Mary Ann would have liked it had she been sitting with me.  The music was powerful, to her liking.  The sermon was centered on our hope and the certain promise that is the only thing that frees us to face the struggles, lament the losses, and come out alive and well.

It would have pleased Mary Ann to have Niece Diana and husband Al sitting with us. Diana, who simply does not fly no matter what, flew here to honor her Aunt Mary Ann.  Diana was the only one of our two families who was invited to stand up with us at our wedding.  They have always had a special relationship.

Our blood relatives were expanded by our adopted brothers and sisters from Kansas City, three remarkable people who had special roles with the Volunteers (by now totaling at least 70-80 over the years), members of the Spiritual Formation Group that has been a source of strength for the last 8-9 years.

Lot’s of our family and close friends who could not make such a long trip from Northern Illinois on such short notice will have an opportunity in the near future when a date is set to gather there for an event to celebrate and remember Mary Ann. It will include a short worship segment to help clarify just what has happened here and the hope that sustains us.  There will also be food to sustain us.

Have I told you yet that I really don’t like this.  I just thought I would mention it, in case you were unaware of it.

I suppose there were a couple of hundred people who attended the funeral today. What a testimony to the lives that Mary Ann has touched.  As Lutherans are wont to do, they sang loudly, filling that room with the declaration that in the face of death life has won again.  There were instrumentalists, one whose Father is thirty-two years into Parkinson’s, another who lost a Mother and a Sister to forms of Alzheimer’s. The full organ lifted our spirits.  If there were 200 people there, there were pretty close to 200 hugs that helped me and the Kids.

The vocalists included Carol, who has sung for decades and directed the choir here for many years before I arrived.  Her “Now the Green Blade Rises” burrowed into me as I began to feel the significance of the central message of the service.  Kristen’s “Consecration” took the breath away from every one of us in that room. It was done to honor all those who ministered to Mary Ann as Volunteers. I knew Mary Ann would have been especially pleased when Kristen sang “Laudatus Dominum” by Mozart.  It was certainly not possible for me to keep my composure when she sang.  I needed that release.  It was so meaningful that Kristen took time to fly in from Boston to sing. There is no one at any level whose voice is more beautiful than hers.

The readings and the words of Pastor Jim and Pastor Mike drew us to the One in whom we trust, the only One who has the power to make a difference at a time like this.  They celebrated the faith of Mary Ann who has a joyful and secure future that we would not presume to describe but to which we look forward as we journey on after death has done its worst.

Last night was a fairly restful one other than the early declarations of a wayward blackberry that decided 5:45am would be a good time to start the day.  It only took one roll back and forth under the tires of the van to solve that problem.  (Only kidding, Denis.)

I was, of course, very restless this morning, pacing back and forth.  I connected with PT’s Coffee to be sure all was well for a delivery for the dinner after the service.  I had made clear that I was not asking for a favor but would pay for that treat.  When the Kids went to pay for it, Co-owner and friend Jeff would take no payment.  A number of folks confirmed that the coffee was great.

The waterfall stopped again this afternoon, but it was only a GFI outlet.  We don’t know why it popped, but we hope it doesn’t do it again.  Brad, who built the pondless waterfall, came by almost immediately to determine the problem.

Tomorrow brings even more finality to this leg of life’s journey.  There will be a very short committal service at the grave side late in the morning.  It is called an Inurnment since there will be ashes (cremains) in an urn to be buried.  Again, since Mary Ann has already gone on her way, it is simply the period at the end of the sentence.  I don’t really know how that will feel.  Today’s service was very moving especially with the powerful music. Tomorrow’s includes a few short readings and spoken words only.

The Kids have chosen not all to leave at the same time so that I will be eased into a full encounter with the empty house.  I have lots of grieving to do.  I will need time alone to do some of it.  Just as I did during the years with Mary Ann, I plan to experience fully this leg of the journey.  I am convinced that embracing whatever is going on is the best way to get through it and on to what comes next.  If I try to short-circuit the process, avoid the pain at all cost, I will be left to carry the baggage of unfinished business.  If I do that, it will most certainly catch up at some time.  I do not want to wallow in it, nor do I want to waste the pain. I want to feel it and learn from it. That will be a lasting gift to me from Mary Ann and a way for me to honor who she has been during her time here with me.  Doing the work will allow me to get on with the life I am being given unencumbered by regrets and denial.

By the way, have I told you yet that I really don’t like this.  I just thought I would mention it, in case you didn’t remember.

It is time to sleep.

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