April 26, 2008, was by far one of the most beautiful and happiest days of my life. I recall waking up with butterflies in my stomach, in great anticipation for the day I would give my heart to Antony Strader Edge, "until Christ calls me home to be with Him," as we said in our wedding vows.
April 26, 2010, was a harsh reality to awaken to, with a deep ache in my heart and gnawing pit in my stomach, yet it too was filled with beauty, a few moments of laughter, and bittersweet memories. I longed for heaven today because more than anything I wanted to spend the day with my husband.
Instead, I spent the day "Tony-style" and could not have asked for it to be more perfect. Yes, it began with many tears. Honestly, I could not bear to get out of bed...that was until from the other side of the house, I hear a faint "hello...hello." Turns out I was the only one at home to care for my father who is pretty much bed-ridden with a severly broken foot. Up I arose to care for him, and I was so very grateful to be needed. I've felt lost these days without Tony, for I had grown quite fond of caring for my husband. I almost broke down in the grocery store the other day recalling those countless weekly trips to make sure I had just the right ingredients to fix the healthiest meals only he would eat. Yes, I say again, meals ONLY he would eat!
From there, I spent some time in the Word - Exodus again today and the 10 Commandments. I found it pretty cool that Moses met with God in a dark cloud. It gives me comfort to know that God will continue to meet me in my dark, sorrowful cloud too. I looked through our wedding album and dug through my "Tony" box of keepsakes to find the letters he had written me leading up to our wedding day and a letter from our 1st anniversary. Gosh, could my Tony write love notes to melt my heart. More on that another day...
God did say hello to me in many ways today, just as I had asked Him to do. The first came in a beautiful flower arrangement from my dear "Frantz-ies" as Tony always called them - Kim, Rob, Haley and Caden - you made me smile today. The next was a big shout of hello. My mom, brother and I went down to my Atlanta home to see the damage of a 100ft. oak tree that fell in our yard and our neighbor's. This happened a couple of nights ago, snapping a power pole in half, leaving most of the neighborhood in the dark for hours, but my hello came as I realized that other than a few trees, no damage was done to my house or my neighbors, or to my car parked just up the driveway from the tree. The tree had no substantial roots to keep it in the ground. It made me grateful for my "roots" of faith planted long ago and watered over time by family and friends God put in my life to lead me closer to the Lord. Without them, I would surely be like that tree right now, a horribly wrecked mess with nothing to keep me standing in the aftermath of Tony's death.
Now, onto that marble, the subject of today's blog. Tony loved Piedmont Park more than any other place in Atlanta, and since we shared many fun moments there, I chose its lake to throw our marble there to mark our second year. With tears streaming down my face, I held that marble in my hand and thanked the Lord for giving me this year, a year marked with so many good things - amazing trips, strengthened relationships, and new beginnings in our lives with our new home and Tony's MBA program at Emory. It is also a year marked with tragedy...tragedy that is transforming my life, tragedy that has caused me to fall in love with God like never before, tragedy that confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is my Everything.
Shortly after I threw the marble in, God's third hello came swimming by - none other than a quacking duck! Yes, I'm sure the duck thought I was throwing out food - it even followed us all the way up the shore. Yet, I laughed as I thought to myself, God would even use a silly duck to tell me He loves me. From there, we met my girlfriends, Karen, Amanda, and Holly, at a place near and dear to Tony's heart and my heart, City of Refuge. We helped to serve dinner to over a hundred women and children who are transitioning out of homelessness. It was a night filled with funny moments with some adorable kids and humbling moments of God allowing us to provide just a little Hope, even as small as a smile, to women facing what seems as impossible circumstances. I can truly say that serving others does take away the sting of your own pain, even just for a little while. Thank you Lord for allowing me to stand and serve for Your Glory today.
I came home to listen to the song, "You're Everything." And so I leave it here for you to worship with me. I raise my hands in praise to Jesus, the Lover of my Soul, in great celebration for my days with Tony...