I'm dressed up in black once again today. Two funerals in less than two weeks.
A few months ago we received a call that Mr. J had cancer of the stomach and that it was bad. He went up to heaven less than 2 months later.
About 5 years ago my husband and I were active in a Sunday school class. We enjoyed it. Then Mrs. J asked us to switch to a new class she was teaching for young couples. Since we were regular attenders, she wanted our support. My husband agreed we would move. I didn't want to go. We would be the oldest couple by a few years and the only ones with children (I was pregnant with my daughter at that time). I went to the class. Mrs. J was newly remarried. Her previous husband had died of cancer a few years back.
I didn't expect to like Mrs. J. She was very wealthy and from the upper class. She had little concept of what things cost. She was also extremely generous. She bought me earrings once - very nice ones - after noticing I tended to wear the same hoops over and over. I was not used to random gifts, given for no special occasion, and given without any expectations or conditions. Mrs. J taught me that people DO give out of love, with no conditions. Both she and Mr. J gave of their time, money and talents to those less fortunate.
Mrs. J asked her husband to fill in teaching on a few occasions. He was a philosopher. He had the smoothest voice. In this class, we studied the Song of Solomon and several studies on love and romance. Mr. J was a true gentleman. He spoke to the men in the class about how to treat a lady.
Mr. and Mrs. J invited us to their home often. They loved to entertain. I watched the way Mr. J treated his wife. He had her on a pedestal and the love for her was evident. I watched when Mr. J retired and wanted to split his time between here and the warmth of another state. Mrs. J did not want to go. I observed her struggle and then follow her husband. I asked her how she could be so calm about moving. She taught me the wisdom of grace. She said it was time for her to give back to her husband.
We celebrated the life of Mr. J last week. He was 65 years young. He planned his own service. He wanted lots of old hymns, a full choir and funny stories. His service was a celebration. We even laughed. I'll miss him. Mrs. J is hanging in there. Burying her second husband in less than 10 years, having stood by the side of two men she loved dying of cancer.
Today we will celebrate the life of Mike. Just twenty-five years old. His passing was unexpected. He entered the military and served in Iraq. When he returned he was plagued by a series of seemingly unrelated medical problems. The doctors had no answers. When I last saw him, I didn't recognize him at all. I thought I was seeing his father. Mike had lost most of his hair, his eyes were droopy, he walked extremely slow and was using a cane. He was in pain. Mike was scared to sleep alone. For months his father slept in his room. On Thursday, Mike told his father to go on to bed - he was going to lie on the couch awhile. His parents woke up to find him dead.
I hugged Mike's mother at church on Sunday. She and I have been in Bible studies together and I think the world of her. As she hugged me she said, "you're a mother. You know we are not supposed to outlive our children."
I don't pretend to understand why some people live long lives and some are here just a few years. I have faith that Mr. J and Mike are both in heaven, dancing on the streets of gold. Probably playing some golf together too. They will be missed.