A Matter of Life and Death

It has been quite a few weeks for our family. I could take the time to write more about these challenges, and I am tempted to do so — just one big, long, tired whine. There were things that each member of our family dealt with that have been very heavy. There has been much anxiousness.

But today, we sit on the other side, having each and together walked through some fires.  Today we find ourselves on the other side drenched in thankfulness. Just in time to eat some turkey and say so out loud.

Hearts are heavy as God just called my sweet man’s beloved grandpa home. The patriarch of our family was loved beyond words. He and his wife have demonstrated love to each member of their family in ways that made us each (even those of us who married in) feel like the favorite. In fact, they loved to tell each grandchild that they were, indeed, the favorite. How precious are our memories. How beautiful the example of a life lived to its fullest and love overflowing.

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This feels to us as some sort of heavenly exchange as we simultaneously welcome a brand new and beautiful soul into our midst with the presence of our second granddaughter, Aveline Joy.

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As a beautiful and wise friend of mine often says, we need these contrasts. We need the pain. We need the sorrow. These things highlight the joy!! They remind of us our need for One Who is greater than what this life has to offer!

Recently, my son, who reads psychology books for fun, was telling me about this book a doctor wrote about life and its cycles, and though my summary will be very dumbed down as it must be for me to relay it, what struck me were these things.

We don’t deal with death in today’s day.  We have entered a time and place as a country where we pretend it doesn’t exist as much as humanly possible.  Once upon a time, children saw animals die from hunting and understood well the process of life to death to provision for a table.  Folks passed away and were prepared at home for burial on the dining room table.  Death was normal and accepted.  Now, we have this bizarre fascination with pretending it’s not real.  As if the fountain of youth is attainable and desirable.

Just watch a TV show and look at the women who refuse to let their hair go gray, who inject plastic into their face and have parts cut and reshaped in order to pretend they aren’t aging.  The funny part is, you never see a plastic-faced, brown-haired seventy year old and think they look twenty-four, yet that is their hope, isn’t it? It makes me sad.

Won’t I be allowed to look like a granny someday? Will I be the only woman I know with gray hair and wrinkles and maybe even a bun because I decide to accept that I’ve aged? I want that!   It’s a rite of passage!  The women I admire the very most in this world carry time and laughter and even pain etched into their very skin. We just can’t be young forever no matter how much we fake it!

We cannot force life to go on as usual when there’s a cycle that needs to play out.

I read a quote the other day that said something to the effect of how we want to walk all of our days with the ones we love.  We plan things to do together.  We want to share all of our moments with everyone we love around us.  It’s so true.  I want to always have this moment where everyone I know is in their right place and all is well.  It is so beyond my control, though.  That’s where trust in a greater purpose comes in

As I watched my daughter labor for this newest child, I was watching this beautiful, gut-wrenching process in awe.  The primal strength exhibited by one woman to reach her child was phenomenal.  Her determination to push through pain she never though possible for the sake of her baby sat me back in my seat.  After a traumatic first birth experience, we all went into this one with apprehension.  Part of me wanted someone to call me when it was over and everyone was okay.  The bigger part of me needed to be there and see with my own eyes that same thing.  Watching your children hurt is something I don’t have words to describe.  Setting them in the hands of God for bigger purposes than our own feels next to impossible.

I wept as Avie Joy arrived and all was well.  I wept tears of joy and thankfulness in my corner of the room.  I knew the agony my daughter had just experienced.  I heard the first little cry of a child who shared my very blood.  I took it all in from the background where I belonged.  I held Avie Joy quite a while after the commotion was over.  I looked into her little eyes and whispered my love.

And I wept as I consider His faithfulness.  It seems there should be a word better than *great*.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

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