During my entire childhood, the families of the Wileys, the Zollers, and the Rauches were almost just extensions of one family. We could all be found gathered at one house or another several times a week, and us kids grew up as close friends. Now that we’re all grown, we don’t see each other as often, but they are still there on my heart, right near the top of my close friends’ list.
The father of the Rauch family, Bill, just passed away a few days ago. He'd successfully battled cancer several times but he was hit with a new one and this time he was gone within six weeks. The memorial service yesterday was a beautiful remembrance of his life. People always say nice things at funerals, but with Bill you knew every word was truth, because he was a rock-solid man, with a life built on The Rock. We'll miss his ready hugs, gentle humor, and quiet wisdom.
One person related that a few days before the end, they went to visit him and he said, "How can I complain about this, when God has given me so many things and such a wonderful life?"
That's a beautiful perspective and one we might all aspire to have when trials come along, whether they be short ones or terminal ones. I may have a chronic illness that requires an awful lot of rest, but during the few hours I can be active I get to be doing my dreams—the dreams God gave me and has fulfilled in me: writing, interpreting, spending time with my family and friends.... I'm thankful for those times and it's important for all of us to remember to cherish those times while we have them.
Speaking of writing dreams, my novel Reaching Sky is coming along nicely. As expected, I've had a couple of days my body didn't allow me to write, but I've been able to make up for it on other days. By the end of the day I'll be a tad beyond today's goal at close to 12,000 words. I've gotten further than on any of my other novel attempts and in a couple of days I will have passed my record for my longest solo writing project.
Here's a short excerpt from the story:
“Hey,” I leaned over to bat playfully at Sky’s arm.
She yelled and cowered, her arm flying up protectively.
We stared at each other for a split second, my mouth gaped, until she shrieked again and pointed to the road. I jerked back into my lane.
She’s scared of me. My own little sister thinks I’m gonna hit her. I waited until my breathing had slowed down before I spoke. “Sky, I’m not going to hurt you. I would never hit you.”
She looked out the window, her fingers clenching a handful of her skirt.
Turning on my blinker, I pulled onto an off ramp and then into the first parking lot I reached. Sky shot glances at me, her eyes red-rimmed.
I put the truck in park and turned so I could face her directly. “No one should ever have hit you.”
She looked down. “Sometimes I talk back.” Her voice dropped. “I don’t always do what he tells me to do.”
I fought the anger. “Sky, look at me.”
It took a minute, but finally she turned. She didn’t quite look me in the eye, but at least in my general direction.
“No one ever has the right to hit you. Ever. No matter what you do, no matter how bad you are, the appropriate punishment should never leave a mark. Never. It wasn’t your fault, Sky.”
She was crying for real now. I hoped they were healing tears. Tears that let go of the guilt for something no child should ever feel guilty about.
I reached out, gently, and took her hand. “I want to promise you something, Sis.”
She glanced at me, didn’t pull her hand away.
“I promise I will never hit you. I will never hurt you.” I said the words slowly. They filled up the car.
Sky nodded. Ever so slightly, she nodded.
I hoped, oh, how I hoped I could be as sure of not hurting her emotionally as I was of not hurting her physically. I knew taking her from that house had been the right thing, but had taking her away? Should I have brought her straight to the social worker and let her investigate?
I looked at her vulnerable face, tears streaking through last night’s makeup. No. I’d done the right thing. And anyway, I’d made a decision and would have to follow through with it. I was her protector now.
Now I think I'll go take a nap. Oh, speaking of that, when it comes time for me to die (which hopefully won't happen for a long time), I hope people don't say, "rest in peace." I've done a whole lot o' resting here on earth! When I get to heaven I'm going to be healthy and full of energy. I hope people say something more like, "Dance in peace, Amy, dance in peace."