Our family has spent Memorial Day at Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery for many decades. Not once have we been rained on… until today.
Standing under umbrellas in a downpour, several people shared thoughts from their hearts. Although we usually talk about the lives of those buried there (the first one 99 years ago), today our sharing was all about Nate. It’s been nearly seven months since his funeral, and he’s the seventh family member to be laid to rest in this plot.
As we stood in the rain, I knew my shivering had nothing to do with being wet and everything to do with missing Nate. Bervin quoted Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,” describing ways Nate had modeled this in front of all of us. Mary shared his favorite Scripture from Hebrews 12 about Jesus enduring his suffering, knowing joy would come later. She commented on Nate’s suffering being over, and the joy he now knows.
My nephew Luke told how much he appreciated Nate’s knowledge of history and the fact that he knew something about everything, an interesting person to talk to. Another Luke, like-a-nephew, mentioned talking with Nate last Memorial Day on this spot, realizing for the first time how great his back pain had become. He admired Nate’s not having taken a pass on the cemetery event but choosing to be present and participating, without complaint.
My brother Tom described how he’d known Nate well after sharing office space with him for 19 years. He’d watched him go through ups and downs in business and personal finance, sometimes becoming discouraged but never giving up. Having met each of Nate’s law clients since his death, Tom reported how much respect they all held for him and shared positive client comments. He also described a giant box of “show and tell” items he’d brought to share with us over lunch.
When it was my turn to talk, I read a verse from Ecclesiastes that compares controlling the wind with controlling the arrival of death. Neither can be done. Thankfully the control of both is in the flawlessly capable hands of Jesus Christ.
While crying, part of me was thinking, “I can’t believe my husband is dead and buried!” But the rest of me was feeling lifted and loved by the words being spoken. Mary finally said, “The weather is weeping, too, but we know this rain isn’t an accident. Maybe God knew it would be a sad Memorial Day and is helping us keep it short.” We moved to the cars and headed for our picnic, indoors at a local McDonald’s rather than our regular park location nearby.
Tom’s box contained Nate’s leather jacket and personal items from his desk and file cabinets, including unnumbered family pictures, artwork from our children’s grade school years, framed degrees and Elvis paraphernalia.
Two phone texts came through in the middle of our day together, one from Nelson in Africa and the other from Linnea in Florida, both promising Memorial Day prayer and describing strong family bonds that reached across thousands of miles. An email from Hans and Katy had accomplished the same. So, all of us were present and accounted for, including Nate… via sweet memories.
“No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death.” (Ecclesiastes 8:8a)