When we got to the chapel, we were able to have a moment alone with him [Jay] before the funeral service began. Being near him, made me feel so at ease, I literally felt like I could pull up a chair and just sleep. My kids (all adults) were so strong as they faced this moment of truth. I kept wanting to see them as little girls and boys but they weren't, and they were having to grow up even faster now as they processed their grief. I felt both heartbroken, but also looked upon them with a sense of pride for who they were. As I watched them I saw strength, unity and courage. I was witnessing what Jay and I, in our life together, had instilled in them. What I was seeing was a legacy left behind by their dad and I felt proud. Proud of them, proud of Jay, and proud of us.
As everyone began taking their seats, I mentally started arranging where my kids would sit. I was keeping the spot at the head of the pew open (just out of habit) for Jay. When I realized what I had done, I told my son Ryan to sit next to me in his spot. It just felt right. The service began, and Jay's life began to play out as stories were told. The pastor leading the memorial service was our dear friend Steve and a special part of Jay's life. The men who gave the eulogies -Mike, Chris, and Ben- were men who represented the friendships that Jay had formed from the very early years to date. Along with Pastor Steve, every era of friendship was represented, and the common thread that all of these men shared with each other, was that in their friendships with Jay, God was in them all. This thought comforted me because I knew that Jay was a man who was continually working out his faith. Jay's twin sister then got up and shared (as only a twin sister could), and then our children. How many times can I say how proud I was to see our children so strong, and so mature? They talked about their dad, made us laugh and cry, and I saw Jay in each one of them as they carried themselves through it all with strength and poise. Everything was beautiful--everything felt right.
When it was time to go to the grave site, our boys Ryan and Trevor took front positions as pallbearers as they carried Jay carefully to his final resting spot. I wanted to protect them both from the pain somehow, but I couldn't. They were doing what they needed to do, and they did it well. At this time people had an opportunity to come up and share any personal thoughts or stories. A friend of his named Gaddiel spoke and said something that I'll cherish forever. What he said about Jay was that, "he saved marriages". What a great thing to have someone say about you when you leave this earth. It was another honorable moment for him. I was so proud of this man!!
When the time had come to lower him into the ground we were able to have a moment of privacy once more. One by one we came along side his coffin and just held onto it, not wanting to let go. Eventually we all took our seats so they could begin the lowering process but I felt an overwhelming need to be with him one more time, alone. I realized that this was my last moment with him and that there was still more I needed to say. I had to tell him I'd be okay, that the kids would be fine, and that we'll make him proud. I had to tell him that I'll continue to fight the good fight, and that we'll be together again soon. They say that funerals are for the living, and this moment was definitely for me.
We had his favorite CD playing (Good Monsters by Jars of Clay) while they lowered him into the ground, and I felt profoundly calm. Oh death where is your victory, oh death where is your sting? (1Corinthians 15:55) Jay was gone, but not. His body no longer here, yet he was still very much alive. That is the redemptive power of the cross. I'm not going to make it sound easy because it's not. Jesus cried when Lazarus died. John 11:35 says He wept. Death is the result of sin. Simply put, our world is broken, which means we're broken too, but we're not abandoned to that state. God gave us a way, and that way is through the cross. Yes, I felt the victory, and yes I also felt the pains of death at my own personal loss, but victory conquers death! As much as I have sorrow, I have 100 times more joy because my faith in the cross drowns out that sorrow. This was Jay's faith as well, and his journey on this earth reflected that. In his short 50 years of life his story was now complete , and so was the story of our marriage.
I love Jay with all of my heart and value our journey together both as man and wife, and as two broken people seeking God's truths. We are an unlikely love story that almost didn't happen, but we fought. Only by the redemptive power of the cross, were we given a love that developed in the realms of God's majestic design. This love became something deeper than what we both had ever thought possible. We found ourselves in this last year very grateful for it but not really understanding it, that is until now. Simply, God is faithful.
"Enjoy your rise from the ashes my love. I can't wait to be with you again and celebrate together in the light of His glory".
God is good...