I've been reluctant to write about this. I don't quite know what to say, or how to say it. Words are not enough.
But I should at least say why I've been quiet here, and I have some thoughts to share, perhaps for my own benefit of recording them.
Nathan's sweet mother went to her heavenly home this past Sunday. It was peaceful, and she is released from the terrible suffering she has been through. But we miss her, as happy as we are for her, and I'm sure we'll only come to miss her more and more as time goes by. And we hurt for the rest of the family who is missing her, too.
There's been so much bustle and stress with her care-- less for us than for those who live near her, but Nathan was there for several days last week, and was with her when she passed from death to life. And now... now it feels like we should pause, or something. Wait a little. But life is here, and we are living it, and it pulls us to the daily things. We try to focus on the comfort of the eternal perspective of this (which I can't be thankful for enough), but in my selfishness, I think a lot about the temporal.
So here it is, the day before Thanksgiving. We do have plans for some dear friends to come and spend the day with us over a somewhat simplified Thanksgiving dinner. I somehow feel like we shouldn't do it. But we do have much to be thankful for, and in this life we need the reminders.
I have so many things to do, not only to get ready for tomorrow, but to prepare to drive to Minnesota for the funeral early next week. Nathan has been so busy working on the funeral arrangements, and has two sermons to write for church services this week.
Instead of working steadily at my list, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor with a largish cup of tea, thinking about Thanksgivings past.
For maybe the last five (six?) years --I can't even recall exactly how many-- we've spend Thanksgiving with Nathan's mom and dad. Two, three, four years ago today we were filled with anticipation of their visit-- cleaning, cooking, waiting, Jonah asking "When, when, when?" With our distance from family, it was always such a treat to actually get to spend a holiday with family. We loved having them here, talking and talking and laughing and playing. Some other mutual friends (the same who are coming tomorrow) and their children always joined us for a big happy houseful. Nathan's mom would help me cook the big dinner-- she'd give input on the turkey, mix stuffing, peel pounds of potatoes. Oh, the piles of dishes she cheerfully washed. And the whole time we'd be talking about anything and everything. If no one else was around, our conversations quickly went very deep. Those conversations were the highlight of my relationship with her-- her wisdom and insight seemed boundless to me.
Even two years ago, when she was mysteriously having so much trouble walking and standing, she sat on a chair and peeled potatoes into a pot on the floor. She lamented her inability to stand at the sink and wash dishes and said she felt so useless. She could hold the baby (Evan) for me, but only sitting, and of course, he wanted to be walked. She didn't really mind his crying, though. She couldn't tolerate idleness and only wanted to be helpful. I told her to just keep visiting with me. I was so happy just for the company. She played games with Jonah and sang songs to Evan. She had a fall while she was here that time, and they went home a day early so she could heal up at home and I tried to choke down the sickening feeling that she'd never come again.
Last year she couldn't make the trip so we went there. I made lots of food ahead of time and cooked the dinner there, which we enjoyed with Nathan's parents and his brother's family. It was fun, a little stressful with a one-month old baby, and a little sad to me, too. She couldn't hold Andrew, but she smooched his little cheeks and sat near him and sang to him. My babies won't have these memories, but I will, and I'll tell them.
And this year. This year, I'm reluctantly preparing a quick Thanksgiving dinner without her, trying to prayerfully pull up all the thankfulness in me, and getting ready to go bid her goodbye until we meet again in heaven.
It's kind of a sad time. But a happy-sad time. See? Words just don't work.