I had actually tried to arrange my Sanibel retreat so that I could return after Mother’s Day. I knew Sarah wouldn’t be around that day anyhow – what was the point? I was pretty desperate NOT to be home, in fact.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Most rentals in Sanibel are Saturday-Saturday. I did discover the condo was available after my time was up, so I could have extended a few days, but that would have meant changing my plane ticket ($$) and paying more for the condo ($$) and…I was ready to see Steve. So I arrived back home Saturday evening.
Sunday morning arrived. Breathe. I decided to dwell in the joy I’d found in Sanibel, my renewed sense of strength (thank you God). Fierce pride in my children. YES. And, it turned out, we were taking Steve’s mom to lunch later, with friends, and we were going to see my folks that evening. Terrific.
People who love Mark are working through their grief in a variety of ways. We’ve seen it through art, film, musical composition, funny posts on his Facebook page – you name it. My beloved Beth P. decided early on to work with the staff of Fieldstone United Methodist Church, in Christiansburg, VA, to carve out a week for us and other families to come there and “Make Our Mark” (deep sigh) – by working on the homes of local folks who are struggling – this coming July. Fieldstone created this mission program about a decade ago (it’s called Summer Project Youth, or SPY) but it’s just for youth groups, typically, so this special week for our church families (adults, youth and children) was truly special. Both Sarah and Mark started going to SPY in 2011, but Sarah aged out quickly (and was off to do drum corps every summer). Mark got to go five times and it was the highlight of his summers.
SO. As it turned out, on Mother’s Day, the executive director of SPY was coming to speak at our church – in large part to help folks understand what SPY is and how it works, to tell them that yes, it’s totally worthwhile to go spend a week working in hot trailers and sleeping on the church floor. He talked about the theme they had adopted for 2016: “Real Happy” – a take on the beatitudes, as in “Real Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (etc). He spoke of the impact this mission, this ministry, was having on the people in Christiansburg.
And he talked about Mark. Our Mark…our delightful kid who was also amazingly adept at avoiding work. Apparently, like so many of our kids (as in your kids, my kids, other peoples’ kids), he saved his worst behavior for home, for us. Yay. In the world, Mark was everything we knew he could be: generous, thoughtful, ready to help. At SPY last summer, he was, according to Justin, the hands and feet of Jesus…setting an example for everyone there by working harder than anyone else to finish putting in the new floor of one particular woman’s home (I’ll talk more about Mary in another post), before they had to leave.
Steve and I were, of course, completely undone. Several boxes of tissues were passed to us from various pews. Afterward, Justin apologized for making me cry, but we told him the truth: that was the BEST possible Mother’s Day present I could ever, ever have received.
If you would like to hear the talk Justin gave, click here and scroll down to May 8th, 2016 (Real Happy).