I’m in my kitchen – cooking. My television is set on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), as usual. Spencer’s Mountain is coming on. I haven’t seen it in years, and I love old movies, yet I hesitate to watch it again today. Suddenly I realize why. I know what’s going to happen. The old Papa is going to die, and I don’t want to relive my own sad memories – memories of my own Daddy and Mama’s deaths.
A year and a half have passed. I thought time was to be the healer of this grief. Now I know.Time has been undeservedly credited. Time has not been the healer of this grief.
But I DO watch the movie. I’m watching the old, worn Papa, meandering up on the mountain, tending the family graveyard. I’m remembering my own old, worn Daddy, strolling the family graveyard.
Then the old, worn Papa in the movie dies, and I’m watching the family carry him back to the family graveyard on the mountain side. The Spencer family sings “In the Garden.” Papa had requested it.
Any music stirs my heart, but the tune and the words of that hymn bring years of memories. I hear my Daddy and Mama singing it. I see them them singing it. I see the title, “In the Garden” written in my mother’s scribbled penmanship on an odd little piece of paper and placed in the white envelope marked “my funeral.” I want this sung at my funeral, she had written beside the title. My memories of that hymn culminate in hearing it sung at my mother’s funeral.
And he walks with me, and He talks with me.
And He tells me I am His own.
and the joy we share, as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.
Watching the Spencer family grieve, I briefly relive the funerals of my grief. I revisit the funeral homes. I walk to the graves, following Daddy’s casket covered with the flag, following Mama’s casket, covered with roses and carnations and ferns. As the Spencers say goodbye, I again say goodbye. Pain penetrates me.
With each memory, good or bad, the pain has come – a pain pitted between my heart and my throat. But with each memory, throughout this year and a half, the pain lessens, and in pain’s place, healing comes.
Yes, time is not the healer of my grief.
Memories are the healer of my grief.