25 November 2015 · Christine Mitton was and still is a beautiful, shining example of God's love. It has been years since I last saw her, but to know she is no longer here on this earth brings a great deal of grief. I never appreciated her as much as I should have when she worked with our youth group, and I realize that now as I look back and remember the unconditional love and grace she showed us, a true example of Jesus. I can't wrap my mind around this. I have been in constant prayer since I heard the news that God would bring rest, peace, comfort, and all things needed to Christine's husband and little boy. Christine will be sorely missed here on earth, but it brings joy to know she is no longer in pain and is doing what her heart always did here on earth, worshiping our Lord and Savior.
Bravo CharIie·Tuesday, 24 November 2015
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
There are some bits of insight and observation that transcend the minds and eyes of those from whom these emanate, as they declare truths that stand entirely on their own.
And so it was that a very dear friend of mine encountered one of those unexpected hairpin turns on the highway his life was careening headlong down. Fortunately, he made that turn unscathed, if not a bit shaken, but soon realized that another road had somehow merged with his own. And to further add to the surprises, someone from the distant past was motoring in the same direction he was now rolling.
A few weeks later, I received a rather cryptic text from my friend. Buried among the usually conversational melange, he casually introduced me to the idea that maybe...just maybe...he might have renewed a “friendship”, and this might...just might...be turning into something more than friendship.
For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit to being more than a little skeptical. This friend had just recently made some fundamental and significant changes in his life...not the least of which was a reversion back to the East Coast. The previous couple of years or so had used him as a heavy bag (sorry...no implications, Paul), and the process that inspired/necessitated the changes had definitely taken a significant toll on my friend.
And while the change would prove to be very fortuitous, I, as the self-appointed older brother, was feeling very protective and more than a little apprehensive that my friend might yet be at a very vulnerable point in his life. The news that an unexpected ANYONE had suddenly turned up in his life and seemed to be turning it inside out and upside down was at first more than a little disconcerting. But time seems to have a way of unraveling the complex, leaving simple, uncomplicated truths as testimony that a Higher Power might not only exist, but might actually being paying attention to those lives most in need of Divine guidance.
And, in time, all those little bits and pieces began to reveal a story that softened and warmed even that ragged, hard-bitten, tough-as-leather ticker wheezing tenuously along in the scarred and desiccated cavern of this old man’s chest. The initial communiques from these two budding lovebirds took me somewhat aback - COULD THIS ACTUALLY BE SOMETHING MORE THAN LONELINESS AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT GIVING WAY TO CONVENIENT, MUTUAL OPPORTUNITY?
The answer, plain and simple, turned out to be a hopeful, whispered “Yes! I think it just might be...”
The story ambles through the next few days and weeks....maybe months...entirely on its own, as far as I was concerned, and it appeared that my friend had fallen off the face of the earth. In hindsight, this was yet another solid confirmation that my dear brother was no longer his own man. But in a good way.
The next notable conversation went something like “Do you think you could make it to Florida on (insert a couple of possible weekends a few years ago)?”, followed by some mumbo-jumbo about being a groomsman.
GROOMSMAN?!? Wait. Aren’t they part of .... GASP ... a WEDDING PARTY?!?!
And so they are...and so it was.
The trip from the Left Coast was an amazing, life-affirming event in and of itself, as another brother from another mother, The Finn Himself (a.k.a. Toni Partti) managed to fly from the cold and damp of the British Isles to La La Land, where we would embark on a cross-country journey that would take us through more than sixteen states and eventually deposit us into the frozen tundras of Indiana. But not before we diverted to central Florida to give witness to and celebrate the union of two beautiful, guileless souls.
Mind you, in the course of a circuitous, entirely unscripted life full of the disastrous and the divine, and most everything in between, I must admit to having become more than merely jaded. Until I met the woman who had single handedly soothed my dear friend’s once-terminal case of itchy feet, I am not sure I was overly willing to believe that true love existed outside the boundaries of lyrics and poems and wistful movies. But watching them over the next few years eroded any resistance I may have once harbored.
Gone were the rolled eyes and scrunched eyebrows that their texts and posts on social media may have once elicited, and on more than one occasion I found myself smiling, genuinely so, at the sappy, simple, and most importantly - completely sincere expressions of love to each other and to the One who had blessed each of their lives by including the other. And when the news that this blissfully happy couple would be blessing the rest of us with the ultimate embodiment of their affections, I became hopelessly enthusiast, excited as only a long-anticipated Uncle-To-Be can possibly be. When Elijah arrived, it seemed as if the world rejoiced en masse.
Yet, as completely enthralled as I was to stand on the sidelines, watching this fairy tale unfurl across the pages of their lives, I cannot fully express the simmering angst and anger that immediately filled my heart and thoughts when I got The Call.
It cautiously informed me that Christine was having difficulties with her physical health, and initial tests to determine the specifics did not look good. But they maintained, inwardly and outwardly, an air of confidence and resolve, determined to meet this challenge head-on.
They asked only that God might grant them the strength to bear the cross they were being asked to carry, but as a survivor of more than a few physical challenges in my own life, I knew only too well what those challenges might end up being, and the withering toll they might take on this innocent, undeserving family.
But even as I warmed my soul with the glow and of their unpretentious, unfettered love story, so too did I feel a quiet, appreciative respect building in my heart as I watched them deal with ravaging effects of this disease. Only once, and only briefly, did I ever catch a glimpse of human frailty between them, as their faith that their lives were now in the hands of this same God Who had brought them together.
More recently, there were reaffirmations and tender, unrehearsed expressions of unflagging love to each other and for the beautiful little blessing in their lives. My heart, like my breath, caught every now and then, and in the pause I felt everything...apprehension, anxiety, discouragement, and fleeting flashes of hope. There were even the sporadic splashes of humor, such as a recent posting that lodged a rather unusual prayer request...“poopage”.
When the phone rang this morning, I intuitively knew how the conversation would go. My heart broke. My mind desperately searched for a way...ANY WAY...to lift even a minute part of this unbearable load of grief from my brother’s shoulders. There were the gut-wrenching moments when his voice broke, betraying the deep and widening fractures of his composure.
Yet, when all was said and done, my friend had managed, through unthinkable emotional duress, to encourage me and assure my troubled heart that Christine’s journey was not in vain, not yet ended but in reality just beginning.
There was now nothing in my heart or soul that was jaded of crusted. In a heavily compressed, ever so brief span of time, I’ve had a front row seat to a beautiful, intensely fulfilling verismo, where the dramatic tension was built upon the fact that there was precious little in the way of dramatic tension. This was to be a soft, and quietly sentimental aria wherein the main character was not one of the main characters, but rather the deep, slowly moving river of love and trust that bound this family together.
Godspeed, Christine. I am forever grateful for all the positive changes I have witnessed in my brother, Paul’s life. And for Elijah, who will always be a living reminder that there was, even if for a fleeting moment, yet another indisputable example of true love on this earth. And eternally grateful to have been able to name you among my friends.
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Toni Thank you for this, BC.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · 25 November 2015 at 00:38
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 25 November 2015 at 09:24
Morris thanks BC! no one can put it the way u did - so poignant yet candid - i coukdnt help choking emotionally.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 25 November 2015 at 12:31
Gary I'm glad Paul has you for an "older brother"...
Unlike · Reply · 2 · 25 November 2015 at 16:46