Tears & Loss & Peace

I've cried a lot the last nine days. First, I learned that the sweet girl that was my niece by marriage for a few years had passed away. Her mom, my once sister-in-law and still friend, had lost her oldest daughter. She was only thirty-six but had been suffering from the results of a terrible injury for more than a decade. My sweet nephews had lost their half-sister and the world had lost a lovely young woman who we will miss.  Today was her funeral and my heart ached for her family, her fiance, and all of us who will miss her.

Four years ago, Savannah took her guitar to the Charleston, an assisted living facility not far from our home. She asked for the names of a few residents who might enjoy a couple of songs and a visit. That day she met William "Bud" Shelton, and a sweet friendship was formed. She visited him dozens of times over the last four years and some of those I was able to tag along. He requested songs (shelearned a Johnny Cash song for him), they talked about their lives (mostly his past and her future), they shared their world travels (his in the military and with his wife, hers last year with her siblings) they laughed together and cried together. When he said he'd really had a hankering for mincemeat pie, we made one for him. When Savannah told him she was going on a mission, he hobbled over to his wallet and pulled out a 50 dollar bill to help her out. A visit never passed without him talking about his sweet wife, Bessie, and what a good team they had been. He missed her so much. Every visit ended with us singing "How Great Thou Art" at his request while he mouthed the words and wiped away tears. This picture was taken the day Savannah left on her mission. He asked me to stop in every so often and let him know how Savannah was doing. Bruce and I saw him in March and he again expressed his love and appreciation for Savannah. He said, "that girl sure has brightened up this last four years. Be sure to tell her I love and miss her." Today when I went to visit Bud, I discovered he was reunited with his sweetheart on March 28, and although I'm thrilled that he's with his wife, my heart hurts for the sorrow Savannah will feel. Im so glad I was blessed to watch their sweet friendship. We will miss him.

This month also marks the anniversary of my brother's death. Even after thirty-two years, I still think of him with an ache in my heart. He was only sixteen years old and there were so many things he didn't get to do, so many people he didn't get to meet. When I was young I thought I wouldn't be able to survive if something happened to one of my brothers or sisters. I wouldn't be able to go on. Somehow the ache and the gaping hole that Bruce's death left in our lives healed over, even though it left a tender spot that sometimes still hurts.

This life is so hard. Bud missed his wife for years and now we begin the missing him. We've missed Bruce for years. Meagan will be missed for years. How do we move on when pieces of us are cut away and laughter and hugs and conversations are gone? I honestly don't know how people cope with these kinds of losses without the hope of an eventual reunion. 

This is what gives me hope. This is the reason that even though there are tears and loss and heart-crushing pain at the loss of those we love, I look forward to seeing them again. I look forward to hugging Meagan again. I look forward to introducing Bruce to my husband and children. And I look forward to singing with Bud again and meeting his wife. I could not be more grateful for my Savior and all He made possible for me and those I love. He really is the source of peace.