How does one write when they do not know how to put their heart into words? That is how I feel right now, and the only reason why I'm blogging is because it is high time to write something, anything, for this little corner of my world. Perhaps another reason for infrequent blogging is the simple fact that we don't have wifi at home, so if I want to blog, off to the library I go. Please bear with me, friends. Maybe someday we will have internet at home. Until then, thanks in advance for your patience.
We recently traveled to my home area in New York state for the wedding of dear friends, and the funeral of a beloved cousin. The trip for the wedding had been planned weeks ago, but we hadn't been planning to attend a funeral. I feel so grateful that God worked it out for us to be there with my entire family, as well as my uncles, aunts, and cousins.
When I first heard that Michael was home with Jesus, I was in shock. I truly thought he was going to pull through this illness and be our good ole' Michael again. My husband's comforting arms were such a blessing to me, but I still felt so alone and far away from my family, and I felt as if I needed to be with my family.
Did a trip home ever take so long? I don't know. This one seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. It was wonderful to see the Empire State sign whiz past as we drove along the interstate, and I loved to see a few brave sugar maples still hanging on to their colorful leaves.
There was nothing like finally being in my Mama's and Daddy's arms and just letting the tears fall. We walked up there together, and that man in the coffin didn't even look like him. Somehow, it still seemed as if Michael would come bouncing into the room, wearing his goofy grin, and ask you how you were doing.
That evening we, his cousins, his aunts and uncles, his grandparents, a few close friends, and his immediate family, gathered around his coffin and sang hymns. We sang about heaven, and about how God is so good as we wept and wrapped our arms around each other. It was raw, it was painful, but I know it was one of the most beautiful sounds the Father has ever heard.
The next day was the funeral, and the morning dawned cold and cloudy. We meditated in silence before the funeral began. A friend of Michael and his family led the worship, and even now as I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. If one could ever call a funeral beautiful, it would be this one. Hands were raised in worship and surrender as we sang " for all Your goodness I will keep on singing// ten thousand reasons for my heart to find// bless the Lord, oh my soul// oh my soul// worship His Holy Name// sing like never before// oh my soul// I worship His Holy Name". I saw that deep faith and trust in God as my aunt and uncle and cousins worshiped their Father. Like Job, they chose to say "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Such trust and devotion in the midst of deep anguish is only possible through the grace of God. My aunt Ruth and my uncle Sam, Michael's parents, are my heroes. They never left his side during the weeks that he suffered in the hospital, and their faith in God never wavered. Even in their deepest pain, they still declared God's grace to be sufficient in their struggles.
The man who preached at Michael's funeral shared an incredible sermon, and I especially liked the part about how he likened Michael to a tree. This tree may be cut down, but its roots are in all of us who knew him and loved him. There were hundreds of people there who had been touched by Michael's life. He loved kids, he loved Jesus, he loved good coffee, and he just loved life in general. What a challenging legacy he has left for all of us.
Michael's life and passing are a stark reminder to me that relationships are the only thing that matter in this life. If you want to make an eternal impact, then invest in the lives of people. The rewards will be never-ending. You never know what may be your last goodbye with someone, or your last chance to hug them, or tell you that you love them or appreciate them.
In Michael's honor, I want to put a renewed effort into relationships. I want to treasure my friends and my family more, and learn to be more encouraging. I wish that I would have treasured the relationships more that I had before I moved away and had to start all new relationships. I wish I would have treasured my relationship with Michael more. The past is the past, but I can do something about the future.
In this light, it has made it that much more difficult for me to leave my family and come back here to what I have dubbed "The Arctic". With God's grace, I will treasure the relationship I have with my husband to the fullest, and keep working on the new relationships that I've been building since I moved here. Building new relationships everywhere, all the time, is absolutely exhausting, but thankfully, I have a few friends here who have moved past the exhausting stage and are now enjoying the hard work we put into making new friends.
I'll share two pictures as I wind up this post. This is Michael, Lyndsi, and I a few years ago, at a birthday party for our grandpa. I remember some fun times from that weekend that I will treasure forever. I miss you and love you, Ev!