By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published September 6, 2018
When I recall the day my husband died, just over three years ago, everything is pretty much a blur. I remember my sweet friend Cathy driving me home from the hospital, and I know she gave me supper, which I ate, but don’t recall what it was.
Another dear friend Pam came over later, and when we all sat down in the living room, I said, “Let’s say the rosary for Jef.” Pam read meditations on each mystery, as we chanted the familiar prayers, ending with “Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”
The hour of our death is known to God alone, but whoever faithfully says the rosary is asking the Blessed Mother, time and again, to watch over them as they are dying.
In “The World’s First Love,” Bishop Fulton Sheen writes about a woman who complained about the rosary, saying anyone who repeated prayers, over and over, couldn’t be sincere.
He asked her how often her sweetheart said he loved her. She said he’d told her just an hour ago and in fact told her multiple times a day.
From that, Bishop Sheen defended the rosary as a way of telling God, the Trinity, the Incarnate Savior and the Blessed Mother, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“The heart takes one expression and in saying it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news in the universe.”
During the first year following Jef’s death, I was pretty much in a fog and went about the days in a dazed, mechanical fashion. I’d eat the same breakfast we’d had for years—oatmeal, blueberries and yogurt—take the same vitamins and go for walks in the afternoon, like we usually did.
I paid the bills, watered the orchids, went to Mass, cleaned the house—and shed enormous quantities of tears. And there were nights, I must admit, when the pain was so intense I was tempted to take my own life to escape the agony.
It was then that I clung to the rosary beads, and even though I was too shattered to say the prayers, just having them in my hands felt like a mysterious link with the Blessed Mother in heaven, a way of saying, “I love you, please help me.”
Could my husand see me? Was he aware of my suffering? I took comfort in the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, who wrote, “I believe the Blessed in Heaven have great compassion on our miseries.”
The rosary has become a gift I can give my husband, as I pray for the repose of his soul, and a special connection between us. The prayers transport me back to the days when we attended holy hour at the Gift of Grace Home, run by the Missionaries of Charity.
Making the Sign of the Cross, I see in my mind’s eye the small chapel with a few roses tucked within a vase before the altar. And the huge crucifix with the words “I thirst” fashioned from black construction paper and affixed to the wall.
Jef and I are sitting next to each other, behind the four sisters, as some of us chant in unison the beginning of each prayer, and others complete it.
Now, whenever I say the rosary, I picture him praying beside me, beads in hand, fuzzy hair a bit unruly and the big green eyes.
Then his gentle voice, blendng with the sisters: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
I trust Mother Mary was praying for him, at the hour of his death. I also trust that he is now praying for me.
“They never stop watching over us and praying for us,” St. Therese said about the faithful departed.
I hope that someday I’ll meet my husband again and we can say the rosary in the presence of the Blessed Mother, surrounded by roses, in a place where there are no more tears.
And I picture her smiling at us tenderly, as each “I love you” falls from our lips like a beautiful drop in the endless sea of eternity.
Artwork by Jef Murray (“Visitation,” oil painting). Lorraine’s email is email@example.com.