Notes from the Waxhaws


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…unmerited favor.

How does one reconcile in one’s mind the loss of a loved one? Many will tell you that you must resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never see that person again. That you must move on, and get on with your life…that you will eventually get over it…that time heals all wounds.

Two weeks after Sharon died, I left for a week-long business trip that I had planned months before. Everyone at work said that a change of scenery would do me good. I agreed, half-heartedly. The Saturday before I left, I dropped off the dogs at the kennel, and drove into town to do some errands. I stopped at the local jewelry shop to get a new battery for my wristwatch. Walking in the shop, I blurted out, “I’d like a new watch for my battery.” The jeweler quickly responded,”We can help you with that!” I quickly corrected myself, to his disappointment, and then gave the watch to the jeweler. He disappeared into the back of the shop to insert a new battery. To pass the time while I waited, I started looking at some of the jewelry in the showcases. An older woman who was seated behind the counter, probably noticing my wedding ring, gently rebuked me, “You should buy your wife something for Valentine’s Day.” All I could do was sigh, and say, “Yes… I should.” I spared her the details…she couldn’t have known.

So, the next evening, I found myself in Redlands, California. Seeing the southern California landscape again seemed familiar, but strangely bittersweet, since Sharon and I had spent probably our most memorable times together when we lived in Santa Cruz, up on the central coast. The ‘change of scenery’ did help me to direct my thoughts to things other than what I was preoccupied with the last two weeks, but there was definitely something different in the air…something missing. During the days, I was busy working at corporate headquarters, with people I normally interact with only on the phone, or through email. That part was enjoyable. Back at the hotel room, the evenings were another story. Whenever I was on business trips in the past, Sharon would usually be sending me text messages throughout the day. Now…my phone seemed strangely silent. It only accentuated the void that I felt in my life at the time.

One evening during the week, Craig (a colleague who made the journey with me) and I were in downtown Redlands, searching out a restaurant for dinner. As we were walking down the tree-lined streets, I noticed off in the distance, some mountains that looked particularly beautiful at that time of the evening, illuminated by the setting sun. What struck me were the stately trees that covered the mountains. It brought to mind what I’ve thought the storied Cedars of Lebanon must have looked like. The trees were tall and impressive, with their very tops ‘dancing’ in the wind. I was a bit surprised that I hadn’t seen these mountains before, since most of the mountains surrounding Redlands were a bit scrubby and rather dry in appearance.

At that moment, looking at those strangely beautiful trees up on the mountain, I started thinking about Sharon. Within a week after she had died, both her aunt Irene and her cousin Delma Jean had also passed away. Looking at those trees on the mountainside, I thought that those three must be having a grand reunion in heaven, dancing amidst a grove of trees as beautiful, where even the trees were dancing with delight. Just the thought offered an unexpected consolation in my heart.

After Craig and I turned the corner to circle back around the block, I glanced over my shoulder to get one last look. I was dumbfounded to see no mountains at all, only a low bank of clouds in the direction I had been looking, just a few minutes before.

The evening light playing tricks on my eyes? Perhaps. Maybe a providential vision that lifted my spirit when I most needed it? I’d like to think the latter. I prefer to think that Sharon has stepped out on a strange and wonderful journey to the far country. One day, we’ll surely meet again, and she will have many stories to tell me of her most excellent adventure.

During that long lazy summer,

we will set out to discover

our lost inner child…

and walk on the wild side,

throwing every caution to the wind,

we’ll walk on the wild side…

and we won’t be looking back again.

Grace is raining down on us at every moment of every day. Learn to expect the unexpected…

Written by Jim

May 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Grieving, Spiritual

2 Responses

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  1. Beautiful. You’ve been sharing some lovely thoughts and I think it’s time for more to see them. Not that I have such a large following, but I have returned from my little trip and just posted your website. I was interested in the explanation of Delithopia, I was wondering about that. Pretty cool how you and Sharon met and the interests you shared. I can only imagine the loss you must feel now. Each of ours is different, but missing the one you loved most…well that I can understand. Hugs to you Jim…keep writing.


    May 9, 2011 at 2:51 am

  2. Welcome back Patti…and thank you for the kind words. They’re greatly appreciated. Yes…it’s a unique experience for each of us, and although no one can fully understand the depths of our own loss, I think there’s a common thread running through each of our stories to which we can relate…a validation of sorts that makes us feel, “Hey…I’m not alone in this after all.” A warm hug in return…


    May 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

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