I sat down the curling iron for the last time and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t a full-length mirror, just the upstairs bathroom mirror at the radio station. I could see the top half of my white dress and my eyes lovingly gazed at the lace sleeves that were added to it a couple of weeks ago. Lace from my mother’s wedding dress. I pulled my jewelry from the pouch I had brought up with me. I clasped the cross necklace that my soon-to-be husband had thoughtfully and lovingly designed for me around my neck. It fell perfectly, right above my neckline. So beautiful. So delicate. So right.
I then reached for a sterling silver bracelet. A heart charm dangled from it with the name “Daddy” etched in the center. I held it tenderly before clasping it around my wrist. My eyes moved back to the mirror and I stared, once again, at my reflection. I could hear Titus’ laughter outside the door.
With only minutes to go, I couldn’t move from where I stood. Tears filled my eyes. They slipped down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop them. New and old memories filled my heart and flooded my soul. My mom came in. She looked at me, tears filling her eyes too. Before she handed me a tissue, she hugged me.
Pain and peace. Fear and freedom. Grief and grace.
I walked down the aisle to his smiling face. His eyes sparkled and his hands shook. To be loved by this man, to be cherished once again by a selfless heart, completely took my breath away. We exchanged vows. We smiled and we laughed, and when I said my vows, my voice quivered.
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New and old memories surfaced. I looked in his eyes, eyes that hadn’t left mine, and remembered all the times in the last year I had cried, when I had tried to pull away, when I couldn’t speak what was in my heart. He never gave up on me. He had such patience. Such strength. Such faith. He listened. He loved and he never left.
He took my hand and led me over to a waiting chair. As he picked up my bare feet and placed them one at a time in the water basin, I felt a comforting warmth wash through me. He prayerfully and gently washed the grime from my feet. At the same time, he promised to love, serve, and cherish me all of his days. The lyrics of John Waller’s “The Wedding Prayer” played softly throughout the auditorium, and in that moment, I felt my fragile heart beat again; my open wounds washed and salved.
Loss and love. Hurt and healing. Grief and grace.
I lifted my head and ran the washcloth over my face. The nausea was overwhelming. I sat back against the wall and placed a hand over my growing abdomen. Memories from five years ago filled my mind. They overwhelmed me. They brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart. I crawled into my bedroom and came to my feet. I walked to the edge of the bed and sat down.
A flutter in my stomach took my breath away and made me smile. The baby was moving.
I smiled again. My other “baby” was calling for me. A mommy of two. Who would have thought?
Loneliness and laughter. Sadness and strength. Grief and grace.
I walked into the house from running errands and sat my purse down. Soon after, I heard a little voice say, “Mommy, don’t you worry. I’m going to take everything out of the car for you and bring it in so you don’t have to.” I looked up, surprised. His little face was so serious. “If daddy were here, he would do it, but since he isn’t, I’m going to do it.” He then marched out the front door with determination.
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I froze in the kitchen, speechless. He came back into the house a couple of minutes later with bags in his hands. Huffing and puffing, he sat them down and went out to get more. From the window, I watched his blonde head bob down the porch stairs. A lump formed in my throat and tears stung my eyes.
“If Daddy were here . . .”
The only dad he knows was working late this night. The dad he is a spitting image of, yet never knew, is in Heaven. At that moment, however, I felt their two souls, the two hearts of the two men that captured mine, beat in one accord. Michael’s heart and prayer was to raise his son to love and cherish, first and foremost the Lord, and second, his mommy. Bryan, by example, had done just that. I caught my breath, swallowed the lump in my throat, and wiped away the tears.
Cries and comfort. Doubts and deliverance. Grief and grace.
“Grief and grace rose up within me like two giant wrestlers stopping long enough to shake hands. Pain and beauty tangled in a big knot called hope.” -Beth Moore
There is no way to explain the war, the battle of grief and grace for a wife who will always be a widow. What is certain, however, is that “pain and beauty are tangled in a big knot called hope.” And that hope is Jesus Christ.
In midst of life’s changes and chapters, He is good. He holds the pen and writes our stories so beautifully and perfectly. Even when we don’t understand. When we just can’t see. He is there. He is faithful. And in the midst of grief . . . there is grace.
Originally published on the author’s blog