Friday, the day of the funeral was beautiful ... sunshine, no rain, not too warm, not too cool ... a total contrast to the way I was feeling. I had set the funeral for 3:00 PM. I wanted it to be after school so my "other" family could attend (I would find out over the following weeks and months just how important this other family was to me). Because Eddie's family wasn't from here, a lot of people had come from out of town for the funeral. Since the funeral was late in the day, a lot of them came to the house before the service. I am normally a very social person who loves being around a lot of people - but not today. I couldn't take the people, the noise, the food (everyone ate lunch at the house) so I shut myself in my bedroom. I spent a long time at the computer watching the video the funeral home had made. I needed to spend some time with Eddie. I knew when "the car" was supposed to arrive to take us to the church. I kept watching out the window praying that it wouldn't come. If it didn't come, then I wouldn't have to go. Of course, it finally came. I remember standing outside in the driveway trying to decide who was going to sit where in the car. My nerves had been stretched to their limit by this point, and I wanted to scream at everyone - "just get in the car - it doesn't matter who sits where - we're all going to the same place for the same reason!"
When we were finally settled in the car we headed for the church. I remember staring out the window watching the trees go by as we rode. It was the weekend of the air show in Columbus and I could see and hear the planes practicing in the sky. Why was life going on as usual for everyone else when I was on the way to my husband's funeral? It's only about a 15-20 minute ride to the church, but today I was hoping it would take us forever to get there. Unfortunately it didn't. When we pulled up in front of the church there were people still outside waiting to go in the doors. All I could think was that I didnt want to get out of the car and have those people looking at me and feeling sorry for me.
Once we got into the church I was determined to be strong - that has always been an important trait to me. As we walked down the aisle to the front row of seats I was telling myself all the way, "Hold your head up, don't look at anyone and you'll be okay." I had carefully chosen and planned every part of the service. The music included everyone's favorites: "Amazing Grace", "How Great Thou Art", and "Because He Lives", as well as a special song "I Can Only Imagine" which was performed by my friend Peggy's son Andy, who played the guitar and sang. Andy was also a friend of Trey's and his willingness to play and sing at Eddie's funeral was made even more special by the fact that he had just lost his own father only a short time before. The minister delivered a heartfelt, moving message, which I appreciated very much. Trey and I had decided that we wanted to take part in the service also. I planned to read a poem written by my grandfather and Trey was reading a letter that he had written to his dad. The preacher had already told me that if I couldn't read the poem or Trey couldn't read the letter, he would give them to the minister of music to read, but I was determined to do it myself, as was Trey.
When our time in the service came Trey and I went up together. I was to read first, and I remember Trey putting his arm around me and squeezing my shoulder. That gave me the strength I needed. I told everyone that my grandfather, who was a preacher, had peformed the ceremony when Eddie and I married 25 years before, so I thought it was only right that he should have a part in this service. I then read the following poem which my grandfather had written many years before:
All Things Work Together for Good
All things work together for good, to them who love our God,
And live according to is word and follow where He trod.
At times the road is rough and steep and burdens too great to bear,
But lest we fall beneath the load, our Lord is there to share.
He does not promise an easy way that's ne'er without a cross,
Nor does He tell us in His word that we shall know no loss.
He's never told us we'd understand the mysteries of this life,
Nor has He promised a golden road that's free from pain and strife.
But He who is touched with our feelings infirm knowing, oft, that our way is grim,
Has said, that if here we'd bear our cross, up there we'd reign with Him.
So now, though oft I see not the good in the trials that come my way,
I know that up there I shall understand in that land of eternal day!
-Charles W. Crowe
When I first started to read, I remember looking out over the crowd of people for just a second. I knew I would only be able to do this if I didn't look directly at anyone. I remember focusing for just a moment on my grandmother then finding a spot on the back wall to look at while I read. When I finished it was Trey's turn. I'll be honest and say that I didn't think Trey would be able to get through this. He had written a letter to his father straight from his heart. The only thing I could do was what he had done for me - put my arm around his waist and hold on while he read. I've never been as proud of my son as I was at that moment. He read his letter without faltering, pouring his hurt and his sorrow out in his words. He talked about his father's guidance, the times they shared, and the bond they shared when he himself became a father. Our hearts were breaking during that time, but neither of us shed a tear.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9