It happened ten years ago, during the month of May, but I remember it like yesterday. Both of my children were graduating; one from high school and the other from college. It was busy, stressful and exciting as we planned for all the celebratory events. We anticipated having both sets of grandparents join us for my son’s high school ceremonies. This would only be the third time we had all been together in the same place since my husband and I got married. With my parents in Michigan, his parents in California and we lived in Maryland this was not an easy feat. I call these legacy moments in the life of a family, when everyone is together, celebrating. It creates a picture to last a lifetime.
The first crack in this painting occurred when my dad called from Michigan. It seems he needed another heart operation. This one was not life threatening, but necessary and Cleveland Clinic had scheduled him for the week of my son’s graduation. Of course, I was extremely disappointed that he and my mom would not be able to share in the events, but I assured my Dad that this was what he needed to do. The picture of eight was now reduced to six.
The second crack occurred on the day we were preparing to pick up my in-laws from the airport. The day began as any other, with coffee in hand, I was on the porch reading my devotions and the phone rang. It was clear by my husband’s conversation that something was very wrong. I walked out to the kitchen, as he hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “My dad, had a massive heart attack, he . . . did not survive.” This tore right through the legacy painting. Now we were not picking up his folks from the airport but, instead, I was taking him to the same airport so that he could fly home to be with his family in California.
The celebratory graduation events were now shadowed with a huge shroud of loss and grief. Not only did we not have any grandparents at the open house and baccalaureate, but my husband was absent as well. The biggest loss was the permanent hole in our family as we would never be able to celebrate another memory with Grandpa.
In spite of it all, my husband was able to return for the actual graduation day. That morning we all woke up determined to make the day special. I was fixing a nice breakfast for the family and the phone rang. My husband answered it upstairs so I was clueless to the message. He came downstairs and I could tell by his face something was wrong. They say things always happen in threes, and here was the third event that shrouded the graduation day. He began to share with me the details of the call. It was his boss, calling to inform my husband, over the phone, that his position was eliminated, effective, immediately. No real reason except “reorganization”. He would be expected to turn in all keys, car and company belongings the next day.
I couldn’t believe my ears and thought he was kidding. When he assured me it was not a joke, we embraced each other and danced. Right there in the kitchen, just the two of us, crying and swaying while I sang “Bend me break me anyway you want to, long as you love me, it’s alright”
Solomon was very wise when he penned the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes. There is a time for everything: verse 4 “ a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Sometimes in the midst of grief and mourning, the best distraction is. . . to dance.
Thank you Lord that there is a time for everything, nothing is forever and you created seasons for a purpose. Thank you for gifts like dancing and other joys to distract us in the midst of challenging times. Help us to embrace these gifts, feel your peace and have confidence in Your word that joy will come in the morning. Amen