A Bittersweet Christmas

25550303_10155741276965042_5703535786885079655_nMy brother was laid to rest today and it was a beautiful funeral. My sister, Sarah, was so thoughtful to have a Wolfpack blanket draped over his coffin. Laney had attended North Carolina State University and although he didn’t complete his degree there, he always loved NC State.

I’m thankful for all of Laney’s friends and family that came to commemorate his life.  It’s a bittersweet Christmas season. Bitter because he won’t be there when we return in May. It’s hard to believe I will not see his face again this side of Heaven. Sweet because the memories are so. Laney excelled in love and traced a path for us all. He never complained.

I sent a poem to be read. It was our mother’s favorite poem and mine as well. One day all those in Christ, like Laney, will see our pilot’s face. I hope you will enjoy it. Thank all of you for your outpouring of love and prayers for our family during this time.

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

                                     

— Alfred Lloyd Tennyson

 

Born into Obscurity

Unknown

As I sit in our little den and gaze out our front window, I see sunshine, palm trees, and lots of greenery. Downtown Cap-Haitian doesn’t reveal much about the fact that we’re into the Christmas season either, except for an occasional pedestrian donning a Santa cap. Probably the main reason there is not much celebration  here is the simple fact that there’s little money for shopping, decorating and gift-giving. Many of the people here remain in a survival mode.

But, taking a look inside the church walls, one will see a different sort of celebration. It’s a holy time as the church families gather together to watch the Christmas story reenacted and groups sing special Christmas songs. It’s a time of laughter when the usual actor, who portrays Herod, enjoys his role a little too much or the battery-operated baby doll which serves as Baby Jesus gets stuck. The Christ child may cry incessantly until someone removes his battery. After almost 35 years in Haiti, I have yet to figure out why the Haitians always laugh hilariously when a young girl, “Mary” appears “great with child.” It’s a high point of the Christmas story. Her appearance always produces a thunderous applause and several minutes of nonstop, belly-aching laughter. There’s just something very special about these gatherings and celebrating the true reason for the season.

Don’t get me wrong. I ache when I think of not being present to watch our grandson, Sam, tear into the gift we send him each year and to witness his surprise and joy firsthand. I love a beautiful Christmas tree and its decorations, not to mention being able to shop in a store instead of online to find that perfect gift. I even love the shopping experience in the States and I miss visiting with friends and family.

So, while I’ll wish for the umpteenth time that our den was large enough to accommodate a Christmas tree, I rejoice once again that the Christ child was born into circumstances much like our own. King Jesus made His debut, not in the palaces of the rich and famous, but into a lowly, borrowed stable among the common people of his day – born into obscurity.

 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Goodbye, Laney

24294389_10214592427345895_4088965558167438650_n.jpg

Laney’s 63rd birthday party with my sisters and friends. (Laney’s in the middle wearing the black toboggin)

I learned this morning that my brother, Laney, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. He had just celebrated his 63rd birthday on the 4th of December. Although it was not a shock, one is never ready for the inevitable news that a sibling has passed on.

We were a family of five. Laney came before me and I was the caboose. I, the little sister, was forever trying to keep up with him. He was good at everything – sports, school, popularity. Upon receiving the news of his departure, my mind traveled back over the years to happier times when, in our youth, it seemed we would live forever. This summer, the doctor said Laney had a year to live due to lung cancer and a host of other maladies. He had been declining in health for some time.  I had a feeling when I hugged him and said ”goodbye” before returning to Haiti that it could very well be the last time.  It was a long, slow hug and he wept when I told him I was returning to Haiti. Knowing that we had prayed with him several times, I had the assurance that I would see him again.

If I could witness the reunion taking place now between he and my family members who have gone on, I wouldn’t feel quite so sad right now. I take heart knowing that he is now  pain-free and I imagine him in my mind’s eye as that tall, gangly teenager running up and down the basketball court making basket after basket. I am brotherless now and I weep, yet find comfort in knowing that I will see him again.

Goodbye Laney. To say you will be sorely missed is an understatement. I relish in the fact that the next time I see you, you will be completely whole.