying that with his face buried in the bed there’s no way he can be alive – I know that he’s dead. I’ve seen death before but I never realized what it really looked like. What the lack of any activity of the body breathing – the muscles contracting and expanding as all of those bodily functions of breathing, blood pumping, and the very Spirit of God living in us looked like. Death of the physical body is impossible to ever be acted effectively in my eyes again. Physical death is impossible to imagine. Our very soul is gone. The part of us that keeps all those bodily functions going leaves this shell we’re in completely still. It also leaves the body very heavy. I now know the reality of the term "dead weight" as I try so hard to raise Ron from the bed. Just to lift his head and turn it to the side takes a tremendous effort. I try to raise his shoulders...I can’t. I try to turn him over...I can’t. I turn to call 911 (wondering why ~ yet, not knowing what else to do). I wonder if I’ll pass out. I keep trying to waken Ron. I slap his face gently (don’t they always do this to wake people up?!!) I cry from my heart, "Ron, wake up – please wake up! O, God, please let him wake up!" His back and shoulders are cold (he doesn’t have a shirt on.) Yet, his face is still warm. It doesn’t make sense. Surely those purple lips that have kissed me so passionately so many times will open and begin to breathe. Surely those eyes will open as he laughs and says, "Gotcha good this time!" I’ll kill him but I’ll forgive him if only he will just wake up. "Please, wake up, Ron!" I cry knowing it’s hopeless.
911 is on their way. I’ve told them he’s dead and now I’m trying to call the Pastor. I go to the living room to prop the door open so the paramedics can get in. (Why aren’t they here yet?!) I go back to the bedroom to try once again to do the impossible – to wake him up before they come to take him from me.
The paramedics and the police come. The policeman comes to me – tells me how sorry he is, (his care is so genuine – I know this can’t be easy for him) and, as they go into the bedroom, he guides me gently to the sofa and asks what happened. No – wait...I remember now – I go into the bedroom with the paramedics. I watch them check Ron and see the "TV" shake of the head and hear the most horrible words I could ever imagine - "I’m sorry." I’m in the living room with the officer explaining the procedures. He’ll ask some questions, the criminal investigator will come, the ambulance will return to remove the body - do I want an autopsy? I tell him emphatically that I demand one. He tells me it’s good I feel that way since one would probably be done "under the circumstances."
Several times while we’re talking I just ignore the world and dial the phone. I get hold of Pastor Eagy. (Pastor Reynolds is out of town.) He’s on his way. I asked if he’d take me to Ron’s parents. I wonder how I’ll get to Steve and Allen. I call Allen’s and ask if Jerry’s home. I want to tell him first so he can be prepared if Allen tries to leave. I ask Jerry to bring Allen to me. Steve and Angie are alone. I don’t want them to be told alone, so I call Jay and June. They’re not home so I leave a message to call me (not to call Angie) when they get in.
The detective shows up. They close the bedroom door. Flashbulbs are going off. I’m so thankful that I’ve become a better housekeeper so I don’t have to be embarrassed by a cluttered house. (What a strange thing to think.) More flashes. I’m waiting for the "criminal" guy to ask me if I killed Ron. (Why would they send a criminal investigator? Don’t they know I could never hurt the man I love so deeply?) I page Mike, cause I know I don’t have the strength to go to College Park. Then, somewhere in the fog (in an order I can’t remember now), I get hold of Jerry. I tell Allen that the father he loved so dearly – the father that was so proud of him is gone. Disbelief from him – concern for me – assurance that Jerry’s bringing him to me.
Sometime in the fog, Pastor Eagy comes. I’m escorted to the kitchen because they don’t think I should see Ron being taken out. I remember Mom being wheeled out with her face covered up. I listen to them cause they’re the experts. If they say I don’t need to see this, I’ll trust them. Is that when I turned the running water off? June calls. I tell her what has happened and ask her and Jay to go to Angie and Steve and bring them to me. Disbelief from them – sorrow – and assurance they’ll be here soon.
It’s so late and Mom & Dad still aren’t home. They’re at a meeting at church. Mike is waiting for them. Karla is in shock — we all are. I don’t like this…I don’t know how to be a widow. I’m too young to be a widow! I don’t understand. I keep saying that because I don’t know what’s happened.
Ron wasn’t sick. I remember (and I’m thankful) that his wish was to go this way. How I wish I’d been with him, but God knows how much I can take. Apparently I wouldn’t have been able to handle that or He would have arranged it.
I hated telling those Ron loved so much that he’s gone.
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