In the movie with Julie Andrews and James Garner, One Special Night, Garner’s character’s wife is dying of Alzheimer’s. Julie Andrews’ character’s husband has recently died. By the end of the movie, both are widowed; and circumstances – filled with both humor and pathos – bring the two together for a sweet, “second chance.” I am reminded of a Julie Andrews line in The Sound of Music: “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”
A subplot of One Special Night deals with Garner’s two young-adult daughters, how they grieve differently and separately and both feel they need their mother. By the end of the movie they have learned to appreciate each others’ differences and find in each other something of their mother, to give and receive from each other the acceptance, wisdom, support, and caring they would have had from their mom.
This reminded me of my sister, Beverly, and me at the time our mother died. Both in our twenties, we dealt with her illness and death somewhat differently. I remember feeling that I was losing all the motherly love and support for which I still felt a strong need. I said to my father, “What will Bev and I do without Mother’s prayers? We depend on her prayers.”
Daddy’s reply was, “You girls can start praying for each other more, depend on each other more.”
It took a few years for me to appreciate, and for my sister and me to realize, his prophetic words. Gradually we did come to see something of Mother in each other, to “bear one another’s burdens,” to be a real, spiritual and emotional support to each other. We both miss Mother. But we are together in that missing. I thank God that our loss and grief didn’t drive us apart but brought us closer.
There’s no doubt God closed a grace-filled door in our lives when he took our mother. But he provided a window of sisterly love through which his love and grace and sweet fellowship flow like sunshine into my soul.