"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, March 30, 2004 So today I spent $5500 of Eli Lilly's money and Robin and I now have round trip tickets to Ghana ... NONREFUNDABLE and very cool.
Less cool is sitting in a center seat from Chicago to London ... but someone's got to, I guess.
Last week we all took a trip down to Natchez, MS for three days with Tom and Leine McNeely. It was a wonderful time. Schroedter and Robin LOVED Shadyside (Hayden loves everywhere!). We rode Ebony (Leine took Schroedter and I on a trail ride), went on some antebellum mansion house tours, spent a lot of time just hanging out and ate some fantastic seafood. One of the highlights was attending the Spring Pilgrimage Confederate Pageant (those of you who took the Natchez trip two years ago saw the video of Julia in this). I feel fully indoctrinated into Southern culture now -- a fine counterbalance to my three years in Connecticut. You would not believe the costumes and the huge production that went into this. Tom thinks the whole thing is embarrasingly bad ... and I see his point, but it was still fun. Somewhere in the cosmos, Julia is laughing so hard that I ended up with her mom at the Confederate Pageant. I can almost hear her.
The trip was bittersweet but far more sweet than bitter. It was all about life. It was difficult in some ways to be living in the house where she grew up, surrounded by pictures of her, but more than anything it was healing ... being able to be truly grateful for her life and reminding me how grateful I am for so many, many people's lives. As Leine was saying, "I always knew Julia was amazing ... and then I met (all the ECM students) ... and they're ALL so amazing!"
Robin and the boys gave me some time alone at the cemetery, and that was good. And then it was the sweetest thing because Schroedter started gathering flowers (weeds, mostly, but to the wonderful eye of a 5-year old they were beautiful flowers) and came up to me and said "Daddy, do you want to help me pick flowers for Julia." So Schroedter and I picked flowers and put them on Julia's grave while Hayden played with this little ceramic teddy bear that someone had left at the grave for Christmas.
I still have a hole in my heart ... always will. But now more than ever, I know it's a hole of distance not of separation. Somewhere, in God, Julia and all of us are still together. I'm sure of that now, as sure as I am of just about anything. I can just feel it.
And wherever she is ... whether she can see us or not ... even in whatever state or plane of existence or whatever she is in ... I think she can feel it, too.
| Mike at 3/30/2004 07:58:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."