Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Celebrating A Life

I have been asked again to do something that I have done many times before, but it never gets accomplished without tears and trembling. I must say it is one of the most difficult challenges ever. It is:

Singing at the funeral of a loved one.

Many times before, I have stood beside my sister, or my husband, or my brother-in-law and struggled to belt out a touching tune for those hurting onlookers in the pews. I always attempt to stare out above their faces. If I look at their expressions, I begin to loose control. I tend to be an overly-emotional person anyway. This particular circumstance just pushes me over the edge.

As I have mentioned so many times before in previous posts, our family is very close. We are tight-knit and loosing one of us is almost unbearable.

This past weekend, as we were heading down the road from Tybee Island after a relaxing day on the beach, I received one of those phone calls that you never want to get.

"I have some bad news", my sister said from the other end of the line.

My heart sank imediately as I feared what she would say next.

It seems that my cousin David's father-in-law had suddenly passed away about thirty minutes earlier. He had been enjoying a nice meal at McDonald's with his wife, Vera, and, Haylie, a precious little girl they keep, when he just collapsed and fell from the booth where they were sitting together.

He never regained consciousness.

I couldn't believe what my sister was telling me. It just didn't seem real.

I began to think of all the special times we had shared together at the beach, family gatherings, Christmas, and backyard bonfires. How could he be gone all of a sudden? It was unfathomable.

I remembered the last time I had seen Bill a couple weeks earlier. I had been with my cousin, Timmy, and his new baby girl, Marissa, trying to help out when Marissa's mother was in the hospital. Bill was sitting at the dining room table while we were all in the living room. As I walked through the dining room to get a bottle ready for Marissa, Bill had said, "I just can't take all the noise. I need to be in here a while where it is quiet."

I laughed and said, "You know how we are around here! Never a quiet minute!!"

He laughed too. He knew I was right.

Later, I rummaged around the room where Bill was sitting trying to find the cat litter. I was going to help out Timmy by changing it for him. One less chore for him, I figured, since he was traveling back and forth from the hospital so much. Bill got up from his seat and helped me search. We laughed again when we finally found it right beside where he had been sitting. If it would have been a snake, it would have bitten us!

I remember that Bill loved to get out in the ocean. Sometimes I would sit and watch him from the shore, a little afraid at how far out he was floating. But, I knew he was enjoying it so much. You could just tell by watching him. He had no fear at all. He seemed perfectly peaceful as he flowed, enveloped by the waves of the sea. He rode along smoothly with each and every rise and fall.

Tomorrow as I stand beside my dear sister once again and sing the words to "Beulah Land", I will look above the faces of those I love so much and think of Bill, sitting at the dining room table in the quiet. I will picture him at peace, riding the waves away from all the noise and standing in the presence of our Lord and Savior. He is now flowing along in the midst of a love like we have never known before. In a way, I envy him.

I'm sure he will have expressions of joy spread over his sweet face as he listens to us sing. Maybe he won't even notice my whimpers as I try to hold back the tears.

We love you, Bill. We will miss you. And, we look forward to the day when we can celebrate being together with you in eternity.
Bill and Vera

I'm kind of homesick for a country

To which I've never been before.

No sad goodbyes will there be spoken

For time won't matter anymore.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.

And some day, on thee I'll stand.

There my home will be eternal.

Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.

I'm looking out across the river

Where my faith will end in sight.

There's just a few more days to labor,

Then I will take my heavenly flight.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you.

And, some day, on thee I'll stand.

There my home will be eternal.

Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. ( 1 Corinthians 2:9)

I ask that you pray for my sister, Melanie, and I as we sing tomorrow at 2:00 EST. Lift up Vera (Bill's wife), Their daughter Pam and her husband David, their sons, Jason and Mark, and their grandchildren. And all other members of the family as we celebrate the wonderful life of a good man and the blessed privilege we had of him gracing our lives with his presence.

Love and Blessings,