Raylene Nickel

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Forever Hopeful

Dear Reader,

I wrote Forever Hopeful during the winter following the death of my husband, John, on July 25, 2013. On that day I joined the ranks of countless others who have experienced the kind of loss that shatters their personal world. John and I were twin spirits, soul mates, partners.

Recognizing the relentless march of death in his body, John had asked of me one day, "Do you have a plan? This isn't stopping!" We had our farm in North Dakota to run, cattle to feed, rhythms of life and soil and plants to sustain.

Yet I answered, "No, I don't have a plan. My only plan is to pray."

The writing of Forever Hopeful: A Wife's Story of Winter unfolded during the winter following John's death as I wrestled to singlehandedly reconstruct a way of life built by and for two. I struggled to make spiritual sense out of death. And I prayed.

And so the days have passed. Indeed, I have found that grief has its fertile ground. From it sprout new tendrils of life, borrowing the best of the past to bless the present. It grows its own kind of creativity. It strengthens, sharpens, clarifies. Grief in time finds a way to brew its own comfort.

Yet if grief indeed grows its own gifts, I saw no trace of these at the start of my journey through loss. It is my hope that those walking a similar path may find a traveling companion within the pages of Forever Hopeful.

Raylene Nickel