By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentar | Published September 19, 2022
I’ve been running after peace ever since the bottom of my life fell out, when my husband died. At first grief was like a hungry monster that stalked me constantly and devoured any shreds of peace in my heart.
The silence in the house didn’t seem peaceful, just lonely and empty and a constant reminder of loss. Getting up in the morning and going to bed at night in silence brought to mind how happy I had once been and how happiness had ended when he died.
Slowly I came to understand what St. Paul said when he talked about Christians who grieve without hope like non-believers do. As much as I wanted to believe I would see my husband again, that he was safely with Christ, I still continued to fret. I was truly grieving without hope, until one day, things began to change.
The silence no longer seemed threatening, but instead imbued with a gentleness like flowers unfurling and tree limbs stretching. Being at home with the steady heartbeat of the grandfather clock was somehow soothing. Being alone was no longer something to run from, but to embrace. Somehow I had discovered what St. Paul calls “the peace that surpasses understanding.”
And then one day came the realization that I wasn’t really alone, that Someone was with me in the house, in my heart, and he would never leave. And this was Christ, who had come to save me from myself and to fulfill his promise: “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
I awoke each day to bid good morning to Jesus, and said good night to him when I got into bed at night. During the day, I turned my heart over to him and prayed he would keep me close. When I went on walks on tree-lined streets, I thanked him for little things like the butterflies and bumble bees, and for big things like the love of family and friends.
They say our life flashes before us at the moment of death, but at times I see the past unfolding like a series of snapshots, and the trivialities disappear, and what remains are the people I loved.
I look at photos of my childhood family in Miami, and realize my parents had their sorrows, their illnesses, their worries and also their joys and loves. I see them on the patio having a cocktail before supper, and then the snapshots flip forward, and I picture myself and my husband on the deck drinking a glass of wine together. All the suppers, all the celebrations, all the toasts, all the laughter, all the people gathered at the table.
I see images of my life with my husband, especially the younger versions of ourselves, laughing as we devour homemade cookies and listen to music. The long beach walks together, when we talked about someday living at the shore. The many birthdays, the years piling up on us, yet the sense of an endless future, and then the last day, when he died, and I thought everything had ended.
Little by little, I’ve come to see that the love I shared with my husband is still with me, and it can become balm for the hearts of other people. I cherished him so deeply, and this is a habit impossible to break. So this love radiates out to others, as I try to envision them through Christ’s eyes and realize how tender, how broken, how fragile we all are.
The words in the Song of Songs have become my light: “I found him whom my heart loves. I took hold of him and will not let him go.” This person in my heart is Jesus, and he is with me forever. His peace fills my soul, and I know I will meet my husband again in a new Jerusalem, where Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes.