Thursday, September 11, 2008

Miss you, Papa

After a long two weeks, we are back in Memphis.  As most of you know, we have been in NY with our family while we mourn the passing of Mark’s dad, Gary. It would seem silly to not report on the last two weeks, so I will do so to the best of my ability.

It would seem like Mark and I might have some experience with grief after the past 5 years, but when someone so vital and young passes so suddenly, the reaction of the survivors seems to be extremely physical – in the first two days we sobbed in disbelief, anger and sadness. We didn’t sleep – and our bodies actually ached from the shock and pain we were all experiencing. Once we were all together at the lake, we all seemed to be ‘searching’, something grief counselors say is normal but feels anything but. It seemed that every time the screen door opened, it should have been Gary walking through the door. I would catch Mark out of the corner of my eye and think it was Gary (Mark looks so much like his dad).  Mark was having a hard time doing things that his dad should have been doing, like dealing with fixing small things or tinkering with the boat. I will say that I have never seen Mark grieve the way he was/is grieving his dad – I think, simply put, when you lose the parent you are closest to at a relatively young age, a part of you dies as well.  We all were given the opportunity to see Gary at the funeral home independently before the day of the calling hours, and it seemed to me that he really should have sat up and gotten out of the casket. I really haven’t had that emotion with the sick or the old, but since Gary was neither, it seemed like the only emotion I could muster. The days of the service came and went, and we were immensely blessed by the outpouring of love and support from the community of Avon and our family. Many of our friends from high school paid their respects at the services or by calling or sending flowers. We never expected that, since we have lived away from Avon for so long now.  After the funeral, we joined together at the Avon Inn for lunch and a time to share about Gary’s life.  It was a precious time, especially for Margaret.

There were some sweet smiles from God in the past two weeks, and it seems fitting to share them. First of all, my mom met me in Dayton, OH to come to NY with me to help with the kids.  Shortly after this, my dad flew in to walk beside us during the services. My sister also ‘happened’ to be in town, so she was able to attend the funeral, as did cousins and aunts and uncles from my side. For me, it was a major blessing and testimony of the love of a family for both of our sides to gather in honor of Gary. And then there was Ruth. Ruth Percival is Margaret’s sweet neighbor at the lake. Two years ago, her husband Bill fell into the lake and predeceased her. Gary and Margaret walked closely alongside Ruth while she grieved her husband, and now Ruth is walking alongside Margaret while she grieves Gary. Ruth is a precious follower of Christ who cared for my kids (as well as John and Paulette’s) without fail during the first week. She also opened her home to us – once everyone came to stay at the lake, we needed more rooms. I am so thankful she will continue to walk alongside Margaret in the days and weeks to come.  And then there were the keys. Gary’s ‘junker’ truck had been parked at the lake for several weeks because he had misplaced the keys. Among so many other things, we were all concerned about the eventual moving of the truck. On September 6 we began to help Margaret move back to Avon, the weather was beginning to deteriorate rapidly. When we got to the house, Margaret went to put a container of Gary’s clothes under the bed. As soon as she did this, she noticed the keys right under the dust ruffle. She sat down on the bed and just laughed herself silly – she said it was like Gary was just placing them right there for her to find.

Mark has done a phenomenal job of working though some details with his mom, and getting her on a trajectory toward caring for herself. At the same time, he is continuing to work through all the many emotions he has surrounding the passing of his dad. Luckily, he loved his dad well, and his dad loved him very well.  We can rest that there are no regrets.

The kids are doing fine. They have had some breakdowns, and luckily we have been there for this. We have talked them though their saddest times, and actually, we are glad for them. We take it as evidence that they are processing properly. They are not feeling this like their elderly grandparent just died – their papa is really more like an accessory parent to them. He taught the boys how to toss a football, helped them with riding their bikes, all sorts of things. Sam remarked he just wanted to cuddle with papa and watch a movie.

Margaret has done so much better than I ever could have imagined. She obviously has her moments, but she also has the history of a very strong mother who raised two kids after her husband died from pancreatic cancer. I think Margaret is already figuring out how to channel Helen Jobes – I think the remembrance of her mother will help her in this time.  Margaret flies down to Memphis October 1 and will be with us through the 18th.  It will be a joy to have her.

Thanks for letting me process through some of this with you…and here I should also mention that today marks bella’s 5 year anniversary – she has been NED 5 years today. Thanks, Gary, for being a huge part of our road the past 5 years. We love you.  


Jessie Francis September 11, 2008 at 4:35 PM  

i'm so glad that you wrote in detail about all this. i've been so curious to know how things have truly been for you guys. i'm sure its indescribable sadness. thanks for sharing. love you guys.

Lynn September 11, 2008 at 9:17 PM  

Congrats, Bella!!!!!!!!!!!! Wonderful news.
Thanks for the update. My parents have been gone for a while now, as have my parents-in-law...I miss them so much!

Still praying in Seattle!
Psalms 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
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Erika O'B September 12, 2008 at 10:59 AM  

Beautifully said. God bless you all.

Heather September 13, 2008 at 4:57 AM  

That was beautiful. Give a big hug to Mark and the kids and an especially big one to Bella for her amazing journey to reaching her 5 year milestone. Love and Miss you all!

andy cornett September 13, 2008 at 12:25 PM  

Thanks, Mylissa, for letting us know how it's been for you all these past few weeks. Know that we love and are (still) praying for you. Give Mark a big hug for me and we will be in touch. grace and peace to all 5 of you - and Margaret!

Lynn September 14, 2008 at 9:19 PM  

Continuing to pray so very hard!
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
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Lynn September 15, 2008 at 9:26 PM  

Life in this world can look so bleak at times. But the victory is ours through Christ! Put your trust in Him! Praying!
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Lynn September 20, 2008 at 10:45 PM  

Stopping by to you let you know that your family is still in my thoughts and prayers.
Ephesians 3:16-19 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
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Lynn September 23, 2008 at 11:09 PM  

If you change the appearance...shouldn't you add an update, too? :o)
Praying right now!
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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