This cross and floral arrangement were given to my youngest son, Sam, by the Pewitt High School Band when his mother died in February 2010. Sam played the clarinet in the band.
It is hard to tell with this photo but the flowers are in a holder that is shaped like two scrolls of parchment. Sam’s friends and teachers were a tremendous source of support for him (and for me) during this time. He and I agreed, the morning after his mom died, that it would be best for him to go to school that day, since he would most likely miss the rest of the week. He went and they cried with him that day and it was the best thing they could have done. Six years later I was finally able to write about my experience of that week:
When we read the later chapters of the book of Job, it is easy for us to forget how his three friends came and cried with Job and sat with him in silence for seven days and seven nights before Job finally spoke. But, I will never forget what five of my friends did for me, when I needed them the most.
My wife, Lisa, died in her sleep on a Sunday morning in February, after an 18-year battle with multiple sclerosis. It was a sudden death; totally unexpected. Over the next few days we planned four types of public worship, celebration, and mourning ... spread over 240 miles of eastern Texas. Social media and the Methodist connection helped spread the news of our plans.
Phylis and Keith sat and talked with me at the visitation the night before the funeral. Glen came to the funeral and stayed with me during the meal afterwards. The next day Bob met us at the cemetery for Lisa’s graveside service. And then on Sunday afternoon, Steve attended the memorial service at our home church.
Words cannot express my gratitude for my friends’ presence with me during the hardest week of my life. I realize now why each of them was willing to drive more than 200 miles to be with me for an hour or two – because words could not express what they wanted me to know.
God loves each of us more than words can say. So God came in person to show us.
Today, I want us to think about all of this in our present context. People are still dying every day. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other family and friends are mourning every day. But they do not have the possibility of being physically surrounded by people who love them. They cannot receive a warm embrace of sympathy. They do not get to see their friends and their families gather to remember and show their support. Today – these neighbors of ours – cannot experience the one thing that meant the most to me when my Lisa was gone: the expression of love that cannot be put into words.
Please try. Since we cannot be present for our neighbors. Since we cannot be there for the people we love. Put it into words.
Phone calls are good. Facetime is even better. (If you don’t know what facetime is then ask someone younger to show you.)
Text messages are good. E-mails are good.
Then there is this new thing called a hand-written letter – it’s really neat!
Right now is a good time for us to build a good habit: When I think of doing something nice for someone else I do it!
Take time to be a blessing, Brother Mike