Treasure of the Broken Land

by Jimmy Akin

in Miscellaneous


Every year in August I have a series of special days. First, the 22nd (Queenship of Mary) is the anniversary of my reception into the Church. Then comes my birthday. Then, on the 26th, it is the anniversary of my wife’s death.

Renee passed eighteen years ago today after a two-month battle with colon cancer. She had just turned 28.

You can read about it if you like.

I realized that I’d never put a picture of her online, and so I scanned this one.

You don’t know it from looking at the picture, but she’s actually standing on phone books to make her look taller.

In the words of a Mark Heard song,

I see you now and then in dreams
Your voice sounds just like it used to
I know you better than I knew you then
All I can say is I love you

I thought our days were commonplace
Thought they would number in millions
Now there’s only the aftertaste
Of circumstance that can’t pass this way again

Treasure of the broken land
Parched earth, give up your captive ones
Waiting wind of Gabriel
Blow soon upon the hollow bones

I can melt the clock hands down
But only in my memory
Nobody gets a second chance
To be the friend they meant to be.

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Lynne August 26, 2010 at 7:23 am

I’m sorry for your loss Jimmy. Someday you two will be reunited.

Sifu Jones August 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

God bless you both, Jimmy. We’ll be praying for you two.

Glenn Faini August 26, 2010 at 8:37 am

Is it me, or do I see a purple halo around Renee’s head?

Curious August 26, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hello Jimmy,
Thanks so much for the post and link. I had never gotten around to reading your conversion story until now (you always have so many good things to read on your blog!). I’ve been lucky enough to be married for 22 years and can’t imagine having gone through what you and your wife did. I will be praying for you and her today. Renee is beautiful in the picture.

Bill B (AKA Theocoid) August 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

Very sorry for your loss. Blessings for you.

Steven Andrews August 26, 2010 at 9:21 am

She’s a beautiful woman, Jimmy. I’m sure you miss her very much. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. God bless you, too!

Gary Keith Chesterton August 26, 2010 at 9:54 am

So sorry.

Athanatius August 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

You’ve got this 6’4” former left tackle weeping. Like a baby.
You & Renee will be in my prayers for a long time, Jimmy. God bless you.

Mary August 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

I’m so sorry.

Barbara August 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

If we get a glorified body in heaven, I can’t imagine how she could ever improve.
Sorry for your loss.

Shannon B. August 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

Jimmy! She must have been a very lucky woman to have a loving husband like you, it is very clear that you are still very much in love with her, and that takes a big heart!
God Bless you!

paul f August 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Jimmy, I join everyone in expressing my sympathies. I’m sure it’s still hard, even after all these years.
When I saw the title of this post, I wondered whether it was a reference to the Mark Heard song, which instantly got stuck in my head just upon reading the title. It’s a great song. I didn’t know Catholics listened to Mark Heard. Just another reason I’m glad I converted.

Terence M. Stanton August 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm

May God bless you and may your wife rest in peace.

Mary Kay August 26, 2010 at 1:22 pm

beautiful picture, thanks for posting it. sympathy and prayers for you; anniversary dates can be difficult.

Suzanne from Oklah. August 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I read your story years ago and have followed you for quite some time. I have always wondered what your wife looked like. I never could have imagined how beautiful she is! I am praying for you and her.

Craig August 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Thanks for sharing this Jimmy. We all love you and this post brought tears to my eye. God bless you mate!

Chris August 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Your story is a perfect example of how marriage can sanctify, and two joined souls can help each other towards salvation.
Peace be with your spirit today.

Dumb Ox August 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

God Bless you Jimmy. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful love.

The Masked Chicken August 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm

My condolences on his anniversary of her passing into eternal life.
The Chicken

JoAnna August 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Jimmy, she was exquisite. Thank you for sharing her picture.

Dan August 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Jimmy,thanks for posting the picture and for sharing the story of your love and loss. That love clearly continues to touch others.
Paul F – there are a few Catholic Mark Heard fans. I met a couple on the Orphans of God list in the 90s, and since then a few others from that list have become Catholic.
Perhaps not so coincidently, this Aug. also marks the 18th aniversary of his death (but perhaps Jimmy knew that when he chose to share this song along with the picture).

Sharon August 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm

The tears as running as I am typing this. As others have said; with God’s grace and mercy you two will be reunited some day. I will keep both you and Renee in my prayers.Jimmy, thank you for posting Renee’s picture.

David B. August 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

My condolences. I found your story quite moving. Your expression of the pain and love exhibited at the end of the trial leaves me with a palpable sense of grace, suffering, and redemption I have rarely felt save when meditating on Christ’s Passion and death. God Bless.

bill bannon August 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Wonderful picture. What God permits to happen is the greatest enigma and often the most difficult test of faith. This life is one grain of sand….the next life is the rest of the beach with it’s billions of grains of sand. Knowing that…helps.

Tyler August 27, 2010 at 5:01 am

I’m so sorry for your loss Jimmy. I’ll pray for you and for her.

Lucien Syme August 27, 2010 at 6:50 am

So sorry Jimmy and thanks for sharing.

freddy August 27, 2010 at 9:24 am

God bless you. Prayers.

Gene Branaman August 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Lovely post, Jimmy. She was really beautiful. Thanks for sharing. You’ll both be in my prayers.

Manny August 28, 2010 at 3:24 am

Your conversion story is one my favorites, Jimmy.

J. M. J. West August 28, 2010 at 6:11 am

Man of us have been curious for a long time, but asking for a picture of you two or of her was just no a fair ask. Thank you for sharing. Your Renee was lovely, and I’m sure she’s even more beautiful now, and I’m sure her prayers have helped bring you to where you are today.

April August 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I’m very sorry for your loss. She was beautiful. May she rest in peace. God bless you!

ukok August 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

Jimmy, I must have been meant to visit your blog today.
I seem to recall an internet exchange between us some years ago, where i think i had read yours and Renee’s story and was moved by it and emailed you (i have a terrible memory, could be wrong…it could have been something else entirely that got the email interaction thing going).
Don’t know if you remember, but i think i shared with you back then about the death of my own true love. It is 18 years since Steve died also, and as you know with your dear departed wife, the love doesn’t stop just because the loved one is no longer here with us. Love really is eternal. Love should be celebrated and remembered.
I feel for you, Steve and I had a beautiful baby who was 8 months old when he died, so in a way she gave me a reason to go on…it bought with it a lot of bittersweetness of course, it broke my heart that he didn’t get to see her as she grew into the beautful and intelligent young woman that she is today….but i can only hope, and of course pray, that somehow, someday, we will meet again in the hereafter and that he might somehow get to know his daughter. Theologically this hope probably hasn’t a leg to stand on but i don’t particularly give a damn. I want dogs to be in heaven too. And horses…yeah i know…there’s no hope for me!
Renee was a very beautiful woman and you must have been so proud to have her as your wife. For some reason, God permits some of us to experience/endure the incredible suffering of losing the only one in the entire world whom we actually want to spend the rest of our lives with. But then…if I had been forewarned how things with Steve would unfold, i wouldn’t change a single thing. I’m sure you feel the same about Renee.

Angela August 29, 2010 at 10:16 am

Renee’s soul is even more beautiful than this conversion story. Thank you for sharing.

bill bannon August 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm

If you and your loved ones reach heaven separately, you will be placed with each other for certain. Read Second Corinthians 4:14…
“…knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.”

Will August 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Eternal Rest Grant Her O Lord, And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her. May She, And All The Faithful Departed, Through Your Mercy and Grace, Rest In Peace…AMEN…
Peace be with you Brother…

The Masked Chicken August 30, 2010 at 5:03 am

A little spam problem from 52erica?
The Chicken

Greg Williams August 30, 2010 at 10:05 am

Hey Jimmy,
When I was going through RCIA, one of the team members gave me “Surprised by Truth.” That book (including your story) was instrumental in my conversion. After reading it, I was fully and joyfully committed to joining the Catholic Church.
Reading your testimony again again brought me to tears. What a beautiful bride, inside and out.
God bless you always.

Andrew September 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

Beautiful. We will all pray…

Tim J. September 3, 2010 at 9:54 am

I think of you and remember Renee every August at this time. Just regret we did not spend more time together.
God bless you.

Danny Hidalgo September 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Wow, thank you for sharing that intimate story, may God Bless you both, and may God’s Grace always go before you my friends.

MQ September 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I can see, God has blessed you in so many ways and will continue to do so, your a very fortunate soul.

Jacque Buntin September 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

This is my first time to comment on your blog. Great conversion story. God does such wonderful things for us.
I will always remember you and your wife on your aniversary of entering the Church. My own Profession of Faith took place on August 21, 2005.

Sandra Jones September 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

This is probably the most beautiful bridal picture I have ever seen. And yes, Jimmy, she is far more beautiful now in Paradise.

Jeannine September 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm

This was such a beautiful and moving story! Thank you for sharing it with us.

CaholicDeacon September 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

She was beautiful. You are a lucky man.
Deacon Harbey Santiago

Chaka September 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Love is such a strong bond.May she find comfort and rest in Him who has giving us life.God bless you
with love from Africa,Chaka

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