Bishop H. M. Turner Upon The Anniversary of His Wife’s Death
Christian Recorder: July 31, 1890
This morning one year ago, just at this time, six o’clock and fifteen minutes, my precious little wife, my angel, the dearest object that heaven ever honored this poor way ward soul with, breathed her last and fell into the icy arms of death. What a monster! Death! Death! Death! Who can understand it? What philosophy, what science what process of reasoning or analysis can grapple with its amazing mysteries, or solve its dark problems? It stills the heart, chills the warm blood, closes the eyes, deafens the ears, paralyzes the brain, torpidizes the liver, benumbs the lungs, in short, extinguishes the fires of life and commands disorganization to take possession. Tears, groans, sighs, screams, the paroxysms of the anguish and heartrendings of friends and relatives are all laughed to scorn by this grim and hideous monster. It has no mercy, no sympathy, no pity. If death has a heart, it is harder than a thousand stones, its breath is sulphureted vengeance, its eyes the glare of Stromboli when in the garb of fury. But why attempt a description of death. Mightier pens than mine have tried it for a hundred generations and they are as abortive of the result as when they first began. The Bible, faith, hope and charity, (love) form the only microscope that can detect the parasites of death in the body of death, and more than augurs a resurrection from the dead. They are the only telescopes that can dissolve the hazy nebula that seems to film the dome of infinity itself and assure us we shall see our loved ones again. O, Holy Bible what would we do without thee? Through what would we look? What would be our compass, our chart, our guide?
“Holy Bible, book divine
Precious treasure thou art mine.”
This day, July 19th, will ever be memorable and sacred in all future time. It will ever be memorable with me for I never expect to work (unless to preach) on this day while I carry breath in this body. It shall also be consecrated to fasting and prayer and to song and tears, and laughter, if faith and hope through mediation shall provoke the laugh. It will be memorable with my wife as the day she threw off the coils of flesh and blood and mounted the celestial spheres to live with God and angels. It will be memorable to her as the day she met her mother and my mother and the babes who went a little before her to the heavenly land. Our two mothers had just gone before her long enough to be partially acquainted with the holy company and prepared to point out some of the grandeurs of the holy land. The difference between my wife and me is this: Had it been left to me, I would have blotted the 19th of July from existence; no pen should have ever written it or press printed it. I would have torn it from the calendar of time and turned it into darkness and told to the moon and starts to veil their faces and lift no beam or ray of light upon the sombre night that marked the 19th of July. While after six o’clock and thirty minutes a.m., while rising in the light of the sun and the light of heaven both, she would proclaim it the grandest day in all the annals of time or eternity. Her day of release from sickness, pain, want, doubt, disappointment, anxiety, fears, forebodings, troubles, hunger, thirst, weariness, vexation, false friends, winter’s cold, summer’s heat, the world, the flesh and the devil all combined.
Well, if the 19th of July has done so much for my wife and I trust for brother Bill, who died the same day, making this anniversary doubly memorable while life shall last, I suppose I had better divest it of its apparent gloom and turn more of my attention to a like day that is just ahead of me. I am pretty certain I cannot remain here much longer. My doctor told me the other day he never knew a man to run down as much in one year as I had. He says I have lost over a third of my vitality, and he advises me to stop reading, writing and traveling for four or five months; but that I can preach, as that is good for me, not too much, however. But gracious, how can I stop writing with stacks of unanswered letters before me and ministers and people quarrelling for replies. I wish they would establish a school to learn how to read but not to write, I am sick and tired of letters. But I sat down at this doleful hour to write a few lines upon the first anniversary of my wife’s death. Pardon the length; I may not see another; but should I, I hope to make it a bit longer; my eyes are too tearful to write any way at this time.