First of all, I want to thank you all for the prayers, condolences & good wishes left for me in the comments section of my last post. While the last few days have been rough, the support from you, my blogger friends, has been wonderful. I've really appreciated it.
As happens whenever I have to attend a funeral (which isn't very often, thankfully) I'm always amazed at how the morticians make the body of the deceased look as good as can be, even when you're like my grandfather, reduced to basically skin and bones and nothing else.
But what's missing when you go to a funeral? It's a reason for family to get together and friends to join in to mourn the passing of a loved one - to offer their support and love.
But there's still something missing. My grandfather's flesh and bones were lying in that casket but what made him who he was was not. You'll never convince me that humans have no soul or spirit. That, my friends is what is missing. In the case of my grandfather, the vibrancy and love of life, the compassion, the love and support he gave to everyone who crossed his path - and a whole lot more- was gone.
Where did it go? Did that part of him die just as his body did?
If you're a Christian, you know - not believe - KNOW that at the moment immediately after death, that the soul and spirit are in heaven, just as Jesus promised they would be.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." -John 14:1-3 NIV
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples on the day of his crucifixion. (Remember that the Jewish day goes from sunset to sunset, not from midnight to midnight as we reckon it.) Those verses rank among my favorite in the whole Bible because they fill me with such hope and comfort and are the foundation of my faith. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, proved who He claimed to be, and being God in human form, cannot lie.
At the family viewing, I asked the Corps Officer (pastor), of the Corps (church) that my grandfather attended in retirement how my grandfather died. He was visiting my grandfather at the nursing home and was there with him when he breathed his last. He assured me that it was a peaceful passing, having died lying on his bed in his room. The Corps Officer told me that he was honored to be there at my grandfather's side. I wondered after, and probably always will, what that feeling is like- being with someone one minute when they are alive and the next minute being there with just a dead body.
My grandfather's funeral service was beautiful. To hear his sons talk about their father was heartwarming. To hear the testimony of some of the friends and colleagues whose lives my grandfather touched, influenced and impacted was incredible. If I can be half of the man, half of the servant of God that my grandfather was, then I'll be doing well. Such a high standard has been set!
After a lengthy funeral procession, up the Garden State Parkway and into New York we drove, in the rain. The skies opened during the short committal service, and we all quickly became cold, damp and wet, even though the cemetery workers erected a small tent for our use. My grandfather's body was laid to rest amidst the rain and tears, along with my grandmother's remains, awaiting that day written about in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-57, when body and soul are reunited imperishable.
After we had a wonderful family dinner at a nearby restaurant, each of us set out for our homes. For me, the long ride home was tiring and uneventful and I slept through a good part of it, since I was not driving. Though I still had a half hour drive ahead of me, from my parent's house to my apartment.