On Thursday, November 4, we got a call from Husband's mother letting us know that Husband's dad, who had cancer, wasn't doing well. He didn't wake up for more than about 5 minutes at a time, and she seemed worried. Husband spent the night debating on whether or not he should switch his airplane ticket headed for Wisconsin on the 19th (for one final hunting trip with his dad), and leave that weekend. No need. Friday morning at 7:30 am, my mother-in-law called back. Father, Dave, had indeed breathed his last breath. Now we needed to cancel the plane ticket, pack up the family, and drive out to Wisconsin.
I wasn't sure what to do with the kids, but decided not to tell them and send them to school for a partial day so that we could pack, and process the news, in peace. I wrote notes to Drew and Hunter's teachers letting them know what happened, and asked them not to say anything to the boys yet. Louisa had already left for school when we got the call.
We picked everyone up from school halfway through the day. Louisa guessed as soon as she saw us in the office. I felt bad for Drew and Hunter because they thought we were going on a fun adventure when they saw the truck all packed up. An adventure, yes. Fun, no. Drew cried a lot when we told him, Hunter didn't quite understand.
A grueling 20 hour drive straight through got us to Husband's mom's house in the north woods of Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. His sister was already there, along with some of the best family friends you could ask for. Now for the hard part, funeral planning. It was a long week of meeting with the funeral director, pastor, florist, etc. Buying food for incoming company was on the list as well. My mother-in-law spent every spare minute on the phone trying to contact people, inform people, and cry with people.
Backtracking for a moment to how Dave died, I'll say that it came much sooner than anyone expected. We knew he had cancer. We knew he probably wouldn't be cured. But what we didn't know was how far it was progressed and how fast he would go.
Going forward to the funeral itself, it was a long two days. The wake was on Thursday, November 11 at the funeral home. Everything was nice, as nice as a wake can be. I had put together six picture boards, so it was good to see everyone enjoying those. Friday the 12th Dave was finally laid to rest. He was buried with military honors for serving the United States in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era, including one tour of duty. I do have to take a moment to say that I have never been prouder of my husband than the moment I saw him stand and salute the flag draped over his father's coffin. To have the honor, and privilege, to salute the flag of a man you look up to as much as Husband looks up to his dad, priceless. Heartbreaking. I cried tears of sadness, and tears of pride. All the deployments, homecomings, ribbons, military honors, nothing meant so much to me as that moment.
I've seen a lot of death, I've been to a lot of funerals. I've grieved and cried, but more importantly I've grown and learned. Each time I take away a bit of wisdom. The sad and tragic deaths where we just don't understand why, and the deaths you see coming or expect, they all teach us something. Do we take that knowledge and grow, or do we stop living and stop seeing what's around us? That's the test. As a Christian, I *know* I will be reunited with my loved ones again. As a strong person who's seen a lot of death, I know I'll make it through each and every time. In tact, whole, and that much wiser. Sure, I give a piece of my heart every time, but that doesn't mean there isn't enough of my heart left for everything else that's still ahead of me. It just means that a piece of me lives with my loved one, until some day I see them and can reclaim it again in my Father's Kingdom. Death is not the end. I firmly believe that. It's a beginning, and one that many of us work hard for.
All week long I felt God working in me. Giving me strength, grace, and compassion when I needed it the most. I have yet to fully grieve for my lost father-in-law, of whom I have always felt a close connection. But until I'm ready, I hang on to the signs that God gave me. During the week we spent preparing the funeral, God was with us, showing us His love in signs like a beautiful bald eagle perched fearlessly atop a tree above our heads, sunny 60 degree weather where the kids could run outside and enjoy the Brott family land, and a beautiful scene like this one as we left Northern Wisconsin to head back home. (Yes, the beautiful weather gave way to snow just in time for us to leave!)
My father-in-law was a good, loving, hard working man. He raised my husband to be a good, loving, hard working man. For that I am forever grateful. My husband is so very much like his dad, and for that I am proud. I am raising two amazing boys who will carry on the Brott name. For that I'm honored. Dave is now resting in heaven with his daughter Tabitha, his mother, and the father that died so young Dave barely got to know him. For that I praise the Lord! Thank you, Lord, for giving us Dave. The smiles, the jokes, and the wisdom will stay with us forever.