Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snapshots from the weekend (in no particular order)

  • Early morning all carb breakfast at the quality inn: sitting around a four person table are Beve, Grampie, Beve's brother, B (the PE teacher), B's wife N, and me.  B having earlier checked out the lack of carbs along the wall, has brought down some sort of powdered protein thing, which he mixes in a paper bowl with a plastic spoon, and somehow in the process, though without apparent knowledge, manages to send protein powder into the immediate atmosphere.  Across the table Beve and I watch the powder's progression toward Grampie. As it lands in his face, he scrunches up his face in preparation for a huge sneeze.  Beve laughs hysterically.  I laugh at Beve.  But then I think of the things I might be lofting into the atmosphere around me by my thoughtless inactions, my impulsive words, my selfishness.  What does the powder of my life cause in people around me? 
  • In the church foyer before the memorial service to celebrate Glo's imperfect, perfect life, worlds collided.  Our close friends from Bellingham recognized Beve's uncle and wife as friends from a life two cities earlier.  At the reception these same friends heard the name of a son-in-law of our other close friends, and realized they had shared many lives with this young man's parents, had known him as a very small boy.  My brother found friends from a former church, the husband of whom had been in nursing school with Glo.  Grampie's old friends are now best friends of Beve's oldest friend's parents.  The incredible smallness of the world kept blessing me all afternoon.  We are always part of something larger than ourselves, and the lives we touch have touched lives who also touch ours.  The circle of life, as the Lion King sings it, with a whole new meaning
  • The stories told of Glo (ably started by my own eloquent Beve who I could gladly listen to for an entire afternoon) were carbon copies of each other.  The story I could tell of her is the story everyone else told as well.  This is the true seamless life, where what I see is what everyone else sees.  And what that seamless life was is a powerful testimony, one which made me laugh and smile more often than it made me tear up.
  • Have you ever had a piece of music touch you so deeply that there were tears on your face without knowing why?  I have.  Actually there's a particular piece that does it in exactly the same place, one perfect note in the middle of that beautiful piece that draws tears from me precisely the same way, every single time.  The first time I heard it, with our friends' oldest daughter singing the soprano and a teenaged member of our youth group singing the alto, I was caught off guard by the glory of it.  But even yesterday, or maybe particularly yesterday, that piece sung, by the same friends' middle daughter singing that note, and her father, our friend J, the tenor, both Beve and wept.  It was the most moving part of the service for us, especially that it was them singing, the way J and K, his wife (my friend!), sang at my dad's memorial.  And beautiful as well was the way they stood above and behind us in the balcony, so their soaring voices floated down on us.  Pie` Jesu. (by Andrew Lloyd Webber).  A requiem for the dead.  Glo loved it, I love it.  Find it, listen to it.  If you can't tell what note I'm talking about, you're made of sterner stuff than I am.  
  • We've spent 8 nights in the last three weeks away from home.  Not all in one place as if we're on vacation. But deeply engaged in ministry.  The ministry of being with those we've needed to be with, sleep where we must to be with them, even with them when they do not know we're there, nor want our 'help.'  The 'being' that comes in such seasons of grief is very hard work.  Friday night, we spent the evening in Glo's home with her husband and son. As I wrote yesterday, it was a harrowing moment when we first walked in.  My sister-in-law, N, and I had to take a moment alone in the back hallway so she could wail and I could sob.  The house was clean and ready for company, the napkins on the counter bore her inimitable mark, but she wasn't there.  A party there without her...impossible to do without first a cry in a corner, away from these stoic men.  Then we shook our heads, squared our shoulders and enjoyed the photos on he'd put out on the dining table (the table the giants had sat around all of Beve's growing up years), laughed at how young we'd used to be (but N doesn't!  She actually looks exactly the same as she did 25 years ago.  Don't ask me how!) It was good to be together, especially for Glo's men, who are finding the living there without her a little empty.
  • Grampie stood up at the service twice, voice catching both times, to tell the story of having found 10 messages on his cell-phone from Glo.  It was dear and sweet, and also quite telling that his story was identical...just forgotten and repeated five minutes apart.  Beve leaned over to me and said, "Glo would be so pissed at him right now."  Then he leaned forward and told his brother to tackle Grampie if he tried to stand up again.
  • We drove away from the memorial after standing in the icey cold talking to Glo's oldest, best friends.  When they walked into the church, that's when I cried.  I'd never seen them without her before. And this is VERY hard for them, all nurses, all having seen death a time or two.  We finally hugged our last goodbye and headed off to sleep in Seattle at my aunt's home, visiting, talking, eating, catching up.  Good family fellowship. Beve and my uncle made a quick trip to Value Village this morning because Beve had given his fleece to Grampie (who was still wearing it tonight when we talked to him) and his coat drove home in the car J took last night. And I'm telling you, it was far too cold to be outside today without a long sleeved something.  They found an XLT sweater, which served well enough.  And made Beve's day because it was a 50% off tag!  Another small moment.
  • And the grand finale of the weekend was SK's choir concert in downtown Seattle.  Amazing choirs, amazing sound, and several quick hugs from unexpected encounters with friends we haven't seen in years, also there to listen to the worshipful sound.  One of those friends saw SK's name in the program, and asked her husband if he thought we were there.  He pointed us out--in the pew directly in front of them, so close we could have overheard our name in her query.  We had about 5 minutes with our Bug then she was off to help take down the stage, load up the buses and travel through the mountains back to the frozen eastern side of the state.
  • And now we're home in our own bed, with Jackson up on it between us.  Beve had to lift him up here to join us, but he's staying now.  I'm deep sighing with delight at our soft sheets, soft mattress-topper on our very expensive mattress.  And am looking forward to being home for the next five nights!  Until we go out to Grampie's again.

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