...what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory"
2009 has been a rough year...especially this summer. It's getting to the point where I don't want to answer the phone, check voice mail, look at my friends' Facebook pages, nothing - because the angel of death is busy. Busier than he has ever been. In the months of June/July alone, my family lost 2 cousins and an uncle to death. And last week, 4 people I know died. 4! In a week. I feel like the wicked witch in THE WIZ, "don't nobody bring me no bad news!!"
My mother and I have talked about this. As a retired woman with free flight benefits (thanks to my brother Kevin), my mom has been the designated funeral attendee for a lot of family and friends funerals this year. In one month, she attended 7 funerals. That is a lot of saying goodbye to folks. And the reality is...as we get older and time gets shorter, this will be happening more and more frequently. At my cousin Janie's funeral over the 4th of July holiday, I took lots and lots of pictures of my maternal grandmother's siblings who are still alive. They range in age from 79 to 94. What a blessing that they are still here, but it is just a fact of life, that will not always be the case.
So, how do you deal? How do you handle the saying goodbye over and over? How do you comfort your grieving friends and family members without sounding trite or overly simplistic? When is the time to speak and when is the time to be silent? I don't know...it is an emotional battlefield that you have to negotiate...carefully. Sometimes, you just show up with a box of tissue and sit silently. Sometimes you provide the comic relief. Sometimes you just listen as they talk and cry it out. And sometimes you just go in the kitchen and start washing the dishes that are piling up. You'll know what to do - just do it.
I hold on to the promise of the resurrection found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. I hold on knowing that, should I live my life the way I assume my grandparents lived their lives, I'll see them again one day. One day, me and my big sister, Karen Willis Fields, are going to be reunited and she is going to fuss at me about my hair 'cause that's what she did. I'ma see my Aunt Lucy and she's gonna give me one of her patented, hide you in her bosom, type hugs. I'll meet up with my friend Mervin who drowned before his 17th birthday and who I never got a chance to tell how much he meant to me. Daddy Taylor will be there and he'll give me that classic Daddy Taylor smile of greeting and a soft word of encouragement. And Janie will be there and my cousin Cecile and my cousin Bayda, who died too young and too tragically, and my Uncle William, whose birthday is this week...and the list goes on and on and on.
It is going to be a day of great rejoicing when we are all reunited, but there will be some faces missing in the crowd as well. I pray mine is not one of them - yours neither.