Whew.  This was a good, sad, and exhausting week.  Jack, the most excellentest little traveler ever, and I made the trek down to Texas and back via really, really, really, really long car ride.  It wasn’t really a fun, see-all-your-friends kind of trip, but more just to be there with my family during my grandpa’s funeral.  The funeral stuff was kind of like an Irish funeral (Or what I think Irish funerals would be like, though fortunately no one spoke in Irish accents, because that would be really distracting.), because one day we had a “visitation” (not a fan of that tradition, might I add), then the memorial service, then skipped a day before having the actual burial out at the National Cemetary.  Grandpa was an Air Force veteran.  Jack silently mouthed “Wow” with upraised eyebrows when they fired their guns 3 times, giggled during “Taps”, and smiled with eyes widened at the soldier in full uniform whose hand he got to shake.  He thought great-grandpa had the coolest funeral ever.  The whole thing really was beautiful and embodied my grandfather really well.  And my grandmother, she praised God, and said “Everything’s going to be okay, everything’s going to be okay” a lot.

I related with that feeling.  When I had written Nathan’s obituary, I sent it to myself via email, and the single-lined message I sent myself along with it was, “Everything’s going to be okay.  You’re going to be okay.”  As a widow, one of the first things I say to other bereaved people is “Everything’s going to be okay.”  I don’t know why I or my grandmother (and hopefully the people I’ve said it to) found comfort in that.  I guess it’s partly convincing yourself that life will still go on, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and, more importantly, it will be good again. It has to be good again.

While I was at home, I watched a documentary called, “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”.  If any of you know Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, saw the movie “End of the Spear”, or know about the 5 missionaries who were martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecudaor 50 years ago, “Beyond the Gates of Splendor” is a real life look into what happened to the missionaries and their families.  Elisabeth Elliott, in particular, is just one of those women who, frankly, I want to be when I grow up. I always have.  It’s funny, because she’s all serious and disciplined, while I am very disorganized and “out there”.  But since the age of 16, I’ve had a fascination with her.  You see, I read “Passion and Purity” as a 16 year old and decided from that book two things: 1) I would be a missionary one day, and 2) I would not date as Jim and Elisabeth Elliott had not dated before they got married.  If it weren’t for that book, I probably would not have been led to Nate because he was the first person I dated and that put a different spin on our relationship that would not otherwise have been there, and also we talked about how we both wanted to be missionaries in the very first conversation we ever had.  Specifically, Nate wanted to help little Romanian orphans.  Note: Men, if you are single and want to win a woman, telling her you want to spend your life on behalf of poor, helpless orphans is one sure-fire way to get her attention. Ahem.  I was obviously interested in Nate very early on. :)

I can’t be sure what my train of thinking was, but I’m certain that the fact that Elisabeth was widowed very young led me to have visions of myself as a young widow as a teenager.  She and Jim were married for exactly 27 months.  Nate and I were married for 27 months and 6 days.  She also had a baby daughter when Jim was martyred, while I obviously have little Jackabee.  Anyway, I watched this documentary, and saw these now elderly widows, who all lost their husbands at my age, and how affected they still were.  In fact, they were crying all over the place, after more than 50 years.  That comforted me more than I can say.  There’s always the fear that, through years and life and other husbands and other children, that the husband of your youth will fade away and you won’t remember that silly young girl and handsome young boy who got married.  It seems like another person, another life.  Even the widows said that it felt like a different life, but they still remembered and, more importantly, you could see they still loved deeply.

As I watched that movie, for the first time since Nate died, I saw myself as an old woman.  I’m not saying that I will be an old woman, because I know more than ever that tomorrow is not promised me.  I’m not even saying I hope to be an old woman one day.  But I looked at them, and they were as Job is in the last paragraph of Job, “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.”  The widows I had read about as a teenager, who prepared me then as a young single girl for my husband, and who now inspire me to survive as a widowed mother have helped me more than they could know… again.  It made me know at a time when I’m just now getting over living a day at a time, that I can do this and do more than just survive.

At the end of the documentary, there was hope in me, and I was thinking of new life ahead and life behind and life now, and old age and young age, and places and people… The only words I could think of to address everything that was, and is, and is to come were very simple: “Everything is going to be okay.”

Love you, Grandma. Oh, and happy birthday, Mama.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28