Though it doesn’t quite befit the warm early autumn air and the excitement that always accompanies the new school year, I have been thinking lately a fair amount about grief. I have also been thinking about grace, and how grief and grace sometimes go hand in hand.
I was fortunate enough not to have to confront grief in a meaningful way until the first days of my freshman year at BC. During my third week in college, five days after my nineteenth birthday, I
was sitting at my desk doing Spanish homework when my parents called to tell me that my grandmother had passed away. I was devastated by the news. My roommate hugged me and I cried, and then some
of our friends knocked on our door. When I told them that my grandmother had died, they suggested that I leave the Spanish homework for the morning and go take a walk with them.
I vividly remember walking through a rainy Newton Campus at midnight. We splashed through the pond that had formed outside Trinity Chapel. We looked up at the stars until our necks began to hurt. Someone started playing Disney music on their phone as we made our way back to Keyes. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this small moment of grace in the midst of my grief.
The next morning, I was awakened by faint music coming from outside. It was the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace.” Bleary-eyed and still half-asleep, I was surprised to say the least, but I felt a glimmer of a conviction that maybe things wouldn’t be as terrible as they seemed. The weight in my heart lightened just a bit as I heard the refrain. Grief and grace were commingled in one moment of poignant recognition of the goodness of God.
To this day, I don’t know how or why at 9 AM on a Tuesday, “Amazing Grace” was playing on Newton. I don’t know why my grandmother had to die two months after my family moved to the state she lived in. I don’t know why I still feel the occasional twinge of regret that I didn’t get to know my grandmother better before she passed away.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my roommate from freshman year on the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and we talked about that time which now seems more distant than merely two years. In the time that has passed, we have both had our fair shares of grief and grace. Sometimes it seemed the grief would not leave and that we would forever be mourning the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship. Other times, we felt like the graces would never end, filled with thanksgiving and hope and wonder at the richness of life.
Through it all, God is present in grace and in grief. God is there in my darkest hour and in my brightest day. And I hold fast to the belief that God’s grace will lead me home.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”