Just over eight years ago, my husband Ralph passed away. During my first year alone, my son and his family invited me to visit them at their lovely home in Singapore. I went in January with an open ticket, as they were hoping I would stay to help when the new baby arrived in May, if only to take care of five-year-old Joshua, baby’s older brother.
In spite of loving care from family, grief and longing for my Ralph sometimes overwhelmed me. I sought out a church to attend, but after attending three, I began to realize the faith communities in Singapore were more into naming and judging humanity’s social sins of the flesh rather than teaching Jesus’s message of love and caring for each other. This, even on Easter Sunday.
Not to be deterred, I cornered a young woman wearing a cross often seen in the pool area. “Are you a Christian?” I shyly asked. In a place where Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions are part of the community, I felt this was an important question to ask at this time. Heather responded with a big smile, saying “yes.” She had recently returned from the U.S. and was looking for a new job. Long story short, we began to hang out together until the time I left.
One night when I was especially lonely, I fell asleep praying that Ralph would somehow appear to me, if only to let me know that he was OK. Not to be disappointed, he came to me in a very vivid dream. While there was nonsense bits attached to it as there always is, the message was very real. Every couple has their signals or signs which are only identifiable to each other. Ours appeared. The message was that he was alright and must get on, and for me to let go. When I woke up the next morning, I knew that the painful grief I had been carrying was lifting.
Faith is what carried my husband to the other side. He had no fear and toward the end became quite impatient, just wanting to get on with it. My faith continues to grow while attending Chemainus United Church.