We had our first “West Michigan Gathering” with Tapestry today! We’re experimenting with the idea of splitting the state by east and west to keep our gatherings smaller and easier to get to. It was a great time today. Mel has been designing and prepping for this forever it seems and really did a great job pulling it all together. We had a prayer room with several stations and communion, and then an open area where kids could create their own wave bottles, and crosses. Plus there was food, and places for people to just interact.
Afterward, a bunch of us invaded a local Mexican restaurant for a good meal and lots of laughs. Great times! Thanks to all who came by to worship with us.
A couple of days ago, my mom called with news that a family friend, and one-time swim coach to me was involved in a motorcycle accident but the doctors said that his injuries were recoverable. He hit a rough patch of road and was thrown. His pelvis was split in half, one lung collapsed, and he broke several ribs and at the time they didn’t know if he had any head injuries. Yesterday, they did emergency surgery on his pelvis, and his heart stopped for 5 minutes, they determined he had a stroke and his kidneys are shutting down. As you can imagine, this isn’t good news. Right before we left for Grand Rapids today, my mom called with this news and said the doctors have said it is only a matter of time until Tom dies. I can’t imagine what his kids are going through. They’ve had a pretty tough life up till now, and this only furthers their pain. It’s hard to know how to react as I feel sincerely for the kids, but am still pulled to react to the hurt he caused Theresa (a near family member to us – our kids call her “auntie rease”)…and I know she is really taking all this very hard too. Not that I want Tom to go or anything, please don’t read that into what I’m wrestling with. It’s just having walked down many hard roads with Theresa, it’s difficult to react to the loss. On one hand, I do have some fun memories of Tom personally and I don’t want to see the kids experience any more loss in their life. On the other hand, I don’t think I can forget the pain that he caused simply because his life is near to the end either. For myself, I will try to be there for Theresa and their kids as much as I can, and will try to carry those memories I have of Tom that are filled with laughter.
Death’s lingering presence in life sucks. That may seem obvious, but it just does. As a jesus person, I believe that Jesus came and defeated death. (“where o death is your sting” and all) I’m just tired of death having this upper hand. I’ve experienced too much death in the past ten years. I need one year when someone close to me doesn’t pass away. That’s probably so unrealistic, I know, but I’m sick of it. One curse of having such a large family is that we loose a lot of family members. On top of it, I’ve also become part of my wife’s family and have suffered more loss there. A few months ago, Mel’s cousin got married in Williamston. At the wedding, a guy that my uncle ross works with was there. We were sharing stories and at one point he said, “You know, I don’t want to be insensitive or anything but your family has more funerals than any other family I’ve known. Sometimes I think Ross is making up family members to get out of work.”
Sad, but true. All but one of my Grandfather’s siblings has passed away. Many of Grandma Farrand’s siblings are gone now. We lost Grandpa A, then three years later lost my new Grandpa Doug. Then we lost Uncle Howdy. Grandpa Farrand died in the 80’s, along with Uncle Jerry…and Aunt Lois died last year. Uncle Bob, (actually two uncle Bob’s) my second cousin Danny Helm and so on. Uncle John passed a few years ago, seriously I go could go on and on. So many good people with great stories each.
John Mayer wrote this song, “Say” for the movie “The Bucket List” (which may be the first movie with Jack and Morgan Freeman that I don’t want to see) where he stresses “say what you need to say,” a haunting reminder of the brevity of life. Tom’s eminent passing reminds of this. What is it that I need to say to my family, and friends or even my non-friends and non-family?
During our training this week in Lansing for the “Proud Parents, Proud Fathers” we did this lesson where we wrote down something that we wished we heard (or heard more of) from our own fathers. Then, we sat in a circle while others stood behind us and whispered that message to us in our ears. After, they would rotate around the circle and the switched. It may sound silly, but it was a powerful experience. As you might guess, the major message was something like, “I love you no matter what, no matter who you are, no matter what choices you make.” I pray that my own kids hear these messages, and that my friends and family hear this message from me directly or indirectly often.
“98% of us will experience death in our lifetime.” – Will Ferrell (talledaga nights)