I’ve learned throughout my 44 years that life is a crazy gift! A gift full of joy and sadness, and all the things in between. There was once a time in my life when I didn’t know if I would see another day. It makes me appreciate each day I’ve been given, even in the midst of all the craziness. I think that’s why I ugly cry at funerals, no matter who’s it is.
Nothing puts things in perspective like death. To me, it is the saddest thing on earth for those left behind. The “It is finished” moment. A standstill of what has always been real and touchable and then suddenly it’s just gone. It’s a true shock to all your senses as you try to push ahead and figure out a new, normal way to live without this person in your life. All of us left behind can’t help but wonder what is heaven really like for this loved one that has gone on to a place that our minds will never fully grasp. Can they see us? Can they hear us? Can they even see their own funeral and hear the words being spoken in their honor?
I feel like I saw a touch from heaven that answered those questions.
I recently attended my cousin, Tonya’s, funeral. She was only 60 years old. She was larger and louder than life! Her voice and her giant laugh always carried above everyone else’s. And then, beyond what anyone could comprehend, her life was finished! She went to bed one evening and just didn’t wake the next day. A true shock to everyone.
If you have ever lost someone, then you know you are always left with the question, “Why?”, especially if you feel they left too soon. This is the hardest part and one of our biggest questions to God. I saw this in raw, gut-wrenching form when I watched Aunt Peggy lean over her only child, asking that very question.
I watched two daughters try to say their last goodbyes as they caressed their mother’s hand. Through their tears, they voiced all their regrets for not calling her back that night and telling her all the things that they will never be able to.
My sweet, hubby was asked by his aunt to lead the eulogy. He did a wonderful job pointing everyone back to that peace that passes understanding.
Once the service started, Cousin Terri, got up to speak. She brought light to the funeral service as she shared stories of long ago when she and Tonya grew up together in their youth. Terri shared a simple story of a robin’s egg, in the middle of other stories, that I did not know the significance of in that moment.
She shared these words….”I can remember for hours we would make grass nests for our birds that we didn’t have…….I was spending the night one night and she said, ‘Do you want to see what I’ve got?’ She had a robin’s egg. She said, ‘I think it’s gonna hatch’. And I just wanted to touch it so bad! And I wanted a plaid purse, and I wanted a robin’s egg. Anything she had, I wanted. But I want to tell you the things that Tonya taught me. She taught me how to share.”
Please listen for yourself….
They asked if anyone else wanted to share anything. Great Aunt Anne got up and shared a story about Tonya coming home from school one day when she was a little girl without her coat. When they asked her where it was, she told them that she saw another girl at school who did not have a coat so she gave her coat to the little girl and told her to keep it.
Again…another sweet story about Tonya having a heart to share. We all just sat with tears and touched hearts and wished, so badly, that Tonya could hear these wonderful tributes.
I could end the story right here and say the sweet lesson I learned was that no small act of kindness ever goes unnoticed. But an amazing thing happened…
After the service, the family gathered at a restaurant to have a meal together. As we were all finishing off our second basket of chips and salsa, I saw Great Aunt Anne enter the room carrying a bag. She walked straight up to Terri and handed it to her. Terri looked in the bag and immediately started sobbing. She couldn’t even gather herself. Her sudden mix of tears and emotions made us all want to cry with her and we didn’t even know why. What in the world was in that bag?
Great Aunt Anne said, “After the service, I drove to my home in the country. As I got out of my car, I saw this laying beside my husband’s truck in the grass clippings. I knew I had to immediately drive back and give it to you.”
Terri said it looked like the exact grass nests that she and Tonya had worked so hard to make for the birds they didn’t have. In that grass nest lay a robin’s egg.
Remember in the story, Terri asked Tonya, “How long have you had that (robin’s egg)?” Tonya said, “I think it’s gonna hatch.” Terri said “I wanted a robin’s egg SO BAD!” and “Tonya taught me how to share.”
Well, guess what?
Tonya was right. It hatched!
Terri got her robin’s egg after all.
And Tonya taught Terri how to share one last time.
When Terri was a little girl she saw the robin’s egg and asked Tonya, “How long have you had that?” She had no idea her answer would come over 50 years later, “A lifetime, cousin…a lifetime. Now it’s your turn to share.”
Tonya Baugh Walls
October 12, 1956 – October 5, 2017
The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.
Zora Neale Hurston