I wake early this morning knowing this is the day my father’s life will be celebrated, and that I am not able to participate. How does one begin to process these emotions? There’s no easy answer. No answer that satisfies once for all. One thing was for sure – I refuse to sit alone and feel sorry for myself. Rather, I know God had planted me in Poland with several IM sisters for a reason beyond my comprehension, and regardless of the sad circumstances, this is a day that He had made. I choose to rejoice and be glad in it.
As a believer, I have every reason to celebrate and be glad. If my faith in Jesus Christ is true, then it’s only my dad’s earthly shell being lowered into a grave today. Because Jesus died and rose again, Dad is walking those golden streets and singing like he’s never sung before. That knowledge brings me a peace I cannot deny amidst the grief. Tears spring to my eyes at the mere thought of my family back home, gathering around the graveside this morning. I would desperately love to be with them and the multitude of relatives and friends who will attend the memorial service later in the day, but that’s not to be. I’ll spend the day with my IM family instead, thankful that I’m not alone during this time.
I’m grateful for Skype. Gene and I talked via typing for nearly an hour before anyone stirred in the house where I’m staying now. He told me that God protected him, our kids, and grandbaby Anna last night when the car in which they were driving hit black ice, slid into a concrete barrier on the roadside, and made three complete spins before coming to a stop. Protection on icy winter roads – another reason to celebrate.
I’m grateful for my IM sisters. Bozena (our hostess), Iwona, Diane, Janna, and I visited a modern shopping mall this morning, picked up a few groceries, and went for lunch to a little restaurant that specializes in perogies. I’ve visited Chinese restaurants in which friends order several different dishes and share them. That’s what we did here: meat and cheese perogies, meat only perogies, blueberry perogies, lazy perogies, and the list went on. Add a bowl of beet borscht, and the meal was complete. Then off we went, walking down the main street of Kelice toward Janna’s home.
It was on along this walk that I realized God had given this day to me as a gift. In the midst of my sorrow, He gave me laughter. Wholesome, hearty laughter. At first I wondered if laughing today would be an affront to my family. But then I realized that He was using it to carry me through difficult time. It wasn’t disrespectful to those grieving back in Canada. It was a dose of divine medicine. “Laughter does good like a medicine.”
Here’s one example. Until this point, my PIN number hadn’t worked in a cash machine. When I saw a machine on the outside wall of a corner bank, I decided to try again. Diane leaned in close to protect my privacy. I entered the four digits only to be rejected again as invalid. “Okay, then,” I said. “I have only one other number that might be a possibility.” I entered those four digits and presto! The machine sprang into action. Without giving it a thought, I blurted out something that resembled a loud “Yahoo!” In retrospect, it probably sounded like something a Las Vegas gambler might have hollered if he hit the jackpot.
Diane burst into fits of laughter. Her response sent me into fits of laughter, too. We turned from the machine to see Iwona walk away, pretending not to know us. Passersby gawked with puzzled expressions on their faces as we nearly doubled over. We weren’t meaning to be culturally inept, honestly, but for whatever reason, we simply couldn’t help ourselves. Yes, laughter works good like a medicine.
When we returned to the house later that evening, I’d hoped to watch my dad’s funeral on Skype. Gene and our son had tried to hook up a video camera to a laptop but their efforts didn’t work. Disappointment brought tears to my eyes again, but Diane and I redeemed the situation by spending time in prayer as my family gathered for the memorial service.
Wow – what an emotional journey. I’m so thankful for God’s presence and for His presents – my IM friends. This day was a remarkable gift.