On Loss, by Ron

The valley of the shadow of death . . . we’ve been walking through that valley. Celia’s father, Rev. William Vincent Sirman, whose 80th birthday was devotional subject in our last e-mail newsletter, passed away on May 24th. He had come to Tennessee for a visit (with our apple trees, primarily) and suffered a heart attack. He spent about 2 and 1/2 weeks in the hospital. Then with the help of hospice, we brought him home, knowing his days were numbered. After 1 and 1/2 weeks, he died in our home–the old fashioned way with family surrounding him. It was an incredibly peaceful transition and if I could type faster, I’d tell you the whole story, It was an honor to be there to help him with that part of his journey. This loss follows the death of Celia’s sister last July and her mother in January. I think the effects of grief are cumulative.

All of that said, God IS good and considering the circumstances, Celia is doing well, herself. We have known the support of the community. Our church has a casserole ministry–EVERY church should have a casserole ministry. With one phone call, you’ve got meals delivered to your home roughly once a day, until you say stop. I’m going to call them back after Thanksgiving and tell them we don’t need anymore meals–just kidding–they’ve stopped already. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of support we’ve felt from the community, friends and family. People we’d never met drove into our driveway with groceries, because they’d heard about our situation. We were taken care of.

Two brief stories about Max (the 3 year old). Story number 1: The morning Brother Bill died, we’d all said our good mornings to Bill. Max has a special way of saying good morning. His line is, “it’s a beautiful day.” This literally translates it’s not dark anymore. The opposite of this line isn’t, “it’s not a beautiful day,” but “it’s still dark and I should get back in bed” (an unpopular notion). All of that interpretation gets lost when you hear Max’s three year old voice proclaim, “it’s a beautiful day”–and that’s what Brother Bill heard on his last morning among us. Not a bad way to start your final day here. Story number 2: Immediately after Brother Bill died, a friend took both boys out of the house for a couple of hours. When they returned, we delivered the “adult to child death talk” that we’d prepared and rehearsed. It was a brief talk that ended with “Pawpaw is in heaven.” After listening to the talk, Max thought for a very brief moment and then said, “Can we go swimming?”–The boys are doing fine.

Following the cleaning out of Celia’s parents’ home in Louisiana, we had a wonderful memorial service for Brother Bill. After that, we led some music for a youth group on the beach in Florida. We love the beach. Show me a better place to contemplate the eternal than that place where all of the water meets all of the land–I want to go there!!

We’re ready to move forward, hoping that we’ve filled our loss quota for the next while. We’re excited about our upcoming work. July is a slamming month: we’ll be in Virginia for a week and then with a band, spend 3 weeks at national youth gatherings. If you see us at an event, check in and say howdy!

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