comfort, death, dying, eternal life, families, home, hope, living and growing, military, mourning, moving on, music, peace

Major Tom

Shortly before my dad died, a song came on the radio.    I hadn’t heard it in many years.  It immediately struck me that this song would become connected to my fathers death.

https://youtu.be/VNYFsOAmuFc  Major Tom – Coming Home by Peter Schilling.

Having served in the Air Force, my father retired from the military as a Major.  Even 40+ years after his retirement he was still introducing himself as Major Tom.    I remember his pleasure when this song came out in 1983.

Several days passed after my hearing it on the radio.   My siblings and I had started sleeping over my parents house in anticipation of my father dying.   We did not want to leave him and my mother to walk through that valley alone.

Four, three, two, one – Earth below us
Drifting, falling – Floating weightless
Calling, calling home……..

The night before my dad died, my brother and I were sleeping over my parent’s house.   I had woken up around 3pm to see if my father needed his meds.   He was alive but quiet, I decided to leave him alone.   I went back to sleep.   Shortly after 5 am, I was startled awake.  A sense of urgency caused me to jump up and rush into the room where my father was.   I slipped beside his bed and listened.   My brother had been in a recliner beside my dads bed.   He rested his hand on my fathers chest and we both looked for signs of life.    We quietly called his name.    For the first time in our lives, there was no response.

Back at ground control -There is a problem
“Go to rockets full” – Not responding
“Hello, Major Tom – Are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on – We’re standing by”
There’s no reply……..

My brother assumed the awful role of going to tell my mother.   While he was waking and then telling her, I had a chance to one last time tell my father thank you.   To tell him, he had been a good dad.   I told him I loved him and I was going to miss him.   As my mother entered the room, I left to call my other brothers and sister.   And so began the truly, most exhausting day of my life.

Earth below us – Drifting, falling
Floating weightless – Coming home….

By mid afternoon, I arrived home.   The mortician had come and taken my dads body, calls had been made, events set in motion.    The trip to the florist has been forever stamped in my mind.   As my sister and I sat there trying to pick out flowers that would somehow express the magnitude of our love for this man, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion.   Every movement and thought was an exercise of sheer will power.  My physical body and my emotions were tapped of all strength.  When I finally arrived home I laid down on my bed, too tired to even cry.

As I laid there, I sent a friend a text telling her what had happened.   Her texted response, “Oh, Beth, I’m so sorry!” was spoken into my heart as if she had said it out loud to me. The sincerity of those words had an effect on me that I still can not describe.   My broken heart responded with a relieving flood of tears.

Desperate for something to soothe the pain, the song I had heard a few days before came to mind.  I found it on youtube and within minutes was listening, and sobbing and unknowingly starting down the path to healing.

The words continued to comfort me in the days and weeks following my fathers death.   My father was like that astronaut in the song, heading into the unknown.   My Dad understood that dying would be his last mission.  He knew that he was heading into uncharted territory.   A countdown had begun.   We all knew it as we gathered around him in his last days of life.   In his last week of life, He repeatedly asked about my mother, did we know where the paperwork was?    We reminded him, he had done a good job, that he had made sure her needs would be met.   And we were here.   We would take over.   He could rest.

Far beneath the ship – The world is mourning

They don’t realize – He’s alive
No one understands – But Major Tom sees

“Now the light commands – This is my home – I’m coming home”

These lines in particular give me peace.   He is no longer here because he’s gone home.   My mind wants to war with that idea.   We are his home, it cries!   But that is not the truth.   We were part of a place he called home for 88 years but his true home, where he will spend eternity, is not here.    And I am reminded that he is very much alive.   His soul, the truest part of him, has not died.   He has gone ahead.   Not with a goodbye.   For those of us who believe, his death comes with a simple thought – ‘I’ll see you later….at home.’

 

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living and growing

A New Perspective for 2015

Bonnie Gray, the author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace, encourages her readers to ask God for a ‘word’ at the beginning of each New Year.

When I discovered Bonnie’s writings last year, I tried this and the word I received was ‘rest’. And much to my surprise, I actually have been learning to rest. I’ve learned that I can stop toiling at night – that not every hour has to have some pre-determined idea of productivity in it. I’ve learned that I like to rest. It’s not painful any more. And I’m growing in my ability to rest in Him and to rely on His time tables and not my own. The mantra’s ‘this to shall pass’ and ‘if it’s meant to get done, it will get done’ have been a solace to me. I have seen the truth in these ideas and by allowing them to be true, I have gained greater freedom from worry.
This year, Bonnie made the suggestion again to ask the Lord for a word for 2015. So I did. And at first I heard only silence. But I kept asking. And eventually a word came to mind. A word, I promptly dismissed. However, it pursued me. Nagging at me. And my response? “I don’t want that word! Bonnie’s word for 2015 is ‘Beloved’. I want a word like that. One that makes me feel special and loved.”

I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and the word debate was still going on in my mind. I was telling God that I didn’t like or want the word he gave me.
The word was ‘quiet’. 

Weeks had gone by and here I was still arguing with God over the very thing I had asked for. Sitting in church that day though, I started to be honest about why I didn’t want it.
I told the Lord,Quiet is a weak word. I want a word that makes me feel better, stronger, loved….. ‘quiet’ isn’t going to do that.” And as I sat there, worries flooded my mind.
And God in his grace, gave me a nudge. I was overwhelmed by my worries and in that moment, I took my word and I spoke it to my worries. “QUIET!” And like the vaporous things worries are, they vanished. Gone. And I felt still.
And in that moment, I realized how foolish I had been. Quiet is a weak word? No. It’s full of power and strength. It’s an incredible gift. God had quieted storms and water. He spoke quiet into people’s hearts and minds and bodies. I was humbled by my foolishness and God’s kindness.
A short time later, I came down with a stomach bug. My body was NOT quiet. It was chaotic and out of control. I tried my quiet word again. And it did nothing. And I learned something. God reminded me that his gift is not a magic talisman. There was nothing wrong in trying to speak quiet into my body. But my disappointment in it not ‘working’ was where the learning needed to happen. Had it worked I might have been inclined to try that word in every situation. God was telling me that the power in the word only came from him. The quiet that He is offering is still bigger than I fully understand.
So, I’m trying to be more open now. To see what the Lord will do with this word in my life in 2015. He and I both know very well, that I have a heart and body and mind that desperately need quieting.
I encourage you to ask for a word…..and to learn from my mistake. Don’t fight it, if you get one. Accept it as a remarkable gift from the One who knows you better than you know yourself.

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