Surrounded by other blogger/writers, I came home from Jumping Tandem full of inspiration to write. But words take time to simmer, a slow and savory marriage of verbs and nouns, adverbs and adjectives, blended with thought and emotion and experience and, hopefully, prayerfully, some godly wisdom and insight sprinkled in at the right time, in the right amounts. Writing is no instant microwavable frozen entree.
Life happens, they say, and perhaps those two simple words say it all. Life, and death, does indeed happen, and sometimes they happen all at once. I didn't have time to let the words simmer for weeks after I got home, and I thought that, perhaps, I'd lost the inspiration and forgotten the recipe.
Last night I fell asleep at nine o'clock and slept until seven o'clock this morning. I slept for ten hours. My husband commented that I've run on adrenaline all month long, and my body finally shut down. Perhaps he's right. It took three full days after our daughter's wedding, three full days away from church and ministry and responsibility, for my body to relax enough to sleep deeply and soundly. Here in the juniper scented air, in the warmth of the sun, maybe I'll relax, and rest, and remember how to write word pictures that capture the beauty found in the midst of the way life happened in this wild and crazy month of May 2015.
Our youngest daughter got married on Saturday. She was thirty two. She's been independent and away from home for well over a decade. That's why it surprised me when it happened. Sunday afternoon I felt it. I felt her detach from us and attach to him. When I say I felt it, I mean just that, I mean it literally. As surely as I've felt the Spirit of God work in me and through me, I felt a detaching from us as her covering, her protection, her safe place, and attach to him. When it happened, I teared up, not out of sorrow, but simply because of the knowing that, in a real sense, our job was done. The emotion of it surprised me then and surprises me now as I type these words. I'm both so genuinely and completely happy and at peace that she will be well loved, and, yet, a bit raw and tender in my mother's heart at the same time.
I was surprised to experience another wave of grief over my mother's death as my daughter's wedding day drew near. She was the first of our girls to not have any grandparents at her wedding. On a recent day, on my way to run yet another in a myriad of wedding errands, I drove by Mama's house. It's always there, on the way to the bank, or the store, and almost five years after her death, there is something inside of me that always says, "Hi, Mama", when I drive by. I know she's not there in that house with the big dogwood tree in the front, that she's not in that coffin in the ground at the cemetery, I know that she is enjoying eternal life with her Lord, I know all this, and yet, on that day running wedding errands, I had a whole conversation with her. Let me assure you, it was totally one sided. I'm not one to believe we should be conversing with the dead. But, I told her what was on my heart, hoping Jesus would somehow get the message through to her. I told her our girl was getting married. I told her that the man she is marrying is good and kind and loves Jesus. I told Mama that she would like him. I told her about our baby grandson and youngest granddaughter that she never got to see in this life. I told her I love her and miss her.
When she came to from the coma I was surprised. She was forty years old. Too young to be having her second heart mitral valve replacement. The surgery was more complicated than expected. She was in a coma and the doctors were pretty sure that there had been brain damage from a stroke that occurred during surgery. We were all surprised when tests revealed no new brain damage. Yet, the coma persisted for way too long. Then, one day she woke up. It was a miracle. She began to talk, to eat, to walk. The day before she was to be released from the hospital, she began to have shortness of breath. Tests showed that there were leaks around the new mitral valve. They were irreparable, inoperable. Doctors told her, bluntly, not mincing their words, that she was dying. If there was anyone determined to live, it was her. If there was anyone who had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people praying for her, it was her. Yet, she died. It was a heart wrenching loss for her parents, her husband, her daughters, her twin sister and other siblings, her loved ones, and her church family and to us, her pastors. I believe God still heals today. I want to see it happen with my own eyes, in a case like this, when doctors say there is no hope. I want to see God raise up someone off of their death bed, and for no one but God to get the glory for it. One week before my daughter's wedding, we had her memorial service. The service ended with a surprise to all of us. Her sister had video taped her parting words to her husband, children, parents and siblings. It was brave and amazing and profound and fearless. She was, surprisingly, undaunted in the face of death.
If you came to our daughter's wedding, you wouldn't have known that just a couple hours earlier I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off asking this person to put the linens on the tables, that person to put the tulips in the milk glass vases, this one to slice the pretzel buns for the bbq pork sliders, that one to make the lemonade. You wouldn't have known that the sound system didn't work until just before the ceremony was about to begin. When you saw our youngest grandson coming down the aisle, the cutest little ringbearer ever, perhaps you didn't know he'd just been released the evening before from the hospital, where he'd spent the previous two days, due to a respiratory virus. I was surprised that, in spite of everything, it all came together so beautifully, and that it was everything we had hoped it would be.
After the wedding, my siblings came over to our house, and we sat around eating leftover wedding cake and sipping coffee and visiting. When they left, I was tired, but too wound up from all of the excitement to go to sleep. So, I tidied up the kitchen and put away wedding decor that we had carted home with us. When I did go to bed, I was surprised that I slept fitfully, my mind still on my girl. It's because I knew that it wasn't the wedding that had been her heart's desire, it was the being married. She had waited, waited in the way that is a rare and beautiful thing in today's culture. Waited even when other Christians had told her, "God will understand if you don't wait, you're over thirty, you've waited long enough". I lay there in bed and prayed for her, prayed for them, that God would bless them on this first night as man and wife, that He would make it special and sweet. I was surprised to get a text from her in the wee hours of the morning telling me that they were up and getting ready to leave for their honeymoon trip and telling me that everything was perfect, with a smiley face emoticon following that short, simple sentence.
Life happens. Death happens, It's a wild and crazy ride full of surprises. Sometimes it helps to try to put it in words.
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