Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Cattle Are Lowing

To everything there is a season. Ecclesiastes 3:1a

My Cousin and Her Family

I begged to stop at her family's dairy farm, when I was a girl, which got me into some amount of trouble, as it seems there have always been inexplicable and weird tensions on that side of my family.

But--when I was, on rare occasions, able to get to that farm--magical times: whispering about boys and V.C. Andrews books in the silvery light of her bedroom.  She and her whiny, little sister (whom we tried endlessly to ditch) had the biggest bathroom ever, also a swimming pool made out of the bottom part of a silo, its water fantastically deep, and cold.  The food cooked by their mother, my dad's sister, seemed to melt brilliantly in the mouth.  I laughed so hard in their farmhouse, once, I sprayed soda out of my nose.

Even when I slept over (and we talked and laughed into wee hours), my cousin had to get up early and help milk; I would awaken in a pool of sunlight and white cotton and find her gone.  But--for all her hard work--she laughed all the time, and I thought her lucky to have three siblings, baby cows, a million cats, long rows of corn in which to play hide-and-go-seek!

We would shake our heads, furrow our brows, tut-tut over the brokenness in our family and swear: we will never fight, and--when we are old enough to make our own decisions--we will never be apart!  And we have made good in spirit, but I feel as though I have fought various distances, my entire life, to be near her on the dairy farm where she lives and works, to this day.

Something like twenty-one years ago (when she was eighteen), she married a Paul-Bunyan-looking farmer.  I knew--when she sang to him at their wedding--she would love him forever, and I knew for the way she looked at him--a decade or so later, at her little sister's wedding--I had been right.  Forever.  Two daughters, a son, the farm, the whole world, everything.

I saw her last in April when, over spring break, we gathered in the living room of her farmhouse with her daughters, her older sister, her mom, my college friend, and my children.  Her husband and son stood in the doorway to talk with us, and my son left, briefly, with hers to see the calves on a four wheeler.  She gave me a family picture that day, so, coincidentally, her boy is the third of only three in my wallet (my son and older nephew being the other two).

I was supposed to see her in Virginia Beach this week.  But, three days ago, I got a text message from her that said: "Gene [my son] was in a 4wheeler accident [on the farm] and is now being airlifted to hopkins.  We are driving there now from va beach, so im sorry we willnt be able to meet up at the beach."  And her son has since gone to be with the Lord.

I'm not trying to make this my tragedy; honestly, I hardly knew her son.  But I can see him, now, standing in the doorway with his quiet smile.  He was less than two years older than my son and only months younger than my older nephew.  And I love his mother and her all-grown-up (and no longer whiny) little sister, and I feel this from fearful mother and aunt angles, also from the angle of a sister who has walked and prayed the hallways of Johns Hopkins (just as Gene's sisters) for my own, beloved little brother.

I beg your prayers for my cousin, her husband, her daughters, and everyone who loves (present tense, because love doesn't end) Gene and his family.  I will be with them, soon, in body as well as in spirit (because no distance is too great), and we will lay that gentle farm boy to rest.  Please pray for his mother's smile, and for our entire family to be swallowed up by Big Jesus Love.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask thee to stay
close by me forever
and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children
in thy tender care,
and take us to heaven
to live with thee there.

The cattle are lowing.

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