Friday, December 19, 2008

A Thanksgiving Story, Part III

read Part I and Part II...

Though we knew it might be coming, the death of my beloved's father knocks the air out of us. We stare at each other in shock, then move closer to hold.

Immediately, my mind starts working... When should we go? How will Gideon handle the travels? Should I start packing now? Could we wait until Monday?... Kevin begins making phone calls, and I walk downstairs to inform my parents of the loss.

We sleep.

When the sun opens his eyes in the morning, we are awake, and making preparations. We decide to leave that very day, and begin packing. I pull together clothes and neccessities for a week? Two weeks? My mama cleans the icebox and Papa aids Kevin in winterizing the yard. I pause to nurse my one-week-old precious, and breathe in his scent, praying over his tiny, new body, that the traveling and change of routine will not be hard on him. And then Father reminds me that the only thing my Gideon needs is me. Breathe.

In the midst of the busyness, Kevin pauses to rejoice that Gideon was born early. Perhaps I could be forty weeks at this time, or in labor! We could be separated yet again as he traveled for the funeral and I stayed behind. I think of how often He reveals Himself to me in these circumstances.

I think of my Heavenly Bridegroom, His eyes seeing what is to come. He does not cause death and chaos, He doesn't. But He sees it coming, and sets into motion circumstances that will ease our suffering, that make a way for us. Trials are coming, and so my body begins to release the baby. Beloved is able to be at his father's bedside for surgery, and still at my side for delivery. We have a blissful week of holding and knowing and loving before death creeps in, and then we are ready.

I weep at His care, and I weep because I am still overwhelmed. But I feel so loved.

After our journey, Kevin leaves us to care for his stepmother, and I am tended by my family; my mama and sisters hold and kiss boo-boos. They nourish, encourage, and supply. My brothers and their wives bring cousins and comfort, and we visit and laugh as our children play.

When preparations are finished, we meet one more time to say goodbye. The auditorium is filled with thousands of mourners, for this man was a father, a husband, a teacher, elder, friend... Kevin is strong and silent; his work towards this day is finally complete, and he slips into his grief quietly. We hold his hands and walk with him to the front, and bolster him on both sides.

We sing, and friends offer memories. And then, Corban, gripping his paper tightly, slips past our knees and makes his way to the front.

He reads with confidence and strength, Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, Grandpa's favorite poem. The timbre of his young voice carries, though he is quietly feeling the magnitude of this day. Not a tremor, not a falter, he finishes and can't help smiling.

When we have time with Grandpa at the end, Corban slips his poem into the casket. Three of our children stand and gaze at Grandpa without fear; touching his chest, his hands, his face. They say goodbye, and tender Micah cries. Kevin holds his sister and stepmother, bracing them.

Throughout it all, I have forgotten to pray. In the flurry of leaving the house; braiding hair, finding tights, packing diaper bag, I have neglected to ask His blessing on the day. And yet, He has given it.

Gideon sleeps from the moment the funeral starts to the moment it ends. He eats, and then we travel one hundred miles to the burial while he sleeps again. The sun peeks out for the five minutes Kevin speaks graveside, and then hides its face the moment he finishes. The rain holds off until everyone has had a chance to greet and visit, and then the clouds open, scattering the mourners. We fellowship at the church building, Gideon nurses, and our other children, happy to be home, run and play and laugh again.

You see? Heavenly Bridegroom, anticipating our needs, knowing the future, blessing when it has not been asked for. I see, and give thanks.

Here and now, weeks later, my beloved still misses his father. The season brings with it a reminder of the holidays after his mama died, in October as well. And yet, as we make new traditions with our growing family; hanging the ornaments, preparing our Jesse Tree, wrapping the presents, there is a joy he can only know as one who does not "mourn like those who have no hope".

He has only to look into the eyes of his newest beloved to remember.

Father Robert
Hello, October 20, 1928.
Goodbye, October 31, 2008.

5 fellow travelers shared:

Beverly said...

What a precious family, dear Elise. Love to you and prayers for Kevin and all of you. I got goosebumps when reading that Corban read "The Road Not Taken" at the funeral. Hugs to your family in this bittersweet time. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Jaime said...

My heart goes out to you and your family, Elise. I can't imagine how you mourn the loss of your father, and yet, at the same time, rejoice in the coming of Gideon. May God be with you all during this time...

Quinne said...

Hi Elise :) This is such a beautiful story - the Father working all things for good. There is such joy in His promises, His love, His goodness...

Please pass along a word to your precious Kevin - we are praying for him and for all of you as you celebrate this year. Love, Q

Martie said...

I had not gotten a chance to finish your story. Time was given to me tonight - and I cried. Truly precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints! And, how glorious to look back and see His loving hand preparing us for the loss. You all will remain in my prayers. Thanks so much for sharing! Trust you had a wonderful Christmas.


Sue said...

Your beautiful story had me in tears. Your love for your family and the Lord just shine through. I am sorry for your loss, but blessed to hear about your beautiful son's birth and how God carried you all through.

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