When someone you love dies it just is indescribable. The pain you feel, your heart, your mind, and body just can't comprehend it. You want the world to stop and mourn with you. But nothing stops. Time keeps going and all you can do is pick up the pieces of your brokenness and continue.
This past February (February 13th) my Uncle Mark lost his battle to cancer. He was diagnosed in 2009, took treatment, went into remission and then it came back with a vengeance.
This past May (2016) he and my Aunt Marie came over to visit with us. They stayed only 2 days but looking back on those 2 days with him I am so thankful he was here, under our roof, playing with our kids, laughing with family. I can still hear his laughter. It filled the room.
He preached his last sermon in September of this year. He didn't know it would be his last. He was such a fighter. He was always so positive. Only 3 weeks before he passed we were texting back and forth, John was on the phone with him, and Uncle Mark was asking me about my Dad's health. Everything seemed like he was going to get past this and get right back into ministry and preaching.
But God had other plans.
Attending his memorial this past week, I learned two new things about Mark. It wasn't just us that loved him and his legacy will continue on. We traveled to California March 2-4th to be with Aunt Marie, his son Paul and the rest of Marie's family and to celebrate Mark's life.
I was so surprised to see so many people from the community and his church come to the memorial to share how Mark encouraged them, blessed them or made them feel loved. The most impactful messages were given by my Aunt and cousin Paul. I still to this day cannot believe they got in front of a huge crowd to give testimony to how great a man Mark was as a husband, a father, and a friend, when their loss was so great. They were so brave. I know they made Mark so proud.
The trip was harder than I thought it would be.
Losing my uncle has been so hard.
Explaining to your 9 and 7 year old the man they loved is now with Jesus was not as easy as I anticipated. Through all of this I have learned the grace of God. He allows us to keep moving, keep breathing, keep going.
Mark wasn't just an uncle, he was a dear friend, my husband's mentor, he was a man I loved so much I had to name our first son after. His love spoke volumes. He loved God with all of his heart, mind and soul, and whenever he came to visit that's what we talked about.
His legacy continues because he shared Christ with so many and now those men, and women and children are being bold and telling others the truth about the gospel.
One of Uncle Mark's favorite hymns was, It Is Well With My Soul, as they played that song at the memorial and showed pictures of him and his family and friends and his many trips over seas on missions trips I thought to myself, what a great way to honor him. To be able to sing and say to God even in the midst of all this pain and sorrow It Is Well With My Soul, couldn't be more fitting.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And I can see Mark with Jesus now worshipping his Savior and both of them sharing that deep laugh that fills any room.