Where is Fran now?
I ask this question to myself and to other people and a lot of people would give me a different answer. An atheist would tell me that Fran only exists in our memories now. That what we understood to be her personality, and her consciousness was merely a collection of neurons in her brain that stopped firing electrical impulses once they experienced necrosis due to lack of oxygen. A catholic might tell me that her soul is in purgatory and some penance or something might need to be paid, probably not with paypal, so that she can earn her way into heaven. Someone told me that heaven gained another angel, although from my understanding angels are entirely different creatures from us, even if they look similar, or perhaps if I listen to Hollywood, giant animated cgi rock formations.
The universal solace that seems to be given is that Fran is no longer in pain and suffering anymore. It’s interesting that it didn't really seem to be an issue before she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and that it was all in her head, and she should probably just lose some weight. Of course the suffering right at the end was terrible, but she was definitely no stranger to it for almost all of our marriage.
I will not miss the years of listening to my wife crying in pain all night and not being able to do anything about it.
My experience of grief seems to be different from the rest of her family. But then we are grieving different things. Her parents knew her for her entire life. All the hopes and dreams they had for their oldest child have been unfairly cut short. Her siblings knew her for their entire lives. The big sister they grew up with is no longer there to look after them. I on the other hand have only known her for half of her life. Although, in those years of marriage we became one flesh. All decisions, all ideas, our entire lives were lived together. The reason that so many messages of condolence are focused on me, and they have been overwhelming, is because I am effectively half a man. My other half is gone.
The reality of grief over the first few days was overwhelming. Any picture, any object, any thought about her brought me to tears almost immediately. The term ‘trigger’ is used in mental illness, as in objects or events that cause uncontrollable breaks or flashbacks to traumatic events. I was in the unenviable position of being surrounded by triggers, in terms of objects, and thoughts.
As time has progressed however acceptance of the situation has set in. Her image and her belongings now trigger a melancholy bittersweet memory. My heart sinks, but I can smile back at her image. She is still in my constant thoughts, even on occasion I have to remind myself that she’s gone. I often think that I need to share things with her. Fran would love this. Then I have to correct myself, and say Fran would have loved this.The automatic connection that has grown over the years now leads to nowhere.
My thoughts are now becoming preoccupied with what I’m supposed to do with my life. I’ve had two jobs in the last few years of my marriage. My day job, earning a wage, and my second job, supporting Fran in her medical needs and supporting all her ministries within the church. Eventually as her health became progressively worse supporting her became my full time job. Now I have no job. I am at more lost than I’ve ever been. The freedom that comes from being a widower is an unwelcome one.
My heart tells me that I want to continue being an uncle, a brother, and a son to the family that I’ve been living with as Fran fought her final months with leukaemia, but the difficulty in that is the same as it was before. I need a job, I need a visa, I need a car of my own, and eventually a house. I am praying for guidance in what God would have me do.I’ve learnt through experience it’s always easiest to do what God wills. It all seemed so clear just a few weeks ago, but now that I’m without a wife it all seems so uncertain. I rationalise that the easiest thing to do would be to return to our home in England, back to the church, back to a job that I’ve sat in for years. But I’m not sure that this the right thing to do. And the guidance I’ve felt with the convictions of the Holy Spirit have always been a matter of doing what is right, not necessarily what seems feasible or possible, but of course, anything possible with God.
Today me, my sister-in-law Ashley, and my father-in-law went to the funeral home to make arrangements with them and sign a contract to have Fran’s body transported and cremated. As Fran requested we are using the Bolock Funeral home. She decided the name was fitting. We have decided against an actual cremation service due to the expense although we have asked to be informed when the cremation takes place so we can witness the smoke ascending into the heavens, and while she may not be a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Lord, she did surrender her life to Him when she trusted Christ as her saviour.
Emotionally I feel so compelled to rush into a new relationship, but I know rationally how unwise that is, not only because of the notion of a rebound relationship, and that any relationship would mean that anyone else would constantly struggle to live up to her, which would be entirely unfair and unrealistic. I also realise that all the available bachelorettes that I may consider, while not intending to offend any of them, all seem to be available because they’re all horribly broken from failed or abusive relationships. But of course I’m horribly broken now too.
I also concern myself, now that I am a single man again how I will be perceived. I am no longer in a stable happy marriage, entrusted to be alone with, on occasion, other married women. I could easily be perceived as some sort of predator, as I think I was perceived before I was married, although that was realistically for good reason. I know I’m a very different man than I was 13 years ago, so these concerns about perceptions of me are probably unfounded. Still it will be some time before I’m ready to take off my wedding ring. It gives me some measure of protection from those sorts of perceptions, at least in my mind.
So, back to my original question. Where is Fran now?
I don’t think the Fran I knew and loved exists anymore. The woman I married in the end was a combination of human spirit, holy spirit and the flesh. The flesh is gone, so all that remains is the purest human spirit in heaven with Jesus Christ. Which isn't the personality I knew, her pain, her suffering, her sin was as much part of who I knew as the Holy Spirit that compelled her to serve God in the way that she did. And when I meet her again, I won’t be the sinful creature I am today for the same reason. She will just be my sister in Christ, even if it won’t really be what I perceive to be me, and her what I perceive to be her. For that matter I can’t possibly understand heaven, because eternity means that time doesn't have the same meaning it does here, the limitations of the body, and of the 4 dimensional space time do not apply there. I imagined that she might be up there looking down on us, like a viewer watches TV, and yelling at it, telling me to stop being so miserable in my grief. But I don’t think it’s like that. Being one with God means having access to omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. So time has no meaning for her now, nor does space, nor does the unknown, because she knows everything that there is to know, and exists everywhere there is to exist. Not that I could ever begin to understand such concepts, but I look forward to the day that I can join her, and our child. In the mean time I must continue to live my life.