We have dinner baking in the oven so we poured a glass of wine (me) and a cold amber beer (him). We then hooked up my iPad to our Bose speaker and chose to stream Merle Haggard and a montage of his Gospel songs on utube! (Yes, really! Merle sang gospel music) We forgot how beautiful his voice was until we started to listen to his deep rich tone! Within a minute we settled into a trip down memory lane. It is my opinion that there is nothing he could not sing well.
As we listened to song after song, I thought of the many country music singers who have sung songs of praise to God and Jesus! I find that part touching. So many of these country music legends have lived rough and tumble lives, yet they all loved their Mama’s and Jesus, both who were the most likely to love and forgive them unconditionally!
Mr. B is melancholy tonight, eyes welling up as we listen to sentimental old time songs. We have a very dear relative who is on hospice, and we know his time is short. Even though we previously received notice of his condition and prognosis, it still comes as a shock when someone actually begins their journey “home.”. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…and all that.
The queue line ahead of us to go to heaven is getting shorter and shorter and we are ever increasingly aware of this. We have never been people who counted our years on earth in any serious kind of way. Naturally, the birthdays serve up a reminder of how long we have been walking this earth, but we have never really put serious thought to our demise. After all, our spirits are eternal and in our case, because we have been reasonably healthy, we motivate about our world with the joyful sense of living in the day while anticipating and planning for what is ahead.
Lately, however, we have received many notifications of people we know who have died. We are losing the world in which we grew up and lived for so many years, one relationship at a time. As I reflected on the departure of so many friends and family, it came to me that an interesting representation for this ongoing loss would be the visualization of removing pieces out of a completed jig saw puzzle. Each person’s piece in our life’s puzzle is taken out as they die, leaving a hole where they used to be in the picture of our life. Through the years, these pieces were inserted, one at a time, as we continued to build our picture, and now, all these years later, they are being lifted back out.
From birth, we begin our life within a circle of loved ones and as we grow older, we accumulate more and more people in our life by way of friends, loved ones, children, children’s friends, acquaintances, and the list grows through the years. The same is true for our accumulation of material possessions. A friend said once, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them?” I thought it to be a rather profound statement from someone who was only about 30 years old at the time. Of course, she was talking about our material possessions, but it applies in a different way to our unintended loss of loved ones as well.
As we face our final destination, we realize that we cannot take anything with us, not material goods nor even the people we love. We are forced to let go of everything we have gathered in our lifetime. All we take with us are the lessons we have learned about living and loving. Life’s meaning has always been about what we leave behind as we depart this earth and I am not referencing our material goods. I am referring to what we leave behind in the way of experiences and memories with others while here on earth. The ultimate harvest is about our relationships with other people, how we treated them and how we made them feel. Our journey here was never about us and what WE would gain. Rather it is about how we give of ourselves and how we have gifted and blessed and loved others.
As we sat there over dinner, listening to the music and talking, I began to imagine our loved one finally releasing his spirit from his earth bound body. I imagined him returning to God and to the promised land where there is no more pain, hunger, thirst, fear or loneliness. What will be greeting him upon his arrival to that distant place is a pure, unconditional love…the kind of love we have yearned for all of our lives. His spirit will soar and swoop with an unbridled joy not known or experienced here on earth. While we weep over the loss of this dear soul, we also give up thanks for having been blessed with his presence in our lives. We also give up thanks for his final and most important reward, which is life everlasting!
He was a very important piece to my life puzzle, having been a part of it my entire life. He was like a brother to me, and it has been written that the sibling relationship is the longest relationship we will ever experience on earth because they were there with us at our beginning and can be witness to the many events that shaped and formed the person we became.
In my puzzle of life, I would say that he was a corner piece, an important connecting piece to all the other pieces that were added as I grew up. The loss of his piece will undo the completed frame of my puzzle which means the framing of my life back to my birth will not feel as secure as it once did. Some people are foundational to our being and he certainly was that for us when we were young children.
But, life goes on. His life will continue in an expanded glorious version while our life will continue on in a slightly contracted version due to his departure. Memories of him will sustain us and as we imagine his spirit taking flight, we will rejoice in knowing that we will be reunited with him again someday. Oh the conversations we will have then about the lessons given to us while here in this realm. FINALLY, there will be a pulling back of the veil giving clarity around all the things we just do not understand while on earth.
I used to say to my Mother as we talked of such things, “I will tell you what, Mom…when I die and go to heaven, I am going to have a LOT of questions for Jesus to answer!” She said to me, “Oh, J…when you go to heaven it will all become CLEAR!”
Yes, I believe she is correct about that. If I could only fly…and I will….. someday at an appointed time and place. Until then, we do our best to matter in this world and to make a difference!