The day began with heavy clouds lingering after the night’s rain.
I had a text from a friend whose husband has just begun hospice. She would let us know when they completed their visit, and we could come by.
Her next message read, “He just slipped away.”
And he was gone.
No more of that hand-in-the-cookie-jar smile.
No more of his long hugs, funny quips and Minnesota stories.
No more of his “How are you?” asked with the assurance that he had time for the truth.
We all know that life is temporary; still, it shouldn’t end so fast.
But he loved theater and knew a thing or two about a last act — just long enough to tie up loose ends but short enough not to lose the plot.
For him, it was the performance and not acclaim. He needed no curtain call.
But that wasn’t enough to stop the tears at the loss of a good man our world so sorely needs.
Later, under a clearing sky, I went to a ceremony for two women completing our recovery program.
We call it commencement, a ritual marking something new after a year of sobriety and hard work at personal transformation.
They had a history of using and of being used. It led them to jail, but also to death, dying to their children, their parents and themselves.
Both their dads fought through the tears to speak — today’s father of the prodigal son, previously weeping in fear, waiting without reason for their return.
But now, one father sobbed, he understood what St. Paul meant by “a new creation.”
That evening, we had a birthday party for two grandchildren. It’s nice that the 12-year-old still wants to share his birthday with his 5-year-old cousin.
That is, if Grandma makes two cakes: a St. Louis Blues chocolate for him and a Unicorn white cake for her.
The prodigal years are yet to come for all our grandkids, but we still ate the fatted calf and littered the living room with scraps of wrapping paper.
I had a tear in my eye when we gave our thanks. After they left, I set it free. I wept at the sheer joy of it all.
The day reminded me of a couple of things.
Whether it is a life complete, a past overcome, or a future just starting, it is all gift.
And all our tears mark the unmistakable nearness of God.