A Few Hours with Them

Maybe it was the Christmas decorations that were strewn about…organized disassembly…boxes of deco stacked…a reminder that yet another year has passed…

Maybe it was the talk I had with my kids on the drive over about how life is messy and love is messy and health doesn’t always work like it should, and bodies and minds aren’t always strong…

Maybe it was the sight of a law enforcement co-worker from not so long ago being wheeled around the corner, his strong chest that once carried Kevlar, weaker but still carrying courage …

Maybe it was the beautiful and stoic face of the matriarch figure, walking her strong and determined legs down the hall toward her car to drive home in dark alone, but not before hugging me while I cried with her and listened to her tell me of her beloved, a stroke bringing in the new year and adding to his daily struggle to remember…

Maybe it was the fresh news of a beloved sister losing her daddy just that afternoon…

Maybe it was the old faces I carry daily in my heart of all the elderly in the State of Michigan that smiled proudly and humbly into my 19-year old eyes as I hauled their government box of food to their tidy and inexpensive sedans, shaking their hands during my first job in a line of many that taught me love and compassion for society’s overlooked…

Maybe it was just that I so wish my girls would know my GrannyCakes who left us all too early…

Maybe it was that the elderly man sitting quietly in the green chair at the end of the hall tonight was the spitting image of my Grandaddy the last time I saw him when he was in a place just like this and his smile and his gaunt figure still laid fresh my spirit when we all celebrated his life over pizza while choking back sobs because we knew that his final home there among our country’s heroes would be our family’s final meeting place and that when, 24 hours after flying back home at the end of our years-ago trip, I wasn’t surprised to get a phone call that he’d passed peacefully in his sleep, the smells of his loved ones still on the flannel shirt he’d worn  at that last family reunion.

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Maybe it was the trauma of a hundred little stresses of this past month pressing down and flowing out the corners of my heart.

Maybe it was the knowing that through all the anxiety and all the loss and all the heartbreak and all the tears…

… that faith in the One who holds it all…

…really will hold it all.

Or maybe it was just them.

The sweet, sweet and precious souls that filled the tables of the meeting place where the kids -my own kids and my 4-H kids- all met together and learned how to make cute little packages of art and scent and love.

Maybe it was just them that filled my heart and left me still…

…and left me wanting to watch it all and hug them all and love them all…

all in the two short hours we had with them.

Maybe it was just them that filled the place of grandparents and great-grandparents and homesteads and communities and those-that-have-gone-before.

Maybe it was just them.

This bridging of decades and disabilities and genes and generations.

These kids.

These seniors.

These ones who are new.

These ones who have gone before.

These ones our world could just forget.

These ones who bring knowing and wisdom and innocence and love…

and in bringing all that they bring weakness and they bring strength and they bring what life really is.

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Seventeen club members and at least fifteen residents sat side-by-side, and they put their hands together and made beauty and because they did…

bridges were built over decades and friendships were unfolded over minutes.

And when my precious girl who has such a heart for young and those who are weaker and especially those who are aged…

…when she sat down next to that fragile white-haired beauty who once farmed and who still has work in her hands, my throat made the ugly-cry and I had to choke it off lest I just start sobbing and not stop for the ones who were fighting the fact…

…that ugly fact that it’s all just ending too soon.

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When my children, these four I drive home, when they talk for hours about the joy and they bubble over to their daddy at home the delight the night brought them and how they can’t wait to go be part of the lives of the new friends they’ve made, I want to sob still because while there are new friendships forming, there are endings that come too soon, and this beautiful nest of a place reminds me of that and it leaves me still, and it leaves me remembering.

The endings can be so beautiful.

But the endings…

the endings,

they always come too soon.

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For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

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