I'm sorry to be so quiet over the weekend - there was all sorts of excitement...there was late-night beading to be done, Corona to be drank, and gossip-heavy stories to share. In short, my sister was here. It is always a craft extravaganza any time you put the 2 of us together, usually there must be a trip (or five) to Hobby Lobby and sometimes we hit Michael's too. I've recently had to teach my sister about the glories of Hobby Lobby and the delight of 50% off sales. Since you all have been so faithful in reading what I have to say, I will let you in on a tiny little secret: if you go to Hobby Lobby and what you want is not 50% off, wait a week and then go back. One week, half of the store is 50% off, then the next week the other half is 50% off. It is the 11th commandment: you shall never pay full-price again! Of course, then you start thinking about how they can afford to do this and you realize that we are all getting raked over the coals for the change that may fall out of our socks when we do pay full-price for anything. Because, as nice as those folks are at Hobby Lobby, at the end of the day, it still comes down to dollars and credit card receipts.
So, we had Shep's service on Saturday and my sister, who was the first to read my positive pregnancy test while sitting on the toilet in her guest bedroom, felt like she needed to be there. It's the alpha and omega of things - to put a melodramatic spin to it. And it's no easy task for her to get here. She lives in Jacksonville with a husband who works something like 80 hours per week and 2 girls under the age of 6. There must be planning involved. Well Jeanine put her perfectly-manicured hands together and worked a little miracle because she had about 7 days to make it work. And there she appeared, at the end of gate 7, in the Cincinnati airport Friday afternoon. She left her husband to deal with soccer games, birthday parties, 3 square meals a day, and a dog that has been pooping crayons for over a week to let me cry on her shoulder for a little bit. I am truly blessed.
It rained the entire time she was here and maxed out at a temperature that fell 20 degrees below what she was used to at home. But it didn't much matter. You can scrapbook and make jewelry and recall better times over a drink and a lime anywhere...particularly on a leather couch that reclines. After we dropped her back off at the airport on Sunday morning, the sun began to peek through determined clouds and I thought what a lovely send-off for the golden-haired girl from the sunshine state. We were given rain to disguise our tears and now it's time for a brighter day. I have no idea what she came home to...most likely a labrador retriever who had made a special present for her (probably all over his cage) and the adoring love of her family who is not used to days and nights without her. She will fall back into a job that challenges her every minute of every day, regardless of if she's physically there or not, and the routine of raising 2 children who are so close in age they could almost be twins. She will be exhausted as she falls into bed after a day of being all things to all people, but she will sleep better knowing that she did perform the impossible...she came to be with me.
Saturday was difficult, as we all knew it would be. And I can say that, at least symbolically, we laid Shep's soul to rest. We sang hymns for him and prayed for his safe return to the arms of our Savior. And we leaned heavily on those who braved the monsoon to sit with us in the pews. It was such a sacred time for us that I could almost hear Shep laughing and stomping through rain puddles while he gleamed through mischievous eyes. He would have sat in everyone's lap and played hide-and-seek in a house full of friends in fellowship. That is how I choose to think of him.
I will post the program from the service soon. I think it turned out well. And I can almost guarantee that thoughts of Shep and the loss we suffer will creep back into my future posts - as it is a piece of our history and I choose to remember and include him in all that we do. We are parents now who have lost a son and that is a huge and unimaginable thing. It will never go away and I don't really want it to. But I can take courage in the rainbow and breathe deeply in my faith in God to find the sweetest flavor of each new day. I still cry everyday...I still run from pregnant women in Target...I still cringe at the cry of a baby...I am still grieving. But I can also cook a meal with love for my husband...I can be there for a friend during the dark and uncertain times...I can grow my business and know that I am doing all of that because it is not as bad as it once was. And there is hope for a better tomorrow.