Early this morning my uncle breathed his last breath, earthside. Honestly, I’m not sure what heavenside looks like, but I do see Jesus. I always picture Him as excited and delighted. Another one of His kids, HOME!
Early this morning, 3 a.m. early, my kids headed to the city to board a plane: Destination ~ Ohio + grandparents + a cousin’s graduation celebration.
And I’m holding two thoughts right smack together this morning.
Two quotes, which, if you know me very well, you have heard me say.
I ponder them often.
1. We remember how people make us feel.
I’ve a whole plethora of memories with my uncle and aunt.
They were fun.
They enjoyed doing simple, delightful things that made life interesting.
Taking us fishing. Drinking Pepsi. Ordering hoagies. Laughing out loud. Petting Dusty. Carrying their walking sticks as we ambled through the orchard. Sightseeing drives. Homemade strawberry jam on toast.
I’m not sad for my uncle’s suffering to be over but I am sad this part of life is over.
Life always moves and changes.
2. Life will not always be as it is today.
Good or bad. Delightful or depressing. The guarantee is Life Will Not Stay As It Is Now.
I look at the bright, happy faces of my nephews and nieces and I realize.
I’m the auntie. They will remember how I make them feel.
They’re growing. Day by day by day. Tomorrow, not as yesterday.
The wheat out my window keeps changing day in, day out, hearkening harvest.
The kittens tumbling on the porch grow into adventure a bit more each day.
And delighted as I am for my young adult kiddos to spend days in the east, when they return, I’ll smile happy and say, “Ah, you’re HOME!” I’ll hug them tight and I hope I make them feel so deeply loved.
There’s absolutely no way Jesus does any less.
“Ah, it’s YOU. I’ve poured over you, dear one. I’ve prayed and interceded and cheered loudly. Let’s dance! You’re home at last!”
Late Saturday evening, the Delta 717 seemed to soar us effortlessly from Wichita to Atlanta to Harrisburg.
Accompanied by the occasional shaking-as-if-in-a-jello mold, the complementary Delta Biscoff cookie + drink service, and fasten seat belt signs, in a few hours time, rather than twenty-two hours+ driving time, our wheels bumped onto the tarmac and there we were.
We stood for four hours on Sunday afternoon and evening in the long, low stone church and greeted friends, neighbors, and church members come to bid a final farewell to my uncle. Perhaps, a funny way of wording it, since he wasn’t really there to bid farewell to. The bidding of it is for us who remain. Yet, they came because of him. Some who really knew him little. Some who knew him well.
You know what spoke deep to me? The people who recounted a memory of my uncle or talked of their relationship with him. The ones who knew him well enough to make mention of his intellect, his interest in life, his continual exploration and experimentation, his sharp mind. I appreciated the glimpse of his life in their experience, their perspective.
And I had to wonder? Why do we do often rarely say these words of appreciation and impact to the person while they live and breathe? Why do we wait to say them to their family at the funeral?
My challenge for you ~ text three people and thank them for the way they add value and delight to your life. Tell them what you see in them.
Don’t save it for funerals.
I don’t like death. I don’t like the sadness and the change and the piercing pain of parting. It has a way of gathering us, calling words out of us, but I push back against the sting of it, the harsh reality.
Death feels uncomfortable.
Mostly we prefer comfort and settledness. Maybe this is why we don’t always excel at speaking the words of affirmation. Even this opens up a vulnerability in us. Will we be received or rejected? Will our life-giving words find open hearts and hands or met by indifference or downplayed?
I watched the water run sweat beads along the vintage metal teapot in the window. My eyes ran along the line of people, living, breathing, saying words.
Kind hearts. Kind smiles.
Differences, yes. Different physical appearances. Differing beliefs and interpretations. Different ways of living out life.
Yet in our gathering, mutual bonds of a life, a person we’d all known in some way, a finality of death, a compassion, a comforting and encouraging. An honoring of the Creator, the giver of life and words.