Surreal. I sit at a desk that surveys a foreign landscape. Ash falls from the sky, darkening out the sun as red lava ignites the scrub and brush. But that is all 30 miles away. I can hear trucks power-breaking their engines as they round the bend just up the mountain. Dogs bark without end as they always do and a typical Saturday night party is heating up somewhere as the low atmosphere refracts the sound. The air is chilly. Our power has flickered a few times tonight and soundly went out once. I feared it was from the volcano, a citywide power outage could spell trouble. It was not. My aluminum magnum bat rests in the corner.
She's dying. I've never lived a day without her breathing on this earth. The nurses say we're down to days... or maybe just hours. She introduced me to avocados when I was a child, and now they grow all around me. She would have loved all the bright colors here. She filled my life with sherbet, ice cream, frosty-malts, cheese-cake, music, and goodness.
Knowing that she loves me no matter what, has brought me back from the brink and made me want to be a better man. I've seen her cry, listened to her pray (oh... what a prayer), and joined her in many a laugh. Prayer. She could pray like none other. Such thankfulness. Overwhelming sincerity. And always an overpowering sense of hope.
I spent 8 hours today trying to find a way to her. I don't think she'd know me... I'm not sure? I don't know if I'd even make it there on time. No flights available today. There wasn't a single one. It's probably good. I might have bankrupted the family to get there. Then questions about our visa status. We are in process for residency and I was unclear if I was permitted to leave the country.
That question seemed to be answered that I could, and so I started again looking at fares. They increased. The only route would be to Detroit, and then a 3 hour drive south. I was nearing the point of hitting purchase, even though I find myself about $450 short (flight, rental cars, forfeited stipend from the school for taking time off)... but surely God would provide. He always has.
And then the volcano erupted and shut down the airport. Do you believe in signs? I'm the half crazed grandson of a preacher who believes it enough. I know its madness and yet I still believe that God creates these roadblocks. The question then... is to discern if they are a sign for me to stop, or if I am meant to climb over the obstacles in order to learn tenacity, or some other lesson?
My nose is cold from the chilly air, and sore from a careless swing of my machete last night that sent a piece of firewood bouncing off my face. I'm tired. I contemplate mortality. I imagine death as a sentient being so that I can stare him in the face. I want him to know that I do not fear him. I know the one who defeated him. I want to tell him that when he takes her, do it with the grace and dignity she deserves.
Fireworks blast in the distance and I have no idea why. Maybe it's part of the party? Maybe it's someone's drunken birthday bash? I'll check airline prices again tomorrow if the airport opens. The last time it was closed due to volcanic ash was 2010 when it was closed for five days. Fuego continues to spew smoke and ash. I expect the airport will remain closed. I wonder if I should be there for her passing? I imagine it as a holy moment.
I wonder if my family would want me present for the funeral? Would I speak a few words? I can not imagine her gone. So much of my faith was given root by her.
I was away at university when Grandpa Harry died. I was away here in Guatemala when Pop Mathis died. I was eleven when Mammaw Mack Shepherd died. I remember weeping while sitting on my bedside. She was my first loss. I eulogized Mammaw Henry, and also Pop. It is a lonely place to stand on a pulpit above the open casket of the recently departed person you love as hundreds of glossy eyes stare at your shaking hands. My voice was steady for Pop. I was at ease. I knew where he was.
I have the assurance that I'll see them all again. Of that I do not doubt. And so tonight the ash falls from the sky as it rains in my heart. Darkness surrounds me but it does not consume me. It is well with my soul. If I could sit down with death, I'd ask him to take her. Take her and lead her home. It shatters me when I think of her suffering.
She loves me so much. "Love so amazing, so divine. Demands my life, my soul, my all." She lived this. She showed me the way. Her LORD suffered so much more. Suffered to reconcile us to the Father. Praise God.
It is time for me to yield to sleep for the night. I think of so many nights spent at her house and the prayer we'd sing together,
"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray thee LORD my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee LORD my soul to take."
Good night Mammaw Ruth. God holds you in His hand. He holds us all. Praise the LORD, it is well with my soul. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
|My Mammaw Ruth with Sterling, my youngest, this past summer.|
-To Continue the Story-