Mourning With Hope

BY JAY SAWRIE

As I sit here on Easter Sunday, the light is coming into my living room. My dog is sitting sweetly in my lap, enjoy the light scratches on her ear and getting in my face as to stop me from writing. It is a beautiful afternoon, restful and easy. I am full of good potluck food and enjoying a cold beer. Yet, here I sit, in this odd quiet. It is funny. I’ve always been more introverted and have longed for these still and quiet moments with the quiet to unwind and recharge. But today the quiet is a haunting quiet, a bitter pain instead of solace.

My wife is dead. She has been dead for over a month now, and it seems that grief is the ghost that haunts this apartment. I have entrusted her soul to God. She was my ever-faithful companion and encourager. She always pointed me to Christ. She was always longing to obey Christ. She was willing to share in my life, wherever that would be. I will always remember her as a special grace. There was one day where Allyson asked me a strange question: what’s a little way you love me that I don’t see? Call it cheesy, dear reader, but this is what I said: You get to the table before me — every week. When I step back to let you out and go before me, it’s because I’m going to make sure, even if I have to push you, that you go before me.

Most days I am able to work and be with friends as if I am at peace. But today the quiet is a curse. Today I wish I could wake her from a Sunday nap. I wish that we could’ve spent Easter dressing up and that I could watch her make a big fuss. It is common that we believe that we are to be happy at Easter. That we spend time reflecting on the resurrection and celebrate the assurance that Christ conquered sin and death for us. Many will ask today with Paul, “Oh Death where is your sting?”

It’s in my heart. It’s in my side where it feels as if my rib was ripped from my chest. It’s in the quiet of this apartment as the sun streams in and the dog dreams. It’s in the vast emptiness that is our bed where we would lay on Sunday afternoons and waste the days laughing. It’s in a cigar box where I’ve tucked away my wedding ring. The sting of death still stings. It is not as if I have lost heart, or that I have lost my faith. My faith is strong. But my knees are weak. My mouth is dry. At this point, all I want to do is sit and talk with Allyson. I want to hear her laugh, watch her facial expressions, hell even an argument. Anything so long as I can see her. The sting of death, I get. Truth be told, I always thought she would go before me. I knew, in time, I would heal. But I thought for certain that day wouldn’t be now. Not at 28. 58, maybe. 78, sure. But parents ought not to bury their daughter. If that is true, then certainly, young husbands ought not bury their wives. Regardless of what sunlight I may see, it is darkness.

But after darkness, light.

Today is Easter and I know two things for sure. The first is that there is an empty tomb. The second is that my wife, even in her worst days battling depression and anxiety, looked to Christ, by grace through faith, for her salvation. It is in these two that I have found a bittersweet comfort. It is because of these two things that I do not mourn without hope. Because He got up on the third day, Allyson will get up on the Last. Because He has conquered the grave, she is now free. Because he was pierced and crushed for her sins, my wife stands before God without them. Rather she stands just as if she had never sinned, and just as if she had always obeyed. She stands as I always saw her- perfect, spotless, blameless. One day, I too will stand there as she is now. Grief will not bear the last word. The salve of glorification will soothe the pain. Whatever tears of death I weep will be gone. Death is dead, but my wife isn’t. Christ has risen, He has risen indeed. And because he has, she will too.

Jay Sawrie is an intern of the Presbyterian Church in America. He is also a contributor for Late Night Theology, a reader of Flannery O’Connor, and is working toward pastoring Presbyterian churches in the South.