I am leaving my house at 6 in the morning, but I wanted to stop scurrying around and get down some things that have been rattling around in my head.
We've had more snow in the past week than in all of last winter, I think, and it was beautiful snow: lacy delicate flakes piling up on tree branches. When you look at the giant parking lot piles of snow it's hard to countenance the idea that God sees each snowflake's individual beauty, but I believe it is true. When I think about all the bodies piled up in all the graveyards around the world it is easy to lose sight of the fact that God looked at each individual and pronounced him (or her) beautiful and beloved, but I know it is true.
The snow is turning into slush now but I am remembering the flakes that fell on my coat sleeves and eyelashes, fragile and unrepeatable.
From the time we knew there would be a funeral we were thinking that Elwood would go and represent the family. We can't fly seven people to the West Coast, and leaving five kids requires a lot of logistical juggling. But my SIL asked me to come to the funeral and sing the Ave Maria that I sang at their wedding, and I said of course I would.
Well, first I said to myself, "There is no possible way I can get through the Ave Maria I sang at their wedding while I am standing in the room with his cancer-ridden remains. No possible way." And then I said to myself, "Jamie, if the woman who is marching forward into widowhood with two girls under two can do it this gracefully, then you had better believe you can get yourself together to honor her request." And then I said of course I would.
When my oldest son was weaning the hardest part was bedtime. He had always nursed before he fell asleep. Instead I rubbed his back and prayed the rosary, and the prayer morphed into a song -- a Latin version and an English version. My SIL asked me to sing it when they were married. I am remembering the comfort it brought my little boy as he learned to let go into sleep, hoping it can bring some consolation as we all let go of my BIL.
For Lent I wanted to pray compline every night and I've been pretty faithful to it. It's that "Lord, now you let your servant go in peace" bit that sticks in my throat a bit. It's so much more real right now that one day my soul and my body will be separated.
People have been so good and so generous. My mom cleared off her calendar to come stay with the kids. I have been thinking a thought I want to come back to, about how the awful bits of life bring out the best in the people around us -- how love becomes palpable in the middle of sadness.
The sight that sparked this post was a slowly melting snowman, his head sliding slowly back on his slushy shoulders. He was stable enough, with his tilting head and his upraised arms, that he looked to me like a person at prayer -- hands lifted and head thrown back, shouting hosanna to the pearl gray sky. And I thought, "I could look at that and think about how everything we make will fade and end. Or I could look at that and think, 'Frost and chill, bless the Lord.'"
I guess both those things are true.
Please keep praying.