God is Nigh

Our family came back from Hawaii after a really good, full week of time with family and remembering Eric’s Dad.  I so appreciated the graciousness of Eric’s family in welcoming all six of us  and doing so much to make the time special. It was Ian’s first time to meet his Hawaii family!  We loved the time that we could spend with Eric’s immediate and extended family.

Besides the events surrounding the funeral, we had several fun memories.  One was driving to the Pali Lookout, a crazy place that funnels the wind through the valley– I have never seen wind like the day that we visited.   We all  just laughed and laughed as our hair — and clothes — went all over the place!

Our last afternoon we were able to go to the beach for a few hours.  It was Ian’s first beach experience… and a fun time to play before heading back to Japan.

The actual funeral events were special rituals in remembering, reflecting, and grieving as well.  I always remember a good friend of ours who worked as a hospital chaplain who said that it really bugged him when funerals were billed only as “celebrations” — because there also needs to be a time at a funeral for loved ones to express grief and loss.  I loved that the service for Eric’s Dad allowed for both celebration and for the accompanying pain of his being gone.  There were three or four hundred present; we were touched by the many who came to show their love, support, and to grieve as well.  Fred had been a bank vice president and I loved the stories I heard from different former employees who shared with me at the dinner following the ceremony what a great boss he had been in his individual care and love for the employees as well as their families.  Here are a few photos from the event.  I learned a lot about how those who live in Hawaii do funerals!

Here’s two of my boys wearing ties.  (One of them only lasted about ten minutes in his tie.  The one who didn’t have to talk in front of everyone).

Annie, at 6:04 (first photo) and then 6:05, when the jetlag kicked in.  (The funeral started at 6 pm).  Thanks Uncle Markie!

Eric and his mom.  I was thinking in seeing this photo how much strength and dignity she has.  She really amazed me last week.

Here is a photo some people would pay money for — Eric and his brothers all wearing suit and ties!  His sister Mona is on the far right.  I didn’t have the guts to take the picture, so Annie did (before she fell asleep).

During the closing remarks of appreciation, Eric moved most of us to tears as he shared a few remembrances of his Dad’s love and generosity, as well as the gift of hope that his Dad would want to leave with everyone.

The next morning was the burial.  It was the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen.  We first went to see where Eric’s grandparents are buried.

Here is a rare picture, as well, of all the standing (somewhat) still — even Ian.

Eric’s Dad was a Vietnam war veteran, decorated with the Bronze Star.  We were so moved by the honor guard presentation of the flag to Eric’s mom, and the special thanks that was given for his service for our country.

At the very end, up on the hill was a lone bugler who played the Taps.  I think at some point in girl scouts I had learned the words:

Day is done, gone the sun,

from the lakes from the hills from the sky,

all is well, safely, rest, God is nigh.

Thanks and praise, for our days,

Neath the sun neath the stars, neath the sky,

As we go, This, we know, God is nigh.

I choked up with a thankful heart that even in this time of loss we are assured –yes — This, we know — God is nigh.

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