I flew to Virginia for a friend's funeral last weekend. At sunset. On Good Friday.
Part Holy Week, part daughter of an Air Force officer, I heard the words about slipping the surly bonds of Earth...and touching the face of God when I gazed out the airplane window.
I went in part to support my wonderful friends and the family that has lost so much. But selfishly, I also went to seek peace around a sudden death. Of a young mother. Who purposefully and joyfully dedicated her life to family and friends. A successful woman who left her career to find a different performance review. She raised children and supported her husband. And was a best friend to a host of women. In doing so, she lifted and shaped not just a neighborhood, but a community.
I felt sure that it would be the antithesis of heaven for any mother - or anyone - I know to be suddenly wrenched from loving family and friends. From the general "back and forth" cares of her world. If am out of sorts to do the school run if beds are unmade or dishes in the sink, how could any of us find Good News in a forever departure without warning? Without a million things done and said. Then said again and again for emphasis.
However fantastic heaven may be, how could I possibly be happy about that outcome? How could I find sense, or worse, any faith in that sort of shocking loss?
Bless her amazing ministers. God bless them for enduring their own sadness as they got comforting words out and shared a framework for moving forward. For marking a huge and sudden trial with grace and miraculously, with hope. Also peace and comfort.
The Mister and my own sister can take great joy in hearing that even without the Catholic ritual and rite that I love, the Protestants gave me just what I prayed for this week. They helped me begin to understand - and continue to believe - in the face of such sadness and grief.
This week has given me a big opportunity to reflect on what is meaningful in our lives. And how much our friends have enriched us throughout the years. Their small and large kindnesses have made us feel at home wherever we are. For which we are hugely grateful.
Standing together. But missing one. Seeking a simple grace.