Is It Finished?

Sunday, 02 Dec 2001

It is Sunday night and my mind is a swirling mixture of emotions that won't die down. I'm exhausted beyond belief, yet unable to sleep. What am I to do with myself now? I really have no idea. I am almost afraid to let my mind go where it needs to. Will the pain at last be too much to bear? Will the reality of Phil being gone penetrate deeper than it has before, taking me to a level that I have not yet dealt with? And what will happen then? And who was that woman at his service? The one who was able to smile and chat and get through the entire proceedings in a way I never thought possible...

Dave talked about contradictions. A word I don't use often, and yet that was on my mind a lot throughout the evening. How different it all was from the grave side service, and yet how equally wonderful and God-filled. One was so quiet, so intimate, so perfect... the other... so quiet, so intimate, so perfect, in my heart. Though there were so many of you there to share in this celebration of Phil's life, it did not distract from the intimacy I felt in my heart. How could it with the love that was present?

There are no words to express what I feel, and I'm sure what Jim feels in his heart about Phil's service and all the loving hands that came together to give God the glory as we celebrated Phil's life. I only desired two things on Saturday evening; that God would get the glory and that those there would come to know Phil, maybe for the first time, maybe a little bit better, or maybe in a way they never knew him. Did this happen? I feel that it did, but I'm still not thinking entirely clear, like I would like to. God's protective fog encircles me with gentleness, I think, so that a mother's heart will not break in a thousand pieces.

I just cannot absorb the total reality that he is gone, and I'm still not able to absorb the massive amount of love that helped to "finish" the last details of Phil's life. But is it the finish, or merely the beginning of the impact he will have on me, on our family and on everyone who reads the words I will write about this experience?

I never know when I'm going to write, or what I'm going to write, or if I will ever write again. Sometimes I feel as if there is nothing left to say, and then my heart fills up and it needs to vent. This is one of those times, but how ironic when there really are no words, and yet words are the only "tool" I have to express what is inexpressible.

A young life is gone from this earth. A life I cherished so deeply that it is impossible for me to believe he is gone. A young life I now picture on the streets of heaven, healthy, and happy. I try so hard to cling to that image...of how happy Phil is now. I want him back so badly...his vacation is almost over right? He'll be coming home soon...? I think even his dog believes that as she wanders down the hall, turns into his room, looks around, and then turns to leave. He'll be coming home soon... He's been on many vacations before, we just need to wait until he returns...what does a dog do when the "vacation" is never over? What does a mother do? Maybe a dog will switch it's loyalties. She certainly is loved enough by Phil's brothers to do that. Time will tell...

But what does a mother do? I don't know yet. I know that God is all mighty, and all powerful! I know that when I got ready on Saturday afternoon to go to the service, I didn't think I could handle it, and just retreating to my room and reading the Psalms, praying for help and strength, God picked this woman up and carried me from that point on. He gave me an excited peace for what the evening held.

As we were driving to the service I was looking forward to it but said I wish it was for someone else...then it dawned on me what I had just said and that's not what I meant at all. I don't wish this on anyone.

Upon arriving at our church, the preparations were well under way, really almost completely done. Many family members had already arrived, and many of our extended family (church members) were tending to all that needed to be done. It all looked beautiful, and it was a well orchestrated movement of everyone using their gifts to bring this evening together.

All I could do was hug, hug, hug, and thank, thank, thank. Where were the tears? I think so covered with joy and love they were invisible. I was so grateful for what was being done, and for all who would come to something that most envision as "not fun", but a "duty", but who come anyway. Who come because that's what we do. We laugh together and we mourn together, and that's how life is.

For those that were there, you saw and experienced this celebration. For those that were not able to be there, I wish you could have shared this evening with us. I think it was unusual, but I'm not even totally clear on that yet. In fact, on Sunday morning I woke up thinking, "I don't know...I don't know" and my friend Deb asked me what don't you know? I said, "I don't know..."

Later in the morning, I glimpsed the end of the service on video, Dave was talking, and it was like, "Oh, okay....I think it's okay". Thank you Dave for hurting with us, for being with us through our most difficult days, for being a friend as well as a pastor, and for caring so, so much! You have blessed us!

Maybe if this had been a normal funeral, I wouldn't have been saying "I don't know", but it wasn't a "normal" funeral. This was a celebration of Phil's life...everywhere. Table center pieces with his hats and toys, a memory table that represented all his "loves", coffee brewing, food arriving, flowers, candles lit, music playing, programs distributed, a place transformed from a women's tea in the afternoon to Phil's service within a short period of time. Stories told, communion celebrated, songs sung, pictures of his life enjoyed, and we sat there, in the front row, partaking of this celebration. His parents, his brothers, his family and friends, watching his life flash before our eyes, and we turned our mourning into dancing, literally.

I've never done that at a service before. Is this what God wanted? I have to believe He did, because it came together with great ease. We wanted to share our hope. We wanted everyone to know that God is good, that He takes good care of us, and He took good care of Phil. We wanted everyone to know that Phil was loved, that we took good care of him, that we would do anything for him, whatever it took. And we wanted everyone to know that there is still joy in our hearts, that our mourning will eventually turn into dancing, and even now we get glimpses of that.

We wanted to celebrate communion because without that, we might as well all go home and cry. If Christ did not die for us, and there was no resurrection, then there will be no seeing Phil again, and there is no reason to celebrate ANYTHING! But Phil believed in Christ, he hung onto that hope with his dying breath, and so will we. Yes, we believe in things we have not seen, we hope for things we cannot grasp yet, but we will continue to do so.

After seeing all that God has done for us through this long ordeal, and after watching Phil take this journey with a peace that does transcend understanding, how can we not believe in God's great love?! God carried that boy home in His loving arms, and He will carry us as we slowly absorb this reality.

The stories in the Bible tell of all the great things God has done for His people. The stories in our lives tell us of all the great things God has done for us. We cling to those stories and remember them when we start to wonder where God is. He is right here. We just need to open our hearts to what He is doing, and then we see Him clearly. More clearly than I see the reality of this situation right now.

I see God answering every prayer, every need this hurting family might have when we ask Him for his help and depend on it. He won't force His way into this if we try to do it on our own. We know that, but after what we have witnessed, why would we even want to try.

I know I for one cannot do it. You saw me there, you visited with me, who was that? That was a mother who's heart was broken but who felt no pain because I prayed to God to help me in my distress. To let his light shine on my face, and to sustain me, and He did. I don't really understand that kind of power, but I trust it because I've seen it work. I rely on it, and will continue to do so, so that when the reality of Phil not being on "vacation" sinks into the core of my being, I will be able to stand tall and say "God is good"....all the time!! He will turn our mourning into dancing, if we will just let him, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one prayer at a time. I choose that!

There are times when I just say "I can't stand this. I don't want to do this anymore", but there is no choice. This is it, this is what we must do, and I can only pray that God will give me a willing spirit to sustain me! He is faithful!

Finished?...I think it's only just begun. Saturday night might have been the closing of a chapter in the life of Philip Shore, but there is much more to come. As we heal, we will learn, and as we learn, we will grow. Someday, we will look back and see how far we've come. Right now I look forward and see how far we have to go. God help us!

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Good night!


Hello All,

God does not give me the gift of writing as he does with Diane. He gives other gifts to me. As always, though, Diane's words express what I am feeling also. This is why I forward this to you, with love!

I can not thank all of you enough! I know you are out there thinking of us, praying for us. And even if you couldn't physically be with us you were still with us...

Remember, For to me, To live is Christ to die is gain.

In His grip, Jim