Monday, September 21, 2009

Where Are the Words...

...to adequately convey my thanks and gratitude for the support and kindness I have found here among my blogging friends. Your words of faith and encouragement made more of a difference than you could ever know. A few "blurkers" even de-cloaked long enough to tell me they were praying for me and my family. Thank you.

Texts and e-mails from blogging friends who have become RL friends just flowed in. Sherrie Shepherd came to my father's viewing, bringing with her a dear mutual friend whom I had not seen in years. This was no short drive; I'm sure it took them at least an hour one way to get there.

How do you tell someone in a few words, a quick hug, a tearful smile, how much such a gesture means to you? Such acts are recorded in heaven. Of this I have no doubt.

And then there are my friend-friends, who don't blog and don't read mine. My friend, Elise, who fed my family and taught my seminary class and (here's the sanctifier) taught my first Isaiah lesson for Institute, and after volunteering to do all of that, said that if I needed she'd throw on her traveling clothes and help me make the drive to Salt Lake from Las Vegas and then just fly home.

Where are the words? How do you begin to express the kind of gratitude that would be commensurate with that degree of selflessness?

Or my Crazy Catholic Neighbor, Sherry. (That's how she introduces herself to mutual friends. "Hi, I'm DeNae's crazy Catholic neighbor, Sherry.") Sherry's 11-year old son is suffering from a heart disease that will take his life if he doesn't get a transplant soon. She called from the hospital, offering to bring ME dinner.

Someone please explain to me how anyone can do enough good to deserve to have these kinds of people in their lives?

And my family....oh, my family. My brother, Jason, was just 11 when I married and moved away. I don't know this 35-year old man, who stepped up and took the reins for all the preparations. OWNED the crisis. I have never felt such love and respect for him as I did this week.

My brother, Shane, who dropped everything and headed across the valley and then down to Pleasant Grove to pick up Amber and then join the others at my parents' house to deal with the trauma of having found that our father had passed away.

My sisters. Really, you should meet these women. Jill, with her creative eye, put together flower arrangements that defied description.

Kim, with her sensitivity to details, suggested little touches like cups of peanut M&Ms to be distributed at the viewing, because my dad always had some in his pocket. I asked the congregation at his funeral to raise their hands if they had ever gone up to him and held out their hands so he would give them a little treat. Dozens of hands, young and old, came up. He was like that, and Kim remembered.

Amber, with her honesty and her humor, her talk at the funeral was so powerful, her testimony so sweet.

And all the in-laws were so great and so supportive. Kevin found my dad. Tavis drove all night to bring my mom home. We buried dad on Alison's birthday, and she never breathed a word of complaint. Jennifer and Brett took care of families and supported their spouses unconditionally.

Where are the words?

The loss of my dad was so sudden and such a shock, I still feel like I'm in a daze. It's as though the last week has really been just one long day, with intermittent breaks for sleep and showers. Most of September is gone, and I couldn't for the life of me tell you how that happened.

The funeral was beautiful. All six kids spoke, as did our former bishop. It was so great, almost as though there were an empty frame hovering over us, and each of us inserted a puzzle piece which, taken as a whole, created a pretty good picture of just who our dad was.

The grandkids sang. I did a piano thing, which my mom appreciated. Flowers, spectacular. Food, amazing. Service from ward members and family, overwhelming and constant.

And above all, the power of the Holy Ghost in His role as Comforter was something I never fully understood until last week.

My house is still a candidate for FEMA funding. I came home with a wicked head cold. I owe apologies to the half-dozen or so students I forgot to notify of my absence. And I owe a big batch of cookies to my friend Lia, who had to scramble for a babysitter for none other than the Air Force Ball (she had a gown and everything!) when my daughter failed to show up.

But nothing compares with the depth and breadth of gratitude I feel for the faith that sustains me, the love of my Father in Heaven that passes all understanding, and the reminder that I regularly "entertain angels, unawares" - angels who look like everyday people living complicated, often difficult lives themselves, who manage still to carve out a place of charity and compassion for me.

There are no words. But I am eternally, gratefully, willingly in your debt.

...and p.s. Next time I post, I promise it will be freaking hilarious. Really. You won't know what to do with yourselves.

29 comments:

The Garden of Egan said...

HUGS!

Kristina P. said...

The service sounds lovely. I wish I could have been there to support you in person.

You, Amber, and your family are in my prayers!

Pedaling said...

i'm sure your dad was very pleased and honored with the strength of your family and how everything turned out.

KC Mom said...

(((hugs)))and ♥♥♥

Jessica said...

I wish I could have been there. LDS Funerals have always been so amazing. They start out with sadness, then move to sadness and a few laughs and by the dinner at the church it is just like a family reunion.

I have fond memories of your dad.

Lara said...

I think there are very few things more inspiring than the way people can come together to serve and do what needs to be done in moments like these. How wonderful for you to be the recipient.

Again, hugs to you, and the rest of your family. I've been thinking of you a lot this past week as you deal with this.

aunt dyanne said...

what goes around....comes around... you are an angel on earth for many, many, many people...it's time you were revealed the other angels you roam the earth with. You are still in my heart, as is your family. Take care.

Goldibug said...

I'm sorry to hear of your fathers passing but am so glad you've recieved so much support. Leaving someone is never easy but with the support and help of family and friends everything is more bareable. God bless you and your family for the strength you all possess without even knowing it.

brudcrew said...

I think that's the purpose of this life. To serve, and for some like you, even more difficult to be served. Family, friends, love, and service that we might have joy!

Melanie J said...

I'm so glad all is well. I'm so glad you have felt such an outpouring of love. I'm so glad you have felt your family knit closer together. That's what happened when my parents died too, and I think it's the strength of the sealing bond. You've been in my thoughts and prayers often and will continue to be. Love you!

Stacy said...

I had two brothers die last summer within a month of each other, both of drug overdoses. I remember well the feeling of our family being supported by other people and by all the prayers around us. I am glad that so many reached out to you when you needed them.

And I, for one, can't wait to read your next post.

Teri said...

May the Lord continue to bless you and your family with the knowledge and peace the Gospel brings. I don't think one can truly appreciate the charity of that is given during a time of crisis like this until he or she becomes the recipient instead of the giver. It changed my perspective considerably to how much service like that means.

WILLOW TREE said...

I'm so sorry very for your loss. Praying earnestly for your family tonight.

Blessings,
C~

Devri said...

Oh my word girl, sorry I have been MIA, and soo sorry about your fathers passing. Hugs to you!

You and your family are in my prayers!

MommyJ said...

Denae, having been sick all week, I missed your first post about your Dad passing away. So sorry to hear it, and so touched to read how your lovely portrayal of him and the services honoring him. Many good thoughts to you and your entire family this week, and weeks to come...

Motherboard said...

My Dear, I'm sorry I missed your fathers viewing. I wanted you to know that I have been praying for you. You are the older sister I have always wanted, and I love you. Thank you for being so amazing!

Debbie / Cranberry Fries said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. It's amazing to hear though the assistance, help, offers, kindess that came your way. It's what good people like you deserve. Prayers for your family.

Gina said...

Your "crazy catholic friend" Sherry told me about your Dad. I am so sorry to hear. I still haven't met Sherry's "other" Mormon Friend Denae, but will send prayers up for you tonight. I still stalk your blog frequently and love your sense of humor. Blessings to you and your family.

Loralee and the gang... said...

So sorry about your dad. It is hard to lose a loved one, and the value of eternal families becomes clearer than ever.
Take care-

charrette said...

I totally know this feeling. So humbled by all the goodness that surfaces at a time like this. And, dear one, I keep meaning to email you for your address so I can send you something.

xo

M-Cat said...

What a beautiful post, full of gratitude and love. So uplifting. And while this is a hard time for you and yours, know that your example and testimony lifts the rest of us!

Now, I would like a funny post. Please. : )

xoxoxox

wendy said...

I loved that post. Your testimony and the way you are able to express yourself is so beautiful and inspiring to me.
You don't need "word" ----I feel your sweet spirit and love right here through my computer. Yup, I do.

Happy Mom said...

I can't remember the name of the member of the 1st quorum of the seventy (he's been gone for years, but he was amazing) who said at the end of a funeral, "Oh a good life makes a GOOD funeral!"

To me, one of the most sacred things about a funeral for someone I love is the overwhelming realization of how many lives they touched that I was totally unaware of. There is a beauty and power in a good life that is beyond words.

I'm so glad that you have had a worthy portion of the comforter with you. That people rallied around you is a testiment to God's goodness, along with both yours and theirs.

I don't know you well, but you're one of my hero's!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I am not a huggy person, DeNae, but this is the part, where if we happened to be in the same room together (or even the same state, for that matter) I would give you a hug.

Kazzy said...

I dread the day I lose my dad. I am sure it has been a tough time. So sorry.

I am glad the service went well. Best wishes.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm so glad everything went well. My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family. My most heartfelt congratulations to your dad, for getting to be reunited with his loved ones that proceeded him and his Big Brother.

AS Amber said...

You're right. We really do have an incredible family. I really miss you. I wish you were still up here. I just keep wishing we were all together. I don't feel right being apart.

What an amazing outpouring of love we've gotten!!

I, too, am excited for a funny post. I'll just be linking you for all my posts. LOL

Love you! See you in a couple weeks!!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

I was just going to ask you if you got your house cleaned, but I guess not. I am so sorry about your sudden loss. It doesn't matter how old you are, and how comforted you are by the plan of salvation, and how much better off a loved one is on the other sida, loss is loss! And loss is the loneliest word in the whole wide world.

Did I punctuate that right?

But funerals are a wonderful closure and family bonding.

Amen!

LY

val of the south said...

We call them funeral snacks - we had cheez-its, black licorice and pepsi at my dads. And we go to the cemetary on his birthday and father's day and celebrate his life with those same snacks.

It's also led to some bizarre conversations of everyone deciding what their snacks would be :)

So sorry about your dad, it is so hard...I'm so glad you have such a great family to pull together and support each other.

Hugs to you and Amber and your families.