I’ve spent the past five days planning my husband’s funeral. Some will call it a celebration of life service and that’s OK. It won’t offend me. I’ll be calling it a funeral. I’ll spend the rest of my life celebrating Corey and keeping him alive in and through and for my children, but this next few days has an Earthly finality to it – and funeral seems more fitting for how my heart really feels.
These past few days have been unbelievable for so many reasons. Of course, it’s pretty hard to wrap my mind around what’s happening. Around the actual process of laying a loved one to rest. Friday felt like I’d begun my day with a visit to the eye doctor. I went through the whole day feeling like my eyes had been dilated; it was nearly impossible to physically make myself focus on anything. I didn’t drive, I didn’t write on the lists (oh, the lists!), I didn’t do much of anything for myself. I kind of wafted through the day, guided by those around me whose eyes weren’t dilated. I crashed early and hard and slept like a rock. I’m grateful for that. I woke up Saturday with normal eyes and a clearer head and the ability to physically make myself focus on the tasks ahead. I still didn’t write on the lists. Thankfully, I have lots of people around me who love lists.
I was standing in my kitchen Saturday morning drinking a cup of coffee and looking out my back window and said to my dad, “Did you mow my lawn?” He said no and came to look and agreed that it had definitely been freshly mowed. I looked out the front door and yep, the front lawn had been mowed too. And edged. Upon further inspection, the flower beds and had been weeded and the hedges trimmed too. I chucked and shook my head, knowing either Mark or Monte, just two of the amazing guys in our neighborhood who’ve done so much for us since Corey’s diagnosis, had been there. We had appointments and things we had to accomplish Saturday and when we got home the back gate was open. Sure enough, Mark was there, weeding and doing things. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I had to do something.” Walking up to my front door I noticed my porch had been “done.” I typically love doing a spring porch, with lots of colorful flowers and plants and a new wreath for my door, etc. Of course I’d not had time to do anything so Chelsie and Shirleen, more of my awesome neighbors, came over and did my porch. They knew people would be dropping things by and that having a cute porch mattered to me, so they just did it. I’ve made a mental note not to ask, just to do from now on.
In the past five days I’ve had people drop by or I’ve come home to find all kinds of things on my porch. There have been flowers, gifts for the kids, meals and lunch items, chips, granola bars and fruit snacks, homemade slime for my kids from one of their friends who just had to do something. My sweet and practical friend Kelly dropped by Costco-sized packages of Kleenex and toilet paper. She said, “I know you’re getting ready to have an influx of people at your house and these are things people don’t often think of.” Then she asked what kind of dishwasher and laundry soap I like. Sunday morning my friend Katie texted me that she’d dropped off a few items for breakfast. I opened my door to a coffee carafe from Starbucks, coffee creamer, donuts, yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and all kind of other goodies. Not having to think for myself has been one of the greatest gifts of all these past few days. And that of course doesn’t take into account the fact that my parents, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law (all of whom love lists, by the way), my neighbors and coworkers and so many other people around me have handled paperwork, shuttled me to various appointments, watched my kids, have been there to talk when I wanted and have given me space when I needed it. The outpouring of love and support is unlike anything I’ve ever seen or witnessed. I am pretty sure God Himself is smiling at all the people around me and is beaming with pride that His kids are doing it right. And you are.
My kids I will never be the same because of this experience – for so many reasons. But this, this outpouring of generosity and kindness and practical goodness is how we will make this be OK to whatever extent it can be. This will allow Corey to live on in our hearts and minds and lives forever. Every single time we think of his leaving this earth and entering eternity, we will also think of the way God prompted His people to step up, and they did. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and, whenever necessary, use words.” So many people around me have preached the Gospel (the “good news” of Christ’s redemption of mankind) to my kids and me in countless ways over the past week (well, really, the past 14 months since Corey’s initial diagnosis). It has impacted my life and the lives of my children and will forever change the focus and purpose of our family. So thank you for that. For making sure Corey will live on in all of us. I rather think he’d get a kick out of that.