I was married to David Beasley for seven years when he was killed in a car wreck. When the seventh anniversary of his death arrived, it overwhelmed me to consider he had been gone as many years as we were married.

I shared the irony with our 7-year-old daughter, Katherine, who was only 3 months old when he died. Wide-eyed, she looked at me and asked, “What did David sound like?”

It dawned on me that since I married my new husband, Robbie, four years earlier, I was so focused on blending our family, my kids had never seen a video of their biological father.

A Day to Remember

On the anniversary of David’s death, Robbie planned to be out of town. So, I invited my mom, dad, David’s sister and her family, and the kids to remember David by watching home videos.

At the last minute, however, Robbie’s trip got canceled. He would have to sit through home movies and mourn a man he didn’t know. But because Robbie has experienced losing a spouse (to cancer), he graciously understood and joined us.

Everyone gathered in anticipation as I prepared. I couldn’t wait to see the look of curiosity and wonder on my children’s faces, who were 7 and 9. This was their daddy. They would finally get to hear David’s voice, see his goofy expressions, and hear his deep belly laughs. They could see the way he doted on them as babies and cared deeply for their mom.

Moment of Revelation

Everyone went quiet as the old video buzzed on the screen. Suddenly, there he was—the face I loved so much, the father of my children, my long-lost friend. I cherished the glimpses through windows to the past and soaked up his countenance, reliving each memory in my mind. After a few minutes, I looked over to see the response of my children, but they were already gone, playing with their cousins.

I called them, not sure if they understood who was on the screen. “Kids, that’s David. Didn’t you say you wanted to hear how he sounded?”

Katherine came around the corner. “Yes, but I heard him,” she said.

I was confused by their lack of interest. Was it healthy? Should I force them to watch? What did it mean?

And then Katherine cried out with delight, “Daddy! Daddy!” But she wasn’t talking about David. She was calling Robbie.

The man on the screen was just an ancestor to her, like a great, great grandfather—interesting, but not life-changing. She got all she needed from a five-minute glance. The man on the couch was her Daddy.

She crawled up into Robbie’s lap. He cradled her in his big, strong arms as only a daddy can for his little girl. And they cuddled while they watched old videos of another man on the screen, one who gave her life, who cuddled and bathed her newborn body in his big, strong arms as only a daddy can do for his little girl.

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Conflicting emotions after losing a spouse

I was happy and sad at the same time. I felt overjoyed that Katherine had Robbie, a father like David wanted her to have. And I felt disheartened that it wasn’t him. David wanted more than anything to be the best dad in the world, having been raised by a widowed mother who never remarried. But God had a different sovereign plan.

Right after David died, I remember people trying to console me saying, “You’re so young. You’ll get married again.” But that didn’t comfort me. It wasn’t marriage I missed. It was David. Marrying someone else wouldn’t bring him back, and it didn’t.

This year, it will be 10 years since David’s death. I’ve been married to Robbie almost seven. We’re happy, well-adjusted, and my kids are, too. I wouldn’t trade my blended family for the world. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss David.

A Lesson of Grief

There are many lessons I’ve gathered on the journey of grief, and one of them is this: The heartache of losing a spouse lasts a lifetime.

My kids may not grieve their loss, but I do. And I grieve for David. My heart breaks that he will never walk our daughter down the aisle. He’ll never teach our son to play basketball or cheer for their favorite team together.

But in my moments of melancholy, I remember I serve a God who restores. Death is a vicious enemy, and it has temporarily stolen the precious moments that belong to a father and his children. But God promised to “restore to [us] the years that the swarming locust has eaten …” (Joel 2:25). Because our Savior lives, David lives. And my children and I will one day join him in heaven.

Until then, my heart will toggle between the glory of God’s provision and the agony of loss. Solomon said it best, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn , and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4). When I’m sad, I let myself be sad. And when I’m happy, I let myself be happy. Sometimes that happens at the same time. And God is with me in these moments, whispering His promises that the best is yet to come.

I look forward to the day when I can be with all my loved ones, including David and Robbie. In that place, there will be no more tears or sorrow, and I can stand before God and thank Him for all He has given me, even in the midst (and because of) losing a spouse.

Copyright © 2020 by Sabrina Beasley McDonald. All rights reserved.

About the author

Sabrina Beasley McDonald has been writing about God’s plan for marriage and family for over 19 years. Sabrina has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family counseling from Liberty University. She is the author of several devotional books, including Write God In Deeper: Journal Your Way to a Richer Faith.