Perhaps you can sing with me.
My friend, Mickie Davis, just passed away. The funeral is tomorrow (Monday). Mickie was one of the most kind people I’ve ever met. She reminded me of my grandmother. Mickie was always kind. She always had a smile on her face. I never heard her say an unkind word.
She will be missed. She died from Alzheimer’s Disease. She was 88 years old.
I learned at a very young age that this was a part of life.
I was doing some work on the internet the other day and came across an obituary in memory of my sister Sharon. The classmates from her high school put it up. Sharon died in 1969. Her friend Don was driving the car they were in and he died too. I was 5 years old.
In the picture she has a haircut sort of like you’d see in that Hairspray musical. It must be her graduation picture. I remember seeing this picture around the house growing up. More than ever I realize that she was just a kid, barely out of high school.
I remember the funeral like it was yesterday. They did funerals in churches back then. If I remember it right, she was in a funeral home for a day or two and then they took her body to the church for the service before driving to the cemetery. We were in the church, sitting on the front row. The sound of crying, wailing, all around. Our pastor, Pastor Nance, did the service, but I have no idea what he said. What do you say to the parents of a nineteen year old girl who dies from exhaust fumes leaking up into the car? How could any of it make sense to a five year old?
There’s something that scared me that day that I didn’t tell anyone about for a long time.
While the service was going on, just before they had us stand and go look at the body, I heard a strange noise. Sounded sort of like a grunting noise. I heard this noise and my little five year old brain instantly told me that my sister was waking up. I was sure, for a moment, that when I walked up to the casket, she would open her eyes and yawn and say something like, “ What’s going on?” At that point everyone would laugh and say, “Wow. We thought she was dead! What’s the matter with us?” But when I looked into the casket, she didn’t move and I realized the noise must have come from outside the church. Could have been anything.
I remember being nervous about them putting her in the ground. What if she were to wake up and not be able to get out? What if I wanted to talk to her about something?
All that week, people coming over, bringing food. There was so. much. food. Adults talked in their strange language. Southern accents floating in the air. People cried. People laughed. Sometimes all at the same time. Conversations were hushed. Some of it I could make out, other things were too quiet to hear or too cryptic to understand.
This thing that happened, it broke my mom. For a long time she was broken by this. There were a lot of things she couldn’t do without getting angry. She couldn’t go on vacation without getting angry. Holidays were hard too. I didn’t understand it at the time. I didn’t make the connection, but I understand now. We have to move on but we don’t have to like it.
Years later some women at our church were having a dinner. They were trying to find a speaker and I suggested my mom. I told them to have her talk about her life. She’s done a lot. She’s seen a lot. She’s been through a lot and still loves God in Christ. It really is inspiring.
She agreed to speak. I wasn’t there, but I heard she talked about a lot of things, including the death of her daughter. She met a woman there who had lost a son a few years before that. Mom was able to comfort in a way no one else could. They talked. They tapped into the reality that they weren’t alone in their brokeness.
It seems to me that my mom is different since that day. I’m not sure she would agree, but it seems to me she’s more relaxed, more at peace in life. She doesn’t seem broken anymore. Just wise.
Pictures of my sister are kind of haunting for me, but not in a negative way. They just bring up images, vague memories.
I remember her coming over to our house. She had moved into an apartment or something. She brought cookies with her. I remember her walking in the front door. I remember her smiling at me, opening the cookies and handing me one.
She thought to do that.
If you want to see that picture of my sister, you can find it here...
1 Corinthians 15:37-44
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010