Yesterday’s memorial was beautiful. So many treasures to ponder. But for now, I’ll post my notes for my little eulogy. I can’t say I stuck to the script, but you’ll get the gist. At the end, I’ve posted a video of the song played immediately after. I think I’ll be listening to it on repeat all day long. My friend Jen Hubbard made this little picture, inspired by Vernon’s words.
Before I met Vernon, I read this advice in some gift-shop book of light inspiration: “Marry the kindest person you know.” I wasn’t even looking to get married, but it struck me as really good advice. Then I met Vernon, who happened to be the kindest person I knew. So it stuck with me.
This morning, as I was getting ready, putting makeup over a scar on my nose, trying to brush my cowlick down the opposite direction, I thought how Vernon loved those things about me. He praised my imperfections from the day I met him. He saw beauty and talent in the areas of my life where I felt most insecure. It was amazing to be loved like that.
I’m glad that he’s no longer in pain, but right now, I miss him. I think after the accident, I understood love in a deeper way because I couldn’t blame him for anything. Our petty differences in marriage no longer mattered. I learned to love him unconditionally…to see strength and beauty in him despite his disabilities, because of his disabilities. Though his mind wasn’t there as we had known him before, his heart and soul were strong. He was very affectionate. Despite his massive disabilities,he still made me feel incredibly loved. Our roles had changed completely, but we still had a good relationship. (I hope the kids felt this too.) He was STILL the kindest person I knew. And the most forgiving.
Some of it was the injury…it caused him to live in the moment. All the time. He couldn’t really remember the past, anyway…so maybe it was easier for him to let go of things that would bother the rest of us. His memory loss helped him stay positive. Here is a little video that might help explain my point:
For those who can’t understand him, he said: “A Blessing in Disguise is when you have something bad happen to you, you can look at it as a good thing instead. It’s quite easy to do it: you just think about the thing in your head and color it with good fortune.”
Phillipians 4:8 says this: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” There were a lot of really bad things that happened in Vernon’s life. But being with him in the past two years in particular taught me so much. In order to get through the bad times, we learned to look for hidden treasures. And there were so many.
As soon as the crisis hit, we were cared for by our community and church, and are still cared by them now. We met amazing people we never would have met before. The Logie family, whom we only met online a year ago, brought their medicinal music to the courtyard of the nursing home nearly every Sunday afternoon. We met Joe, who became Vernon’s roommate and guardian angel. Vernon’s friend Chris immediately stepped up to look after Maki as if he was a close uncle. Maki began to thrive in his own music and interests with a supportive group of friends around him. Justine had playdates and babysitters all the way through as was rarely lonely. The kids grew in wisdom and empathy, we were surrounded by love. We made tons of art. We had music and laughter in our lives. We’ve been supported by our family and the greater community. I’ve found an outlet through my blog, and have deeply connected to others with the sharing of our story. We live in a great little house that we love. We’ve grown closer. God may not have healed Vernon in the way we wanted, but He provided for us in amazing, creative ways.
Although Vernon probably should have died on May 23, 2014, he took a long time to let go. He must have felt he had a lot to live for, even in his state. He loved his family. He loved his life. But he died without baggage. He didn’t hang on to anything. Even at the end, I asked him: What would happen if the people who were involved in your scooter accident were to come meet you right now. What would you say?” He answered enthusiastically:
“I’d say: Hi! How have you been? How is your life?”
I think the secret to dying peacefully…must be living peacefully. If Vernon could be so forgiving and accepting, when he had everything stripped from him, how hard should it be for us, who still have LIFE stretching out before us?
These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is love.