A Virtual Memorial Service
I’m sitting in Marty’s dining room, a teary mess, as I just watched my sister sing “How Deep the Father’s Love” at my Oma’s funeral. These tears are falling in the virtual company of my loved ones. My sister (or husband’s) MacBook is sitting on the front pew, and has been on iChat since 1:30pm. I was able to say hello to all my family who I was unable to physically be with since my Oma passed away days after I returned to the US. International flights are unreasonable, and another 24 hours drive was as well; so we improvised. Video chat is allowing me to sit in the sanctuary and share in this service with my family, thousands of miles away.
I had been asked to sing that song with my sister by my Oma last Tuesday, but due to circumstances, vocally joining my sister today wasn’t possible; however, I sang along with her in Marty’s dining room (the acoustics in here are incredible). I was the same blubbering mess singing with Sarah on mute as I was last Tuesday at the foot of my Oma’s hospital bed. Sarah did a beautiful job, simply beautiful. She carried the solo well and probably did better than having to deal with her weaker over-emotional sister trying to get through the profound lyrics of a song that makes me (and my brother-in-law) cry on any given day at any given church service! Proud of you Sarie! 🙂
My brother in law turned the camera to the couple sharing thoughts with the congregation, and I listened as the words “I am spending New Years Eve in Eternity, and I pray to find you all there;” undoubtably what my Oma would have said to everyone in the room today.
Shortly after my cousin’s spoke; sharing stories about Oma from our childhood.
Those days feel like an eternity ago. How precious to hear the stories of the life of someone no longer with us. Corinne talked about my Oma’s strength; that woman, we always thought, would outlive us all! She survived WWII, the loss of her first husband in that war; moving to Canada with just the clothes on her back and raising her three children with her second husband (my biological Opa); losing him to a heart attack when I was 11; remarrying my Grandpa Norm and losing him two years ago; as well as the loss of my mother and her eldest son two years after her. The woman endured a lot, lived a long and full life, and spent it serving the Lord to the best of her ability.
Melanie talked about my Oma’s need to constantly be doing something; and it was nice to learn that she didn’t just ask me for mending, it was something she did for everyone in the family. I had thought I was the only one supplying her with the repair work and it was hard for me to find enough things with “holes” in them to have her mend! She managed to mend my Express turquoise sweater right before Christmas and I think that no matter how old that sweater gets, I will likely never get rid of it…
I am so glad that I was able to share in this memorial service this afternoon; though I wasn’t physically present, my virtual presence was nearly as inclusive. Sarah and Melanie (my cousin) acknowledged my little face on the screen as the took and left the stage. I am blessed to have a wonderful family and to live in an age where technology can afford me the ability to be in their company in spite of the miles between us.
I have realized, when those we love know Jesus, it is almost selfish for us to want them to stay here; when He calls them home, it is to a much better place. A place without sadness, sorrow, and with all those who have gone before us. That is why Oma demanded in her last days that we do nothing to “detain her;” she was ready to go home. The anthem of both my mother and my Oma was Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
She didn’t want this memorial service to be about her, she knew there would be plenty of talk about her in the days after her passing, she asked the pastor to make it about her Savior; and he did. Heaven has definitely gained two beautiful women in my life; that gain is definitely our loss…today was not goodbye for ever, just goodbye for now; I know one day I will join her, and my mom, and my Opa; I pray you will be there too.