I'd be lying if I said it was easy. When I left home this time I knew the chances were good, despite a shorter stay, that a small handful of people in my life might not still be on this earth when I returned. Age, and the health issues that often accompany aging, reminded me that I should try to be prepared. As if one can ever really be truly prepared for these sorts of things. A dear friend went home to be with the Lord last Thursday, and I knew he was ready to go so that helped in some way. I'm still not even sure he knew I was there the last two times I had visited before I left, but we had talked many times before of his desire to be in heaven. Then this Thursday I got the rather unexpected news that another beloved friend had been rushed to the hospital. I had certainly not mentally prepared myself for two people in my life to leave so quickly. I just had a sense last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, that I wasn't going to have good news about her in the morning. The song "When the Saints Go Marching In" popped into my head as I thought about them both. I couldn't tell you the last time I heard or thought of that song, but it was certainly fitting. He was a very tall man, served in the Army - he certainly knew how to march and I'm sure he made an imposing figure as he did so; and her husband had also been in the military (as most of their generation had been) and they were known to always be walking in step, wherever they went. I know there isn't marriage in heaven, but I like to think her and Butch are once again marching in step, this time down streets of gold.
I was doing well this morning dealing with the news I had expected last night, or so I thought, until I read an unexpected post on my Facebook wall. A virtual hug and a sweet reminder that "we serve a God of comfort who is with us no matter where we are". Being away when these things happen is certainly hard, but it's such a blessing to have friends back home who make the effort to let you know what is going on, as it happens, and that they're aware you are far away and hurting as well. Like most others, I have my gripes with technology, but at times like these I'm incredibly thankful for the contact.