A really rough last 36 hours.
We went through the remainder of Jolene's belongings yesterday. Which was worse--the simple Care Bear dolls she had since her first Christmas? Or the box full of receipts, evidence of her responsibility and organization--and life in-the-midst? I think I started to lose it when I found a receipt from Smash Burger, a new hamburger chain that she introduced us to.
That was yesterday.
In Sunday school this morning, I opened my Bible to Genesis 50. There I read a note from a year ago, May 24, 2007. I said Jolene had said hurtful words, and asked God to turn them into something good.
Oh, God, I would take those hurtful words if it meant Jolene was still here.
Only, as I told my class, if she were still alive--I wouldn't realize the alternative to those words was her death. Her words would still hurt just as badly. In the last year, she and I had really struggled with our relationship. We'd always been so close, you see, and I felt I understood better than anyone else on earth. All of a sudden, I felt like I didn't know her at all.
At the beginning of the year, we seemed to be coming out on the other side. And now she's gone.
I was already crying when the worship service started. Then I looked at the section of the worship service titled "Remembering members who have gone home to be with the Lord since the last Memorial Day."
The pianist and organist played a duet while the names of church members scrolled down against a background of flowers, on the overhead screen. There she was: Jolene Franklin, March 17, 2008.
I couldn't contain myself. My tears turned into sobs and I left the sanctuary. Mom joined me and we cried and prayed for half an hour. At last God gave me peace enough to leave. We never returned to the worship service.
So it's been a long day, a hard day, but a day that we have survived by God's grace.
From now on, Memorial Day will be a day to remember.