By Stacy Dickman
“Grandpa has been sent to hospice.” The text message was simple and not unexpected. It came from my mom in the morning, and though saddened, I took it in stride. I continued my daily tasks as Mommy, with plans to visit my grandfather that evening. Just before heading over, I called my dad to get details. He let me know my great-uncle had been placed in hospice as well, just a few rooms down from my grandfather.
As I climbed into the car and made my way across town, my heart hurt. Both my mom’s family and my dad’s family were preparing to say good-bye to men they loved and who loved them dearly. Though no tears fell from my eyes, my heart and mind filled with an ache I could feel down to my soul.
I had never stepped foot inside a hospice before, though I know its premise and the basics of its operations. I expected sadness to fill the air like a thick blanket. But as I rounded the corner leading to my grandpa’s room, the sound of laughter echoed in the hall. My family had gathered there, and they laughed and talked about our family and the need to get together more often. Later, some other families dropped by to visit my grandpa, so I left to visit my great-uncle. Many greetings and hugs later, I made my way home.
It wasn’t until I sat in the car alone that the full effect of what was happening flooded me. Yes, a lot of sadness loomed. Many good-byes had been whispered, and two men we loved were breathing their last breaths on this earth. But it was the connectedness of family that consumed my thoughts and emotions.
You see, my mom’s family visited with my dad’s family in their loss, and my dad’s family shared visits with my mom’s family during their hardship. For a few days, all my family united as one, spreading love and sharing grief together.
I was reminded of the early apostles and the beginnings of the Christian church. As written in the book of Acts, the church formed when groups of believers united in their common bond, in their belief in Jesus’s resurrection. Some sold land or property in support of those who had less. Others risked life and liberty to gather as a body of believers. The apostles traveled near and far, supported with gifts from the collection of believers, spreading the gospel and offering encouragement to people across the land. They acted as one family, sharing love and carrying burdens together in the name of Jesus.
Our lives can sometimes seem like waffles—connected sets of individual spaces. The people I encounter on a regular basis can be collected into separate squares. One square for each side for my family, and one for each side of my husband’s family. One square for people from my kids’ school, and one for people from church. A square each for coworkers, mom friends, and Bible study ladies. When people are in need, it’s easy to let love and caring overflow from one square to another. What if I allowed more of my joy to overflow as well?
I’m thankful for the time when my families stood together to love one another. It provided strength for the tough times, and it has inspired me to look for ways I can encourage other people in my life every day. Our family had to say good-bye to two great men, but in their last breaths they taught me one final lesson: let your love overflow.
Stacy Dickman loves all things creative. Living in Southwest Ohio with her husband and three children provides plenty of inspiration! Using her love of story, Stacy turns everyday ordinary into an encouraging adventure. With coffee and Jesus, she hopes to shine light into life by finding beauty in the everyday. You can find her at stacydickman.com.
Photograph © Annie Spratt, used with permission