Sunday, May 15, 2011

Far, far away

I have had lots on my mind in the last few days.  I went to a funeral Friday...

My granddaddy's brother, Uncle Clayton passed away last week.  My granddaddy has been gone now for almost 18 years.  He was an extraordinarily special person...the kindest most humble person you have ever known.  His brother, Uncle Clayton was also that kind of person...just humble. His funeral service was sweet, if that makes any sense.  He joined his sweet wife, Aunt Helen, in Heaven.  He also joined several brothers and sisters.  There are only two left here now, Uncle Parker and Aunt Gwendolyn.

As I sat in that service, I began watching those family members closest to Uncle Clayton, particularly Aunt Gwendolyn. Her face was not the face of one that was distraught, having no hope.  It was a face of one who remembered.  There were times looking at her that it was evident she was climbing a tree behind her big brother or watching as a beloved brother left for school while she was left with mama....maybe she was longing to follow along on that first date.  She was far away, back in time Friday.  There were tears...there was sadness.  The tears and sadness were not for Uncle Clayton but for times long gone. The tears were not constant but present with fond memories. I have seen her attend three funerals of brothers and a sister in the last year.  My heart hurts for her.  Grief is lonesome, but I imagine for her it is even more so.

You know, I thought about the difference in Aunt Gwendolyn and myself.  As I sat in a chapel a little over a year ago, I had no fond memories of days long ago.  My tears and sadness were different.  They were for shattered hopes and dreams of a son I'd only know briefly this side of Heaven.  My tears were because I would never see Lucie Rose or Amelia chase him up a tree. I would never console a little sister as Eli left her behind as he grew up. Her tears were the tears of a sister burying her brother of 88 years.  Mine were of a mother burying her son of 32 weeks, three days, and two hours. I sat in that chapel Friday and thought of these things.  The tears, once again gathered and fell...tears for Aunt Gwendolyn, Uncle Clayton's children and grandchildren...selfish tears for me because I still miss my baby boy every second of every day. Going to a funeral takes my mind back there, back to Eli's service...

Uncle Clayton was buried with military honors.  As we made our way from the chapel to his burial site, his body was placed in a horse drawn hearse.  It was a site to behold with his flag draped coffin being carried by a glass encased carriage, driven by a man in a coat with tales and top hat. As the hearse made its way to the burial site, two men in full dress uniforms saluted Uncle Clayton's body. Gives me chills just remembering...
Once verses had been read and prayers said for the family, his body was saluted again while taps was played.  It was a humbling experience.  It made me pause for a second and think of all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers...whom have given up a loved one for this great nation we live in. I thought of all the memories these loved ones were made to forfeit for our freedom. To think that these men and women made the choice to put themselves in death's path is the most humbling of all. 

Friday's events stirred many thoughts and emotions.  I just needed to write it out and share.

Much love,