“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources, He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then, Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Ephesians 3: 16 – 17(NLT)
Hard to believe my brother, Billy, made his transition over a month ago. I have lost a child, another brother, both parents, relatives, and friends. But Billy’s death hit me the hardest. Still not quite sure why. I guess it is because I was not ready. I realize when it comes to the death of those I love, I am never ready. I was not ready to let go of Billy’s dream of dancing at his 13 year old granddaughter, Jordyn’s, wedding. I was not ready to let go of Billy’s dream of being the longest survivor on dialysis. Most of all, I was not ready to let go of our long conversations about growing up in Jordan Park and on Trelaine Drive; summers in Sumner, GA with our grandparents; college days at University of South Florida (USF); religion, politics, plants and the sounds of nature. How I long to hear one more, “Hey, Baby….” at the beginning of our conversation and “Love you” at the end.
But, during our last phone call, he was in pain; his leg was swollen. He apologized by saying, “I don’t want to be a wuss (sic) baby, but I’m in pain.” Lord, who apologizes for being in pain? So, now, my peace comes from the belief that he is pain-free. I picture him smiling surrounded by his beloved brother, Bobby, our parents, and tons of loved ones. My peace is also rooted in the fact that I loved my amazing brother as hard as I could while he was here. And he knew it. He received my love which, to me, is a precious gift. So, with this peace comes clarity.
Clarity that I must love my loved ones as hard and as well as I can while they are still here. “Give them their flowers while they can still smell them,” as my mom, Essie Mae Chever, would say.
Billy was a master at giving flowers. From calling and texting (the most loving messages), bringing me delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese while I was on bed rest with my first and second child, to sharing the special bottles of hot sauce his wife, Cheryl, gifted him because he knew how much I love hot stuff. And, most of all, knowing me so well, I rarely had to put my feelings into words. I am sure family and friends share similar examples of Billy giving them their flowers.
The beauty in all of this is none of Billy’s love of conversation, remarkable knowledge, are gone. All are still with me. Eye-opening clarity. The goodness does not go away with death. If I allow it, the goodness gets better and goes deeper as I reflect on all the good that flowed from Billy. Plus, I believe that is how Billy would want it. Celebrate life and all its’ goodness. Lastly, in Billy’s inspirational words, shared by my sister, Alice:
“God wakes us up; it’s up to us to do the rest.”
And do the rest he did, with courage, strength, and love.
Dear God, I must believe You do not make any mistakes. Every morning when You bless me with another day, let me do the “rest” by always honoring You. God, give me peace and clarity as I remember Billy. Also, God, give peace and clarity to everyone struggling to make sense of the loss of a loved one/s. Thank You God! Amen! Amen! Amen!