Move on Despite Tragedy
By Shawn R. Jones
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:54
My grandmother held three jobs. She worked fulltime at a nursing home in Atlantic City, part-time as a waitress at a local restaurant, and part-time as a home health aide. Although my grandmother was in her early forties, she had just become fully independent. She had enrolled in evening classes to obtain her G.E.D., got her driver’s license, and purchased a used car. Unfortunately, she and my grandfather were legally separated, and with five older children, she was finally able to concentrate on herself.
My grandmother started dating Jerry, a bellhop who worked at the restaurant’s adjoining hotel. He was twenty years her senior and claimed that he too was separated from his spouse. When my grandmother discovered he was still living with his wife, she ended their relationship. Jerry threatened and stalked my grandmother for days. However, no one took his actions seriously, until my mother received a phone call from the restaurant.
“Jerry just shot your mother up!” It was the voice of the sixteen-year-old waitress who worked at the restaurant with my grandmother. The young waitress later told police that Jerry came in the back door of the establishment and shot my grandmother three times before shooting himself. Later, my mother had to identify her mother’s body at the Atlantic CityMedicalCenter. The residual effects of that tragedy affected our family for a couple generations. When I would complain about small things, my mother would say, “Look, my mother was murdered! Save your energy for the big stuff.” As much as I wanted to ask what that had to do with anything, I knew better, and I later learned that it had a lot to do with everything.
As I got older, some of that “big stuff” came just as my mother had promised. Sometimes I felt like I was hit coming and going, but I knew I had to keep going. “Big stuff” will come your way too, but you have to move past it all just like my grandmother’s five children did. From watching them, I learned that death and tragedy are not excuses to give up on life and certainly not excuses to give up on God. All five of them were survivors, and no matter what comes your way, you have to be a survivor too.
Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your divine strength that helps me cope in a world that can be frightening and unpredictable. During times of mourning, thank You for reminding me of Your gift of everlasting life. It is this gift that keeps me hopeful in the face of death. Amen.
Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames
(Ambassador International, 2011)