DeLora Noble Coplin: One Mother's Journey to Peace
Today, I am happy to introduce Delora Coplin, our featured Mom for Motherhood Mondays. I caught up with DeLora on a Sunday afternoon. She was busy preparing for the week but took time to reminisce about life and love. She and her husband, David had been close friends since childhood. Both were reared in Christian homes and spent time together at youth events. David’s family felt like her family and his parents embraced her as their own. DeLora and David had so much in common. They shared a love for one another and a passion for life. Theirs was a beautiful, fairytale kind of love; of wide-eyed innocence and adventure. After DeLora earned her college degree, no one was surprised when the couple decided to marry and spend the rest of their lives together.
David and DeLora began living the life of their dreams. Not long after tying the knot, they were thrilled to discover they would soon become parents. DeLora gave birth to a baby boy and they named him after David but lovingly called him “DJ”. Professionally, David entered the Airforce and, soon after training, he and DeLora left the US to live on a military base in Guam. She settled into life with a young family and was blessed to devote her time to caring for their son and managing the household. She got to know other families on the base and enjoyed being part of a military community.
“But being married is work”, Delora admits. There were days when, in her mind, David could do no right. One day in particular, David was the unsuspecting target of DeLora’s momentary hormonal rage. He left for work without the favor of his wife that day. But something would not let DeLora rest contently. She could not allow her negative emotions to define that day. Instead, she made a special trip to David’s office just to drop off goodies from his favorite bakery. Even after he got home from work, DeLora surprised him with his favorite home-cooked meal. By the time he kissed DeLora goodnight and headed out for a ride, David was back in favor with her again.
Grief Writes a Chapter
Set me as a seal upon thine heart,
as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death…
Song of Solomon 8: 6
That night, DeLora got a call. “They’re trying to get him back”, the officer explained. Something had happened to David but the woman on the phone was not saying what DeLora wanted to hear and needed to hear. David had been in an accident and she wanted to hear that he was fine. Instead, they continued to insist they were trying to get him back. “Back from where?” she demanded. Had David fallen? Was he hanging from a cliff somewhere? She could hear them speaking but was unable to fully comprehend their words. She was told to meet them at the scene of the accident. She woke her son and drove with DJ in the backseat to meet up with the emergency responders on the scene. Once she arrived, military personnel then drove her to the hospital. This gave DeLora time to call a friend who readily agreed to meet her at the hospital.
She walked into the hospital wearing David’s pajama bottoms and searching frantically for her husband. The doctor met her but the news was not good. David had an accident on his motorcycle but the emergency medical team had not been able to bring David back to life. In that moment, DeLora’s consciousness abandoned her. When she opened her eyes, her entire world had abruptly shifted into something she could not recognize. She had lost her leading man and their perfect adventure had vanished in a moment. Grief settled in like a constant companion and it authored the next chapter of DeLora’s life. She had to share this news and new reality with her eight-year-old son. “Daddy’s gone to be with Jesus”, she told DJ.
Grief, they say, is the price that is paid for love. DeLora’s love for David was immeasurable and her feelings of loss and pain would be unending as well. For the first 6 months after David’s passing, DeLora grieved for her husband while her mother took care of DJ. She immediately enrolled herself and her son in grief counseling with Hospice. Later, she moved in with her brother’s family who welcomed them and provided a safe haven for as long as they needed.
DeLora Writes a New Chapter
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven
Ecclesiastes 3: 1
In time, grief began to loosen its’ grip on DeLora’s heart. A year and a half after David’s passing, she and DJ ventured out to find a place of their own. The first apartment she chose was way too big. She explained that even though she knew David was gone, she bought a place large enough for three to live. After realizing what she’d done, she soon moved out and found a home more suitable for a family of two. Her sense of style, she found, led her to decorate her home in bohemian blues. She purchased a new sofa and added in some eclectic pieces, slightly distressed and well-loved accessories that warm her home. “I’d never given much thought to my own style before now”, DeLora adds.
DeLora found the courage to begin dating again and has begun a new relationship with someone very special to her. Looking back, she admits that her relationship terms were lofty. She no longer held on to the vision of love she’d shared with David. She was a young widow with a son and anyone she allowed into their lives would have to completely satisfy her terms. David would always be DJ’s dad and an unforgettable part of her life. Moving on with her life without David was not realistic. Her emotional scars might fade but they would never heal completely. She is authoring her own story now, but grief will always want to know what could have been.
Peace and Joy Redefined
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life;
weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
DeLora has a word for other moms who know what it feels like to lose a spouse. “It sucks”, she concedes, “but it gets better.” Take time to grieve and know that grief is different for everyone. For DeLora, her grief meant no funeral wreaths on the door and no constant flow of visitors. Her private places of retreat brought her solace along with a small circle of friends. She held on to a few sentimental items that remind DeLora of David. His remaining possessions were given away. “I hoped they’d be a blessing to someone else”, DeLora recalls.
Another chapter concluded and DeLora continues as the leading lady in a new chapter of her life. On August 8th, DeLora took a ride to Salsbury, NC to the Military cemetery where David was laid to rest. She cried at his headstone, reminisced with him and grieved for him because she continues to miss him. However, after 3 years, she unexpectedly discovered peace. The bitterness that followed death was losing its’ sting. DeLora realizes she and DJ are going to be okay. Peace and happiness are new and welcome companions. “One day, I realized I could smile again and it wasn’t fake”, DeLora offered. It was a genuine smile of unfeigned happiness. It felt good.