I haven't been so quiet on this blog for a long, long time...but I just didn't have the heart to write. It has been a rough few weeks.
First, thank you SO much for your thoughtful messages and encouragement. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, friends.
Somehow I managed to finish out the Mancuso gig. It wasn't easy. Every day meant prepping for that class, then concentrating to get through it without being too absentminded. Midway through Class #2, one of the students gave me a cough to carry along...
My roommate, fellow teacher Wendy Berns, was a champ. She'd messed up her back somehow, so wasn't getting too much sleep, either. But she -- and I -- kept with it until Sat night and the final Show & Tell.
I took a 6 a.m. flight Sunday morning, which meant getting up about 3:30 a.m. for the taxi. Got to Sparta, Michigan just in time to shower quickly, change clothes and go to the funeral home for visitation. Our families -- my brother's, ours and Mom -- stood shoulder to shoulder, all five grandchildren included, greeting people who had come. I lost track of time after a while, just a long line of people, including many farmers (my dad repaired farm equipment as a living), who wanted to tell how much Pa had meant to them. Hours of this -- at least 6, 7...I lost track.
Monday's funeral was more of same. This time, though, we sat down afterwards, had lunch, told stories...then after the graveside ceremony, there was more food, stories and very silly Cumings jokes and stories that went on all evening. There is a very fine line between laughing and crying...really! Dad would have HATED all the attention and fussing around him...but then again, he would have loved the stories. I almost felt him sitting behind me, back in the corner, grinning as he heard about some silly escapade.
I'm still in Michigan. Every day, Mom and I (Dave and the girls went home this morning) go out to the gravesite and say hi to Dad. If you stand by his marker and look north, you can actually see the folks' house, surrounded by unplowed fields. Things are dirt and mud there, and the faded flowers on Dad's grave will soon be cleared away. I fastened a bouquet of silk flowers around his marker: blue iris, daffodils and a big fistful of yellow tulips. A good Hollander color combination -- blue and white, with a cheerful punch of yellow.
I know where he is. I know I will meet him again. That doesn't stop the tears or wishing I could once again lean against that head and hear his comforting rumble as he spoke. (Maybe even drape my hair over his silky baldness, and tease him for the bazillionth time about being a hippie.) It doesn't change the ache as Mom talks to her "Babe," as we smooth the raw dirt over his body. (Thankfully, that is all there is under the ground.) It doesn't make the quiet stillness at the house go away.
I miss him. But deep inside this grief, there is a small green leaf beginning to sprout. He doesn't hurt anymore! He's with his father...my uncles...my grandma. Most of all, he is with the Savior he served and loved so many years.
And soon it will be spring.