Last weekend, we made the plans to bring my father’s remains to California. We booked airline tickets and got lodging setup. Shortly thereafter, I was on my way to South Carolina and I had a panic attack. Death is always overwhelming for the family members left behind. No matter how death may come to pass, it’s just one of those overwhelming life events each of us will experience. I realized later in the week that part of my anxiety stems from experiences with the death of family members. As usual, God showed me that it’s all going to be okay.
When I was fifteen, my brother David committed suicide. He used a gun and shot himself in the chest. At his funeral, I touched his chest when I said good-bye. It was the wrong thing to do. Some years later, my brother Steve died from a drug overdose. He had to have an autopsy prior to the funeral, which left staples in his head that were visible. Three words: close the casket.
When my mother passed away suddenly in 2014, my dad didn’t call me, he sent police to my house. So, it is no surprise that there was a little bit of craziness surrounding his death, right? He was diagnosed with Cancer in 2019 and given 3-6 months to live. He ended up living two more years. He told me a year before he died that he would die angry with me, and he did just that. It was a tumultuous two years, to say the least. He would ask the staff of the assisted living home to call the police to remove my middle son and I when we visited, then would say we never visited. He was sharp as a tack, this wasn’t cancer or senility. It is who he always was, the only father I ever knew. His last words to me were instructions on how to drive to the cemetery. I promised that I would bring his ashes to rest next to my mother in California. The entire time he battled terminal cancer, I prayed he would have a change of heart and forgive me for any wrongdoings on my part. It never happened. All this to say, I am overwhelmed over bringing his cremains to California to rest.
I went hiking one day this week at Conestee Nature Preserve. This is where God found me. I had panicked partly because until Sunday I didn’t realize that airlines require documentation when traveling with human remains. When I called the funeral home, they explained that they have the cremation permit and will give it to me when I pick up my dad’s ashes. The gentleman told me that I would need to pick the ashes up a few days in advance, which sent me into a tailspin. I can’t keep them in my house. I just can’t. It’s bad enough that I have to travel with them and sleep in a hotel room with them. So, back to God and hiking………… I hung up the phone and hit the trail.
The sun was shining as I took off. As I was halfway through the loop trail, I felt a few drops of rain. I stopped at an overlook along the lake where a man was birdwatching. He had a bird scope set up and asked me if I knew what the white birds in the far off trees were. Of course, from a distance, one couldn’t tell what they were. I told him, “They look like little white dots, so I can’t say what they are.” He asked if I wanted to look through his scope and I did. In the distance were baby blue herons. We exchanged a few words as I took pictures of the deer in the distance and of the pussy willows growing along the lake. As the rain began falling, he packed up and we both took off down different paths.
The sound of the rain is beautiful. I, of course, was not prepared for the rain– my raincoat was at the hotel. It was sunny and I never expected rain, I left the hotel simply needing to clear my head. I could have run down the path to get to my car more quickly, but I chose to enjoy God’s creation and the rain. I was soaked, but as I looked around, I realized that His Creation is beautiful in the rain! As I stepped in puddles and rain dripped down my face, I was reminded that God it was going to be okay, it was just a little rain. I don’t particularly like being soaked, but I knew I would be fine despite my uncomfortable situation. Which reminded me of my current plight, I’m not going to like the task of fulfilling my promise to my dad, but I know it is going to be okay. As uncomfortable as it will be, God will be with me through the entire journey.
As I made my way back to my car, I had another thought. The little baby birds couldn’t be seen clearly without the bird scope. Isn’t this a bit like our relationship with God? We can’t always see things clearly, but God can! He is omnipotent, and can see everything from the beginning to the end. If I trust Him, I know that He sees it all and knows every detail. It is going to be okay! While it all looks fuzzy and blurry to me at the moment, it isn’t to God. If only I could see everything through the eyes of God, it might make more sense to my human brain. Ahhhhh, but I am human. That’s where faith steps in. I just have to trust and believe His Word and have faith that, just as in the past, He will never abandon me. Life really is a beautiful ride. God’s got this!