She’s sitting alone in a room filled with people, and though bodies are pressed up close to her, she can’t quite feel anyone, can’t quite hear anything. This moment is too bright — this moment is too hard — half of her is missing. The box is closed, the pastor speaks, and tears flow while her thoughts smear.
When was the last moment she lived without him, her other self? What was she like before she met him? Is there any part of that piece of her left? So long molded together into one being — so long living together, laughing together, fighting together; but now only one … only one …
The pastor is still speaking, his voice is raw with grief. Her friends are near and she wants to lean on them, into them as though one of her legs is missing. How can she balance now? Part of her is gone — part of her is missing … But someday, oh someday, she will see him again. The words rise from her closing throat:
When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be
So long together, but now just one – no, not alone, for an arm around her helps her rise. It is not the arm she longs for, but she accepts the embrace, accepts the strength. She tries to smile, feels her lips tremble as she approaches the box. The lid is open, and though she knows it is just his shell, she wants to climb inside, feel his arms again hold her tight, hear the drum of his heart steady her fears.
Too soon you are gone, too soon, my love.
What will I do without you?
For this light and momentary trouble … Rejoice! I say again, rejoice!
Rejoice? … her mind rebels as she looks at her children, but visions of God’s goodness flood her mind, as though her beloved is speaking into her hollowed-out heart –
A kind word spoken in just the right moment
Groceries and meals on the porch when I lost my job
Our hospital bill anonymously paid
A new church family when we moved here, so far from family
Lydia, your friend and confidant when I feared your loneliness would consume you …
A gentle hand creeps opens her fist and she sees her tears in her child’s eyes. With conviction her son manages to smile, “He’s in heaven now, Mom, and soon we will praise God with him.” She walks to the car, then to the grave, then to her home again. Soon, family will return home, leftovers will be eaten, she will sleep alone. But the hand of grace will keep reaching, keep seeking, God will not abandon the righteous, He will see her through.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27 (NASB)