Thursday, April 21, 2005

Losses

My dad knew he was dying, so he called the local pastor of the Assembly of God church to make a floating reservation for his own funeral. He met with the funeral director and arranged for his own cremation. He prepaid $400 for the small plot where the urn containing his ashes would be placed.

And then one afternoon, a few weeks later, he died in the back bedroom, the lavender room where I'd spent my teenage years.

I called the hospice nurse and she came immediately. She cleaned his body and called the funeral people. While we waited for them to retrieve his body, I called the Assembly of God pastor. He'd been my own pastor for about ten years and had often told me that I was one of his favorite people.

Me: "Hello? Pastor M____? This is Mel. My dad just died and I wanted to make sure we can have the funeral on Saturday."

Pastor M.: "Oh. Saturday? Well. Hmmmm. I don't know. We just had a revival and the janitor is on vacation and I'm not sure we'd be able to get the tables set up again for Sunday."

Me: Shocked silence. "Oh. All right. I'll figure out something else. Thanks."

I ended up calling a pastor in another town. When I asked if we could have the funeral at his church, his immediate reaction was, "We can work something out. We have a wedding scheduled for that afternoon, but we can do it." Then he said, "What did you say your name was?"

He hadn't recognized my voice and as far as he knew, I was just a random stranger calling a number I'd found in the yellow pages.

Today, my husband was supposed to fly to Las Vegas to meet his college buddies for a long weekend. He'd been looking forward to seeing his friends and getting away from the constant demands and pressures of his life and I was thrilled for him. No one deserves a few days away more than me him.

But instead of going to the airport today, he spent his day preparing a funeral homily and spent his evening with the family of a child who died last Friday. He returned home at 9:45 p.m. Tomorrow, he'll conduct the funeral of a five-year-old boy who happens to share the name of our youngest son. He's not sure he'll be able to get through his remarks. I know he'll do a remarkable job--even if he has to pause while he cries--because he is a remarkable man and pastor.

The family doesn't even realize what my husband gave up this weekend, but in light of their terrible loss, a weekend trip seems insignificant. Almost everything seems insignificant, as a matter of fact.

12 Comments:

Blogger Christi said...

I don't know what to say except that makes me smile.

12:17 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

The world is a better place with people like your husband in it.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Pixy said...

Sjoe! I feel so sad for that family, and you can realy be proud of your husband and yourself people are not often prepared to sacrifice their own time to help others who are going through a difficult time.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Wash Lady said...

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Seems real and present this week, doesn't it?

Please remind your hubby that being an "instrument of grace" is sometimes not easy but always important. My guess is that you both already know that tho.

God Bless.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Isn't that family lucky they got your husband on the phone instead of Pastor M___?! Blessings to your husband.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Square1 said...

Condolences to the family, and blessings on you and your husband for your selflessness and compassion. Take care Mel.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

That gave me goosebumps and shivers. He sounds like a great guy.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Feeble Knees said...

I don't know you or your husband personally, but just reading this makes me want to ask you to thank him, and tell him that I appreciate him as a pastor, and all that he does. I appreciate you too, for being his help and support.

People often say "we need more pastors like that", but I'd rather say that we need more people to recognize and appreciate pastors like your husband. Too often we hear and talk about the bad ones. We should talk more about the good shepherds.

God bless you both.

8:02 AM  
Blogger The Coach's Wife said...

Very sorry for your loss.

I am shocked that a pastor would not be able to assist you in your time of need even after your father specifically requested the pastor at the Assembly of God. To do say says that the dead are not nearly as important as the living - "We can try to squeeze you in..." I'd have called someone else.

Truly, we need to take the time to reflect on what may seem insignificant to us but is significant to others.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

your husband sounds like a real shepherd. I'm sorry for what you went through when you're dad died. It's amazing to me how much the church can hurt the pople it's supposed to be ministering to, but it happens all the time. You've got a good man there, Mel.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

It seems there is a difference between those who look up their position as pastor as a job and those who see it as a calling, a life. Though he may be called upon to sacrifice his weekends away, it is wonderful and admirable of your husband to put his "sheep" first.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Wow. That is really admirable of your husband. It speaks volumes about him.

I found out this weekend why my mom who was raised in a very catholic part of the world, and who was taught about religion rigorously rejected it.

She told me that when her mother died and she and her siblings were orphaned and under age -- -- after her mother's services, the priest came by their apartment and didn't ask if he could help them -- instead he asked for their church taxes!!!

My mom said even though she was only ten, it impacted deep down to the core. The pain of it still haunts her.

There were five kids, under age, left alone with no one to help them eat, and survive.

9:36 AM  

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