It was a packed house and a real reflection of who my mom was. It was hard to accept that she wasn't present in earthly form to share this wonderful time. When it was over, I wanted to talk with her about it. I must admit, it is still a bit surreal for me to get my hands around the reality of her being gone. But such is the nature of grief and loss. Still, I am comforted by the surrounding present of family and friends, both near and far, who walk beside us now. I missed Doug so much yesterday and I know he missed us. We spoke with him just prior to leaving for the church and I could see his longing to join us. We had to accept that we just could not get all the moving parts in place in order for him to come. The service was video taped so hopefully we will find time to sit down and enjoy it together upon my return to Sweden.
The pastor's beautiful message was centered on Psalm 118:17: "I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done." Our hope does not rest in this earthly life but is fixed on the eternal place that God is busy preparing for each one of us. He has welcomed my mother with open arms and I'm sure there is great rejoicing in heaven even as our tears fall. Two other families who have lost children in their lives were present at the service and I assured them that mom was in heaven now, gathering all the kids who left earth prematurely, including my brother Bill, their kids and Doug's sister Debbie, loving them up, assuring them that all is well.
The reception following the service was a beautiful array of food that the church provided. Mom loved strawberries and someone had provided this beautiful centerpiece filled with chocolate dipped berries. The reception gave us a chance to visit and reminisce about the special person that Rose Ann had been to each person gathered. I loved seeing childhood friends who drove in from Orange County and was deeply surprised and touched when a former student from North Park, a young man who I had mentored and worked closely with while he was in college and then hired to assist me in campus ministry after he graduated showed up at the service. He had taken the red eye from Chicago to LAX, drove to Palm Springs, got in at 4.00 a.m. on Friday and then was flying out Friday night at midnight to be back at work on Saturday. It was a gesture of great love and friendship and I was grateful. We were able to share a couple of hours together after the service before he had to make the trek back to LAX.
The only bummer in the whole day was that the church's projection system went down and the words of the hymns could not be projected. Mom picked great hymns: Because He Lives, Amazing Love, Day by Day and with Each Passing Moment, and Children of the Heavenly Father. We ended the service with To God be the Glory which is what my mom's life mantra was all about.
I was privileged to share the tribute and while it was tough at times, it was a great honor and I really loved the opportunity to celebrate my mom in this special way. Here is the text.