TWO DEATHS AND DEGREES OF SEPARATION

By Lisa Huddleston

 

I held his hand for hours the day my father-in-law died

Not continuously but anytime others left that spot on the side of the bed empty

I jumped up to fill it

I hated for him to open his eyes and not see two eyes looking back

Understanding and showing compassion, giving honor to his final day of hard work

They said he wasn’t aware, but when I said, “I love you,”

He patted my hand

Releasing his still-strong calloused grip long enough to pat, pat, pat

He heard me and

He knew

 

 

When my father died I was not there

He lived two states away and the distance between us was great

When I did visit we made bawdy jokes and laughed with wide-open mouths and teary eyes, coughing and gasping and spitting out our love, trying to breathe

But in the end I could not talk on the phone

Not understanding his mumbled words, not knowing what to say, or how to bridge the gap

So when she begged me to call I didn’t

I wrote instead sending my final words by email for her to read to him in another voice

I could not go, I could not call, and I would not be there when he died

I hope he knew

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SEPTEMBER MORNING

By Lisa Huddleston

September brings glorious, chilly mornings, the hint of color to come and already present in the trees, full fields ready to harvest, and the promise of change. Either a promise or a threat. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I know change is coming.

Before I couldn’t wait for change. I measured my age in half years, and anxiously anticipated every change in my own children: eating solid food, walking, potty training, learning to read, getting their driver’s licenses, going to college, getting married … each step leading them further away. But there was joy in the change.

Now change feels like fear. We have lost half our parents. The other half ages before our eyes. And I watch their faces, my mirror, and the news with anxious eyes and ears, and I want to stop the clock. Crazy men with bombs speak of fire and fury with threats that could kill us all, could stop the comforting change of the seasons that have always before promised to return. This harvest could be the last. Could always have been I suppose, and I am forced to chuckle at my dire response to beauty.

So on this early morning, I sit alone on my screened-in porch, breathing under heavy blankets and reading the morning words. God sees and knows and speaks: “The Most High God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them” (Daniel 5:21). And I breathe and know what he says is true, before and now and still to come. And I hope to be caught up in the harvest. To be judged as fruit and not as chaff. To abide in him and with him through seasons, and changing times, and end of time.

And September mornings are glorious still.

TAKE THIS CUP AWAY

By Lisa Huddleston

Verse 1

There now are wars
And rumors of wars

Take this cup away

But who knows what
We’re fighting for

Take this cup away

When all sides think that
Might makes right

Take this cup away

Gotta walk by faith
And not by sight

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 2

There’s a man in the north
Who’s reaching forth

Take this cup away

And a man in the west
Who thinks he’s best

Take this cup away

Big men who seek to
Settle scores

Take this cup away

Both think they’re right
To break down doors

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 3

Gotta turn our eyes
To the eastern skies

Take this cup away

Just the fear of the Lord
Will make us wise

Take this cup away

When that bright star comes
Then all will see

Take this cup away

He’ll break our chains
Set all men free

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 4

Until that day
Gotta see it through

Take this cup away

Their bombs may
Blow this world in two

Take this cup away

Until then grace
Around us pours

Take this cup away

Still time to learn
Not mine but yours

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away