Eulogy

thirds-011

Our vacation was cut short a day, we drove a long fifteen hours in one chunk when we learned someone we love was in the ICU. We left white-sanded beaches, soft lilting waves, and sun-tilled waters to hurry home and arrive just in time to say goodbye, to weep with family and hold vigil together. We buried my father-in-law on Monday and time has taken a deep breath, creeping slowly as the things that matter most come to the forefront.

All the weeks this summer we’ve driven back and forth to the hospital and, in the end hospice, the Queen Anne’s Lace spilled over the edge of the roads we traveled, calling my name and spinning me into memories. This wildflower will forever remind me of this hard season of letting go when we held this gentle man in love.

The morning of the funeral when I walked the dog around the house I noticed the meadow behind our back yard is also stitched with Queen Anne’s Lace. When we first moved to our home, it was different—the meadow was tame. A retired couple owned the land and tended it meticulously. They kept it mowed, pristine, and often, when I would be pushing my babies on our swing set, the Mrs. would stop on her riding mower and tell me how my boys reminded her of hers.

Now the meadow is a tangled mass of trees and shrubs and Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s hard to tell what hides in all that underbrush. Somewhere in there are the apple and pear trees her little boys used to climb for sport. When I think of all that is hidden from our eyes in this visible world, it sets my heart on other things—things so precious, so mysterious—things we cannot touch or see. And I remember this: my father-in-law is free. And for this, I rejoice.

But still, I cry when I see the birds flock across the sky, the sudden lift of their wings birthing anew within me the awareness of my feet of clay—I am earthbound. Gravity holds me, but also all other things of this good earth cup my body tenderly; I move and breathe as part of entire system of things: the spiderweb, the pollen sifting through the air, the grass heavy with morning’s respiration … I am reminded that God so loved the world and when I walk through it I can feel this world he loves waiting, expectant, longing for Christ’s return. When death will lose its sting. But God so loved this world, and what we do in this life matters.

In the end, it is the little things—rocking a baby to sleep, walking together, eating together, sitting side-by-side—it is the little things that make a life. We do these things because our heart compels us to and this is how we honor the one wild and precious life—as the poet Mary Oliver calls it—this is how we honor the life we’ve been given. Yes, this life matters. My father-in-law knew this. He leaves behind a better world for having been in it. I will miss him, but I know this is not goodbye. We will meet again.

Of this I am sure.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m so sorry. Thank you for the gift of allowing us to join you in your grief and in celebration of your Father-in-law’s life. Blessings in the days and weeks to come.

  2. says

    Love, loss, joy, gratitude, hope, appreciation and awareness — you write so beautifully of your clearly much-loved late father-in-law and our interconnections with each other, nature, and spirit. Your words, as wonderful writing can do, caused me to remember treasured loved ones no longer with us, and that is a gift for which I thank you.

    • says

      Thank you, Elizabeth, for these kind words. Sometimes, speaking from the heart resonates the most. I’m trying to hold on to the lessons we are leaning in this season of loss. It can be hard to do in the din of life. But it’s worth trying. xo

  3. says

    Shedding tears with you Laura. My heart is with you as you grieve. And your words are always so lovely, the way you create a scene and bring us back to what matters most. In the end it is the little things . . . ” that line made my throat tighten and tears flow as I prepare to be with my family at our beloved cottage. So true. xx

    • says

      Thank you, Shelly, for these sweet words. I’m trying to hold on to that too–the little things. Paying attention to each moment. Blessings over you and your family as you gather, my friend! And I’m praying for your boy as he travels our way. xo

  4. says

    Laura,

    Just came upon the one year date of my own dad’s homegoing after a lengthy time of hospitals… your words echo in my heart too. Blessings to you in this bittersweet time… and may the Queen Anne’s Lace be as His snowflake kisses on your cheek each time you feel a welling in your heart in missing your loved one…

  5. says

    My condolences to you and all those who loved your father-in-law. I hope Jeff is holding up well enough. Sometimes I think Jim and I are still recovering from the season of his mother’s illness and death. I wish I’d handled things differently, better. Praying for your family, today. Love you.

    • says

      Thank you, beautiful friend. It’s hard to handle things ideally over a long illness, isn’t it? This is one thing I kept telling my boys–“I don’t want you to have any regrets.” Of course we do, but we spent the last days as best as we could: together. Love to you, Brandee.

  6. says

    Beautiful, Laura. I’m sorry for your loss and grateful for his freedom. We travel north soon, to buy my dad near his mother and grandmother. Going back to the place of my upbringing, where he wanted to be laid to rest. Death forces us to remember that we are human. Sometimes that is a good thing. Blessings on your family.

    • says

      June, I’m so sorry for your loss, as well. Sending big hugs to you. Yes, I have felt the temporariness of this body much of late. I’m so grateful for the Hope we have. xo

  7. says

    Beautiful post. Sorry for your loss. In the coming weeks and months, may you remember wonderful memories of your father-in-law. I love your last paragraph, “In the end, it is the little things — that make a life.” So true. Thanks for the reminder.

Trackbacks

  1. […] work, sending our eldest son off to college, an increase in the demands of other work, the illness and subsequent death of a loved one, a book release, death of beloved family dog, and a change in career paths for the major bread […]

  2. […] I think driving away from our boy will never be easy. It has been a long, hard summer, with his grandfather’s illness, and he was a big help on that front. The memory of his face lighting up when his friend came into […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *