May 8, Easter 4C (Acts 9:36-43; John 10:22-30)
Tabitha’s community embraces her in her season after loss.
It was a Wednesday night, August 8, 2012. I was on call as a chaplain resident, taking a nap at my parents’ home, when my mother’s scream jarred me awake. I ran to my parents’ bedroom to see my mother holding my father, who had suddenly collapsed. She pleaded for me to call 911. Hours later, I sat in a room with her, my daughter, and an ER physician as he broke the news that my father had died, and life changed forever.
Certainly I have grieved (and continue to grieve), but my worst grief was not for myself but for my mother. Of course my life would change, but not the way hers would. Losing a father is one thing, but losing a husband is on a completely different spectrum. In that instant, I had lost a father; my mother lost a future—at least the one she’d had in mind up until that point. Hopes, dreams, and plans were tied to her spouse. What would the notions of retirement and old age look like now?
I grieved the loss of my mother’s sense of stability and purpose in the season to come. In one unforeseen moment, she had become a widow, continually bearing the mark of loss. No longer half of a couple, she had to navigate life in ways she never had before—before she even reached her 60th birthday. Her entire adult life had been tethered by love to another soul who cared for her deeply and lived (with intention) to fulfill her needs daily. He was her biggest cheerleader and most ardent defender.