In two days we have Memorial Day. Powerful times for some no doubt, a tremendously difficult time for others, and sadly I suspect indifference from a good many as well. Memorial Day has always been one of the few times each year that I’ve felt patriotic. I’m grateful and very blessed to have been born in such a time and to be a citizen of this great nation, and I know that God orchestrated events, all events, so that I could be here today. I know that means that great and terrible things have happened in the past to make this my reality and I’m truly thankful. To all the service men and women that have made any sacrifice for our country, a heart-felt thank you. Last fall I watched Vietnam in HD on the History Channel and I was moved to anger to see the general response of some of my countryman when our patriots returned from war. I see how much that has changed in the years since that time and I pray we never digress back to that regardless of how unjust we may view the cause. Pray for our service men and women now and thank God they are doing the jobs they are.
My dad is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, CO. I don’t think about him or visit his grave very often, but I’ve thought about that a lot since Kyleigh was born. One thing I’ve noticed – I don’t say “visit him” or “I went to see Kyleigh” anymore. I find my convictions are so strong about where I know she is that it forces me to choose my words carefully. I’m glad I do that, and I wish I could do that for all of the conversations that I have. I could say that I’m going to see where her body is buried, but that’s a mouthful and a bit morbid to me. So I say, and I tell the boys, that I’m going to see her grave. I plan to do so this morning – and hopefully every Saturday morning – for now until God says “Enough…come.” I was 10 when my dad got that call and as with every death of someone close, it changes you. His death was one of many factors that made me choose to resist and turn from God. So much so that by the time Leann and I met and I told her that I was an atheist, and her response was, “ok just don’t tell my parents.” I’m grateful she choose to be “unequally yoked” for the first years of our courtship. How things would be terribly different if she would have said, “No.”
But yesterday when I went to the cemetery, there was a bit of a new feeling. I had been waiting for that first trip to her grave when I made it through without crying. That actually happened a few days before when our family went to visit and took some water to pour on the grass as it has been so dry here and I didn’t want the seedlings to die. I guess I’ve just had enough of that. By taking water and nurturing the grass at her grave, it made me feel like I was doing something for her – taking care of her – doing one of the few things left in my power to demonstrate to her how much I love her. As odd as it sounds, I actually felt pretty good when we left.
This was not the case when I went yesterday. I wept for her again. I wept because she is there and I am here. I wept because of a bug on the ground that can live its entire life next to her and as its very existence is short, it will know release before me. I’m not talking about bug heaven – I’m talking about the fact that some things are so disproportionate (like the expected duration of the life of a bug vs. the life of a child) that when events happens which upset our expectancy we start realizing and thinking things that we never could imagine before. This is what I was thinking when I cleared my eyes and started looking around once again.
Last time I mentioned Paul in Philippians 1:21 whose goal it is to be with Christ. I get that. I get that deeply. I looked about at all the headstones and actually found myself envious of the fact that so many have already left the pains and struggles of this world for a better place. Many have also departed to an entirely different fate, in fact I believe this is the majority (Matt 7:13-14), but that was their choice and we do not serve a God of coercion. I was thinking that I could just lie down on the ground and after a few days of physical suffering, it would all be over. I would be helping God, but he would still say, “Enough…come.” Yet shortcuts are rarely the right answer, especially one as selfish as that.
Thankfully there are more verses than just 1:21. He immediately follows this with the very reason why he stays. Why he carries on. Why he perseveres. Mine is in addition to this – I have two lovely boys that deserve the very best that I can give them. To grow up in happiness and to know that it’s ok to get hugs and scratchy-faced kisses from their dad. I’m convinced that fathers these days don’t do this nearly enough. That’s a trend that I intend to smash – even if just within the walls of my home. I’m so thankful for them. Then I think about folks that lose a child who don’t have others to come home too. Sadly I know a bit about that myself yet that was different from this. My heart hurts for the people that I know right now who have to live through Memorial Day with their families, but not their babies.
This time when you go to the cemetery, and you see the flags and flowers, please do remember our military who gave so much. Be in a state of gratitude for all they sacrificed. Remember your family and friends that have likewise gone on before. Celebrate the moments that you had with them and honor them by living a life worthy of that calling. But not only this, think about that for every grave you see, someone, generally in their time of grief, had to walk the grounds and make nearly impossible choices about where the body of their loved ones will spend the next many years until God says again, “Enough…come.”