Setbacks… a chance to regroup

A time to be born and a time to die...Ecc. 3_2264850_10150651496025307_4316408_n


This month has been full of turmoil.

I already knew that it was going to be off, to say the least, as I have a love-hate relationship with August… It was the month Dad (and Mom) were both born, but also the month that Dad died. The two-year anniversary of his death was August 11th, and there were several other events that coincided with that date that left me moodier and more emotionally frazzled than normal.

On July 29th, we traveled eleven hours to Alabama to see my two very talented brothers-in-law put on a special gospel concert at their church. Their hope is to launch a CD soon, and I have no doubt they will be successful. Not only do they sound like soulful old men, although they are only 17,  one of them plays the drums and one of them plays the keyboard. They taught themselves their instruments. They have the natural skills to pay the bills.

While we were there, we visited my husband’s grandmother, who had recently been put in a nursing home. She knew who we were and was genuinely happy to see us. Before we left her room, she implored Matt to come see her before we left. Matt said, “we’ll see…” But I was not going to let him leave without going back to see her. Turns out, we didn’t have to, because one of her daughters brought her to the concert that was the next day, and although her breathing was labored when she came into the church she seemed fine. I sat next to her and we ate peppermints. She took a nap. Everything seemed fine.

The day after we got back to Michigan, we got a call from my father-in-law telling us that she had died.

My mind was BLOWN. Of course, none of us know when anyone’s time is up, so really, should we be surprised when we find out someone has gone home? I don’t know the answer to that, but all I can say is, she looked fine.

A nagging part of me worried after that call that her funeral might be on the eleventh. Matt wondered the same thing and asked if he should ask John (his father) if they could possibly avoid having the funeral on the 11th. I told him no–that is a difficult day for me, but it is not about me, and I wasn’t going to allow my grief to overshadow the fresh grief of a family who had just lost their mother and grandmother. I told him not to mention it at all.

They settled on August 12th for the funeral, which meant that we would have to leave on the 11th at the latest to head down there. I was supposed to be in charge of the annual church picnic that was to be held the 12th, so I had to reluctantly turn over the reins of the picnic to other church members. We visited Dad’s grave and actually left on the 10th. We didn’t want to have to rush down there.

In addition to my grandmother-in-law’s sudden death, there have been multiple family members getting sick. And I’m not talking small illnesses, I’m talking things that have put them in the hospital. All in all, I have not made the progress that I’ve wanted to with my novel and with my cheesecake hustle. I’ve devoted little time to them both, but I haven’t stopped working on them completely. Instead of being flustered, I am using the time that I have to more thoroughly outline the chapters of my novel when I can and tweak my cheesecake recipes to perfection.

And August is not yet over. Mom’s birthday is on Sunday, Dad’s birthday would have been the 29th. Not to mention back to school is coming up. It’s a pretty chaotic month.

In the midst of it all, I always remember Ecclesiastes 3:2, and how everything has “a time to be born and a time to die”. Everything. Here in Michigan, we are approaching one of my favorite seasons–fall–and the flowers that have bloomed so brightly will wither up and die, and the green leaves on the trees will turn gold and brown. Everything that lives, eventually dies. Just like Dad looked fine when we left him last, just like Mrs. Johnson (grandmother-in-law) looked fine when we left her, there still comes a time when we all have to go. It’s unavoidable. You know what is avoidable? Ending up in the smoking section, as we call it. Grief is difficult, but it can be alleviated when we remember that our saved loved ones are resting in the arms of Jesus.

In order to help my bereaved family, I’ve shared several dreams I’ve had, personal ones that I shared with only my close family, after Dad’s death. In one, Matt, my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, and I were all in a super bright, super sterile looking room that had rows of what looked like examination tables in it. In one instant there were other people in the room; in the next, it was just us, and we were there with Dad, helping him pretty up… We were helping him fix his suit jacket, patting his handkerchief in place, etc. He looked grim, which was unusual for my Dad. Dad was always smiling, especially around us.

I said, “I wish we could go where you’re going…”

He responded, “Y’all can’t go with me right now.”

Need I say more?

In my interpretation, Dad was getting ready to go be with the Lord. And although going to be with Jesus is a joyful prospect, I don’t think most people would be happy to leave their family. I’m sure Dad was sad that he had to leave us, but I can only imagine the joy he felt when he realized he’d made it to be with the Lord.

A time to die. We’re all going to go. And while we’re here it only takes a second to decide where we want to spend our eternity. I’ve made up my mind. I’m looking forward to seeing Dad again.


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