Two months ago today, Dale Smith's plane went missing. Along with many others, my life changed as I spent a lot of time until the wee morning hours combing satellite images looking for signs of...anything. I became very emotionally involved and wanted to hear a miraculous story about how they were found...huddled together in one of those little hunter's cabins...just waiting for us. I pictured Dale, as the patriarch, praying with his family for faith, peace, and comfort...until they were found. My time on the Tomnod site felt sacred. I was inspired and moved to tears by the many volunteers who were out in the snow and rugged terrain, not giving up, and searching for this family and their small plane. But my heart ached. It was hard for me to do much of anything. I felt that everything else I did was so trivial. I couldn't imagine Janis, at home with her 2 boys, waiting for any word that they had found her husband and children on that plane...I, and many many others, just wanted closure. For Janis and the family, when that plane was found and their family members were confirmed dead, I'm not sure closure was what they received.
Closure...there needs to be a better word. I know what people mean when they say "closure." But it seems that only people like me...people who brushed shoulders, who crossed paths, can be allowed closure. There most definitely needs to be a better word for those who have breathed joy, pain, grief, and love together. Because I don't think when someone has loved so deeply...that the "act of closing" or "bringing to an end," "a conclusion" is what happens when something like this...happens. I don't think one can close their heart, or bring to an end, or conclude a lifetime of love and memories, especially when their faith insures an eternity more of love and experiences. Yet, what better word is there? But today, for me...I suppose I experienced a form of closure.
Today I attended the combined funeral for Dale Smith, Daniel and Sheree Smith, Amber Smith, and Jonathan Norton. It was a difficult funeral in many ways. When we pulled into our parking spot, my heart sunk. Right in front of us were five white hearses, prepared and waiting to take these five individuals to their final resting place.
I took a deep breath and got out of the car. We sat a little further in the back. Throughout the cultural hall were tables with pictures. We sat next to Amber's table. We had some time before things began, so, even though I knew it may be hard to look, I wanted to see Amber's pictures. I got up and saw one...she was young...pig tails in a yellow over-sized t-shirt with a soccer ball in hand. Her smile was bright as ever. She was adorable. Callie's at soccer right now. Amber was so adorable. Then a picture of her in her wedding dress...the one she had picked out. The one she would have worn the day they would have gotten married...on January 5, 2014 I believe. She's too young to be gone. Just before her wedding. Just before so much joy. Just before... and I sat down. I couldn't look at any more pictures.
I thought of Janis. And cried.
The service began and my heart was lifted. Music filled the huge room. Words were spoken about each of them that gave us a glimpse into their lives...helped us feel who they were on a different level. I knew Amber from Young Women's Camp. I didn't know her as a daughter, sister, close friend. But today, I got to know her and her family better. Family who I will never know personally in this lifetime.
I felt inspired and motivated to be better. To try harder. Yes, I did cry many times during the nearly 3 hour service, but I also felt the Spirit whisper to me that God has a plan for each of us. And though we may not understand everything, there is a plan. I sat next to Kathleen and I told her how it's hard to explain why bad things happen to good people. The truth is, we just don't know. Her response to this was that, indeed, we don't know. We shouldn't ask "Why?" because, really, we probably won't know that answer in this lifetime...but rather, "What now?" What are we do to next with this? How do we learn from ________? I've thought about that a lot today.
In a way, I like funerals. I don't like the headaches I inevitably get from the tears, or the blotchy face and puffy eyes. But...I have learned that a part of my own heart is healed when I "mourn with those who mourn." My heart is softened and my life is put into perspective.
Today, I relearned what matters most.
I'm a planner. I generally know what I want and figure out a way to achieve that. But...what matters most? Marcus and I really want to own a home. We live in an area where a tiny shack is roughly $700,000 ~ and that's a good deal. I am a stay at home mom. We are a 1 income family. We have chosen this together, so I can be home with our kids. Buying a home, here, is practically out of the question...and it's disheartening. We are also starting the adoption process again (more on that in another post later). That is an added financial stress which means, buying a home is doubly near impossible. But, we feel strongly like now is the time to begin this adoption journey again. So, this is what I relearned...
It doesn't matter. None of it matters. It's all stuff. And stuff doesn't matter. I read a bumper sticker yesterday that said..."100 years after your death, no one will care what house you lived in, what car you drove, or (something that I forgot). What you will be remembered for is the relationships you had and the lives you impacted." Relationships. And for me and my faith...this also includes the relationship I develop with my Savior and Father in Heaven. So, 100 years after my death, will people care that I never bought a house? No. Will they care that our family had to rent our entire lives? No. What really only matters to me is my faith and my family.
Today, at the conclusion of the funeral, we sang "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." This is a song we have sung many times at funerals. It makes me cry. It feels like a final goodbye in a way. "'Til we meet at Jesus' feet...God be with you 'til we meet again." I have always felt like I am the one speaking, since naturally I am the one singing. And yet, as I type now, it occurs to me that I am the one who needs God to be with me. To sustain me. To wrap His arms unfailing 'round me. We, those ones left behind in this mortal life, need our faith, need God. Perhaps, we are singing their words to us. What matters most? My faith. If I cling to my faith and my God...then I will see those who I love again. We will meet again. What matters most? Those I love. That I have developed those strong relationships so that we will rejoice together when we do meet at Jesus' feet.
I still think we'll buy a house one day and all that stuff...but today reminded me that it really is just all stuff.
And so, when I got home, I fell in love with Marcus all over again. I thought Samantha was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen with her magical blue eyes. I played games with Callie and reveled in her joy, curiosity, and laughter. And I sang a little longer with Micah before laying him down...and was filled with pure joy when he lifted his head up and leaned over kissing me with his baby lips on my own.
This is what matters most.
Thank you Dale, Daniel, Sheree, Amber, and Jonathan for your examples and for reminding me of all that I have.
I am so grateful. I am so blessed. I have what matters most.