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Through the tragic loss of her husband, Sarah Torbeck discovers the rare and exquisite nature of the soul.

[Author's note: My husband, Steve, passed away in January of 2021, after an alternately harrowing and miraculous journey that unfolded over a decade. We were married for 42 years. We loved imperfectly, but believed in the promise that Christ dwelt within our marriage. This knowledge became increasingly important as we moved closer and closer to the time when Steve would go to be with his God. I was still unprepared when Steve died, and it would be dishonest to tell you that the pain of his absence has been anything less than catastrophic. Still, our God is a God who keeps his promises; he has remained with me, and sustained me through the big chunks of thick grief, as well as the sifted particulate matter of the invariable minutia that accompanies death. 

I am truly, and unabashedly grateful for God’s mercy and goodness. He has taught me so much about loss, suffering and the immense love that flows from the Holy Trinity. Of course, I understood this to varying degrees before Steve’s death … but the true nature of love and sacrifice are more fully revealed within the intimacy of suffering. It is during these darkest times that God whispers not only consolation, but wisdom into the soul. The following is the fruit of one of my many dialogues with God. –Sarah]


man on sailboat


It had been two months since Steve left this world; a moment, a lifetime. I have learned that time becomes impossibly elastic when you’re in the throes of grief. The days lose their structure, and the sun may still rise and set—but my circadian rhythms seem to be in a state of suspended animation … no longer witness to the passage of the sun, moon and stars. And though these timeless luminaries may still mark their ancient pathways in the heavens, I find myself in deep hibernation, strangely unaware of their movements. There is only the sound of my heart as it transmits its measured staccato in a desperate attempt to receive an answering cadence—of the heart I knew so well.

Grief is like that: a bittersweet longing for that which once was, and now is so utterly … silent.

I miss Steve more than I missed him a month ago, and tomorrow I will miss him even more. I’m reasonably sure that this pattern will only multiply over time, and I find myself wondering how I will ever manage to absorb this loss, and still retain the person that was me. When I wrote Steve’s eulogy, I remember saying that I was, “Forever changed.” I didn’t realize at that time the veracity of those words—but it is profoundly true. I will never be the same person I was.

Recently, I read a poem about a Weaver, who was creating a beautiful tapestry with various colored threads. The most beautiful threads were silver and gold … but they could only be truly appreciated when they were interwoven with the darker strands. The dark strands provided the contrast—the shadows behind the glimmering lights.



My current life is now intertwined with those black and indigo threads. Threads I would surely have circumvented, if I had understood their full meaning. Maybe that’s why we’re not allowed to know the future. We would avoid all that is painful in every situation. And, while this might alleviate the pain for a period of time, the brilliance of our most wonderful experiences would be diminished without the complementary emotions of mourning, pain and loss. If you had asked me just six months ago, what my life’s tapestry would look like, I would have been a bit bewildered. “It’s a nice metaphor,” I would have concluded, “but how could I possibly envision such an artifact?”

I think I know now.


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I do not pretend to understand the design of the Weaver, but I know—with everything that I am—that the finished tapestry is more important than its singular strands. #catholicmom

I am a work in progress—still; but I’m reasonably sure that the Weaver has come to the most intricate part of my pattern, requiring the most delicate techniques, as He incorporates the brilliant threads of my life with perfectly placed shadows, and silken strands of dusk and twilight. Oh, how I wish things were different. But they are not, and the loom shuttles press on, weaving and fashioning their ordained design.

I do not pretend to understand the design of the Weaver, but I know—with everything that I am—that the finished tapestry is more important than its singular strands. And I trust even more, that when it is time for me to leave this world, my tapestry will be a work of dazzling beauty and grace that could only proceed from the Mind of a loving Creator.

The very same Creator who fashioned Steve's flawless tapestry.



Copyright 2022 Sarah Torbeck
Images: Canva Pro; portrait of Steve courtesy of Sarah Torbeck, all rights reserved.