There are so many little things I've thought about posting since we've been home.
When I swept up two dustpans full of dirt and dust bunnies after the house sat (mostly) empty for a month, I thought that could make a funny post. But I didn't write it.
I'm behind on my Reading Record posts, so I thought about telling you that I read one book in January, and two in February. Maybe I would even admit that that the two in February were C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Somehow I didn't get around to that, either.
I could tell you that I've renewed my battle with the mice. Of course they waited until we were home again before they stole six more Scrabble letters. And got out of two traps. That could have been a funny post too, but it didn't get written.
I haven't felt much like writing.
In early February, my dad was trying to remember one of his favorite quotes from George MacDonald, but couldn't quite get it, so I looked it up for him. As I did, I stumbled over this one:
"How strange this fear of death is. Yet we are never frightened at a sunset."
I think I'm ready to write now.
God's timing is incredible. In the month that we spent at my parents' house, every single hard thing worked out perfectly in God's timing. Sometimes we were aware of His hand in things as they happened, and sometimes we had to look back to see it.
Based on the doctors' estimate of how long my dad had left to live, we went down to my parents' house for a week long visit in early February. My brother and his family were planning a trip over from Montana in late February, and we planned to return a second time at the end of their visit so we could see them too. The day after we got there, all of our plans changed. My dad's oncologist called and recommended that we have my brother come over early, as he was now estimating that my dad had only one to two weeks left, at the most. So my brother and his family came over and stayed for a week, and four days after they left, my dad's condition deteriorated and he wasn't quite himself any more. In God's timing, we had one last really good week together as a family. All twelve of us. In our timing, it would never have happened.
The last full week of February, there were so many details through which we could clearly see God's timing, from "big" things like financial stuff to "little" things like meal provision. In fact, it would probably take a full week for me to list them all!
And then there was Dad's Hospice nurse. I am sure that any Hospice nurse would have cared for my dad just as well as "ours" did, but God knew that my mom and I needed Robert. On Monday morning, February 25, after my mom spent a very difficult sleepless night caring for my dad, Robert came out to my parents' house to check on my dad and help us arrange the next level of care. He confirmed what we already suspected, that my dad had less than 48 hours left, and then our quiet, unassuming nurse prayed with us before he left. That prayer was absolutely incredible; simply spoken, profound, and exactly what we needed, right when we needed it. As he prayed, Robert reminded us that God not only knows what pain and grief and death are, but that He experienced them all Himself when Jesus died on the cross in our place.
With that reminder fresh in our minds, my mom and I watched my dad breath his last breaths as he died three hours later. After weeks of mounting pain, confusion, and weakness, his last moments were quiet and peaceful, followed by complete relief from all pain. Forever.
Death is like a sunset, and we are never frightened at sunsets. At least we need not be. Once the sun sets on our earthly lives, we who love God and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord can look forward to a new day coming, a new sun rising. An eternity spent perfectly worshipping God.
We can look ahead past the sunset, with Hope.