There is a Barenaked Ladies song that has the line:
“I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral”
And lately I have learned more about what that means.
I can remember my mother (Virginia) giving me a dirty look at my Granny Casey’s funeral because I am a loud laugher and when I think something is funny, even at a funeral, I am likely to still laugh out loud.
Lately, I have had too many opportunities to laugh at funerals.
But I still have an urge to laugh.
I read a verse recently that resonated with me (as many do, the Bible says that the Word of God is alive and never returns void), and it said this:
“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” 2 Corinthians 6:10
So many of us have so many reasons to be sorrowful. People die, husbands and wives leave, finances can sink, church can be stressful, and work can be a drag. Life seems to get harder and harder and can seem so pointless….
But I am here to tell you…It can get better. My dad always said, “Act As If, and you will become.” I do not always feel like smiling. I do not always feel like doing what I do. But I get up, I act as if, and you know what? It seems to get better.
I do not take life for granted anymore. After losing part of my sight, my Dad, my Father in law, and my Birth Mom, I know life is hard. But God is still good. People argue over the silliest things, but I just want to tell them….”The days are long but the years are short”, and hug every person you can and be overly affectionate to those you love, and act like it’s the last time you might see them, because it might be.
And in the midst of this, God has made Himself known to me in ways that I am in awe of.
Here is one way: I had always had a fear that my birth mom would pass and I wouldn’t know until later. I had the privilege, instead, of being a part of her last few months in a big way (we had been friends since 1990 but the last few years, because of kids and time, had drifted apart). He allowed me to be with her when Hospice came, allowed me to be a part of her last lucid day, and my family got to be part of it too.
That last day…yall, that last lucid day was wild.
Chris, my birth mom, had been bedridden for 4 days, had nothing to eat, and had been catheterized and I had been called there because the hospice nurse didn’t think she was going to make it.
Then…the caregiver called me Saturday morning and said, “Guess who’s up?” Chris had woken up, to HERSELF, early that morning, and the caregiver said that Chris was talking to the Lord, telling Him how pretty the gates were but she had more to do and see before He took her home, and it was on.
By the time I got there that morning (she lived 3 hours away), she was sitting in a chair, smoking (which she hadn’t done in 4 days) and was like a firecracker.
She was talking and gesticulating and PRAISING GOD!! There were probably 20 people in and out of her house that day, all visiting and her laughing and talking and being who she always was, smiling in the midst of sorrow and pain and acting “As If.”
By the next morning, she was back in bed, barely responsive and not waking up as I said good bye. Which was my final good bye.
By mid week, her pain was uncontrollable, and I made the decision to have her put into a 5 day hospice respite. She struggled and was in so much pain, but by Sunday night, she was peaceful. I was worried, making plans to leave her there after the 5 days were up, but God always is on time, and she made her earthly exit and Heavenly entrance the day her respite care ran out, a year to the day that my dad passed away, and 14 years to the day that my beautiful stepfather Casey went to Heaven.
In her whole sickness, which began about October 2017 and ended February 13 of 2018, she told me that she was ready. She wasn’t acting “As If” telling me that. She was ready. She lived a tough life, people leaving and betraying and her love for animals consuming her days.
My birth mom loved life even when it was hard, and she discovered a new love for God through a loving church family, who loved on us after her death. She was unique and funny, and the stories they told made me laugh at her funeral.
Life is hard, and as we get older, it doesn’t get easier. But God gives us a strength that “surpasses our understanding” and He tells us that He is our Comforter and the Rock that is higher than we are. He is the reason I can act “As If”, because He gives me the strength to smile when I am crying, and laugh when I am mourning. Samuel Beckett said, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” And that is what I am going to do. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.