Seventy-One Balloons

(Before reading this blog post, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause the music.)

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!
Job 19:25-27 (NLT)

Our family gathered under a distressingly familiar green awning yesterday to say good-bye to our little Luke. We had sat in this spot just four months before to say good-bye to Audrey Caroline. Two plots away, her newly-placed grave-marker reminded us of how difficult these months have been as we have watched Greg and Nicol and Todd and Angie walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Although we grieve with hope, we still grieve--intensely. We grieve the loss of all that should have been--birthdays and Christmases, and ordinary days of hugs and kisses, cousins playing together, swimming and laughter. We grieve the loss of ignorance of having a death in our immediate family. Doesn't that happen to other people? But we have suffered the loss of two precious ones in just seven weeks' time. With Audrey, we prayed and hoped until April 7th that the God of wonders who has shown His might so miraculously over and over again would show off His healing powers. We wanted the God who made withered hands whole and blind eyes to see to heal little kidneys, lungs, and an enlarged heart. He did heal Audrey, but not in the way we were praying.

Todd and Angie requested Nicol to sing the powerful words of the hymn, "Be Still My Soul," at Audrey's burial. With three-and-a-half-week-old Luke in her arms, Nicol sang as she faced Audrey's simple, wooden casket. We could never have known then that we would be back several months later under the green awning. This time, Nicol's arms were empty. Thank you, Lord, that You keep some things hidden from us. We wouldn't have been able to bear it had we known then what lay ahead.

Greg and Nicol brought seventy-one balloons to the burial. Six pink balloons were given to Todd and Angie. One day, they will be a family complete and whole again. Todd and Angie walked up to Audrey's grave with their twin girls and let the pink balloons go. After a few minutes, I turned around in my seat to see the pink circles far above the tree line behind us. All six were together as they soared on the wind.

Soon afterward, the rest of us received the remaining balloons. Although there were a few yellow balloons, the vast majority were blue--the color symbolizing the precious little boy that death had robbed us all of. A rolled piece of white linen tied with a burgundy bow was attached to each of the balloons. The book of Revelation tells us that linen represents the righteousness of the followers of Christ. Linen is what we will one day all wear in heaven.

After everyone had released the blue and yellow balloons, Greg released one white balloon, symbolizing that glad resurrection day when the dead in Christ will be raised first before the living to meet the Lord in the air. If we are all still alive on the day that Jesus returns, we will meet them soon after. And we will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye.

As we were preparing to leave the cemetery, my son, Chase, made an astute observation:

"Mom, all the colored balloons floated up and over the tree line, but the white balloon went straight up, almost like it was going right to heaven."

I had missed seeing that. Although I do not look for a sign behind every little thing, I did feel a tremendous amount of comfort. I was reminded that our precious baby boy Luke, who graced us with his presence for seventy-one days, was safe in the arms of day we will be, too!

(My beautiful Nicol singing "Be Still My Soul" in days gone by. Please press play after scrolling down to the bottom of my blog page to pause the blog music so that you can hear it.)

Be Still My Soul / What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Katharina Von Schlegel, Jean Sibelius
(Tr. By Jane L. Borthwick) / Joseph Scriven,
Charles C. Converse
Arrangement By Nicol Smith, Allan Hall

Be still my soul
The Lord is on your side
Bear patiently
The cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God
To order and provide
In every change
He faithful will remain.

Be still my soul
Thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through stormy ways
Leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul
The waves and winds still know
Still know
His voice who ruled them
While he dwelt below.

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Jesus, I bless Your Name for this promise. We have the horrible dilemma of living on this side of the dark glass of eternity that First Corinthians 13 talks about. One day, You are going to shatter that glass. There will be no more blurred lines, unanswered questions, or valleys of grief. Thank You that although we grieve, we know where our precious Luke is. Give Greg, Nicol, and Summer grace, peace, and comfort as they wait for that glorious reunion day that You promise is ahead.