Three nights after my wonderful wife, Teresa, went to be with the Lord after suddenly and tragically passing away before my eyes on that beautiful evening on April 19, 2004, I was at the funeral home greeting friends and family, accepting their sympathy and slowly succumbing to the early stages of a grief that was dulling my senses. I have very little memory of that night, and even less of the following day of visiting prior to the finality of the funeral for my wife and best friend, the mother of my infant daughter, Melody.
On that first evening at the funeral home, a young lady came up to me, introduced herself as one of Teresa's co-workers, a teacher at Reservoir high school, named Sara. We spoke no more than a moment, and she handed me a book. She offered her condolences, told me how much wisdom, advice, and friendship Teresa had provided to her, and explained that she had lost her fiance just over 2 years ago in a tragic accident involving a drunk driver. She had since met someone else, and was engaged again, and she told me that Teresa had told her how, when she and I were engaged, we began reading the first 100 Psalms in reverse order, a hundred days before our wedding, counting them down each day so that we read the First Psalm following our wedding ceremony. Sara and her new fiance were doing the very same thing. She then told me about the book. She said it had provided so much help to her as she was going through the throes of grief following her fiance's death, and the advice in it had made such an impact, she wanted me to have it. I thanked Sara and wished her well.
I didn't think about the book again until I was at home later that night. Looking through it, I saw that the book, "A Grace Disguised," by Jerry Sittser, is about loss, and specifically the sudden tragic accident that claimed the lives of his mother, his wife, and his young daughter, and how he dealt with the circumstances of his loss. It explores loss in all of its myriad forms, and how we can use it to bring about spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings, a transformation that only comes through the grace of our Father. Sara had inscribed a message inside the front cover that said,
"I hope this book brings understanding to your heart, a friend to share in the sorrow, and the reminder of the amazing hope we have in Christ as our souls grow because of grief. You're in my prayers. To God's Glory, Sara Z"Inside was a card of condolence from Sara to me, and inside she had written about the details of her fiance's death, her own walk with the Lord through grief, and how the author's words had provided a friend she could turn to for advice. She wanted me to know how helpful the book was to her, and that she hoped I could find the same. She said she would pray for me. After I read the card, I began to sob, and I wished I had talked with her more.
The book turned out to be an amazing source of comfort and advice, and I have since recommended it to so many others who have experienced similar loss. The advice in the book would be helpful to anyone suffering from any kind of loss, from divorce, illness, or the death of a loved one. I can't recommend it enough. Sara, if you're reading this, thank you again for your thoughtfulness. The book was an immense help to me, and I appreciate the gift so much.
Have a great evening, everyone.