• Laura Alvarado-Newson

The Rolling Blackout

The blackout

A few years ago there was a rolling blackout in California. I remember driving home from somewhere and my husband calling me to tell me the electricity went out. I realized then the electricity was out all over the city and, as I listened to the news, all over the State. That day was strange for every one, we were all stopped in our tracks. Those who were watching TV, those who were cooking, shopping, were rudely interrupted by this "shut down". The stores immediately asked for their customers to leave because the debit/credit card machines were down; as well as the cash registers and security systems. I, myself, was very worried about my son's equipment and treatments which require electricity. What if his feed pump battery dies? And I couldn't do his respiratory treatments either. The local pharmacy was closed, what if he ran out of his medications? This was scary. How long was the electricity going to be out? Since then I have armed myself with a back-up plan just in case another blackout happens.

After a few hours of everyone sitting in their houses wondering what to do, we then began to hear and see kids outside playing "old school" games. They played soccer, basketball, and chased each other around. Could have been the first time some of the neighborhood kids actually met. They had no other options, their tablets had died and the gaming system went black. We also noticed the parents and families outside grilling, talking, laughing. This was actually a very pleasant sight. There was life in the midst of darkness, we didn't stay stuck, we figured it out.

Why am I thinking about the blackout? Because in 2014 a rolling black out began in my life. As my husband showed signs that something was not right, life started to get dimmer and dimmer. The darkness rolled in slowly as the illness stole parts of my husband's personality, slowly making its way to limiting him physically. Our communication as a couple went dark, his ability to work and provide for our family went dark, our financial stability followed, and his joy went dark. My peace went dark as I scrambled and fought to find relief for my husband and my family, this gave way to anxiety attacks, eye twitching, losing hair, and more. October 2016 was the day everything went dark! When I say everything, I mean everything. Life as I knew it, stopped! My eyes were open but I couldn't see my hand in front of my own face. This was one of the scariest black outs I have ever had to experience and do not wish it on my worst enemy, if I had one.

I don't think people realize the losses that follow a loss of a spouse. Aside from the loss of that one person you commit your whole heart, emotions, and body to, the rolling black out continues for a long time. My view of the future went black and, even worse, my children's view of life as they know it, went black and I couldn't do anything about it but try to guide them through this very dark place without stumbling myself. This was an impossible task that only God could get me through. I didn't sleep for at least 6 months, my nights were spent crying, wailing, hurting, aching. I realized the only light that was keeping me from taking my own life was the lives of my children. We have had birthday parties, my daughter transitioned into high school, my son became an adult, my baby is turning "double digits" and the black outs continue as the ice-cold realization that their father is missing all of this, many of these milestones and events are followed by hours in bed embracing my kids as they recite "I miss dad" with a broken heart. All I can do is hold them close until this wave of grief passes.

The Lights are being turned back on.

At one point during that rolling black out, the news reporter was listing places where electricity was being restored, little by little, the lights were turning back on. As the lights turned on, we continued on into our regular routine. However, when their is a loss of a spouse, the lights go dark, and one is left wondering "what do we do now?" Thankfully! (and I say that with a shout of joy!) THANKFULLY! THANK YOU GOD! The lights do get restored little by little; the major glitch is that everything is different. Everything looks different, sounds different, different! Different can be scary. As a new widow who was sitting in the dark, I did what many would do, reach out and go to the first glimpse or possibility of light I could see; a friendship, a relationship. This didn't turn out well because there was still so much darkness around me, inside of me, all around me....I couldn't see the big picture. I do not regret those steps I took; although they were the wrong direction; he was and is not a bad person, just not right for me and I was not right for him. These became lessons, opportunities to see my true self. This was also an opportunity to really evaluate what I wanted and didn't want for my future; as well as, the future for my children. Again, THANKFULLY, God in His mercy and grace pulled me up and away from the wrong path. The lights are turning back on and I am beginning to see clear.

God's great mercy!

God is truly a God of restoration, of mercy, of extraordinary compassion. God has granted the desire of my heart, and that desire is to be given another opportunity to be a wife, to love, to care for and encourage a man. He brought me my Thomas. Yes, I am going to brag on him for a minute. He is the sweetest, kindness, loving man and father to two incredible young adults, with a balance of sensitivity and strength that isn't very common. Yes, he loves the Lord and yes, he is NOT perfect, which I am so glad. He has seen my best and he has seen my worse, he knows my story (all of it) and has stood strong like a rock, not afraid to confront me in love and truth. Our steps as a widow and widower have in no way been straight, smooth and polished. We have stumbled blindly in the dark, trying to figure this new, unwelcome life out. I think he can agree that this is the messiest journey we have ever had to walk through. I can tell you this "God is even in the messy, God is even in the dark". Tom has embraced my children and my children voluntarily and whole-heartedly have embraced Tom. I have not tried to convince, manipulate, push or force anything on my kids. Our communication is the most open as it has ever been. Are there tears shed for their dad? of course! Do we cuddle together in bed while looking at photos of dad and telling stories about their dad? Yes we do! Will I always cherish the memories I made with their dad? Absolutely! And the difficulties and heartache in marriage have been turned into lifelong lessons and opportunities to grow. I dare say that Tom can say the same about his beloved Tina who is also with Jesus.

Mourning turning to joy.

As Tom and I settle into this new and wonderful normal of loving each other, along with our children, we have joyfully decided to marry. Our children are happy for us, we have God's approval; as well as, the approval of our dearest and closest friends and family. God is turning our mourning into joy! We are happy!

So let there be a wedding!

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