Late 2016 brings our first wedding anniversary following Karl’s death.

As the date approaches, I vow to be confident and accepting. I organize a celebratory lunch in Rose Gardener’s garden in Brisbane. I wear the brilliant orange dress that Angela gave me. I present everyone with a red candle for courage.

(We’ve all had a tough year!)

I print quotations about courage on slips of paper and our friends dip into a box to pull out their special one. Everyone is astonished at the relevance of their selection, but I know that Karl is on the job.

I did not survive to be untouched.

Here are some of the words I offer (taken mostly from Mark Nepo’s extensive writing on courage following his life-changing medical trauma):

  • Grief is yet another song the heart must sing to open the gate of all there is.
  • Your heart knows the way to be completely who you are.
  • There is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable.
  • I’d rather be fooled than not believe.
  • To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.
  • Sing, and your life will continue.
  • There is no tomorrow, only a string of todays.
  • Courage is the result of being authentic.
  • Courage is the heart’s blossom.
  • You will not need to do anything to be loved.
  • If pulled, grief is a thread that will leave us naked in song.

I MAKE A GREAT Potato salad

Aware that Karl was the widely acknowledged master of the warm German potato salad, I concoct the best potato salad of my life. It does not escape the celestial chef ‘s scrutiny:

I have seen some good potato salads in my day. That one is a ripper. The capers! Yes! The pickle juice. Yum. Even the hot sauce – I might not have dared! And making two of them. One for the vegetarian. Good job, Wadie.

My friends and I sit together, witnessing our shared grief and gratitude and raise our glasses to the sweet memory of our Beloved Karl. Acceptance, smiles, and laughter fill Rose’s sunlit garden.

Trusting and handing over my cares

It has taken eleven months before I finally accept that I can hand over my cares to Karl (and to God).

As Karl reminds me, “I am naturally drawn to love and support you. It’s just so much easier — for both of us — if you can guide me to where and how you need help.”

The irony of the situation does not escape me: in our life together, Karl was the one who was reluctant to trust. By his admission, he was (and still is) “a complicated little guy”.

In late March 2017, Karl says, “sometimes I felt I was a very slow learner. I needed you to help me make sense of what I was learning.”

Now I am the slow learner when it came to acceptance and trust.

Karl also reminds me of something I had forgotten: God helps those who help themselves. Now, as the project manager that he could never seem to embody successfully in our professional life together, Karl is taking charge:

Now we have the team and have a plan, we can work those marigolds. Wait and see. Big things are going to happen that will fill your heart with encouragement.