Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Sunday, March 3, 2013

For Tom

My friend's brother passed away last week.  We knew it was coming - it was a brain tumor, very aggressive, and hospice had been called.  My friend is the youngest of three siblings.  Her two older brothers seemed so much older when we were growing up.  Not like my family, where I am the oldest.  When we were in 6th grade, her brothers were in junior high, and high school.  I would catch glimpses of them when I would be at her house, and they were older, mysterious, up and out doing things beyond our thoughts and abilities.  Her oldest brother is alive and well in the Sacramento area.  It's the younger brother who has moved on.  He has a wife and two grown daughters, and lived in the San Francisco area.    It's hard for me to imagine the tall, gawky bespectacled brother I remember from my childhood, being the man, husband, father now gone from their lives.  It's as odd as imagining my own brothers' demise.   The boy in my memory would keep my friend busy all summer playing the same Monopoly game.  Somehow, they would keep it going, and I found that incredibly fascinating, although I couldn't picture actually doing it.  Every once in awhile when I would be there at her house, the older boys would be there, and I would blush and duck my head with shyness.  Sometimes I would eat dinner at her house, and at the end of dinner her father would pass around a box of See's chocolates so everyone could have a piece - Marion and me at one end of the table, her brothers at the other.  Two separate worlds.

Years have passed since those days - like over 40 years.  Her parents sold the house and moved to Morro Bay.  Her brothers grew up and started lives of their own.  Marion and I led our separate lives in different parts of the country, but always always kept in touch with at least 1 yearly call on our birthdays.  We've never missed a birthday.  Oh, maybe we have, but not many, so I choose to remember that we've never missed a one.  We are forever friends.

A few years ago, one of her brother's daughters got married, and Marion shared some of the pictures with me.  Such pretty girls, her nieces, and Marion enjoyed being the favorite aunt.  I remember really studying the pictures of Tom.  So much the same face that I'd remembered from childhood, and yet...not...  That is what life does - it keeps our face but changes it just enough, so that we know we have lived through something big.  Tom looked like he'd had a pretty good life, complete with a good family.  And then, the first of the year came the news about the tumor.  It was fast, relentless, and ruthless.  Surgery didn't do much.  But in the end, Marion said that he was peaceful, and I was thankful for that.  She had been to see him, to say her goodbyes and have some closure.  But even so, we humans leave a hole when we depart from this life, don't we?  And in our families, when it's too soon, it can be a big jagged hole.

I've been thankful for my faith.  Faith that there is more to this life than just this life.  There is more - so much more.  I haven't always had the knowledge that I'm so sure of now.  I regret that I've not done a better job sharing it with others.  I was a little late to the party in even acquiring the faith I do have.  It's kind of a sensitive subject - when to speak up, and when to wait for a better moment.  Part of it is that building faithful knowledge is kind of like being on stepping stones on a garden path.  We are sometimes on different stones.  Sometimes we're even on a completely different garden path.  But we do the best we can to find the truth of one stone before we step on to the next.  I've been lucky enough to meet others on my various stones on my journey through the garden.  Others who have bolstered my faith, helped me along, loved me forward.  I've tried to do the same with my children, and more often of late, with my friends.
The funny thing about faith is that there's no real proof.  It's definitely something you feel in your heart. Something you just know is right, and that makes perfect sense.  Sometimes it can make you cry with emotion, sometimes you just feel a warm glow.  However you experience it, you know that what you are feeling could only come from good.  The kind of good that only a loving Heavenly Father would want for His children.  Would you plan a world where the inhabitants - your children -  would cease to exist after their life was lived?  Doubtful.  You would devise a plan where your children could be together with you again, and with the others they have come to love.  That's what makes sense.  That's what rings true in my heart.

It also makes sense that He wouldn't make you cross from this world to the next alone.  That might be scary.  Or at the very least, odd and confusing.   No - He makes sure that you are met by those you love best who went before you.  Familiar faces to welcome, to rejoice.  That makes sense.  It rings true.  And although the loss is great on this side of the curtain, the thought of the love and joy felt on the other side at someone's homecoming gives me comfort.  Makes my loss more bearable.  Because we will meet again.  It may be years, it may be less, but we will meet again.

So I picture my grandmother dancing again, as she loved to do.  Her feet are light and her body agile.  She is able to serve others again, as she loved to do.  And she is with my grandfather - her sweetheart - once again.  And every one of her eight sisters and two brothers.  Oh, the joy that they feel!

And I picture Tom feeling no pain, no confusion, his eyes towards eternity waiting to greet his own sweet wife and family again one day.  His father was there to meet him as he arrived, I have no doubt.  Marion said that they were best friends.  And so I imagine the hugs, the elation, the pure joy of seeing each other once again.  And it makes the temporary separation bearable.  Marion says the thought is comforting, but she has not developed her own faith yet.  Yet.  And maybe that is why we've remained friends for almost 50 years.  Why we are like sisters.  We will help each other along this earthly garden path, until we each make our own journey home.  And I know one of the first faces I will want to see will be hers.


13 comments:

  1. I'm very sorry for the loss of your friend's brother. I hope what faith she does have will give her some comfort and peace. I think you stated it perfectly that we will be met by those we loved here. I remember the first time Jack and I went to the temple. In the DC Temple there's a long corridor with beautiful stain glass windows on each side. Our friends were waiting for us..all dressed in white. When we entered the hall they all stood up to greet us and the first thing that jumped into my mind was: This is how it will be when we pass over...many friends and family waiting and so happy to see us. I'm grateful for that knowledge that families can be forever.

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  2. What a beautiful tribute to Tom. Wonderful post Karen. Very touching and moving. I also love what you said about faith. MLK said that faith is akin to taking the first step even when you cannot see the staircase.

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  3. I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful picture you paint for us of them dancing, and no longer being in pain. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.

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  4. Beautiful, beautiful post.

    I love your words "loved you forward".

    Gonna use that in the future because it's so applicable

    THanks for sharing

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  5. Hi, karen! I submitted a comment on this post last night but apparently it did not go through. You and your blog are important to me so I will resubmit.

    I was touched by what you wrote here. My eyes grew misty and I felt the loss but at the same time I was lifted up by your faith. I am sure that Marion appreciates the memories you shared with us about her brother Tom. You have given us much to ponder as we begin a new week.

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  6. That was so sweet Karen. You spoke so much truth in such a beautiful way.

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  7. sorry to hear about Tom...
    faith is what gets me through most things...and everyday i pray for more.

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  8. Death is a hard thing to deal with, even for those of us that have faith. I really know this and have experienced it greatly in just the past two days. When my first husband and I moved to the desert, we met the Hall's, who own the Palm Springs Florist. To this day, one of their sons, Brent, runs it on his own. This couple came to be very close to us. We used to go on vacations together, went to the same chuch in a small Branch, ate together every single Sunday and watched our kids grow up together. Earl, the father, died a few years ago and of course we went to his funeral. Mary Lou, my dearest friend went to live with her only daughter, Susan, who lives in Layton, Utah soon after his passing. Saturday, as I was reading the newspaper, I glanced at the pages as I was thumbing my way through to my puzzles that I do every day, when I saw in the obituaries that Mary Lou had died and her funeral would be Tuesday, just tomorrow. What a terrible shock that was! I was so stunned, I just couldn't believe it, and my first thought was "Why didn't Brent let me know?" but after taking to Sue, she said that if the reverse were to happen, she might forget to call Brent. It made me feel better. My friend here in desert also gave me a great tip....to make a list of all the people I want notified after my death. I am going to do this after the funeral, because I certainly wouldn't want anyone else to experience what I did.


    we are so very fortunate to know about the Plan of Salvation and to have the faith to know that it is true.









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  9. This thoughtful, caring post made me quiet and reflective. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's brother. I have two brothers and I can't imagine what it would be like to have to say goodbye to either one.

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  10. Oh my what a meaningful post and true to the bone and about "building faithful knowledge is kind of like being on stepping stones on a garden path. We are sometimes on different stones"...
    All the best.. thinking of you!!!
    Hugs

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  11. What a beautiful post, Karen. I am sorry for the loss of your friend's brother. I can't help thinking that she is lucky she has you to share that gospel view with her.

    Whatever would we do without it?

    =)

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  12. My dear Karen,
    I can't even begin to thank you for caring about me during all of this. You kept in touch and wouldn't allow me to disappear (even though I wanted to). I plan to do the same for Tom's family. They are his gift to me. I treasure all of you.

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