730 Days

February 9, 2017 | My Jottings

Michael moved to heaven two years ago today. He packed lightly for the move, leaving all his clothes and toys and various belongings here on earth. He even left his body here.

His clothes have been given to family members, donated to others who needed them, and a few still hang in our closet. I don’t see a need to say goodbye to them yet. People ahead of me on this journey tell me I will know when it’s time to clear everything out, and that has been helpful. Today I still want his jeans and shirts hanging nearby.

His man toys were happily given to people who could use them. I gave his fishing boat to his best fishing buddy Steve West, who regularly catches walleyes from the sixteen-foot craft on Boulder Lake. I gave his Yamaha 4-wheeler to his brother-in-law Joe, who loves the snowplow attachment it has. I gave his snowmobile to his friend Jeff Schilling, who graciously stored it for us when it wasn’t in use. I gave his truck to a dear son-in-law who needed some four-wheel drive transportation in our snowy climate. And that son-in-law gave it to another dear son-in-law recently, who needs it for hauling. It seems so right that all these items which could have been sold, instead belong to people Michael loved.

I’m so thankful Michael doesn’t need his earthly body anymore. It was a pretty nice body, and as his wife, I should know. It was strong and muscled, hardworking and active, faithful and dependable. That body provided for our family, held me close, knelt beside me to pray, shoveled snow, held babies, and filled a space in our lives that seems so huge now. When you lose someone you love, you come to experience that their absence can feel like something actually present in itself. Michael’s absence fills our home and my heart.

I visit Michael’s grave regularly, and it brings me comfort, even joy, to picture his earthly body clothed in a suit, in that wooden casket below the grass. It doesn’t seem morbid to me at all, because this is the order of things. I suppose if I didn’t believe in Jesus and the resurrection He promises His followers, then the thought of Michael’s precious body in a box underground would be a terrible thing to ponder. But that body of his was like the outer coat of a seed. When a seed is planted in the earth, the seed coat breaks down and opens, and truly miraculous new life comes forth. I know this is what has happened with Michael’s body. Yes, it will break down over the decades, but it is no more useful to him now than the outer parts of a seed are to an oak or a maple tree. The Parkinson’s disease and the Lewy Body Dementia that caused his brain and muscles to malfunction are still in that grave. No illness or disease is allowed where Michael has gone.

“We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.”  –– 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, The Message

Even though I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that two years have passed, and I will never see Michael again on this earth, I do experience grief and good cheer simultaneously. I’m so thankful for the way the Lord has seen me through.

For those of you who haven’t seen these treasures, here are a couple of links:

Click here for our daughter Sharon’s unforgettable, hilarious, touching eulogy at Michael’s funeral.

Click here to see our daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy sing Psalm 84 so beautifully at Michael’s funeral.

Click here to see the marvelous slide show (with our three favorite songs) played at Michael’s funeral.

Yesterday at the senior grief support group I attend, a friend shared how she once read these words of condolence: “I’m sorry for your temporary separation.” I love that. What a perfect, hopeful thing to say to someone who’s grieving.

Today, as I recall how dark and life-changing and glorious and painful and wondrous February 9, 2015 was, I am missing my husband Michael. I miss him with hope and with cheer, mingled in with the loneliness and tears.

Thank you for stopping by, and may God give you His hope and good cheer today…


  1. Tauni says:

    Thought of you this morning in my prayer time my friend. I too love the condolence, “I’m sorry for your temporary separation.” It is very fitting indeed for those of us moving to heaven in due time. Love you my dear.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Ah, yes, Tauni. In due time… Love to you! xoxo

  3. Ganeida says:

    Grief is a most peculiar journey. I woke up this morning thinking of my father, which led to thinking about my brother, & how it seems like only yesterday they left earth ~ near & far @ the same time & how grief can suddenly reappear years after you think you have become well adjusted & functional again.

    Yet it is something we all must walk alone because no~one can really walk another’s grief. Last visit with my mother she was finally able to share how she wasn’t even able to pray after my brother’s death. She has been a staunch believer all her life yet it has taken her more than a decade to be able to share some aspects of her grief

  4. Just Julie says:

    I couldn’t have said it better. Grief is a singular, personal journey we have no map for. Only the Lord brings stability and hope in times like this. I have heard others say what your mother experienced. There’s a numbness, a feeling of being paralyzed in our grief, that makes it hard to pray. I think it’s okay to say this, and let others come alongside to lift us up when we can hardly do anything the same anymore. I am sorry for your loss and grief too, dear Ganeida. xoxo

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