Harbors of Grace
June 7, 2015
Harbors of Grace
by Molly Davis
A dear friend is moving to a town in Maryland named Havre de Grace….Harbor of Grace. It is a perfectly named town for her new home, as she is a grandmother raising one of her beloved granddaughters who, without the need for any shared details, has found in her grandmother’s love and devotion, a harbor of grace in which to live for a few short years. As a card I recently read said, “A ship in a harbor is safe. But that is not what ships are made for.”…..We are not meant to live in the safe waters of a harbor forever either. But, we all have need of shelter in our storms. Ours is to know when to seek the safety of a harbor, and when to provide that for someone else in need.
My best friend Kristine’s almost 90 year old momma, Darlene, passed away yesterday. During the days and hours and moments before she left us, harbors of grace showed up everywhere.
The doctor in the hospital who helped my friend and her siblings find their way in the midst of fear, pain, guilt, uncertainty and grief. He was able to help them find their way to the trailhead of the last miles they would walk with their mom.
The nurses who tended her around the clock with kindness and gentle humor, mercy and their own brand of magic. They are a special lot. Harbor Masters all. Dedicated to the safekeeping of our harbors, the smooth navigation of our ships, and providing quiet mooring in which to rest.
The hospice staff who educated them on how to love her every step of the way, providing her with ease and freedom from pain and anxiety. During her last few days, Darlene would often look out her window overlooking sun-filled green trees and softly say, “I am so grateful.” Looking into the eyes of each of her three children, she offered them words of love. Those words which became a harbor of grace for her children and grandchildren, who all only wanted to do the right thing for her. And did.
As happens during times such as these, it is so easy to second guess our effort and choices. To wonder about what we did and did not do. When we chose to visit, and when we chose to give in to our own exhaustion, and fall into bed rather than sitting by hers. When we needed to stay away for a bit, in order to stay in for the long haul. Kristine and her brothers became harbors of grace for one another, as when one would falter or flail, the others became the safe waters that kept the other from drowning in their own stormy inner seas.
Yesterday morning I showed up at Kristine’s house and spent the day there alone, cleaning and bringing order to the chaos that overtakes our life when death is at our door. It was a gift I could give to her, as she has and will again give to me. Allowing those we love and who love us right back to give and receive in due turn, is one of the harbors of grace such a friendship offers. Clean sheets on beds, piles sorted and tucked away, a clean slate for whatever would come next. The doors and windows were open, allowing a spirit of grace and peace to blow in, and struggle and fear to drift out. A harbor of grace to slip into, after her mom had quietly slipped away, free at last of her own capsizing boat.
And today, the first day on this planet without her mom, the harbor of grace is expanding around my dear friend. As she spends the day with her husband of 35 years, her daughters, granddaughters and the love and prayers and tending of all who love her beyond words, she will have safe waters for as long as she has need.