I was wearing my wedding ring, when a sixteen-year-old girl named Gina asked me why.
It was the first time I was seeing her as a patient, so her question took me off guard. Before long, I understood.
When I asked her what she meant, she told me that she had read Thirteen Months, and knew that my wife was gone—she started to cry.
Perhaps it was the way she asked me that was so intriguing. Her demeanor was completely honest with no judgment in her voice, only interest.
I have been scolded before for wearing my wedding ring, but this was different.
Even through her tears, she was intent for my answer.
I sat down and told her that my heart was still with my late wife, even though I hadn’t seen her for four years. I explained that I still loved her, and missed her every moment of every day.
I went on to describe my love for Gwen as one that didn’t fade, one that I would not dishonor by allowing myself to wallow in pity, even when I wanted too.
Her sobbing slowly subsided, and soon she looked up. I could tell she wasn’t crying for me.
“When does it stop?” she asked as she tried to dry her eyes.
I waited for her to continue. Finally she said, “When does it stop hurting—when does it get easier?”
I took a deep breath and asked, “What happened, Gina?”
“My mom, she—my mom died a year ago. I kept thinking it would get easier with time, but it doesn’t. Now I see you wearing your wedding ring after four years and I thought, maybe it doesn’t ever go away.”
I gave her a moment to blow her nose before I responded.
“You need to understand—it isn’t wrong to cry about your mom. It isn’t bad that you can’t forget. It honors her when you miss her. Don’t wait for it to stop hurting, Gina—because it won’t.”
She looked at me as if I had said the one thing she didn’t want to hear.
“You don’t have to let go of her to move on, Gina. She was your mom, and still is your mom. I don’t always wear my wedding ring—usually I don’t, but sometimes I have to, just because.”
After Gwen died, I struggled with what to do about my feelings for her that wouldn’t fade. I tried to figure out how I was supposed to deal with loving her, knowing I would never see her again on this earth.
Finally I remembered that God created the institution of marriage, and He would never expect us to dismiss the deeply embedded love between a husband and wife, no matter how much time passes.
If you are struggling with loss—don’t despair. God is faithful, and he will strengthen you. Don’t try to reduce your pain—it doesn’t work. But remember that God will be there for you if you let Him.
Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. I will respond as honestly as I can.