I was slightly anxious going into the funeral. One weird part of being newly married is that you don't know your spouse's life before you entered it. That sounds weird and maybe dumb, but it is an odd reality. I haven't known Joel's grandfather like he did. I didn't grow up with him like he did. I didn't paint with him or ride in his truck. I didn't know him without oxygen assistance or without a wheelchair. I hate that. I wish I did. I really wanted to be able to grieve with and to have deep compassion, but it is hard when you don't know. You don't have the same memories and it just doesn't feel the same.
Because of the prayers of my dear friends. If a funeral can be good, this was the best funeral I have ever been to. Good for me for two main reasons. I will start with Part I.
My throat hit my stomach as I sat from a distance looking on as Melva, Joel's grandmother, stood touching the hand of her deceased man. The man who had protected her, comforted her, romanced her, wrapped her in his arms, fathered her children, laughed with her, gone through good times and bad with her, provided for her every need... her husband of 62 years. Standing there for minutes that seemed like years, she said her last goodbye.. kissing his head and hesitantly walking away with tears pounding from her eyes. At that moment I felt my own face, tears reaming from my own eyes, and my own heart ripping in half. The reality of separation.
When you giddily stand at the altar on your first day of marriage, your wedding day, you don't think about the last day, the day your marriage ends and you are desperately separated by the inevitable... death. At that moment, as a girl hardly married, I thought about that last day.
Melva is such a dear woman. The Spirit of God is incredibly evident in her life through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. She is my real life definition of Proverbs 31. I want to be her. I want it to that faithful when my husband is sick for 10+ years. In sickness and in health, right? Isn't that what I promised on my wedding day? Yes, yes it is. For richer, for poorer? Yes, yes it is. Till' death do we part? Yes, yes it is. God, please! My marriage is awesome, but please keep it that way! Please help me to think about that daily! Remind me of Melva and Dean. I never want to forget this.
Now Joel and I have already decided that I am going to die first or that we will die together (haha... because we have so much control... right?). If Joel does die first or without me I will be one heck of a W-R-E-C-K! But what if it does happen, what if Joel does die first? I guess what else would I want... would I want to NOT be a wreck? No, I want to be a HUGE WRECK actually.
Why? Because of love, because marriage is the way the gospel is most clearly portrayed in real life. It is meant to be a representation of Christ (husband) and the church (wife). Christ died for the church. He gave his life, he sacrificed it ALL. No, Joel is not God, but besides Christ, he is the ONE and ONLY person who I have committed my life on this earth to. Committed. I have vowed. And if it isn't hard if he dies before I do and if I am not a wreck, I have not loved him like the church is to love Christ. That is what I saw in Melva. A woman who followed a man that led her well, who took her vows seriously, and who has lived a life of love.
And death, well, because of our sinfulness and our need for Christ. We are separated. I can't wait for the day described below, when the church is reunited with Christ and there is no more pain, crying, or mourning.
Revelation 21:1-4 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Thank you Melva for your faithfulness and your great example. Thank you for being a wreck and letting me see a very real picture of marriage on the last day. I will never forget this. I love you so much!