Life, Loss, Love

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My aunt passed away this week. I saw my family grieve the loss of the first member in the next generation.  My dad’s sister, my aunt.  Tonight as I write, I grieve, too.

We learned 3 weeks ago she had cancer.  I was praying and believing for healing.  But Sunday, she went home. We didn’t have much notice of her sickness.  But, does anyone ever have enough notice when someone they love is ill, lying in a hospital bed struggling for their life?

I know God could have healed her.  I believe in His healing power.  But, ultimately He knows when it’s time to go Home, too. 

That Sunday after church I got in the car and began my 12 hour drive back home to Illinois.  I took an extra day to get there.  I wanted to be ready.  Lol. But, here’s the truth:

Nobody can get ready to grieve a loss, let alone get ready to watch others we love grieve. Grief has an agenda of its own, often waves of tears coming at unexpected moments.

Honestly, these past 25 years, I haven’t been very close to my aunt. Neither have I been very close to some members of my family. I guess when we grow up hearing so much that our family is broken, we live like that.  Sometimes at a distance, hoping brokenness won’t touch us.  But, it always does, until God redeems us and gives us His truth, like He’s been doing in my family.

Here is a truth I know now:

Families are a gift. Even the broken ones, because we are REAL.  We know real pain, suffering, loss, and in Jesus Christ, we can know the power of God’s Love to heal our lives individually and as a family. 

That is what God seems to be showing us in my family. I’m thankful for His redeeming grace and healing in our family.  Member by member, we are each coming to know Jesus, and through His Love and Grace, we are no longer broken, but we are WHOLE, in Jesus Christ.

My brother is a pastor.  He was asked to officiate the funeral.  I can’t imagine how hard that was for him.  But, watching him that day, standing up and sharing the Gospel to our dad’s side of the family is such an incredible milestone and memorial I will treasure.  It touched me significantly how much God loves us all.  I’m proud of my brother for serving our family like that. God used him greatly that day to shine God’s Truth and Love.

While in Illinois, I stayed with my cousin. His mom is the one who passed away, but he was serving me, letting me stay at his house, feeding me breakfast before I left yesterday. We had awesome talks those few days.  He was so strong.  I’m so glad I had the honor to hang out with him and his family.

I saw a younger niece step up in maturity to comfort.  I saw aunts and uncle and my dad saying goodbye in their own ways.

The last night in Illinois, my Aunt Pam took us out for pizza.  We got to look at family albums and hear family stories. It was a wonderful way to end the evening, making a new family memory.

On my drive back here to Texas, I realized that life is short. God is good.  I want to make these days, months, years, whatever time God grants me, to count.  Starting with my family. 

Love is a free gift.  It cost Jesus everything, though.  But because of His Love, we can now Love.  That is what I want to remember to do daily, LOVE.

Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14