Rose handed the flower vase to her sister Ivy and wiped her eyes again. The dated funeral home room had striped grey and white wallpaper and dark blue carpet. Flower arrangements brightened the room and released the fresh aroma of a spring day. Her niece, Fern, entered, rushed over, and extended her arms to embrace the newly widowed Rose.
“Aunt Rose, I’m so sorry about Uncle Charlie.” She sniffled and squeezed her aunt’s shoulders tighter. “He was a great man. I can’t believe he was fine one day and gone the next.”
“Thank you, honey.” Rose pulled away and wiped her eyes.
Fern cast a glance over her shoulder and ignored her mother standing less than five feet away. “At least Uncle Charlie is missed. Your grief is written all over your face. That’s more than I can say about my own Dad.”
Ivy stepped closer. “How can you say that, Fern” The bud vase in her hand shook about to spell the water on the floor.
Rose rescued the glass vessel and sat it on a table.
“Easy.” Fern squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “You didn’t mourn my father one bit. Admit it, you know it’s true.” She rubbed her baby bump and tightened her lips.
“No, it’s not.” Ivy crossed her arms. “You have no idea how much I’ve grieved. It started when he had a hard time finding his words and couldn’t remember the simplest things. But the day I found the chain saw oil in the frig, I wept bitterly. And when the shovel showed up in our shower. You don’t know how it hurt to hide the car at a neighbor’s house because I didn’t have the heart to tell him, ‘No more driving, dear.’ Or when he looked at his fork like he’d never seen one before…” She choked back tears. “Or when he finally believed me to be his mother, not his wife of sixty years.” Putting hands on her hips, she swallowed hard. “I grieved every single day for eight years as I watch my beloved husband change right before my eyes. You misread the peace I have over the end of his suffering like I’m happy he’s gone. You are dead wrong. We wanted to grow old together and be grandparents…” She looked at Fern’s belly and put her hand over her mouth. Tears overflowed their lids and streamed down her face as she turned and darted out of the room.
Fern turned to her aunt. “Now I’m not sure which is worse. Mother grieving for eight years while my father still lived or you losing Uncle Charlie so unexpected.” She looked at her bulging belly.
“Once again, you are dead wrong.” Rose brushed Fern’s long hair over her shoulder and then pulled her chin up. “You see, honey. It’s not a competition. They are equally painful. We both lost the man of our dreams. We will never have the future with our husbands we hoped to have. We can’t exchange laughter or knowing glances with the one person who knew us better than anyone.” She smiled. “No one to open the mayonnaise jar, cut the grass, or hold hands with.” Rose patted Fern on the cheek. “Remember this experience young lady. You don’t have the right to be jury and judge over someone else’s life when you haven’t walked in their shoes. Losing your soul mate after sixty years of marriage makes childbirth and raising kids look like a walk in the park. Maybe you can muster up some mercy for your mom by giving up your bitterness over something you completely misunderstood. Your mom and I are waiting to see our men again when we get to heaven. Having peace in the meanwhile is not easy and takes faith and hope.” She smiled. “Think about it, okay. I’m going to check on my sissy.” She kissed her young niece on the forehead and left the room.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Can you remember a time when you were dead wrong? Did the lesson change your approach to life? Let's learn together on the life journey.