Bubba

There are no words that reach far enough into the depth of these past couple of weeks. I've been trying to tentatively begin telling the story...the shock of how much Bubba had faded since I was home last, the weird tension that comes from a house full of family and a loved one who is ill, the joy of spending time with my three sweet nephews, each one with a uniquely vibrant and often loud spirit... Of sitting at Bubba's bedside with guitar in hand, singing Amazing Grace and praying that my heart would be strong. Of celebrating my Dad's birthday with family and friends and watching fireworks shot over the water while sweat dripped and bugs swarmed. Of sitting as a family, tears flowing as we knew the time was growing short.I think our Bubba decided exactly when it was his time. Though he was incredily weak, he held on as all his grandkids and great grandkids came to visit...spending little pockets of time with us...allowing the whole family to be together. And as the week was winding down, and goodbyes were beginning, he simply drifted off. I spent some time with him Saturday afternoon as his breathing became more labored and difficult. I prayed over him, and as Buster the cat jumped on the hospital bed for the first time and our stoic Nana began to cry, God whispered to me, "soon, my love, he's leaving soon." I leaned in close to Bubba and said, "We love you, but when you need to go home, you go home. God loves you so much and he's waiting to just wrap his arms around you." I picked up his bible and openly cried as I began reading scripture out loud....first the 23rd psalm and then moving into parts of Philippians, Romans....coaxing a smile from him when I mentioned skipping over the parts of God's wrath....After dinner, the little guys went in to say good night to Bubba and headed off to bed. Soon after, we all noticed a significant change in Bubba...his labored breathing had become more difficult and slightly erratic. We began gathering everyone into the room, shoving dining room chairs into the corners and finding space for the dozen or so family members. I sat on the bed and gripped Bubba's hand and we all sat quietly with our tears and tissues. After a few moments I asked Nana if I could pray. 

What do you say in a moment of complete heartbreak? I prayed that Bubba would know that he was loved, that he wouldn't be in pain, that God would remind him that he was a son, a child, and he was made to be with Him. I thanked God for what Bubba had taught us, how he had loved us, how he had shown us what it meant to live strongly and faithfully....there were more words and tears....and somewhere in there I said, "we won't remember him for this hospital bed or feeding tubes, but for his strength, his love... and the time he asked a 17 year old girl to dance when he "was a little far gone".....then my brother piped up, "for his workshop." Then my dad, "for woodworking shows" Then someone else. "for telling us the story of goldilocks and the three bears EVERY time we spent the night" "for hockey games" "for helping with last minute school projects" And so began a couple of hours of tears, of stories, of laughter of a family trying to say goodbye, and yet hold on. 

We all caught a few hours of sleep that night, and took turns Sunday keeping Bubba company. A nurse came and told us that Bubba was in "transition" and his body was shutting down. I spent the afternoon in the room with my mom, pulling out my guitar for a few moments and finding myself too overcome to sing.

The family settled in for the wait, several of us calling in to work and adjusting travel schedules....when I think back, how perfect God's timing is...that we were all here, and not 12 hours away....

Bubba passed away later that evening, and since then, we've been in the thick of arrangements for the funeral, the burial, the travel of extended family, and keeping the boys occupied. It is a special, heartbreaking, hopeful time for the family and I am so thankful to be here, to have these days, to hold Nana's hand when it is too overwhelming. They were married 61 years.... 

Thank you friends, for the messages, the texts, the love and support. For allowing my heart to grieve and express and share....We start to say goodbye tonight with a funeral service here in Colonial Beach and the burial tomorrow at Quantico National Cemetery...both my grandfathers buried in the same place. The pain is deep, but the hope we have in Christ is deeper still. And for that, I am so very, very grateful.