The Last Good-Bye

I don’t know how to put this into words, Lord. It has been several years and yet the emotions still slam into my heart and gut, wrenching me anew like it was but a few days ago. The news was unbelievable,  shocking, terrifying. My mind dug in its heels and rebelled . . . absolutely refusing to accept the horrifying truth.

“It had to be a mistake! Please tell me it’s a mistake!”

The heart is nowhere ready to receive, and yet much is expected . . . people are waiting . . . they want answers. We need more time. We want to shift this exploding locomotive into reverse.

The burial process is brutal. First the morgue, then the autopsy, then the funeral home . . . and we still couldn’t see him. We still could not verify that he was really ours. Then we could . . . and it was him . . . much to my fragmented hopes and prayers to the contrary.

Lord, where are You? How could You allow this to happen? All the pieces are but a blur. I remember having to greet friends and neighbors for hours while they paid their respects. None of it was a picnic, Lord. All formalities when I just wanted to open up that box and take my son home with me. How we got through the funeral service, only You know. How my children could stand up front and talk about their brother, I’ll never know. They showed such strength and pride in their brother, and I am awesomely proud of them.

Then it was time for the last good-bye. I both dreaded it and longed for it to be over with. I did not know how to prepare for this final ceremony any more than I had known how to prepare for the others. People had just taken us by the hand and led us where we did not want to go. And now we faced placing our beloved child in the ground . . . in the same cemetery we had driven by hundreds of times, but never felt any emotion or connection to until now. And it would never be the same ever again.

Now it would be the final resting place for one of our children. Never would we pass by again without feeling our hearts jump to our throats. Either we stop and cry and check his flowers, or we pass by slowly, craning our necks to look for the bright floral arrangement that marks his special spot against the backdrop of leafy green. But right now, we are getting out of our cars and walking slowly to the canopy. Shouldn’t this gathering be for someone else? Someone we don’t know, but casually feel sorry for as we drive by?

The director gets out of his vehicle and catches up to us. He has a strange velvet-covered box in his hands. “Would someone like to carry this?” he asks. Our youngest has grown up years in the last week. He has done things to relieve our minds ~ things that had to hurt him deeply. But he is the first to respond, “Yes, I’ll carry it.”

I watch as he clutches it tightly to his chest with both arms wrapped snugly around it as if it is fragile and might break should it slip from his grasp and fall to the ground. His face is filled with tender emotion as tears run unchecked down his cheeks. How I ache to hold him, to comfort him, to tell him it will all be okay, but I cannot change this day or I would. Oh God, You know I would.

We were ushered to our seats. My eyes were blurred with tears. Who all was there? I couldn’t see. Mostly friends, I think . . . most family members could not stay for this day or chose to stay away. The minister said some kind words I am sure, but I don’t remember. I could not take my eyes off my son who still cradled the box . . . and yet I did not want to stare and invade his last private moments with his beloved brother, his first childhood playmate and then his grown-up bro.

The service was over and it was time to say good-bye. Do we have to? Can’t we just remain here forever? One by one, we took a turn clutching the remains of our precious son and brother. We turned to leave, but not without one more symbol of love and respect and honor . . . a crisp salute from our oldest son who proudly and faithfully serves our country.

It was over. Nothing left but a smooth granite slab with his name and dates ~ dates and a dash. That is all that remains until Jesus comes. Therein lies our bright spot! Though we mourn daily, we also have hope! Praise God! We have hope in eternal life and our son will jump out of his dusty grave as soon as he hears the trumpet blast! At last, no more sad good-byes, only hugs and hellos!

Oh come, Lord Jesus and please make it soon!

 The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life. Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord. So then, comfort each other with these words!  1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

~from Shattered by Suicide by Gracie Thompson

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