This last week, Mark's family came up for a visit. His sister Heidi and her two boys, Nick and Caleb came in from Wisconsin, and his mom, Sue, came from Spokane. The visit was a vacation. Time for fun and play and making lasting memories. This visit was also a time to say goodbye. Sue lost her husband of over 30 years in February of 2009. It wasn't completely unexpected. He had been pretty sick for several years. But really how do you prepare yourself for the loss. How do you mentally anticipate what it will feel like to say goodbye to someone who is and has been a fixture in your life for better and for worse.
We had a memorial service for him in Spokane last year of course. We joined together to support and love on his mom. We tearfully wept at the fresh pain and emptiness. We grieved with her, we remembered with her, and we sat together in the silence that no words can fill.
His body was cremated. Now it was time to finish the process of saying our goodbyes. Mark's mom thought it would be nice to get together as a family and sprinkle the ashes into the ocean, after all, we don't need a permanent place to go and weep over our loss. The bible is clear on Wil's new residence. Right now, his digs far outweigh our own. He won't ever have to repair another leaking faucet, roof, or drain field, mow another yard, clean out the garage, repair broken down things, or replace any old carpet. He takes his evening walks on streets of gold, he rests in the afternoon by rivers of peace where lions and lambs catch a bit of afternoon respite, together. He worships with multitudes we can't possibly fathom. His city has walls of crystal clear jasper and the king, our king sits on the throne forever.
So, while we may be here and experiencing a sense of loss, God is rejoicing for the sinner and saint who has come "home". My family was so grateful to get to be a part of this special time after all it is what we are supposed to do as family right? Rejoice in blessings, weep with those who weep, strengthen those who are weak, help out when one of us is struggling, and laugh at our own crazy selves.
Our family photograph won't ever look the same but, in God's perfect plan it looks exactly as it should.