Tag Archives: death

Goodbye, for now

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A friend commented yesterday that they saw somebody for the last time at a Sunday gathering, and how weird it seemed that they are saying “Goodbye, we don’t know if we’ll ever see you again but we’ve shared life for this many years and now this is it.”

And everybody else just takes it in stride, maybe a few tears are shed but it is all a part of this weird life of the sojourner.

We are in the middle of a mass exodus in our little community.

Four families are moving back to the US within a 2 month period.

Two of them have been here more than ten years, and all their kids (7 total) were born here in China.

The other two have been here 1 and 2 years, respectively.

Some of our kids’ best friends just left today for a 3 month stay in the US.

Another family is returning in July after being gone for over a year.

These are all close friends, with whom we have shared many ups and downs as we all serially or simultaneously go through culture stress, homesickness, holidays apart from our relatives, and all the rest.

We have passed clothes around so many times that my 4th child gets hand me downs from someone else that originated from us 3 years ago.

We have helped each other move across town, run errands for each other, and shared so many cups of coffee.

It’s funny how you can get close to people so quickly, but think about those intense times you’ve had in your life–youth camp, short term mission trips, the military, medical school…going through the fire together is a unique bonding experience.

In a friendly sort of way, you help people unload their stuff because so much of it won’t fit into their luggage allowance.

A lamp here, some tupperware there, a coffee mug that somebody bought in Thailand and tea from India is now yours.

And I look around my house and see memories of my friends who left one, two, three years ago.

Books from Sandy, stacked in Katherine’s bookcase.

Jenny’s clothes in my closet, Mollie’s glass jars in my kitchen.

Sarah’s air purifier.

Well, it’s not being used currently because I need to find new filters, but it’s there, waiting for me.

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And lovely plastic bowls and plates from Grandma’s kitchen in Ohio that we use every day for breakfast.

This strange patchwork quilt of mismatched items tells its own story of who has passed through and impacted my life as our journeys intersected.

I want to reach back and cling to those times that are no more–those special memories.

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And yet, maybe they are more special because we know it would come to an end at some point.

We have other reunions, in Thailand or Kansas City or maybe in Georgia.

Or maybe not at all.

We have no control over the number of our days.

A sweet long time friend just passed away last week in the US, a few days shy of her 45th birthday.

Those sweet moments of life together, intense and hard, with the inevitable tears at departure will be no more.

It’s like velcro, ripping apart.

You can choose to accept it and heal, or live in the past, I suppose.

I am so thankful that the end of the journey, for those who have accepted the gift of Jesus Christ, means we are one day together forever and this is only a step along the way.

Dear “Miss Tweet,” we’ll see you up there!

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Energy for the Afterlife

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We were outside near less-populated areas last weekend and I took a hike in the woods with the kids.

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We stumbled upon what was clearly a gravesite.

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This is not so common in China, since due to space reasons and probably cultural reasons most bodies are cremated and the ashes placed in a mausoleum.

But I hear that in the countryside some places still have graves.

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The yellow papers are burned, and the food and drink are offerings, I think.

Some of the practices in this area seem to be a mix of Buddhism, animism and superstition/rote tradition, and it’s not clear to me what it all means.

Different people have different explanations for why things are done the way they’re done.

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I can’t wait to ask someone about the can of Red Bull.

In Memory

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“Baby Allyson” was fostered by two amazing women from October 2012 until May 2013, when she passed away peacefully in her sleep after suffering serious complications from recurrent meningitis at the age of 8 months.

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She was an orphan with serious health problems at a remote orphanage  when her two foster mothers decided they wanted to give her a chance to feel loved regardless of how short or long her life might be.

During her life, many people asked why they would do such a thing, spending time, money and emotions on a child without a future.

Their response:  Life is valuable, and we should treat her as a full human being.

They fell in love and had their hearts broken, yet move forward knowing that they did the right thing.

Here is a poem written by one of her foster mothers that was read at the memorial service.

Baby Girl

Left at a police station

So small, so sick, so alone

Denied love by a nation

Yet still one of God’s own

 

He saw you laying there ill

His child fighting for a chance

Death was not God’s will

Your life He would enhance

 

You came home to us one night

Two young teachers, we were scared

We loved you at first sight

But we were a little unprepared

 

For months you cried and cried

Gas, prematurity, maybe?

Our every nerve was fried

Cuz of our colicky baby

 

We’d rock and sing and swing

The crying would not end

Our ears began to ring

Your brain needed to mend

 

Chubby cheeks, eating well

Rolling over, sleepy smiles

Everything seemed so swell

Except your medical files.

 

CT scans and X-rays

Bleeding, Fluid, PVL

How many are your days?

Only time would tell.

 

You grew so very sick

To the hospital we went

Straight to the PICU quick

Our cries to God were sent

 

Father, hold our baby girl

In your loving arms tonight

Doctors and nurse ‘round her whirl

Give them Your great insight

 

Her future is unsure.

Her suffering is too much

They say there is no cure.

Today she needs Your touch

 

Her infection is severe

Death is now for sure

But we shall not fear

You have a purpose for her.

 

Comfort her, may the pain be mild

Give peace to her body too.

Father we give you our child

To forever be with You.