You see, at the front of it all, my nephew came this summer. My in-laws keep thanking me for taking him. Thanking me! Can you believe it? I was in heaven over and under to have him in the house this summer. I wished his sister and all the family could come too. I feel so awesomely privileged that they trusted me! I should be thanking them!
But he had to go back. The time came when he had to go home.
"Noooo!" wailed my little one when I told him Hyung had to leave. "He doesn't miss his family! He likes living with us! He wants to live here FOREVER!"
And part of me wished that too--the part of me that hangs his towel in the bathroom to remember him, prays over his forgotten glasses case, and refuses to throw away the Science Camp pin with his name on it. There are days I still expect to see him in the twin bed in the boys' room. Neither boy is ready to sleep there. They are waiting for Hyung.
And it all reminds me of a verse, verses actually:
"Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
But Jesus perceived their (the Pharisees' disciples') malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.”
And they brought Him a denarius.
And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:17-21, courtesy of www.biblegateway.com)
These verses always sit a little heavy on my heart. Not the first section--my husband dearly wishes I cared to hold on to money just a little more than I do.
No, I'm having trouble with the second part. For I see God's likeness imprinted on those I love. I see His look in their eyes, His hand in their faces. And God has done some calling this summer.
On the surface, it is Hyung and family members. For a decade now, I have felt these small going-home "deaths" over and over. It's not the death of the person, but the separation. Again and again I say goodbye. And hello. And goodbye. It doesn't get easier. It gets harder. Each time I love them a little more. Each time I wish apparation wasn't something J.K. Rowling dreamed up (and we can argue about its geographic limits another time).
But as hard as goodbyes are, my family is still here. Beyond arm's reach, maybe, but here.
But there are those who are not here. God has done some of that calling this summer too. And as I have stood this summer looking at broken families, as I stand just this week watching four daughters weep for their lost father, a childhood friend mourn the loss of her babies, and a friend and her grandson waiting for his mother to die, I fear the day God asks me to render what is His.
And as I gaze at my little ones sleeping in their father's arms this evening, I thank my lucky stars that I have been blessed with one more day. And the joy of their being catches in my throat because it's too wonderful. I'm afraid to bask in that love for fear that the next time it's my turn.
But the other half of me reprimands myself, "What do you think your friends would do if they had one more day, one more moment?"
And so I'm daring to rejoice. I have been so very gifted.