Two days ago, Fox News Contributor and HotAir.com editor-at-large Mary Katharine Ham lost her husband, Jake Brewer, in a bicycle accident during a charity race.
Ham has a daughter, Georgia, who is not much older than Sweet Potato — and she is seven months pregnant with her second child.
Since Saturday, Brewer’s family, friends and former colleagues — including President Obama, for whom he worked as a tech adviser — have offered an outpouring of profoundly moving tributes to a man who was evidently brilliantly talented, warmly unifying and generously energetic.
Meanwhile, Ham has publicly demonstrated a sterling and inspiring strength as she eulogized her husband on Instagram with frank, compelling and achingly optimistic words. Her private grief — of what must be an unimaginable magnitude — can and should remain private, of course.
My tenure at Hot Air did not overlap with Ham’s, and I met her just once at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference in 2012. I never met Brewer.
Yet, since I first read the news of her loss yesterday, a certain heaviness, sorrow and paranoid pressure have not let up on my heart. When I drape a hand on my growing belly or feel a sudden kick from Mint Julep, I think of the sweet little soul inside of Ham who will never know his or her father. This evening, when Sweet Potato crawled hurriedly to the door at the sound of the Oilman entering the mudroom, I smiled at them through tears, thinking of Georgia who probably did the same countless times when Brewer walked through the door. It seems such a cruel and arbitrary injustice.
This I know, though: Widows and orphans are dear, dear to the Lord. All of His children are dear to Him, of course, but Scripture makes repeatedly clear that He has a unique and special solicitude for women who have lost their husbands and for children who have lost their fathers.
“Father of orphans, defender of widows, such is God in His holy dwelling.” — Psalm 68:5
Widows also have a patroness in Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, one of my beloved friends among the Communion of Saints and the saint for whom Sweet Potato is partly named. While accounts of her life vary somewhat with regard to specifics, they all corroborate that she had a very, very happy seven years of marriage before her husband was killed in a tragic and untimely hunting accident, leaving her a widow with very young children. She responded initially with great grief and dejection, but, in her spiritual maturity, she generously forgave the man who killed her husband and dedicated her life to the Lord, eventually founding a religious order.
Remarkably, she ultimately came to view loss as a key to happiness, writing that we should “throw ourselves into God as a little drop of water into the sea, and lose ourselves indeed in the Ocean of the divine goodness.”
Such incredible detachment and poverty of spirit are surely not easy to acquire, and it’s terrifying to consider the losses that would probably force us to assume them. Surely those who live through such loss possess a wisdom the rest of us will never quite share — but we can share in the oh-so-small responsibility of praying for their comfort and contributing to their material security in whatever ways we can.
To that end, family friends have established a GoFundMe account for those who wish to help Ham and her two small children.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us!