Tag Archives: Death

Of Roses and Rainbows and Promises and Quit Claims

There has been a plethora of emotions almost every day.  And stuff keeps happening so fast I can hardly keep up!  In fact, I’m not trying to keep up.  Just kinda’ going around in my little world, doing my stuff; laundry, cooking, changing beds, taking care of ladies, talking to my husband and kids, loving on my granddaughter, missing the grandsons, and my absent male Offspringin’s and their wives.  Just living!

There is more than enough sadness to go around, to tell you the truth.  It almost seems like my Sweet Mama started some sort of maudlin march that has people joining in right and left.  Yesterday, another beloved and valuable and wonderful man, Herman Kauffman, folded his tent and went away to take possession of his mansion.  That’s all well and good (and GLORIOUS) for him, but what about the people who loved him so intensely that he suddenly left behind?  My heart aches for them and for this old world who needs more people like the four that have gone to Heaven in less than four weeks from our community.  Alene Yoder.  Richard Bender, Eli Bontrager.  And now, Herman Kauffman.

But life goes one.  Tomorrow, Certain Man and I will mark another anniversary.  42 years ago we married in the same church where some of these funerals have been held.  Tonight, I looked up from what I was doing to see Daniel come in with a gorgeous bouquet of yellow roses and baby’s breath and greenery.

“We had yellow carnations at our wedding,” he said.  (We did???) “But I couldn’t get yellow carnations, so I decided to take yellow roses.”  They were so beautiful it almost took my breath away.  And I would have much rather had the yellow roses.  We did have roses at the wedding.  I had worked for Warren Golde’s wife, Jane Ellan, and they had allowed us to come the morning of the wedding and pick roses from their beautiful rose garden for the bridal party to carry.  They were simple as all get out, and unadorned by anything except some narrow ribbon, but they were just fine.  We were still very married.  I looked at this bouquet today and the man that brought them for me and I gave thanks for the here and now and the living and breathing earthly editions of LIFE that I’ve been allowed to love.

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The Bouquet sits on the tablecloth that I bought for my Sweet Mama.  She professed to like it when she was talking to me, but when she talked to my siblings, she confessed that she was bothered by the fact that the bugs on it looked so real.  I always loved it, and when she went to Heaven, I brought the tablecloth home and put it on my table.  It makes me laugh, and it makes me pensive and it makes a wellspring of memories spring up within my heart.

And then, tonight, after a supper of fried squash and chicken casserole that didn’t turn out very well, Youngest Daughter went to pick up a few groceries.  She was barely out of the house when she called me, and like her father, implored me to “Go look!!!  There is a gorgeous, complete rainbow out here.  You’ve gotta’ see it!  But you better go quick, or you’ll miss it!”

I took myself out over the slippery side deck where the moss makes navigation treacherous, down the steps, and across the lawn to the edge of the trees.  The rain was lightly falling, but there was this ethereal light around me.  And then, I saw it!  Stretching from one end of the sky to the other.  Perfectly complete.  This summer rainbow of promise.
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I don’t profess to understand all this grief.  I know there is a time to be born and a time to die.  I know it is appointed unto man once to die.  And we all will.  But how that will be, or where Heaven is, I don’t know. And sometimes I could “lose my steady” when I ponder and wonder and imagine and think about all the things that I don’t know.

But I do know this:

A God who has always kept His promises is worthy of my trust. 

And here, with a grateful heart, once again, I offer up my quit claim.

The Promises are enough.  I choose to believe

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. . . and she is Finally Home!

A call from my brother, and the words:  “Frieda is in Heaven!”

At 5:50 she winged her way Heavenward, easy and quiet, while her loved ones kept watch.  Brave, brave woman.  How very much she will be missed.

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Living with October Grief

Three years ago today, my cousin, Merlin Yoder had a terrible farming accident and passed away two days later.  That October was a terrible time for me, and some days I didn’t know if I would ever be happy again.  In Daniel’s family, we had a suicide early in the month, then my uncle, Vernon Zehr, passed away mid month, and then a week later, Merlin had his accident.

Today is the ninth anniversary of Old Gertrude’s death, also the ninth anniversary of the death of Carolyn Swartzentruber, five year old daughter of friends,  Harvey and Judith.  I went to Old Gertrude’s grave today, as I often do when I have a class at Stockley Center, and the weather was wet, the sky so grey and the wind was whistling through the trees around that graveyard for indigents.  I thought about my sister in law, Frieda, and about the journey we all must make some day, and about how much I love living, but how hard things are sometimes and how knowing Jesus doesn’t make the parting “easy.”  I know that Jesus conquered Death, and that Death is to have lost its sting, but the crossing is still not easy and the unknowns are still so glaring. What we know about Heaven is so intriguingly wonderful.  What we don’t know about the crossing is what we hate so much.

All this pondering made me go back to try to find something that I had written the morning that we got word that Merlin had crossed over, that he was “done with troubles and trials.”  This post says a great deal about what I’m feeling now.  I know from experience that we won’t always be this sad, and that it won’t always hurt this much.  And I know that Clint and his family are not alone, and that the prayers and the love and the concern are helping to hold them steady.  But it is hard.  And time grows short.

Ah, dear friends.  Please pray for us . . .

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I was sitting in my chair, in the corner beside the fire on this chilly Monday morning.  I kept trying to wrap my head around the ache in my heart.  I just could not really believe that Merlin was gone.  He was so vibrant, so healthy, so alive!  The usual things have been said, and I believe, I believe!  He IS more alive than he has ever been.  He IS in the presence of the LORD, and he would never have wanted to stay in that broken body.  I’m sure he has seen The Father, I’m sure he has seen his Dad — and mine.  But it all seems so surreal.

I was working on a letter to my kids when the morning quiet was interrupted by the phone.  It was Certain Man. His quiet strength and understanding have helped to hold me steady in this last week.  Sometimes I see him watching me with a calculating look, sometimes worried.

“I don’t know if you can see it or not, Hon,” he said, “but the sunrise is spectacular this morning.  Go look to see if you can see it.”

Almost four decades with this guy tells me to never ignore such information, and I got up and looked towards the east.  “What do you see, Sweetheart?” I ask, looking at a gray horizon, and seeing nothing of significance.

“I just came across the bridge at the swamp,” he says, “and the sun is hanging over the swamp like a big ball of fire.  You may not be able to see anything because of the trees, but it is simply gorgeous.”

I look and look, and don’t even see a glimmer of the fire.  Just gray horizon with an area that is a bit brighter where the sun will probably appear after a while.  I don’t doubt that he is seeing it — and that it is breath taking, but I just can’t see it.  Yet.

“I’m sorry, Daniel, but it isn’t up far enough yet.  It sounds wonderful, though.”  We exchange a few more bits of conversation and then I am back into the morning routine with my ladies and laundry — busy stuff to keep my hands occupied while my heart weeps.

And then, fixing a cup of coffee, looking listlessly out the side window where the summer flowers escaped frost one more night, I keep thinking about the morning and the sunrise I couldn’t see.  I keep thinking that there is something nagging at edge of my conscious thought.  I keep thinking about Merlin and how they said he often would call one of his brothers in the early morning hours to “go riding.”  He was an accomplished biker, and loved to cycle, too.  I got to thinking about what he might tell us this morning if he could call back.

“Come.  Ride with me!  You can’t see it yet, but the Morning is glorious!  The Son is like a ball of fire, and all the air is alive with His presence.  You can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet . . .”

And the fact that I don’t see it yet — don’t begin to understand it yet, doesn’t change the fact that I believe it is for real, and that someday, The Son will come for all who look for him, and it won’t carry the grief of this day, but rather the promise of a Glorious reunion and an eternity without the pain of separation.

“Ah, Merlin!  The ‘if only’s’ and the sadness of this day crowd out the the things my head wants to say.  We will miss you, and you will always be thought of with good memories in the hearts of so many.  May God grant healing to your family, and may this “seed sown in the mortal body” rise to everlasting life.”

(Lord Jesus, forgive my questioning heart, but WHY did it have to be him????)

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