Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die. ~ Mary Elizabeth Frye
This is the last line of a poem found in my mother’s things and played as a song at her funeral. How do I even begin to write on my reflections of the last week? There are so many thoughts and pictures. Where do I start? Where did I see signs of the Kingdom of God?
When we arrived home in Grand Junction – is it still home after this many years? I have a sign hanging my living room that says, “Home is where they love you.” So, yes. Home. One of them. Flurry of activities. Things to be done before mom’s funeral. Papers to sign, etc. Cleaning out our mom’s and brother’s home – a rental – while everyone was there. Most everyone scurrying. Family meals – parties. More family arriving. Will heaven be somewhat like this without the cleaning and paperwork?
A young nephew with impish grin and carrot hair kept deliberately running into me and poking me. Older nephews, too. Nieces as well. Brothers, Sisters, friends and relatives of relatives. Hugs. A few tears. Family healing happening. Kingdom things.
At the viewing of her body, I stood with her for a time. I remembered photos. Dad was away at war so there are many pictures of the two of us together that she sent him. Looking at her, I had the strongest impression – I couldn’t shake it – that she was going to wink at me. If she does, I thought, I will freak out. But then I realized that she was winking at me from the other place, so close, so present, so surrounding us, but of which we are seldom aware. She winked at me, with a crazy grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She loves us. She is ok and strong again. I shared this. Her pastor talked lovingly of her and her faith. He urged us to follow her example of loving Jesus and caring for others. He said that to God each of us was his favorite. Mom and grandma were both like that. How can there be this many favorites? With God’s love, only.
Flowers covered her casket. Many of us brought a blossom home. Two parties afterwards. One was lunch at her church of many years, prepared by her church family and friends. Another was at evening when we gathered for supper and sharing. We passed around pictures, took more, hugged, kissed and loved. We may not ever be here, all of us together, again on this earth. Family members who had been estranged, some for years, began healing. There was forgiveness. More signs of God’s kingdom. It will be like this, finally, but how wonderful, how awesome, to be part of it now.
Oh, I almost forgot. There was a Mason jar found among mom’s things as we were cleaning. It was filled with keys and labeled, “Doors I have known.” We laughed about that. So funny, like her. I ponder those keys and the doors wondering what doors they fit. Where did they take her? Maybe a key to the Kingdom. The last morning, as we turned north to get on the I-70 ramp, a rainbow greeted us. So beautiful. God and his promises – a wonderful sign.
Phillip Yancey wrote, today, in GRACE NOTES, “I believe not so much because the invisible world impinges on this one but because the visible world hints at a lack of completion….Love, too, is why I believe. At the end of life, what else matters? ‘Love never fails,’ Paul wrote. ‘It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ He could only be describing God’s love, for no human love meets that standard of perfection.”
Sometimes, human love comes close.