Photo by Cody M. Lusk
Lately at night I wake up and I need him. I need to feel him close to me. So I give in and randomly select videos out of the hundreds of him I have stored over the years. Tonight I landed on a video of us on the same aluminum boat I watched him take his last steps onto. The video was recorded on March 22, 2016 at 9:01 a.m. Cody was checking juglines—the same thing he was doing the night he never came home. He was fishing for catfish. I am recording our morning adventure. I found myself smiling through tears as I watched my beautiful husband sip his coffee, watched the steam escape from his mouth as he talked into the cold air. That steam off his breath meant he was breathing and alive. Our commentary on the video is so normal. Life was so normal. Watching back, I just wanted to climb into the video and wrap my arms around his body and never ever let go. But I just sit and watch the screen. He caught a catfish at the end of the jugline. What I watched him do next sent my stomach in a whirlwind of knots. He knew I was recording. He wanted the fish to be well seen for the camera. So he stood up. The small boat shook. He put both arms out to balance. He sits down quickly, knowing he shouldn’t have stood up.
But he did stand up.
The water was 50 something degrees on the night of January 14, 2017. In my heart, I know he stood up for some reason or another. (Because out of the dozens of times we were on the boat together, I witnessed him stand up more than once. He had to get onto me about standing up while trying to reach for a fishing pole). Mind you, most parts of the lake were not even 6ft so thoughts of wearing life jackets were nonexistent. He fished on that same boat, on our little lake, running those same juglines literally hundreds of times. Day, night, in the cold or heat. It was second nature to him. Like driving to the same place every day. It becomes second nature—you think you could do it in your sleep. That’s how I know he viewed being on our lake. He became too comfortable. As I sat here and watched him stand up on the video, I find myself screaming at him. “Why did you stand up?” “Why?” How can one slight movement become the domino effect resulting in the end of a life? Obviously I have no way of knowing what really and truly happened that night.
I have played and replayed what could possibly have happened the night he never came home. The only thing that makes sense is he he stood up, lost his balance, hit the water, tried to save the boat, his body went into shock from the cold water. It was dark. His lantern light would have diminished hitting the water.
I have spent the last 204 days forcing myself not to think about that night. To just block it out of my mind.
But I have to face it.
I have to work through the devastation. I can accept that he’s in heaven with our Creator, he’s in ultimate glory. I can accept that. But I’m still flesh. I have to accept his earthly death. The suddenness of tragedy is what penetrates the heart like a knife. One day your life is so normal. You have a whole family. You have your protector, and best friend, lover, partner, spiritual leader of your home—He’s here, by your side, doing life with you—To nothing. It’s dark. I wake up from dreams looking for him. It’s always so dark and I can’t find him. I become so angry and broken.
I think of the aluminum boat being pulled out of the lake 5 days later. I think of the tackle box recovered, the fishing poles, the ore, the boat seat—random things. I hate these things. They mean nothing. They hit the water that night too. They were recovered. They can be reused again. They are still here serving their purpose. But my beautiful husband hit the same water these things did. But he’s no longer here. He was recovered from the lake but his purpose was fulfilled. But these things are still here. That is hard for me to grasp and accept.
I feel selfish lately. I want him here with me so badly. To the point where I would selfishly call him out of glory to live with me and our daughter in this broken and fallen world again. Just to feel his strong arms around me. To lay my head on his chest and hear his heart beating. To feel his hands on my face. To just be in his presence and experience his exuberance again. I can’t express enough to LOVE your Loved ones. Spouses, if you’re upset with your husband or wife- don’t procrastinate a solution. Don’t stay angry too long. Don’t let a day escape without an affectionate touch or word. I am so thankful Cody and I said “I Love you”, every single day. We hugged and kissed every single day. I know he Loved me, I am forever changed by that Love.
Lately the grief is freshly intense. Almost as if I am back in the 5 days of the search or the preparation of the funeral. It doesn’t feel like it’s been nearly 7 months. It feels like it happened yesterday. I guess that’s stages of grief. The intensity rushes in like an unannounced flood and overtakes you. Even though I don’t want to do this, this life as a widow or single mother—I have to face it. I have to walk through this season. I know the Lord is calling me to walk through these emotions that pierce the soul. I know I am not to run away from this. I have to face it. Every single part of it. I have to own it. Writing helps. To put into words what my mind and spirit are working through. It is a deep release and therapeutic for me to write. I have to allow myself to feel what needs to be felt. My heart feels like it is bleeding. I have to allow it to.
As much as I miss my husband and our life together is as much as I can feel my Heavenly Daddy wrap His omniscient, powerful, Agape Love around me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He has not forgotten me. He has not forgotten Abigail. He is not far away, but rather tucking us under His wings.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.