At her side I cried.
It was a week ago Saturday.
We had a communion service in her livingroom,
And after the pastor left
we had only a half hour before leaving for our train.
Mary sat in a chair next to me, Andrea lay on the couch, I sat on the floor between them.
I cried the deep ugly cry of mingled anger and gratitude.
So angry at sin, my sin.
So against death, the devil…I renounce you.
So thankful that Jesus pulls us through.
Mary stroked my hair as I cried until I could tell them.
It was goodbye.
So when she said, “You can do it, Beth. You’re a pretty good writer, just write from your heart,” my heart was open. Confronted with my own immediate reaction and given a chance to change.
I had wanted to be a great writer.
Who is given that privilege before writing?!?
What is that, pride, ingratitude, fear? Sin.
So I did, happily, and posted it here.
Three days after my crying at her side, and leaving, she left.
Paul called to tell me.
Asked me when I could return. Saturday, for the funeral?
I didn’t want to think about it. All the work! Plane fare.
But the strangest thing happened after I got off the phone.
A song came into my heart. Strong, it stayed singing into me.
To God be the glory, great things he hath done
So loved he the world that he gave us his son
Who yielded his life an atonement for sin
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice
Oh come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give him the glory great things he hath done.
Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
I doubled my usual work of the day with the work of getting away. Finding a flight at short notice that wouldn’t break the bank. A schedule that wouldn’t have me flying afraid of connections, able to sleep 5 hours coast to coast perhaps. It was a tight connection down in LA, but thankful, I made it on, slept a bit between two men (is that weird?) and was met and driven up to New Haven. Funeral at 2. Time to help, time with her family, time to greet friends not seen in years. Sitting in church, with the old order of an Episcopal service, a coffin in the aisle. Scripture readings, and then during a hymn it was my time to walk up, wait to speak.
The strangest thing happened, although not strange at all because so many people were praying. I know they were: I was calm. I stood on tiptoe, not to reach the mic but to reach the people. I loved them. I spoke the words I had written as she had asked me to and love, God’s love, came out of my heart.
I looked and there was Paul sitting as he had done at their wedding when I stood in the same place and read scripture lovingly. Her parents were next to him, siblings beyond them. It was a flashback and it was good. It felt like she was there in spirit.
I saw a friend of hers and I spoke freely to her what was on my heart, how much Andrea had loved this friend, how she had been good to Ant. It was the sort of thing Andrea would have done, I think.
The whole day wasn’t magical but there was this grace poured out over everything. Then I slept deeply at Elaine’s house. Elaine my friend who didn’t know Andrea, but who listened to me speak and said, “yes, we know that about you,” or something of the sort. Elaine who took me to fill up on glorious leaves lit by rare sunlight instead of to church the next day. Because really I couldn’t speak to another person, and I needed the beauty. It was another gift of God.
Ann speaks of loss today here, and Holley of overcoming fear, and Lisa Jo of success as obedience to God, and all of these combine for me in a resounding explanation of why the weekend was so blessed, why I was in joy while grieving and enabling others to grieve. What Andrea knew I would bring to the service she planned for those she was leaving behind, God brought about in and through me. I lost that pride. I’m pretty good with being a pretty good writer. Lots of love!
All praise and thanks to thee, O Lord.
Capax Dei yesterday, bringing Ravinia and Maple
Upheld in prayer
Holding on to God’s perfect timing
Beauty of concert, Westmont Orchestra
Maurice sending me, for sure that I should go
Ravinia torn whether to come with or not
Ravinia this week, sick and homebody, mommy time
Mary and Maggie prayers
SB people prayers
Getting Artios things ready for after, Monday
Helen taking on the Sunday dinner
Fullness of my life, and joy too
Songs in my heart, right now Peace Like a River
Story of high school prisoners playing football, TX, and Christian school cheering for them!
Story of mom who threw herself in front of SUV to save her 3 kids, joy
Holley, encouraging ladies to do the thing we do best, whatever it is
Ann, bravely testifying to what she has learned, joy in life
Ravinia making cupcakes at the 11th hour, and turning out well
Ravinia putting Maple in kennel, taking care of Crate, responsible!
Reading Little Women together as much as possible
Eleanor emailing that she’ll meet me at JFK
Barely making it to LAXJFK flight
Checking in, “glad to see you” as she took my boarding pass
Walking on, kind seatmates, hard to get to sleep
Safe arrival JFK
Eleanor and her friend Dorothy picking me up at airport
Talking in the car on the way back, about grief and strangers
Seeing the scenery on the road, JFK to New Haven, 95
Helping Paul scan photos of Ant
Time with Alex and wife and Margaret
Lunch at Nica’s with Dorothy and Hilary and Mr and Mrs Nagy
Mrs Nagy’s memories, and tears
Mr Nagy talking to me, thanking me for flying far
Seeing and hugging Suzie Luchs
Giving the eulogy just fine, and loving the people as I see their responces
Talking with Ant’s friend Lenore, crying over Ant’s love
Finally seeing Anita Hinkson
Walking with Margaret, talking about Ant and each other
Taking pictures of our old home, of trees
The thought of a yearly Andrea reunion
Elaine coming to get me at dinner, take me to her home
Listening to October Boy, by Tom Fisch
Deep sleep after waking up cold and getting a blanket
Gift of sunshine
Walking around looking at trees with Elaine
She said it was “deeply satisfying” how I appreciated the views
Backlit leaves, orange against blue sky
Red leaves that look orange when backlit
Sunny views on Metro North ride
Good thoughts of Ant and chance to write them to Paul
Phone calls from Orbitz and airline telling me flight is delayed
Plenty of time to connect to JFK, nice shuttle driver (funny)
Meeting Joel who also was connecting to Santa Barbara
Shopping for a new watch (not a Swatch)
Starbucks veranda coffee, light and smooth
Roxie, of the beautiful hat, recommended Barcelena hats in Italy
Overnighting at Hilton Hotel, Phoenix
Things organized at home for my arrival a day late
That I can still get to work, although late
Hotel night sleep, well but waking too early
Airport breakfast, swapping stories with Joel, each praying over food
Depth of God’s love as Joel and I talked about funerals
Thinking more about Ant’s life, love, gifts to me
Getting in safely
Waiting at curbside peacefully
Kissing them when they arrive for me
Home again and changing before going off to work
Grace filled co-workers
Sweet friends of Ravinia’s whose mother is away til Wednesday
Tea and minichip shortbread cookies
Looking at leaf pictures together
Ravinia making cupcakes tonight, as well as practicing piano and violin!