After a cup of black coffee, a handful of M & M’s, and rich conversation, it was time to leave. As I stood, Barb grabbed my hands and pleaded, “Don’t go.” “Stay just a little longer.”
After my mother’s stroke, as she was dying, I held her hands tightly as my heart pleaded silently, “Don’t go.” “Stay just a while longer.”
We can just imagine the disciples’ grief and pleading as Jesus spoke of His Ascension, “Don’t go.” “Stay with us just a bit longer.” Yet Jesus “parted from them and was taken up to heaven” (Luke 24: 51).
They say, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Though we feel the sorrow immediately, the sweetness of departure emerges slowly.
When we started packing to move, we often stopped to remember all the good times in our thirty-plus years there. At the bedroom with a bookshelf anchored to the wall, we smiled as we thought of Mike reading to all four boys. Our daughter Laura reminisced about the joy of finally having her own room, complete with pink carpet and wallpaper with colorful hearts. We groaned as we discovered Erik’s rock collection. We recalled Christmas mornings and favorite dinners. We talked, laughed, and were often teary-eyed. However, now that it’s been well over two months of cleaning, packing, and moving, I’m over it. This old house is no longer our home, and I’m ready to sell it. Four walls and a roof functions as a house, but a home is where love dwells.
My daughter greeted me at the door with great anxiety: “Mom, the worst thing was on the news. I mean, the worst thing happened. I can’t even imagine. I don’t even want to speak of it because it’s so horrible. Mom, a man snatched a five-year-old boy from his mother and threw him off a third-floor balcony in the Mall of America. The report said that everyone was frantic. There was blood everywhere. People who witnessed are in shock. It’s the worst.” It is the worst nightmare a mother or father could imagine. A person taking your child from you—from your hand—is almost unspeakable.
It was an unusually warm sunny January day. The scene was picturesque as the caravan of cars snaked behind the hearse into the cemetery grounds. Family and friends emerged to gather around the grave—opened and prepared to receive my father’s body. After a twenty-one-gun salute, taps, and a final blessing, the undertaker lowered the casket into the earth. Each child and grandchild walked past, bidding farewell, and then scoops of dirt descended upon his final resting place. As we left the cemetery, my heart filled with gratitude for a grace-filled funeral. Yet in the night's darkness, the stark reality of Dad’s death—his lifeless body forever encased in the earth—seized me. My heart racing, I thought, “If it could bring him back to life—for a day, an hour, or even a moment—I would claw my way to his casket, stopping at nothing to clutch him from the tomb.” But then I heard, “Peace be with you.”
Several of our adult children and a few of our older grandchildren took pity upon us this past weekend by boxing, lifting, and hauling load after load to prepare for a move. It’s grunt work, better suited for beast than man or woman. Without each family member’s sweat, cleaning out our house would be nearly impossible. But we were in need, and thankfully, they responded.
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.