...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.