Columnists > Soul Food

An hour at evening

A lament from a wife at her husband's grave

Issue: "Is there no tomorrow?," Aug. 7, 1999

Bradfield liked trucks, that's for sure. Liked them well enough to have one chiseled into his medium-grade granite-an 18-wheeler no less. Or maybe it was his loved ones who identified the man with the metier, a notion that might seem laughable to the present Mr. Bradfield. But in this world the living prevail. Funny, though, your being cheek by jowl with a trucker, you who made your living with pen and ink and your companions among the connoisseurs of ideas. Death is the great leveler, is it not? Want to hear a good one? The groundskeeper tells me about all these headstones with "19__" etched into them and now only seven months to make good on it. A little permutation on the Y2K problem. What do I do with these flowers? I wonder (I will keep the ribbon: "Loving Husband" "Loving Father"). The succulent reds and yellows of the spray we left for you are now as nondescript as the washed-out, brittle pages of old books, the blossoms being in mid-transformation to the dust whence they came. Which is only right. Why should they survive and you not? Cemeteries are time warps, I have always felt. Just a quarter mile off the main road, but a pocket of eternity unto itself, the murmuring oaks the only sound, perennial music of the house of mourning. ... But for a train that breaks the stillness at 20-minute intervals. Your brother quipped to the graveman that you'd feel right at home here since a railroad slices through our own backyard. It was the first time anyone chuckled in four months. At the memorial service I told them about the little boy in Chonju in 1962 (I hope that's OK), who crossed out all the multiple choices and penciled in, " All the above wrong. Man not evolved from any animal." You scrubbed the latrine after school for your contumacy, and your Mom was proud. God's economy is strange. I would never remove a creature so fine, so before the time (There's a giant hole in the universe now). But I am a catechized lady and I know: He it is who fills the shuttle, who plies the loom, and has a billion strands to weave into His tapestry. Here are Rachel and Leah on one level, conniving and competing for Jacob's love. And when the smoke clears, here is God on another level, and the 12 tribes of Israel standing all in a row. He is building His kingdom. I know it in my head. Ah, Young, God has fitted His bow with a single arrow and has hit not only you, but me, and the four children, and the whole church as well. Because of us the fear of the Lord has fallen on many. Already I hear rumors of wives loving their husbands better, husbands their wives. How the planted seed has sent its shoots outs everywhere. And I would trade all that sanctification just to have you back for one day. But that's because I'm finite and sinful and see but through a glass darkly. This is the first scribbling of mine that will not fall under your discerning eye. You were the writer, dear, pointing men to Christ for exotic markets in a language I never quite learned, more in the manner of Flannery O'Connor than of Francis Schaeffer. For all truth is God's truth. Rev. Min says when I feel myself sinking I must start from the beginning: What is true? What is real? God is alive. I am His daughter. You His true son. Some distance from here a mason is busy inscribing my name next to yours, by my command. Give me a good reason why I should bother to leave here at all before keeping that last rendezvous. The shadows lengthen. I cannot stay. Peter, James, and John were not allowed to linger either, remember? Back down the mount for the lot of you, smack into the gritty commotion of sick kids and spirits to be cleaned out. But hide the transfiguration in your heart, that little intrusion of the eschaton. To feed on till the substance of things hoped for can be touched. I will see you again, my darling. And soon.

Andree Seu's husband, Young Seu, died May 29.

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Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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