As I sit to write my thoughts today, my heart is weary and “heavy laden.” My soul feels worn and frayed around the edges. I must prepare to attend a Celebration of Life Service (a funeral) of a dear friend and brother that went away too soon and there are no spaces to put these rampant emotions. I like to have my heart all organized and have everything filed away in its proper place – and I can’t seem to find the right-sized filing cabinets to hold my grief, relief, anger, sadness, and joy.
Grief for his family that needs him as a husband, dad, grandpa, uncle, and brother; for those of us who call him family even if we don’t share blood, for his many, many friends; for the multitude he has ministered to and influenced as a missionary on the foreign field for the last 16 years. Relief that he is no longer fighting the effects of this dreaded disease that is the topic of conversation the world over for the past year. Anger that comes out in unanswerable questions of “WHY???” Sadness for the loss of more time together. And joy (with a little bit of envy mixed in!) that he is standing in the presence of the Lover of his soul; forever safe in His arms – experiencing the sights and sounds of heaven and is reunited with his dear loved ones who have arrived before him.
How does one prepare to meet together to celebrate a life well-lived, cut off too early…a puzzle piece that fits into my soul just right and now must be removed until I too can join him in the safety of the Father’s arms? What do we do about the missing puzzle pieces – the ones who walked into our hearts and we connected in such a way that we never have to re-acquaint, whether we saw each other five minutes ago or a year ago? That friendship that runs so deep it doesn’t require words to express it.
I find myself feeling grateful for a Father Who invented family – who knew we would need each other to walk together in this world, connected through blood or through heart relationships. He gives us brothers and sisters, joining our hearts in an unexplainable way to journey together…sometimes walking beside each other, sometimes pulling or pushing when the way gets a little tough, but always connected with supporting love that doesn’t break.
These moments when time seems to stand still, when we are feeling bereft and a bit devastated, when the ordinary-ness of living a daily life gets fuzzy as our focus zooms in on the fragility of life and the short time we have together… these are the moments of true reality. This is where we get a glimpse of what lies beyond the shadows and we get to see that we really are eternal beings and this life we are busy living is truly temporary – there is far more to come, and it is the REAL thing.
As the tears make tracks down my face, as I hug the necks of many who are also feeling the emptiness, I will embrace the myriad of emotions and treasure a life well-lived, holding space for this dear missing puzzle piece.