Mom’s memorial was yesterday. My brother did a great job planning it, with the church doing most of the leg work. It was a lovely service held at the Episcopal church in Shelton, with a smattering of Navy elements. Flag folding: is there anything more nerve-wracking? Like folding a fitted sheet with an audience. The service itself contained all the great, faith-building scriptures:
But as for me, I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth…Job 19:25
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” – John 14:2-4
…”He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:1-6
Not to mention The Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, which rarely come up in my faith expression. We sang the old hymns and prayed the scripted prayers. We took communion at the rail, with real wine and leaven-free wafers. I felt connected to the God I knew in childhood, the start of my seeking journey. Mom’s faithful church attendance launched that.
Yesterday, I was doing fine. Surrounded by family and friends and some near-strangers, the whole experience of ‘Mom is dead’ didn’t seem surreal. Later, sharing Dr. J’s quiche, fruit salad and the mouth-watering Momeye coffeecake that goes back at least one more generation seemed celebratory. Fun, even, with all the Chestons and Stanleys in the house, as well as Mom’s closest friends. I felt blessed and grateful. Many thanks to all who came!
But today feels different. It started raining. In fact, it’s doing the Shelton “raining with a purpose” thing now. Rain striking the skylight scared Dakota. She had to come find me for comforting pats and murmured soothing.
If I slow down, though, the grief catches me. If I do slow down, I’m not cleaning/reading/researching/writing/administratively interacting or anything else that distracts me from the fact that Mom is gone. While I appreciate the enormous distraction that taking classes affords me, the grief still knocks me down.
We invited Father Joe, now-retired minister of St. David’s Episcopal Church, to officiate at Mom’s memorial. Mom loved him. Due to prior commitments, he was unable to do it. He called and left me the most amazing voicemail. He mentioned lots of fun and laughter with my mom and expressed his condolences.
“I wanted to celebrate with you Joan’s birth into eternal life.”
I barely kept it together when he said that. Yes! It took the focus off my grief and onto the One who makes all things new. I blinked back tears as I went back into an all-day training.
A lush camellia bush grows in front of the Episcopal church. Yesterday, I noticed it was in full bloom. In fact, the hot pink blossoms had faded and some had turned brown. Best guess, it started blooming some time in mid-January, right around when Mom passed. It reminded me that this life, though enormously beautiful, is temporary, and soon we will be born into eternal life. Thanks be to God.