Reflecting On Loss
Jeanne Harris Weaver (5-20-2017)©
I was alone in the house that early morning when the Army Officer and Chaplain came to my door to give me the grave news that my son, Todd had been killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan. We sat in the living room. They attempted to talk to me and to ask questions. I could not comprehend what they were saying. I turned to look out the window to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I could feel the rage building inside me. Suddenly a luminous light passed before my eyes as though a white iridescent screen was being closed. My body and mind calmed. I turned back to them and asked, Has Todd’s wife, Emma been notified?
The following day we traveled to Dover. Two chairs were placed on the tarmac for Emma and myself. I looked at the military men walking down the airplane stairs and thought to myself, Todd will not walk down those stairs. I could see the colors of the flag draped over the coffin through the open side entrance of the plane. As I held Emma’s hand, I watched as the honor guard carried Todd’s casket out onto the conveyor platform. Suddenly, I became aware of a brilliant, warm comforting light surround Todd's coffin, travel to me and enter my heart. I took a deep breath to mask the gasp I felt so as to not disturb the silence. At that moment I knew Todd was okay. I knew Todd was in Eternal Light. I knew I would survive the worst of tragedies, the loss of a child.
Later, W. Taylor Reveley, President of The College of William and Mary would pronounce in his address at the Celebration of Life Memorial Service, The death of a person about whom we care deeply is always hard to bear, but when death comes suddenly to someone who is still young and who is a person of enormous past accomplishment and enormous future promise, death is a particularly wrenching blow.
The pain and grief were unbearable. Yet, I knew that if I kept my heart and mind open to listen to God’s whispers, a path would open for me to nurture Todd’s memory just as I had nurtured his life. My path materialized by using my God-given talent as a two dimensional artist. I painted twenty-one oil paintings in one year’s time. Through the process of painting and later in writing the book, I felt the loving arms of God’s Grace envelop me and steer me through this personal journey. I embraced it. I needed to reach the depths of despair so that with God’s love I could dig my way out and by doing so find perfect joy.
I believe each of us is born with an innate quality which will see us through the most heart-wrenching and difficult times of our lives. We must only allow ourselves the time to dig deep into our souls and keep our heart and mind open to listen to the not always quiet murmurs sent to us by God.
The book, Losing Todd: A Mother’s Journey has a multifaceted theme. Patriotism and pro-active grief show forth in the book clearly. For those who look closer, there is a third underlying theme of the overwhelming and nurturing love by God for all, and His gift of Consolation and Grace.
Jeanne Harris Weaver is a two dimensional fine artist who works with brush and oil paints on canvas using color, form, light and composition in order to create an expression of ideas or an atmosphere of emotion in her work.
Image: Painting # 7 in the Series, Losing Todd: A Mother's Journey, Dover, 9/10/2010.