by sister Maxine Fream

The day was blustery and overcast, rainy off and on, dark tatters of  clouds scudding low across the skies. Not the most inviting day to be out,  but I had to drive over to the beach side of town where the travel office was located to get an airline ticket up-dated. My little mother-in-law is dying. Little, yes, down to 52 pounds. She probably never weighed much more than 80 wringing wet. One hundred years' old! She's had such a long, full life. Why is it so hard for me to let her go?

Leaving the travel office, ticket in hand, I had only driven two or three blocks when I saw a sign: Beach Ramp. Impulsively, I turned in and found a place to park. The rain had kept most people off the beach, although it wasn't raining at the time. Amazing, I thought, to be living in a city called Daytona Beach for nearly a year and never getting to the beach! The first view of it gave me a rush of joy. The grand expanse of the sea and its mighty rolling waves is always a magnificent sight. There was a heavy mist in the air casting a veil over the few people out strolling here and there. A strong wind was blowing off the ocean, pushing the waves higher than usual, the waters gray-green in the muted light. The tide had just started to recede, so I walked down to the water's edge and stood transfixed. Suddenly there came flooding over me a feeling of inexpressible loneliness. Who can say what triggers such emotions? I was aware of how greatly I missed Don - he loved the sea as I did; it was a favorite place for us to be, and he was not there to share it with me. Now I was faced with the loss of his mother. And for this whole year I had been dealing with the care of my dying sister. All of this seemed to come together in one overwhelming tidal wave.

The salt of my tears mingled with the salt spray from the sea wetting my face as I gave way to grief. Then, strangely, the wind I was leaning into began to feel like an embrace, as though God Himself were wrapping His arms around me, comforting me, as a father his child, letting me know that He loved me. I remained there for a long time, resting in those arms, until peace and calm returned to my soul.

Suddenly a bird fell out of the sky into the breaking surf. After a brief flurry of wings and water, it took flight again, a small fish clutched in its talons. A timely reminder of how wonderfully God has made all His creatures, and how bountifully He provides for them! I found I could smile again. Taking off my sandals, I waded in. The water was surprisingly warm. A tiny sandpiper ran by in front of me, unafraid, busily hunting its own food. Lacy strands of seaweed swirled around my ankles like bracelets. A squadron of nine brown pelicans flew overhead in perfect formation. So, Blue Angels, these birds didn't go to flight school - who taught them?

"This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of 
the spheres.
This is my Father's world. I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hand the wonders wrought."

And another line to that song I have always remembered: "Although the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet!"

Death, be not proud. I am a child of the King!

Maxine Fream, Joplin, MO

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