Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | April 8, 2015

Second Spring

Nellie loved Spring like I love Autumn.  Her cup overran.

Nellie loved Spring like I love Autumn. Her cup overran.


This is the second Spring in my adult life without Nellie. Now, I don’t intend to notch each coming season for its loss and write it over and over. But, I’m compelled to write now because this second Spring is different from the first. That’s the story.

The death of my wife remains overwhelming. The short tag remains – Death sucks. But even so devastating a death is different a year later.

Last year it was like metal bands were wound tightly around my head and chest. Each week they were loosened a bit. Just a bit. This year the constricting bonds are gone.

An odd thought bothers my kids and me. It’s like last year it was okay for Nellie to be gone because she died. This year, that’s quite unacceptable as an excuse. Why the Hell isn’t she back? Why is she still gone? She is supposed to be here in the flesh with us.

She should be here.

Because she isn’t, many sweet moments suddenly stab. Especially every insight we could share – seen in a second’s  flash  – about any of the four grandchildren growing up so fast. So beautifully. It’s the sparkle in the eye. The funny thing said. The new height and posture. A motion. A look. Connections to our shared memories of a lifetime together. Memories from all our private times.

This Spring I don’t weep for hours. I weep for minutes. No clue when those minutes are coming. No way to stop them when they come. Just cry and dry. Breathe deeply. Pray.

Last June a political buddy of mine from Roanoke – in his 40s – shared with me how he lost his wife when she was quite young. They had 4 little children. I had no idea he had gone through such hardship. He said his grandfather told him that God doesn’t just expand love in the human heart to love another. The Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t add – He multiplies. God multiplies our capacity to love. I believe it.

I know how wonderful companionship, partnership, friendship and fellowship fun are. I know what desire and intimacy add – and are the bonds that bind. I know love and lovingkindness. I get the give and take for two to live as one.

One day I’ll take off my wedding ring. Haven’t taken it off, because we didn’t divorce, she just died. Have no thought to take it off today.

A year later our house hasn’t sold yet. Wish it would soon. I’d like to move ahead – and see where I am financially for what we can do – on making additions to Sanctuary. The storm of the century (2003) sent water under it (whew) – yet elevating it would bring more storm safety. And, or, building a writing studio to grow as old scribbling as the Lord allows.

This Second Spring, the Lord gives life as it is. It really feels so differently. I’m much healthier. Grieving changes. Living evolves. Love remains. Love grows. Family is family.

God is good. All the time. No matter what. NO MATTER WHAT.

Coming soon – our 40th Wedding Anniversary.

Nellie adored the first green of new growth. I call it olive green.  She loved all the colors of Spring - always remarked on seeing that special green.

Nellie adored the first green of new growth. I call it olive green. She loved all the colors of Spring – always remarked on seeing that special green.



  1. This is my first Spring without Roland and I celebrated what would have been our 52nd anniversary this past Monday. I can relate to everything you wrote and it gives me a strange peace to know that a year from now I will be where you are now. Yesterday I found a five minute video of Roland’s 75th surprise birthday party and I intend to play it everyday to remind myself of his happiness and broad smile at seeing friends and dancing with me. It will eventually replace the memories of his last moments of earthly life. Oh, how blessed are we who know what heaven we have on earth when we share a godly relationship with a loving spouse. May God continue to put blessings in your life. Yvonne

  2. Hugs and Prayers for your comfort.

  3. Beautiful message you wrote. Love never dies. When you meet up with Nellie in heaven, that love will be all the greater -in a different way but all the same greater. You learn to live with the hurt because you know, as Nellie often said, that God doesn’t waste a hurt. It is for a purpose. It reminds me of Horatio Spafford who wrote “It is well with my soul” after losing his four daughters at sea. Life is not easy. But when you trust that God works it all out for good, then it can also be well with your soul. Bless you, my friend.

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