Twenty-five years ago tonight, I collapsed into bed, wrung out, exhausted and utterly unable to sleep. My memories of the day remain fragmentary. Standing in the back of the parish church, reaching out to help Fr. John pull the white pall over Tom's casket; standing at the ambo to read; my father holding me up as the hearse pulled away from the church. Strangely, my memories of the church are as entirely empty, no one in the pews, stark white walls, like the flashback in some B movie.
Back at the house, my former post-doctoral advisor awkwardly trying to comfort me, not knowing what to say, but willing to try nonetheless. My mother, worried about her elderly father holding up. The shattered look on my father-in-law's face, fallen in on himself. Of my finally sitting down in the living room, incapable of mustering another word to anyone, unable to stand. I had not the strength left to weep.
I've been married to Victor almost 20 years, have two incredible sons who would never have been born if Tom's heart had not held that fatal flaw. Still, the joy does not obliterate the pain, does not blunt the memories. But nor can the pain mar the joy of loves present — and past. Both mingle, like the water and the wine, one cup of grace to be drunk. With courage. For courage. In love.
Tonight I have the strength to weep. For what I have lost. For what I have been given. A full measure of grace, packed down and overflowing.