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My first husband left me. He left our four sons in my care, though I had no say in the matter. And it happened faster than a kidnapper jumping from a van. 

Shell-shocked, there was no time to process the devastation of my broken heart. I was obligated to shatter four hearts, the hearts that my husband and I made together once upon a time.

How is this real? What happened to forever? 

He was never coming home again. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. Though I would’ve done anything to reverse reality, it was final. Though the kids would ask why Mommy didn’t swoop in to save, it was permanent.

The call of the wild was too strong for him to resist. And it became our family’s undoing. So many times I had stared him in the eye, “Where are you going? I need to know where you’re going. You have to come back. I couldn’t do this alone. Don’t make me a single mom.”

But he left and I didn’t know where he went. And he didn’t come back. And I would do this alone.

I became a single mom. I became a widow.

My husband’s passion for nature led to his unexpected death that August afternoon. Almost poetic, his final exhale whispered in the beauty of God’s creation. This doting husband, this playful father, this man of God, was forever gone.

My husband was now enjoying his wonderful eternal home, and I wouldn’t dare ask God to make him leave. What I would ask of God:  help and hope (He gave both in abundance). He daily reminded me that He was enough and would meet our needs. He showed up as the Lover of my soul who strengthened and equipped and comforted. He quietly assured me that though my husband was gone, I was never alone.

I closed my eyes to remember times of togetherness, praying for God to engrave them into my brain. I turned the pages of photo albums, wishing there were more pictures to add. I smelled the clothes still hanging in the closet that would no longer be needed. By the grace of God, I put one foot in front of the other, as if trudging through drying cement. I surrendered my unknown future to the God who wouldn’t allow me to fall.

The Lord takes away, and the Lord also gives. And in my season of hurting, He gave. He gave in a way that to this day baffles me. Unexpected and undeserved, He provided a “Boaz” for this “Ruth.” I was gifted with an amazing man who would become my second husband. 

My new husband promised to raise another man’s children as his own. 

He vowed to selflessly love, fully knowing that his wife loved two men. 

He made me smile through tears.

Never in a thousand years did I envision loving again. God’s tapestry is far too mysterious for my comprehension. He shows up and shows off abundantly in my life. And my new husband was another reminder from God, “I got you.”

Like all men, my husband was designed for adventure. And the call of the wild is as strong for him as it was my late husband. And so he will go. 

He will leave me.

We end our nights with precious pillow talk and prayer in a pitch-black room, savoring those last few moments of the day together. Pretending to be okay, thankful for the lack of lighting, I forced the words, “Where are you going? Make sure I know.” In my head I finish, “You have to come back. Please come back. I can’t do this alone.” 

I fight the fears. I recall God’s faithfulness. I flashback to the funeral. I give myself a pep talk to not worry since everything will be fine because surely he’ll come back. God is under no obligation to do my will.

The Lord is writing my story, and I have handed over the pen. Experience has taught me that God is not my bandage but my Healer. And even if God allows my second husband to leave and never return, I will cling to Him. I will trust Him with reckless abandon…even if I’m widowed again. 

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Debbie Wilkins Baisden

Debbie is a mom to 4 boys (Paul, Brad, Andrew, and Joshua, or “PBAndJ” for short). Unexpectedly widowed in 2012, Debbie’s world was turned upside down. Clinging to God, her stay-at-home mom days in suburbia now demanded a paying job. Instead of returning to the classroom, she decided that Chapter 2 of life meant pursuing her passion of all things fitness and nutrition. She enjoys helping women look and feel their best. Debbie remarried in 2014 and lives in North Carolina.

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