It was a day in California. Shelley’s visitation. Shelley’s funeral. Shelley’s burial. Shelley’s reception.
This was the most people I’d been with since March. It felt like I was in a land far, far away. Too many people were not wearing masks or wearing them over their mouths only. It was impossible for me to be as safe as I feel at home, though I did my best in case I’d brought germs from Texas. But it was a good reality check of why the pandemic is continuing to spread. Especially in settings of grief.
My therapist had reminded me that in the midst of being responsible for officiating at the funeral that I was grieving, too. After the reception, I had several hours until my flight left. It was time for me to grieve.
I thought of the ways I could spend the open time. Since I was only twenty minutes from the border, I decided to drive to Mexico to see the “beautiful” wall.
Well. I didn’t actually go into Mexico. I was a little concerned about some glitch that might not get me back into the US in time for my flight. But I drove along the border and saw all the ways we’ve made sure that those we don’t want to enter are kept out.
My best photos of that not beautiful at all wall were from the parking lot of the outlet mall that backs up to Mexico. Yet another strange land on this unusual day.
I am now in the midst of the two flight long home that includes a three hour layover in between (last minute plans have limited options). I have more space to sit and ponder.
It was good to have time to be with my California cousins. I had fine conversations with all sorts of folks about life and death and God. I listened a lot. I loved the San Diego weather experienced from the hill top of my cousin’s home.
I was particularly aware of the cloud of witnesses surrounding us in this mourner’s land. As I prayed before the service, I could feel the prayerful presence of relatives who I love so dearly that have welcomed Shelley home. Dear ones like Uncle Jamie and Aunt Frances, her grandparents; my dad, her great uncle; and Grandma Blanche, her great grandma.
As God would have it, part of Grandma Blanche’s farm is still in my family. We rent our portion out to be farmed, and the rent check came in a week or so ago. My mom generously offered to pay my brothers’ and my way to the funeral and to treat the whole family to dinner in California. I loved thinking that Grandma Blanche was taking care of her family, and of the great granddaughter she was meeting for the first time in heaven.
I did have to wonder how Grandma Blanche, a devout Southern Baptist, felt about treating us to margaritas and beers with our dinner.
I can’t help but think about the hospitality that thrives in heaven. No walls for sure. Welcoming arms. And I suspect toasts abound.
After all, scripture tells us that crying and tears of sorrow are not to be found in heaven.
From Revelation 21:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away….God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Tears, mourning, and death are for us who are still traveling in this foreign land.