Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dare to Be: Present with family {Day 26}

She told him, "Dad, it's okay to rest. You've worked hard in this life. You can rest."

She knew. We all knew that Henry's eighty-three years had been lived to their fullest measure. The hands that lay limp on bed sheets were once strong and hardly ever resting. 

Nine days had slipped their way through time between the dreaded call that he fell to when the angels took him home. 

During these nine days, there were many glimpses beyond the velum-like divide between earth and heaven. I saw this in laughter and in tears. I saw this while cooking pasta with two nieces to feed an army of family.

I heard this in hymns sung by the hospice bedside and scripture read to closed eyes and shallow breaths. I saw it in good-byes cried by grand-daughters who knew that they wouldn't see their grandpa again in his time on earth. 

Glimpses of the Divine were everywhere in the ICU and hospice where pieces and parts of a twenty six member family camped out for nine whole days. Sadness. Of course. Hope and joy. Without a doubt. 


The snow is coming down gently around us as if on white pillows as we huddle together in the small unheated Veterans cemetery chapel. My two twenty-something sons and their dad joined hands with a couple of cousins and an uncle or two to accompany their grandfather's flag draped casket into it's prominent place in front. 

My mother-in-law, pulling her black coat around her cold shoulders is motioned to the red capped chair front and center. Her sons and daughters of two generations file in beside and behind her and sit down on cold plastic folding chairs. 

My pastor sister-in-law takes her place behind the wooden podium up front to lead us in the committal of her father to the ground.

I don't recall all the tear stained words she says on Tuesday morning. But, I think again and again how good and appropriate that this good man's daughter be saying these final words to honor him. 

As a family, we drew close and hugged a little tighter.

Brothers and sisters by blood and by Christ were drawn together during this time of grief in ways that had never been before to comfort, make life altering decisions and use their gifts to give to this special dad and grandpa and to each other. 

How can I say that this was the worst of times, but also the best of times? 

Have you lost someone special to you? Have you experienced the pain of loss, but also the love of God in the midst of your loss? I'd love to hear your story.

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