“Mark has a new home,” she heard the pastor mention the night before. She no longer wanted to stay in the house he built for them. It was an empty shell much like her heart.
“We’ll be starting the service in just a few moments.” The funeral director provided a leather chair for her to use while everyone else sat in straight backed chairs. Positioned beside her, the children and she had a clear view of her husband and their father. Her eyes traveled the length of the wooden coffin stopping to study the smooth oak boards. She could still see the muscles in his forearm straining with each stroke while he sanded the trim for their kitchen.
Someone pressed their minted breath against her face and whispered words of encouragement. Her fingers ached from greeting over four hundred visitors at the viewing the day before and from hugging each shoulder that bent towards her own. She turned to peek at the blur of faces. Blocks of fear began to build a foundation within her because she knew her fellow mourners would not be there when her loneliness prevailed. Turning back, she refocused her eyes on Mark.
They added ten pounds to his face. The director had apologized for being unable to mask all the bruises from the accident. She knew Mark would hate how he looked but she wanted an open coffin. She knew it was crazy, but by seeing him, it seemed as though he was still nearby helping make sense of the endless decisions.
“Do you want to donate all of his organs?” The woman in charge of meeting with the families had made a noble attempt to console her when they finally knew he was gone.
It seemed decades ago when she had encouraged Mark to check the box for organ donor. “Think of how we might be able to help someone.” She had proudly shown him her license.
She never dreamed he would be the first. The hospital called last night and told her they were able to use Mark’s heart, kidneys, and liver. Would the phone ring one day and someone thank her for the new life they had been given? She closed her eyes to steady her thoughts.
“The service for Mark Tanner will be conducted by a friend of Mark’s brother.” Pastor Norton moved to stand behind the podium.
She gripped her tissue, an anchor for her emotions. Her fourteen year old son remained stoic while her sixteen year old daughter averted her mascara rimmed eyes from the coffin.
“I have two purposes today. I want to first offer you comfort and then offer you a challenge. Mark accepted Jesus as his personal Savior several years ago following another accident.” A buried memory broke through her emotions with a blow. Mark had returned from a day with his brother saying he needed time to think about something his brother told him. She had to work at breathing during the pastor’s next words about Mark’s love for his family and home.
“I would like to offer you a challenge now.” The pastor continued. “Mark is in his new home in Heaven today.” He moved from behind the podium and stepped in front of her and the children.
“Whether you believe in God or not, the day will come when you will stand before him and give an account of your sin. Mark was an organ donor who gave his life to others so they might have extended life. Jesus gave his life for our sin so that we could have eternal life. Are you ready? Are you willing to accept the gift he is offering you just like the donor recipients accepted the gift Mark offered?”
She thought about Mark without the bruises on his face. She thought about his blue eyes filled with love for her. She thought about his countless sacrifices.
“Beloved, just pray these words silently after me.” Pastor Norton began to recite a familiar prayer. She instantly remembered the day she had rejected it when a friend had offered to pray with her after another loss. She had drenched her yearnings with buckets of doubt and convinced herself of her own strength. Her heart squeezed with fresh sorrow.
“If you prayed that prayer, please look up at me as a brief testimony between you and the Lord that you accepted his gift. Thank you…thank you.” Pastor Norton rested his eyes on everyone in the front row. “Amen.”
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