One Month Later

Sleep
Photo taken December 2015

Today marks one month since the love of my life left my side and took his place amongst the angels. There aren’t words to describe the past month; the pain is ever-present and the sadness never leaves. January 12th was by far the hardest day of my life, but the subsequent days have certainly left me feeling simultaneously numb and ripped to shreds. I cannot possibly describe the agony in having the love of your life pass away in your arms at the age of 25. I won’t try to describe it because that would require reliving that day and that is something I do in my head enough- every single day, in fact. There are so many impossible parts of grief and absolutely no way to prepare for losing your spouse. I am forever aware of his absence and the silence is deafening. I still instinctually wander towards the “Big and Tall” sections of stores and catch myself scouring the shoe racks for a size 17. I do so many things to only be reminded that I heartbreakingly don’t need to anymore. And the waves of grief…they wash over me and hardly let me come up for air. It feels much like I would imagine drowning feels like- a piercing blow to the chest, lungs feeling both as if they’re combusting and collapsing, a gasp for air, for relief. I feel like I’m suffocating. I feel like I’m dying. And then I realize it’s because so much of me did die that day. Andrew and I used to sing along to a song called “Home.” The chorus sings, “Home is wherever I’m with you…” We’d sing and smile at one another as those words resonated between us. We spent so much time in hospitals and we were desperate to be in our home in Irvington, but at the end of the day, if I was sharing a bed with Andrew- be it in our own or a hospital bed like the one pictured above- I was home. Home was wherever I was with him. And now, I am left feeling homeless. My home is now in ashes. I try and think of his perspective, though (as I often do). Home for Andrew was wherever I was. I’m still here. I’m still breathing. Albeit barely, but I am still breathing. Where I am, he will forever be. He will always have a home in me.

The most tragic and difficult moment was holding Andrew in my arms as he died. There is not a single person on this earth that should ever feel that pain and heartache. But as he took his last breath here on earth, I know that his next was breathed in Heaven in the arms of our Savior. As a devoted wife and caregiver, it is so hard to think of Andrew being better off in anyone else’s arms but mine. But, I’ve had to realize and accept that in the arms of our heavenly Father is the safest, most comforting place to be. In His arms, not mine. Andrew loved me so dearly, to the innermost core of his heart. I love that I can say that with so much confidence; he made sure I knew it every single day. He loved me a lifetime’s worth in our seven years together. And while I am so terribly sad that seven years’ worth will have to last me a lifetime, I’m so lucky and so blessed to have been loved that much. Life with Andrew was a glimpse of Heaven; it was beautiful, joyous, and unparalleled. I am devastated that my glimpse has departed from me, but I’m so happy that Andrew now lives in the constant state of perfection that is Heaven. I know I only got a taste of it, but it gives me so much to look forward to. I cannot wait for the day that Andrew greets me at the gates of Heaven, gives me one of his crushing hugs, and says, “I’m so proud of you. You were great, my love. You did great.”

“But our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

23 thoughts on “One Month Later

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  2. You continue to be in my heart, thoughts and prayers daily. Your strength and courage are inspiring. I saw you were able to get away to Boston and I hope that time away was as healing and rejuvenating as possible. Hugs to you.

  3. It was so good to see an update from you. I can’t imagine how terribly difficult it must have been to write it, let alone live each day without Andrew.
    I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers and pray you continue to feel His presence surrounding you at all times.

    God Bless.

  4. Still keeping you and all the family in my prayers. You’ve been a shining example of faith and honest grief. Prayers and blessings to you…

  5. Thinking of you and the family and hope you know you are all still in our thoughts and prayers. AS44 hangs above my computer in Athletics.

  6. Samantha, though you may not often feel it, your raw honesty exudes grace and strength. I continue to pray for you, that you will feel God’s loving, soothing arms around you.

  7. Sam our hearts breaks with you. We don’t know the tremendous
    pain you are going thru because we are not in your shoes. You are
    so brave and am grateful you are sharing all the heartaches to the
    world. You have given those of us that could not be with you as
    you go thru all the heartaches feel we are with you.
    I pray you can take joy that you will be with Andrew someday.
    We are sending our love and hugs to you always….

    Love
    Me and Chris n Ken

  8. Hi Samantha—I first read about Andrew’s illness from a FB post by Barb Westfall. I pray for your strength every single night. I ache for you, and I pray that one day the pain will be a little less. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I hope you know how much your posts mean to me, so that I can feel a little closer to you. Please keep writing; you are such a beautiful writer with expressions beyond the words you use. I know in my heart, without having known Andre, that he would want you to continue to share what you feel, so Andrew lives on in your words. My prayers will continue!m Bobbie Boehlke

  9. Samantha, my prayers are with you as you begin to navigate life without Andrew by your side. I lost my husband, unexpectedly, after 10 years of marriage, in 1999. The pain is great, and thankfully does lessen with time. Eventually you will find you mostly remember, and smile, about all the good times you had together. You will always hold him in your heart. Even though you were together a short time, how blessed the two of you were to have had that time together. God will carry you through, and strengthen you, and hold you in His arms as you carry on. The world would benefit from a book about your lives together, should you ever decide to write one. You are a beautiful writer and have given such inspiration, and have shown your faith in God through your blog posts, even through the most difficult times. May God bless you.

  10. I pray for you as you are going through this very raw time of hurting and grief. You are right that you were able to share a level of love that many do not ever experience. Hold on to the good memories.

  11. May God continue to provide love and comfort through his Holy Spirit and through those who surround you physically and those who hold you in thoughts and prayers. Andrew is not forgotten.

  12. Samantha – we have not met personally, but we know you and Andrew by virtue of the Isenthal family. Our hearts ache for you each and every day. With the ache also comes gratitude for your beautiful witness of complete, pure, full and unconditional love, and a willingness to share the deepest parts of your heart through your honest and emotion-filled words. Several years ago I read a reflection titled “How Long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13:2) It begins “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) “The Hebrew word translated as “wait” or “hope” in Isaiah 40:31 can mean to twist together, as cords of a rope are intertwined. In our waiting then, we wrap ourselves around the Lord and He wraps Himself around us. When unbearable, discouraging forces pull at us, we are not pulled apart. Instead, like strands of a rope, we and the Lord are pulled more tightly together and grow in strength. We never “come to the end of our rope” because the Lord has roped us tightly into His presence. I will hope in silence for Your saving help,” (Lam 3:26) Samantha, we hope each days brings you strength in knowing God is wrapping you tightly in His love. We hope you can feel the thousands of people wrapping you in prayer, and know the legacy you and Andrew are leaving by your love. With heartfelt sympathy and prayer, Deanne & Mike Miller and Family

  13. Thank you Sam. Please continue to keep us updated on how you’re doing. You’re such a gifted writer; I hope someday you will consider sharing the story of your precious seven years together in a book. That would be a beautiful testimony to two amazing people. Hugs from Atlanta GA.

  14. You are on my prayers. I understand your pain. I also lost my husband to cancer after a long 11 year battle. He was 34 when he went home to heaven. I remember vividly how painful the first month was. The first of everything was pain unlike I’ve ever felt. I’m now just over two years out and I want you to know that the pain does begin to subside slightly eventually. It’s still very heartbreaking and you will still cry often. And that’s perfectly ok. Hold tight to Him. Without Him I never could have survived. Him and my family have pulled me through and continue to hold me. I will continue to hold you in my prayers and pray for peace. With love…

  15. I love how much you adored each other and cherished one another thru all of the heartache, disappointment, and shock that Cancer brings! I’m encouraged by your strength and willingness to reach out to others in your waves of intense grief! I finally had to do that in a different situation and not as enormously painful as yours, and as much as I hurt that comfort of knowing there were people praying for me shielded that. I pray everyday for you and Andrew’s family. Being a Mom, we all want to fix things and put bandaids on the ouch and kiss those hurts away, but Im learning to trust in that bigger bandaid that I can’t fix things by myself! I’m proud to read your blog and know your pain is something God will heal! All the encouragement you get from others encourages me as weird as that may sound.
    I hope for you the days and nights are the same length because in grief of a spouse they aren’t, but your unwavering faith shows me they will be, you hang on tight it will all be ok!

    Love in Christ
    Michele

  16. I am praying for you from Botswana, Africa. Hear the whisper of God’s voice saying to you ” I know all you are going through, and I care!”

  17. I know there are no words that anyone can say to take away your pain. I can’t imagine what you are feeling (and like you said, nobody should feel that way). I continue to read what an amazing man Andrew was and I can tell through your writing. I pray for you… will continue to pray for you… and hope that you find peace. Many hugs sent your way.

  18. January 13, 2016

    Samantha,

    Until yesterday, I didn’t know who Samantha and Andrew Smith were. Yesterday, my husband sent me an email, “We’re not the only ones”. My heart aches for you, your reality is what I was and have been so afraid would happen to us.
    My husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November of 2014, we were married in March of 2014. Like y’all, we hadn’t been married very long, and were still figuring out and navigating the path that is your first year of marriage. The year that you never imagine will be spent in doctors’ offices, biopsies, scans, chemo, etc.
    My husband had a different kind of lymphoma than Andrew, and he responded well to his treatment. He is still doing follow-ups and we did a collection of his stem-cells around the time Andrew received his transplant this past fall. We put them “on ice” in case he needs them, when we left the doctor said, “I hope I don’t see you again.”
    I know you probably don’t want to read this right now, you probably don’t want to read or do anything right now, much less hear from a stranger, who had a similar though different experience than yours. I know I often got tired of the conversations that people felt compelled to have with me about their second cousin that had lymphoma and how well they’re doing now, or whatever.
    I wanted to reach out and tell you, I feel your pain. I have sat in that other chair, while you watch the person you love most in the world take poison into their body in the hopes that it will cure them. I have worried about our future, about our family, about the possibility of children, all the, what ifs, and would haves, and should haves. I have been that caregiver aching to do anything to try to make it better and knowing the only thing you can do is be there.
    Your story echoed my story in so many ways. You had the courage to share your story publicly, bravely, to encourage others, and help them understand. I still struggle, how can I make a difference, how can we share our story in a way that is impactful? How can we make people understand? How can we do this in a way that says, our story is more than cancer, and cancer doesn’t control our lives, we are people who are multifaceted with many interests and hobbies?
    I just want you to know that your story spoke to me, that I think you’re brave, and that I know in some tiny small way, what it is to feel what you have felt. There are other people out there like you, with young marriages, fighting battles they didn’t know they were equipped to handle.
    We live in Texas, and my husband works in sports, your and Andrew’s love of college basketball, reminds me of my husbands and my love of college football. We are all so similar in so many ways.
    I know what it’s like to lose a loved one, though I can’t even begin to comprehend the pain you are feeling right now. I know there is nothing I can say that will make you feel any better, and I don’t want to offer a typical platitude. Keep sharing your story, keep showing your love to Andrew, keep him in your heart always, he will always be with you. I hope you are able to find peace, and love, and understanding. I hope your prayers heal your heart.

    God Bless,
    Emily Delgado

  19. Praying for strength, courage and peace for you. I spent the second half of the Butler game tonight reading/learning about your story with tears streaming down my face. Andrew’s and your faith is such an inspiration! You both are amazing examples of God’s love. Thank you for sharing your story, even though it must be very difficult.

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