Waking up in PARADISE ...

... November 5 (and Saturday the 3rd, and the 8th {funeral day}) have come and gone.  With little fanfare from most of the world.  To most, they are just dates, to us, the dates our world changed.

Thanks to the PRAYERS of so many friends & family, the visits, the cards, notes, e-mails, text messages, Facebook messages . . . we made it through those most difficult days.  We spent some of the weekend with Ashley & Brian & Ty - going to the movies and then a "girls lunch" (+Ty!!).  There were memories, tears, and yes, even laughter.  God is gracious and He gave us much grace this past week as the memories flooded back . . . speaking of memoires . . . 

Yesterday was November 9, 2012 . . . . My mind kept going back to
November 9, 2011 . . . it was a cold morning.  There was some
snow/sleet/rain falling from the gray overhanging clouds.  A dreary
day to be sure.  A day that the hunters would have loved – there was
just a bit of “tracking snow” on the ground – enough that tracking
that buck would be made easier.  A day that Rickey would have loved to
be out in his stand – waiting for that next hunting story to happen.
Instead, many of us who loved him were gathered around a hole in the
ground, awaiting the arrival of that wooden box that held the remains
of his earthly body.  I was cold, so cold.  I went to the cemetery
alone – the girls didn’t want to go, and I just couldn’t make them.
Others had offered me rides, but this was something I had to do on my
own (yes, I'm just a BIT stubborn).  I needed to be able to arrive and
leave when I needed to – not on somebody else’s time table.   When I
arrived, I saw my boss and my co-worker (who is also one of my dearest
friends).  They were standing with umbrellas – out in the cold – for
Rickey, for me.  I know many other people were there, but theirs were
the first eyes that made contact with mine, so I went to them.  They
moved slightly and made room for me - in between them – both covering
me with their umbrellas.  As if the umbrellas could shield me from the
pain that was engulfing me.  They DID shield me from the wet
snow/sleet/rain that was falling and I appreciated that as I stood
there shivering in the cold.  I grabbed on to each of their arms, and
held on – they were my life preservers at the moment.  My boss was
wearing a corduroy jacket; I can still feel it in my hand as I clung
to it.  Even today as I remember, even today as I type these words,
the feelings come flooding back to me as if it were this morning that
they happened, not a year ago.  Watching Rickey’s brothers and cousins
bring that wooden box across the snow covered lawn, and set it in
place – its “final resting place”.  I was very confident in the fact
that Rickey was not in that box.  The outer shell of his earthly body
was all that remained in there, but still, it was the last bit of him
left and soon, it would be “gone” too . . . I had once heard someone
compare our earthly bodies to a glove – the glove is the outer shell,
but when the hand is removed, the glove does nothing . . . much as our
body – the “outer shell” remains, but the “hand” or the spirit/soul is
gone, and the body is just that, a “shell”.  I knew with certainty
that all that was left on earth was the shell of Rickey.  I had the
calm assurance that at about 11:00 a.m. on November 5, he had left
this earth for paradise.  That still does not make watching them lower
the casket into the ground something that is easy.

Memories . . . yes, time does ease the sting, but they are still there
– flooding back more some days than others . . . .  memories that can
still can make my heart skip a beat.

Reality . . . . yes, the reality that life IS precious and not one of
us are promised our next breath.  I think that is one of the “lessons”
that I have been slowly learning throughout this year.  The reality
that we need to savor each and every moment that comes to us . . . the
good, the bad and all the “normal” moments that make up our lives.
For one day, those normal moments will be what our memories are made
of.  Life is filled with much more normal than it is with the grand –
either good or bad – but we take those normal moments for granted – we
assume they are normal and therefore will be repeated.   I know that I
took my normal days for granted.  I know that I thought life was good,
and life would continue to be good.    The sun would rise and set, and
I’d go on my way with each day, happy, healthy kids, happy, healthy
husband, happy, healthy me.  I really didn’t give much thought to the
fact that life could change so instantly.  Now, I know it can.  I’ve
been given an up close and personal lesson of that fact.

As this first year of “Our Journey To A New Normal” has drawn to a
close {meaning that we have survived the first Birthdays, Christmas,
Easter, Valentine’s Day, Anniversary . . . and all those yearly
“milestones”} there is a sense of unbelief that an entire year has
passed.  We did survive all of the “firsts”.  God was with us every
step of the way, and He went before us to prepare the path that we
were required to walk.  None of this year’s journey has come as a
surprise to God - not ONE moment of it.  Much of it may have surprised
us, causing us to walk by faith, not by sight.  I still don’t
understand why we were called to walk this journey.  I don’t
understand why I had to find out what it meant to be a “widow” at only
44 years old (I turned 45 thirteen days after Rickey died).  I don’t
know why my girls and Rickey’s 2 older kids have to go on through life
without their Daddy here to guide them.  I don’t know why the
grandkids have to miss out on having their Papa.  I don’t get it that
Rickey’s parents had to bury a child (no parent should ever have to do
that).  I don’t know why his siblings & sibling-in-laws & all of his
extended family & friends have to feel the sting of death.  It isn’t
fair.  Not at all by our earthly standards.   Yet I will cling to the
hope of eternity and the promise that God does not ever leave us or
forsake us.  I will also cling to the words my precious “middle”
daughter penned on the anniversary of her Daddy’s “home-going”:

“Daddy, I miss you!  From the not so great Easter pictures (and she
posted one of them!) the gum stealing, the Packer loving, and
everything in between.  But November 5th last year, for reasons I
don’t know, you positively woke in paradise.  A place I can’t even
dream of!  You are home.  More at home than ever.  The pain of the
people you left here is real, but what’s even more real is the joy you
have being with your Maker.  I miss you.  Everyday.  “But someday soon
we’ll be together, where a moment lasts forever..”  Love you!”

Isaiah 11:6 says, “and a little child will lead them” . . . I could
not have penned a more fitting tribute to Rickey Roger Rye than his
middle daughter did.  Yes, we miss him.  We miss all the fun loving
things that we did with him.  The good and the bad and ALL the
“normal” moments in between.  We miss them all.  But, oh, what a
beautiful picture she painted (I LOVE word pictures) . . . You
POSITIVELY woke in PARADISE, a place we can’t even dream of!  You are
HOME . . . more at home than ever . . . what is MORE real than our
pain is that Daddy is experiencing REAL JOY because he is with his
Maker!  THAT is our hope.  THAT is what we stake our claim on.  THAT
is why when I remember November 9, and that wooden box being lowered
into the ground, I remember it with sadness, and an aching heart, BUT
I also remember it with HOPE . . . the HOPE we have in those promises
that Taya so beautifully spoke of.  The truth that God took her Daddy
“home” . . . more “home” than he’d ever been.  We KNOW that he was
ready, and as our first year without him came to an end, we grieved
for our loss, but also rejoiced for his gain.  Philippians 1:21 says,
"For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."  For in that blink
of an eye on November 5, 2011, Rickey certainly DID gain . . . he
awoke in PARADISE!


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this Sheila. May our God of all comfort continue to help & guide you everyday as He has already been doing. Much love to you & all of Rick's kiddo's!


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