Jason’s grandmother passed away Tuesday night and her funeral was Thursday. The events leading up to the funeral were a bit chaotic and stressful. Here is a brief list:
On Wednesday I was driving home from a fabulous lunch with Beck & Laura when I thought a car in the other lane was a little too close so I over-corrected and hit a parked Chicago city truck. I cracked the side mirror on my in-laws car and immediately started crying. Annikah fittingly commented on the mess by saying “uh,oh Mama” from her car seat. Yeah, a BIG uh-oh, crashing your borrowed in-laws car!! We found out that due to a budget crisis at our church our monthly support was being cut, Jason finally decided to see the doctor after realizing the duct tape was not fixing the glass embedded in his foot (no idea how it got there). We spent more time at Target in recent days than sleeping trying to get malaria meds for all three of us and other needed supplies. Ugh! After Jason’s cell phone screen cracked for unknown reasons (other than to further complicate things) Jason dropped our brand new international cell phone for Africa in the toilet. After being out in the burbs for the funeral I forgot I was supposed to hang out with a dear friend from high school (she took the train to see me only to call my cell (from outside our condo) and find out I was in the burbs). Sorry Kristie!! I have just been brain dead and unable to even check my planner (if I even knew where it is now?). The day my mom was supposed to help Jason unload our moving truck she hurt her knee followed by a crazy lady at the post office hitting her car. Another highlight was waking up to Annikah covered in poop, at least it was her own but it was everywhere, only an early morning hose off remedied the situation. Plus, tons of other minor but nonetheless irritating but not monumental stumbling blocks. Like, seriously is it easier to just die than get out of your Bally’s gym contract?

All of that really means nothing in light of more important things but they have weighed on us in an already stressful time. Jason loaded, drove, and unloaded the moving truck all in one day to wake up Thursday morning at 4am to make it back to the suburbs for Grandma’s funeral. Anni and I drove up and my mom watched Anni for the day so we could attend the funeral. I usually have quite an aversion to funerals, I know no one particularly loves them but I have distinct memories of my friend from high school’s funeral. She was killed suddenly at 16 by a drunk driver and it rocked my world. I could not understand how a loving God could allow this to happen. I struggled with the injustice of it all, the pain, and the fear it created in my heart. Then my paternal grandfather passed away the same year. I guess part of living is seeing others pass away, life witnesses death and yet life continues. Loss reminds me that tomorrow is not promised and that I can only live for today and there are no guarantees except the finished work of Jesus.

Attending Millie Lower’s funeral was different . It may be that I am older and maybe a half percent wiser. Perhaps part of it was that while we are certainly busy and chaotic these last few weeks but once we arrived and took a breath it was the best place we could be, with family celebrating Millie’s life. We are so thankful we had the opportunity to be here, just a few weeks difference we would be reading about the funeral over email. This has, of course, been in our thoughts as we prepare to move so far away. We will miss out on our life here, on new births, possible deaths, joys and challenges and building memories with family & friends but we are confident God will be with us and with you all, that technology will help bridge the gap of time & space, and that we will be back to celebrate, cry, laugh, and love our dear ones again.

The funeral was really special. Each one of Millie and Jim’s five kids shared memories and a tribute to their mom. The tears flowed as each adult child shared how their mother profoundly and subtly taught them, encouraged them to seek and find their unique gifts, served and loved them. Although each one shared something different it was similarly familiar. Jason’s mom Rhoda read from Proverbs 31: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” This was a truly fitting tribute.

The Grandsons were all pall bearers (including Jason who wore a borrowed shirt and tie- thanks Mark!). Although it is always sad and painful to say goodbye to someone we love on earth there was a peace about the day, not only because “she lived a long life” but because she was secure in her faith and left behind a legacy of people who were changed by her life. The emotions of the day took a physical toll, many of us were commenting on headaches. It is profound the way the mind, body, and soul are interconnected. Mostly, my headache was the result of crying on and off all day and trying to hold back tears. I sometimes wish our culture was more accepting and encouraging of mourning, the kind of weeping talked about in the Bible, the kind that involves letting go. Not just the sniffles and guarded whimpers but real sobs. Not only because I am usually an emotional mess but because real weeping can be therapeutic and healing, it marks and end and a new beginning.
After the service, prayers, and singing at the grave site Jorie broke the mood by suggesting a stop at the “popcorn shop” as it was known by every and any kid that grew up within a 30 mile radius of Wheaton.

It is actually called the popcorn store and is a 5 feet wide, long and skinny store filled with sugary goodness for mere pennies (well, that was back in the day when I would buy gummy bears for 2 cents and then lick them and throw them so they would stick on the screen of the Wheaton theater- I know what a punk!)

We made the detour and I am sure we were the most over dressed bunch to ever load up on treats but the familiarity and sameness of the rows of glass fish bowls filled with possibilities and the memories of pennies saved and sugar highs of long ago was perfect and peaceful. In a small way it was a reminder of childhood, of change, of life, death, and candy.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, way to string together the non sequitars of a funeral and a candy shop. Did Jason’s Grandma have her funeral at Wheaton Bible? If so I just attended Lois’ funeral there exactly this time last year. And it was a weird peaceful event too. People talked, shared good memories, and honored Lois with their words. I only imagine the same occurred for Jay’s grandma Lower. Glad he found his suit – pressed and everything. You’re leaving all this craziness behind – but it’s craziness you understand – and so your friends understand it – not so with Zanzibar. But nothing like plunging right in, eh? If anyone – DEFINITELY you could take it on – even with Anni on your hip! love you, you might warrior you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a great post! Just for you, I sobbed like a baby at church today… People kept asking what was wrong and I just said, I’m sad, but I gotta go through this. It is amazing in our culture how people want to make you “happy” again (I am guilty of the same fault). Sometimes, we need to be sad and grieve.Love you too, safe travels.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Roxanne, I love reading your blog. It makes me sad thinking about you guys leaving Chicago even though we’re way over here in Austria. But we’re very excited for you and will be praying for your journey! God has prepared you both for this over the last few years and He will give you the strength (& sense of humor) for each leg of your trip! Love, Julie