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Earthquakes, Aftershocks, and Falling in Love

the word love written on a lined piece of school paper in ink wi

Falling in love is a little bit terrifying. And sometimes a lot bit.

Remember that story of the morning when Robb died? Remember how the paramedic came into the kitchen, and he said, “Ma’am, are you his wife?” and I said yes, and he said, “We are going to need to tell you he has passed,” and my mom said, “Is that the final word? Is he gone?” and the paramedic said, “Yes, ma’am. We’ve done everything we could do, and I am terribly sorry, but he has passed,” and I said, “Okay,” and I couldn’t believe that’s what I said but it is truly what I said? Do you remember that?

On that terrible morning at the end of my world, I looked at the man in blue, I took a deep breath, and I said, “Okay.”

It is five years later, and I find myself saying that very same word again, and once again with a voice I barely recognize.

Apparently I cry all the time now.

I’ve carried this heavy greatness for so long—so very, very long—and I’m almost to a place where I can set it down. But instead of setting it down with a great sense of relief, I find my arms trembling with fear, my eyes welling with tears, and my spirit saying, “Can I? Can I set this down? Can I stop carrying? Is it okay?”the word love written on a lined piece of school paper in ink wi

Falling in love is very undoing. And falling in love after knowing the very color of death in the eyes you have trusted is every kind of terrifying. Only now do I truly know how much I have to lose.

I am learning that there is some anxiety lying dormant within me that could only emerge in the face of safety and security, quite literally in the arms of a man who loves me. When I let down my guard, when it’s just Peter and me, there are waves of a very physical anxiety that I’ve come to call aftershocks. They are not the earthquakes themselves. They are the memories of the earthquake, the settling of the bones.

The body is incapable of telling a lie. And my body is terrified.

A few nights ago, in a tender and precious conversation, this very present thought showed up like a cartoon balloon over my head. I thought with such clarity, “I’m going to miss this man so much when he dies.” This dark balloon popped the peace right out of my moment with Peter. And there I was, crying again.

I am learning that there is a dark and fearful part of me that believes God takes away the things I love. I cannot fall in love with him; God will take him away.

It isn’t true, of course. And yet it kind of was.

Aside from the absolutely overwhelming, disorienting, feet-knocked-out-from-under-me, oh-my-great-day feelings of falling in love, the greatest emotions I feel in this season are a deep and distracting fear as well as a sense of such consuming almost-rest.

I’m not resting yet. There is too much fear in the way. I’m just starting to see that maybe I could rest someday, that maybe someday I will be able to say, “You’ve got this? You’ve got us? It’s okay? We’re okay?”

Deep breath.


Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. In trauma the body holds the score. Bless you my dear one. It is learning to live in peace with both, not waiting for the fear to leave to love freely and fully. Love Vicki

  2. Oh Tricia, of course you are afraid. and it’s ok and I know you know this. And every post will be a prompt for me to pray for you. You are wise and you are surrounded by good people…and it’s hard.

  3. Oh Tricia! This strikes such a huge cord with me, and I have been meaning to write to you anyway. You were so sweet to comment on a FB comment I made when you announced your new love, and I have been meaning to say “thank you” and reaffirm that I am so, so happy for you. But I can so relate to this. Almost three years ago, my husband of 14 years died in my arms as the result of a massive seizure while he and I and our 12-yearold son were staying at a hotel on spring break. So I am following your journey from about a year and a half behind. I so appreciate you giving us a view into your journey in such an open and honest way.
    The twist in my story is that we married later…I waited 20 years for God to bring the right guy. So now I’m a 54 year old widow with a 14 year old son. While God has very obviously sustained us and I do have faith that he will continue, I find myself more weepy in this third year of grief than I was in the first. The burden is heavy…so many questions. How on earth do I usher my son into manhood? (We don’t live close to any family and my earthly father is with Jesus and grandpa on the other side is uninvolved.) If it took 20 years the first time, is a 2nd time even possible? And if it is, there is always the dark, looming fear that you address in this post…can I survive the possibility of having to go thru this again?!
    Know that I pray for you, my friend. As one following close behind in this “club” that no one would ever want to be a part of, I send lots of love, hope-filled wishes, and thanks for your openness. Your story brings us hope.

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