Its a question that will drive you mad. There is no answer, there is no knowing.
It has now nearly been a year. 12 months, 365 days. A life time ago and yet only yesterday. Our grief is still raw, he tears are still close and we are still learning exactly how to do this without the one person that kept it all together. That said, I feel as though we have learned a little. Some growth has taken place and while I still really HATE this situation, there are times when there are moments of acceptance.
One of the things that I am coming to see is God's powerful hand and events leading up to his death. Things that happened that meant we were able to say goodbye and have no feelings of regret. I thought I might outline some of those below.
* Jouke and I met and married very young. Were were young but we were given nearly a decade fulled with joy and adventures.
* We always wanted 4 children. Two within 2 years then a 4 year gap and then 2 again. It didn't exactly work out that way. Alani joined our family about 3 years too soon (on our timetable) and because we had 3 children in 3 years time, we felt our family was complete.
Now I see that God knew what an immense blessing that little girl would be to us and what a huge role she is playing in my healing. He also kindly took away the feeling that we 'should have'. Not our timing, but His perfect hand for the good of his people.
* When Anja was 7 months old we spend about a month living with a friend who had lost his wife in a horrible car accident. We needed a place to stay and he needed the company. It worked out well. Now I see the lessons I learned about grief, widowhood, loneliness and pain. Never before had I ever confronted any of these emotions, but because of the time spend with Ian I was able to recognize them in me. They are horrible, but they are not completely unknown. I am ever thankful to our friend who not only taught us much, but who continues to be a wonderful supportive friend.
* Jouke worked a flexi-week. 4 days on and 3 days off. Because of this we often went on weekend breaks and very rarely used his annual leave. At one point he had so many weeks saved that his boss told him to take two weeks off, or else.
So this time last year we went on a 10 day camping holiday. It was fun and the time we spend as a family, and with some wonderful friends, will forever be treasured memories. When we returned we used the last few days of his leave to renovate the laundry and lay some new flooring. The night of the 3rd of March we finished. The last shelf was up and we headed to bed. That is my last memory of Jouke.
Now I see that those weeks were a gift. Precious, precious time together. Wonderful memories. And I now live in a house that Jouke had made practical and livable. His work is everywhere I look, a memory in every corner of this house.
* The Sunday night before his accident, Jouke suddenly dropped his paintbrush and headed for the computer. Confused, he told me that something was wrong with his family and he needed to speak to them. He was worried, something felt wrong. Via Skype he spoke to his parents, his siblings and some friends. By the time he was finished he felt silly, because everybody was well. Now I see that he was given an opportunity to say goodbye. One last chance to tell them he loved them.
There are many more such things that happened in the months and weeks leading up to his death. People we met, that have been amazing support for me through this past year; financial decisions we made that have helped us survive; buying our house and managing to get in front to help cushion the blow for me later and being part of a church that takes their call to support the widow and the fatherless very seriously.
For all these things I am thankful. Not my timing, but God's timing.