I saw your sailboat today; far out and tiny on the vast ocean, but I knew it was you. The three-masted schooner clipped along the tiny peaks of white caps, piercing through the dimensions between you and I. I heard your voice and saw that smile; that effervescent, perpetual smile. You said you were praying for me; that I would be strong and brave. That I, too, would sail on through both calm and stormy seas. That I would keep my eyes riveted on the Savior and the call He made on our lives so very long ago. It seems that, just a moment ago in time, I held your dying human body, frail as I’d ever seen you, in my aching arms. I was desperate to keep you here with me, but that was selfish of me. Oh Darling, I have been in such a valley of dark despair! I could not see the world around me, I couldn’t hear the echoing, muted, voices. I couldn’t hear even my Lord, and I felt so terribly forsaken. Satan buffeted me on every side with blow upon blow upon blow until I reeled like a drunkard. Something happened with his final blow, however. Do you remember the expression here on Earth, “knock some sense into you”? Well, that is the very thing the evil one did. He hit me once too many, and his methods caused me to rise up in righteous indignation. He tried to destroy our family, and that was a monumental error. He did not count on the fact that I wasn’t dead yet, either spiritually or physically. It was then I began to hear that voice again, usually still and quiet in the wee small hours of the pre-dawn. Only it was neither still nor quiet, but full of righteous anger. He said that the path of my duty lay clearly before me. It was rugged, but it was the only one that would lead to blessing, both here and in eternity; the only path He would go before me on. He instructed me to move into the center of His purposes for me, to be obedient and let neither the applause nor the scorn of men be of any consequence. His approval was my only goal. He said He will be very near to me and give me support and encouragement, infusing me with the superhuman power and strength from above. All my fears and anxieties began to melt as I heard Him and felt His Holy Spirit filling my soul. I could almost see the cowering, beaten being I had become rise up like a phoenix in the heat of the day.
You are near again; as deep or deeper in my heart than ever before, and it is a strange turn of events that I should feel this way. Truly, it is the scorching furnace of fires in our lives here on earth that burn off the dross and bring forth the gold God has buried in our eternal spirit. One of our children reminded me, in the throes of my grief and desperation, to read the end of the story of Job. I am just getting to see that there was more to his story, and to mine.
I know now that I have not, before or since you left, ever been truly alone. You are sailing alongside my much more rudimentary vessel in your victorious and glorious one, life ring ready to reach out and pull me back out of the turbulent waters into which I will, most assuredly, still fall prey. If I look down at those times when the seas are high and the wind howls like a banshee all around me, I will sink. So I will fix my eyes on the treacherous but clearly defined road the Lord has laid out before me. I know you are cheering me on now. I know that all I thought, and wished and prayed, of coming with you, was not my prayer to pray. I must tarry longer here and do that which we set out to do, hand in hand, 32 years ago. Knowing now that you are still sailing beside me, and finally seeing the path the Lord has determined for me these last final years, I find myself strangely buoyed and resilient, infused with the strength that always seemed to permeate me through our intertwined hands.
It is very apparent that I will continue to burst into woeful tears at any mention of you—the dentist asking for your social security number, someone making mention of your smile, looking at pictures of all our Rangeley adventures, and mostly, seeing little Amaya by your side in so many of them. Your last chapter was beautiful indeed, my love. Everywhere you went, you left people better. They all remember your state of peace, your gentle spirit, your smiling countenance, your great wisdom. I know that the applause of people matters not the least to you, but it matters to me. Though Satan has tried to remove my part in our mutual vision and calling, he has not succeeded in the heavenlies, and I can hear the saints cheering me toward the finish line. And so I will press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!