It has finally been completed.
It was much harder than I ever dreamed it would be.
It should not have been on my to-do list - not yet!!
It took more out of me than it should have. But I'm wired oddly, so that's no surprise, I suppose.
But, once again, with God's help and strength, I've jumped the hurdle.
I've completed my last task for Michael.
It feels so...well, final.
After being dug from a granite quarry in China this past spring,
after taking the proverbial "slow boat" from said country,
after finally arriving in the U.S.,
after being engraved in Chillicothe, and
after being delivered a little over a week ago to Gardner, KS,
Michael's gravestone has been set. It was placed on September 1.
This has been one hugemongous (yes, I know that's not a real word) task. One that daunted me, haunted me for a long while. I wanted so badly to get this right. After all, it felt like the last chance I had to serve him, to care for him in some way. Crazy, I know. But just let me have this one. Don't try to talk me out of my idiosyncrasies. At least not unless you've also traveled this same pathway. If you have, then you're probably just about as crazy as I am! *wry grin*
My desire has been to honor Michael's life in the design of the stone.
His life was one of love...love for God was first and foremost, but love for people wasn't far behind.
He adored his children.
He loved me.
He loved everyone he knew. He was always giving of his time and energy to help, encourage, bless, lift, and otherwise touch lives for Jesus. He was patient and forgiving, He was gentle and optimistic. He was cheerful and generous. He didn't have to be in the limelight but loved cheering for those who were there. He was "Jesus with skin on" to so many people.
Michael's only request for his stone was that these words be included:
"He loved God and others."
So I've honored that wish. The rest, he left up to me.
So how does one honor a person who seemed to live a "bigger than life" life?
How do you capture all that he was and...carve it on a stone?
I love the black granite. To me, it is dignified, classy, and unique. Just like Michael.
I love that it is tall. Just like Michael. He stood tall both physically and spiritually.
I love the heart. He oozed love wherever he went.
I love the design on the back. He adored sunsets. He watched them as often as he was able...
And Isaiah 40:31 was his life verse.
But they that wait upon the shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
He may not have been able to run his last few years here with us, but I'm sure he's running now just because he can! And his spirit? Well, it's got to be soaring higher than those eagles since he has finally met his Jesus!
You'll notice the vase displays the date of our wedding. Soon, there will be another piece that is about 6" tall and about 2.5' long that will sit just below that vase. The front will say "Parents of: Luanna, Esther, Julianna, and Karson." The back will say "WRIGHT." (This piece will be added sometime in the next couple of weeks or so. There was an engraving mistake that is being corrected.)
Then, at some future date, the plan is that my stone, matching yet flipped, will be set on the north side (the left in this picture) forming a matching pair, hearts leaning in toward each other, honoring the love we have shared.
Yes, I know this is different. It's okay. Our family has lived a different life than many. We've made many choices that were different than expected. But I wanted Michael to have his own stone honoring his life while acknowledging the great impact he had on the world that knew him.
So...there it is. You all have been a part of this journey since its beginning. I figured you might find a sense of closure in being part of the ending as well.
Maybe no one cares...but I'm pretty sure there are many who do.
Thank you for carrying us in prayer.
Thank you for caring enough to check on us all along the way.
Thank you for being there when we needed to download stressful things - even if you understood not one word of what we shared!
Thank you for bringing meals, sending so many wonderful cards and notes, writing texts and emails, mowing the lawn, requesting prayer in your churches, cleaning our house or paying for it to be cleaned, caring for the kids, sending sunshine boxes, and otherwise loving our family.
God used each of you to be His hands and feet to us...He blessed us with knowing you.
We were and are so grateful.
I understand that it is a Jewish custom to leave a small pebble or stone on a grave to indicate respect for the deceased and to indicate someone has visited. I think that is neat. So...for those of you that take the time or have interest in stopping by to see the newly placed gravestone, we now have a spot where you could place that stone of remembrance if you wish!
For the many of you who live too far away to make that quick stop by, I've included the pictures. And I'll be sure to update them when the piece with the names of the children gets put into place.
Finding Jesus faithful every step of the way,
Grateful beyond words for my family and friends,