Grief struck us, in the deepest dark of night, heralding the news of death. Like a thunderbolt, it struck without warning, piercing our happy households in an instant – shattering lives. No time to prepare emotions as in an extended illness or an expected loss of an ancient one. No time for good-byes, no time to intercede with prayer – pleading with the Lord to intercept the messenger he commissioned to take our precious loved one from us.
My nephew & Godson. A firefighter, at the tender age of 37, recalled from the earth as he battled to save others. Four children under the age of seven, a wife, a mother, a father, a brother, 25+ cousins, a dozen Aunts, Uncles, numerous circles of friends – every blessing he had been bestowed – silently slipped from his life.
An honorable man, generous of heart, kind, funny and handsome. He wore the FDNY shield with honor. He was loved.
As darkness receded into day and the bright dawn of the morning sun, rose over the horizon, grief hung like a dark cloud. News began to spread, a diaspora of disbelief, hurt and pain, of this tragic death.
Preparations are made and the family pushes through the days with heartache, as an unwelcome companion, at our side. The never-ending question, reverberating in our minds, “Why, why?” – never to be answered.
Time passes. The memories of the gift of his love, his smile, his spirit, his joy of fatherhood – a source of never-ending joy in my heart – became something to be managed. Joy, juxtaposed, with pain. I bury my grief, in a lockbox in my heart, clasped shut to hold my grief, my heartache, my pain and my joyful memories – that, otherwise unlocked, might slip into view, reawaking my grief and shattering my carefully protected heart.
Eighty-three days later death calls, again. My husband, this time. His illness paved this sorrowful news, with expectancy. Prayers, goodbyes, relief. He slipped peacefully back to our God, released from the ravages of cancer that was eating away his bones.
We were gifted with this time to prepare. Sorrow comes, nevertheless. I am prepared this time. I know where to bury my grief. I add it, along with my memories of our nearly 30 years together, into the lockbox in my heart to shield myself.
More time passes and I slowly release those memories and my heart rebuilds. Piece by piece, as in a puzzle, that begins to fill the frame as each piece blossoms into a myriad mix of color and form.
It has been said, that, “time heals all wounds.” I have found that not to be the case. I’d say, rather, “time softens the aching and sorrow is replaced with joy.” This is a lesson in pain management, which no drug, can heal. Joy begins to erupt as new and old memories, family, and friends replace sorrow with joys, bringing me out of my darkness and brightening my days, again.
Through grief, sorrow, joy and love I have learned to cope. I remind myself that at the bottom of Pandora’s box – remained hope. Please dear reader, if you have suffered loss, travel with me and peak into Pandora’s box and let us find hope, together.