God, the Master Author, sometimes intertwines stories in ways we wouldn’t have foreseen. So humbling that He does.
Guest post by Meg McAusland
“I’m always up for a game of cards.” she said as she moved her hospital tray closer to the bed.
I should have known it would be her answer. Wherever Grandma went, a card game would follow. And so, that night in her hospital room, we played cards—Spite and Malice to be exact.
Our game was long and she kept waiting me out, refusing to play a card just to “get the game moving.” An hour after we started, the flip of one card led to a rapid succession of plays bringing about my unusual win.
Nothing about that night in the hospital room felt final, but it did feel complete. Our visit had been full of all of the normal things—conversation, laughter, tears, well wishes, card-playing, future plans.
A few hours later in another hospital two hours away, a young woman I did not know became a widow. At church on Sunday my husband and I heard the news and were overcome with grief for our friends and their widowed sister-in-law.
As the day wore on I moved on from that grief rather quickly as I found myself so thankful that Grandma was still alive. I was sad for those who had lost, but so very grateful and relieved that we were not facing the same thing.
Monday, January 28, 2013 was a normal day for us. Josh went to work, I stayed home. I was entering orders for my direct sales business, calling customers, and promoting an online sale. I played with my daughter and made dinner. Josh came home. We ate. We did the dishes.
When the phone rang that night everything “normal” slipped away as waves of sorrow crashed against the shore of my heart. My grandmother had died.
Tear-stained laughter, reminiscing, and late nights became the new normal. “Suspended reality” is probably the best way to describe the six days between the phone call and the funeral. We woke up that Saturday to bitter cold weather, icy roads and snow that made miserable an already difficult to endure graveside service after the visitation and funeral.
In the days that followed, sorrow hung over me like a damp fog as my mind drifted from loss to loss. Selfish, fearful, empathetic grief played out as I woke one morning to a warm but empty spot where my husband had slept. I ran my hand over his side of the bed and remembered that somewhere not far away a young widow was waking up in a cold bed that would not be warmed by her precious husband again.
I was sobbing when my husband returned to our room after readying for work. I answered the confusion in his eyes with a plea, “Don’t go. What if you don’t come home?” Lying there in bed, the what-ifs had taken over my emotions.
A few weeks into February I read the grace saturated words of the widow as she blogged about her husband, her loss, her grief. Her honesty was encouraging but inevitably the deep waves of sorrow would crash over me again and the guilt would return.
“Why am I so sad? I’m not even a widow.”
Every month was a shared anniversary. The 25th and 28th days of the month. The days blurred together as the year crept by a month at a time. When at last the one year anniversaries came around, grief’s sharp edge had been replaced by a weary sadness.
Five months later my other grandmother died. Wave after wave of heart ache followed that year as another family member almost died in July. In September the suicide of a dear friend’s daughter pushed out all other feelings aside from sorrow.
I struggled to wrap my mind around how depression had infiltrated my life. I went back to my journals and found this entry dated February 7, 2013.
“I sit and watch the snow swirl outside my windows and I can’t help but think about the fact that it was threatening snow that night of my visit with Grandma at the hospital. But now, the reality is that snow is falling on top of a freshly dug and filled grave….It seems impossible. She was so alive that day and now there is only cold white snow on a dark spot of earth.”
Silent tears slipped down my cheeks as I got swept into the emotion of that night all over again. I could remember where I was sitting, what the light looked like in the living room, and the weight of the bitterness that crept into the angry words I was spilling across the empty pages. This was the only journal entry I wrote in the days immediately after my grandmother’s death.
What was absent from my journal was more telling than anything else. The empty space was heavy with guilt. I still had my husband and daughter. I thought I had no right to be so sad. I told myself I had nothing to process, no reason to write, and every reason to move on.
Hungry for healing and knowing where I needed to return, I typed in the web address for When Mercy Found Me. With dates corresponding to the absences in my own journal, God used the posts of this precious widow to refresh my paralyzed heart and strip the guilt away from my grief.
Grief, not imaginary and no longer guilt-ridden, propelled me to read late into the night. When morning came, I was stressed out and sorrowful, but God did not abandon me to despair. He met me there, and understanding broke open my hardened heart.
My guilt had been unnecessary. My imaginations a sinful distraction from healthy grief. My emotional barrenness a weakness I could not overcome.
There are no sweeter words to my ears.
But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.- 2 Cor. 12:9-10
God uses weakness for His glory. That precious widow, once unknown to me, is now a dear friend and encourager. Her weakness for His glory.
This week, the three year dual anniversary. The unintentional timing of this post. My weakness for His glory.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26
He weaves the stories together: