Though We Meet With the Darkness and Strife, The Sunny Side We Also May View
On Sunday we attended the baptism of the lovely Ella Man Li.
During the service, I was sitting next my friend H~ (aka Ella's mommy.)
It was a Lutheran service, somewhat different from the Episcopal service we are used to, and it featured some modern religious music.
Towards the end of the service, however, we sang what I will affectionately call an "old timey" hymn. I am hard-pressed to tell you what hymn it was, but it reminded me of songs I sang as a child during the "hymn-sings" my grandfather often led in the church basement.
Unbeknownst to me, H~'s uncle was sitting directly behind me, keeping in check an impressive voice. But when he began to sing the old-time hymn, he let loose with an accomplished baritone...or possibly a tenor.
I will admit to being emotionally vulnerable these days. Highly, highly emotionally vulnerable. The death we are all expecting/anticipating/dreading is a lingering one. We are caught in a web of waiting and grieving. It's painful.
All of this is a preface for this admission - his voice made me cry.
The tears began slipping out and then wouldn't stop. I wondered if I was hearing the voice only in my head, because, for a split second, I thought...that I heard my grandfather singing the hymn in my ear.
H~ handed me a tissue. "Who's singing behind me?" I asked her, choking on my own tears. I was afraid to look, afraid that the answer would be "no one". Afraid that I was the only one hearing my grandfather's voice in warm sanctuary.
"My uncle," she whispered.
Later, after the service, I explained to H~ why I was crying, and her uncle very sweetly apologized. (As if he had anything to be sorry for!)
It made me wonder, though...if because of J~'s closeness to the 'other side' - if those souls who are waiting to welcome him aren't a little bit closer to all of us now? Is that crazy?
This morning I got into my car to drive to work, and I plugged in my Zune and hit "play all".
There are about 3000 songs on my music player, and as the strains of "Keep on the Sunny Side" started to fill my ears, I was taken back.
I had forgotten the song was even ON my Zune.
But my grandpa sang that song often. Sometimes accompanied by his banjo, more usually by his guitar.
I thought maybe he was trying to tell me something...maybe he was trying to tell me, "everything will be all right" or that J~ is going to be fine (in the grand scheme of things). Perhaps that I shouldn't dwell too long in the dark grief that threatens to pull me in.
As the song came to an end, I hit repeat, and I swear I felt him telling me not to worry.
But THEN, as if I needed more evidence...something happened.
My grandpa's passion, aside from singing, was restoring old cars. Model T's, Model A's, that sort of thing. One of the last cars he began to restore, but did not finish because of his death - was a bright canary yellow Ford pick-up truck, circa 1940-something.
I have rarely seen anything like it, but this morning, as I drove towards work, a bright canary yellow Ford pickup truck with historic plates pulled out right in front of me, as the strains of Keep on the Sunny Side continued to play.
I don't know that I have ever received a clearer message.
I'll try to keep it close to my heart.
Though the storm and its furies rage today
Crushing hope that we cherish so dear
The cloud and storm will in time pass away
And the sun again will shine bright and clear
* Keep On The Sunny Side, The Whites (originally recorded by the Carter Family, lyrics by Ada Blenkhorn)