As The Day Draws To A Close

Monday, 19 Nov 2001

Where do I start to tell you about this day? This very important, all absorbing day. As it draws to a close, I need to tell you though. I need to tell you because I know so many of you have prayed for us today, so many of you are concerned. So many of you wish you could have been with us to say good-bye to Phil, however difficult that would have been. But may I tell you thank you. Thank you for allowing us to keep this private. To keep it simple. To let us bury Phil in the way of our choosing. We are grateful to you for letting us do things a bit different than some, and for understanding even if you didn't. Part of us wishes you had been there, because it was very special to us. But the other part is very grateful to be able to say good-bye to him in this way. He was a quiet boy with a great sense of humor, and doing this quietly seemed appropriate. So many on this day would spend the time after burial shaking hands, giving hugs, sharing food and stories of their loved one. We didn't. We came home, got comfortable, put in a movie ("Heaven can wait", we are strange) and I curled up with a blanket. It felt so good. It felt so good to reflect on what had just happened. So soak it all in. To run it all through my mind again and again. How we arrived at the cemetery, walked to the casket and stood looking at it. Light blue, not so large, five chairs lined up next to it. Cloudy sky, but pretty. The sky was light blue also, with hints of sunshine breaking through. We stood for a short time, and then we listened to, "We are standing on Holy ground". It was beautiful, and the tears rolled easily. It felt like Holy ground. Jim prayed and spoke of God's presence being where two or more are gathered. He was there, we felt Him. I saw Him in the skies, I breathed Him in. He gave us peace. I looked at Phil's picture beside the casket, and remembered his sweet face. It smiled back at me. Jim read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-11 and then we played a song "Good-bye for now". How comforting to know it is just for now.

Then Jim started to read this:

Philip Andrew Shore
October 16, 1985 - November 14, 2001

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-11

Our son, our brother...We are here, but you are not, although it seems to us in our human thinking that you are contained in this box. What is here is not you, but merely the tent you inhabited while you walked on this earth with us. The tent that housed you, the tent that grew with you, the tent that we all saw with our eyes, and that we recognized you by.

The morning sun has risen now. The tentís flap has been opened and you have walked out into the light that shines from God. Into His warmth and His love. You heard His call to come home and that is where you are now. This tent leaked human tears, it blew in earthly storms, it blocked the clear view of Heaven and was staked down unable to fly, and it has been left behind. You are free!

Your eyes now see a new world that is beyond our imagination while we are still here in our tents. Your pain has ended, ours will linger. Your eyes will not cry another tear while many will fall from ours. Your body will no longer suffer, how happy we are for you.

We are happy for your freedom. Happy to know that you fought the good fight and have now been released from your earthly bondage to start your time of heavenly eternity with God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ knew what it was like to walk in this flesh, to hurt in this flesh, and He welcomes you home with open arms and weíre sure Heís saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant".

You were faithful, grown beyond your years in many ways, and yet still a child at heart. Just the combination that Jesus is happy to see, trusting him with a childlike faith.

To say we will not miss you would be the ultimate lie, but to say that we know where you are and that you are happy and so loved is the ultimate Truth. We are secure in that, and all God has promised us.

We cry on this day and we also rejoice at your homecoming. You are free! So free! You suffer no more!

You have taught us so much and we will remember you all our days. Hopefully as the days go by, there will be more laughter than tears, until the day comes when we will leave our tents and walk out into Godís beautiful and all comforting light of heaven.

As we leave here today, we leave with heavy hearts but blessed are those who mourn, for we will feel the comfort that God is giving and continue to grow closer to Him until we see you again.

We are happy for you Phil. Your time was short in our eyes, but the memory of how you touched our lives will be everlasting.

"To live is Christ and to die is gain".

Your gentle, loving spirit was evidence of Christ living in you and now you have gained all that He promised you when He paved the way to Heaven for all believers.

We love you Phil!

We miss you!

Welcome Home!!

As a father, whose heart was broken, it was difficult to read, and our friend and pastor Dave picked up where Jim could not go on, and then handed it back to Jim to read the final three lines. What a help to have Dave there, to pick up the pieces when we could not. We then played the song that says, "God will make a way, when there seems to be no way" Oh, how we know He will, as He always has!

God gave me a poem this morning called Heaven's Door. I didn't know if I would be able to read it or not, but I took it, and thanks to the peace of God and His strength, I was able to read it. It goes:

Heavenís Door

Today we bury you my son
We put you in the ground
Turn and walk away from you
Leave you behind until the sound
Of trumpets fill the air, the sky
And Jesus Christ we see
Gathering all His children
To spend eternity
Together with our Risen Lord
The One who made us whole
The One who has redeemed us
From Satan and his pull
Of death and graves and misery
Of lies and plain deceit
Yes, Jesus Christ is Risen
And weíll all bow at His feet
Worship Him and praise Him
Even more so than before
Thank Him for the gift of life
And for opening the door
To heaven and the promise
That we will be with Him
Together with other believers
Whoíve been cleansed from earthly sin
We place you in the ground today
But youíre not really here
Itís just another lie from Satan
To bring on another tear
You live my son, youíre living
More than you ever have before
Free from pain and suffering
Youíve passed through heavenís door

It's good to know he has, it's good to know his suffering is through, and that "better is one day in your house, than a thousand elsewhere". You guess it, we played that! :) The music sounded so beautiful outdoors, standing there as a family, grieving together but also very hopeful that someday, the five of us will be together again.

I wasn't sure if it was best to walk away with Phil still "standing". or to lower him into the ground. Could I possibly bear to watch such a proceeding, but as I've said, I hate to leave things undone, and I wanted no regrets, so we had them lower Phil into the ground. It is very deep, deeper than I thought, and it is not as painful as I imagined it would be. By this time, I think we were so surrounded and covered with God's peace, that nothing could harm us. Jimm and Chris had gone out and bought five blue roses (I know, I didn't know they existed either) and they had a green ribbon tied around each one. I handed a blue rose to everyone, and then I walked over and picked up some dirt, walked to the grave and sprinkled it in and then tossed in my blue rose. I'm not sure of the significance of the dirt, but I was told it was so that the dirt closest to Phil would be from our hands, so I guess that's good enough for me. The rose just meant love to me, and oh how we love this boy! All the gentlemen I was with, followed suit. Why is it that I am constantly surrounded by men? :)

Dave then read a wonderful Psalm. Number 127
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

How appropriate...

We gathered in a tight circle and Dave prayed. I don't remember all that he prayed, but I remember that when he prayed for me, it spoke to my heart, as I'm sure it did when he prayed for each one of us. I don't remember the exact words, but the general idea to me was, this has been a great loss, but Jim and Jimm and Chris are still here with me, and I need to remember that. To love them and cherish them, just as I have Phil. (Sorry for the interpretation Dave, I know these were not the words, but I know that this is what God put in your heart to pray for me to hear. It is exactly what I needed to hear. :)

Then we played the song, "God is in control"....he's watching over you and me! When it got to that part, I looked up at Jim and we smiled at each other, knowing how true this was! And then...we left, leaving two red roses and a heart shaped balloon and a balloon that read "God Bless You". My parents gave that to us to take today, and even though there was no huge spray of flowers covering the grave when we left, it was covered thoroughly with their love, our love and all of yours. We know that, and Phil does too. I thought, this should be harder. Walking away. This should hurt so bad I can barely stand it, but it didn't. There was such peace, such calm, such grace and sufficiency, that no one even needed to speak. We rode the 15 minutes home in almost complete silence and awe I think.....I know I was experiencing that peace that transcends understanding. All I kept noticing was how beautiful the sky looked with the wispy white clouds and baby blue background. It hadn't rained on us, and now it could pour if it wanted to. I was headed home to curl up in a blanket, which is exactly what I did. It's hard to explain to you how I felt, but I told Jim that I wondered if this is what Valium felt like...he said, this is even better than Valium. I believe he is right. How can anyone feel such peace on a day such as this, is beyond human understanding, and to be able to just stay quiet and reflect on that very special hour by the grave side was a gift. I've heard it's the day after that is so hard because everyone goes home, and there is such silence. I relished this silence. The love of God filled every part of my being. I told Jim that I don't know if we did the right thing by keeping this private, but for us, it was the right thing. Phil died intimately, and we buried him intimately, and tomorrow we will step out into the world and be private no more. We will celebrate his life on December 1st with everyone and anyone who would care to come, and we will share our story and our life and Phil's life with anyone who will listen to it, but we will be forever grateful for the balance between the two.

This is an extremely long e-mail, and it doesn't even contain everything I would like to share with you. But to tell you the truth, I'm surprised I'm sitting here writing it this evening. I planned on doing nothing today, just resting, and it felt so good to do that! (Thank you for the dinner Kim, it was great!) But I asked God if He really wanted me to send this out tonight and it was like He was telling me you were waiting to hear, and I needed to let you know. I needed to share these details with you. To let you be a part of this day and to let you know that "all is well with my soul". It surely is. The tears will still fall, and we will forever miss Phil, but the hardest day of our life was blessed by our good and loving God who never leaves us and never forsakes us but carries us through the storms and wraps us in His loving arms.

Good night to you all and thank you for all the prayers today! They were felt ten-fold,
please know that!

The Shore Family