DayBreaks for 11/25/19: Where Insignificance Goes to Die
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:
At the northern end of the Locke Hill Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, is a tombstone marking the final earthly resting place of Grace Llewellyn Smith. Her marker has no date of birth and no date of death. One might wonder why – was it because no one knew them? That’s not likely given the fact that the names of her two husbands are also on her tombstone. Our best clue as to why her tombstone has no dates of birth and death may be found in the other words that are carved into the granite, that say this: Sleeps, but rests not. Loved, but was loved not. Tried to please, but pleased not. Died as she lived…alone.
Given that epitaph, one can probably assume her date of birth and death aren’t there because no one really cared about her. Her epitaph would seem to stand as a monument to futility. Doesn’t it make you wonder about Grace Llewellyn Smith…about her life? Did she perhaps choose those words herself in advance of her death as her way of telling the coming generations about her life and misery…or did she just live those words and someone else put them in stone? She had two husbands…yet died alone. Did she deserve that? Was she some kind of shrew that drove two men and friends away forever? Was she as bitter and forlorn as these words make her out to be? What did she look like? Was her hair flowing blond, or black? Were her eyes sparkly or dull? Did she ever laugh, and if so, at what?
Bigger questions could – and should – be asked, including this one: what is it that causes some lives to be so productive and fruitful and others to be so empty and futile? Loved but was not loved…can you imagine the long nights, the empty space in the bed next to her, the sounds of silence that must have filled the house where she lived? The lack of response to messages and letters she may have left or written? She loved…but received none back.
Tried to please..but pleased not…can you hear the words of disappointment chopping into her heart? “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t like it when you dress that way!”, or “You’ve never amounted to anything and you never will!” or “Are you stupid –can’t you ever do ANYTHING right!” The hurtful words keep chopping away – day after day – week after week – year after year – until a lifetime is gone and the words couldn’t hurt any more.
Died as she lived – alone. How sad. Dying alone. How long had she been dead before anyone found her? A day, or was it a week or more before someone wondered why they’d not seen her? No one knows anymore. It sounds like she was dead inside for most of her life.
This is about as tragic as it gets. Yet there are many Grace Llewellyn Smith’s in the world: the homeless living in the garbage dump in Ecuador, the party and bed-hopping hoi polloi in glitzy Miami Beach who seek love but don’t find it, the spouse that is now facing life alone who was constantly reminded of how pitifully useless and inept they are by the one who promised to love them until death parted them. The list is long and varied.
To human appearances, Grace Llewellyn Smith died alone. Yet if Scripture is true in saying that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing it, surely neither did Grace Llewellyn Smith die alone. One can only hope that she knew the Lord, for she surely was loved by Him. In Jesus is the answer to every one of the critical lines in Ms. Smith’s epitaph: in Jesus we can find rest (“come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and you will find rest for your souls”); in Jesus we are loved eternally (“For God so loved the world…”); from Jesus we shall hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’; and we will never die alone (“I will be with you always.”)
Are you a Grace Llewellyn Smith? Do you know one? Grab hold of Jesus – and never let go!
PRAYER: Lord, my heart breaks to read Ms. Smith’s epitaph and to ponder her lot in this world. Open our eyes to the Grace Llewellyn Smith’s who are all around us, living lives of silent desperation, bleeding from a thousand wounds – who need what Jesus alone can give. When we are broken and hurting, may we turn first to the One who can heal and cure our every hurt. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>