May 18, 2019
Never Vs. Eternal
This particular piece has been on my heart for a few weeks but I have had a hard time sitting down to write it….
My friend Leanne and I said goodbye to her husband Jeremy and walked into the Abbotsford airport together. We were off to Alberta to see our good friends Ray and Cassandra. We are closer than sisters and able to pick up the friendship even with time in between. That part was exciting. The next part was also good yet incredibly intimidating and terrifying to me. I was going home. Glen’s parents’ home to be exact for our niece’s wedding. I was excited about this, but without Glen the thoughts threatened to take me away. I pushed them all away with a prayerful word and continued steadfastly in, “It will be ok. I will be ok.”
The visit with Cassandra and Leanne, and Ray and the kids was fantastic. I crashed massively. I didn’t have to think about what new thing I needed to learn – at least not for a few days. I felt safe and secure for probably the first time in many months. We laughed. We cried. We rested. Cassandra kept asking what I wanted to do and I honestly didn’t want to do anything. I was tired of doing. I was just plain tired. The tiredness has not left. The exhaustion accompanies my every breath. I have always been a poor sleeper but now…it’s all but impossible to sleep. A miracle is that I discovered that some people don’t produce something called GAD and therefore never get a restful sleep and/or have trouble sleeping at all. I am one of those people so I have started on GAD nightly alongside my herbal sleep remedies and zquill and am sleeping somewhat better. There is much improvement needed yet I am hopeful that I am on a good track.
With my friends we went out for coffee (tea in my case). We walked a bit outside but it kept on snowing so that wasn’t very appealing. We shopped because I needed a dress for the wedding. My only other option was the dress I bought for Glen’s service and that would be…massively difficult to put back on again. We danced to the Wii until we were stiff and laughed ourselves silly because we are not dancers (at least not good dancers!). Cassandra curled my hair. We gave each other massages. It was good. Leanne left earlier than I did but I knew I would see her in BC soon. And then it was time for me to go to Mom and Dad’s. Home. Without Glen.
Ray and Cassandra, along with their daughter Alyssa, drove me to Didsbury. We got there and Mom and Dad met us at the door. Unbidden as usual the tears leapt to my eyes. Mom and Dad gave me hugs with tears in their eyes too. I kept thinking that Glen would surely walk through the door. He must be coming with Donovan and Josh who were driving my truck up from BC that day. But he wasn’t. He wasn’t ever going to come home again. Not to his parents home. Not to his earthly home. Not ever to be with me and the family again. Never.
I was led to the upstairs bedroom. I’ve never slept in the upstairs bedroom before. For the twenty years that Mom and Dad have been in this house after moving into town from the farm Glen and I have slept in the downstairs bedroom together. I felt loss, yet grateful at the same time. Already the familiar was being replaced. It made sense as my sister in law Donna and niece Melanie would share the downstairs room. It had two beds – though of course Glen and I shared one so we could cuddle on the double bed and fall asleep in each other’s arms. That will never happen again.
Donovan and Joshua arrived safely and I felt massive relief as they walked through the door. These two are now grown men. They are young and can of course still be goofy (which I’ve never outgrown either thankfully!), but they have been forced to grow up rapidly with the losses in their lives. The biggest loss of course being losing their Dad…He’ll never again be able to speak into their lives and show them how to do things.
Friday came and we spent the morning with Mom and Dad visiting. They are incredible people whom I love so very much! They instantly became Mom and Dad to me when I met them. We had stopped in at Glen’s place on choir tour for a break. I think the bus needed fixing too but that part is hazy for me. I just saw wide open farm and welcoming people. The rest of the choir went inside because it was chilly outside but I saw a black lab named “Sarge” and decided to remain outside and get some air. Sarge led me all over the property with excitement and soon we were in the barn while Sarge hunted for birds. I felt free here and loved playing with him. Then I spotted the trampoline and on I went not realizing that it was soaking wet. My pants, of course, got soaking wet! Mom, then Mrs. Hildebrandt, laughed at me kindly and gave me something to wear while she threw my pants in the dryer. I joined the rest of the choir who were all sitting on the couches and floor downstairs watching the video that I’m pretty sure Glen had something to do with the making of (choir and bus memories). That was my introduction to Mom and Dad – kind, loving, giving and gracious people.
Friday afternoon the boys and I hopped in our truck and drove out to Crossfield to help set up the reception area. It was disconcerting that after all these years I still really don’t know my way around out there. I know general directions but save for maybe one or two times this was Glen’s territory and he did the driving. When Glen drove we went a different way almost every time. All the country roads look similar to me so landmarks are difficult so I felt lost and insecure with directions. I really don’t have a built in navigation system in my brain either like Glen did…So we relied on Siri maps. At least now we know how to get to Crossfield!
The next day was the wedding. I’m pretty sure that the boys and I may have been holding our breath most of the day. I kept telling myself to breathe. Here we were in Glen’s home church, at the wedding of our niece whom Glen loved very much and dearly wanted to be there this day, with Glen’s family and extended family – all without Glen. He will never be there again. I will always be there alone without Glen knowing that my boys can’t always come with me. A spirit of sadness was definitely upon me yet I was desperately trying to smile. Our niece Alana was absolutely gorgeous walking down the aisle. Both her and Levi, our new nephew in law, were glowing and had eyes only for each other. My mind flitted back and forth between the reality of witnessing the beautiful ceremony and remembering the day Glen and I got married. We saw no one but each other. We sang to each other. We had a fly interrupting the vows Glen was speaking to me which made me laugh in our ceremony. We had Glen’s unity candle go out and refuse to light again…but we still held the candles together and as the fire became one, we became one. Tears flowed down my face. We were still one. We always would be yet never will I walk beside him again.
Levi’s Dad officiated the service, just as my Dad officiated our service 27 and a half years ago, and near the end he called up Brian, Glen’s brother and father of the bride so the Dad’s could pray a prayer of blessing on their newly united children. Tears flowed again especially as I saw the reactions of my sons. Never would they have that prayer of blessing in physical form from their Dad on the day that they get married.
We headed off to the reception and kind people hugged me along the way giving me their condolences. Alone. I felt alone in a crowd, which is an unfamiliar feeling for me. The boys and I found our table with Mom and Dad, Donna and Melanie and one of Dianne’s cousins (sister in law, mother of the bride) who was easy to chat with. I made it through the dinner. The speeches were beautiful and the bride and groom still glowing. The dance started. I had been overwhelmed enough. I felt myself falling apart and wanting the earth to swallow me. I told myself to stop it. I willed myself to walk to the bathroom in a pleasant manner, not a frantic run. I walked into a stall and cried. Never would I be able to dance with Glen again. Never again would he hold me in his arms. Never again would I have a date, the Glen date, with me to significant or any events. The word never, though distorted, rang true in my mind and I was grieved beyond words. The familiarity of all that was happening combined with the absence of the one I hold most dear became too much for me just a few days short of the four month marker of watching Glen pass from my realm into the heavenly realm that I can’t quite reach. I cried until I thought I was done, dried my tears, washed my face and walked calmly back out. The boys were bored to tears because they didn’t know anyone and had already informed me that they wouldn’t dance not knowing anyone. I put my arms on their shoulders and said, “Let’s go.”
I found Alana on the dance floor and danced with her a bit, telling her we were headed out and how much we love her. I was so completely grateful that we could be there to see her amazing day. But then she asked how I was doing and unbidden the truth flew out of my mouth, “Lousy.” We both had more tears and I felt so bad! She apologized and I apologized for crying – silly how we think we need to. Of course she is missing her Uncle Glen at her special day. She loved him too.
Josh drove home. My body is having massive trouble absorbing nutrients so my feet keep cramping up so bad that I can’t drive…not just a cramp that cramps and then goes away. When it comes it doesn’t go away for hours. I forget what the conversation was on the way except that the tears came again. It’s like a leaky faucet that I seem to have very little control over. Glen was like that in the months before he passed from this realm to the next. I was too but even more now. I was living in hope then. Now…it’s much more difficult. My hope has been broken to pieces and God is slowly restoring me and my hope to something that will be much bigger I think. But the truck ride home was difficult. Broken. Shattered. “Never’s” ran through my head. Josh reached out and held my hand. Donovan put his hand on my shoulder from the back seat while I wept.
We beat Mom and Dad home and commenced packing as we were headed home in the morning. Donovan and Josh headed downstairs to bed while I continued packing. Then Mom and Dad came home, walked straight to me in my bedroom, hugged me and asked how I was doing. Leaky faucet again. I broke down for the next half hour and cried with Mom and Dad again. “What do you need?” Mom asked. I don’t even know where this came from as I hadn’t thought it succinctly. I sobbed out the words, “I need to feel safe again!”
Mom, so frail and so kind, held me. I held on to her too, afraid I would break her she’s so small. Dad stood by with tears in his eyes. He soon walked out and Mom sat on my bed while I packed and we talked. This is so hard for them too! They have lost their youngest son! Dad soon walked back in and took me into his still strong arms. “We love you Laurel. You are our daughter and always will be. You will never be left out of our family. There is always a place for you here. We don’t ever want you to feel that you are a tag along – you belong. I have never met anyone as strong as you are.”
Of course he brought me to tears again. Those words will always be treasured in my heart and my mind. I love Mom and Dad so much!
Eventually I settled down into bed and turned out the light. Then in the stillness of the dark night of my soul I heard the whisper of my Savior.
“Never is a long time my beloved daughter.”
“Yes Father. It is…” my heart spoke back, breaking.
“Eternity is longer my sweet one. It’s coming,” spoke the Father’s Spirit straight to my spirit.
Yes. Never is a long time. But eternal is longer… My spirit began to slowly wake up again. I will see Glen again. I will dance with Glen again. I will hold and be held by Glen again. Maybe not now…but in eternity where we will be eternally and forever together. Loving, always and forever. To eternity and beyond Mon Cherie Glen. To eternity and beyond with Jesus. Thank you Lord!