You know that feeling you get when your personal Earth shifts? Maybe you were just broken up with or found out about an infidelity or someone close to you dies. You look around and people are still driving their cars and going to work and laughing and basically going about their lives. The world looks really weird from broken eyes. The scene doesn’t line up with your reality.
We knew Ed, Randy’s Stepfather, wasn’t doing well. In the late Fall, he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis after a year of constant coughing and very quickly went downhill. We got a call last month that Ed was in the hospital. He was struggling to breathe and there was nothing the Doctors could do except breathe for him. He made the informed decision to go on a ventilator for five days. Enough time for us all to come home.
We bought tickets around midnight and left for Texas at 4:30 am the next morning. We spent the next few days in the hospital. We sat in Ed’s room and we talked to him though he couldn’t answer back with words, and we visited with each other. And when I say “we” I mean to say there were enough family and friends in and out that we had to actually organize the chaos.
The staff at Brooks Army Medical Center never said a word about how many people we had in their ICU and they were kind and loving and they prayed with us, and every one of our nurses from that week cried when he died and so did Ed’s Doctor when he came in to confirm that Ed had indeed passed. Most of the staff at the hospital never knew Ed when he could speak. They just listened to us all week and they saw the constant stream of visitors and they felt the love, and they couldn’t help but love him (and us) too.
That’s the funny thing that I’ve been contemplating these past few weeks. It didn’t happen the way I thought it might.
I was so weepy when I knew Ed would not be with us forever, when he got his diagnosis and went into the hospital for the first time. But when we got to San Antonio, when it was time to be sad, it felt different (to me). I know there are a lot of reasons why this happened, mainly there were probably a thousand prayers of comfort upon his family. Ed knew where he was going, he was happy to be rid of his “earth suit”, and I think that regardless of any past problems, everyone knew he loved them.
One day Bev, Randy’s Mom, stopped what she was doing and looked at me with horror, like she had forgotten her purse in a restaurant. “You know how much Ed loves you, don’t you???”. Of course I did. And I didn’t assume it. He told me. Never held back a compliment, and when he told you, you knew he meant it.
Here’s what’s awesome. Ed wasn’t perfect. He just wasn’t. He was as imperfect as any of us. But he loved a lot of people wholeheartedly, and in return he was dearly loved back. There were hundreds and hundreds of people at the funeral.
The world did actually stop that week. At least through my own eyes. And cried along with us.
And I’ve been pondering that question. Thinking, who do I matter to? Who loves me? What have I done? Will I be remembered? Because times like these make you wonder.
And now I’m really thinking, who do I love? Who do I serve? I wonder to myself if I can freely give love like that, and why I don’t? Because I really like to receive it.
I think of Ed and of all of the people I know who will probably fill a stadium at their death. What do they have in common? They serve others, and they love others unabashedly. Others’ accomplishments and happiness bring them only joy, never jealously, and others’ sorrows are their own.
I’m working on living that kind of life.
I will miss your tacos, your backup turkeys, your 3-meat-course dinners, your bible and large stack of devotionals never beyond arm’s reach, your smile that showed joy in your heart, your constant praise of my Mothering skills, and your love of our children. Jack’s wondering if you are watching some really awesome TV shows in Heaven?