A recent women’s magazine featured a seascape that awakened memories from the early days of my marriage. We lived just two miles from Narragansett Bay, New England’s largest estuary that opens into the Atlantic Ocean. Usually once a week at dusk—in warmer weather, of course—we would walk hand in hand on the beach, discuss the day, plan for the week ahead, dream for the future, and stop at the Chinese restaurant for egg rolls. The lapping of the waves and the calls of the sea gulls brought a sense of serenity that can only be found – at least in my opinion – at the ocean. Wonderful memories!
The memories from the latter years of our marriage were not as pleasant, although we shared many good times. Our life seemed to surround doctors, hospitals, disappointing surgeries, long recoveries, and rehab. I had to force myself to remember those early good days. For months after Tony’s death, those painful memories were prominent in my thinking even though I did not talk about them. Even walking into a hospital to visit a friend seemed dreadful.
At first after Tony’s death, I even felt guilty for enjoying myself. Little by little the grief and sadness began to lift as I developed new memories with friends. But I believe the cycle of that pain was broken one night when several of us celebrated a birthday at a local amusement center. We ate pizza, had great conversation, and tried several games. The real fun came when Alice and I decided to ride in the same go-cart. The boisterous laughter that ensued was healing.
Solomon said, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22). A large dose of laughter with good friends will help us as widows to form new memories that don’t include our husbands. I do not know how it has happened, except by God’s grace, but my new memories have replaced the painful ones and have left intact the memory of those good times in our marriage.
The Psalmist David said, “Give thanks to the Lord … to the One who remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136). So I’m grateful today for good friends who helped me through the grieving process, brought laughter into my life, and helped me to form new memories.