Of course we are glad that he is finally at peace, but that doesn't make us miss him any less.
We decided to drive out to Texas for the funeral and we learned several important lessons:
- Our days of pushing through 16 plus hours of straight driving are over--from now on we'll be stopping at a hotel halfway through the trip like normal people.
- Always go for the hotel suite. I don't care how much more it costs, this trip was made infinitely better by the fact that Chris and I were not hunkering down for the evening in the bathroom while trying to get two children to sleep in the actual room with the baby in the closet.
- Children can withstand any too-long-of-a-car-trip-hardships with grace and dignity if the tantalizing promise of an indoor swimming pool hangs in the not too distant future.
- Always make sure the indoor pool is actually heated--the children won't care but you most definitely will.
- You can always count on children to lighten the mood of a funeral.
David: Where's great grandpa?
Me: He's up in heaven.
David: But if he's in heaven, where's his skin?
Henry: I want to go see what's inside that treasure box.
Me (trying to keep him away from the open coffin during the viewing): Not right now sweetie.
Henry: Mom, I want to see what's inside that treasure box with the human head sticking out of it.
In summary, Jesus did three things to solve the problem of suffering. First he came. He suffered with us. He wept. Second, in becoming man he transformed the meaning of our suffering: it is now part of his work of redemption. Our death pangs become birth pangs for heaven, not only for ourselves but also for those we love. Third, he died and rose. Dying, he paid the price for sin and opened heaven to us; rising, he transformed death from a hole into a door, from and end into a beginning.
That third thing, now--resurrection. It makes more than all the difference in the world. Many condolences begin by saying something like this: "I know nothing can bring back your dear one again, but..." No matter what words follow, no matter what comforting psychology follows that "but," Christianity says something to the bereaved that makes all the rest trivial, something the bereaved longs infinitely more to hear: God can and will bring back your dear one again to life. There is resurrection.
What difference does it make? Simply the difference between infinite and eternal joy and infinite and eternal joylessness.
So for now we're still grieving but joyful. Joyful in the innocence of our sweet children who always manage to make us laugh and joyful in the hope of resurrection.