I'm well aware that Disney feels they have the corner on understanding the "Circle of Life". But I assure you, they do not.
Over the past thirty-six hours, I've experienced the true circle of life and it is a God-ordained, miraculous thing!
On Sunday, I had the delightful pleasure of holding Jayden Brackett for the first time. Her mom and dad worked with us during their college days and a little beyond. (Nicki served as worship leader for three years and Fred Alex helped with youth.)
They now live in Alabama but their brand new baby girl needed to meet Nicki's family. Fortunately, they live in Orlando. So everyone came to Garden Grove for Sunday service. A marvelous surprise since that also drew our former administrative assistant, Jeremy and his sweet wife Liz. A joyful family reunion!
I got to hold Jayden throughout the opening of service. She dozed contentedly in my arms while we sang and worshiped God together. Of course, Frank had to hold her up for the congregation to see. (Huge Smile Inserted Here.)
All the attention didn't phase her in the least. Tiny fingers, precious nose, sweet lips, gorgeous eyes. Perfection. God's message that the world goes on. And she just slept through it all.
After service, they honored us by asking that Frank do her dedication service sometime in the near future. "You married her mom and dad," Nicki said. "We figured it only natural that you would dedicate her."
That will go on the calendar this week!
Then Monday, we received the call that came as no surprise. Our dear friend, Hilda, was extremely close to Heaven's door. Frank told the family we'd be right over.
As we stepped into the house, we knew Hilda would be going home soon. Her long and painful struggle with Alzheimer's was almost over.
The hospital bed took center stage in the living room. Open windows allowed breezes to play through the room. And the patio fountain she loved, served as soothing background music.
We spoke with the family and with the nurse who has become part of the family during Hilda's illness. Then we stepped to the bed to talk with Hilda. I say "talk" although we expected no response as Hilda had been unresponsive for almost two weeks.
The picture just over her head on the fireplace mantle revealed the beauty Ralph had fallen in love with during high school days. They celebrated 69 wedding anniversaries together! Truly a miracle in today's society.
Another picture showed the dashing fighter pilot and stunning officer's wife attending a military ball. Such a handsome couple! Approaching their 90's left them with very different "exteriors" but their spirits have remained strong and completely alive.
During one of our visits several weeks ago, Hilda lit up like Christmas as Frank and I started singing her favorite hymn. I was so overcome by the sacredness of the moment that I momentarily forgot the words. Her thin lips prompted me with the next line!
Needless to say, stepping to that bedside Monday was bitter sweet for us. Her frail body labored to breathe and there were no signs of the beautiful, vibrant woman she had been. We spoke to her of our love while her daughter-in-law stoked the gaunt brow.
Then Frank began to pray a simple prayer. He thanked God for her life; well-lived, following Christ. She led her two sons to know Him as well. Frank asked that God would grant Hilda peace and that He would draw her close.
Hilda's breathing became less labored.
Frank also prayed that her family would be comforted with the knowledge that we will see her again. Then once again, that peace would be hers.
Suddenly, Hilda flashed a huge smile. (The only response in days.) And as the smile faded, she breathed her last.
We all stood motionless; utterly amazed at what we had just witnessed. Our vantage point put us as close to the doorway of heaven as mortals are allowed. Glorious!
The two brothers composed themselves and went into Ralph's room to wake him with the news. He struggled to her bedside in the wheelchair that now takes the place of the planes he once commanded.
Ralph patted Hilda's arm and quietly said, "Good-bye, Darling. I'll see you in Heaven."
We all swiped at tears escaping our eyes.
Frank and I lingered with the family a while then dashed to Publix to gather dinner items for them. Finally we headed home for our own family dinner.
After eating, I drank in the opportunity to squeeze Spencer. (Carefully avoiding those powerful casts.) We talked, "clapped", read a couple of books. I even felt Abigail Grace move for the first time as I rubbed Joy's pregnant belly.
Yes, life does have a full circle.
But trust me, while Disney may have coined a description - it was God who created the circle! The Circle of Life!