For His Mercy Endures Forever
May 21, 2015 | My Jottings
The cemetery where Michael’s body was laid to rest is about two and a half miles from our house. He and I have taken our grandchildren there many times to feed the ducks and geese that swim the two large ponds there. Our granddaughter Clara and I have seen a gorgeous, dusky periwinkle-colored blue heron there two times, standing still in the reeds on the edge of the pond, one leg bent backwards, head down, listening for a fish. The cemetery has headstones dating back to the early 1800s, and we have always enjoyed walking there, and pondering what the lives of people might have been like, based on their headstones and what’s engraved on them.
I’ve been driving up to the cemetery every couple of days to see if Michael’s headstone has been installed yet, and on Tuesday I happened upon the workman who was completing the job. The sod that will be planted on Michael’s grave will go in next week. Here is the view from the little road in the cemetery — it looks out over one of the ponds and of the distant hill where many old graves sit under the shadow of beautiful trees. Spring has come a little late in our northern part of the country, so the trees are a little sparse looking.
Here is the other side, and I removed our birth dates from the picture so weirdos who lurk on innocent little blogs can’t steal them. Boo.
A dear friend asked me recently how it felt to see my name on a grave stone and I told her I felt strangely content and hopeful. Conversely, to see my beloved husband’s name makes me feel sometimes bereft and untethered. I am comfortable with all the emotions I’ve been feeling since losing Michael, though. I want to walk right through the middle of this grief holding my heavenly Father’s hand, and experience everything He has for me. I am not afraid of sorrow.
I chose a tall pine tree because Michael was a Minnesota outdoorsman to the max. He loved to hunt and fish, camp and hike, and he commented on the beauty of our area constantly. There are other head stones in this cemetery with fish and deer on them, but that just didn’t seem to be the right choice for us.
And I chose to have a simple cross in between our names, because the love and keeping power of Jesus is without a doubt why Michael and I stayed married for almost 34 years. We never had any hugely catastrophic upsets in our marriage (although Jesus would have been up to the task if that had been the case), but we both could be such hard headed people. As a matter of fact, whenever this song came on the stereo, Michael would grin at me, put his hand on my leg, and sing along, as if it were his theme song. Ha. I know that our mutual faith in Christ was the glue that held us together during times when either one of us might have wanted to be done. And oh, how thankful I am for that Gracious Glue! I will thank God for as long as He gives me breath for allowing me to be Michael’s wife, and for having his love. Are any of you out there struggling in your marriage? If at all possible, humble yourselves and pray together, and resolve to speak kind, building things to your spouse. Even if you don’t feel like it, or he/she doesn’t deserve it in your opinion. Ask God to help you speak one building, encouraging thing each day to your spouse, and just try it as an offering to the God who gives you life and a mouth to speak. I don’t offer this advice from a lofty, accomplished spot or pretend to know all the answers, but I know many of the beautiful times Michael and I had were because of prayer and humble kindness, mostly on his part! No one ever regrets being kind and humble. I wish I could say this has been my way all of my life but it has not. I’m still learning and want to change.
And I chose Psalm 106:1 for the scripture on our headstone, because Michael loved to praise the Lord, and because I believe I owe my mental health to keeping a gratitude journal and giving thanks to the Lord. Praising and thanking — they’re both there in that verse. And the most important part is of course that God is good, and His mercy will never, ever end. I can’t think of better news than that.
Finally, here’s one of the last pictures taken of Michael and me together. Sharon took this and I have posted other shots from the same session, but this is my favorite.
It has been 14 weeks now. I suppose there will come a day when I’m not counting days and weeks anymore, but instead will mark the years since Michael’s passing.
No matter how many days the Lord gives me, one thing is certain. Any time I think of my husband, a smile comes easily to my face, just like the one above. There might be tears streaming at the same time, but oh, yes….there will always be a smile.
Thanking Him today,