By Jill Sanders
As she headed for her sister’s funeral three hours south and three days away Barbara said to me, “I hope it doesn’t rain.”
Understanding the mood that rain sets, especially during a funeral service, I replied, “I hope it doesn’t rain for you, too. I’ll be thinking of you. Have a safe trip.”
Three days later, near 2:00 pm – the hour of the funeral, I stepped outside to feed my cats across the yard under the portico of the unattached garage. The sky overhead suggested rain may fall. As I emptied the bag of cat food into their bowl, the rain droplets began. “Oh, no,” I said as I thought of my friend; hoping that the rain had not traveled south.
As I walked back toward my house I noticed the raindrops gently falling on my arms. I remembered a saying that was shared with me, “Some people walk in the rain and get wet, others feel the rain and know joy.” I realized that I had been thinking of getting wet. I stopped myself from that thought and decided to feel the rain; something I had not done before. As each drop splattered on my arms, I noticed the cool sensation it produced. I thought of the miracle of rain as it watered all of the growing life surrounding me. I looked up toward the sky and let the water sprinkle my face, as I opened my mouth to catch a few of the thirst quenching droplets. I noticed the leaves on the trees turned upward as if to capture and cradle the drops for their own vitality. Rain, such a wondrous miracle I thought as it began to rain harder.
I noticed a hole in my graveled driveway capturing a small pool of water. With my flip flops on my feet, I splashed my foot down into it; and thought of my childhood days when I would splash about in the warmed summer puddles after a rain and be quite happy. I scurried up the driveway to the road remembering how rain would coax worms from their underground tunnels. To my delight there were three worms squiggling around on the pavement. They were reddish brown and plump. Along the side of the road there were narrow trenches recently dug out by the county road workers. Soft gurgling noises emanated from them as they channeled the rain downward with the sloping road, delighting my ears. Further up next to the road, in a divot made by a tractor, a small pool formed where speckled wood frogs were soaking as they made high pitch croaking sounds. With the drops hitting the pavement as if creating a gentle back beat, the song of rain permeated the air.
I was getting wet; but I didn’t care. My husband yelled out to me from the front door, “What the hell are you doing out there. Have you lost all sense? Come back inside.”
“I’m feeling the rain!” I yelled back.
“You’re doing what?”
“I’m feeling the rain. Come on out and join me. It’s great!”
Well, he just stepped away from the door back into the house. I am sure he was thinking I had plumb lost my mind. I saw the clouds sporting all shades of gray and purple roll by. There was a hint of sunshine poking through one small area as if it were saying, “I’m still here. Just wait a bit.” Then it disappeared back into the grayness.
The ripple of thunder could be heard in the far distance. The storm was picking up steam. Suddenly a wide bolt of lightning lit the sky and a large cracking noise filled my ears; as if Thor himself had cracked a large whip through the stars. I knew when to quit; not wanting to be among the trees of the surrounding forest as the heart of the storm would pass by.
I came inside bearing a big grin on my face. I had felt the rain. My husband looked at me as if I was crazy. As I stood soaking wet on the welcoming mat, I motioned for my husband to come to me. I am sure he was expecting a big old wet kiss. Instead, I shook my body as violently as I could to allow some of the clinging drops to fall upon him. “What’s wrong with you?” he said in obvious un-appreciation for the gift.
“Nothing,” I replied. “Nothing at all.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” he muttered as he picked up a nearby dish towel and wiped the few droplets off of his arms.
I scampered upstairs and donned some sweats. Once again warmed, I joined my husband on the couch as we watched some NBA tournament play. I couldn’t get the thought of my friend out of my mind as I watched the rain through the window, now gentle again, fall softly from the sky.
The rain is a metaphor, my brain talked to me. It is a metaphor for your friend and all of her emotions. The sad side of rain pours forth for her loss. It usurps the tears from her eyes and takes them back into the fold in a cleansing motion. It comes from her sorrow. She cannot know sorrow unless it has been built on the foundation of great love. Love breeds sorrow, as the illusion of love’s loss weaves its way into her soul. The rain takes her painful loss, and moves it away from her. This is the wet side of rain.
The feeling side of rain will remind her of all the joys and the happy tears. There were the times when she was so glad to see her sister that she cried. And there were the times that they were so happy or silly in the moment that they laughed together until they cried. They shared tears of happiness at births, graduations and weddings. The rain was reminding her of her tears of joy, not just her sorrow. The momentary sunburst spoke to that.
It all moved me. Yes, my friend was experiencing a great loss; but the sadness was hers alone, not the departed’s. For, in fact, she had not lost her sister at all. Her sister had only been momentarily displaced in form and was actually dwelling more snugly and closer within her heart than before her transformation. Her sister would be there with her more often than when she was on Earth with her body. Her sister would speak to her more frequently in the quiet and still moments of oft remembrances. They would bond again, even more tightly, as her sister was now free to walk with her in joy day to day.
Her sister freed my friend of all of her worries for her; for now she was safe, free from pain and dancing as never before. She was not gone; she was merely waiting and preparing to greet her again, to embrace her and care for her as she had done so many days earlier on Earth.
Now I see rain differently. I do not see the cold wetness it can bring. I see the life giving properties it holds. I will smile as I think of it as tears of joy spilling from the eyes of our loved ones, gone before us, as they check in with us from the heavens.
Yes, I thought. Rain is good, if we can only feel it.
"There are some griefs so loud
They could bring down the sky.
And there are griefs so still
None knows how deep they lie." May Sarton
I'm old enough now to have suffered many different kinds of grief. It seems to me the older I get and the more grief I encounter, it buries itself deep inside my soul.
I feel fortunate to have my faith in Jesus Christ to combat the grief of losing a loved one whom I know is in Heaven.
The afternoon that Sue died, shortly after her soul departed, my husband was standing in a farm field above our home, and he looked up. For a brief moment, he saw my sister dancing among the clouds. Our daughter came about that time to tell him my sister was gone. Her favorite hymn was played at the funeral.
"Dancing Shoes," by Squire Parsons.
"I'm gonna dance all over heaven in my dancing shoes." I know exactly where she is and what she is doing."
Have a blessed day whatever you are doing!!!