A cloud of witnesses, all partying without me.

By: Ms. O

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I have this strange relationship with death. I feel like we have come to know each other more so over the last few years. Perhaps it is because of the number of funerals I have attended….the way it has impacted the lives of so many around me. Death plays an eminent part…that we can’t escape….and I don’t want to be in fear of it…I want, instead, to be prepared.

When I was little, I don’t remember my MumMum…that’s my dad’s mom…passing. I don’t remember anyone telling me…but then again I think I was seven at the time. Not quite old enough to grasp the fact that she would not be coming to visit anymore. She was just…gone one day.

I do remember when my Grandma passed though. I was upstairs when I heard the phone ring and answered in the dining room…then someone walking up the stairs…to find me…and knew….before my father said it out loud…that it happened. She has passed….after what seemed to me…a lengthy illness. I had to hear it out loud though…so that it was real….otherwise it might be something I misunderstood. After that….my Grandpa was not the chipper guy he used to be….now having to live without his sweetheart.

When he passed, it was unexpected. I remember my mom calling to tell me he had a heart attack while driving home…and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I remember her picking me up…my sister was in the car already…and heading over the bridge…in hopes of “catching him” before….he passed. When we got the hospital, we knew it is too late when they are not rushing us to a cubicle…or the ER room…but instead asking us to wait in a barren sterile room….till someone to could come speak to us. I had such hope on our way over the bridge…of saying something to him…so the drive home was solemn…silent… and very cold….in spite of it being May.

My mother’s only sister…her only sibling…died…much too young. We would get updates of her battle…hoped against hope…that something…anything…would keep cancer from stealing years from her…but she succumbed…much too young. I saw the toll it has taken on my mom…the sorrow that she lives with…having to say goodbye to her little sister. It was sad that we did not get a “last time” to talk to her…this “happened” while she lived away…the “left” before we had the chance.

I was able to say goodbye to both of my in-laws. I sat by the bedside of my father-in-law…my prayer being that he could hear me…as I spoke to him about what a wonderful PawPaw he was to my kids.  His grandchildren hung the moon for him….and vice versa if truth be told. I wanted him to know that I appreciated all he did to show love to all his family. I did the same 10 years later as I sat beside my mother-in-law in her final days…here on earth.  The nurses would tell me she was “sleeping”….but at certain words…like using her middle name…that she hated…her brow would furrow up…and her lips would pinch. When I had her attention, I would speak words of love to her…of how much she meant to me….what she taught me…and I would promise her…to remind her grandchildren of stories about her…and we still do.

Over the last several years I have been to many funerals…many who have “gone home” too soon. A few I have had the chance to visit with as time here on earth drew to a close…a chance to hear their voice one last time…gather some last bits of memories to savor. Others came with a swiftness….a suddenness…that no one is ready for. Perhaps they are the hardest…because we aren’t ready for it….as if we ever are. I have “celebrated” the lives of young and….more mature…but the end is always the same. It is the pondering of where they are…not “where”….I know that in my heart…its more like…with who they are hanging out with now.

The obvious is Jesus…hello…I do know that…but it’s also the great cloud of witnesses that envelope and take them in. They become part of the heavens….who are in full swing. I spoke to a dear friend this week and was saying that I was thinking about my most recent friend who passed…that he was up there hanging out others who had gone before him….and I am sure the place was hopping. At this point my friend joked with me…saying he thought that was what my problem was….the party was going on…and I was not part of it.

Perhaps he is right….more right than wrong…he doesn’t read this blog, so he will never know I admitted it…but it’s true. I know those who have gone on before me, are keeping time with my Savior….amongst a pretty great group of people that I know and love….and miss.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearance.”

2 Timothy 4:8

Paul got it…he knew what it meant to leave this world…and “go home”….it is a day of entering into a place that is full out celebrating the Lord…a true Holy Ghost party…that don’t stop.  It is our rightful place…where cancer does not exist…pain and suffering is replaced with completely healed…and joy is an all day affair.

I am not in any hurry to leave this world…there are still things I would like to see happen before that time comes…but I am ready. There is a difference. A big one. I know that my time here on earth must be lived to the fullest…but I am not getting too comfortable…because I know where my home is…and the party is in full swing. I expect there is a place there for me…when that time comes…but until then…I will live a full life here.

This is the day that the Lord has made…let me be glad and rejoice in it…until it’s time to enter into the gate of Heaven…then the full out celebration begins. Amen