Yesterday I milked the cow, called our banker, called our former family lawyer, discussed debt and taxes that are due and paperwork that needs to be filed. Took the car with the flat tire that has been out of balance into our church friends' auto shop. Ate lunch with my sister and cried a little. Went to the Farm Bureau to see what was due and what was covered and what do we need to do to get a LLC for the business part of the farm.
Paralyzed with exhaustion I drove to Bent Mtn to let a friend take care of me. We remembered Philip as we ate. We drank a very costly gift of port that we had intended to share together with Philip. It was rich and smooth, raisiny and full. Perfect for a cold night shared with memories, sadness and joy mingling sweetly. These friends knew Philip in their college days at Roanoke. I became acquainted with them when our 17 year olds were breast feeding babies eating Earth's Best baby food.
We pieced together funny stories, each of us from a slightly different angle. We cried. We spoke of other losses and eternity and the here and now and the grace and mercy of God. Of not enough time and of God's economy. Stayed up way later than we planned. I woke up way earlier than I planned and made coffee, reading through several scriptures that encouraged and comforted me. Of the many, here is one:
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
"Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak/
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing .
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes," says the LORD.
I love the image of God being in my midst, the strong one for me now that Philip is gone. I have always treasured the image of God rejoicing over me with gladness and making me quiet, like an exhausted child cuddled in her mother's arms in front of the fireplace (like Nora, as she fell asleep tonight). That he would exult over me in delight and song. And as I mourn and feel a very bizarre sense of shame in the horrible term widow, I am told I will not suffer reproach. That my oppressors: fear, anxiety, loneliness and need will be dealt with.
I drove home from Bent Mtn this morning and had a three-way conversation with Philip and God. It was very interesting. Sort of weird. But lovely. I told God that I have heard many interpretations from scripture that differ regarding what happens to the soul after death. Sleep, go straight to heaven, spend time in a lobby-like world, waiting for the judgment day. I suggested that it probably wasn't worth me worrying about too much since I believe that my mind is not wired to completely grasp eternity. That if it were really important, I was going to depend on the Holy Spirit to clue me in, but if he didn't mind, could I throw out some things to him and Philip and if he couldn't really hear me right now, would God relay the message for me?
As the car made it's way through our precious valley, I told Philip how much I miss him and how much I love him. I sensed him tell me he knew, and that he loved me too, and that now he understands everything, and as I told him I was sorry for not being a better wife sometimes, and how I wish I had served him better. He and God and I had an amazing chat, and even if I don't know how all that meshes with my theology, I felt satisfied. I reached our gate, opened it up and smelled a sweet smell of spring breeze and earth and green. The sun was shining differently and it was evident that the first day of Spring is nearly upon us (March 20th). Jason and Tim were loading the mounds of garbage to take to the dump and were discussing a way to help the boys work out a good trash system. Our pastor came for a visit. So did many home school friends and other neighbors who cut up a load of firewood for us and stacked it up. Others brought food. Homemade cookies. A trailer to borrow. Kind words. Gentle smiles.
Children played in the fields and reveled in the warm sun. After being entirely overwhelmed by kindness, I escaped to the living room and wept in my sister's arms.
The chickens are laying again. Willow died. Her best pal, Freda, is mourning. She won't eat. Daddy drenched her. She doesn't appear to have any apparent physical malady. Just grief over her baby and her friend. We have tried to get her to join the flock but she won't budge. The other sheep are doing well. The baby lambs and kids are vigorous. We plan to dock tails next week.
My back hurts. My neck hurts. My face hurts. I told my pastor I wish I could have a nice argument with my husband so we could make up.
I wish we could go back to normal.