One year ago today, I stopped praying. We had reached the place in Bill’s illness where it was clear that the miracle for which we had been praying was not going to happen. As impossibly painful as it was, I had to let him go, so I stopped praying. A couple of weeks earlier, Bill had described a vision/dream in which he was walking on the beach with Jesus who invited him to quit fighting and come with him. I responded by saying, “Jesus should mind his own damn business.”
We both laughed, but we also knew that I was just not ready for him to go. I never would be, but my love for him was such that I couldn’t stand for him to continue to suffer. So, I stopped praying and simply tried to keep him as comfortable as I could.
After his death, I felt an overwhelming sense of silent loneliness. I had lost the person that I had talked to the most for more than 35 years. There also was a startling internal silence. For the seven months of his illness, I literally had “prayed without ceasing.” Although I didn’t sleep much during those months, every time I awoke, I’d reach out my hand and touch my sweet Bill and start praying. I used everything I had ever known, been taught, or taught about prayer, but to no avail. After he died, there was nothing but silence in my soul. It was like I had lost two of my best friends.
Now, as the one-year anniversary of Bill’s death approaches, I find myself beginning to pray again. Although it doesn’t seem the pain and grief and loneliness have decreased even a little bit, and I doubt they ever will, something seems to be coming back to life inside of me. At first, I started praying because I promised someone that I would pray for them or a loved one. Then it seemed as if an old habit was reasserting itself. Eventually, it has become an instinctive reaching out to One who I have talked to much longer than 35 years.
It would be hypocritical of me to pretend that my faith has returned. What I do sense, though, is that something is, perhaps, pushing through the cold, hard soil of disappointment, pain, and grief. Whether it will bud and bloom is impossible to say. For now, all I can do is hope resurrection is true even for my soul.
Rev. Michael Piazza