Sunday, March 19, 2017

Seven years ago...

Monday, March 20, 2017 is the seventh anniversary of Bob's death. 

When Hannah and I were discussing this before I left, she remarked that it seems so long ago.  My first reaction was, "No!  I can't believe it's seven years!"  But then I thought about it for a few minutes and agreed with her, that yes, it does seem so long ago.

It's both.  It's been fast and it's been slow.  So much has happened.  He has missed so much and is missed so much.  On the other hand, it seems like just yesterday that I was at the hospital with him. 

On my way to Kenya this past week, I watched the movie "Jackie" about Jaqueline Kennedy giving an interview to a reporter just a short time after JFK's death.  [As a disclaimer, I have no idea how accurate this movie is to the facts.] As she relived the actual moment of JFK's death, and you see the horror in her face, I remembered what that was like.  As she relived her first night alone in their bedroom, I remembered what that was like.  Watching her go through that first week, watching her grieve, attend to her children, commemorate and celebrate her husband's life, it all flooded back.  Moments of sanity, moments of dream-walking (or nightmare-walking), moments of many different moments.

At one point in the movie, as she is travelling with the body and with Bobby Kennedy, she says to the driver, "Do you know who James Garfield is?"  The driver says, "No."  She turns to another person, and says, "Do you know who William McKinley is?"  The person says, "No."  She looks at Bobby and says, "Two presidents who were killed in the line of duty and we don't even remember their names."  She was determined that would not be the case with JFK.

I know what that feels like.  Wanting your husband, the father of your children, to not be forgotten.  Wanting his life and his death to have meaning.  Wondering, "should I mention him or not?  I don't want to draw attention to our loss; on the other hand, I want him to be remembered as an important person in our lives."

On Wednesday, I flew in a ten-seater plane from Nairobi to Kitale.  It was a rainy morning and this small plane feels turbulence easily.  As is often the case, but particularly in this somber week leading up to this anniversary, my mind turned to death.  I don't fear death at all - in many ways, I would welcome it.  For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  As I watched the angry clouds outside the window of the plane, I was keenly aware that my kids still need me.  I think about how I talk to my mom each week, and how meaningful her support and love has been for me in these past seven years.  And I think about how heavy that weight can be sometimes as the sole parent remaining.  That part still feels heavy for me, with every landmark that Hannah and Noah pass and with every challenge or joy they face.

As I pondered this while feeling the turbulence and watching the amazing clouds, we began to rise above the clouds, and something caught my eye.  It was the shadow of the plane on the clouds, with a rainbow surrounding it.  I had to blink a few times to realize what I was seeing.  I took a picture of it and also a video of it, which you can see below.  It's not easy to see - I drew a circle around the photo, and the video (which is only 11 seconds) shows it best when going in front of a white cloud, about seven seconds in.

I'm sure there is a great scientific reason for a rainbow to surround the shadow of a plane, but in that moment I felt the arms of God around me, reminding me "Never will I leave you nor forsake you."  (Deuteronomy 31:6)  I am thankful to God that despite loss, grief, and the passage of time, God is a Father who knows all of our burdens and cares, and is a Father to my children as well.