In Memory Of

So this morning I drove the twenty miles to town to check the mail …again.

If I were to count the times I’ve driven to our local post office and had my big boy march himself in with the key so that he can be the bearer of good news, -to be the smiling one to bring out the package and hold it up high to reflect its shining light and to hear the singing angel glory; to be the deliverer of the highly awaited package that contains the galley proof of the book that Mama wrote and her babies lived…

…I’d be embarrassed to say that the number is SEVEN.

Seven times in five days.

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I’d also be embarrassed to say –but will anyway because hey, we’re in this together- one of those days was a holiday. As in, federal holiday where, no matter their sweet little unofficial motto, (“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”) the post office was just plain not.delivering.mail.

Can you EVEN?

But we checked the box that day anyway.

Twice.

And now, four days later, today wasn’t the day either.

A little depressed discouragement started to seep its way in as I pulled out in disbelief. I was sure today was going to be the day.

I snort laughed at my children’s suggestion to lay down across the post office parking lot entrance in protest but secretly wondered if it’d speed things up.

I called the printer. It was okay to call them because I’d only called them once this week. They assured me, again, that yes, it’d been sent. Priority Mail. It should be there by tomorrow at the latest.

It’ll be there.

I pouted as I drove to the bank.

It wasn’t fair.

I’d worked so hard.

For so long.

I have things to do. Kids to raise. A farm to tend to. Dinner to make. A house to clean.

I mean, I hadn’t even showered this morning. Heck I hadn’t even fed the kids a real breakfast. I was so sure that our book was going to be here that I’d just rushed everyone on out the door, positive we’d get it when the mail came in, scoot on back home and just carry on with our day, our book on the table for us all to ogle over while we enjoyed a late brunch.

Agitated and ornery, I pulled into the drive-through line at the bank. My mouth set tight into a hard little line of irritation.

This was ridiculous.

I just don’t have time to wait on slow things.

We sit, the line long so we wait some more, and here on the radio comes that song.

That very first song.

The traumatic break-up song, the shame in front of all our friends song, the meeting my new friend song, and then the loving that new friend song.

The one who didn’t make me feel shame or guilt.

The one who thought I was pretty and never even noticed the ugly parts.

I woulda never found you…If he had wanted to stay-ayyy…Ohhh…he hurt me bad in a real good way….

And how is it that we were just driving the dirt roads listening to that song in your old blue pick-up truck while the red dust left big clouds of our youth behind?

Or how is it that just yesterday my first good boss at my first good job would tap her toes when we heard it on the juke box, a swirling croon through the cigarette smoke of the break room and now, today, my kids tap their toes on the dashboard as I follow my last good boss who shepherds me in the best good job I’ll ever have?

It spoke my life then but now…how are we here already?

Over two decades gone by.

So fast.

It was all so fast.

The tears start to come over the quickness of it all and how young we were and how sweet and true the song still is, and there in the drive-through lane next to us pulls up an ambulance, the red sides shining bright as the face of one of our small-town paramedics pokes out the window to deposit his paycheck.

I used to dispatch for him, in another life before babies. My kids ooh and ahh at the heroes in the bank line, the ones their mama has told them all about…

…and then there on the side of their red wagon my eyes fall on the In Memory Of sticker.

Our friend and co-worker that’d been taken too soon and even though it’s been almost eleven years it’s all gone too fast and his name brings more tears right there at the bank because though days can be long and the waiting can go on…

…sometimes it can be too short too.

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Too short for his wife.

Too short for his kids.

Too short for his friends.

Too short for his co-workers.

Too short for his community.

I look at the dates on the sticker, his life in a few numbers, and see what we all see when we look back on our life.

It was just too fast.

The sweet mama of four who is dying of cancer and spends her last slow days holding fast to her family and sharing Jesus with the world.

It’s going too fast.

The beautiful friend walking the slow days of an aging mother whose life is just twice the span of what mine is right now. She was just little and her mama was just my age and I bet every slow day she thinks how fast it’s been.

So fast.

And my tears pray quiet for these toe-tapping kids and these left-behind friends and for this mama who marvels that we won’t cling too tight to this life but that we’ll cling tight to the cross because the One who carried it came to make this short life abundant and when He allowed nails to pierce His sinless body He said if we follow Him we’ll be long with Him.

The forever kind of long.

That’s why He came. And these two-thousand years since have been so slow but they’ve been so fast too. The generations that have come and gone…

…the heroes whose lights have been snuffed out too soon…

…the goodness that was too quickly swallowed up by evil…

It’s almost my turn and the ambulance has long gone and we’re to the end of the song and I swipe a finger at the wetness behind my sunglasses and Patty sings on with her sweet fiddle voice…

Oh the river of tears… That flow from my eyes… Was only moving me on… To this paradise…

Yes.

Yes.

And suddenly…quickly…

…my slow book-waiting days don’t seem so slow anymore.

~

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Psalm 39:5

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Just forty-five short minutes after pushing the Publish button on this post, I shot off to pick up my husband from work. He heard of our morning let-down and though tired from a long week of work, he swung into the post office…just in case.

It seems as though sometimes…some days…twice-per-day mail checks just may turn out to be fruitful!

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