In the midst of all the end-of-year school activities, my birthday (bah...humbug), my nephew's graduation party and scurrying around getting ready for vacation, I'm still finding it difficult to be lighthearted. I keep thinking about what the Chapmans must be going through...and as hard as those first few days are, I'm sure the deepest pain lies ahead. I read on Jim Houser's blog comments that "Steven asked...for us to pray not that things would "get back to normal" since normal will never be the same as it was before Maria's death, but rather that we would pray for them to be able to learn to live "differently" in this new reality." If you'd like to read more about Maria's memorial service, you can click here and here (scroll down for the story). The second link has a heartwrenching photo of the service. In the background you can see Will Franklin, head down, with Maria's pink security blanket around his neck. When I saw that, I think my heart broke a little more. I know, though, that this family's faith is strong, and they are wrapping their arms around this young man. Mr. Houser asked that we not forget the Chapmans as life goes on...I know I won't forget. I will be praying with confidence that the Chapmans will continue to be pillars of faith and that their son will hold his head high in the knowledge that he is deeply loved by a merciful Father and that his life has great purpose, as well.
So yesterday we visited my grandmother in the nursing home. I don't think I've written much, if anything, about her on this blog. She was diagnosed with malignant brain tumors in November. Some of the tumors were inoperable, and this cancer is an aggressive form that will eventually take her life. It has been difficult, mostly for my parents, to watch this cancer slowly but surely change her reality. I have had a few questions in this situation, as well. Why has God allowed her to suffer through seemingly endless days and then taken Maria, so young and full of life? But in the end, it is ours to trust in God's wisdom.
We stopped on the way home and visited Jon's Dad's grave. We left a couple of flags to honor his service as a career Navy man. Jon commented, as always, that his Dad isn't really there, but it was still a bit emotional. I have been touched by how this recent event has affected my husband, as well, and I know it was on our hearts and minds as we stood in the cemetery. I have to say that it took everything in my power not to get in the car Saturday morning and drive to Tennessee for Maria's memorial service. But my place was here, with my family, watching Mickey's soccer game and gritting my teeth as he was pummeled as the goalie. My place was here, laughing as he high-fived his best bud Alec after a save. My place was here with my girls, shopping for vacation clothes and telling them to turn down their music. My place was here, listening to my sweet China baby, chattering away in her toy cell phone and taking her first dive of the summer into an ice-cold pool. And there's the paradox...being able to keep close to our hearts the days and events that define us while celebrating in the sheer joy of living and loving in this life.
I found this slide show in memory of Maria on YouTube...it's to the tune of "Cinderella", so be sure to pause the player before clicking the link. There are several videos dedicated to Maria and the Chapman family...this one was my favorite. It is sweet and worth watching...and believe it or not, you will laugh. She is a treasure...one I'll always remember.