Reflecting on that word, I realise it’s sometimes only thought of as a person’s name or perhaps the state of being graceful. But to me, it’s word that has a more profound meaning. I’ll get to that later….
Gone are the days when Dorothy and I would plan together for our next adventure. Sometimes home and family related or, in later years, a wider travel experience. Gone, too, are the times when we could share remembrances of all those years. Now I must plan my travel, alone.
But that doesn’t preclude my solitary recall of earlier times, nor diminish their importance. It simply means I can’t re-share them with her; they are no less real. Dorothy’s ability to do that had slipped away some years before her death but those experiences will always remain with me.
As we move on in our lives, each of us will ‘travel’ in our own way. With every breath we are masters of our thoughts, our actions, and reactions. What we do and say is who we are – and affects everyone we touch in some way – it’s what makes us unique and, to varying degrees, precious to each other.
The way we respond to the swings and roundabouts of life is conditioned by all of our earlier shared experiences – with our partners, with our family and friends, and those we have worked with and prayed with. That life journey with its ups and downs is often burdened and shaped with baggage of past mistakes, of wrong decisions, of attitudes or behaviours, and of things done or undone; we all know the feeling!
During her later years Dorothy was not encumbered by that baggage; she seemed free to feel only the present moment, and to savour it, or otherwise, just as it was – right then. Her Alzheimer’s condition highlighted the importance of ‘now’, and it helped me to savour those precious times together as we sought to find some joyful times together in those later times…..
I learned also, when Dorothy was in care, to take some time-out alone; to stop and grab hold of my swirling mind, to reflect quietly and to pray. For me, that’s an essential and positive activity which continues to be a precious thing – a time and place where I can still find solace and peace, indeed strength, to face the next moments and days of my life.
I am indeed grateful to have my Christian belief of a caring deity, however insecure and uncertain that faith may be; it gives me purpose and meaning and allows me to accept and sense the power of prayer. It also helps me to recognise that my experience of adversity is as nothing compared to the afflictions of so many others, even here in this little corner of the world, now exacerbated by the current, awful consequences of the coronavirus, floods, fires, and conflicts around the world.
Does grace help me to cope, now in my time of ‘singularity’? Yes, it does, even though sometimes I think, like so many others, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. That’s an enigma of humankind – another rhetorical question. Bad things don’t just happen to good people, they also happen to everyone – just as good things can.
Maybe we can all cope with adversity by accepting the concept of ‘grace’, an attribute that empowers most people to respond with intervention and care – sometimes called service or love. So, I reckon grace is just love by another name, don’t you agree?