Monday, March 27, 2017

Bright Spots

I returned yesterday afternoon from a whirlwind trip to Wisconsin.  My aunt passed away unexpectedly early last week and Blossom4 and I traveled there for the funeral.  She had been the secretary at the local Catholic school for 29 years.  She was an icon in her community, a person known for her laugh, kind words and going the extra mile.

Periodically today, I walked through my house, thinking of my cousins and my uncle, wondering how they are faring today, praying that as they ponder why, the Lord will comfort.  I don't pretend to have all the answers, but in my own time of grief and sadness, I've taken some time to list bright spots in a weekend of sadness and sorrow.

I'm truly grateful for family I enjoy traveling with.  I rode to WI with my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews.  I returned with my parents.  Both trips were thoroughly enjoyable, characterized by hours of good conversations, laughter and quality time.  On the trip out there, I was stationed between Blossom4 and my little nephew.  While I'm super grateful to my brother-in-law for driving the entire time, straight through, I thought that I got the good end of the deal.  I got to play with the little ones for hours!  I'm not being cheesy when I say how nice it is to be able to just play with the Littles.  Usually, laundry is calling to me, dishes are leering at me and my to-do list is taunting me.  Not so on a road trip!  We sang silly songs, much to my sister's chagrin, read books, played and giggled. Being with children is a blessing!  And, I even snagged a few snuggle sessions with my teeny-tiny, but chubby cheeked baby nephew.  Divine!!!  Somewhere in there, I guess all that playing and lending a hand with the Littles helped things to go a little smoother, so it blessed me that I could be a blessing to my sister's little family.

I'll also mention that it was really special to have some one-on-one time with Blossom4 all weekend long.  Sure, we were shuttled from event to event and she had to be quiet and be still a lot, but we squeezed in all manner of secret smiles, snuggly kisses and whispered conversations.  I treasure that.

It was really nice to catch up with my extended family this past weekend.  Handing out hugs, a word of sympathy or a hand on their shoulders, we might not have said a whole lot that seemed really deep, but I like what my dad said.

"Sometimes the best way to be a witness, is to just be there."  

It's basic and it's simple, but it says a lot.  I'm so thankful that I could at least be there.

I'm grateful I got to stay with my grandma at her house.  This made the trip easier and less expensive, but added another special element to it.  I'm already treasuring that time we had together this weekend.  We were laughing because she said, "Boy, the girls sure love to dress Western!"  When I agreed, we chuckled together because we know they get it honestly, she does and I do too!

Another surprise blessing was the "quiet room" at the church where services were held.  It was a glassed in room with a speaker, stocked with toys and books.  I could've kissed the person that installed it in the church there!  This meant that I didn't have to sweat Blossom4 and my nephews being perfectly quiet and still.  We certainly didn't have a repeat of Blossom4's antics at my other grandma's funeral last year, where she reprogrammed my Kindle, set an alarm and overrode my Do Not Disturb settings, during the quietest part of the funeral!  The quiet room was a huge relief.  After Blossom4 being cooped up for basically a day and a half from travelling and funeral stuff, I was pretty sure we were gonna get through the funeral on faith... and a lot of bribery with gum.  (Laugh here; don't judge.  I was sporting a heavy bag of entertainment activities, two Kindles and loads of snacks.  Ain't nothin' can prepare you for keeping a 3 yr old quiet and/or still for a DAY and a HALF!)

Sitting through the funeral and chatting with the folks around me, I was reminded that your everyday life, your ordinary holiness, touches others in a million small ways every day.  They took a show of hands for everyone who had ever gotten a band-aid from "Mrs. T."  My jaw dropped.  We tend to discount those things, to label them insignificant and inferior, but they are small services to the Master.  I felt challenged to be "Jesus" in countless tiny things every day, that some day I will see the results in Eternity.  My aunt's life spoke this lesson to me.  The ripple effect of what she did as a wife, mom and insignificant looking part of the school was a beautiful tribute to how everyday life can be big.  That's what I'm trying to remember when I'm feeling sad about her being gone.

Another small bright spot were the stops at Starbucks.  I rarely get to indulge in that little luxury so when the opportunities arose to down my favorite Chai Tea Lattes, I savored them!  And Starbucks is like God; it doesn't change.  It's the same, no matter what part of the country you're in.  There is something a teeny bit comforting about that.

My little family (hounds included) was happy to see me too.  I hugged and looked them in the eyes and relished looking into their eyes.  This life is a vapor; I'm reminded that it's temporary.  Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.  Those truths resound as true as ever, calling my heart closer to them.

I'm glad God made a way for me to make the trip to WI, but I'm so glad to be back in the Hollow.

I'll be praying for my cousins and uncle in the days ahead.  Thanks for letting me share the bright spots,