Next month marks twenty years since my beautiful sister died of breast cancer. I still think about and miss her every day.
My oldest brother and I were talking about this anniversary the other day. He reminded me of one of the songs played at her funeral. I don’t remember it being sung that day – the day is kind of a blur, though I do remember some details vividly. I don’t know who chose the song, whether it was my sister before her death, or my brother-in-law, or perhaps my mom. But it was extremely apropos:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s glow its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to hide from thee;
I lay in dust, life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.
- George Matheson, 1882, copyright public domain
The words are very sad, but, paradoxically, very hopeful. There is weariness, weakness, pain, and death… but also rest, light, joy, and life. This is our situation here on earth. My sister knew that and embraced it.
It’s been a tough year for our family, immediate and extended. Knowing this anniversary looms is weighing heavily. Daily I wish for my sister to be here, for me, for all of us. I want to hear her voice and laugh, ask her advice, tell her how much I miss her.
But I can’t. So I try to trace the rainbow through the rain, rest my weary soul, and wait for the tearless morning and the life that shall endless be.
[Edited to add: My mom tells me she did indeed pick this song and all the others, too. She did an amazing job of it.]