Five years ago, everything earthly was finished. My husband died on March seventh, he was laid to rest on the seventeenth. It took that long to get his body home from Indiana. I was told that it would have taken even longer if he had died in California. True or not, I don’t know. I only know how frustrating it was struggling through the madness from Indiana.
His earthly body arrived home late on a Thursday night. Friday morning My son and I rode over to the funeral home. Family were there ahead of us. They parted like the Red Sea allowing me to get up to the casket. I only stayed a moment before leaving, not caring what those gathered thought. He wasn’t there. His body, his earthly body, lay in that box, but it was nothing but a shell. What made him who he was, had already ascended to Heaven to be with his Lord and Savior.
Here I sit, five years later, remembering him and the saying good-bye.
What I wrote that day after returning from the funeral home:
I went, well, James and I went to the funeral home for the private time. James could not even go close, but he was just outside the door and I knew that.
I did manage to go close. Family was all around but they moved back so I could get to the side of the casket. It was so very difficult, I had to cling to the casket at first, looking at him, to me, to me it was very clear. He wasn’t there. I was looking at the outer shell of him, the frail human body that had housed his soul. The part of him that made him who he was, had left.
His laughter, his joy at simple things, his hope for better things, his love for family, for friends, for his Lord, for coffee.. not in that order, but still, those things had left from this shell. Absent from the body means present with the Lord. He is absent from that body, so I know, he is in the presence of the Lord.
I believe, that he is looking down upon us and he is asking that we be granted a comforting peace in his passing. That we know he is now experiencing a joy unimaginable to us, that he is happy, that he is again healthy, that he is with family and friends who have gone on before and they are together walking the streets of gold. I believe that those little moments are being allowed to give me comfort. I believe that I will see him again. I believe, that what ever I am going to have to face from this day forward, I will face knowing of his peace, and knowing that I will never walk alone.
After the service:
So, your earthly body is now at rest. I was able to keep my promise and make sure that you were not cremated. I guess you know that it really took some doing by many people to get your body home. But after all of that government red tape and bureaucratic bull was gotten through, they were able to get you home. I couldn’t remember if you had ever flown before, but it didn’t matter. It was flying that got you here and that was all that mattered.
I’m glad that Deanna agreed on the pull over shirt and slacks. You do look good in a suit, but that’s just not you. I will always see you in casual wear, baseball cap and a cup of coffee (and you talk about how much coffee I drink) I put your glasses in with the hat. You were so upset that you had forgotten them. Deanna put some photos and a letter in there for you.
I stood there, talking with friends, family and friends of family and it was odd, but comforting. So many people came by, not all could stay, but they came and they paid their respects and that was heart warming and special.
The service was everything that I hoped it would be. Did you hear the words spoken by Barry or Pastor Sandy? They meant every word they said, you could tell that. We sang a few songs, songs that I knew you liked, and Nathan did a great job with Go Rest High on that Mountain. Scott Jenkins, said a few words offered a prayer at the grave site. All the while, hearing every word, singing along, seeing the casket right in front of me, knowing your body rested within, even as I knew, that was merely the earthly vessel for your soul, I was composed. I told Cynthia later, maybe you heard, it was sad, but I wasn’t really grieving as the others were, because I knew where you were. How could I be sad, when I know you are so happy? when I know, you’re healed, you’re able to breathe easy again, you never again will have to worry about New York driving. I miss you, I miss you terribly, but I would never ask you to come back.
I saw though, as I was speaking with Cynthia, as cold as it was today, a honey bee came and was moving about the flowers that mom had purchased.
So my love, one day at a time, one moment, one breath, one sign at a time, and we will get by. We will grow stronger and we will cry a little less often. But we will never forget, the love will never fade, the knowledge that we will see each other again will guide our steps and give us strength.
Today I remember arriving at the church, taking my place beside your casket. Glancing ever so often at your body. Empathic me, who could always feel your presence and emotions, knew you were not within that shell. I was looking at the covers to a book where all the pages within had been removed. I only reached out once to touch your hand, it was so cold and without anything that was you other than the skin stretched over bone.
Today, I remember sitting through the celebration of your life. I remember listening to the words shared by friends. I remember the songs that were sang as we remembered, shared, worshiped the One to whom you had gone to be with.
I remember walking across the parking area to the cemetery where the open grave waited. Taking a seat, I listened to a few more words shared, the last words before your body would be lowered and covered.
Today, I remember. I also celebrate because I know that you are no longer suffering the many health ailments you battled. You had commented often, “I’d give anything if I could breathe again” now you can. You walk those streets of gold with all who had gone before you. There are no longer any earthly concerns to bother you. There you are home, you are healthy, you are at peace, you are with our Lord.
Today, I remember, but I remember with a peaceful feeling. Not that deep agonizing pain that was there that day and the many afterwards. Knowing where you were, didn’t help much then. Today, five years in, there is peace in your memory. Today, five years in, I have come to a greater peace with what was. The good times and the difficult, now are a blending of the love we had. Today, many will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Today, I am remembering the you who was here, celebrating the you residing in eternity with Jesus.