On the most recent Beginning Experience Weekend I was on, I had a profound encounter that opened a portal into a new dimension of being a widow. It will take more than one blogpost to trace that journey, but it began when the Team Priest came over to me before one of the talks and told me that he had given a World Wide Marriage Encounter Weekend a few weeks earlier, in a different county, and that one of the Team Couples had talked about the positive impact that my husband and I had made on their marriage. I was touched to think that more than six years after my husband died, we as a couple were still helping other couples to make their good marriages even better. The kindness of this priest as he told me helped me realize that he saw me not just as a widow now but that I had also been part of a Team fiercely dedicated to our ministry to the married. It was similar to how I felt when our former associate pastor who had been at our parish when my husband was dying, was sent to another parish, and then came back as our new pastor. The pastor we had had in the interim knew me only as a widow and probably never met most of our children, whereas our newest pastor knew all our children and had seen most of our grandchildren, our son had served many Masses for him, and he had given my husband the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick a few days before he died. When he returned, I felt as if I were surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, as St. Paul would have said.
When the widow who is one of the lead Team Members for the Beginning Experience Weekend I will be doing in October, came by to pick up the notebook she had left at my house, and I mentioned what had happened and how it seemed as if my husband was alive again in that experience, she said she had had a similar occurrence when someone had come to her office and commented on her last name and it turned out that this woman had been taught public speaking by my friend's husband at her high school. My daughters had gone to the same school, and after I asked what he had taught and when, I realized that they had also had him as their public speaking teacher. I remembered meeting him at the back to school nights. My daughters had always spoken highly of him and never had a fear of public speaking. I remembered that he charged the students a nickel each time any of them said "um," and that it cured most students of that habit. Suddenly, I could imagine my friend with her husband vividly, and as we talked about him, he seemed to come alive in our conversation, as my husband had done in my talk with the priest. How beautiful it is know that our loved ones have touched others' lives; it is a bit like seeing their faces smiling, shimmering behind a veil. We know they are there, and waiting for us in the radiance of infinite Love.